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L ong ago — at least half a century — when mastodons roamed the boreal uplands of Vermont, and the commodious Checker cab ruled the streets of Manhattan, and President Kennedy met with leaders of newly-minted tropical nations who wore bone ornaments in their facial parts, a twelve-year-old boy named Jeff Greenaway was sent away from home for the full eight week summer session to Camp Timahoe, as had been the case for five previous summers.

Camp Timahoe, a boys-only establishment, was located in a particularly remote northeastern quadrant of the Green Mountain State eleven miles away from the mill town of Lost Indian. Getting there required an overnight sleeper train ride from Grand Central Station 320 miles clear up to St. Johnsbury, near the Canadian border, and then, the next morning, an additional hour ride in the old war surplus army truck that was the camp’s main bulk conveyance for boys.

Camp Timahoe was the life project of the magnetic Murray Horvath, who bought the eighty-acre parcel in the depths of the Great Depression from a distressed Utopian religious group called the Brothers of the Practical Arts. They had gone broke making luxury wooden furniture in the manner of William Morris, their specialty being the rather high-priced chair they called the Lumbar Hygiene Recliner.

If you suppose for a moment that Jeff Greenaway was despondent about being cast out of his home on 79th Street for two months you would be most mistaken. In fact, he was delirious to be shipped off to “the country,” which was his mother’s term for any place where you could not buy a Charlotte Russe inside a five-minute walk. He barely tolerated the city during the cold months of the year, with its meager offerings of activities for boys — the natural history museum, the planetarium, the Central Park Zoo, the movies — and to him the very idea of a whole summer in the city was like unto a term in the penitentiary, even a kind of premature death….

About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

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