Installment #12 / But I Didn’t Die / a fictional memoir

Although we had avoided that run-in with Mrs. Barnes it was inevitable that another one would arise, which it did a few weeks later. All of a sudden Mrs. Barnes began poking around, asking us questions about girls, if we liked one in particular, what we would do if we met one, even if we were fairies and liked boys.

This was all very disturbing of course and we clammed up immediately, revealing nothing, not even sure why she was asking. We surmised she must have heard about the goings-on at the Lutheran Basketball Tournament, though we didn’t know how, just that news traveled fast between school and church. And although we didn’t say a word about Melissa or Jean, I’m sure she couldn’t help but notice we were writing on one another on a weekly basis, making grandiose plans of riding our bikes over to their town, which was about ten miles from ours, over the summer. We were surprised we even got them without her opening them (we would have died if she had), although it didn’t look like it.

—–o—–

In the meantime, while we mooned over the three cheerleaders and moped about our lost season, spring was in bloom and things brightened up a little and then quite a bit.

Every year the 8th grade class went on a class trip and this year was no exception; we were going to Dearborn Michigan as guests of a Lutheran school there ironically also named St. Mark’s and, as was the custom, they came here first to get to know us. We awaited their arrival with great anticipation, caught up in the excitement of going somewhere we’d never been and meeting new kids our own age, not really thinking any ramifications would occur, that somehow it would be all good clean innocent fun. That was until we met the class and saw there were pretty girls and hoody guys and we immediately became embroiled in a territorial dispute.

Naturally the girl I liked already had a boyfriend, Mark, a tough guy who smoked, had slicked back hair, wore muscle shirts and Cuban heels, and didn’t like me one bit. And as with Melissa, the girl I liked, Kathy, was taller than I, a blonde wraith who didn’t prove to be so ethereal when we made out in the janitor’s closet the very next day. When her boyfriend got wind of it that very day he wanted to settle it right there in the gym. There was some shoving but Rory and the rest of my teammates had my back and we decided to settle it on the basketball court instead, even though none of the hoody guys were on it.

We were about equal in talent but we narrowly won two out of three hard-fought and foul-laden and were so tired afterwards we magnanimously called it a draw. At first I liked the fact that Mark was sitting on the sidelines (even if it was with Kathy) because I could show off in front of her, but quickly regretted it because soon after the game started they both disappeared. Seems Kathy was proving to be very fickle, if not worse.

Rory liked a girl named Barb, a girl with short brown hair who smoked, was just the right height for him, wore short skirts and was willing to put out as much as he desired, according to him, although I had to admit they seemed to disappear for long periods of time. It seemed Rory had a type, because Barb was almost the spitting image of Cindy from Judy’s Halloween party.

I don’t remember much about what we did after that, probably because I saw very little of Kathy the rest of the weekend, which I tried hard not to think about, except eat a lot and listen to music but I do recall being embarrassed because there didn’t seem to be anything to show them except boring stuff like the zoo and downtown. Before we knew it they were gone but it wasn’t as disappointing for me as for Rory, who’d wouldn’t see Barb for a few weeks, which I don’t need to tell you for a young kid in love seems like an eternity.

——o—–

We were amazed that Mrs. Barnes was even allowing us to go on the class trip, and wouldn’t be certain she wouldn’t change her mind until the bus pulled out of the parking lot. Thank goodness, though, anything where school was involved had her imprimatur so we seemed to be in the clear on that.

School was beginning to wind down and the Barnes’ had already decided we’d attending the local middle school for 9th grade. We were against that from the first time we got wind of it but what could we do, most of the private schools were catholic (there had been some early discussion about sending us to a catholic boy’s high school) and we certainly didn’t want to go to them, although there was a private boy’s school near the city but we knew we wouldn’t fit in there just from the few kids we’d met who went there. We had money but not that kind of money, old money, we didn’t belong to any of the upper class clubs, or travel in those circles, which was fine with me. So public school it would be and all we could do in the meantime was dread it and hope for the best when it came time to start.

