My grandparents were both born into the years of The Great Depression. Neither of them knew a different way of life than what they were taught from their parents and grandparents and the way their lives were changed through the years of the depression. A life of scarcity. Holding onto things, reusing, repurposing, fixing things up instead of throwing them away. They never knew the “before” life of the The Great Depression. Only the world after.
In the past two weeks we have watched the world turn upside down and inside out in a way that most of us never could have imagined. We are all so incredibly aware that life will never be the same after this. Decisions, conversations, human interaction, finances. We will know life before COVID-19 and we will know life after. But our kids will only know life after.
Just as I don’t know what life was like growing up in the depression era. Only the beliefs, the traditions and the way of life that my grandparents and parents passed onto me from the effects they felt of living through that time. Our children will read about this time period some day, in articles, books, and journals, and they will not be able to understand how deeply we were all impacted by something that seems so small and insignificant, but the thing that had the power to shut down the world.
I can’t help but draw these comparisons as I read my Grandmother’s stories about this campground: how it began, the work they put into it, and some of the difficulties they faced along the way.
Now, 50 years later, we are celebrating this milestone virtually, and in seclusion until the government tells us otherwise.
There are a lot of emotions. So much pride in what my grandparents turned this land into. Gratitude for the ways that my dad and uncles transformed it into something even bigger and better. And always at the core, so much appreciation for the connections we have made with all the people who have visited us here, no matter how long or short the stay.
None of us would have ever guessed that we would be starting our 50th year with so much uncertainty. But we are living it. We are all living through the uncertainties. We are all in this together, collectively, the world as a whole.
I know our business is not the only one with fear or struggling. I know that people are trying to tackle the biggest fear in their head at any given moment: health, family, money, food, on a full loop, every moment of every day.
I know that is the collective feeling.
So right now, the only thing we can do is continue on the best we know how.
For now, that means presenting you the second edition of “Grandma’s Stories” because I think we can all benefit from reading something strictly for entertainment at this time.
“Grandma’s Stories” is a series of journal entries and notes written by Double G cofounder, Helen Glotfelty. These memoirs are being released at this time as a celebration of Double G being a part of the camping industry for 50 years.
Part 1 of “Grandma’s Stories” introduced the founders of the Double G, Helen and husband Gerald Glotfelty, and their family, and walked us through the transition of this land from farming dairy cows, to opening a horseback riding stable, and also touches on the beginning stages of the campground.
As you read on to Part 2 below, you will find stories and memories of Helen’s time spent creating and working the campground.
As you read through, you get a good sense of the struggles and frustrations of creating, building, and running a business. As you know that we are celebrating 50 years of camping here at Double G, these thoughts were written from the early stages of the business and mostly take place in the 1970’s.
Fortunately we have learned from the frustrations that were faced during these times in order to grow our business into the clean, relaxing, family atmosphere that embodies our park today.
Here is how it all began.
*As noted in Part 1, these entries are transcribed from Helen’s writings, grammatical errors included.
By Helen Glotfelty
“The square dancing and camping went over so good, Sister Leah and Brother-in-law John thought we should make the 10 acres along the lane into camping. Of course Gerald and I thought also it would be good, but where do we start! Do we need an architect or what for placing campsites.
Uncle John (previously referred to as Brother-in-law John) owned a backhoe and of course he was a water well driller with exceptional good ideas and Gerald, John, and the kids (boys), put their heads together and started digging, sawed and trimmed some trees and of course they had to be wise putting the road in for the sites. We started with 1- 2000 gallon septic tank.
There was rock to pick also. I know all about it. “I’m the champion Rock Picker of the East.”
The new home we built on Mosser Road in 1984 is on solid rock. The dozer couldn’t dig out foundation on upper side because of solid rock, so they had to move the foundation down a few feet.
At the back end of the campground was water standing, not good for camping. They dug a deep ditch 8’ deep (?) 40’ to 50’ long. I stood at the open ditch and just threw the stones in. Then was covered with roofing and ground and seeded down.
There was water, electric, and sewer lines put in the ditches. We now have 80 sites with W/E/S and 22 W/E and there maybe 35-40 tent sites in lower part of 10 acres.
