Friday, November 16, 2012

Sepia Saturday 152 Males gathering

Although the week's prompt shows boys reading at the library and I am a voracious reader and a library lover I had no library type photos to share.  After pondering  while on one of my morning walks, I decided I could find something with males gathering.  Uncle Carl's archives of photographs offered up these from 1986-88, not really Sepia but some years back, from his man cavers  episodes.  He was fond of these hunting and fishing camps that he and several of his friends built as their retreats spending men only weekends, card playing, imbibing their favored spirits, passing time, clowning around and maybe some hunting but lots of camaraderie.  No women or children were ever included.  Well, the camps were rough, outdoorsy as you will see and I know my aunt Marge, his wife,  would have opted out even if the wives had been invited.   This was a time and a group of men who liked to get away from it all, be outdoors and spend time together. 

This camp is/was in Wharton, Pennsylvania, Potter county which is  in  the north central mountains of the state, about 170 miles from their homes in the southwestern region.  According to the 2000 US census this township had a total area of 61.8 square miles (160.1 km), all of it land and there were 91 people, 41 households, and 28 families residing there.  The population density was 1.5 people per square mile (0.6/km).  So it remains today a rural area where there is natural gas exploration as well as hunting for fowl, deer and other game.   I wonder if this old camp is still there and if men still gather for man cave weekends.     

Pennsylvania Map, Potter County in red,
Wharton is  in the southwestern tip

The men's gathering 1986 Wharton Camp
I do not know the full story  of the photos other than Carl delighted in being there and taking photos, above the men are gathering for their time sometimes a week sometimes  several days. Another photo not as clear, faded now shows maybe twice this number of men.   I think that is Carl sitting on the porch, he was the official trail boss and  bookkeeper for the group and made sure that all necessary supplies were stocked and accounted for and that each man paid his share. I imagine he would have addressed that at the beginning of any event.   The back of the photo merely says, "we are just gathering for the week."    Sometimes they had a day or two work detail and from the following photos that looks like what happened this time  but wait there is a mysterious ceremony of sorts occurring as well.  There are checkered shirts too as in the library prompt.  

Is that a monk in a brown habit, sack cloth,  anointing one of the men wearing the yellow garb?  Well he does have some sort of book in his hand and a big cross round his neck.  And pay attention to the bald man to the left of the one being blessed or baptized?   

The next thing we know the men are "taking measurements for the back porch" according to  Carl's note on the back of this photo. 
Here the father has gone into the ditch to help his son, Carl wrote their names and identified them as such and he says that "progress."  Strange how there are few workers among that crowd we saw gathering.   Where did they all go?   Evidence of the old adage, 20% of any group does 80% of the work.  
Progress continues, notice that small building in the background.
 One man in the ditch and  3 overseers now.
I told you these camps were primitive, men only.  
The man in the denim jacket with cowboy hat appears to 
have a mug of some  type of liquid refreshment. 
Good grief the monk returns, with the bald man in a robe of sorts.
The porch appears completed.  Are they blessing it?
The woodpile has been covered.

Uncle Carl loved a good laugh so I can only imagine how he enjoyed this escapade.  I do recall overhearing him say that they always had a ceremony of some sort at camps. 

 I have one last photo for this post dated 1988, two years later and it looks like they have had another ceremony.  The man on the far right in the spotted jacket  is Stan Debick (I met him when he came to Carl's funeral in 2011; he's the last of the elders of this group).  Why is  his  boot off and on the floor beside him?   The jug on the porch is Seagrams whiskey and it looks like the party is  underway...  

This is my Sepia post of men gathering, a stretch from the library, but I did have a book, checkered shirts and lots of boys grown to men.  

To enjoy others posts, click  on this link and as Alan says, sit back and spend some time


  1. What fun they must have had! Really curious about those "ceremonies"! The monk's bare legs are so funny. And did the fellow in the last picture draw himself a handlebar mustache?

  2. A fun post, Pat. I wonder if there was an initiation ceremony going on.

  3. I have to run, but I'll be back. Bwahahahaha to that MONK!

  4. Too many chiefs and not enough indians looks to me like. They have those camps here in Kentucky too. Always way out in the sticks and just men. I guess it is a man thing.

  5. That's a camp? Our deer hunting camp, Siskiyou and Modoc counties, was a tent. A big camp was two wall tents facing each other. If there was snow, a tarp was tied over the space between the tents for the camp stove. Otherwise we cooked over an open fire. Our hunting group would fit into two cars, generally six to eight people, never more than ten. Remember when cars had full width seats front and rear. I do have some old photos from deer hunting trips. But I'm talking about late 1940's and 50's.

    That cabin looks really 'cool.' Must have been a lot of comfort when the weather turned brisk. And lawn chairs, no less. Uncle Carl traveled in style. :-)Tom

  6. With a second look, it appears this was party time and a work detail. In none of the photos did anyone appear to be dressed for hunting or fishing. But, from the smiles in the last photo, they are obviously enjoying something. T

  7. Yes it looks like a drawn mustache; I don't know about initiation ceremonies, because most of these guys were older and had been hanging out together for many years. All were retired by the time these were taken, but they did recruit sons amongst themselves for the manual labor or maybe a younger guy here and there.I think they mostly gathered for cards and drink away in the hills, little hunting or other work. There are some other photos of one or two of them being given huge woooden stars. Oh yes, the bare legged monk! a hoot!

  8. I love the way this mystery unfolds and we have more and more questions. A great approach to the photo.

  9. Men and their interesting games! Enjoyed also your beautiful garden.)

  10. Apart from the whiskey, gatherings of grown up men do not differ too much from little boys camps. But I like to know more about the mysterious ceremony.

  11. It is good to record that period in the 1980s as I always think it is the period most in danger of not being recorded. It was too early for computers and digital photographs and too late for what many people would think of as "old" photographs. A fine post which proves that you don't have to be ancient to be sepia

  12. There is a camaraderie among hunting / fishing partners that I've never found in any other group. I was fortunate enough to experience it early in life as I was accepted into my dad's circle of friends, mostly railroad men. I was a member of that group from 1946 until I moved to Eureka in '55. Some of the hunting group were also part of a fishing group. One had a nice inboard cabin cruiser on the San Joaquin delta, another a cabin in the redwoods north of Santa Cruz. Since I didn't drink, I was often the driver, before the term, designated driver, had become part of our common language. Some great memories and stories from those years. Tom

  13. So let me get this straight, a MONK is blessing them and they have an enormous bottle of whiskey? That's a faith, I could belong to! *kidding

    Men, eh?

  14. Wow! What a great take on the theme. Man caves! After all the cerebral posts inspired by the prompt, this was a pleasant surprise. I am going to have to think more creatively with the prompts. :)