Thursday, August 4, 2016

preserving RKD memories

An article in the monthly AAA magazine recommended M22 as being scenic and worth driving. So on Sunday, we left Muskegon and drove up the west coast of Michigan to Manistee and caught highway 22 up to Arcadia. We turned at the road sign. Drove through a quiet sunny neighborhood, and came upon a grassy area with lots and lots of bicycles, the grounds of Camp Arcadia.

This is where I met with Ryan McKenna. He was in charge of preserving the memories of RKD. What used to be known as a Walther League camp. Ryan was the director of the archive. Ryan was interested in black and white photos my dad had taken. I was there to donate those photos to the archive collection. Ryan had some other camp archive photos on a compact disk for me to take back. These would be photos someone else took of my father, Reinhold Marxhausen, when he was at Camp Arcadia. Double click to see photos enlarged.

My suspicions were confirmed when I looked at the Main building on the grounds, above, and then took a black and white version of the same building.

In a file Dad had labeled "Camp Mchalio" were the next five photos. Look at the building in the background. It is the same building.

Why were these children in costumes? Was it Halloween? Who was the sheet ghost with legs walking around? The boy in the striped shirt, with bare feet, and pirate's head scarf was me, Karl Marxhausen. That photo told me I was at the camp as well. WHEN was I at that place?

Ryan met me out front of the Wigwam Building. And he led me through the first floor rooms. I was hoping a memory would come back to me of being there. He said the decor of the dining room had not changed in forty-five years. There was an Indian motif which I didn't understand.

We went downstairs and Ryan told me more about the archive where he worked. Many years ago a lady had hopes about a thin folder of materials:
"The original manuscripts in the Camp Arcadia Archives, currently a file folder in a box with such original materials, but hopefully sometime cataloged etc, very carefully, for the best type of preservation."  

Five minute. Ryan showed me slides of Dad from Camp Archive. Double click to enlarge. Next, large group of children in costume.

On far left is me in pirate stripes and Dad crouched behind me, next. Then, Dad standing, with me behind draped child. I've added the cropped closeups.

Next, there is this photo of a Little Bo Peep and Little Boy Blue and I am on the left picnic table. I've added the cropped closeup.

Ryan told me on occasion children and grownups were required to dress up. It was either a Hobo Day or a King Neptune Day or an Indian Day or some other theme. It was in good fun. If you didn't dress up, you were not allowed into the dining hall. That was back then.

These days there is a cottage colony. People have summer cottages on the grounds of the camp. Little Boy Blue and Little Bo Peep have grown up and during the sunny summer days are his next door neighbors. Dave Wilkins and his sister Lisbeth.

Ryan put me in touch with Wilkins, who added this:
"It most likely was Fiesta Day. It was a special event. Everyone at the camp needed to dress up to eat supper. There was a big parade. I was little boy blue. My sister was little bo peep."          David Wilkins, Saginaw, Michigan
Ryan showed me my Dad kneeling in the sand of Lake Michigan, placing rocks on top of sand, next. The little boy to his right in the white shirt is me. I wonder how old I am?

Dad photographed me in the sand, next three b/w.

Then Ryan put this up, next image. What is going on here? A crowd of children and adults gathered around Dad. There is something large standing up. Maybe concrete with a pattern of rocks in it. At the base in the sand is a mock-up or a sketch from which Dad worked. Ryan recognized the pattern as Walther League star logo. We saw that logo in the museum exhibit.

A mock-up or prototype Dad worked from.

Above, the little boy with someone's hand on his head, just to the right, that is me. WHEN did this take place? Below, Walther League emblem from museum.

Three minutes. Importance of preserving RKD memories.

Ryan led me to an exhibit on display and it took my breath away. Camp Arcadia was a place with many youth groups over many years. In the 1930s there were a dozen Walther League camps across the United States.

Walther League summer camps in California, Washington, the Rocky Mountains, Texas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, New York, in Dixie, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Illinois, as well as in Canada: Ontario and Alberta BBC. The International Home Base was Arcadia, Michigan.

I remember going to Camp Okoboji in Iowa with my parents for vacation.

Above, some humor remembering how things ran back then.

Five minutes. The display remembered Mom and Pop Weihermans. Pop was called "Chief" and he was the director of Camp Arcadia for the first forty years. From 1922 to 1963.

Their daughter, Rinkie, did the Indian motif artwork in the Wigwam and Snack Bar. Her photo, next.

One name caught my attention - Caemmerer. There was a Richard Caemmerer I knew from Holden Village, Washington. He had painted a ceiling and I wrote and sang a song about him during the summer of 1976. My father knew him. I wonder if that Caemmerer was related to the one who had a Hall named for him ???

Lastly, take a look at these round banners I saw there. I grew up in a congregation that favored banner making and these are fantastic. I do not know who made them. Guessing they were five to six feet in diameter. Double click on images to enlarge.

Below, worn wood structures from the beach into Lake Michigan. They look like the ones that were there when I was playing in the sand, up up up above. I wonder what they are called?