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