Sunday, September 3, 2017


When I was at the US OPEN with my friend Gary he relayed that his granddaughter had gone to summer camp very close to where I had gone as a boy.  She had gone to Camp Blue Ridge which was the girls camp of Camp Equinunk.  We played Blue Ridge/Equinunk in inter-camp games.  They were no more than a five minute drive from where we were in Galilee, Pennsylvania.

I can recall gathering together by the camp office to ride off to Equinunk to compete against them in basketball, softball, and volleyball.  The camp owner had a huge Ford pick-up truck.  Most of the campers went on the truck. Some drove with counselors, but those riders were not happy. The thrill was getting on the back of the truck.

The owners of the camp were both lawyers. A rarity then for a woman to be a lawyer but she and her husband had been members of the bar for years.  When I think back on that truck--which took us to everything, canoe trips, outings to nearby Honesdale, cookouts--I cannot believe the owners decided it was okay for a bunch of twelve year olds to ride in the back of an open truck in the country. The counselors were forever yelling, "head down" when a long tree branch extended into the roadway. All sorts of accidents could have occurred with a bunch of excited youngsters riding in an open truck. But there never was a problem.

On Wednesday, Gary told me that his granddaughter, her younger sibling, and a cousin were going to attend the OPEN on Friday, two days after he and I were there.  He wanted to check with the concession stands where he planned to buy the kids lunch to see if the pizza vendor made its dough with a peanut oil base. One reason Blue Ridge had been selected for the granddaughter is because they were known to cater to those who have peanut allergies.

Now, where did peanut allergies come from? When I was a kid I did not know a single person who had to be choosy about foods lest they inadvertently had peanut something in them.  In our camp dining hall, actually, peanut butter was the regular "substitute" offered when a kid did not like or could not eat something else on the menu.  In junior high school a decent percentage of us who packed our own sandwiches had PB&J in those bags. In college I cannot remember a soul asking the cook if, perhaps, there was a peanut base to any dish. If someone had so asked they would have been considered a kook of some sort.

At the risk of sounding like a caricature of the old person I now am, what happened? Okay I understand why you might not want to jam thirty kids in the back of an open pick up truck. That seems foolish in retrospect (though at the time I did not give it a second thought).  But how come when we were kids nobody was allergic to peanuts and now you can't go to any restaurant where there is not a billboard that reads that you should tell your server if you have an allergy to peanuts.  Fifty years ago nobody had a problem with peanuts.

I'm not suggesting the peanut thing is a made up hypochondriac's claim.  Yet, I do not understand how it is now everywhere and fifty years ago it was nowhere.

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