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Eagle River, Wisconsin

1950’s Memories from an Alumna


~ contributed by Deborah Dashow Ruth, 1950s ~

A few months ago we received this wonderful document from a Nicolet alumna who attended camp from 1952 at age 11 years old until she was a CIT in Deerpath in 1956. What fantastic memories! A compilation of Nicolet trivia, camp songs, and as she states: “a hodge podge grab bag of things I remember from camp” will surely bring a smile or spark a memory from those of us who attended camp during the 1950s. It is a pleasure to share this with our Nicolet family, old and young, as a bit of time travel to the early days at Nicolet.

The original Pines cabin from the early years at camp. Notation by Ann Schrader.

Camp Directors: Ann & Wendall Schrader, Chef: George Schrader, Riding Director: Tony Abney

Following is a hodge-podge grab bag of things I remember from my years at Camp:

1) We had to check our watches at the office when we arrived, and we retrieved them 8 weeks later when we left. Time was marked by bells for meals, for the start of activities, and for the end of the daily post- lunch rest hour.

2) Playing jacks on the sidewalk outside Fir. But only after we’d finished our “capers” (i.e., cleaning up the cabin). We also played on the floor inside.

(The levels of jacks were: Babes, Eggs, Ups, Downs (but “Fours Downs, Ones Babes”)* Double-Ups, Double-Downs, Mums, Backward Mums.)**

*If you missed “Fours downs,” you had to go back and start all over at “Ones Babes.”
** With Mums, you couldn’t say a word; with Backward Mums, you had to talk non-stop.

3) Georgi’s first year as a camper was 1952, in Little Fawn when I was in Fir.

4) A bit of dining room lore:
A) At meals we drank Bug Juice in all flavors.
B) Counselors ordered coffee with lots of cream in the tan cups. “Make it the color of the cup.”

(We had week-long “wait-on” assignments in the dining room, serving and clearing the tables.)

5) Singing after lunch and dinner, led by Tish (Ada Lovelace) and then Tic (Jill Ticknor). (Song lyrics below.)

Riding Director, Tony Abney, is fondly remembered by all campers and staff during the 1950s.

 

6) Horseback riding with Tony Abney whose daughter, Doreen, was also a camper. I fell off Blazer the first time we went cantering; Ginger stepped on my toe; Other horses: Romeo, Dusty, Sweetheart.

7) Learning tennis from artist/tennis pro Bobbie Moog. She painted a practice board with a life-sized caricature of a camper holding a tennis racquet.

The NIcolet Lady captained by Mr. Schrader pulls multiple skiers during the early evolution of the Nicolet water ski program.

 

8) Water-skiing behind the Nicolet Lady speedboat, which Mr. Schrader drove.

9) The buddy system when we went swimming.

10) Mastering a solo canoe — heavy on the j-stroking. (But I never got the hang of sailing.)

11) All-day canoe trips down the Brule River.

12) In Juniper my second year, we went on the annual/traditional 3-day camping trip to “The Porkies.” (It rained the whole time.)

13) Paddling the war canoe to Tiger’s Tail and Treasure Island for hiking and picnics. (Sometimes we went by speedboat.)

14) Mosquitos and No-see-ums. (We used some sort of bug repellant — was it called “6-12”?)

15) Saturday night campfires: In 1956, we CITS choreographed a sort-of modern dance to Poe’s “The Raven,” which we recited as we moved.

16) Sunday vespers. (Non-denominational.) I don’t have any specific memories of those.

17) Mrs. Schrader asked me to write something for the Nicoletter.

18) Banquet on the last night of camp. Outstanding Camper Award given out to great surprise and much shrieking. Also, Cabin Awards. (I won it my first year, when I was in Fir.)

19) Campers’ farewell song: “Camp Nicolet, we bid you adieu, we’ve had a lovely time with you . . . ”

(See rest of lyrics below.)

20) Counselors’ farewell song to the campers — which we weren’t ever allowed to sing: “Oh, good-byee, don’t you cry-ee, wipe those tears, oh my dears, from your eye-ee . . . ” (See rest of lyrics below.)

21) Crying on the bus that took us from Camp to Eagle River to catch the train home.

22) The February reunion at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. Seeing each other in skirts and dresses instead of camp attire. Even the counselors wore skirts!

Camp Songs for Final Banquet:

Camp Nicolet, We Bid You Adieu

“Camp Nicolet, we bid you adieu, We’ve had a lovely time with you.

Here on the shores of Franklin so blue, Prettiest spot we ever knew.

Days seem like moments Here with you,
New friends to make, New things to do.

We’ve had no time
For feeling blue.
Nicolet, we bid you adieu.”

Counselors (only) sang:

Oh, Good-byee

“Oh, good-byee,
Don’t you cry-ee,
Wipe those tears,
Oh my dears,
From your eye-ee.
Oh, it’s sad to leave, we know, And we’re far from

Tickled to death to see you go. Good-byee,
Don’t you cry-ee,
There’s a silver lining

In the sky-ee. Fare-thee-well, old thing, Cheerio, come sing,
We’ll be back another year So good-byee.”

Thanks for sharing Debbie, and may you all have such fond memories of your days at Camp Nicolet!

 

 

“My 9 years at Camp Nicolet are some of the highlights of my life.  I think of my time on Lake Franklin, laughing, singing, learning new skills, and making lifelong friends. The memories are a source of pure joy and happiness buffering the inevitable challenges of life!” – Camp Nicolet Alumna

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