Friday, March 13, 2009

Quiet Water Symposium - Memory Jogger

Pardon this digression. I will get back to Charlie's Odyssey tomorrow.
At the recent Quiet Water Symposium the Girl Scouts had a booth selling cookies and there was a cute little Girl Scout walking around holding up a sign that said "It's Girl Scout Cookie Time". That and being visited at my display by Pat Harrington, who is helping with arrangements for the upcoming Hugh Heward Challenge, brought back some memories I want to share.
Pat's late father Ed, was a good friend and fellow bureaucrat when I was with the State. 
Some 50 years ago, when my daughter Karen (the Guru of my blog) was a Girl Scout, I became Chairman of the Sites and Facilities Committee of the Capitol Area Girl Scout Council. That meant I was sort of in charge of all the Council's camps including Camp Deer Trails up by Harrison. Ed served on my committee and acted as my adviser on Council politics (Ed's wife, Pat's mother Mary, had some staff position, I don't remember what).
When I took over I inspected all the camps (maybe partially on State time while I was running around Central Michigan gas fields?)  Any way, I found Camp Deer Trails to be in pretty sad shape (I was an officer in the Army Engineers in World War II thus had pretty high standards). The latrines (privies) were decrepit, the water supply was a few old hand pumps in the camping area and what in the Army we called the Mess Hall was a mess.
Back at Council Headquarters I learned that they had about $80,000 of cookie profits setting in the bank.
To make a long story short, when I left the Girl Scouts (my daughter was growing up) Camp Deer trails had spanking new privies, a piped water distribution system in the camping area and a completely remodeled kitchen and dining hall......but no money left in the cookie bank account (President Obama is trying to do the same thing for the Country).
Here is how I did it:
1. I hired a Lansing architect to design and supervise the construction of a completely modernized kitchen and dining building.
2. I designed and had installed an ingenious (if I may say so myself) ditchless water distribution system. It was made up of flexible black plastic water pipe snaking around through the woods on top of the ground, only buried under paths etc, that could be drained for winter.
3. I designed a replacement for the privies, but instead of having them stick-built on site, I contracted with a lumber yard up north on M66 to mass-produce them. As the privies were finished they lined them up along the road. They became quite a tourist attraction. Gawkers would stop to look them over, thinking those two-holers were ice-fishing shanties.
Well the privies were finished and hauled to Deer Trails and installed over new pits. My job was done. So I stood in the woods and stared at my privies as the sun was setting over the lake....and I was mighty proud.....
All this time Ed was covering my rear in Lansing holding off the locally-prominent Mother-Superiors on the Council Board who were appalled at the rate I was going through their precious cookie money.
Can anyone tell me whether any of my privies are still functional? 

Note: Not surprisingly, I was unable to find any photos of Deer Trails privies on Google Image search. The one pictured above is actually on the Appalachian trail. Note the cribbage board between the holes. Photo "borrowed" from the blog

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