We soon forgot all about it as this was our favorite time of the year; summer was coming and all the end-of-the-school-year stuff was fun, the track meet, class picnic, and this year graduation and the class trip. The winters seemed interminable and there wasn’t much spring but before you knew it was warm, flowers were blooming, trees were leaving, and the air was redolent with all those fragrances, all seemingly having changed from one day to the next.

It was on such a day in late May that our trip began. Leading up to it that was all we talked about. There was even a rumor we might go to a Tigers game. It would be our first trip alone anywhere and we were going to make the most of it, within limits of course, as there would be plenty of supervision, with two teachers, Joe the bus driver, and Mr. Hellman, who accompanied the 8th grade class every year, as chaperones.

Besides our clothes and dop kit, the only other things I brought was my baseball glove and trusty transistor radio. Rory didn’t even bring those as he said he’d be busy enough with Barb. Since this wasn’t considered an official school day we couldn’t take the bus to school, a parent had to bring us. That meant Mrs. Barnes, who rarely drove, would drive us, which was embarrassing because it meant going in her loud gas-guzzling behemoth 1949 Buick, nicknamed “The Boat” by Mr. Barnes. Thankfully no one seemed to notice and Mrs. Barnes, never a mingler, left soon after.

There were plenty of scheduled activities (we’d even been given an itinerary) such as visiting Greenfield Village, the Ford Museum, and, (the rumor having been verified by Joe the bus driver) the baseball game between the Twins and Tigers. Instead of a basketball game against St. Mark’s there would be a friendly softball game, Mr. Hellman emphasizing the word “friendly”; there would be no repeat of the rancor displayed in the aforementioned basketball game.

Still, we assumed there would be plenty of free time in which we would become reacquainted with our girls, as we naively assumed they were (or in my own case, and even more naively, would be). I sat with Tom and when Joe closed the bus door we settled back in our seats and took off. I remember the hit songs at that time were “Ticket to Ride,” “Help Me Rhonda,” and “Satisfaction,” and I put my radio up against the window and blasted it, ignoring Mr. Hellman’s “shut that noise off” as long as I could.

A beautiful day, so warm we were wearing shorts for the first time that year, and with more freedom than I’d ever known, it didn’t get any better than that. For much of the way the scenery was pretty familiar from our trips to Cleveland until we entered the long tunnel that connected Michigan to Canada.

When we emerged we were in Michigan, a different time zone, and a hop and a skip from Detroit. Soon after we arrived at our destination in Dearborn, a local community college, where we would be rooming in the dorms. I roomed with Tom Drollinger and after we got settled in I turned on the radio to listen to the Tigers game, the soothing familiar tones of Ernie Harwell coming through clear as a bell.

We would be eating in the school cafeteria, which I was dreading, as I hated eating in strange place in front of people I didn’t know all that well. As I perused the offerings I settled on a salad loaded with chickpeas, a carton of milk, and an ice cream sandwich for dessert. As I was going to a table where Rory, Tom, and John Saxon (Rory was rooming with him) were, I noticed a toaster across the room and went over and toasted a piece of whole wheat bread then slathered it with peanut butter and honey. This would be my bill of fare for the remainder of the trip, with the exception of peanuts, a hot dog, and a coke at the ball game, and perhaps cereal with fruit for breakfast. I felt much better after this had been decided as it had caused me a great deal of trepidation until this was settled. Now I could really relax.

Imagine my surprise when, listening to a local radio station that night I found out that the game we were going to was a scheduled twi-night doubleheader. That was almost as exciting as knowing I was going to see Kathy the next day, although I couldn’t help worrying if she’d even remember me.

We were meeting the St. Mark’s class at Greenfield Village in the morning, I’d hoped we would go to their school first and hang out, re-acquaint ourselves as it were, but it was not to be. When we got off the bus they were already assembled there waiting for us. I spotted Kathy right away and was about to wave when I saw she was with Mark, who had his arm around her and she had a big smile on her face. I guess they patched things up, I thought ruefully, how nice for them. I wasn’t going to give up right away, though, if only I could get some time alone with her.

