Higley Hill was an interesting experience for both Linda and myself. We had worked with some wonderful kids, some of whom, nearly fifty years later, still stay in touch with us. Linda had directed plays and managed to plan activities. I made sure that the program was carried out and dealt with minor problems as they came up. One such problem was the bank beaver with whom we shared our pond. Kids and counselors thought him cute, but he was definitely a basic hygiene problem, as our campers swam in the little pond. So one night, I took my trusty Springfield ’03 down to the pond and placed a bullet right into its little head. The following day the nature counselor made it a biology project, eviscerating and skinning it. The kids thought it really neat.
Besides the swimming hole problems (beavers and water level), the camp had some other problems, the most important of which was that Manny and Grace wanted to retire to the house Manny had just built in Truro, Massachusetts. Actually, Manny got anyone who came to visit him to help him in his construction project, and I hated the business of getting under a foundation with pick or shovel to do I can’t even remember what. Linda liked to visit Grace and Manny, but I, after a busy week in the classroom, needed relaxation, not a three hundred mile drive followed by some hard physical labor, and then the same drive back to New York. But Linda didn’t see it that way. She loved Grace and Manny, and so off to Truro we went.
Came a point, however, when Grace and Manny wanted to sell Higley Hill (somewhat less than 15 acres, with farmhouse, barn and outbuildings), located in what was becoming a booming recreation area between Mount Snow and the Marlboro Music Festival. A decision had to be made as to whether the camp was to continue, and if so where, as we couldn’t afford the asking price. Linda and I began looking around for another property, preferably a camp, to which we could move the Higley Hill operation without too much trouble, and we found such a location in East Sullivan, New Hampshire, a place called Apple Hill, a camp that was still in operation that specialized in horse related activity.
It was a beautiful 75 acres, at the top of a hill overlooking 50 miles of New Hampshire and Vermont. Between the house and the red, pre-Revolutionary barn stood a towering
American elm, and somewhat downhill was a cement swimming pool which had been excavated by hand by a crew of laborers under the supervision of a man named Guy Murchie, who while running the camp, had also found the time to write a Pulitzer Pize winning book about the stars. Further downhill stood the bunks. The house itself was a small, antique, yellow Cape Cod house. Linda and I loved it the moment we saw it, and after checking out the facilities more completely (could it accommodate all of our Higley campers and the Apple Hill campers?) we decided to buy it, although we could only do so with the financial help of Linda’s parents.
Space turned out not to be a problem, as we had no interest in running a horse camp, and most of the previous campers had no interest in attending a camp without horses. Now the only problem we had was to find parents crazy enough to send their kids to a camp run by a pregnant 25-year-old and a 30-year old.