It is time for a bathhouse, Sines and Raymond Brant built, two sides, men and women. There was 4 commodes, 3 sinks, and 3 showers in each side.
The floor was connected and needed smoothed so at 3:00 a.m. I went up and smoothed all of it in my sock feet.
There was some advertising done ahead of time of course and we had quite a number in the first weekend and had several permanents in right away.
The first weekend open we had a big square dance and I was flying around in my big skirt. About 11:00 p.m. someone came to the barn and said the bathhouse was flooded. Yes! There was couple inches of water on the mens side. What a beginning!!!
A wide opening was left at the ceiling so air could circulate from side to side. Boys climbed up on the sinks on the men side, broke them off the wall because they didn’t have legs on them. What a mess!! They were trying to see girls on the other side.
Later years a couple came to the barn when we were dancing. They were tenting, and said the commodes were all plugged in the womens side. Sure enough they all 4 were. Women run Kotex down a commode. The men didn’t get them open til 4:00 A.M. The main pipe was closed on the outside of building.
The tent area was a riot at times. If they were on dope you could hear them yelling up at the farm house living room. If they were drunk, they were laid out with radios blasting. Thank the Lord, the police were only a mile away. They toured the campground often. Of course we had to put everyone straight also, as there were good people in tent area also. Their hours were 11:00 P.M. to 8:00 A.M. (quiet hours)
I did most of the mowing and trimming and I cleaned bathhouse. On long weekends, it needed cleaned 3 times a day 8:00 A.M.- 5:00 P.M.- 12:00 P.M. We would fill every site on holiday weekends.
In later years a camping group came at Autumn Glory Weekend. We mowed an extra 10 acres in the field to be used without any hookups. It was like a little city. The boys served them a steak dinner 192 people down at the riding arena. There was RV’s that cost $500 and $550,000 there. They all had a meeting in riding arena.
Many weekends when we were almost full I would send any one who whoop and hollar out in the Hay field. We rented a couple privys then. It was no problem.
When we opened the campground we had no office. I was driving a 4 door tan pontiac at that time. I had sheets made with all site numbers on it and names, addresses could be written in. I parked at milking parlor which is the store now. I then would take them by car to their site. I had six one time waiting on me.
One holiday weekend, I think 4th of July, we were full and a huge RV came and parked inside of lane entrance. When I finally got to help him he opened the door. “Good evening lady. I’m a born again Catholic.” I said “Praise the Lord I’m a born again Protestant.”
People really have problems. There job was done in front of trash can and in front of commode then wipe on shower curtain in bathhouse. MEN
I walked into mens side just in time. A guy set the eve in ceiling on fire, was smoking and he run. It all happened so fast I was stunned, but it didn’t burn any further.
One spring, middle of April, we had the mens side of bathhouse completely cleaned and was open and working on women side. It was just before opening time and we had a small family wanting to camp. We left them in with the understanding they would have to use the mens side together. Guess what? Later we got a letter and was turned into Health Department.
A weekend we had most all sites full, at 7:00 A.M. on Sunday morning the water pump quit and we had to call brother- in- law John. Of course quite a mess, everyone wanting to shower when they got up. He came quickly done a wonderful job fast. Later we drilled another well to hook out when needed.”
Many things have changed since my grandparents built this park. The tent sites are now Park Models. The water now comes from the city lines rather than the wells that were dug by my Great Uncle John. And the business that was once conducted from the 4 door tan Pontiac, now takes place inside the Camp Store, once known as the milk house.
But through all of these changes, struggles and frustrations; and through all of the dirty and hard work, one thing has always remained the same around here. Family.
It was family who built this place, family who runs this place, and the families who visit us that have made every struggle, frustration, and drip of sweat worth it.
Our camping families are the heart of our business. And we want you to know how much we appreciate every single one of you who have supported us over the past 50 years.
The world may never be the same after what we are experiencing now, but family, yours and ours, will always remain our number one drive to continue moving forward, no matter the size of the struggle.
Have you camped with us before? Please send us a note and let us know one of your favorite memories from camping with us at the Double G!