Mark Eisner's Camp Memories

Mark spent eight summers at Alliquippa, from 1973-80.

First, some miscellaneous memories:

* the incredible fog that only coastal Maine gets;

* shooting water through the hole in the screen at the dishshifts playing volleyball;

* the desirability of lobster table-setting (who gets the big ones);

* the undesirability of lobster dish-shift;

* Sunday morning inspections;

* the Bald Head hike;


* running with the phone from the dining room to the Quipps office in time for the connection not to be lost;

* building the boathouse;

* studying the river at Seawall to determine whether it could be forded;

* dances under a single, colored lightbulb with the whole house shaking;

* early morning fishing trips and eating the freshly-caught fish for breakfast;

* Dick Wallace's pork pie hat, clipboard and manner of standing in the dining porch doorway with one foot resting on the door jamb behind him while reading announcements;

* Tim Ullman listening to classical music on the Victrola;

* mail;

* lunch sitting on wooden spools for wire, or Adirondack Chairs, by the flagpole;

* the skin that would form on top of the cocoa at breakfast;

* the 8x8 main house support beam, beneath the living room floor, that gave way during a introduction-to-camp meeting one June 30 evening in the late 1970s;

* "Feel, Taste and Smell;"

* shouting "car" during a hike;

* trips to the Phippsburg freshwater swimming hole;

* frappes at the milk shed in Wiscasset;

* water-skiing in the old days behind the "Mott's Quip" and in later days behind the underpowered Boston Whaler;

* Evan Zemil's evangelical frugality;

* volleyball referees sitting on the rooftop;

* drying beach towels on the rocks;

* picking through piles of laundry to find your socks and jeans when all others looked identical;

* Weeding, watering the rolling the tennis courts with salt water from the pump at the dockhouse;

* Special Projects crew;

* eating Sunday turkey dinner in the order of the room inspections;

* hiding vacuum cleaners under your bed for use on Sunday morning;

* 3-minute shower limits on dance nights, with no hot showers after 5:00 PM;

* the specific locations of all ten marker buoys for the sailboat races: 1-Red Nun (which had a 4 on it); 3 - Black Can by West Point; 4 - Red Nun by Spring Beach off of Hermit Island; 5 - warning buoy off of Middle Ledge, etc.;

* rowing trips to West Point;

* shooting between Big and Little Wood Islands in a boat, watching for rocks;

* the foghorn at Sequin;

* the Rube Goldberg contraption that passed for a refrigerator;

* ping pong, tennis and backgammon tournaments, and any other reason to win a sweatshirt (I still have two);

* lights from Bailey Island on a clear night;

* Windjammer Day trips to Boothbay Harbor and rainy day trips to LL Bean;

* survival trips to a deserted island;

* 3-day overnight mountain trips (I went to Mount Blue in '73 or '74);

* the blue, white and green trucks and taking trips to the dump in them.

A brief story from 1973:

My first two trips to Alliquippa were by chartered bus. It was my understanding that bus travel had been the norm during the camp's earlier history as well. We met the bus at the Pikesville Shopping Center parking lot in the evening of June 30th and it pulled out more-or-less on time around 9:30 AM. I sat across from the bus counselor, and we watched the Wilmington, Delaware-based driver work to be home and in bed in time for the 11:00 news. Speeds on I-95 north of Baltimore rarely were less than 85 mph. After a change in drivers and a rest stop, we arrived in midtown Manhattan by about 1:30 PM where several additional kids boarded who lived in the New York area. It was Saturday night in midtown and we saw all of the "action" of the big city through the bus windows (for better or worse). Generally I dozed until sunrise on the Massachusetts Turnpike, and never joined the all-night card game raging in the aisle in the back of the bus. Breakfast was at a Howard Johnson's on the lower Maine Turnpike - most of us were way too excited to eat.

On arrival at the camp around 10:30 AM I was shown to my room - Little Dorm adjacent to the ping-pong porch. Us first-year campers began the process of unpacking (and for some of us, being a little homesick). I marveled at the returnees who immediately dove into camp activities only having arrived minutes before. That first day was very cool and foggy; the two guys from New York who sat immediately behind me on the bus were undaunted by the weather or the absence of bait and immediately ran down to the dock to fish (as it was high tide). Soon enough the rest of us got into the swing of things, and by about the end of the second day the old house felt like home for all.

(The following, also from Mark, regards three trips to Alliquippa after the camp had ceased operating.)

In 1983 and again in 1986 I visited and found substantial renovations starting and nearing completion, respectively. I was heartbroken to see the old tennis court had been torn up to make way for a better septic system (the ground needed to have more "fall" and less flatness there for proper sanitary function). Most of the old mainstays in the area were still open and around, save (as I recall) for Wyman's Store and the Lobster Pound, both of which were closed permanently by then. The boats were still in the harbor, and on my 1986 visit I sailed with Billy Smith a couple of times who still was alive then.

Sometime in the mid to late 1980s Down East Magazine did a feature on the house's modifications from an architectural perspective. Very little on the camp as I recall from the article. By 1990, Billy had passed away and the people owning the house (really bifurcated in two - the old Dining Room/Pig Alley connection was a breezeway) were not home. I did chat extensively with the lobstermen at the end of the driveway. By 1990 West Point General Store had closed, denying my now-wife the chance to try their yummy ice cream.

Occasionally I still get to sail. It is a dream not yet fulfilled to own a boat and I would get one like one of the Small Pointers. You can read about the boats and their heritage in William Allen (Billy) Smith's "How Sailboats Win and Lose Races" and of the mosquitos, greenheads, and blackhead flies that call Sagadahoc County home in "Down East Cruising."

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