My Ta-Ri-Go Memories
(From when I was about 6 to 13 years old in the late 60's and early 70's)
Written at 3:00 A. M. on a sleepless night in Indianapolis in 1999.
I remember as a young camper, either Freshman or Pioneer, as the evening activity would finish up suddenly the entire rec hall wall erupt in a loud, deep, heart thumping "S", "S-E", "S-E-N-I-O-R-S" . It was so powerful that it echoed in my head for years before I even new what it was that they were spelling.
I remember the first day of camp when we would carefully choose which bed we wanted and which cubby. The driving factor for me was that the cubby needed to have strong evenly spaced shelves so that it served as a stepladder to climb to the top of the cubby and onto the rafters. It was like an early version of a discovery zone.
I remember Freighoffer cookies were more valuable than gold.
I remember the rocky back road that went from boys camp to the lake. I heard of a famous Indian who walked on sharp rocks to make his feet tough like leather so he never had to wear shoes. I walked barefoot on that road everyday for two summers in the hopes of being the first kid in Yonkers never needing shoes. Man did those rocks hurt.
I remember the sloping hill behind the senior girls bunk. We would try to balance ourselves on that hill while peeking through the girls bathrooms at shower time. I dont think we saw too much but just the idea of maybe seeing something naked made the awkward climb and risk worthwhile.
I remember carnival day when wed tie rope from the flagpole all around boys campus and then wed knot pieces of colored cray paper to the ropes. Then wed raise the ropes to the tops of the flagpole creating a carnival tent type atmosphere. I also remember taking it down and wetting the different colored cray paper and blotting it against white tee shirts to make a tie-dyed look but it only lasted one wash.
I remember lazy day. The first day after color war when we could wear pajamas to the cafeteria. It was the only time all summer I would wear pajamas.
I remember topsy tervy day where everything got switched. Girls in boys bunks, boys in girls bunks, dinner for breakfast, evening activity first thing, and backward clothes.
I remember roller-skating in the rec hall. Metal wheels roaring against the dusty wood floors. Sometimes, when the dust was particularly thick, wed wipe out at every turn. We also used to set the benches on their sides to make a rink of sorts where wed play hockey. Although we were never that good we sure could whack the shit out of each others shins.
I remember the biz rock.
I remember the pinball machines in the canteen. Although it always smelled like wet carpet in there, the pinball could get intense. One machine, hurdy gurdy, you could pick up and drop hard to get a free game. Once we dropped it too hard and the glass broke. But we still played it for the rest of the summer.
I remember a color war break where it rained in the rec room. I thought special effects had hit a new standard, which would never be surpassed.
I remember milk call after rest hour. Chocolate or regular and two cookies. What was with those weirdoes that actually preferred regular milk to chocolate.
I remember inspection. Standing at the foot of your bed while the "inspector" felt down you bed for sand. Often a gleam would come over his eyes as he pretended to start away just to grab the side of your bed backhand and flip it into the air. I remember the occasional inspector, usually a group leader, going nuts with power and dumping every bed and cubby.
I remember the hot chocolate that would be served on cold mornings in the silver metal pitchers. If allowed to cool enough there would accumulate a film of chocolate something on the top.
I remember the grilled cheese only had once piece of bread. Not at all like moms.
I remember the kitchen help that lived in the house behind the main house. They were black guys that came from Florida. I became friends with some of them and learned that they were the age of junior campers. I remember wondering why they worked instead of being campers.
I remember the buddy boards down by the lake. White tags with silver metal edges and different color markers were used to indicate shallow, deep or intermediate swimmer. I remember how proud I was when I first passed the deep-water test and Bruce Pomerantz handed me my new buddy tag.
I remember buddy calls: "ONE, TWO, TRIPLE THREE, "
I remember the counselors on dock duty. Standing in the heat holding a giant bamboo pole. Waiting for the moment when "counselor swim" was announced. Then theyd all leap into the water and break every rule that theyd been enforcing all day.
I remember my first kiss right next to one of the girls bunks with all the girls in bunk watching through the window. I remember the kiss shot through my like a bolt of lightening. I wandered back to my bunk in a daze.
I remember canteen books with the different colored tickets that could be traded for candy at the canteen.
I remember visiting day when all of camp turned into something else with hundreds of strange faces and tons of food and candy.
I remember catching little orange salamanders and keeping them in shoeboxes. I remember Brad Kule sending one of them up in an Estees rocket without a parachute and earning the nickname Brad Cruel.
I remember peeing into a water gun and going over to the younger kids and asking them if they wanted a drink. I remember getting my butt kicked by someones older sister when she found out what I did.
I remember Joey Lacunia had a pair of black sneakers that were completely flat on the bottom no treads at all.
I remember burning the year on the other side of the lake and watching to see who would be sissy enough to cry.
I remember lying in my bed shaking for fear of Cropsy coming and snatching me in the middle of the night.
