top of page

Coming and Going (Bill Dixon)

The great thing about memories is that they are exactly what you recall, no proof needed. I do not remember ever taking a bus from around the GW Bridge but that is not to say, I did not.
I know I took the train in 1944 and think I took the train in 1945. You took the ferry across the Hudson to get to the train. The locomotive seemed gigantic with the stream coming out. It was very exciting. I also always loved the sound of those trains at night at camp. While I do not recall where I got the bus in Brooklyn, the most important part of the bus trip was the stop.....The Red Apple Rest. Probably it was less then an hour but we rushed off that bus as if we had been on it for twenty four hours without food or water. The Red Apple Rest was always jammed with cars, buses and people. A fun place and it was the last stop before leaving civilization. It certainly was the last stop with flush toilets!
I more recall the buses when I was a staff member. That is.... the buses coming up to camp with the kids or them leaving. They would park and unload in the ball field (Division 1 or Division 3) and of course load up with scouts leaving. Their arrival started several hours or more of mass confusion. That is...the kids finding their camps.
I learned a great line from Dan Riviera when the buses unloaded.....many scouts would recall you from the prior year but you would not remember them. Dan always said....."Wow, you have really grown" proving absolutely that he remembered that particular scout. There were no midgets coming to camp!
Now back to confusion. Many may recall the camp rooster sheets that were done by a lady at 105 Court Street. The sheet listed the name and Troop number of a scout. Each camp had one rooster sheet. I guess they came through the office at Talequah to us. Of course they were wrong when you got them. That is....after the first period. Kids had moved from one camp to camp to another or wanted to move the next period for a variety of reasons. I always believed you let the kid do what he wanted...with few questions asked. Further in Div. 1...we had a great program and loads of kids were asking their parents to stay over for another two weeks. That happened most on the last Sunday of the period. So you made those changes to the sheets.
As I recall...the camp registration card was about 6 X 4 inches and asked what Division and Camp the Scout wanted. I do absolutely know you could check Kosher or Non-Kosher. I assume the lady at 105 Court Street worked from those cards. Kids in the same troop were always put together. We got those...maybe a day before the period ended and then it started. Scoutmasters would review the sheets and start making changes. I always wanted kids from my own troop 240 in my camp. Others did not want kids from their home troop. So we started horse trading right way and scribbling on those sheets.
Now the buses pulled up. There was a logical method and then there was the method I used as a Director. The logical method had someone like the Chief Clerk sitting at a table and the kids would line up to find out what camp they were assigned. Each SM would be posted around the field often with signs. I preferred that the kids just run around the field asking each SM if their name was on their list. This confusion took no longer then the logical methods. It had the added benefit of wearing down some hyper kids after the bus they were dragging around the field their pack and what always seemed liked an armful of other stuff. In less then an hour...using either method...the kids were back to their camp. After first period the stayovers were excellent guides. That is.. those who did not go to Honesdale or Narrowsburg on a trip usually lead by a nature Man or someone who would otherwise be completely useless on the first day.
Now some kids who for what ever reason did not like the camp they were assigned. An example...they thought they wanted to go to Kennebec but found Tim Lawerncelle was SM of a different camp (from prior year) and wanted to be with Tim. Good move on the part of the kid since I was SM of Kennebec that year!
When I had a say...and for two years I was a Director I always moved the kid to where he want to be. I figured the first night every scout should go to bed happy. We had 13 more days to foul things up for him. And it nearly always worked...with a little pushing and shoving or even 9 in a cabin or tent.
BUT we had those rooster sheets. Prior to supper or right after the chief clerk had to retype those sheets...working from a bunch of notes by guys who mostly had failed third grade penmanship. No volley ball after Supper on the first night for staff. We needed a count of how many kids we had and then call it into Talequah or at least square it with their number. Not always easy to do. I found the corporate world simple after my experience at TMR!
Now to bed checks. Bed checks had to match the number on the sheets just done by the Chief Clerk. Vernon Charms would argue with a number after you just counted actual kids. " you think I tossed two off the cliff?" Vernon thought I did! You never knew the count until the last bed check was in. It never changed every period ...and as I look back it was a great experience.
Now for leaving...a bit easier. Only breakfast on day of departure and a trail lunch...cheese and raisins. Bernie just mentioned Apple butter. Think of how much Apple Butter was consumed by a division in summer. We are talking big numbers! The end of the fourth was the nicest. As much as most of us really enjoyed camp when the season ended that was fine. If you were not in Div. 2 the cooks left on the bus with the kids. There were also a few staff that talked their way into an early departure...not the fun guys. After breakfast the kitchen staff was closing the dining hall down. The waterfront guys were also closing it down. Not sure if they pulled in the floats or the Ed Ryder crew did that. The next day we cleaned up the camp and the following days there was the staff bus to go home. It amazed me the amount of cloths that kids left behind. There must have been 50 parts of uniforms.
A number of summers I did not go on the staff bus. TMR was actually great with no one or hardly no one there. I do recall in 1949...I had got to know Harvey Smith well...and he and his family stayed. I moved into the very nice Rabbi cabin and we all ate together. Marv Antonoff and Dick Weidman had also stayed. I walked down to the D 2/3 ball field and they were living in a lean-to camp across the road. When I arrived they were cooking over a small fire and looked liked hoboes. I brought them back to the first-class accommodations at Div. 1. I also recall Dan Riviera was at Nick Dales and we would get together at night.
TMR was always a great place at any time of the year.

bottom of page