This arrived in my Email from Chuck Rait:
Somehow, another Kittatinny camper found us. I’m not sure if Steve has found your website or not, so I am sending his letter to you and my response. I believe we are all crazy. It must have been something in the water.
Whatever happened to Steve Stern?
The other day I found this web site which led me to Kittatinny Camp. This is giving me the opportunity to try to connect with counselors, as well as campers, who I haven’t seen or spoken to in over 40 years. Instead of re writing this many times I will be sending it as an
attachment if I am contacted by old friends and acquaintances.
I first came to Kittatinny in 1964 as a busboy and a drummer when Jerry Blatt brought me there. I had never gone to camp as a youngster. I worked at Kittatinny from 1964 until it closed after the 1973 season. My last year I was the Boy’s Head Counselor which will probably surprise some of you who knew me at the beginning. I’m going to first write about what has happened to me since those years and then about the camp. Many of you may not be fully aware of the true reason for the closing and that “Uncle Henry” was really not as cheap as we all thought.
In my personal life I started teaching in New York City in 1969 and I retired from the system in July 2003. I got married when I was 36 and I have a 23 year old son who will be entering graduate school in May. I still live in Queens but I have an all year round vacation home in a community in the Poconos called Masthope Mountain Community and it is about 45 minutes or less from the old camp. For those of you who traveled to Kittatinny from New York/New Jersey, my route to my home is very similar. If you remember going past Stokes State Forest to camp you were on route 206 and then you would make a left onto Route 521 past the K&O Tavern (now an Italian restaurant). To go to my place you stay straight on Route 206 into Milford (remember that town). My vacation home is about 18 miles west of Milford and about 6 miles from Camp Pine Forest which is still in operation. Therefore, every time I go to my Pa. home it evokes memories of my days at Kittatinny. As an aside, I have not really played the drums since 1974. You may also remember me with thick black curly hair. What little hair I have left is now gray.
When I think of my days at Kittatinny I recall that we all said that we would never lose touch with each other but as we get older we know that life has a funny way of interfering with all good intentions. I regret that I lost touch with so many fine people. Since I was there from 1964 through 1973 I saw it go from a thriving, full occupancy camp, to a
small shell of itself by 1973. Although there was always closeness among campers and staff it became a very close knit family in the last two years. Those of you who left before 1969/1970 would probably not even know the names of those “who made their mark” between 1969 and 1973. Those of you who were in the girl’s senior bunks in the late 60’s might remember Sue Shanik; she was Girl’s Head Counselor that last year. The activities and traditions of the camp remained exactly the same until its closing.
The story of the closing is as follows. You all remember that we considered Henry Moss cheap and we said that he was losing campers because he wouldn’t build a pool or new “Rec Halls”. Henry knew all this but he couldn’t do what he wanted to do because the government said it was going to buy up the land and Henry had no choice. Some of us always heard these rumors but they were true. A good businessman would have been a fool to spend money on an investment that might never be used. Sometime between the end of 1973 and spring of 1974, U.S. Government forced Henry to sell for what was then known as the Toc’s Island Dam Project. The plan was that they were going to flood the land on both sides of the Delaware, wiping out Dingman’s Ferry and all surrounding
areas. Kittatinny Camp, being on the high ground, was to become a recreational area under the supervision of the national Parks Service. In addition to the camp being sold, farmers in the area were also forced to sell their land which had been in their families for over 100 years. Dingman’s Ferry was totally razed to the ground. Toc’s Island never
materialized and the whole project was investigated to no end. However, many lives were destroyed and uprooted.
Enough of that. I just wanted to give you the history, but that’s over 40
Hopefully we can all keep in touch.
In my mind, there is only one way to spell Kittatinny—Ki double ta-ti-double ny. Welcome to Never- Never Land. Kittatinny made such a lasting impression on so many of us that it is amazing that we still think of the camp so many decades after its demise. I find it somewhat amusing that you feel that the activities and the traditions of the camp remained exactly the same until its closing. In my mind, there were two, very different Kittatinny camps.
My sister, Toby, was on Pioneer Row in 1946. She continued go to camp until she was a counselor. My brother, Harold, was also at Kittatinny
until 1953, his last year there as a bus boy and my first year there as a nine year old. I
believe in Division C. I continued to go to Kittatinny almost every yearfrom 1953 until 1962, the year I graduated from high school. That year, I was dumped by one
beautiful CIT and spent the last few weeks of the season with Janet Blatt, Jerry’s sister. She worked in the canteen and I was a dishwasher. Neither of us had a curfew and we would spread a blanket on the lawn in front of the canteen (across the road) and drink. Between my dish washing duties, playing various sports during the day, and my nightlife, I, a freshman at Temple University, spent only one week at college. My parents had to pick me up at the end of the week of freshman orientation because of a raging case of mononucleosis. It took me almost a year to fully recover, but I went back to Temple for the second semester in January. I will never forget the summer of ‘62 (what I can remember of it).