The village itself was quaint, and I enjoyed looking at all the period furniture and implements, but overall, as with most museums, I found it boring and not a little bit creepy, mausoleum-like, if you know what I mean. Still no chance to even say hello to Kathy as I spotted them up ahead, Mark shepherding her with his arm. Right then I hated that guy, which made me raring to go at the softball game scheduled for that afternoon.

Already on edge, things came to a head during the game, where there was an unfortunate repeat of the playground incident with Mr. Brockman, only this time it was Rory’s turn. First of all it was the boys against the girls, which told me right off it wasn’t going to be a serious game, and with Mr. Hellman and Joe the bus driver umping, the girls would get all the calls.

Again I was eager to show off in front of Kathy but as I looked around neither she nor Mark were to be seen anywhere. During the game Judy Freeney, who had as much power as some of the boys, hit a ball into the right centerfield gap. I retrieved it and got it back into the infield quickly. Judy was slow as molasses and when Rory got the ball at second he immediately tagged her out. The throw and tag had beaten her by a mile but Joe the bus driver called her safe.

Rory was livid, as he had every right to be, and pushed Judy off the bag and tagged her out none too gently, jerking his thumb and saying “Yer out.” Joe immediately grabbed Rory and told him in no uncertain terms to go to the bus. By the time I got there Rory was standing with his arms crossed and I knew there was no way he was going to budge. I finally convinced him to go to the bus and he reluctantly did, but he was still seething. I looked at Joe and said you know she was out. You wanna go join him, he replied?

Mr. Hellman, who hadn’t been involved in the fracas appeared out of nowhere. I saw him get on the bus and then felt even worse for Rory. I just imagined what was going on and when Rory got out of the bus and came over to me he confirmed it. He said my behavior was disgraceful and promised that he would deal with me when we got back, Rory said. Great, I thought, Kathy and Mark hadn’t even showed up for the game and now we had that to look forward to when we got back. The game was over, the girls had been declared the winners, so the trip was already ruined for us.

In spite of all that, there was still the doubleheader to look forward to and I was determined to enjoy it to the best of my ability. In the meantime Joe, though he usually came off as a hard-ass, turned out to be a pretty good guy,  even interceding for Rory with Mr. Hellman, saying he was a good kid who just got caught up in the heat of the moment, and to let bygones be bygones. Besides, he admitted, I might have blown the call. Well, you’re the one who was there, Mr. Hellman said, and I’d be willing to do that on your say so. But no more shenanigans the rest of the trip, he admonished Rory. Joe assured him there wouldn’t be any more problems and the incident was soon forgotten.

Joe also turned out to be a big baseball fan and we talked about the game on the way over to Briggs Stadium. I didn’t know that much about the Twins, except for their stars of course, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rich Rollins, and Zoilo Versalles, in the middle of his MVP year. The Tigers, though, always in contention, with Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Jim Northrup, and Willie Horton, were the team I was there to see. I got a hot dog, a Coke, and a bag of peanuts, Joe a hot dog and a beer, and we settled in for the start of the game, Joe sitting among all of us, while Mr. Hellman and the St. Marks’ chaperones were off somewhere by themselves, in another section altogether.

I happened to glance over my shoulder and there were Mark and Kathy and most of the St. Mark’s kids, including Barb Kuhn several aisles over. I was worried lest Rory broke his promise to behave and, sure enough, the next thing I knew he was gone and so was Barb. I don’t know if Joe noticed but if he did he didn’t let on.

The first game was a nail-biter, with Camilio Pascual and Frank Lary, both at the top of their game, locked in a pitcher’s duel, with the Twins taking the opener 2-1. The second game was a different matter altogether, a slugfest, with Kaline, Killebrew, Rollins and Northrup all homering, Killebrew’s tying the game in the top of the ninth. I’d never seen a ball leave the yard so quickly, his compact swing so violent the bat hit him in the back on the backswing.

