Marian, Janice, and Jean Go to Laurelville

  • Lacing a belt of green and yellow gimp in crafts class
  • Trips to the snack shop for an orange Nehi
  • Bible study on the rocks, girls like us with braids, some with prayer caps

These are my sharpest memories of Girls’ Week at Laurelville Mennonite Camp just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike not far from Pittsburgh, PA. along with . . .

  • Cottages with cute names like Dew Drop Inn
  • Toasting marshmallows around a fire pit
  • Singing rounds, our voices echoing each phrase: “My paddle’s keen and bright, flashing with silver, follow the wild goose flight, dip, dip, and swing”
  • “Do, Lord, oh, do Lord, oh do remember me wa-ay (big voice dip here) be-yond the blue.”

What we didn’t do at Laurelville:

  • Set fire to the boys’ swim trunks hanging on the line (There were no boys)
  • Paint each other’s toenails hot pink. (No one had makeup – verboten)
  • Sneak a smoke in the woods after dark. (We didn’t have matches – or cigarettes!)

The postcard I sent to my sisters from Laurelville reveals the price of postage stamps, an address that winds around the edge in cursive script, and simple declarative sentences. It also tells how I felt, what I saw, where we worshiped.


Postcard with rhododendron sent from Laurelville Mennonite Camp
Postcard with rhododendron sent from Laurelville Mennonite Camp in 1953

Memories of family week with my sisters and parents at Laurelville left a different imprint.

  • Family swim time
  • Doggie roast (Hot dogs, corn on the cob and roasted marshmallows)
  • Big plaque on dining room wall: “Come ye apart and rest awhile” Jesus’ invitation to his disciples in Mark 6:31
  • Morning blessing in song: “I owe the Lord a Morning Song” written by Amos Herr, Lancaster County pastor and farmer who couldn’t get through the snow drifts to church one Sunday morning in the 1850s and was inspired to pen both words and music to this song of gratitude. First two stanzas here:

I Owe Lord Morning Song

We also sang something new to us: How Great Thou Art, a Swedish hymn written in 1885, which became an instant sensation in Christian circles in 1955 because of the Billy Graham Crusades.

When through the woods and forest glades I wander, I hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees; when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.




What are your memories of camp? Here’s the place to share them – songs, games, mischief – other memorable moments.


Coming next: Creation Clips



Fishing on the Delaware 1950s

Daddy was an avid hunter (pheasants and deer mostly) and an eager fisherman. The outdoors took him away from the stresses of his business, Longenecker Farm Supply, and helped him literally recharge his batteries. I never went hunting with him, but he invited me once or twice on deep-sea fishing trips in my early teens.

Many summers ago, friends from Bosslers’ along with a few relatives chartered a boat and went deep sea fishing in the Atlantic south of the Delaware Bay. Unlike the New Testament disciples who fished with empty nets all night long until they followed the wisdom of Jesus, we PA Dutch fishermen hauled “em in right and left”– starboard and port. And unlike the disciples who had to cast their “nets” on the other side, we had a great catch without switching to a different strategy. Unbelievably, we novice fishermen were rewarded with a net-breaking haul of bass or trout. Somehow the figure of the number 68 (or maybe it was just 65) sticks in my mind as the amount of fish I caught single-handedly that day. Others easily topped my number. No fish tale here!


(I’m the one with the bandanna and sweater on the left side of the boat; Daddy is grinning behind Uncle Paul whose hand is raised.)

Ray holding fish_final_4x4_300 (1)

Generally, I had a strained relationship with Daddy. The stories of the ill-begotten bike and his unannounced violin purchase on earlier posts underscored his lack of knowledge of relating to me as his oldest daughter and subsequently my resistance to his overtures toward making a satisfactory connection.

But outside the walls of our house, taking walks or catching fish together, such barriers disappeared. These photographs evoke these pleasant memories, times when we were in tune with nature and with each other as father and daughter.

Childhood that place where purity of feeling reigns, was merging into adolescence, where ambiguity begins.

Mary Peacock in The Paper Garden  

And that is where I was, the age of ambiguity and change.

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Comments? A question? An anecdote from your own experience growing up.