Back in the late 60s and early 70s, my family was all about camping. It was a little spot by the creek in Kelletville, the site of an old Civilian Conservation Corps camp from the 1930s. It still had the crumbling remnants of the meeting house on the property. Somehow as a preschooler I got the idea that this was the house where George Washington was born. Probably an idea planted in my head by my older brother and sister!
Some of my fondest childhood memories are about this little spot in the woods: swimming in the creek, hikes through the woods, minibike rides, and staying up late around the campfire. Often my grandparents or great-aunts and uncles would come to visit for the evening and tell some great stories from years gone by. My father was a journeyman welder, so he moved from job to job throughout the region as needed. A great summer resulted when it occurred to him that he could just as easily drive to work from Kelletville as from Warren. We ended up spending the entire summer vacation at camp.
Our summers changed in the mid 70s. My father was making good money in the union and we began taking vacations further away. He began building a new house. The camp gear and the minibike sat stored away. But my family never forgot those days by the creek.
This summer, new camera in hand and kids in tow, I decided to take a trip down that way in hopes of documenting those summers gone by. My daughter and son coined it "the sightseeing tour of nothing" as nothing seemed to be there anymore (except the tavern, which doesn't factor much into my childhood memories for obvious reasons). Nature had reclaimed the campground. The brush was too thick to venture in to see if anything of the CCC house remained. There was no trace of the gas station/general store (Rightnour's?).
Still, it was a good trip. I still have my memories of Kelletville. And I guess in the end that's what everything becomes-a memory. I suppose some day that I will just be a memory, too.
This summer my mother finally sold her Winnebago, the site of so many camping adventures for my nieces and own kids in the 90s. My youngest niece cried when she heard the news. Summers gone by I know just how you feel, Carlie.