Days and Mondays
Hasn’t this been a rather cold and wet
summer? (At least as of the end of July when I’m writing
this.) Herman has often told me of summers when he was a kid
where there were non-stop Monopoly games and other indoor
activities because most summers were cold and wet.
When Herman grew up at camp, here in Caroga
Lake, he had no television or telephone, let alone computers
or video games. It’s not that Herman is that old, rather
his dad wanted camp to be camp. A wilderness escape from the
conveniences and distractions of home. Home was a dairy farm.
Nilsen Brothers Dairy, to be exact. By the time his dad got
up to camp at night, he needed a rest and some peace and quiet.
No phone ringing. No television blaring. His only concessions
to the modern age were electricity and a radio.
Beyond that, it was simply quiet at camp.
And as Herman tells me, many of those mornings were cold and
damp and he would have to start a wood fire in the old pot
bellied stove that was the sole source of heat for the camp.
His dad would start the fire while his mom started the bacon
frying and the coffee perking. He has fond memories of waking
to those smells and sounds of perking and fire crackling.
Herman tells me he had to get up, eat breakfast
and go down to the farm. As he tells it, "The cows needed
to be fed and milked no matter what day it was." Some
Saturdays were treated like a half work day in that after
feeding and milking the cows in the morning, Herman and his
dad would return to camp and his cousin Knut would milk and
feed the cows in the evening. Every other Sunday, his Uncle
Henry would fill in so his dad could have a day off (two Sundays
per month). Not much time off by today’s standards.
When Herman was in college, he got a phone
call from his dad. There had been an offer on the farm, but
by rights it was to go to Herman if he chose. When Herman
asked his dad his opinion, his answer was swift. "If
you can do anything else, go do it. Dairy farming is 365 days
per year with no benefits or time off. Not only that, I don’t
see any future in the family farm." So Herman’s
dad arranged to sell the farm to later become a golf course.
This happened to many neighboring farms in the area.
Herman insists the farm was a great place
to grow up as a child. It was just a bad place to make a living.
He also says camp was a great place to spend his summers.
Cool temperatures for sleeping at night and a wilderness experience
away from the farm and routines of home.
So in closing, let me tell you that Herman
is wildly reminiscent of his childhood as a cool July has
passed by us. He has his memories. I’m still waiting
for the sunny days.
Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career
in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from
Caroga Lake here in Fulton County. Previous columns may be
accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com"