My name is Jeanne (Loomis) Frey, and oh! do I have memories of my years at camp. I was one of the secretaries during the summers of 1951-1954. During the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th summers I was in charge of the office with 2 other girls helping me. In the photo of counselors on the website, (I am fairly certain the year is 1954, when I was 26) I am #16. No. 9 is definitely Bob Benson; what a pianist he was. His first couple of years he was on the kitchen staff while doing undergraduate study in speech therapy at U of M. Later he came as a Junior Speech Therapist while doing Masters Degree work. I am pretty sure that #7 is Jim Sonnega and #23 is Keith Graham. He was Asst. Director that summer while working on his PhD. in speech therapy at Northwestern. When (or if) I can find my box of Shady Trails memorabilia, I can probably identify some of the other staff members in the photo. There's a lot of familiar faces, but my brain doesn't want to pull up the names. Cecelia Sutherland was the nurse during those 4 years. We have kept in touch ever since.
Yes, John & Grace Clancy did "invent" Shady Trails Camp, in 1931, when their daughters Marie and Pat were small girls. The first camp was down the road several miles toward Northport. A few years later, they bought the 26 acres that became the place we all remember. The original site was turned into a girls summer recreational camp, but I can't recall it's name.
There was no one else before or since like John Clancy. He was a stutterer. I don't believe he had a degree in speech therapy, but because he spent so much time with children who had speech difficulties, and with therapists, (both at the camp and as Asst. Director of the Speech Clinic at the U. of M. campus in Ann Arbor; I was his secretary there for 3 years) he knew as much about it as any of the "experts". He was a very hard working, dedicated man, a strict disciplinarian, but also compassionate. The staff all called him "Clancy" (but not in front of the students!) Mrs. Clancy arranged all of the seating for the meals, changing them every 2 weeks. She ordered all of the food, hired the kitchen staff, shopped for the various supplies, and helped plan social activities for the campers.
I would arrive at camp 2 weeks before the kids and one week before the rest of the staff so we could get the office all set up and ready. I stayed for several weeks after camp ended to "close up shop". I of course stayed in the "Hen House" (the women's cabin), but had my meals with the Clancys in their cabin during those last weeks. Sometimes we would get in their motor boat and take a cruise up to Northport to pick up the mail and buy some smoked fish. (After 8 weeks of 96 boys and all the staff, you can imagine how peaceful and quiet it was on the bay!) That time on the water was a very pleasant memory.
The Junior Speech Therapists were students from colleges around the country, working on their Masters Degree in Speech Therapy. It was a kind of internship. The Senior Therapists were all Masters and PhDs. in Speech Therapy, also from various universities. The Phys. Ed. counselors were all male students from colleges; the campers were all boys back then, too. They and the male speech therapists all stayed in the cabins with the kids; the women all stayed in the "Hen House".
You campers never knew what the staff did while you slept! On our days off, there were beach parties with hot dog roasts at Christmas Cove on Lake Michigan. There were shopping trips to Traverse City, with dinner and a movie. Or perhaps an evening at The Bluebird Inn in Leland, dancing the "Shottish", some Polkas, and the "Hokey Pokey". Leland was still a fish town then, an artist's dream, with all the shantys and smoke houses in view (no condos yet), just a charming, quaint village. We staff had half a day off each week. Half of us were free from lunch time on Wednesday until breakfast on Thursday, the other half had Sunday noon until Monday morning. At mid-season, we would swap the times.
But it wasn't all fun and games for us staff. We had to fill out 3 reports for each camper during the summer, with an evaluation by the speech therapists and the phys. ed. counselors and any other pertinent input. This was all done after hours--when you campers had "retired"--working into the wee hours of the morning for 3 or 4 consecutive nights, each report time. We secty's had to type them all up, watching the punctuation and spelling, which had to be perfect. After each report was checked and rechecked, and corrections made, then we had to make copies of each one--on a hand cranked mimeograph machine. We were constantly covered with ink smudges. Copies had to go to parents, personal physicians, personal speech therapists, etc., etc. It was long, hard work, and we couldn't "sleep in" the next morning.
We did all this in the lodge and, dear Ruthie (the head cook) and her assistant Carol Pertner always made sure that there was lots of supper leftovers and snack items to eat while working on reports. The staff from each cabin took turns cleaning up afterwards.
It's no wonder Michigan is the cherry capital of the world. Oh! those marvelous big black Bing cherries were almost like candy. Every time any staffers would go into Northport or Traverse City they would bring back a bunch from some of the many roadside stands. They disappeared in a hurry.
On only a few occasions did we have really hot weather; usually it was delightfully cool, with refreshing breezes off of the Bay. A few times it did get quite cold. Our only heat source was a fire place in each cabin and a very large stone fireplace at each end of the dining room in the lodge.
Some of the experiences and rituals are too hard to describe, but were unique to S.T.C., such as the words "Whang Ho" and which fingers were used to decide who got the extra dessert. Also, the initiation of new members into the "D.B.S.&D." (Doctors of Brain Surgery and Drama, a staff comedy troop). I can't recall exactly what it was for, but there were occasions when staff members and campers had to sing a song, or several lines of one, in front of the whole group. It was some kind of penalty. I remember a little 8 year old boy, a stutterer and extremely shy. He hardly spoke a word to anyone, but he had to sing a song one day after lunch. No one thought he would ever do it. But, miracle of miracles, he got up and sang, "How Much Is That Doggy In The Window"! I think the whole place exploded--cheers, clapping and shouts of joy, even a few tears. What a thrill to witness that.
Many top doctors volunteered at Shady Trails. I remember a visit from Dr. Harlan Hatcher, who was the U. of M. President at that time. Also attending were directors of university speech clinics: Dr. Harlan Bloomer, U-M; Dr. Harold Westlake of Northwestern, and others (I think Dr. Charles Van Riper from Western Mich. U., as well). Dr. James Hunt, head of physical therapy for the U. of M. sports teams would come for a few days and evaluate those students with physical problems and make recommendations to the camp Phys. Ed. counselors. Dr. L. Dell Henry was a physician in private practice in Ann Arbor, but she would stay long enough to check all the kids and leave instructions with the camp nurse.
Gull Island, with its abandoned old mansion, was very mysterious. Clancy warned the staff not to go there. Storms could appear suddenly, and anyone in the slow row-boat wouldn't have time to make it across. This had happened several times over the years, stranding them until the weather cleared. Having grown up on Suttons Bay, he had a healthy respect for the waters of Grand Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan. He knew the dangers, so he preached safety, safety, safety, to both the staff and the campers when it came to swimming and boating on the deceptive waters.
Well, my brain seems to have emptied out of Shady Trails memories--for now, anyway. If more come to mind, I'll send them on. Perhaps if enough former Shady Trailers would write down their own stories, there might be enough for someone to make a book out of it. Please notify your old camp friends. (I'm notifying 2 people who I am still in touch with, Cecelia Sutherland Hickock, the nurse, and Pete Sangalli, a Phys. Ed. staffer then.)
Shady Trails was a wonderful place. I feel blessed to have been part of it. I cherish the memories and am greatful to have met and shared life with such amazing people. My prayers and best wishes to you all.
Jeanne (Loomis) Frey
added August 15, 2004