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The photo is from the summer of 1969, my third summer at Hyde Bay. Standing in front of the theater, that’s me on the right, brother Tom on the left and our father in between. I was 13. Though my first summer as a camper was when I was 11, I had made the trip to Cooperstown numerous times before, helping my father drop off brothers Tom and Bill for their summers at Hyde Bay. Bruce and Jeff Rice along with Dutch Master were often part of those trips. And now, many years later, I revisit Lake Otsego periodically with my wife and daughters when Tom rents a cottage right on the lake just south of Rathbun’s.
The first summer, 1967, homesickness made it the longest four weeks of my life. My counselor was Bruce Danzer who was a friend and classmate of my oldest brother. By 1969 for the final summer at camp, I was there for eight weeks and would have gladly signed up for an additional four! That summer my tent- mates were Marty Sutton, Jamie Spragins and Lex Dyer. Our counselor was Larry Sager. The summer in between, 1968, my counselor was George Radcliffe. Tent- mates included Chip McLaughlin and Jared Bernstein. Jared has gone on to be a mover and shaker in DC as an expert on national labor/economic trends. George’s influence (as sailing counselor) led me to take the Comet test, and I recall some fun afternoons on the lake – with no crew lost at sea. I spent a lot of time playing baseball for Pierre Black. The last summer I was on both the 13 and under and 13 and over team, and I was far from good. No glove, no hit. But, we did get to play the Cooperstown little league all-star team in 1969 on Doubleday Field and won. It is a great memory -- Pierre reading the lineups right after lunch as we stood and were sent out to a rousing rendition of “Strawberry Shortcake.”
I recall one of the weekly highlights being the camp plays. It was great fun to spend a few hours the week your tent was to perform in the theater with Jolly Schmick, Josh Shoemaker and Skip Hebb putting us through rehearsals. During my summers I was only in two plays. In 1968, George Radcliffe’s tent was in a play with a Russian spy plot. A year later, our play was about the sinking of the Titanic. Here I am 44 years later periodically forgetting why I walked into a room, but I can remember the lyrics to the songs from both of those plays.
Since that time, I graduated from Gilman and did the same from Washington and Lee. I used my journalism degree to get into the newspaper business. For a few of those years, I worked on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with George Radcliffe’s brother. Bill Radcliffe, also a camper at Hyde Bay, mentored me as a very green reporter. Bill was a great guy, who, like my own brother Bill, died far too young. Not as though I foresaw the demise of the newspaper industry, but I made the move out of it into the world of corporate PR many years ago and have been telling people to use more pepper, vanilla and Old Bay as Director of Corporate Communications at McCormick and Company in my hometown for 26 years. My best move post-Hyde Bay was getting the girl I was dating, in a moment of profound weakness (for her), to agree to marry me. Deb and I have three amazing daughters. They too love Lake Otsego. This past summer, you might have seen us having lunch at Sam Smith’s Boat Yard and finishing the day kayaking to Glimmerglass State Park.
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