The summer of 2009 found me on the Monday after the 4th of July outside of Narrowsburg, more than 60 years after my Tenderfoot camp experience at the Ten Mile River Scout Camps. As a twelve year old from Queens, attending the Kernochan Division of Camp Man, I was on my way to making life long friends and experiencing activities that I would draw on later in life.
I worked on the Camp Man Staff in my junior year of high school and all my college summers. I missed my opportunity to work at TMR in my senior year of high school by failing to pass something needed for a Regents Diploma. It was reported here, that I had failed something in College. Never, but it did give Ben Breitung an opportunity to be the Lakeside Steward.
Here is where life long friendships began. Of course Jack Kohler was our fearless leader. To get back to this summer’s long delayed return to TMR, I stopped at the TMR Scout Museum. It was officially closed on Mondays, but unlocked. Inside two old Scouters welcomed me with open arms, when I said I had been on the Staff in the late 40’s early 50’s. They brought out the archives, formal pictures of the staff for each of my years at TMR. What great memories.
There in the Council Ring on the amphitheater’s log benches sat our three Chaplains. Pastor Paul who was also our Camp Band Director. I never knew how he got all the instruments and the Base Drum to camp until I saw his car. He had a 1923 Franklin. It was a gangster car if I ever saw one. Real cool. It was a big 4 door blue box on wheels. It had, under the hood, an equally large air cooled engine. No radiator or water needed.
Pastor Pauls’ son Paul Junior was my provisional Scout Master at the Esseni troop site in 1945. Rabbi Lev was next. I am told he eventually made Brigadier General in the Army Guard or Reserve. Everyone couldn’t wait for his wife to visit. The staff all thought she looked like a movie star. One of the Rabbi’s congregants turned me on to Hebrew National Salami. The small logs that came in care packages sent by moms to camp. We didn’t have salami at my house. I asked my mother to send me a salami. I soon got a box from home but it contained another meat I had never seen before. I took it to the Cook at Lakeside. Waddi told me it was a Polish Kohlbasi and I could put it in the camps fridge. I never saw it again. When I asked about it, Waddi said he ate it.
I never found out if my friend the Steward Big Ben shared that meal, but Im sure he did…a perk of being steward. Getting back to the Staff picture, next was Father Meyers who was kept under arrest in a compound by the Japanese during the occupation of Shanghai. He came to TMR in 1947. Fr. Meyers had been sent to China from Rome, across German occupied Europe, before December 7th,1941 to minister to White Russian Refugees who had fled the communist take over after WW1. He was gifted in foreign languages.
Next was Lou Eberspeacher Camp Director and Professional Scouter. He had a small son who frequently followed him around camp. We called him Little Lou. Twenty years later, on being pulled over by a cop for some infraction, while driving in NJ, one of our former staff members exclaimed “Little Lou” is that you. No ticket. Thank god for name tags on uniforms. One of the years Lou was the Director our own staff stole the salute cannon used in our Sunday Parades. Suspicion fell on the Bronx Staff who took great pleasure in doing that activity frequently. We didn’t keep the secret very well and while being read the riot act by Lou in his office a telegram arrived sent by one of the culprits to Camp Man. It read “Thanks for the Cannon. Have one Tank.” It was signed General Douglas MacArthur. It broke the tension and we all went back to work
The rest of the picture was full of my peers who graduated with me in 1955. Andy Alexander, Phil Shiffman, Donal McCarthy, Marty Surks and Big Ben Breitung and of course with the biggest smile of all Jack Kohler, our mentor and friend. Did you know Jack had been a Scout at the first International Jamboree in the 1930’s. My TMR visit brought back a flood of memories, some shared here. And now 100 Years is coming. The Boy Scouts will be 100 years old in 2010 and the celebration will be at HQ TMR July 17th 2010. I am planning to leave my summer home in Iowa to help in the celebration and to tip my hat to all those volunteers who were our Home Troop Scoutmasters and the Staffs of TMR past and present.
PETER HERMANN AN OLD SCOUT FROM TROOP 188 QUEENS