Kittatinny Camp’s Steve Stern And Chuck Rait

February 2, 2008 at 11:55 pm (Kittatinny Camp)

This arrived in my Email from Chuck Rait:

Hi Ralph:
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.

Regards,

Chuck

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
years ago.

Hopefully we can all keep in touch.

Steve Stern

Hi Steve:

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.

Take care.

Chuck Rait, Kittatinny Camp, 1953 to 1962 (an somewhere beyond).

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28 Comments

  1. Snake Oil Sam said,

    One thing which Steve failed to mention in his letter is that he is and always has been a great asset to the Community of Masthope!!!

  2. Steve Stern said,

    Who is Snake Oil Sam and how does he know me?

  3. Ralph Zig Tyko said,

    I have no idea, Steve. Perhaps he or she will check back in.

  4. Steve Stern said,

    It’s strange. The person obviously knows me and the links to him/her is an association connected to the Community in which I am very active.

  5. dick berk said,

    Steve Stern does not ring a bell but Jerry Blatt does (see picture from Atlantic City 1960) as does Jerry solot. Jerry Blatt was a wonderful person extremely talented and full of life. His coordination of the camp plays were remarkable given the limits of our financial committments. His originality in song writing was beyond remarkable. While he was associated with Bette Midler, I also caught a glimpse of him on the Ed MacMahon show with one of the early 5 star winners, rehearsing. The dinner in A.C just happened and the picturte is a wonderful memory of that evening.
    Jerry Solot was also a fraternity brother of mine from Dickinson College (as was Steve Hankin) and I recall his time as a pledge during one of our many execise regimens. He was rather angry about the exercise and when the class was asked to do jumping jacks again, he promptly put his hands thru the ceiling tiles on the upstroke, ending the excerise class. I am happy to hear that he is a practicing physician and that it did not dissuade his son from following on the same road.
    Once I stopped attending KLC (1960 was my last year), we were able to come up and visit in 1961 and 1962 for a week-end. There were 4 or 5 – Steve Rotman, Bob Blendon, my brother and myself – staying across the bridge in what can be called a flea bag motel. And paying the $.25 toll to cross.
    Chuck, are you still actiuvely publishing? I’m sorry for your pulmonary limits but the internet and the phone make the country just a click away. Good luck to you

  6. Ralph Zig Tyko said,

    It just occurred to me that Len Fairoth, in the Atlantic City picture, rode along with me in the ambulance to Brooklyn Jewboy Hospital for my emergency appendectomy,mercifully ending my career as a KLC camper waiter [I sucked blue goldfish at that, and most, jobs], two weeks early, in 1962… I remember Steve Hankin on the mound in countless softball games, with umpire Milt Blatt standing behind him. I do not remember anyone ever disputing a Milt Blatt or a Chuck Smerin call. Ever… Jerry Solot was an outstanding basketball player from Brooklyn’s James Madison High School. The jumping jack story, “is pure Jerry,” Dick… Jerry Blatt, had he lived, would have been a household name. His productions were pro quality. I can’t hear the My Fair Lady’s song, On The Street Where You Live, without thinking of the mellow, monotone Art Baskin. Also, Guys and Dolls always elicits images of Sacksy and the Fish, for me.

  7. Steve Stern said,

    Dick Berk, nice to meet you online. You wouldn’t know me since I came to the camp in 1964. jerry Blatt brought me there as a busboy and a drummer for the shows. The rest is hstory as indicaated above. Jerry Blatt wrote a musical he named “Thumba” based on Thumbalina. He did it as a lower division play in 1964. It opened off Broadway a few years later but folded after a few performances. I can picture Jerry losing his temper since he was a hot head back then. By the way, jerry went to high school in the Philadelphia area.

  8. dick berk said,

    Steve:
    Nice to meet you, too. Sorry I couldn’t be there after Jerry had been at KLC for a number of years. I think his first year was ’59 or ’60, my last ones. I don’t recall him ever being angry then, but he was new to the area.
    I as not aware he went to school in Philly, but it has been nearly 50 years. It was not that I didn’t want to return but pantal guidance demanded that I “work” during the summer so managed to work at the H Daroff and sons clothing factory on Chestnut St. (?) in the cutting room (my father was a physician in the Hillman Medical Center and got the job for me) carrying patterns to the cutters. I don’t recall any of the other jobs but would have loved to return to camp a few more times. Nonetheless, it’s good to meet a new person on line. If you have any pictures squirreled away from those “days of yesteryear,” feel free to send them along. It is amazing what a joy those pictorial essays bring.

