Sunday, March 25, 2012

Where Have You Gone, Bobby Weinstein?

Camp Tamarac's Yokum Pond
I met Bobby during the summer of 1959 at Camp Tamarac in Becket, Massachusetts. I was ten years old. He was twelve. He came from Riverdale, in the Bronx, a glamorous world of apartment buildings, impossibly far from the Long Island split level where I lived with my family.

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.



8 comments:

  1. Loved it. It's such a pertinent question. I think everyone has a name from the past that passes through their mind once in a while. bonnie

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  2. I think we all went thru the same thing in our early years. With me it was at an AZA--BBG convention

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  3. I was at Camp Tamarac and 12 years old in 1959. Kissed my first girl who was 12. We actually met up about 2 years ago having found each other. Spent many more years there eventually as general in Color War. Best years of my life. Drove up there several years ago. All that remains is the flagpole. Land was sold, buildings torn down, overgrown with foliage and a few private homes.

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  4. I was at Camp Tamarac. My mother, Shirley was Head Counselor, My sister and I were counselors and my two brothers were campers. I loved every minute of it. The memories run through my blood. Color War spirit unreal.
    Somehow, I would love to connect with you. How can I?








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  6. I was at Camp Tamarac with my older brother Ron sometime around the summer of 1956. It was the summer that "The Ten Commandments" came out. I was stuck in the infirmary with an Asthma attack and couldn't go with the rest of the camp.

    My mother, Esther, was the camp mother for the girls camp. Still have fond memories of that summer. Did my first and last boxing match (it was a draw).

    I remember the night they tried to serve us liver disguised as something else that also sucked.

    Great memories.

    Neil

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  7. My sister and I went to Camp Tamarac. The best memories of youth. Would love to hear more about camp. Color War, Salt Tablets, Everybody upity, up! Long pants and rubber boots... Milk break... on and on.

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  8. I worked at Camp Tamarac the summers of 1960,1961,1962. I was part of the kitchen staff. I was the around the same age as the waiters and CIT'S. The camp was a great place to spend our summers swimming, canoeing, water skiing, horseback riding,camp socials. I went back once in 1969 and the camp was still the same, and once in 2012 when their was nothing left of it. What a nice place for kids, young adults and college kids to spend their summers.

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