Monday, September 10, 2012

The family loved going to Rosetta's brother's Camp Ojibwa in Eagle River, Wisconsin

Camp Ojibwa  Meyer, his wife Bea, Al, Sam, Matilda, Jean and  Edna
One of the big delights for the family was an excursion to her brother Al's Camp Ojibwa in Eagle River, Wisconsin.

It is amazing how well-known it became and how many celebrities acknowledged it. Even the Alan Sherman song, "Camp Granada" was inspired by Al's camp. You see, Sherman was one of his counselors, but how do you rhyme with Ojibwa?

At one time baseball's famous Leo Durocher left a game to spend two days at the camp, but the Chicago Tribune found out and did a cartoon with him wearing a Camp Ojibwa tee-shirt.
Here is a post about it from

14. An incident occurred in late July (Saturday, July 26) involving Leo Durocher. Do you remember what he did?

     Leo called Jack Brickhouse a mental midget on the "Tenth Inning" show
     Leo left a game and went up to Camp Ojibwa
     Leo punched home plate umpire Harry Wendelstedt while arguing balls and strikes
     Leo won his 1000th career game as a manager

Rosetta's daughter Phyllice lived in Alaska many years, and lo and behold she mentioned Camp Ojibwa to a friend in Juneau and it turned out he was a former camper. As for me,  one of my ex-husband's business associates had an uncle who was an original investor in the camp. What a small world.

If the name Camp Ojibwa sounds familiar, please post a comment. Rosetta and her brother Al were very close and he watched out for his "little sister" her entire life. Here is an excerpt from Can We Come In and Laugh, Too? where Rosetta introduces her brother Al. This section in the book tells the story of how the camp came to be.

~Morgan St. James, Rosetta's daughter
Al was the most successful of my brothers. Still in his early teens, he was too young to enlist in World War I, but heard that a person could make lots of money by working in the shipyards and help the war effort at the same time. He traveled to Detroit by himself and got a job in the shipyards there. It was true. By the time he was ready to come back to Chicago, he had saved up a few thousand dollars which was a fortune in those days.

He returned home and told my parents to ask for anything they wanted. As it turned out, the only thing they wanted was a pair of tickets to the Jewish synagogue for the High Holy Days. With the money that was left, he bought a horse and cart and launched his first business—delivering ice for iceboxes. We didn’t have electric refrigerators back then. Big cakes of ice were placed in heavily insulated ice boxes to keep our food from spoiling.

My brother said that he learned at a very young age what he had a talent for—making money.
As I say in my main story, the business he loved the most was owning a boys’ camp. He opened Camp Ojibwa in Eagle River, Wisconsin in 1928 and it became famous worldwide. For the rest of his life wherever he went it seemed someone recognized Al. Even in Europe. 

The book is available in paperback and Kindle. Get your own copy for inspiration and laughs.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Rosetta's oldest sister Jean was a cover girl in the early 1900s

This was not the cover with Jean's image,
 but hers would have appeared around this time

Note: Jean was the oldest of ten children, and Rosetta, her baby sister was the youngest. Here is Rosetta's memory of her sister Jean, beautiful both inside and outside.

My sister Jean was the oldest and she was almost more like a mother to me than a sister because of our age difference. 

When she finished grammar school, she got a job in a department store as a cashier. Kids from poor families went to work very early in those days. Her earnings were so minimal, that after staying on that job for a while, Jean found a job with the Saturday Evening Post. It was a very popular magazine in Chicago, and her job was going from door-to-door to get subscriptions for the magazine.

She was a very beautiful girl with jet black hair and pretty soon people at the company noticed her good looks and approached her. They wanted to make her a cover girl. She accepted and was on a magazine cover, but didn’t stay with the company very long. Jean wanted to better herself, and was offered a job with Cameron Dental Lab, a dental laboratory that manufactured all kinds of dental equipment.

Jean was not only pretty, she had beautiful teeth. Well, while she was working in the dental industry, it didn’t take long for the people in charge to notice how pretty she was and even more important what a wonderful smile she had. Sure enough, they asked if she would model their instruments.

So once again she became a model in addition to her job of working on the assembly line. They got away with highway robbery, because neither of those companies ever paid her an extra dime for being their model, but it was fun for her to see her photo in print.

She worked for Cameron a long time, assembling instruments and lending them her smile. When she finally left, they begged her to stay and even kept calling her and asking her to come back.

Eventually she met a man named Sam Heftel and they got married. Family members were surprised at her choice because many handsome, successful men had courted my sister and she had turned all of them down.

Sam was into real estate, and although Jean assumed he was a fairly good salesman, he never seemed to be able to close a deal. They were married many years and lived in a small efficiency apartment with a pull down bed and what was called a Pullman kitchen. It was so small and so compact, it was built into an alcove. They never had any children, and to tell the truth, Sam always had to scrape out a living so her life wasn’t very exciting. Not only that, but he loved to smoke the smelliest cigars you can imagine, and that little apartment always smelled putrid no matter how much Lysol she used to clean it. She could have married so much better.

Thousands of people have enjoyed Rosetta's stories since the release of this book in May 2012.  Now you can, too.