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
- - -
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
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
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.