Fantastic, Joe said, echoing my sentiments, extra innings. I looked around and not many of my classmates were paying much attention to the game. It was getting dark and the lights were on. There was even some talk as it got into the twelfth inning that the game might not be finished before the midnight curfew.

It was a real stalemate, the relievers for their  respective team setting the other team’s hitters down in order inning after inning until the 16th, when Michigan native and fan favorite Bill Freehan sent everyone home tired but happy with a game-winning shot over the centerfield fence just before the stroke of midnight.

—–o—-

Not soon enough for me it was back home, the ride seeming much shorter on the way back, our days at Martin Luther School coming to an end. We somehow knew things would never be as good for us again. That was a new worry, attending public school in the fall, but we had all summer to go, and tried not to think of it.

Thinking about the trip I couldn’t help but be disappointed, as things hadn’t gone at all as I’d hoped with Kathy, I’d hardly even spoken to her, though I was glad to have gone, to have seen new sights, to get away from home. At least I didn’t have to go through the mooning Rory was over Barbara, who, strangely enough, didn’t share any of the details of his time with Barb, and I didn’t know if that was a bad or good thing but didn’t ask.

—–o—–

The remainder of the school year seemed an afterthought, culminating in the 8th grade class picnic, the Lutheran schools field day, and graduation, when we walked up on stage and got our certificates. Little did I know it would be the last graduation of any kind we’d attend. Cleaning out our desks for the last time it still hadn’t quite hit us it was over, especially when we knew we weren’t saying our final goodbyes yet, as one of our classmates was going to have a party over the summer so most of us would see each other again.

All that summer I felt like a fish out of water, not quite ready to accept the fact that I wouldn’t be going back to Martin Luther School along with dreading going to the new school, or that I was no longer in Little League, with tryouts coming up for the next level, Babe Ruth, too much change altogether for my taste, and always the possibility for failure lurked. It helped when we received a reading list from the middle school we would be attending for a year before starting high school. One title in particular caught my eye, Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe. I immediately went up to the library to get it, and the instant I saw it knew I would have my hands full in an enjoyable way.

It was a big book, totally unlike anything I had read before, with its torrent of words yet still lyrical, its wealth of characters worthy of a Dickens novel. I took my time with it, wanting it to last all summer, the rest of the books on the list uninteresting to me when I perused them at the library. I certainly identified with Eugene Gant and his life became a part of my nighttime reverie, especially those recurring phrases… a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; a stone, a leaf, a doorO lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again

Rory, on the other hand, totally dismissed the list, embarking, as it turned out on a more esoteric reading adventure that consisted in part of The Decameron, Marquis de Sade, and Rabelais. The Decameron I could understand, it was funny, even interesting, and Rabelais was kind of a bridge between the two, again comical, but leaning toward the grotesque. I drew the line at the Marquis de Sade, however, covering my ears when he insisted on reading parts of it, with the little I did hear revolting, making me wonder how on earth he tolerated something that made me so squeamish.

—–o—–

Although extremely nervous I did much better in the Babe Ruth tryouts than I ever imagined I would, which was usually the case, and ended up being the second draft choice overall, by the Braves. I had tried out for pitcher and centerfield, and hit very well in my turn at the plate, slashing line drives to all parts of the outfield. I also won the sprint portion of the tryout in my group which really surprised me.

Rory didn’t do as well and was chosen much lower than I was, by a completely different team, which would be the first time we wouldn’t be together, though he said it didn’t matter to him. I felt bad about it because I suspected it did, but we didn’t discuss it any further, although I did consider it another turning point in our relationship, seemingly going our separate ways.

Little did I know that being drafted so high would cause resentment among my new teammates, who were all from the local Catholic school, and none of whom I knew. I was never one to back down (at least verbally) and gave as good as I got, meanwhile playing my ass off, batting leadoff, playing centerfield, and pitching every other game. Still it was stressful, and I dreaded each encounter.

