I was looking at some of the old camp photos, and one was of the D2 dining hall, although when it was taken, it was the D3 dining hall. I loved that place! It was open and light, and full of good memories. It was where I spent my first four seasons at TMR Scout camp. What a difference compared to D1, which was so dark and noisy. D3 was bigger, but not better than D1. My Ordeal dinner was in the D3 Dining Hall and that also makes it special in my memory. I doubt any of us forget the excitement of being inducted into the Order. Possibly the biggest thing in my life up to that time!
As I looked at the photos, and at the one where I am standing in front of the D3 Dining Hall where you can see the road, I have a vivid memory. It was 1950, and Marv Antonoff and I are standing in that very spot around noon. Coming down the road is Dick Weidman. He worked in D1 that year. I can see him come around the turn from the Handicraft lodge and pass the big rock called "Camp Slow Blow Horn". Marv and I had a 9 X 9 tent that sat on top of the rock where every night we discussed the important philosophies of life. I had just finished freshman year at Syracuse, so I knew nearly all the answers to the world's questions.
Dick gets to the area in front of the Dining Hall and Marv invites him to lunch. I recall that we ate together because that dining hall was not too crowded. At the end of lunch, as usual, Marv got up on the platform. Marv was the Program Director and by definition, the star of all meal events. Remember that platform? It was between the two doors going into the kitchen. Years before I had seen Dan Riviera so many times on that platform leading songs..."Any old hat or any old coat or any old stick will do, as long as the open road's ahead and the skies above are blue" or, "There was a man by the name of.."., I think as you stood on the platform you could touch the beam above which, like the rest of the beams in the dining hall, had been hand-carved from logs.
Well, Marv starts talking about the very special guest we all are so fortunate to have with us at this time. Marv would keep pushing his kneckerchief back as he talked so the holder was touching his Adam's apple. He explains that we have with us an international explorer and outdoorsman, etc....and his name is Dick Weidman!!
Then as now, the longer Marv talks about a subject, the more emphatic, animated and enthused he gets. And Dick, then as now, has a serious, nearly stone-like face, and sits silently, listening to every word that Marv says. He is then introduced. Had it been me, I would have trotted out to the canteen across the road and I thought that Dick might do just that. But he never missed a beat. He slowly and deliberately walked to that platform.
It is fifty years ago, and I cannot even attempt to paraphrase what Dick said, but every boy (and man) was leaning forward as he softly shared his adventure stories as the renowned explorer who was among the first to travel on foot to the wilderness areas of the artic, and was soon to depart on a trip to study the wildlife of Terra del Fuego. Dick then went on to describe close encounters with polar bears and caribou.
THEN, in a description of the size of a deer...he said it was "six hands tall". Not a person (all from Brooklyn) in that Hall had ever heard the size of anything described by "hands". But it sounded so very right, that Dick had to be for real. I could see all those heads at every table nodding, with all eyes on Dick. He was totally believable!! Wow! ..a real explorer right there!
He finished, and got the regular cheers. Outside, kids crowded around and Dick kept that very serious look and then by himself headed down the road. The eyes of young scouts were still on him as the famous explorer and outdoorsman turned into the woods and on to the TMR trail.
The only bigger "put on" that I can recall was the "The Hudson Bay Trip" by Nick Dale. Another wonderful story. Nick may never have died at all, but gone to Hudson Bay.