I was waterfront director at several boys camps on Cape Cod.

I don’t remember the year, but I have already written about being a water safety instructor and an instructor of that itself, by virtue of the American Red Cross.  I would have been probably 17.  I don’t remember the name of the camp, tho I did recall the name of the camp where the bee man was the cook and the strange experience.  So, my senior year in high school, in the country of Pennsylvania, a friend, Sally Sloan…not a girl friend per se, but a good friend, and she decided we would learn to play chess.  It was fun, and we read a book and learned the moves and we learned what I now know was a Very basic level of chess.  The next summer or maybe that summer, I was waterfront director to this camp on Cape Cod.  I have to explain the kids that came to this camp, the best I can.  They were from South Boston, which, I was told, was like Harlem of NYC, or the very lowest class of people.  They came by bus, and we had to search them one by one when they arrived, before they were assigned a bunk and a cabin.  The assignment was done by somebody else, and I just Had to ask why we had to search them.  The other counsellors showed me.  Kids had razor blades stuck into the sides of their shoes where the sole meets the leather.  They had rolls of pennies taped up to be used like brass knuckles.  Some would have their belt buckle honed to knife edge sharpness as a slinging weapon.  I couldn’t Even imagine such behavior. But that was apparently their way of life.  Important to note also, was that we had to search each of them before they got on the bus to leave…so we could retrieve OUR belongings, pocket knife, book, socks, wallets.  It was Bizarre.  So, now I’ve layed the scene…I am waterfront director teaching kids  in ages about 10-13 and about 20 at a time.  Here I am on the dock calling them to come get together we’re going to learn to swim.  And they all run out on the dock in their swim suits.  All but one little black boy…still dressed in clothes.  I went to him and told him to hurry get dressed, we’re going to learn to swim.  He said No.  He wasn’t going to do it.  I tried for a couple minutes with various ploys to no avail.  I noticed he kept a metal folding chess board close to him.  One with magnetic chess pieces.  Here I am big College Joe…and I said…tell you what…if I beat you at a game of chess will you come swim.  Yeah!  It was a learning experience for me.  I had no knowledge of the reality of chess.  He didn’t learn to swim and I felt bad for that, but I did learn something.

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