When I was very young my family shared a clubhouse in the country with two other families. There was a large group of cabins along the
No one had heat or running water. We took a huge metal milk barrel that had a spigot to a community well for water. The windows were just screens with stainless steel covers you raised with ropes.
Our cottage had one small room with an L shaped area around it. The small room had a wood burning stove. In the winter my brother and I slept on bunk beds in the room while the adults froze in the surrounding area.
My father was famous for spontaneous fun and we’d end up out there with no previous planning. He worked for the
Bill Mason , Bob Kornacher , John Chapman , Glenn Tintera , Norman Mason , Peter Patterson , Jim Haislip comprised a recording Jazz band in the 50s called The Dixie Stompers. Bob Kornacher’s family shared the cabin with us. He was one of my dad’s best friends.
Bill and Georgia Shearer were the other family. Bill was a pianist and I'm told he was good. They had a baby grand in their apartment on Pershing. Years later, after the Shearers divorced, Bill moved in with my dad and all of a sudden there was an upright piano in his small
A couple of years ago I was teaching a skydiving class in Sullivan. During lunch I sat with the friends and families of my students at a picnic table. Someone called a woman there Susan. I looked at her face and involuntarily asked, “Susan Kornacher?” She said that was her maiden name. I told her I was David Udell and chills went down both our spines. She was Bob’s daughter. I hadn’t seen her since we were kids but I recognized her.
She invited my family to a party. There were lots of my students there. I brought my mother. Bob, his wife
Susan took me on a tour of the house. The walls were covered with water color paintings of the clubhouse. I think her grandfather did them. They used to hang on the walls at the clubhouse. It was a museum of my childhood.
At the clubhouse they had a giant orb of a speaker someone got from a ship during the Korean War. It was strung outside of the cabin and their 78s blared from it. My dad had an old navy canvas hammock he strung way up in the trees. He’d climb way up there drunk at the end of the night to sleep. I have no idea how he pulled it off.
When I was three I admired a large military knife Bob owned. Its handle was painted pink with fingernail polish. He said it would be a gift to me but not until I was old enough. When I was four!
We had canoes at the river. Canoeing is in my blood. My grandfather died from a heart attack when I was four and I inherited an expensive fly rod ‘n’ reel. I never saw it though. One night my dad and his buddies went out canoeing with it. The boat overturned and the rod was lost.
After my folks divorced my mom still took us out there. It was then that I started to notice things like painted hand prints on the door and vividly painted structural beams. They’d always been there. I told her it was all very hip for them to have done that in the fifties. She told me color didn’t begin in the sixties. Not to mention their crowd were all artists and musicians.
I’m sure my mom will make a lot of corrections about all of this.
My girlfriend Valerie’s last boyfriend Brian Casserly is probably the best trumpet player I’ve ever seen. He’s the 50 year old kid in a Dixie Jazz band called Cornet Chop Suey. The name comes from a great Louis Armstrong song. We went to see them at
Pictures are from several generations out at Giessow’s. My grandpa, his boys, and my uncle Bill’s wife Gladys - My dad is on the left. My grandma and great grandma Geegee. My grandpa (left) showing off his catch. My little brother Patrick and me March 1962.