  9. Bob Berk said,

    All,

    I am following this thread and it IS good to relive online what cannot occur in real life. I remember Jerry Blatt and but do not recall his temper…but time will do that.

    Another story is:
    I don’t remember the exact dates – possibly 1959 or 1960 summer – but our KLC folks met at Atlantic City and were introduced to a man who we were told was the comic Lenny Bruce (I believe the person who arranged that meeting was Sol Posniak – Director for the camp play that year – havent thought of that in years)

    Regardless of time, the memories are STILL there.

  10. Snake Oil Sam said,

    Hi Steve:

    Yes you do know me. My Son Philip is the head of LifeGuards at Masthope.

  11. Steve Stern said,

    Snake Oil Sam,

    I found out who you are about a month ago although I surmised it was you. How did you find this blog? Hope to see you on the 29th.

  12. Pam Levine said,

    Does anyone remember my mother – Rayna Jane Brody – who went to camp in the thirties and maybe early forties? My aunt Gladys Brody went also. I’d love to hear from you!

  13. rich weinstein said,

    this is rich weinstein. i was a camper from 1965 till the end. i just laughed to myself about steve stern. it felt like is was just yesterday. i remember his curly black hair. if anybody has any more info about the camp please email me. thanks!! rich weinstein. email address is tennispro1525@aol.com. are there alot of people going to the reunion? my brother barry and i are looking forward to it. does anybody remember mitch berko and mark rachesky?

  14. steve hankin said,

    Somehow, I cam across this website and read the comments. How wonderful I felt, all of the memories still so close to me. Something was very, very special about that camp. It was not just our tender years. So here I am an Atlantic City attorney, still jogging, still happy(a great wife and 3 daughters) and loving every minute of life. But I sure would like for all of us to meet up there-on the campgrounds one fine day. That would really bring it all back,

  15. Barry Weinstein said,

    My name is Barry Weinstein and I was a camper from 72-73.
    My great uncle was Uncle Henry. He was my grandmothers brother.
    My father David worked at the camp himself back in the 40s. My cousin Gary Kauffman was his nephew.
    I had a couple of great summers there.
    I want everyone to know that Uncle Henry was not cheap as people think. He was forced to sell the camp to make way for a Dam that was never built. That is probably why he never made too many improvements.
    Also, I know he helped out my family with the fee because I know, even back then , my parents never could have afforded the camp tuition.
    The camp is basically all back to forest now, except for one baseball field, but I beleive that Gary K. once told me that an iron bench surrounding a big tree by the office was still there.
    I am now 47 living with my wife of 23 years, and one child Evan who will be off to college this year, in North Wales, PA.
    I would like to hear from any of my bunk mates if they see this.
    I believe, they are Richard Shupak, Richard Grey, Larry Nach. There may have been a couple more, but I dont remember. I beleive one of the counselors was Russel Baldwin.

    Barry Weinstein

  16. Bob D'Angelo said,

    My name is Bob D’Angelo and my last year at KLC as a camper was1960 when I won the Camp Service award (probably by default). The following year I was the assistant dramatics counselor. I think I spent seven summers there in all. I well remember Jerry Blatt as I encountered him several times during my career in theatre. In addition to being the Dramatics counselor, Sol Posnak was a pretty good basketball player for an older guy, probably mid-thirties at the time…

    Some of the people whose names stick in my memory are Charlie Rait, Steve and Wendy Hankin, Jerry and Milt Blatt, Joel Lundy, Judy and Jay Licht (Judy has been married for many years to Jerry DeLaFamina), Kenny & Don Wind, Diane Brown,Hope Weisfeld(my first crush at about age 13, Dick and Marge Trout(Dick was my counselor my his year there before he went to the waterfront, Marshall Sklar and many others.

    I stopped in to visit during the summer of 1963 and bunked along pioneer row with Andy Goodman who later was murdered in Missiissippi in the summer of 1964.

