ELAYNE RIGGS: The Girls of Summer

Elayne Riggs

Elayne Riggs is the creator of the popular blog Pen-Elayne on the Web. She was a founding member of Friends of Lulu, an organization dedicated to increasing the involvement of girls and women in comics, as readers and creators. She is married to inker Robin Riggs, with whom she shares two cats, and has odd love/hate relationship with Hillary Clinton.

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4 Responses

  1. Michael Cantor says:

    I too have very fond memories of Ashbrook Swim Club and Ashbrook Day Camp. My story is similar to yours. I started as a camper and ended up a counselor. My mother, a teacher during the year, worked in the arts and craft department of the camp. My groups each summer were 7 year old boys. My counselor summers were amongst the best of my life. Some thoughts to test your memory:"Cabana Boy to B16"The nature portion of the camp (just past the softball field) run most summers by the Singer's son David. It had a great stone pit with turtles and frogs.Mr Jiggs show once a year in the pavillion (the monkey show)shuffleboardice pops and oreos at snack timethe high dive at the pool (it seemed about a hundred feet high and the pool must have been 300 feet long)The office (dark and damp, downstairs beneath the snack bar)BTW…The Singers were Ruth and BernieWhat a great place!

  2. Jim O'Kane says:

    Omigosh, this is the only mention I've found on the Internet of Ashbrook. I, too was a day camper at Ashbrook, and the geography of that place is indelible in my mind: the fenced-in duck pond in the center of the fenced-in camp, the creek that flowed in the deep back left-field of the softball field, the smell of paint and clay in the arts-and-crafts hut, the sharp stones covering the parking lot on the way to the swimming pool. Summer to me *was* Ashbrook.More memories:* Woodbridge Dairies grape drink* The neighboring horse stable at the entrance drive to Ashbrook – – I believe their biggest horse was named "Alabam"* The archery field on the right-field side of the camp* The younger kids' fenced-in section at the very back of the fenced-in camp. Those kids would have to make it out of two complete sets of fencing to bust out of that place!* Mrs. Varley, who ran the club office – I was the same age as her son John, and was often confused with John – – we looked a lot alike.* The kiddie pool with the spitting-fishes fountain at the center, east of the main olympic pool.* The merry-go-round type ride in the non-camp part of the club. That thing would be an insurance hazard nowadays.* Watching "Dark Shadows" on the TV in the office – – blessed air conditioning and Barnabas Collins at the same time!* The absolutely-impossible amount of french fries available from one order at the snack bar.* The metallic clang of people ascending the stairs from the snack bar to the pool. * Pondering whether or not it was safe to open the door of your cabana, as you could never be sure if yellow jackets built a nest in the slats overnight!* Stepping barefoot onto one of the ten-thousands of American Sweetgum pods. OUCH!* The incredible noise in the pavillion as summer thunderstorms rained down on the roof. Yes, usually during one of the Zippy shows. * The most-impossible task: trying to get a free time to play paddleball on one of those giant teal-green walls at the club.* The sign that never changed: "Next Saturday: the Glenn Miller Orchestra" in the pavilion. * Showing up on a weekend and hearing nothing but "Smoke on the Water" being playing loudly and badly by some local rock wannabe band.

    • Elayne Riggs says:

      Oh wow, yeah, the archery field. I didn't even remember that!And yeah, the rain on the pavillion. Played havoc with my pinball skills. :)Do you remember the camp nurse? That was my mom.Thanks for adding to all my great memories of the place!

      • Jim O'Kane says:

        I don't remember your mom, but I do remember the nurse's office was right next to Mr. Singer's office in that building-that-wasn't-the-arts-and-crafts shed. She probably treated me with Caladryl or mercurichrome at one time or another. :)It's amazing how much of that place is stored in my head. The electrical high-tension lines strung on those huge towers between Ashbrook and the rival Oakcrest swim clubs, the yearly trips to the Cranford River for canoeing, the rabbit cages next to the duck pond, filled with rabbits that liked the wild asparagus that grew near the cages; being taught Beatles song lyrics by camp counselors to sing at camp skit days… What a chunk of brain reserve is devoted to all this stuff!What years were you there? I was a regular camper from '66 to '70 (ages 6-10). I seem to recall that Ashbrook reverted to some kind of educational center in the off-season, and I heard that the place was being sold off in the mid-70's. Mr. Visco was one of the owners of Ashbrook, and there's a street now with his name on it – – it's just about where the pavillion used to be.Here's a <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=2+sandalwood+drive+edison,+nj&sll=40.603494,-74.350319&sspn=0.010198,0.019763&layer=c&ie=UTF8&ll=40.603494,-74.350297&spn=0.010198,0.019763&t=h&z=16&cbll=40.599977,-74.35007&panoid=uvnA2xgxrsKVDw9m7R3w-A&quot; rel="nofollow">link to what I think is where home plate used to be on the softball field. You can still see the electric towers in the "Street View" looking west.Thanks for kicking the dust off some very old memories!