I found this old and mysterious article in the December 1968 edition of the Alleghany Rattler (our old camp newspaper actually printed in newspaper style on real newsprint!).
I couldn’t resist it because, though the holiday spirit is upon many of us, it is in fact still fall and not yet winter for another 20 days. So in honor of NOT rushing the seasons, I give you a mid-20th century reflection on camp in the autumn with a little tease of the holidays thrown in for good measure:
Greetings from the leprechaun
Greetings and sleepy salamanders, all ye city-bound Ghanyites! I have just leaped into a cozy corner of the petunia box on the Cottage Porch, a perfect spot for surveying the absolutely magnifalously GORGEOUS patchwork design stitched up by Mother Nature in honor of autumn’s arrival in the Greenbrier Valley, decking the mountains in a colorful cloak of ruby and topaz which will gently but quickly fade into winter whiteness.
Probably by the time my message reaches you, the valley will be deeply bundled into a thick feathery quilt of snow transforming Ghany into a fairyland of sparkling cloud-like fluff and lace identifiable only by the silhouette of the arborvitae tree and the muffled shapes of the Hen House and Store.
It is a breath-taking sight — and oh so silent. No barge creaking across the river, no chains clattering in the evening mist, no bugle stirring sleepy campers from their beds, no chatter pouring from the dining hall, no hoof-beats crunching down the gravel path past the infirmary, no bellowing communiques from the Man on the Hill to the Man in the Crafts Lodge or the Boys on the Tennis Courts, and no serenaders’ voices to coat the Sunday night air with harmony.
Truly a beautiful spot, but Ghany’s winter beauty, even as inspiring as it is in its eloquent silence, cannot compare with the brilliance of her summer glory.
The difference is not in the summery greenery or the warmth of the summer sun or in the happy noise of the summer residents. The difference is a human quality which even Mother Nature cannot imitate, a delicate but enduring quality which you never thought of packing in your trunk but which has gone home with you nevertheless. You didn’t come to camp with it — at least not the first time — and you didn’t have to earn it, but you took it home with you and it is still with you now, even though your blues and whites are stuffed away for the winter and your tennis racquet is gathering dust in the closet.
It can neither be heard nor seen but you feel it every time you get a letter from a camp friend and every time you write one. You feel it when your thoughts turn to summers to come, and when you’re enjoying your City Winter but eagerly looking forward to another camp reunion. Call it what you will — spirit, soul, love — or better yet, don’t call it anything.
Just cherish it and light your candle on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve is a leprechaun’s winter delight, for whether I’ve bounded to a rafter of the Purple Palace or snuggled into a flower pot on the hotel porch, I can close my eyes and open my heart and feel the warmth and glow of hundreds of candles flickering miles away.
— Ghany love from the full heart of Ye Super-Olde Leprechaun
Okay, now we are even more in the mood of the season!
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls