Lakes 1943

“I left for Boston on Labor Day weekend, in 1941.  I took only fall and winter clothes, and Boston was very hot for several weeks, while I was job-hunting.  Very uncomfortable!  I lived at the old YWCA, and the weekly room rent was $3.50 if you had a roommate and $4.00 if you did not.  I had a roommate.  The meal ticket for the week was $12.00, which covered two meals a day for 6 days (lunch was eaten at work) and generally we went somewhere else on Sunday.  Since my salary was $30.00 a week, I didn’t have much left over …

In the spring of 1942 my cousin Arthur Martell convinced his sister Ida and I that we would enjoy climbing in the White Mountains, which he did a great deal, and somehow we undertook to do it although we were strictly “city slickers” who walked a lot but always on sidewalks.  My roommate Ada Krevoruck also agreed to go, which was not her style, either, because she was short and somewhat chunky.  Ida and I were at least tall and thin.

It was a strange mixture, a Catholic, a Protestant, and a Jewish girl, but I guess we had something in common – we were all stubborn.  Art mapped out the route for a week, I bought a White Mountain guidebook, we bought knapsacks and set off for a week – in ordinary walking shoes, not boots as many people had.  We stayed each night at a different Appalachian Mt. Club hut staffed by college students.  Each place had a bunkroom for men and one for women, and provided bunks and blankets – no sheets, no inside plumbing. You washed your face and cleaned your teeth in the nearest brook – nothing else got washed until you returned to Boston!  The good old days!

The charge for a night at the hut was $3.50 [equal to the cost of a room at the ‘Y’ for a week], for which you received supper, breakfast, and a packed lunch for the trail (sandwich, fruit and a candy bar).  We all pitched in and helped with the dishes.  All the food had to be packed up the mountain in huge backpacks by the young men, so it wasn’t gourmet style, but we were hungry enough to enjoy it.  The only time I ever ate oatmeal for breakfast was in the mountains.

I was the only one of the three of us who ever went to the mountains again, but I found two other girls through the Y, Bea Lord and Helen Rust, who were really good climbers, and I went with them for a week every year until Dad and I married in 1948.  There were also many other girls in the Y who liked to go for weekend or Sunday hikes, and we did a lot of that in the Blue Hills and other areas near Boston, including Concord.

It was in 1943 that I met my future husband on Mt. Washington, when we stayed overnight at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut.  He was there with a friend, Bob King, and we were all part of a group that went out to watch the sunset.  There wasn’t any electricity except a little by generator, so everybody just went to bed early …

Living at the Y in Boston was a real bargain, for the $3.50 a week.  There was a gym where we liked to play badminton, and could do it any time we wanted to.  There were tubs where we could do our wash, lines to hang it on, and irons and ironing boards to use, all for no extra charge.  I had a wonderful time there, and as I said, I made many friends who liked to hike.  We also went to the Boston Symphony’s Pops concerts for 25¢, to their concerts on the Esplanade of the Charles River which were free (but the mosquitoes were awful), and to movies …

After I returned to New York from Boston I kept on hiking.  First I checked the Friday paper for hiking groups that went out on Sundays.  There were many listed and anyone could go.  You met at a ferry terminal or bus station and usually spent the day in northern New Jersey.”

Jo Dodd was my mother.  In 1956 my family moved from Long Island to Wisconsin and never went back to the East Coast; but my mother loved New England and in particular the White Mountains until the end of her life.  As an old woman in West Allis, Wisconsin, she typed out her youthful memories and placed them in a plain blue canvas 3-ring binder.  She never told us she was doing this; we found the notebook when we cleared out her apartment after she died.

In September of 2011, at the age of 60, I hiked in the White Mountains for the first time.  I brought some of my mother’s ashes with me, and left them near the Lakes of the Clouds hut, where she and my father met in 1943.                                                                          

Kathy Dodd Miner, Madison, Wisconsin

Kathy Miner sent us this great gorming last month. Of the other hikers mentioned in the post, Bea Lord is a 97 years old AMC member and living in Lebanon, Maine. Helen Rust was related to the 1920’s AMC President, George Rust.

Tom Kelleher

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