Poetry

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Calvary Wonderland

by the Deimels

 

Sleigh bells ring; are you listenin’?

In the lane, snow is glistenin’—

A beautiful sight;

We’re happy tonight,

Campin’ in a Calvary wonderland.

 

Gone away are the bluebirds;

Have to stay are some new birds;

They sing a cold song

As we shiver along,

Campin’ in a Calvary wonderland.

 

In the KYBO we can build a snowman

And pretend that he is Father John;

He’ll say, “Are you warm” and we’ll say, “No, man”;

How d’ya turn the silly heater on?”

 

When it snows, ain’t it thrillin’,

Though your nose gets a chillin’?

We’ll frolic and play

The Episcopal way,

Campin’ in a Calvary wonderland.

 

In the morning you can be a Penguin

Even if you don’t go in the pool;

From the Rec to the Hen House to the cabins,

Everyone in camp is really cool!

 

Later on, we’ll retire

By the old campfire;

We’ll face unafraid

Frostbite and first-aid,

Campin’ in a Calvary wonderland.

 


 

This poem definitely needs some explanation. For several years, my family attended family camp at Sheldon Calvary Camp. The camp, in Conneaut, Ohio, on Lake Erie, is owned and operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. For most of the summer, the camp hosts children of various ages, but the season ends with a couple of sessions hosting families. We attended the camp in early August more than 20 years ago, and this poem was written during one of those family camp sessions. (I think this poem was written in 1992.)

Did I mention that the camp is on Lake Erie? Even in August, the place is sometimes cold and windy, which can leave you quite chilly, especially since you’re sleeping in unheated cabins and and wearing summer clothes. During one particularly cold spell, the Deimels wrote and performed these lyrics, which we sang to the tune of “Winter Wonderland.” I don’t remember much about the writing process. My wife Betty no doubt suggested the parody and probably wrote most of the lyrics. (The words, on yellowing lined paper are in her hand.) I’m sure I must have helped, and perhaps my son did as well.

I need to demystify a few items. The KYBO was the communal bathroom for the camp. (I only just learned that KYBO is an acronym for “keep your bowels open”—seriously.) Father John is the Rev. John Thomas, beloved  camp director who recently passed away. Campers who went for early morning swims in the pool were called Penguins. The Rec is the recreation hall, and the Hen House is the residence for female staff.

I’ve made no changes to the original text, but I have tried to clean up the punctuation. The meter is a bit rough in places, but I thought the lyrics deserved to be presented in the original form.

— LED, 2/7/2013, corrected 8/3/2013

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