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Photos, Poems and Videos
from the celebration
of Ben Kimball's 100th Birthday

Tributes to Ben Kimball and Camp Dry-Kye

A Mentor and a Guide - Ben Kimball

By Byron Angel, Hyannisport, MA

People in life come and go. Most are ephemeral characters who occupy a moment of your life and then disappear from consciousness. Only a few leave a mark that accompanies you through all your days. And only the special few achieve the status of mentors and guides. Ben has been one of those special few individuals in my life - a man who coaxed me out of the confines of my childish preconceptions and insecurities, introduced me to an awesome and fascinating world outside, and inspired in me an explorative curiosity that has enriched my life. It says a very great deal, I think, that a man I last passed words with some forty five years ago remains so large in my daily thoughts.

- - -

I retain many memories of my Dry Kye summers, fragmentary perhaps, but memories worth sharing. In this latter part of my life, those days seem to me to resemble something like a chapter out of Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine":

Standing at the curve of the road near Ben's cabin on a sunny July morning in 1963, when he solemnly informed me that "If you don't speak up for yourself, no one else is going to." Words to live by.

My fateful self-description as a "typical teenager", which caused Ben to burst into uproarious laughter. I'm still not sure what struck him so damned funny about such an apparently innocent remark; perhaps it was simply its hapless innocence. Whatever it was, Ben NEVER let me forget that gaffe.

The absolutely intense nightly ping-pong rivalry between Harvey Hoffman and Brandon Tartikoff: I always marveled at their skills and the fervor with which they battled one another.

The Brandon Tartikoff method of hot dog preparation: build a roaring campfire on the beach; put a hot dog on a stick; bury it in the hottest part of the fire; read a comic book from cover to cover; retrieve the charred remnant of hot dog; place in bun with condiments of choice and consume.

Lusting after that beautiful Winchester .22 bolt-action, which I always believed was more accurate than the Mossbergs.

Losing at chess with depressing regularity to Harvey Hoffman. Where is that man?

Transistor radios in the bunkhouse. To this day, certain songs, like "100 Pounds of Clay" by Gene McDaniels and "Papa Oo Mau Mau" by the Rivingtons immediately transport me back to camp.

Sheath knives: industriously sharpening them, then whittling away the idle hours. No stick of wood was safe from us.

Color Wars: The Knights of the Red Moon versus the Sons of the Blazing Stars. Two weeks when brothers became enemies and vied against one another in every crazy event spawned by the devious and imaginative mind of Ben Kimball for the noble reward which beckoned from the fryalators and formica counters of Brookside Restaurant.

The Battle of Trafalgar! Name another camp capable of such outrageous imagination.

Getting a seat in front of a roaring conflagration in that beautiful lodge fireplace on a cool summer night. Proof that God is really in the details.

 

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