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    Rainy 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.

    "Kathryn 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"