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Dining Hall in winter.
Camp Buildings – What's the Story?
Campers, old and new, often take the buildings and facilities in camp for granted. The dining hall, the O building, the dorms, the A building, the rehearsal bowls, the pool, and so on. They are just part of the experience. Yet, how did they get there? Clearly, there is a story behind how each of the buildings and facilities were conceived and then constructed. I’m aware that friends of Fred Ohlendorf, and some of the parents of the early campers, contributed their time and skills to build the facilities. Mr. O used to share stories of the evolution of camp during rehearsals. Still, those stories are being lost to time. The adults involved in the early days of camp have passed on and even the early campers who might remember the stories are getting on in age.
I’d like to put out a call to those who were there or to those who remember the details of the addition of any of the buildings or facilities in camp to share those stories with me. I’d like to include them as part of our website on a page devoted to the history of the camp.
Write it down and send it to me or just call me and share what you remember. Even a small memory about one of the buildings or one of the facilities can be added to what other alumni share. Please help me create a written record of the history of Arrowbear that can be shared with future campers.
Band Bowl / Sawhill
Shared by Ernest Kettenring (1968-1975)
The small counselor hut above the dining hall was built by Rick Ohlendorf, sometime around 1972-73. As I recall, Rick designed and built the building himself. Rick was a jack-of-all-trades. Beyond working as chief cook, and building his own cabin, he also regularly made modifications and engine rebuilds on his Volkswagon, Which was reputedly the fastest in the mountain region.
Shared by Gary Wrench (1945-1950)
I recall being with my father, Newt Wrench, and Fred Ohlendorf one weekend (probably 1947) as they worked to get the camp ready for the summer sessions. We discovered that the electric lighting in two of the oldest (pre-WWII) buildings had been set up to be powered in an emergency by a closet-sized array of wet-cell batteries. There was considerable head-scratching as they pondered the safety of the old wiring for both AC and DC power. The batteries were not the typical 6 Volt car batteries of that time, but were an array of large industrial-size glass containers with lead electrodes and mostly dried-up electrolyte. Was the wiring changed? Or inspected? Probably, but I really don't know. What happened to the batteries? Another mystery and just one of the many things I'd like to see them for again.
I'm haven't visited the camp in a few years and am unfamiliar with the present names of these old buildings, but I'm pretty sure that one of them became the girls dorm and the other was a house-like structure used for sectional rehearsals etc. This was located on the north side of the end-of the road turnaround in the middle of camp.
Thinking about the present-day focus on solar panels and battery storage, I think this story falls into the category of "everything old is new again".
I put this same call out on our Facebook group page. Bob Walton responded with this great story. Not exactly about the building of the dining hall, but it's a great story none-the-less.
Camp saw its usual share of unexpected facility problems in the summer of 1966. Among them was the huge dead pine looming over the dining hall's roof some thirty yards or so upslope. Mr. O. mused about calling a tree service to remove it. Chris Toppen assured him that we (meaning the two of us) could take care of it.
That same day, we lugged the big chainsaw (36" bar) up to the tree. Surveying the beast, I had doubts. Its diameter was close to six feet. Our saw looked inadequate next to the burly trunk. Chris assured me that all we had to do was cut a big wedge from the side on which we wished it to fall and then cut down to it from the other side. This we proceeded to do. Taking turns on the saw, we went deep, deeper, almost there. Chris was cutting when the saw ground to a halt and he let out an obscene squawk. I swallowed my angst and asked him the cause of his displeasure. He replied, "The saw is stuck. The tree leaned back and pinched it." "Uh, you think Mr. O. might fire us if we break the saw?" Chris glanced in the direction of the tree's current tilt, directly opposite to where we wished it to go. "He'll fire us for sure if we take out the dining hall." "What do we do?" "Wedges. We need wedges!" "Should we tell him?" "Nope."
We skulked swiftly to the tool shed beneath the instrument storage room next to the volleyball court and plucked up the three wood splitting wedges we could find. Sledges and wedges in hand, we sneaked back up the hill (rest period, you know) unseen. Chris judged that a very thin wand of wood still kept the tree up and that we needed to be cautious with our wedge placement. I nodded silently. It's your call, Kemosabe. We placed the wedges and, tapping them gently with our sledge hammers, sought to lift the tree off the saw. After a minute or two Chris called a halt and gave it a test. The saw wiggled. We tapped again. The saw slid free! At least we wouldn't get fired for breaking it! The tree, however, remained. Staying clear of either fall path, We surveyed it as best we could. Our consensus judgment was that it was leaning slightly in the direction we originally intended. Good! but what next? Neither of us wanted to have another go at sawing. Mostly out of frustration, I raised my sledge, swung it like Frank Howard going for the center field fence and smacked the trunk as hard as I could. Nothing happened. I looked at Chris. He shrugged. Creak . . . creak, creak, CREAK! He and I scrambled uphill. CREAK, SNAP, CRACKLE, CRACKLE. The tree tilted, tilted. POW! It fell like a 747 taking off, like a hippo attempting a high jump. Faster and then KABOOM! It landed perfectly, right where we wanted it, and went nowhere else!
