So remember how we used to get phone calls at Buck’s Rock? If we got them, of course. Rachel and I didn’t often, because our parents were at the camp with us, which was awesome for so many reasons, but not so much when it came to mail, care packages and phone calls, but extremely great for when we got sick or an injury or wanted a treat sneaked to us from late night Counselor Snack or, miracle of miracles, a pizza from that place in New Milford or just a hug or someone to cheer you on in the Watermelon League even if you were the worst softball player ever.
“Lauren Grollman, you have a phone call.” The two pay phones were on the side of the Dining Room where we all ate and sat wherever we wanted and waited in line for the cafeteria-style food that was always so good – I mean REALLY good, not just for camp food. And there was always peanut butter and jelly if you didn’t want what was made fresh in the kitchen every day.
There was the microphone in the Dining Room where Lou always made his announcements at mealtimes, but kids could use it too IFANDONLYIF they had a really good reason, like, for example, you were walking by the pay phones and one of them rang and you answered it and it was some parent asking to talk to his kid and you’d tell them to hold and leave the phone dangling and run to the microphone and turn the little black square button to the “ON” position and say into it, “David Grausman, you have a phone call at the Dining Room. David Grausman, you have a phone call at the dining room” and basically your responsibility was fulfilled, but if you were too shy to speak into the microphone there was always another kid or grownup around willing to do it for you.
I never thought about the poor parent on the other end of the phone that was dangling because who knows if David or Lauren heard the announcement because maybe they were all the way out at the farm or in the radio shop with headphones on or somewhere else on the edges of the camp? Some people, like me, were really nice and would hang around the dangling phone for a few minutes and if Lauren or David didn’t come to talk to their parents, I could say, “I’m sorry, they’re not around right now, do you want me to take a message?” and they’d say yes and I’d write it down (sometimes there was a pencil and paper scraps on top of the phones) and pin it on the bulletin board (or did I put it into a cubby hole?) that everyone passed as they headed into the Dining Room for the next meal and they would check and find a phone message from their dad and call him back after dinner. If they had enough quarters, because you had to go to Doris in the office for quarters or if you were lucky the canteen was open and you could get quarters there, too.
On the rare occasions I DID get a phone call from my grandparents or aunt or AMAZINGLY from a friend it would be like I won the lottery and I wouldn’t be sure if they really said my name over the loudspeaker and I’d look around at the people I was with for them to confirm it was indeed my name being announced and they’d look at me and that was enough confirmation for me to take off at a mad pace towards the dining hall past the ping pong tables and the canteen and the Gong and hope to god some prick didn’t hang up the dangling phone before I got to it, but usually it was still dangling when I got there breathless and said, “Hello???”
Thanks, and kudos to my friend, Jen Maidenberg, for inspiring this type of nostalgia and writing with her lovely blog, And Yadda Yadda.