During the summer, Bev, Bill and I attended summer camps, usually for 12 weeks. We would arrive one to two weeks before the other campers arrived and we would stay the same amount of time after they all left. We would work preparing things beforehand and putting things away afterward. We went to a camp in Issaquah when it was nothing but woods and a teeny tiny town. Now it is a big town, full of luxurious homes and hardly any woods.
For several years we went to a camp on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands called “Four Winds”. It is still there. It was by far the nicest (ritziest) camp we ever attended. It was very expensive. Bev and Bill worked there as counselors to help pay for me to stay there. We wore uniforms. The girls wore a middy and tie, like sailors wear, and bloomers! The boys wore a middy and bell bottom trousers or shorts. The owner of the camp was from England. There were sail boats of all sizes, horses, catamarans, canoes and row boats. We played tennis and badminton. There were six campers and a counselor to each log cabin. Each cabin had a fireplace. We went clam digging and had fires on the beach. The activities were planned and never-ending. It was fantastic!
The majority of campers were from extremely wealthy families. Many of them came from far away places, even Europe and South America. Some even flew in on private jets. One of the campers had a bodyguard that was with him all the time. His name was Bobby Brinks. His father owned Brinks Armored Trucks and there had been threats of kidnapping. The parents of campers from Texas owned cattle ranches and oil wells.
I was so happy to be with my brother whenever I could. He moved to Wisconsin when my father sent him to “St. John’s Military Academy”, a rigid military school, for his last three high school years. I loved him so much and really missed him. I would only see him at Christmas and in the summer. We corresponded by writing letters. Being at that school really destroyed him mentally. It started him on a downward spiral into severe mental instability.
Several events led up to Bev, Bill and I being put in boarding schools. Our parents divorced when I was still an infant. There was an ongoing custody battle and we were bounced back and forth between our mother and father for almost 5 years. When I was five, my sister, two brothers and I were living with my mother in Kirkland. My mother was extremely poor. We lived in an old, run down, housing development that once had been army barracks. Kirkland is now where the very wealthy live, mainly because of Microsoft.
One morning we were sitting at the breakfast table when my mother fell backwards off of her chair. We thought she had hit her head and knocked herself out. My oldest brother, Jim, ran to the neighbors and they called an ambulance. It turned out she had suffered a massive stroke. Back then, the way to treat stroke victims wasn’t perfected yet and so she never really recovered from it. For the rest of her life, she couldn’t talk or use her right arm or her right leg. She was 34.
As a result, my father gained custody. He put us each in separate foster homes until he could figure out what to do next. We were in foster homes for about six to eight months. I don’t remember a lot about them but I do remember not liking them, missing my family and feeling abandoned. I personally remember being in three different foster homes. Then, my father rented a house in Portland, Oregon and hired a nanny to live with us and take care of the four of us. That didn’t last long because she found the responsibility overwhelming and subsequently quit.
That was when our father decided to put us in boarding schools. Jim was 11 years older than me, so he was 16. He ran away at that time because he had no intention of going to a boarding school or Military Academy. I didn’t see him again for 7 years. We would only get to see our mother, who lived in Seattle, about once or twice a year. She became a hopeless, helpless alcoholic. Our father made us tell the nuns that she was dead because divorce was taboo in the Catholic Church. Our father did not allow us to visit her at first so I didn’t see her again for several years. She died of a second stroke at age 44, when I was fifteen.