Later — quite a bit later — we cut the big trunk into sections somewhat like wagon wheel rounds only thicker — and dragged them down to the parking lot with the help of campers. One counsellor (I don't recall who) became fed up with dragging and decided to roll. Once launched, the big round picked up steam quickly, bounded across the parking lot and smacked into the right front door of Sarge's car. The round bounced away unharmed, though Sarge's car had acquired its biggest dent yet. Many of those tree rounds adorned the parking lot and the camp porch for years, serving as barriers and seats. Both Chris and I retired from our budding forestry careers. Sarge didn't get a new car.
Coffee Time with Ross
Hi, I’m Ross Durand. I first camped at Arrowbear in 1982 and have been on staff since 1985, which is the same year that the Dockstaders began running the camp program. I was asked to write a piece for each issue of the newsletter highlighting some of the unique aspects of the last 36 years of the camp program for those of us who were campers and staff during those times.
Camp is still camp, of course. The bell still rings; we still rehearse in the bowls; we still sleep in the dorms, and we still sing “O Give Thanks” at every evening assembly. But there have also been some changes to the program these 36 years. One of these is the fact that since 1985 we end almost every night with a campfire. I suspect that for many people in the post-'85 generations of campers, campfire holds some of their most precious camp memories. Campfires during these years have been a time set aside for reflection, on friendship, on our camp experience, on personal growth, or sometimes we can share the funniest thing that happened to us that day. It also serves as a chance for campers to share hurts or difficulties in a safe place of 100 of their peers and friends. I still find it remarkable that we have a place where 100 teenagers will sit in a circle and listen to each other, every night.
We still sing at campfire, of course, and it has been my privilege to be one of the keepers of the songs at Arrowbear. We sing many of the old favorites, “Today,” “Circle Game,” “Where have all the Flowers Gone?” But various people have introduced new standards into our campfire experience as well, songs like “You’ve Got a Friend,” “That’s What Friends are For,” and “Shooting Star,” that allow us to strengthen our connections to each other and to the experiences of camp.
Are you part of the post-’85 generations? Do you have any special campfire memories? What would you like to see me write about in this space? I’d love to hear from you, and I would especially love to see you next Labor Day at the reunion.
What Are They Up to Now?
Kathy Larsen is a physical therapist who plays with the Boston Philharmonic and plays chamber music with friends.
D. Wilson Ochoa is in his 5th season as principal librarian with the Boston Symphony. His arrangement of music from the Richard Strauss opera "Ariadne auf Naxos" was recorded by the Buffalo Philharmonic.
D. Wilson Ochoa
Marian Kent has no intention of retiring from the Atlanta Symphony viola section. To her, retirement equals Death! She plans to "saw" away 'til she drops.
Ray Nowak plays his trumpet with the San Diego Symphony.
Bruce Sledge is singing the lead tenor role in Verdi Requium at the Seattle Symphony in June 2022.
Judy Arndt Henderson credits Fred Ohlendorf's faith in her as a beginning cello student with starting her on the path that led to a career as a professional musician.
Judy Arndt Henderson
Eric and Jane Simonsen Frankenfeld are both still playing in the Pacific Northwest Opera and Skagit Symphony. Their daughter is a violinst in the Cincinnati Symphony with her Uncle Paul Frankenfeld.
Eric & Jane
Marvin Sippel has resumed playing French Horn after a 60+ years hiatus. Getting lip and breathing is a challenge, but he's enjoying it.
Larry Evans advises entrepreneurial companies and serves on several corporate Board of Directors. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey, which he describes as a cultural mecca.
Rejean still plays and teachers cello, but it's her daughters who had real careers in music. One is a cellist with the Cassatt String Quartet. The other played viola with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 27 years
Rejean Schweitzer Anderson
Sally taught elementary music in Garden Grove for 37 years and is still the youth & children’s choir director at Garden Grove United Methodist Church.
