We're both Jews with potentially big hair? We both dabble in poker? We both grew up in NYC? We're both respected yet mocked often? Ha ha! Good guesses!
We both spent the summers of our youth at:
Camp Sussex, located in Sussex, NJ, was where I spent a good amount of time - I think 7 consecutive summers starting from the age of 6 or 7. It was a camp specially designed for low-income families - they subsidized camp entries through various donations from businesses and individuals. It was the only way my parents could afford to give me lengthly summer vacations when I was young.
Every year, I would show up to the camp, crying my eyes out. Not wanting to leave my parents, my home, my friends, my bike, etc. Every damn year. And then, when it came time to leave, I would cry for my last 3 days at camp, not wanting to leave the counselors, my friends, the lake, the beautiful trees, and grass.
Because this was a low-income camp, all kids had to wear camp-provided clothing. Blue shorts, and white t-shirts, with or without logos, seen above. I looked just like that, every day. The man in the dark blue shirt on the upper right is Mike. He was a part of a great Sussex family, his two brothers, and his sister Nancy (more on her later) worked at the camp as counselors. A little digging reveals that Mike has since won a Silver Medal at the Gay Games in 1994. How cool is that?!
This was the camp where I had my first kiss - Wendy. She and I started to hang out towards the middle of the camp session. We got "married" at the Fair, with lovely bended metal coated with colorful plastic as rings. I never took it off that summer. We adopted a younger kid, who's name I completely can't remember, as our son. He was a really cool dude, about 3 years younger than me. I remember him shocking the hell out of me when I went to visit him outside his cabin down the path from mine... "Hey Phil, look at how big it is!" And down went his shorts. The little black kid had a dick 4 times my size, at 3 years younger than me. I walked back to my own cabin sheepishly.
Here is a not-so-great photo of our lake.
The lake served as a combination swimming pool/boating spot. The buildings you see in the far distance was the camp across the lake - it was completely deserted back then, with some burned down cabins. Of course, the story went that a counselor went crazy, and burned the camp, killing all the kids. Then he went into a rowboat, punctured a hole in the floor, and sunk, killing himself by drowning. That boat was on the upper right of the photo, sunk next to the trees. We were terrified out of our wits from stories on how every summer he rises to eat a Camp Sussex camper now and then.
Wendy and I had our first kiss in a rowboat on that lake. A rowboat being piloted by her older sister.
We had our second and third kiss there, too.
I saw her one last time after that summer... she lived on Staten Island, right next door to a Wendy's. Her chihuahua bit my ankle. I punted him across the room - Wendy wasn't very happy with me for that.
The woman on the left is Nancy. She tried to teach me, and the rest of the campers, to swim. She succeeded with just about all of the rest of my fellow campers. I didn't turn out that great... mostly because of the amazingly huge crush I had on her and how when she would hold me to assist with my floating, I would lose myself in her touch. *sigh*
This is Quentin. He and I befriended each other during one traumatic summer when my parents sent me to a different camp for a trial. That camp, who's name I have thankfully forgotten, was sponsored by the Knights of Pythias. Our Rabbi had suggested it, and I remember going up to the camp director one day and asking him if this was a camp for Jews. He turned to me with a scowl, and hissed out a "No." reply. When I read the Harry Potter, it was always that director's face I thought of when reading about the Slytherin.
Anyway, Quentin worked there as a counselor. He and I became friends, and he invited me to sleep over one night in his cabin. While he was away, I hid in my specially made bed in the middle of his cabin as all his campers proceed to pile up on top of each other and hump away at the person beneath them. I mean, they were stacked 4 to 5 high on some beds. I had to be at least 3 years younger than any of them, and just hid beneath my blanket until Quentin came back to rescue me from the great possibility of death through other people's puberty.
Quentin eventually got fed up with that shitty camp, and I suggested he come over to Camp Sussex. Throughout the year we talked, and he even visited me at home. I got to have him as a counselor once he came to Sussex, and I got away with complete murder that year.
I wish I had photos of some of the other characters, like Sergio, the counselor who wore nothing but bathrobes all the time. Or Tyrone, the big black man who sung the Oak Ridge Boys' Elvira at the top of his lungs whenever we was in the communal showers.
One thing that definetely struck me about Camp Sussex was the emphasis on the second syllable - sex. I mean, it was everywhere. Counselors were constantly sneaking out to fuck other counselors. Campers were always playing show-and-tell. Even during the great climax of each camp session, The Camp Olympics, sex was everywhere. We would have competitions of all sorts, and one of them was group singing of fun little camp ditties. Every year, there were songs about which counselor was caught with another. I didn't understand what I was singing then, but they were fun little ditties. "Her bologna has a first name... it's N-I-C-K-Y..."
To the two of you that made it to the end of this, thanks for taking the trip down memory lane with me.