The summer my friend Stephanie and I were too old to be a campers but not old enough to be counselors, we worked as camper-waitresses at a children’s camp in the Connecticut foothills. Stephanie and I went on to become life-long friends, but a friendship cut too short by her cancer death at age 65. (See Aunt Miriam, Diva, and Postcards from a Secret Admirer)
But what fun memories we had of that summer! Our parents had paid partial camp tuition for us to have the privilege of working there – and hard work it was! We had to be at the dining hall bright and early to eat breakfast, then wait on the campers, then clear the tables, and then set-up for lunch.
We had a few hours off and then back to eat our lunch, then wait on the campers, then clear the tables , and then set-up for dinner. And then a few hours off before dinner.
And what did we do with those hours off? I think we spent much of that time flirting with the camper waiters, maybe taking a swim, or drifting aimlessly out on the lake in a canoe, or playing a little tennis, and then back to the dining hall to flirt some more with the camper waiters.
But one day we packed box lunches and went with the campers and counselors to the Danbury Fair. I don’t remember all we saw and did at the fair that day, but I do remember one very special attraction.
Although like any 50s teenager I loved rock ‘n’ roll, I also loved to listen to my parents’ LPs – Gershwin, and Rogers and Hammerstein show tunes, hot and cool jazz, and the Great American Songbook.
And although on that hazy summer day I might not have known she had perfect pitch, or that she had perfected scat, or that years later a music critic would declare her voice too joyous to sing the blues – I knew I was in the presence of a great songstress when Ella Fitzgerald took the stage at the Danbury Fair!
Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!