McManigal Play

Monday was McManigal night at Summer Camp. I couldn’t decide what kind of play to write to honor John and Lenore. Should it be “This is Your Life” or “Leave it to Beaver”? What about rewriting their story with three daughters instead of of three sons? I could see John leading three girls with bows in their hair up the trail. When sorting through a box of Obsidian Bulletins that Lloyd Plaisted left the club, I found a 1966 Obsidian Bulletin with an article describing the 1966 Summer Camp that John chaired. However, I am not saying that everything in this skit actually happened. I just read about it in the Bulletin or heard it on the grapevine. I did make a few phone calls to people who attended the camp. Norm Benton, Carol Scherer, and the McManigals attended the 1966 Summer Camp.

Janet Jacobsen

— Cast —
John McManigal: Rick Ahrens
Lenore McManigal: Janet Jacobsen
Lloyd Plaisted: Ed Lichtenstein
Packer, George Myers: Chuck Streeper, Mountain Man
Frank Moore: Steve Johnson
Sharon Ritchie: Ken Kodama
MacWilliams: Max Vollmer
Steve McManigal: Peter Graham
Kevin McManigal: Chris Minarich
John Bascom, wood cutter: Glenn Gordon
Mary Bascom, (age 3): Maddy Blumm
Box Cox: Andrew Blumm
Jimmy Jeppesen (age 7): Genevieve Bienvenue
Jimmy’s mother: Madelinn Schriver
Selma Vangsnes: Beth Kodama
Alice Moffit: Mackenzie Kerins
Carol Scherer (age 15): Carol Scherer

Lloyd Plaisted: 1966. John chaired the Summer Camp in the Wallowas. It’s the 37th annual Summer Outing, July 31 through August 13, 1966. Camp will be in a sub-alpine plateau overlooking Moccasin Lake at the foot of Eagle Cap Mountain in the Eagle Cap Wilderness area. The site is an 8 or 10 mile up the Hurricane trail or 12 miles on the Wallowa Lake trail or 7½ miles on the Lostine trail with a 2,000 ft. elevation gain. The exact site will be between 2 small lakes called Twin Lakes. Fishing will be good. The limit is 30 a day and 60 in possession. Climbs of Eagle Cap and Matterhorn are planned. The camp committee was John McManigal, chr., Jim Jeppesen, Wilma McBee and Myself.

Lenore: My name wasn’t even listed. I was just in charge of the food!

John: That’s just the way it was in those days.

John: Before camp, I made all those heavy green boxes your see around camp. They were made so that one would go on each side of the pack horse. They have used them ever since. I keep telling everyone to get rid of them. Anyway, in 1966 over the Fourth of July week-end, Lenore, the boys, and I drove over to Wallowas to checkout the campsite. Camp is going to be great. I urged people who are attending to try to take a few conditioning hikes prior to camp so that conditioning will not be a problem the first few days to camp. There is no trail to the area, but we are assured the access is easy. In the prospectus, I told people that we would be about 8 miles from civilization and will be camped a a rather high elevation for Oregon. The nights will be cold, so a warm sleeping bag is very important. There will be two dormitory tents with room for five people each. Let me know if you need to use them.

Frank Moore: Lenore talked with me about the cost of the camp. She wanted to raise the cost but I was against it.

John: That’s just the way it was in those days.

Frank: For two weeks: Adults $65.00 and children under 10 $32.50. For One week, Adults $35.00 and children under 10, $17.50. Per day is Adults $5.00 and children under 10 $2.50. Children 3 years and under are free. Nonmembers will be charged an additional $5.00 for weeks. If nonmembers come for one week, it is just $2.50 extra.

Sharon Ritchie: For your information, it cost four cents to mail the bulletin in 1966, which is an increase of 825% or 8½ times as much. The cost of summer camp has increased 271% or 2.7 times as much since 1966. (Ken Kodama who played this role corrected the math.)

Mac McWilliams: I was President at the time. I didn’t go to camp because it just cost too much. Lenore kept sending John to find me up at the U of O campus. I was in charge of maintenance or something like that. I’d be mowing the lawn and there would come John McManigal wanting me to write a check for Lenore.

John: That’s just the way it was in those days.

Lenore: I got so tired of that business that when the checks started coming in for camp, I opened the first Summer Outing Checking account at a local bank. That took care of that problem.

Mac McWilliams: They made $500.00 on that camp.

Lenore: It must have been because I was such a good shopper.

Mac McWillliams: I’m sure you want to know about the President’s Tea since I didn’t go. At the Obsidian 4th of July Picnic, it was 83 degrees warm and the brand new picnic grounds south of the Obsidian Lodge only reached by trail, was dedicated by a good crowd and that nearly filled the cleared ground with card table and folding chairs. Roger Bridgeman had made two benches to be placed which fit in real well on the area next to the fire ring. The highlight came when I moved my chair near the fire and gave way to Ray Sims to reminisce about the first Presidents Tea which held in 1931 at the Big Green Lakes camp. This colorful event has been held at each camp until the last few years. All of my subject’s who had remembered, one at a time, bowed and presented me with a gift. It is lots of fun. By late afternoon, all the tables and chairs and coffee urn were back in the lodge. It is hoped that the grounds will be used many times in the future. And how about the wild plums ripe overhead?