One of the two ringleaders of the group was the team captain, which didn’t help my cause, an all-American type, very popular with both players and coaches, the other a low-life lanky pimply kid who I disliked right away. At first I was ostracized but then things seemed to settle down until one day after a game, when Mr. Barnes was late picking me up, a group of them surrounded me after everyone else had left and pushed me around, warning me not to come back if I knew what was good for me.                                                                                                                                                                                                             I was shocked and a little scared but had no intention of not coming back. I played even harder, hitting .348 and leading the league in stolen bases, hits, and triples; we won the championship, and I heard nothing more from them. It did make me a little wary, though, and I wondered if the same thing would happen when I started public school.

—–o—–

John Saxon’s mother sent out the invitations to the farewell party in mid-July and a week later we were gathered at his house (everyone that is except for Caroline Nelligan, who never went to anything). Being out of context, everyone already seemed to look so different to me, although it had only been a little over a month since graduation; the mood was festive but also bittersweet, nostalgia already hanging in the air, full of reminiscence. When it was time to go we all gathered together and swore our fealty to one another, promising to keep always in touch, but deep down I knew that part of my life was over.

—–o—-

The major event of the summer was Camp Pioneer, a Lutheran camp in the town of Angola, on the shores of Lake Erie. The area had a Cape Cod atmosphere as there were many summer homes, hot dog and ice cream shacks, and even a beach before Lake Erie became too polluted to swim in.

This was our second year at the camp and knowing the ropes this time around we expected it to be much more fun. In addition we were staying two weeks this year, having gratefully declined the Barnes’ offer to accompany them on their annual summer vacation, this time to Montreal. There was a Walther League (the Protestant equivalent to CYO) Week, which was the one we had gone to the year before and which would be our second week there this year.

We loved going there, couldn’t wait to get out of the car once we had parked in the gravel parking lot across the road from the camp grounds, where, when arriving, we stood in line under a shade tree in front of the office, waiting to check in, greeting people we’d met the year before or avoiding those we’d ostracized with our bad behavior.

This year was quite different as the first week it wasn’t crowded at all, in fact we seemingly had the whole place to ourselves. Another difference was, since the camp was so deserted the horseshoe of cabins with Indian names (Tuscarora, Adirondack, etc.) we usually stayed in weren’t open and we were assigned a different type of cabin, a white rectangular structure among some pine trees near the snack bar, which was also closed that week, to our great chagrin.

Two boys had also been assigned to our cabin, southern boys from Virginia, which seemed like a foreign country to us their speech and habits were so different from ours. Jimmy was a small intense outgoing kid with dark hair while Phil was his exact opposite, a laid back lumbering shy kid with light hair. Besides their drawls (as we called) them, which cracked us up, they were also heavy smokers. Jimmy already had the raspy voice of a chain smoker, while Phil did it mostly because Jimmy did, and took only brief puffs, holding the cigarette far from his face and blowing smoke rings.

We got along famously, each getting a kick out of the other’s speech, Rory and I even attempting to smoke very unsuccessfully, which also amused them though they didn’t force it on us. They seemed to come from money, dressing very preppy, wearing button downs or golf shirts, pressed jeans, and tasseled loafers with white socks.

We didn’t do all that much that week as not  many scheduled activities took place it being an off week, accepting the fact that our respective families had each dumped us, which was fine with us. Phil and Jimmy played off each other as they talked nonstop as we lay in our bunks, Jimmy poking fun at Phil, Phil accepting it gracefully, though each well aware of the size differential Jimmy between them, so nothing was pushed too far, it all being in good fun, the two as close as cousins. Jimmy would have been into all sorts of things if there had been things to do, but there weren’t, while Phil, not exactly ambitious, was perfectly content with sitting on the edge of his bunk, legs dangling over the edge, matter-of-factly squeezing his zits. They weren’t staying over the next week, which disappointed us, though secretly we were a bit relieved knowing they wouldn’t have fit in, but having this quiet break while looking forward to the big event next week, was just what we needed. Before we knew it, the week was over and we were saying goodbye with promises to keep in touch.

Now it was time for the main event, Walther League Week. Since we were already registered we were afforded the luxury of being able to watch all the kids as they came in, especially the girls, observing how each and every one of them couldn’t wait to get away from their parents.

There were a few we recalled from the year before, a hippy-dippy type nicknamed Amby (I guessed it was short for Ambitious) popular with all the girls, who went most of the week shirtless, which showed off the beaded necklace he wore like a lei; his friend Willy, a shy Peter Noone look-alike, also much in demand by those of the female persuasion; a kid Rory had dubbed “Horseface” after a volleyball game argument the year before; and last but not least, Jan Olsen from Endicott, a tanned girl with shoulder length sun-bleached hair and serene smile, extremely well-endowed, who Rory was gaga over.

We were assigned the Shoshone cabin along with some guys we knew from our Lutheran League basketball days, one of whom had a stash of Mallow Bars that would last the entire week if he ate them judiciously. “Dirty Water” was big that summer, as was “Black is Black,” and a song we heard for the first time and were blown away by, “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” which we would thereafter consider the greatest rock song of all time. Early each morning Rory and I would blast the Beatles’ “Good Morning Good Morning” to wake our fellow campers, much to their demonstrative annoyance. Our horseshoe of cabins were all boys, the girls’ cabins being practically at the other end of the camp, past the Snack Bar even. Didn’t matter what religion you were, I guess, and never the twain would meet, not if the powers that be had their way.

Things began to look up for me on the romantic front when I became enamored with one of the counselors, a recent high school graduate several years older than I with short brown hair named Bev. She seemed to favor me also, except I sometimes got the feeling she was just being nice. I didn’t actually see that much of her as she was extremely busy with her counselor duties, but we talked at great length on several occasions, especially after church and at night around a campfire or a bonfire on the beach. What did I know about such things? I was very smitten with her despite Rory mocking me, blind to the fact that it was inappropriate for a counselor to get involved with a camper and she didn’t feel the same about me as I did about her.

As it so happened Rory had gotten involved with a group of guys from the camp, as well as some townies, hatching a plot to buy a case of beer and get drunk at the Friday night bonfire on the beach, the last big shindig before we went home the next day. Like the Lutheran field days, the whole day was devoted to games of all sorts, there was a carnival, and plenty of food and pop.

Days at Camp Pioneer were full if routine: up at sunrise, optional shower in a cement block building outfitted with ten open showers each with their own wooden slatted platform, making the hundred yard trek with your towel and dop kit in your bathrobe be it a hot or cool morning, hoping to get there before anyone else (I would never have waited in line) and shower as quickly as possible; breakfast in the long dining room abutted by the industrial-strength kitchen, though eating was once more a problem, having to sit at long wooden tables with Formica tops, still refusing to eat in front of other people in a public place so making due with copious cartons of milk, lining the empties up in front of me to everyone’s amazement at how much I’d drunk, or maybe escaping with a few wrapped sandwiches, hoping for an outdoor barbecue for dinner where I wouldn’t be cooped up and eat freely, supplemented by candy, pop (cream soda), and chips at the Snack Bar; church in the chapel in the woods among pine trees after breakfast then back to our cabins to clean up and make our beds for inspection, after which some form of recreation (volleyball was a favorite), lunch, in the early afternoon arts and crafts (which I hated except for  making boondoggles which I tolerated), afterwards a trip to the Snack Bar and then back to our cabins to rest or do whatever we wanted during our brief free time as long as we din’t leave our cabin or be loud, before dinner, after dinner Bible study then a brief service at the chapel (mosquitoes eating us alive) where we sang campfire hymns and spirituals, then finally back to our cabins with lights out at eleven.

