It's been nearly 20 years (I'm thinking) since I've seen Gus Jerdee. That changed this week when I found him. I can't disclose his actual location, but he's enjoying his retirement living on a few acres in the mountains of North Carolina. And that's where we're all probably thinking he should be. He and Suzanne stay very busy developing their mountain homestead. Each summer they invite family and friends of family to their own little camp for a couple of weeks.
Another camper from the past. This morning I got an email from camper Trevor Ferrell. I'm thinking he was there around 1985. Ben Parker might know for sure. Thanks for getting in touch, Trevor.
And here's his memory...
I was a camper for one year. Do not remember the year or too many details. I do remember Ben Parker. I remember leaving the cabin and another camper said to Ben, "It's cold Ben, it's cold." Ben laughed and we continued to use the saying, "It's cold Ben, it's cold" during the camp session. Anyway, thought I would share.
Every so often someone gets in touch with me just to chat. I just hung up with Robert LaPlace, who at age ten or so came to TrailRidge for his first of a few summers. He's the guy fourth from the left. In this photo he was on an Outer Banks bike trip with staff members Gus Jerdee, Danny Moore, and Joe Mahon (Great Britain).
I got to know Robert when he was just nine or so when I was living in New Orleans and he was nearby in Metairie. He and I became "brothers" as in the Big Brothers program. We've been friends ever since which would now be over 40 years.
Also in this photo I recognize Chuck Lockwood, Tommy Paylor, Chris Brown, McHardy Stoutz, and Michael LaPlace in addition to Robert, Gus, Danny, and Joe.
Kirk Moyer - 40 years later...
Ten years ago, first-year camper Kirk Moyer from Metairie/New Orleans, sent me an incredible piece talking about his TrailRidge memories. Kirk was there that first year (1982)and came back for a second. That first year was no cakewalk so the fact that anyone returned was somewhat of a minor miracle. Kirk resent his story just this week to commemorate the 40th year of TMC's founding. Thanks Kirk. He's actually going to be up in the TrailRidge-Roan Mountain-Hughes Gap areas in a couple of weeks.
Check it out: https://www.trailridge.info/uploads/7/7/7/4/7774835/i_blazed_the_trail_-_kirk_moyer.pdf
It’s always good to get some updates from past staff and campers. Ben Parker (5 years at TMC including the very first) and Steve Sovelove (2 years, ’85 & ’86) are two camp counselors who have remained friends for nearly 40 years.
A Nightmare at TrailRidge
And so, here we are 33 years later getting a chance to look back at our younger selves. This video was filmed in 1989 and stars a bunch of campers along with Davies, John, and Barclay.
Apparently, in 1988 - campers and counselors on a rather boring Sunday afternoon decided to write, direct, act, film, and "kind of edit" a feature film. These movies are about ten minutes or so each and while the quality can't compare to what we could do today with a decent digital camera or a cellphone...they're still funny to watch.
Check out this first one, "A Camper's First Session - or A Parent's Mistake."
Camp friends are the best.
Camp friends are always the best. Ben Parker keeps in touch with several former campers/counselors including Steve Sovelove. Steve and and his family have been staying at an Airbnb this week in Albuquerque visiting their son at the University of New Mexico. This week Ben has been on several hikes with Steve and one of his son's. Ben says Steve is doing great. Still building furniture on Lopez island north of Seattle.
First photo: Ben (left) and Steve.
Second photo: Steve and his son.
Every so often we'll hear from a former camper or counselor. It's always fun to have friend check in. I just got this email from our one and only Australian counselor, Trevor Creighton. Here's what he had to say...
I was a TMC counselor in 1988 (the Australian one). This afternoon I decided to find out if TrailRidge could be found via the all-knowing Google and there it was - your fabulous site! I can't tell you how much I am enjoying it. I'm still sifting through, but already have come across some snippets from a couple of compadres from '88 - Paul and John. I have such great memories of my one summer. I had intended to come back the following year but got married instead. It was a tough choice ;-)
I'm looking forward to going through the photographs now. Already spotted Sam Brinkley. I remember taking quite a few of the kids down to his grave on the 'Sam Brinkley Memorial cycle tour' on a few occasions - that was a blast! I still manage to weave in some tall tales of TrailRidge around the dinner table to any captive audience I can find.
A Buladean Landmark...
One of our bike rides out of camp was down Hughes Gap Road, over to a side road, and up to a church cemetery that was the resting site of Sam Brinkley. His beard was legend.
For #WorldBeardDay we're spotlighting Sam Brinkley, who became known for one of the world’s longest beards in the early 20th century. He was born near Burnsville in Yancey County.
As an adult, Brinkley stood at 6 feet, two inches with a beard that measured in at 5 feet, 4 inches at its peak length. Notoriety came with the remarkable growth of his beard. He began by exhibiting it to the curious, and he went on tour with the Barnum and Bailey Circus. He reportedly earned thousands of dollars by charging people to see his beard, which he kept tucked in a pouch.
Brinkley was a late bloomer when it came to facial hair. According to newspaper accounts, until he was 21, he had no real beard to shave. By 23, the growth had reached the astounding rate of a full beard in a week’s time. One article reported that the beard was entirely natural, not the result of restorers or invigorators. Another called it “soft and beautiful.” For decades Brinkley was known as the world’s expert on the cultivation of beards.
He died in 1929 from complications of tonsillitis, and he is buried at Buladean in Mitchell County with a striking photo featuring his legendary beard recessed into his tombstone.
-Original post from the North Carolina Department of Natural & Cultural Resources (9/5/20)
Just some random thoughts about how TrailRidge came to be and about life at the camp in those first 15 or so years in Buladean.