A Song of Vacation Days

silver-bay-song-webFrank Palmer Speare (1869-1954) was the director of the Evening Institute of the Boston YMCA from 1896 to 1916; in 1916, the Institute was incorporated as Northeastern College and in 1917 Speare became its president. A music enthusiast, he wrote a number of pieces, including the official Northeastern University march and “Silver Bay, a Song of Vacation Days” (1908). Through a stroke of good fortune, I was able to find the lyrics via Google, in a 1916 compendium, Social Activities for Men and Boys, published by the Washington D.C. YMCA. So here you go:

“The strenuosity, ‘tis said of modern city life, is surely making us into a nation, a nation of nervous cranks and spindle shanks and other sorts of freaks, the very worst there are in all creation. Oh! We hustle in our business and we hustle in our fun. We never stop to chew our food but bolt it while we run. And everyone is on his mark and waiting for the gun, then Oh! for a short vacation.

“Oh Silver Bay is the only place to stay. When the frogs begin to sing (chug, chug) and the birds are on the wing, the lake so fair with its hills and balmy air will surely prove to you a revelation. Oh!

“When once we used to go away and board down on the farm, we left our happy homes with tears of sorrow, of sorrow. We might be hot and tired as we tumbled off the train, but feet were cold when we woke up tomorrow. Oh! For the beds were full of turnips and the pillows stuffed with hay, the bread was black and sour and the milk was blue as clay. And from five to twenty dollars for the stuff we had to pay, and that was our old vacation.

“Oh Silver Bay is the only place to stay. When the frogs begin to sing (chug, chug) and the birds are on the wing, the lake so fair with its hills and balmy air will surely prove to you a revelation. Oh!

“When the scorching rays of summer drive us all into the hills, we pack our trunks with merry shouts of laughter, of laughter, and hike it straight for Silver Bay, the place that cures our ills, and our affections deep will hold hereafter. Oh! Oh the crowd is always jolly and the food is surely prime. The girls are simply peaches and of course the men are fine. You couldn’t strike it richer if you owned a copper mine. And here is a real vacation.

“Oh Silver Bay is the only place to stay. When the frogs begin to sing (chug, chug) and the birds are on the wing, the lake so fair with its hills and balmy air will surely prove to you a revelation!”

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Photo of Frank Palmer Speare from the Northeastern University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections

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Other Weeks, Other Traditions

It’s easy for me to think that Silver Bay exists in limbo for 51 weeks and only really materializes during the third week in July, but I know it’s there all the time, serving all kinds of groups and families, many of whom have as strong an attachment to the place as we do.

Here, for an example, is a group you may not have considered: For five days of Chanukah, in 2006, more than fifty Jewish girls, ages 9-15, gathered for a winter retreat at Silver Bay, a joint project of YALDAH Magazine and Bat Mitzvah Camp & Club of the Capital District, both of whom serve pre-teen and teenage Jewish girls. The girls and their leaders came from New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia and Ontario.

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Shown above in The Store, Rabbi Benny Rappaport, of the Jewish Discovery Center in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, taught girls how to make braided Havdalah candles, used in the ceremony that marks the end of the Shabbat (Sabbath) and ushers in the new week.

You can read the whole article here. Mazel tov!

Silver Bay on Facebook

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For those of you on Facebook, there is a “Silver Bay YMCA of the Adirondacks” group with photo albums and open membership, one more way to get your daily Silver Bay fix. Above, a photo by Albert Fitch, and below, two by Justin Frawley: Silver Bay as I’ve never seen it, new seasons, new eyes.

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