KP, PI, ODâ€¦ a great many of WT Forbesâ€™ acronyms that we still use at Y Camp came from his military career, But I do not think, HD was a military acronym. It is one of those Y Camp things that only Y campers could possibly have invented! Of course the place was a â€˜happy dumpâ€™; what else could it have been; unless, of course, you were a leader who had to clean it in the morning before inspection. I donâ€™t know which smell was worse, the one that smacked you in the nose after a night of fermentation, or the smell of pine-sol disinfectant that hovered above the newly cleaned heads. And what about at night? The HDâ€™s were an entomologistâ€™s dream. I once saw a Luna moth with the wingspan of a small eagle and Randy Randall can tell you about the spiders!
I hear many alumni of my generation grouse about the bathrooms in each cabin (notice: now that they are in each cabin, even the name has prettified). We wish we could have it the old way, but there is not a boy at camp, these days, who would take his clothes off in front of another (never mind what they access via the internet; they are modest in real life). We canâ€™t go â€˜skinnyâ€™ in the gorge any more, too crowded; but if even if we could, the staff would all be arrested and charged with some form of child molestation. We live in a different world. If we did not provide private facilities in the cabins, nobody would come to camp.
Yes, the world has changedâ€¦ but not necessarily for the better in every way. Allow me to wax nostalgic and sing â€˜Cheer, Cheer for Old Athens Y HDs. In our AYC world it was a place of communion. I never knew the old â€˜eight holerâ€™; too old for even me. But John Simpson is older than dirt and he remembersâ€¦ and he doesnâ€™t lie much! He tells me it was a square room with an octagonal raised central platform with eight holes (I think each hole was embraced by a toilet seat) in a circle facing outward. There were no flush handles, because it was an â€˜out-houseâ€™ plain and simple. John also told me that Beefy Eaves, former Assistant Director, liked to take his Athens High football players and commune together with them of a morningâ€¦ just eight guys in a happy dump circle; try that today! It must have been an honor to be in Beefyâ€™s circle of eight. Charlie Sligh (now gone to the big AYC in the sky) also swore this story was true. The showers, back in the day, were in a separate room and the water reservoir was heated by a wood burning boiler. John A tells me that when the fire was lit, the wait was about fifteen minutes and then the fight began. Younger boys never had a hot shower in those daysâ€¦ not for the entire four to eight weeks that they stayed.
Those of us who call the new HD, the â€˜oldâ€™ HD, donâ€™t really know old. We gripe about the old days when we had it tougher than these modern sissies; well, our daddies could say the same for us! Our â€˜oldâ€™ HD was a Taj Mahal compared to the really old HD. The cinder block building we used from about 1955 on was palatial by comparison. We had two rows of eight commodes, and they flushed! Then there were six sinks between them and the showers. There were times our hot water ran out, but I cannot remember many. Our commodes were in a line, eight on each side of a concrete block partition, and we had our time of communion, too! It was after lunch when sixteen or so of your closest friends would join you for a happy dumpâ€¦ no stallsâ€¦ just open communion. At least we could pass the paper without getting up! As for the showers, even though hot all the time, they were not without hazard. No-one dared close their eyes, even when rinsing soap from their hair; because the guy next to you would cut off your hot water. Or worse, he might provide you with extra warm water from another source!
I remember Saturday afternoons before Chattooga dances with at least sixteen to twenty of us, using those eight showers. Eight leaders under the nozzles (we didnâ€™t have shower heads, just a jet stream of waterâ€¦ talk about a pre-jacuzzi, jacuzzi) and all around underneath, campers of various shapes and sizes ran about, catching whatever water fell off of us! It was a different worldâ€¦ not so tough as the really old guys, but tough and fun.
But I must admit, as fine as they were, those HDâ€™s were seldom used at night. It probably was the long walk in the dark and the ever present danger of the Vandiver Man. Even so, the trees around our cabins grew to enormous heights, so what ever happened in the night did not hurt the flora and fauna. You can say what you like about private accommodations; if you missed the HDâ€™s (old and older) of AYC, you missed a great timeâ€¦ and great memories.