Lenore: I ordered most of the food from a store in Joseph. I did buy some freeze dried type food like applesauce and stew mix. I had to order it months in advance from a health food store on 11th street. I bought the yellow bowls to go in the green boxes. We are still using them. Something new was added to camp equipment. I purchased a big piece of equipment for camp. It was a rotary slicer to slice up the canned meat. That is what we used to cut meat and cheese for sandwiches. (hold up some kind of slicer made out of cardboard that is so huge it looks ridiculous)

John: That’s just the way it was in those days. Lenore likes those gadgets.

John: People had to have their gear they wanted packed in at the lodge on Sunday evening July 24th from 5:00-7:00. We charged 25 cents a pound. We — the three boys, my father, and Lenore — left for Joseph on July 25th. We drove Fred Moore’s crummey and pulled a trailer. We carried equipment and dunnage that people wanted packed in by the packer. We camped at Joseph. We went to find the packer at the Log Cabin Bar.

Kevin McManigal: George Myers and his partner were slinging it out in front of the Log Cabin Bar. George’s partner jumped in his car with his wife and yelled at us. “I don’t care if you ever get to your camp.” I guess George and his partner dissolved their partnership. That left us with George whose his left arm was in a sling. He didn’t have enough horses or equipment for us. Dad found a pay phone and called Frank Moore back in Eugene to tell him that he didn’t see how we could have summer camp. We were all discouraged.

George: That John character tracked me down and insisted that I pack the food and equipment in for his club. What a sissy name—The Obsidians—. I’m used to packing elk hunters in not a bunch of different people from Eugene. What a bunch of stuff they wanted packed up their camp. Even a cook stove. I borrowed an old run down horse from the gas station. Luckily, I had a sore arm so John had to do all the loading and unloading of those green boxes. I just rode my horse. Each day for four days, John and I packed up the ten mile Hurricane Trail and dropped off a load and then back down the trail with the empty green boxes for another load. That made 80 miles on horseback to get the camp all up to Twin Lakes. We left early every morning and got back at 1:00 a.m. We got about 6 hours of sleep. I know some of the Obsidians said it was 8 miles one way but what do they know. While we packed in, his misses and the grandpa watched the kids and sorted and packed equipment and food to fit the boxes. On one of the trips, a horses got spooked and we lost some hiker’s gear—some sleeping bags.

Carol Scherer: One of those sleeping bags was mine! (Carol just remembered this tidbit during the play)

Lenore: It was a mess trying to sort out the equipment! And weighing it for each of the boxes.

John: That’s just the way it was in those days.

George: Besides a wood stove, they even had me take a half of a beef carcass and eggs up the trail. Then John searched all around and found a snow bank on a ledge where he put the beef and the eggs. He covered it with a tarp. I heard that John had back surgery the following February.

Steve: I couldn’t believe Dad did it. I know that all Camp Chairs have a tough time but this was really a tough. Camp was ready to go on time. When people arrived, they didn’t have a clue. We actually did it. The camp was situated between two lakes. Camp was set up and ready to go by Sunday when people started to arrive. Dad designated one lake with water cold enough to drink for drinking water and the other with warmer water for swimming and bathing. No Bea’s baths or Bob’s giant canteen. People bathed in the lake in their swim suits. They just got in the lake and soaped up and rinsed off. Men would hold a mirror and even shave in the lake. We used the granite rocks for shelving.

John: That’s just the way it was in those days.

John: I appointed Kevin to dig for the first toilet.

Kevin: (holding toilet seat & a very small shovel) With my shovel, every day or so, I would dig a new hole for the toilet seat. Always behind a tree. There was only one seat for the 67 people the first week and 53 people the second week. It seemed to work. I don’t remember if anyone was assigned to clean the toilet or not. We didn’t have a Sharon Ritchie to tell us how to keep it clean. I just don’t understand why today’s Obsidians need more than a one holer.

John: That’s just the way it was in those days.

John Bascom: I was one of the men appointed to the Wood detail. Before we left camp every morning, we had to chop enough wood for Selma, our cook, to use in the cook stove. It was a great duty!

Selma: I’m now 92 years old so it’s hard for me to remember all of the camps. We kept the meat in a snow bank. If we couldn’t find snow, we just hung the carcass from the tree. Each day the camp committee would look at the beef carcass and decide what to have for dinner. On the first night at this camp, we had ham with cornbread, and vegetable salad. Then we had roasts, swiss steak, and steak. I made a birthday cake for someone at camp. We took lots of eggs for scrambled eggs, rolls, and the lemon meringue pie. At one camp, an Obsidian Boy Scout leader brought his whole troop over for lemon pie. I did all of that on the wood cook stove. At one camp, the horse jumped the creek and broke a lot of eggs. For breakfast, we had cold and hot cereal, scrambled eggs or sausage and hot cakes. Sometimes we had fried fish that the men would catch before breakfast. It was a hard camp to cook for because people kept coming and going. One night I’d have 50 and the next night I’d have 20. I’m not sure how much was paid but I know that at my first summer camp at Yosemite, I received $200.00 for two weeks. At first there was not a roof for the cooking area. I remember at the Olympics, that it rained and I cooked while standing in a large “lake.” The wood was wet. But it was fun!

