On Briggs Highway to Oakwood:#210 & Tuesday Slice

Oakwood 09

Oakwood Cottages on Briggs Highway is just seven miles outside my hometown and this is where we spent our childhood summers.

We left a big house with lots of space and a washer/dryer in the basement for my mom, and packed up the car, shut up the house and journeyed the 7 miles to spend the summer at a bungalow colony sharing our lives with 20 other families for two months.

My grandfather owned the colony and my dad as his son: a skilled electrician and jack of all trades, felt duty-bound to support him.  So we all went.

As kids, we were happy in late June to leave our big house and move into a smaller bungalow and join a bunch of kids from the Bronx for the summer in a day camp.  After all, we were the owner’s grandkids, not that that gave us much status, really.  But at the beginning of the summer, it was exciting, by early August I was thinking about my new school supplies and longing for my own room and friends.

My mom always went kicking and screaming.  She never saw these two months as an adventure.  She was situated way too close to her in-laws and the responsibilities that came with being related to the owners, like answering the house phone, selling ice cream, dealing with renter complaints and walking back and forth to the laundry room.  Sure she had lots of women to play mah jong with during the day, but still this was not enough  an incentive.

As kids, we were more focused on our own lives at Oakwood.  It was only in August, mid August that we started to side with her on our departure date.

By the time I was a a teenager the Cherry Hill Hotel just up the short  hill,  opened up social, romantic possibilities. Older guys in the hotel band and in the dining room were easy to get to and a group of us from Oakwood flocked there.

I had my first older guy, Bernie Katz, who played the piano,made love to the piano and I loved him, especially when  he sent the music to my heart.  Sadly, at 15 I was held back by his height.  I was taller, by 3 inches.  So ridiculous.  I still wonder if it was the inches that eventually turned me off.  Oh well…

And now with Tuvia after years of being away from the colony, I drove up Briggs Highway to Oakwood, no longer Oakwood.

Soon after my grandparents died my dad and his sister sold the colony to the Domerew family who lived across the road and they let the colony go as  many of the former and new owners of the land up and down this back road and many roads in the Borschet Belt.  Some of the properties were bought by religious groups for summer camps but most were just left to return to nature.

Who spends summers in the mountains anymore?

I wanted Tuvia to see this piece of my past and he loved the ride. After all, he thought a bungalow was a log cabin.

It was  painful for me, surprisingly painful.

There’s more to say, but not now…guitar lesson!

Lots of Slices at Two Writing Teachers

Categories: A Photo A Day, childhood | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “On Briggs Highway to Oakwood:#210 & Tuesday Slice

  1. My parents went up to the Borscht Belt as kids, but never took me. I don’t personally know who goes up to the mountains anymore (though there was an article in Aug. about it, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/nyregion/23ritual.html?_r=1).

    What a glorious photograph you captured!

  2. Thanks Stacey,
    I will check out that article. It was a great way to spend my childhood.

  3. Lisa

    I love this photograph! We have lots of summer cottage camps like this near my house, but I didn’t know this sort of place existed until I was an adult. I love the idea of spending summer at such a place, but sympathize with your mother. Not much of a vacation for her, I guess.

  4. Lisa

    PS: I don’t live in the mountains, but you should see the line of traffic headed our way on a Friday night in the summer, and the line of traffic headed out on Sunday afternoon. Somebody is still taking vacations!

  5. literacyspark

    These are the places where stories are born! I love the photo.

  6. I have written about my life in the summers. Same source as Dirty Dancing.
    Thanks for reading and loving my photo. That makes me feel amazing!

  7. lynnjake

    What a wonderful photo, Bonnie. It is really evocative of the story you tell. We never got to go away for the whole summer, but every year we’d go to Lake Okoboji in Iowa or Gull Lake in Minnesota for a week or two. Us kids loved it, and my parents fished. I think my mom probably liked it better when she didn’t have the responsibility of us, because she loves to fish. I didn’t ever think about it being a lot of work for her, but i imagine it was.
    Thanks for sharing this piece of your life.

  8. Thea "Drucker" Kittay

    Bonnie, you bring me back to Oakwood and those wonderful days of summer fun. My brother, Gary, sent this to me last night. He used to play with your brothers. I am one of the Bronx girls. Yes, those nights we walked up the hill to the Cherry Hill Hotel, to listen to the band and have crushes on the staff. Memories I’ll never forget. Thanks for bringing them back. Thea

    • Hey Thea, so nice to hear from you. I so remember you and your brother and our amazing time together. What are you doing now?

      • Thea "Drucker" Kittay

        I’m retired and have been living in Florida for the last 7 yrs. Gary sent you a response. Did you get it? I don’t think it was on this site though.

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