Camp Mitigwa
Rangeley, Maine (1955, 1956, 1957)
Summer memories, musical and otherwise, from my favorite camp

Click here to see a page of great photos supplied by Carey Herdman
and HERE to see more historic shots, courtesy of Dave Henshaw

Click here to see a page of Mitigwa Miscellany

Click here to see contemporary images in and around Camp Mitigwa

Click here or on the thumbnail photo above
to download a copy of the camp brochure

(Classified ad from 1921)


There I am in the back, tickling the ivories at an early musical gig (1956). I think you can imagine what this assortment of instruments sounded like.
Chet Cornog (sp?) is the counselor playing the washtub bass. Right in front of him, playing the accordion, is Bobby Bellezza, who apparently developed into an accomplished jazz pianist. And sitting in front of Bobby, playing the clarinet, is Glen Yates, the fine fellow who provided the most recent round of photo identifications (thanks, Glen!). His brother, Don, was a counselor that year, and can be seen in the large camp photo below.
[Update, August 2013: Just heard from Ed Bergman, at camp from 1954-1963, who identified himself as the one playing the silver clarinet.]


cabin in 1955

These are my cabin mates from 1955. George Morse (right) was our counselor.
Sitting next to me is Cliff Terry. Directly in back of him is Jay Muehling.
Directly in back of me is Dick Davidson (a.k.a. "Webster," because of his estimable vocabulary).
The rest have faded in my memory.
If you recognize yourself (or anyone else), please click here to send me an email.

Note: to read about George Morse's interesting life,
click here to download a PDF version of his obituary,
thoughtfully provided by Jennifer Hilton, whose father, Bob,
became head counselor in 1956, my final summer at Mitigwa. 

Here's my cabin in 1956. Once again, except for George Morse (top right), Jay Muehling (next to me),
and Don Bellezza (in front of me), the other names have retreated to an inaccessible part of my brain.


Riflery practice at Camp Mitigwa (1956)

Here I am (left) at age 14, demonstrating one of the two NRA-approved
sitting positions during riflery practice. It looks like I have a pretty good bead on the camera,
which, of course, violates one of the cardinal rules of the range:
never point your gun at something (or someone) you don't plan to shoot.
(I was happy to hear from Dave Henshaw who identified himself as the guy sitting next to me.)



Here we are, ready to embark on an extended and rather rugged canoe trip
traversing the beautiful Rangeley chain of lakes, including the famous Mooselookmeguntic.
I'm the one standing on the right, nearest the cab door. Directly above me, with the blonde hair,
is Rick Oas, who sent me an email out of the blue, identifying himself.


mitigwa camp photo -


This is our complete camp photograph, taken in July 1955.
You'll find me in the third row up, eleventh one in from the left, looking awfully young for thirteen.
The blond buzz-cut, creating the impression of baldness, certainly didn't help.
My cousin, Bill Hallahan, is in the second row up, the third in from the right.
He no longer remembers what was more interesting than looking at the camera.

If you see yourself in this picture, please send me an email
indicating where you are, both in life and in the photo.
(A tip of the hat to Dave Henshaw, back row, second from the left,
who identified "Webster" Davidson and Chet Cornog.
And another word of thanks to Mitigwa alum Chris Lowell,
who spotted his favorite counselor, Chip Morgan, 14th in on the top row.)

Update below submitted by Glen Yates, August 2010
Front row (left to right): 1. Little boy (unknown); 2. Richard (Ricky) Biunno; 3. Edward (Ned) Ames;
4. Walter (Butch) Mitchell; 5. Marc Ryan; 6. Michael Brothers; 7, 8, 9. (unknown); 10. Chris Terry;
11. Bobby Bellezza; 12. through 17. (unknown).  Fourth row, fourth from the right: Nicky Van Tassel. 
Top row
, seventh from the left: Don Yates, brother of Glen Yates.

Update submitted by Jim Ross, August 2013
"I went to Mitigwa from 1953-1961, bunking in almost every cabin. When I began, I was
the youngest camper in Mitigwa history, just six years old. I loved riflery, archery, playing capture the flag,
and all the hiking trips. I ended up in the middle of getting an eagle feather. As an older camper, I actually began carving
a life-sized totem pole and made camp signs. Unfortunately, I don't use any of those skills nowadays."

Jim noted that actor Michael Douglas was a camper for a season, bunking in the same
Intermediate cabin as Jim's older brother, John. Jim is second in from the right on the second row,
next to my cousin; his brother, John, is in the next row back, directly behind my cousin.

Update submitted by Ed Bergman, August 2013
"Just found myself in the camp photo. I'm eighth in from the left in the second row from the bottom,
sitting right next to our famous woodsman Harry."
[JDB note: Ed is also one of the clarinetists in the band photo at the top of the page.]

Update submitted by Bruce M, November 2013
Think I remember being 12, so that puts it in 1971, near the end of Mitigwa’s life.
I have fond memories of the monster “War Party” at the end.
Loved the long canoe trip (though I also remember my butt aching terribly in the beginning).
Never had any of the fancy t-shirts in the picture.
Do I remember a bugle waking us in the morning? Bats in the cabins maybe?
The insipid “bug juice” from the mess hall, made from Kool Aid?
Getting firmly trounced in a swim race (humiliations can be remarkably persistent)
Also remember my counselors telling me that what looked like dug wells to me,
encountered on a couple of hikes, were actually Indian burials,
“straight down for twenty feet, then horizontal for six feet for the body.”
Never could understand how that could be, but it sure impressed the hell out of me.
If you fell into them you’d be lost forever!
They told some ghostly stories about what might be experienced
if you were around them at night.  I didn’t believe a word of it, honestly!
The Wilhelm Reich museum stands strongest in my memories.
I remember his Teutonic bust and all the big gun looking machinery, painted battleship grey.
Weren’t the buildings, imposing stone structures, all up on a hill, surrounded by fields
and looking through windows, rows and rows of books on shelves.
My wife actually lived in Wilhelm Reich’s cabin for a time in the early 80s
and has told me ghostly stories of her time there.
Thanks for putting up the website.
Sorry to read the owners got clobbered on the adventure—it was a good camp.

*   *   *

Brandon De Wilde (the lead rider) received a 1953
Oscar nomination for his role as Joey in the hit movie "Shane."
The previous summer the then 10-year-old arrived at Mitigwa
without fanfare as just another camper.

Brandon died at 30 in a tragic accident when the camper van he was driving
hit a parked car. He was on his way to the hospital at the time to visit his wife.

Click here (or on his photo) to read his biography on IMDb.

Even better, click here to visit a beautifully constructed remembrance website.

(Glen Yates, who supplied this great shot, is riding directly behind Brandon.)

My cousin, Bill Hallahan (left), still enjoys archery and goes bow hunting for deer.

Remember: if you have a comment, can identify anyone in these pictures,
or have photos of your own you'd like me to post, click here to send me an email.


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