John: That’s just the way it was in those days.

Mrs. Jeppesen: My husband, Jim was on the camp committee. Let me tell you about the meat. I remember the meat being under tarps. When it turned green, they just cut off the green parts. It was always good.

Lloyd: On the first day, Rex Stevens lead a large group to Eagle Cap which now has a trail to the top. It was climbed every day. On Thursday, 15 men climbed the Matterhorn led by Norm Benton. They saw 5 mountain goats. On another climb of Matterhorn, Cindy Bascom and Catherine Dunlop saw the goats. Glacier Peak on beyond Eagle Cap was climbed by an Obsidian party during the second week: Bob and Anita Dark, Norm Benton, Fran Jeppesen, Margaret Wiese, and Catherine Jones. They reported much sliding.

Mary Bascom: I was three years old. I walked all the way up the trail to camp with my dad, John. He used the caramel trick to keep me going. He would point out a rock or a tree up the trail a ways and then say if I hiked to that spot, I’d get a caramel. He couldn’t carry me because he had on big pack. It worked. We got to camp a long time after the rest of the family—my Mother Ruth, Cindy, Becky, Ellen, Tom, and Paul. I also walked all the way to Glacier Lake and back.

Alice Moffitt: It was our family’s first summer camp. Mother (Rose Marie) didn’t know what she was getting into. Camp was hot and dusty. Mother purchased red sweat shirts for all of us, Dad, David, Paula, and Bobby. We kids were easy to spot. We arrived late and had to ride horses up the steep packers trail. When we got to camp, some of our sleeping bags were missing. Dad and Mom had to share one. They found the sleeping bags the next day.

Kevin: Rex Stevens was standing near the fire when the packer’s dog poked his nose through his legs. Did he jump over that fire. He thought it was a bear. We kids sure laughed. There was a big grease pit for the dish water and grease. One of the Chapin Clark’s kid (3 yrs old) fell in it. Neck deep. That was some pit!

Bob Cox: For entertainment, I did a rope trick with a fishing line and rope entertainment. ( While Andrew asked the rope to move, Janet pulled the rope up with dental floss)

Lloyd: A note of sadness was cast over the Summer Camp this year when a Ranger brought in word that Lenore’s mother had passed away. Lenore and John’s father left the next morning. (Lenore drove to LeGrand so that her father-in-law could take bus back to Portland. She made arrangements for the funeral and then came back to camp.)

Lloyd Plaisted: At the beginning of the second week, the McManigal family went home. Jim Jeppesen and I headed the second week.

Steve: When we left camp on horses, Mom had a horse that was too fast. The rest of us were going slowly when Mom’s horse took off. Did she ever yell and scream.

Jimmy Jeppesen: My name is Jimmy Jeppesen and my dad’s name was Jim Jeppesen. My mother talked about the meat. I was 7 years old at that camp. There were so many kids to play with, the Bascom kids, the Moffit Kids, the Scherer kids, and the McManigal kids. I saw a chipmunk and started following it. I caught the chipmunk but it bit me several times. I caught it with my bare hands. I rolled it up in my sweater and carried it all afternoon. Then I let it go. I didn’t feel so good about that when I got to thinking about it. I don't’ suggest that you kids do that.

Selma: Jimmy, you probably don’t want to be reminded of this. But do you remember that you went in the supply tent and took some of the syrup bottles and squirted syrup over things? I know we had plenty of syrup and didn’t suffer.

Jimmy: Maybe I was trying to catch that chipmunk. And I didn’t liked being banned from the supply tent. My mother never knew why I was banned until Janet called her about this skit.

Mrs. Jeppesen: Mothers are the last to know.

Lloyd: All camps must come to an end. By Friday of the last week, the tarps and rods began to come down so Saturday’s breakfast was eaten out in the open. Campers began the 7½ miles on the Lostine trail to the cars.

George Myers: I didn’t have as many horses for the pack out. A bit of a shortage there. We couldn’t take it all out on Saturday. Frank Moore and John Anderson stayed for another load on Sunday driving home on Monday. I guess those folks had a good time.

John: That’s just the way it was in those days.

Some other people you might know who attended that camp were: Don Hunter, Helen Hughes, Dorothy & Clarence Scherer with Susan, Carol, Bob, Nancy & Dick; Lois Schriener, Rex Stevens and family, Paula Vehrs, Chapin Clark family, Bob Dark.

Here is another camp that John McManigal saved.

John Jacobsen: At the 1986 Black Lake Camp in Seven Devils, Idaho, the Forest Service told the set up committee that we couldn’t use the water in the stream at the camp site. In those days, we didn’t have a bladder. We planned to drink from the stream. We made our way up the road filled with curves and rocks to camp wondering what we would do. John McManigal and his boys began scouting and soon found a spring quarter of a mile from camp. Summer camp was saved. That is why John is known as McManigals of the Springs.

So we honor John and Lenore who have been there when we needed them.

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