|Camp Tamarac's Yokum Pond|
Bobby had dark hair, which he wore in a pompadour, Elvis-style. I stole glances at him when we gathered at the flagpole for Taps each evening. Camp Tamarac was a coed camp, but the girls and boys lived and played at opposite ends of its grounds on the shore of Yokum Pond. The girls didn't see the boys during the day, but the entire camp came together in the morning and evening, when we raised and lowered the flag. We shared the same dining hall, too, though the girls sat on one side, the boys on the other. We girls spent meals singing songs at the top of our lungs, trying to attract the boys' attention.
The sexes also came together in the social hall, a big all-purpose building that served as the dividing line between the boys and girls camps. Used for rainy-day activities and religious services, it was also the setting for camp "socials," as well as for performances, which ranged from musicals to talent shows to competitive "sings."
I learned many skills at Camp Tamarac, among them swimming, tennis, basketball, and riflery (to my own surprise, I was a crack shot). Camp Tamarac also taught me about boys. It was at Tamarac that I awakened to the idea of a boyfriend. Though only ten years old and not yet ruled by surging hormones, I suddenly found boys mysterious and alluring. Added to this was the thrill of the forbidden, since our counselors endeavored assiduously to keep us apart, except at socials. During those awkward, well-chaperoned events, I prayed that Bobby Weinstein would ask me to dance.
Not that I had much to recommend me. My wavy brown hair was cut short and stuck out at odd angles. My teeth hadn't yet been straightened. And my skinny legs had earned me the nickname "chicken legs." During one of our all-too-frequent bull sessions, the girls in my bunk pronounced that while I was not yet pretty, I had potential. I took this snarky compliment as the highest praise, so desperate was I to be that pretty girl with whom Bobby Weinstein would want to dance. But, at social after social, nothing happened. As the eight weeks of camp season ebbed away, my hope faded that Bobby would ever notice me.
It was announced that there would be a talent show the last Saturday evening of camp, followed by the final camp social. When the lights went down onstage, out stepped Bobby Weinstein to perform "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb." The original had been sung by Connie Stevens and Edd "Kookie" Byrnes, of 77 Sunset Strip fame. No real singing was required, since "Kookie" was more of an early rap number, complete with hip lyrics of the day. You can see and hear "Kookie" in its full glory by clicking the following link: Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb.
I can't recall whether there was a girl onstage with Bobby or if he merely lip-synched the recorded words to an invisible Connie Stevens. What I do remember is that the song fit Bobby to a tee, as it involved a really cool guy constantly combing his hair. Bobby looked right at home running a comb through his gorgeous brown pompadour.
His performance was a hit. The audience swooned over Bobby, or maybe only I swooned. In any event, the applause was deafening. But all that was nothing compared to what happened next, at the final camp social. Bobby asked me to dance. To a slow dance! I tried not to step on his feet as we swayed back and forth. When the music ended, Bobby kept his arms around me and looked at me. "I like you, too," he said. And then he kissed me.
My first kiss. And, other than a glimpse of him at the final flag raising, the last time I ever saw Bobby Weinstein.