She attend Choral Session and was a counselor .
Sally Setterington Hickman
Peter has been doing TV/film scoring since 1975. He released his first album of his music on his own label in 1980. He's now working on his 42nd album. Visit peterdavison.com for links to his music.
Nicole lives in Panama, Central America, where she teaches at Balboa Academy. She has three children. Her mother, Jamar, served as a Camp Nurse at Arrowbear
Erica is a mechanical engineer with Sustainable Mechanical Systems in Portland, Oregon. She has three children. Her mother, Jamar, served as a Camp Nurse at Arrowbear.
Carolyn Baker Halliburton passed away on February 11, 2022, after a three-year battle with an aggressive and incurable cancer. She graduated from Wilson High in 1974 and attended Arrowbear with her sister Joanne in 1970.
Roger West passed away in 2021. He was a clarinet player who attended Arrowbear in the late 1950s and into the early 1960s.
Rae Jean Boeving passed away February 1, 2021. She was a high school music teacher for years before finishing her career as an elementary music teacher in Long Beach Unified. She was also a former member of our AMA Board of Directors.
Martha Ebersole Eads
Myrtle Seymour Watilo
Mary Dropkin passed away in January of this year. She was a marvelous harp player who worked as a staff member for several years and brought her students to play at Arrowbear.
Kurt Holmes passed away unexpectedly on December 12, 2020. He was a fine clarinet and sax player who was a camper, counselor, and cook at Arrowbear from 1971 to 1988. Kurt was a music teacher and golf coach at his alma mater Wilson High in Long Beach.
Dolores Delcoma passed away in November 2020. She was a violinist from the early days of Arrowbear. She was a camper and counselor from 1948 to 1954. Dolores was a faithful supporter of our scholarship program and remembered her days at camp with great fondness.
Clint Gilmore passed away on November 2, 2020, after a battle with stomach cancer. Clint took over the family business – Gilmore’s Music Store – in 1988.
John Ervin passed away on August 29, 2020, after a short illness. He was a fine trombone player who was known as "Johnny Bone". John was a camper in the 1970s and played professionally, often with his brother, Cliff Ervin.
Michael Meckna passed away on May 23, 2020, after a long battle with both Parkinson's and dementia. He was a camper in the 1950s. Through much of the 1960s, Mike was a counselor, trumpet instructor, music theory teacher, and cook. He and Rick Ohlendorf spent at least one totally memorable summer cooking for the camp together.
Fran Harding, affectionately known as "Sarge", passed away on May 18, 2020, at the age of 98. She first came to Arrowbear in 1953 to conduct at one of the junior high sessions. The next summer she joined the Choral Session staff and participated in teaching and running Choral Session every summer until 1982. She taught music in Long Beach Unified until 1982, but she remained active in music by playing the bassoon in several musical groups and was president of the Musical Arts Club for years.
Lee Smith passed away on February 29, 2020, after a seven month battle with cancer. Lee was a camper, counselor, cook, and staff member from 1949-1965. He enjoyed playing his violin with the Bakersfield Symphony for many years.
Joe Burger passed away on December 19, 2019. Known as "Mr. B.", he was Mr. Ohlendorf's Assistant Camp Director for 30 years. He taught elementary music in Long Beach Unified during the school year and spent the entire summer at Arrowbear helping to run the sessions. His impact on the campers who knew him and the hundreds of young people he started on violin during his teaching career can't be overstated. His passing is a huge loss to his family and to all who knew him.
Rick Bartkus passed away on December 4, 2019, from a heart attack. Rick was a fine trombone player who attended camp in the 1960s to the early 1970s. He had a particular talent of making everyone around him smile. Our hearts go out to his family.
Martha Ebersole Eads passed away on November 28, 2019, two weeks after suffering a stroke. Martha was a camper from 1947 to 1952. She later served as a staff member for a number of years into the 1970s. Martha was an active violinist who played in chamber groups in northern California. We all send our sympathy to her family.
Bruce Ford passed away unexpectedly on November 14, 2019. He was a choral camper who attended camp in the 1970s. His wife and all five of their children attended camp as well. Bruce was active in his church and in his community. He was a kind man with a big smile and an even bigger heart.
Myrtle Seymour Watilo passed away October 31, 2019. She and her husband, William, were campers at the first session of Arrowbear in 1942. Myrtle was a violinist, but enjoyed singing in her church choir. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
Ellen Schinnerer Porter Deffner passed away on July 24, 2019, after a long battle with cancer. She was Carole Ohlendorf Dockstader’s first cousin, but she was much more than that. She was a long-time staff member and camp accompanist. Her dry wit, passion for music, and her love of Arrowbear will be missed.