    Some of the greatest memories of my life come from KLC. I would love to here from anyone from my era there…

    Bob D’Angelo
    BobD1000@gmail.com

  17. Art Balinkie said,

    I ‘transferred’ from Camp Saginaw with Nate Kaufman, Saginaw’s owner, in 1947 and stayed at KLC through 1957. Some of the guys’ names I recall are Stan Schiff, Barry Maser, Larry Weintraub, ‘Slugger’ Oringer, Abe Salaman, Harold Rait, Larry Bernstein,Fred & Richie Cerlin, Richie Karp, Bob Smith ( the director of the waterfront), Chuck & Bev Smerin, Jay Kaufman, Chuck Rosenblatt, Sid Greken, George Senesky, I’m sure if I thought a little I could name dozens more.

    Nate Kaufman bought the camp with Henry Moss around 1947. Henry remained a silent partner until Nate died suddenly. He then took over as a hands-on owner and spent a lot to develop the facilities and make the camp what it was.

    I remember when Chuck came back in the middle of the summer after his return from Korea when he first brought Bev to stay at the camp.

    After my last year in 1957 I spent two years in the army and served in France til 1960. Went back to south Jersey and worked there in the glass industry before moving to New York where I met my wife, Kathryn (Grad). We have two daughters and three grand daughters. We’ve lived in Scotch Plains and Mountainside, NJ for the last 42 years.

    Most of my career has been in retailing…an athletic shoe store in Livingston NJ and an old-time hardware store in Westfield until I retired in 1999.

    I hope that we can really bring off the reunion.

    • barry maser said,

      art b think of you often -abe salaman both are going to phillies mets game-i guess we both dont play much ball remember you played catcher

      • Art Balinkie said,

        Barry
        are you still in Jersey? retired?
        Often think of the good times at KLC and the fun we had at Rudy’s tavern just over the bridge in Dingman’s Ferry

  18. Gail Goldis Pearson said,

    So wonderful to read all the comments!!!
    Kittatinny was a big part of my life (1952-1963)
    I Married Stanley Pearson who also went to camp (1952-1964). We met at Debbie Stone’s party in 1964.

    We both have wonderful memories of those days!
    We have 2 children Son–37 Daughter 34 and 4 grandchildren
    I have not gone back to the camp since 1964. I understand there is nothing left??? How sad!
    Jenny Blatt–Head of CIT’s.
    Chuck Raitt–Do you remember we went out in 1963?

    • Ralph Zig Tyko said,

      Please show this blog to Craig, Billy and any and all KLCers. I invite you and all allum to send pics for posting along with their memories.
      Send to rtyko@pc4dc.org

    • Bob Berk said,

      Gail,

      Something IS left – I visited a few years ago and saw nothing except the softball field – in good condition…however, everything else is either not there or REALLY old.

      Bob

  19. Meryl Topchik said,

    Jerry Blatt, Marge and Dick Trout, Steve Hankin, Chuck Rait, so so many names from my past. The Roman twins, Bobby Diamond, Joanie Schwartz (forget her older sister’s name, Lauren and Michele Birdie, Steve Brody, Howie Levine, Cindy Zolot, Iris Raitt, Bruce Uydess….. so many names of friends, big sisters, happy memories slowly coming to mind. I eventually threw away all the milk bottle caps I had saved up.

    • Helen (Schwartz)Pearson Freedman said,

      Meryl, wasn’t I your counselor in bunk 8? I came up mid-season after taking summer courses at Delaware. Your other counselor was Ginny ___?, who had been “going after” Craig Pearson (my on/off boyfriend) and the little intrigues were pretty funny. I think you were in my sister Ruth’s bunks in lower division. You were a terrific athlete, I remember!

      • Lisa Wolfe said,

        I just found this site..I remember your name Helen..My counselor was Ginny Nye..she was wonderful..I went to camp in the very early 60;s and all these names sound familiar. I think I had Ginny in bunk # 7..Does anyone remember Sue Hoffman .counselor..she was one of my favorites..I had her in bunk 4 in 1960, I think..
        Lisa Wolfe

      • laurie berger said,

        not sure how i got to this site or if it still exists but ruthie schwartz was in my bunk for my 9 years (i think) at kittatinny!!
        Laurie Siegall

    • Ellen Kreshover said,

      OMG Jerry Blatt, Marge & Dick Trout, Bobby Diamond, Ronni Cohen, Barbara Burton, Janie Lerner….This is amazing… Jerry Solot, Andrew Goodman, The Fantastiks, Kenny Wind, Bernie Kirsner…Kittatinny and the people there will always have a special place in my heart.

  20. Meryl Topchik said,

    omg, Andy Goodman; i still cry when I see his photos

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