If you said that I was there in 64 when you started, I have no memory of being there. In fact, the only time I am certain I was at Kittatinny was in 1969 or 1970 (seehow bad my memory is) when I taught water skiing. It rained almost all summer, so I spent a lot of time reading books.
I loved working with Jerry Blatt and remember writing color war songs with him. He was a great talent and one of the funniest people at camp. I’m glad he brought you there. Kittatinny played a huge part in my life and I couldn’t wait until camp started each year. I was very fortunate to be a camper at KLC as were my brothers and sisters.Obviously, you know Iris and I expect your know Michael, the youngest in my family, who was there until 70 or 71. I don’t believe he stayed to the end, but I could call him and find out. I live in northern California about 55 miles north of San Francisco. Michael lives in Armonk, but works in Manhattan.
The camp years I spent as a camper during the 50s were much more regimented than the years after 1960. The camp was not that isolated from what was happening in the general culture of America and the 60s brought a lessening of the camp rules. It was still fun. I have been emailing Ralph Tyko, and told him that I can still picture the camp clearly in my mind and have a hundred different stories that I could tell about my years there.
In short, they were wonderful.
Recently, I spoke with Dick Trout, who I hope you know. He was a wonderful guy and I always tried, but failed, to live up to his standards. He was a counselor there when I was a camper. I called him, he lives in Lancaster, PA., and even though he was working there, he also said that it was a magical time.
Anyway, I could ramble on, but will stop about camp talk. Where have I been since 1964? I graduated from Hofstra in 1967 and was married in June of that year. I stayed there
for graduate school and received an MSEd. in 1969. My wife and I moved to a small town in northern New Jersey,White Meadow Lake. Like you, I became a teacher. Unlike you, taught for only three months. Realizing that I was terrible at it, and not wanting my students to suffer, I quit. I worked for my father-in-law who had a factory making food
packing equipment (his machines put the peas, among many other things, in the can). I worked for him for almost two years, but that was not for me and my marriage was disintegrating. I left my wife in 1971 and stopped at Kittatinny for about three or four days to see Michael before I headed across country.
After some unusual twists and turns, I found myself working in a neonatal intensive care unit in Sacramento, California (BSN from Adelphi in 1975). Then worked as a nurse practitioner in San Francisco in the early 1980s. Married in 1981, two children, a 25 year old daughter who is trying to find her place in life (thought she would be a history teacher, but changed her mind after graduating from Montana State in Bozeman, Montana–very cold there for a native Californian). My son, 23, will be graduating from Evergreen State
College in Olympia, Washington, this summer or I will strangle him. What he plans to do when he graduates is a mystery to me.
I started a publishing company in 1981 to produce a professional journal for neonatal intensive care nurses. We will soon be completing our 27th year in business. I also publish books and started two national nursing associations. So, I’ve been busy.
I was heading for a wonderful retirement, working only three days a week, when I became ill and required supplemental oxygen twenty-four hours a day. I was on that regime for three years, but recently have improved somewhat so that I can be off of O2 during the day as long as I am not too active. Even with this illness, I consider myself to be extremely lucky all of my life. The few bad years have been greatly overwhelmed by all the
wonderful years. Certainly, I was fortunate to be sent to Kittatinny every summer from the time I was nine years old. Although my memories of Kittatinny are vague after 1962, I do remember you–especially your abundant, dark, curly hair!
I do not remember our trip to Sparta when you received your speeding ticket.
Again, welcome back into the time of Kittatinny. In many ways, it is both fun and somehow comforting to remember how carefree we were and the great friendships we made. I have always remained friends with Jerry Solot and a little more than a year ago
attended his son’s wedding in Colorado. Jerry recently bought a condo outside of Denver where his son is doing his residency. Jerry is an emergency room doc in Pittsburgh and his son is doing his medical residency in family practice. Jerry’s address is 2349 Railroad
Street #3203, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. He just moved to this address, so I’m not sure if his telephone number has changed. The telephone numbers I have for him are: 412-665-1333 and cell phone 412-512-5110. Since I’ve become ill, I’ve spent a good deal of time calling up old friends. The response has been truly wonderful. Give Jerry a call. I’m sure he would appreciate it.
Congratulations on surviving the New York City school system.
Chuck Rait, Kittatinny Camp, 1953 to 1962 (an somewhere beyond).