Linda Zeigler Nicholson passed away on March 31, 2019, of complications of ALS. She was a cello player who attended camp in the 1960s. Her friends remember her passion for music. Our hearts go out to her family.
Ellen Deffner (left) and
Carole Ohlendorf Dockstader
Every spring and fall we receive numerous newsletters back stamped, “Not Deliverable as Addressed. Unable to Forward.” Not only are we sorry to lose an address, but it costs us $1.09 per piece to get a newsletter back. We also receive regular address changes for every newsletter. These pieces cost us $0.57 cents each. Now we’re having the problem that we’re not getting back all the address changes from the Post Office. Your newsletter is being updated and sent on to your new address, but we’re not being consistently notified as in the past. This is where you come in. Please try to remember us during the stress and craziness of moving. We need your new address as well. You can send the new address to our PO Box or you can email it to email@example.com. Many thanks to those of you who let us know when you move.
If you know how to contact any of the following Arrowbearites, please let us know. It's really helpful if you have their mailing or email address rather than just telling us you think they moved to a certain city.
Doris Henry Werst
Emma & Kate Garcia
Katie & Kellyn Adams
Jacob & Marbella Griffin
Amelia & Valentina Espinosa
Remember the fun of camp singing in the Orchestra Bowl (now called the Ohlendorf Bowl) and at camp fire? Every year we receive a couple of requests for lyrics to songs sung at Arrowbear. We've typed them up and shared them here so everyone can have easy access. Let us know if there are any songs you'd like to see added to our song list. Just email us or include your request when you send in a donation.
Gary Wrench (1945-1950) recalls that he and Marvin Sippel were proctors for the boys' dorm at night and did gofer stuff for Fred and Edna, including sectional rehearsals, during the day. Runs to the dump at Running Springs in Fred's old Chevy with trailer in tow were a highlight. Somewhere in there was time for fraternization with the girls' counselors.
Marvin Sippel (1942-1950) shared, "I played French horn at both junior high and senior high camps from 1945-1951. I participated in many weekend work parties with my parents, Bill & Vera Sippel. My father, Bill, drove the stake bed truck the first year of camp and many more subsequent years. My mother worked in the kitchen over several summers. I also served as a junior high counselor for two years. I helped take the camp trash to the dump using Fred’s car and trailer. I have a memory of riding in Fred Ohlendorf’s Willy’s coupe with the large trunk filled with instruments, and sometimes all of us too, for All City Senior High Orchestra and All Southern Orchestra rehearsals. Wow, what a ride!"
Richard Cummings (58-62) recalls that while he was at camp, Ricky and Carole Ohlendorf were his age, and they went on outings in the back of a flatbed truck with sideboards. Maestro Akira Endo was a young counselor. His father, Stanley Cummings, tuned for the Ohlendorfs and for the camp. He has many happy memories of camp and was familiar with the infamous and forbidden “Happy Gap”! Richard was a tuner for Long Beach City College too.
Jayne Lanners Horn (54-64) says that one of her fondest memories of Arrowbear in early June was the work camps. Her family would all go fix, clean, etc. to get camp ready for the first session.
Deborah Trutanich Faust (64-69) remembers the Ohlendorfs as wonderful people. She used to go to their home in Long Beach and pick up boxes of candy bars to sell 'em in order to go to camp. She loved her time at Arrowbear.
Bernice Mitchell Hallam (42-47) remembers the cafeteria with its delicious food such as hamburgers, spaghetti, and pizza. In her home they only had chicken, rabbit, fried liver and onions, fish, and other healthy foods. She remembers Skit Nights in the cafeteria where each table wrote and presented their skit. She believes the prize was you didn't have to clear the table.
Jim Lanners (53-67) remembers that he worked several summers as head and only dishwasher when Lee was the camp "master chef". Lee drove a 1951 2-door Ford Business Coup with no back seat. On the weekends, the kitchen staff would pile into Lee's Ford and off they'd go to World Famous Lloyd's or all the way to Arrowhead. But his favorite trip was to the dump. Lee would allow Jim to drive the stake bed truck back to Highway 18.
Larry Evans (57-63) remembers that a bunch of counselors would go up with Fred Ohlendorf in the winter, spring, and fall to help with repairs at camp. He and Rick Ohlendorf used to drive a work trailer around. The whole Arrowbear experience was very formative for him and one he remembers well.