It was at these times any hanky-panky going on would be occur. If you listened carefully you could hear cabin doors in either camp close quietly well after midnight when most people (including counselors) were fast asleep, and to meet at a predetermined location with their chosen one, usually the small wooded area before the Administration building. I imagined nothing more went on but making out although older guys like Amby intimated if not outright bragged otherwise. Every once in a while someone got caught sneaking out or in the act and were either grounded or sent home.

As I mentioned before Rory was involved with a group of guys (mostly townies) who got together every night (as far as I knew) while the evening service was going on, oftentimes left the camp (subject to immediate dismissal if discovered) to hang out at a hamburger stand down the road. Rory said very little about it and I worried every night he would get caught.

The final straw was when I heard from Willy that they were planning to make a beer run somewhere in town to buy a case with illegal ID. I was really worried when I heard that although I didn’t confront Rory about it as I should have, but, after agonizing over it decided to tell Bev the night before it was supposed to take place. I hated to rat Rory out but didn’t want him to get in trouble as Mrs. Barnes would flip out, especially if they had to return early from their vacation, but also knew that deep down part of me wanted to gain Bev’s notice and approval for my maturity.

The plot was thwarted and Rory wouldn’t be sent home because it was the penultimate day of camp and no one was the wiser (except Rory) that I was the one who blew the whistle. He didn’t seem all that upset about it, in fact seemed to be relieved, and though I did have Bev’s full attention for a brief moment and she was glad I had told her, I also got the sense even she was a little disappointed I had betrayed Rory.

Amazingly I was smitten three times that week, the second time after I had been jilted by my first love, a short smiley girl named Anne with short reddish-gold hair, cuit in bangs across her forehead, reminding me somewhat of Brian Jones. She hung around with a group of friends and it was one of them who in a thinly veiled way informed me that Anne liked me. I took the bait because I had been staring at her since I first spotted her early in the week, trying to get her attention. We sat together in the chapel several times and went to the Snack Bar, where I bought her strawberry ice cream cones afterwards, and just generally walked and talked together a lot.  I was quite smitten and from every indication so was she, and we made plans to go to the dance after the Friday festivities, the closing event of the week, and perhaps sneak off somewhere afterward if I was lucky. That was my impression at least, and imagine my surprise when I didn’t see any sign of her the next few days and heard a rumor circulating that she was mad about Willy Fitz, supposedly a friend of mine. I couldn’t believe he would steal Anne from me but sure enough I saw them together arm in arm, both smiling when they saw me as though nothing had happened. I was sick about it and out of desperation tried to win her back but she turned me down in no uncertain terms and that was the end of that. Even after we went home I wrote her several letters and even got one back; she’d broken up with Willy Fitz who it turned out was a philanderer and maybe we would get together. It got my hopes up but I never heard from her again.

Licking my wounds I remembered there was a another girl I had also liked named Charlene, a tall girl with bobbed brown hair and an inscrutable smile who resembled Barbara Feldon, so I proceeded to make goo goo eyes at her and we even talked a couple times, but it turned out she was going out with Horseface of all people. Rory pestered him about it and it looked like a fight was brewing, but he was much bigger than Rory and I finally persuaded him it was okay, that I was okay. Still, I continued to admire her from afar the rest of the week, heartsore she was already spoken for. I never forgot her and to this day think of her now and then.

Strangely Rory, who always seemed to end up with a girl of his choosing, evinced no love interest at all that week. When I asked him about it when we got home he said he was carrying the proverbial torch for Jan Olsen, and if he couldn’t have her didn’t want anyone else. Instead he decided to hang around with that group of kids I mentioned before and I didn’t see much of him at all, another indication things were changing between us.

All in all a tempestuous week it was, our last week at Camp Pioneer. We were glad to get out of there, making sure we were all packed and ready to go, practically standing by the side of the road to intercept Mr. Barnes before he mingled with the captain and crew as it were, and got wind of Rory’s little caper, aborted though it was.

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