in my family, we have certain idiosyncratic terms that no one else in the world uses besides us. i’m sure lots of families do.
my sister and i did not realize until some few years ago, however, that this was actually the case. we thought everyone walked around calling the national council of jewish women thrift shop the “jewish ladies,” for example. which they don’t.
this is not dissimilar from our mother thinking that her father was just making up nonsense words when he would say, “let’s go schloffen” at bedtime or mix together rice and peas when they were served at dinner and call it risi-pisi.
my family also says “sleep-away camp” to denote a summer camp at which one stays for a period of time (as differentiated from day camp) and my saying this out loud to friends not from california has literally made them laugh. really. i don’t know if this is a weird family thing, or if it’s just a regional difference, but the fact of the matter remains that i have tried to train myself not to say “sleep-away camp” in front of certain people.
which brings us to the above photograph, a place holder for a picture i can’t find right now, taken at the sleep-away camp where my mother was in her element, where my parents met, where my cousin fell off a bridge, where a little piece of my heart will always live even though a large percentage of my time there was often lonely and sad. this place is simply known as “camp.” there are no qualifiers because we all know exactly what we are talking about.
from time to time i think about how i would like to go visit camp – which is not very far away at all – but i never do. i will one of these days.
frank markus hoffer (1909-1991), helene, ethel kalisch hoffer (1918-1991), kathi