Hyde Bay Logo Herbert Pickett's Family History
Hyde Bay Camp 1935-1941

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Herbert Pickett, Jr. writing:

      These are the years Larry and I remember as the golden years, when the camp came into itself. Enrollment went up to a hundred or so, I think. We were constantly improving the program. On Otsego Lake there were a number of sailboats, either Stars or Comets. We wanted to upgrade the sailing program, so Dad, through Moses Lippitt, ordered a Comet from the Thompson Boat Company in Cortland, N. Y. Larry and I hitched up the trailer and went over to the factory, had it loaded on, and brought it back. It was a great little sloop, registered as Number 566 in the Comet Association. Two people across the lake also had comets and a man had a Snipe, so we founded the North Otsego Lake Yacht club. We had races and the other guys usually won. Never the Snipe, which was smaller. We kept the "Turtle", the cat rigged sneak box, for training. My job was to be in charge of sailing, to command the Trenton Falls trips, and to maintain the machinery.

      There was office work to be done. Every councilor had to make out a weekly report on every boy. Dad would add his comment and Mother note any health problem. We councilors worked on them together sometimes, and discussed how much of it was fiction. The Dad said every boy ought to write home every week and tell his parents what he was doing. He knew this was not happening. So he wrote two pages, front and back telling the events of the week, called the "Hyde Bay Homeletter." First we used the "Ditto" machine that printed purple from gelatin rolls. Later we got a mimeograph with typed stencils. In the early days, he did all the office work himself. Some Sunday nights I worked with him, folding homeletters, and stuffing envelopes. Later a staff wife would be his secretary. He enjoyed doing this, because he always loved to write.

      About this time, Dad had the camp registered as a mutual partnership, each of us five a partner. It had tax advantages, since the profit could be divided five ways. The actual receipts were in the form of college and graduate education, of course. Dad liked the idea also as a symbol of our working together.

      I think it was when I was home in March, '36, after my shoulder separation, that Dad and I started talking about the need for a recreation hall. We planned it there and in June it was erected near the dining room. I was never happy with the design; it seemed to me it should have been more open toward the lake. It worked and was useful.

      We struggled with the water supply. We didn't want to be always dependent on Rathbuns. Dad's desire was to develop a spring, so we could have a supply of natural spring water. There was enough marshy land around so it seemed it might be possible. It didn't work. As a part of the spring attempt we built a concrete tank up the hill from the buildings. Water from that would run by gravity to the kitchen, the cottages, and to the tooth brushing stand near the tents. Presently, we had to give up the spring and pump chlorinated lake water from a pump near the shore up to that tank. For the boy's cleanliness, they had a "soap dip" every Saturday.

      We managed to take the few Catholics to Cooperstown for church. I occasionally took a boatload of the Protestants to town for the Episcopal Church. Every Sunday morning, the camp, weather permitting, gathered at the Three Willows, up the shore, for a simple service led by Dad, or occasionally one of the councilors.

      Every clear night, Dad built a fire near the beach, which was surrounded by wooden sort of Adirondack chairs. Whoever felt like it sat there, and often Dad would tell stories of life in the country when he was a boy, or whatever was on people's minds. George Chandlee remarked on this in his notes on Dad's death.

      We had a great lot of councilors. George Chandlee was head. Some of the rest came up through the U. L. program. Others were college friends of Larry and mine. There was Al Kerr, from my class for piano, Jake Madden from Larry's. A young man came into camp one June on a bicycle, and asked for a job. He had ridden up from Goshen, a town in the southern part of the state. He was a Yale student named John Gott. We didn't really need another councilor, but due to his personality and the fact that he had taken the trouble to bike up all that way, Dad hired him, sand he was great. The year after Billy Payne left, I did the riding, but that was not my forte, much as I enjoyed it. In 1941, my fiancĂ©e's brother, Walt Geer, did the riding, and returned for another year after the war. There were Forrest Griffith and Travers Nelson, Baltimore boys who had gone to Cornell.

      For a number of years, we sent every one away at the end of camp and we five Picketts did the job of closing up, striking the tents, storing the boats, storing beds and mattresses, draining the water supply, covering the windows. It was exhausting. Finally Dad said that this was stupid when we had all that muscle power around. So we had the councilors stay two or three days and they did the job for us. Then we had them leave two or three tents, and Larry and I and our special friends and girls had a house party. We, sailed, canoed, visited Trenton Falls. Fun.

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