Skip to main content

Hiawatha Day Camp. The enclosed picture was taken on a Sunday in the summer of 1959. The people were members of our family circle and not the campers. My mother, Rebecca Davidow Boonin (1904-1988) asked me to take a ride with her on a beautiful fall afternoon in 1949. I was not driving yet so my sister and I and our trusty dog Rex got in the car and Mom drove us to the intersection of Academy and Comly roads in the Far Northeast part of Philadelphia. At that time Academy Road was still a cobblestone road. We turned into a small farm. It was beautiful and Mom told us that she had just bought it for a camp. I do not know when the name Hiawatha Day Camp was chosen. Four equal partners started the camp; my mother, who was an attorney; A. Alvin Blumberg, the principal of Solis Cohen School, Bustleton & Tyson Aves. in Oxford Circle (Al Blumberg was a good friend of my father's and that is how Mom and Al met - my father died in 1947); Ad Kaplan, a teacher and Martin Rugg, a teacher at Olney HIgh School. Marty may have been head of the English Department there in the 1950s. His wife Minnie, may have also been the head of the English Department there at the time. The camp started in 1950. Building had started, but because the Korean Was, building materials after June were hard to come by. I do not remember much about the summer of 1950, although I was a Junior Counselor. There were about 200 children. The children were taken swimming at the Hi-way Pools, a private pool that used to operate directly across the street from Roosevelt Cemetery. The pools have not been there for years. The bus company was the Rubin bus line. Al and Lou Rubin ran the bus company. I do not know what they did the rest of the year. They had yellow buses. I know that both Al and Lou, because they they were bus drivers, operated LSTs during the Marine landings in the South Pacific during the war. Since their duties were do difficult and their experiences so harrowing, they did not like to talk about it - and never did. The preceding information I did not find out from them. In 1952, Hiawatha decided to build a swimming pool on the grounds and Mom hired Mr. Silverman. I hope that I have his name right. I am writing this with no notes and since Mom died ten years ago, I have no one to turn to. I remember Mom telling me that Mr. Silverman told her that in one year - building swimming pools - he would either be bankrupt or a millionaire. He did not go bankrupt. His idea - which at that thime was new - was to build a swimming pool with inclined sides. Up till then, all pools had sides that were perendicular to the bottom. Construction costs were much cheaper, but he was not sure that the city of Philadelphia would approve his design. They did, and as they say, the rest is history. The camp used the Quaker Meeting House on Byberry road (the old meeting hosue that dates to the Revolution) on rainy days. There we would show Laurel and Hardy movies or Abbot and Costello movies. We would sing songs until the rain stopped. The camp remained open until 1961, when Mom and Al Blumberg wanted to sell the property. Ad Kaplan had sold his interest int he camp in 1952 or 1953. My sisters were campers at the camp for many years. I was a life guard for an number of years and from 1959 to 1961 I was a Senior Counselor. The grounds were beautiful and we used the camp on the week-ends. Mom loved to cook outdoors and we often made Saturday and Sunday morning breakfast over a fire in the woods. We burned logs that we found lying around. We had a caretaker on the grounds, Mr. Maraski. He was Polish. I remember one story about his sons. There was a creek that flowed by his house on a corner of the property. His sons would line up in the creek and walking next to each other they could catch the fish with their bare hands. The fish could not get away from them.

small (250x250 max)
medium (500x500 max)
Extra Large
large ( > 500x500)
Full Resolution
Loading content ...
you wish to report:

Select the collections to add or remove from your search