I remember the lush forest behind boys camp where rocks were covered with thick green moss that was slick as ice if you stepped on it. The floor of the forest was carpeted in ferns in various areas and the sounds of birds seemed to scream through the air. I remember walking into the forest by myself, drawn for no reason I can remember only to find the sounds of the birds and stillness of the trees frightening and Id end up running as fast as I could back to camp with my ears ringing and heart pounding.
I remember a day camper named Maxi Spier who was a little younger than me. He was very cute and talked with a lispy kind of slur. I remember the older girls just loved him to death and the older boys would teach him to say dirty words and bribe him to say them to the girls. I remember him being punished numerous times for using dirty words.
I remember the camp mothers coming around once a week to shower us and clip our nails. Wed all line up in our bathing suits waiting for her. Even though the camp mother was my real mother, I used to join in the squeamishness of hiding my privates in a bathing suit for the shower.
I remember I joined a secret club one summer. To join I had to climb the rafters in the bathroom and wiggle my way into a small hidden nook near the top of the roof. Once there I had to sing all the words to California Girls without any mistakes to be admitted to the club. I still know all the words.
I remember chasing mice for days on end. Especially after visiting day.
I remember the occasional bat in the bunk.
I remember learning about sex from stories told to us by an occasional counselor on OD.
I remember begging the OD for a bite of his OD sandwich.
I remember lying on my bed during rest hour listening to Neil Youngs After the Gold Rush on my counselors tape recorder. The Bunks didnt warm up until afternoon after a cold night. I remember the coolness of my pillow on those hot afternoons.
I remember those bright orange salamanders that would show up after the rain. I remember collecting them in shoeboxes.
I remember the moldy smell of the nature shack.
I remember when someone would sing about a newfound couple in the cafeteria. Bobby and who Bobby and who Bobby and Lisa boop boop be doo. I remember living in fear of being the one they sang about. Funny what a seven-year-old is scared of. I think I was about 10 the first time I ever asked anyone to sing about a particular girl and me. Funny what a 10-year-old is proud of.
I remember playing co-ed Steal the Bacon on rainy days.
I remember the crackle of the Revelee record that lasted almost as long as the song itself.
I remember kids getting paddled at line up for punishment. Usually for going on a raid. "Bend over. Hold your balls. WHACK!"
I remember prank announcements, "Ed Budd, please report to the bottom of the lake. Ed Budd, to the bottom of the lake immediately!"
I remember rainy day "Bunko" which meant hanging out in the bunk. I also remember when the bunk got in trouble we were "restricted to the bunk." One was good, the other bad but they were actually the exact same thing.
I remember eating "Hockey pucks" as we called them. They were actually veal cutlets and pretty good. They also had the nick name of "Steal Cutlets.
I remember the Sunday before visiting day we would have lox and bagels for breakfast.
I remember those surf board things we used to take out on the lake. They were wood and fiberglass I think and about 12 feet long at least they seemed that long. We would paddle them with our hands to the middle of the lake, and sit. We were told not to stand on them but there was nothing else to do with them. So you stood on them a few times until you got kicked out and sat on the beach the rest of the period.
I remember such clandestine and strictly male activities as Bonaramas and Schlongathons. I wont elaborate.
I remember the different colored anorandak chairs on the front lawn of the main house. For some reason, at the time, I hated those chairs although Ive been trying to find a couple lately for my patio.
I remember going nuts on days when we would have pizza for lunch. It was unlike any pizza Id ever known before. It was little squares with a yellowish kind of cheese on it. But it was still pizza and I loved it.
I remember as an older camper taking trips to Woodstock. There we would eat ice cream at Stuarts and buy flavored rolling papers and cokesnuff at head shops. I dont remember what we thought the cockesnuff was, but I remember sucking on the rolling papers like they were candy.
I remember fistfights and girlfriends and hiding firecrackers. I remember stealing matches from the counselors and ease dropping on their conversations late at night. I remember laughing with friends, crying alone and beaming with pride the first time I got a base hit in a softball game. I remember growing up at camp Tarigo.
The alma mater as i remember it from 58/59 Camp TA rigo amid green pines in natures solitude we dedicate this song to you with heartfelt gratitude And when from you at summers end we sadly do depart Sweet memories of TA rigo will linger in our heart Hi! My name is Leslie and during my years my late cousin Howie Rabinowitz was the camp hottie. I now live in Margaretville and go to Fleishmanns all the time. If I am not mistaken, the mess hall is still standing as is a small building adjacent that was the little office. A trailer is attached and people live there. This past Saturday, they had an open exhibit at the Skene library and I will be donating a group pic of the Debs from 1959. (omg) I am here in Delaware county because-----------Uncle Pacy took us little kids to the big house and we got to see the view. I remember thinking " Oh this is so pretty...when I get old like Uncle Pacy, I'm gonna live here too!" And I do!