Eileen Marrison Halcrow (62-67) remembers being mesmerized by listening to jay Kohorn telling the story of "The Engulfed Cathedral" followed by his performance of an enchanting Debussy piano prelude.
Valorie Fairchild Beer (69-72) shared that at the very first band rehearsal of Summer 1971 first Junior High Session (her third year at camp), the French horn player sitting behind her decided to tickle her. She was startled and dropped her bassoon, cracking off the long section right at the base where it fit in the boot or bottom section. Valerie was heartbroken, thinking her week at camp was ruined. Sarge Harding to the rescue! She lent Valorie her own bassoon for the week, and Valorie got to play the whole time, not missing any rehearsals or concerts. She is so thankful to Sarge for lending her own bassoon to her.
My Next Door Neighbor
by Jim Lanners
It was the first day of Easter vacation in 1958 or 1959. Everybody’s on vacation, my mom, dad, my sisters, me, and . . . my next door neighbor. My dad says, “You going?” You bet! My dad was already sitting in our Plymouth station wagon, and here comes my next door neighbor. Off we go down Clark Ave, across PCH, turned right on Anaheim St, almost to the river to Paramount Truck Rentals. They had it all ready to go, a really, really big red stake bed truck. My dad says, “You ridin’ in the truck?” “Yup,” I replied. But to myself I said, “Not in the cab.” I climbed into the back of that truck. Standing on my tip toes, I could just see over the cab. Said my next door neighbor, “Jim, you ready?” “Yup.”
When we got back to Heather Road, they already had one of them on the dolly. We’re not talking a baby grand, here, no siree. This was the biggest dang piano made by the hand of man, and not just one, but there were two of them. Rick was there with some friends. My dad and Mr. Rausuer lent a hand. I was told to stay out of the way. And into that big red stake bed truck both those giant pianos went. With my next door neighbor at the wheel of that big red stake bed truck and followed by my piano teacher at the wheel of a well-packed Chevy station wagon, off they went. We’d join them the next day as we always left right after Mass. Where were we all headed? Where else . . . to Arrowbear Music Camp.
It was time to get the camp ready. The first session would be June 14. We had this vacation week and a couple of weekends, and we might just be ready. Oh, there’s Running Springs. Right at the Trading Post. There’s Arrowbear Lake and Don Bosco Boys Cap. The road was worse than last year with some snow and some dust. Finally, we made it. There was that old split log cabin, and up on the hill, the water tanks. There was the mess hall, orchestra bowl, boys’ dorm, girls’ dorm, and Happy Gap. My mom and older sister joined my piano teacher and Carole doing tasks that needed to be done. For my dad, an industrial arts teacher at Lakewood High and jack-of-all-trades, my next door neighbor, and Rick, it was plumbing time. Frozen pipes, septic tank, and lots more. Out came the tools, pipe wrenches, screw drivers, hammers, nails, paint, and brushes. I left my violin at home, but I did bring my Daisy Red Ryder BB gun . . . but first, there was work to be done.
Deobrah Jo Moorehead Warren (1973)
I was in 6th grade, maybe 7th, when I won a scholarship. I was (and still am to some extent) painfully shy as a young adult and was pretty anxious about spending time away from home. But the experience was so amazing, that I didn’t want to leave when it was over. I was in tears when my parents came to get me.
The choral sessions were recorded and placed onto vinyl. That was the 70s after all! I still remember the songs, and I was in such admiration of the all-teen boy choir. They sounded absolutely amazing. They sang ‘Tis a Gift to Be Simple’.
It was an honor to be a part of something so wonderful, and it holds a special place in my heart and memories.
Joan Leininger Johnson (1957-1962)
My memory is of following some girls out of camp at night and making it a few steps from the sleeping porch and getting caught by Akira Endo. He was soooo surprised to see me! I was always the perfect camper. We all had a little talk with Fred in the band bowl the next day. I also remember hearing Akira practice late at night from one of the buildings - beautiful! I remember hearing someone play "Come Go With Me" on the speaker system in the night. There were raids from the boys running through the porch and dorm at night. So many good memories.
Terry D Schoessow
I feel a very special bond to your music camp. My grandfather, Rev. Theodore Schoessow Sr., was a part owner of the Arrowbear facility pre-Ohlendorfs, in the 1920s and 1930s. My parents, married in 1936, used to show me photos of their time at Arrowbear. Your ogoing endeavor with the music camp brings back many memories of the very early years - almost 100 years ago.