The Song Remembers When: Fried Ham

I love music. My life is always accompanied by a soundtrack. If the radio isn’t on my iPod is blasting or songs are just roaming through my head as I make my way through the world. There are some songs I associate with specific experiences, events or locations. With this series, I make an attempt to document some of those associations.

The song: Fried Ham
The artist: The Girls Scouts at Camp Tohikanee
The location: The Dining Hall

A sunny August day at the dining hall at Camp Tohikanee (Tok i khan ee) in Eastern Pennsylvania. The dining hall was one of the more modern buildings at camp. It was V shaped wood and glass structure with large “sheds” at either end. The sheds were filled with gravel and the walls were lined with hooks fit for backpacks and rain gear. There was one side of the V that was used more than the other. For whatever reason, we always ate on the right side. Only occasionally, were there enough campers that would necessitate using a tables on the left side.

Inside, the back wall and high angled ceiling were wood paneled. The left wall (or the inside of the V) was glass from the floor to 3/4 of the way up the wall, with a view of the flag pole. The floor was concrete covered in a shiny, burnt orange finish (built in the 70’s anyone?)

There were two rows of tables. Each table was square and sat 8 people on 4 benches. Which seat you took denoted which job you had at the meal. Each unit was responsible for setting up for a meal a few times each week. Being inside first, meant you missed out on the pre-meal songs and games, but, you had your pick of seats. You could be a runner, a server, a scraper or the drinks person. Other jobs were assigned on an as needed basis. Experienced campers knew to find the seat they wanted and stand behind it to wait for the staff to enter. You worked hard to get your favorite counselor to sit at your table.

Once everyone was in place, grace was said and then everyone was seated at once. The runners were dispatched to pick up the food, drinks were poured and the meal began in earnest. The noise level began to rise as silverware clanked and the pastel hard plastic plates and serving dishes were passed around. You had to wait for everyone at the table to finish. The scraper would scrap the scraps into a bowl and any excess drinks were poured back into the steal pitcher. Once all the plates were cleared, the wiper stayed behind to wipe down the table and benches and the sweeper stayed to sweep the floor. Everyone else scampered outside.

We’d gather around the flag pole as long a it wasn’t raining hard, otherwise, we’d gather in the gravel under one of the sheds and sing camp songs. Perennial favorites, included John, Jacob, Jinglehimer, Schmidt, Mrs. O’leary’s Cow and, Fried Ham.

Fried Ham, Fried Ham, Cheese and Bologna, and after the macaroni we’ll have some onions, and pickles, and peppers, and then we’ll have some more fried ham, fried ham, fried ham…

Second first same as the first British accent makes it a whole lot worse.

We’d go few a few accents (Chinese, Southern, etc.) and then move on. In hindsight, it is politically incorrect, but wicked fun at the time.

I attended Girl Scout camp for at least 4 summers. A one week sports program the first year and the two week barn theater program each of the other years. I have wonderfully fond memories of camp. Mim’s not quite ready to be away from home for a week, but that time is coming and I hope her experiences are as good as mine.


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