Camp Louise

Posted on May 1st, 2019 by

Blog post by JMM archivist Lorie Rombro. You can read more posts by Lorie HERE.

Aaron and Lillie Straus at Camp Louise with campers. JMM 2018.7.101.

Last week I was processing photographs that were a gift of Camps Airy & Louise. These incredible images were telling the story of a camp I had heard of many times but (until recently) did not know much about their long and interesting history. From my research into the history of the Associated, I knew that Camp Louise began in 1922 when the Daughters in Israel and the Young Ladies Benevolent Society (both part of the Associated Jewish Charities) joined together to operate a camp for young working women in the mountains.

Daughters in Israel was founded in1896 and was a residence home for young working woman. It was first located at 121 Aisquith Street, and would later move to 1111 East Baltimore, then 1200 East Baltimore Street. The young woman, who were either new immigrants or without family, were provided a room in the home, a weekly excursion, a day for friends to visit, and were offered courses in dressmaking and cooking. The cost for this was $2 a week which included housekeeping, room, and board. Most of the young woman were employed in Baltimore’s teeming textile industry where the conditions were difficult and the hours long. (You can learn more about Baltimore’s history with “The Needle Trades” this weekend, when the Museum hosts Jack Burkert of the Baltimore Museum of Industry – more info on his program here.)

The other organization involved in the beginnings of Camp Louise was the Young Ladies Benevolent Society. The Society “gives relief to girls suffering from illness, furnishes maternity care, acts as guide and mentor to girls and young women in need of advice; started in 1900 by a group of 300 working girls, it was an organization that helped care for sick girls over the age of 16 and women in confinement.” “What Your Contribution Accomplished” Pamphlet, 1921; Associated Jewish Charities 1916-1925 Scrapbook. JMM 2017.68.1.14.

These two organizations would join together to operate a camp for young working women in the mountains. It began when they rented a house in Highfield, Maryland, in the Blue Ridge Mountains called Sand-Mar House. “The Associated Jewish Charities provided a budget of $500 for the project. From this amount, $300 had to be paid for rent. The remaining amount of $200, and the very minimal fee that each vacationer paid, if any, comprised the funds for all other necessities. There were ‘counselors’, more fortunate young women from Baltimore, who volunteered their time and interest to make the Sand-Mar House vacation relaxing and attractive. The important responsibilities of management and operation were given to Miss Ida” The Story of Louise by Sara Yudlson. For more than 50 years Ida Sharogrodsky, known as Miss Ida, would run the early camp for working girls and Camp Louise.

Ida Sharagrodsky (Miss Ida) and Lillie Straus (Aunt Lillie) from the Cohen Family Camp Airy Collection, JMM 1993.59.33d.

After several years the Ida Sharogrodsky was told that Sand-Mar could no longer be rented and the Associated Jewish Charities could buy the home if they wished to continue using it. Miss Ida went to one of the active board members who had been a great supporter of the camp, Lillie Straus. She suggested that her husband Aaron Straus buy the building for the Associated so the women could continue having their summer vacations. The story is that Miss Ida decided to take a walk in the area and passed the Melview House, a hotel for sale.

She would ask Mr. and Mrs. Straus to come and look at the hotel and after a journey with quite a few set backs they finally arrived at Melview House. After a tour of the hotel, which offered additional space and the ability to serve more young women, Aaron Straus bought the building and gave it to the Associated Jewish Charities. It was around this time that his sister, Louise Straus passed away. In honor of her they named the new camp, Camp Louise. “It Started with that Big White House,” 1922. Gift of Camps Airy & Louise, JMM 2018.7.107.4.

On June 22, 1922 Camp Louise would officially open with twelve campers. Sara Yudlson wrote, “Activities were leisurely. To just sit on the front porch and rock in a chair, and to look out on green grass and young trees, was rewarding and restful enough for many of the young women.” That summer Aaron and Lillie Straus would visit Camp Louise and made a decision to take the camp on as a personal project and relieve the Associated Jewish Charities of all financial responsibilities and management. They created a new non-profit organization which continues to this day as Camp Louise. Lille and Aaron Straus, who would be known as Uncle Airy and Aunt Lillie, would continue to spend summers at Camp Louise, interacting with the campers and assisting in caring for the camp they loved.

Over time the camp would become a sleep away camp for girls as the needs of a country vacation for young working women became less. The generosity of Aaron and Lillie Straus would allow many Jewish children who would have otherwise never been able to afford sleep away camp a chance to experience a summer of fun. “Syme Inn – one of our original bunks.” Gift of Camps Airy & Louise, JMM 2018.7.106.5.

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Camp Woodlands

Posted on March 29th, 2019 by

Blog post by JMM archivist Lorie Rombro. You can read more posts by Lorie HERE.

While searching through the negatives in the Nat Lipsitz photograph collection for images of the opening of Camp Milldale in 1953 on Stevenson Road, I found 1951 images of Camp Woodlands. When I began my research on the Associated I had never heard of Camp Woodlands. Of course I knew what Camp Milldale was, many of my friends had attended camp there and were counselors when we were teenagers (I never attended having gone to Beth Tfiloh Camp as a camper and a counselor), so I was interested to learn more about an unknown Baltimore day camp.

Camp Woodlands was a constituent agency of the Associated Jewish Charities from 1922 to 1952. It began in 1913 when the Hebrew Benevolent Society purchased a 10-acre plot of land on Paradise Avenue in Catonsville Maryland as a summer retreat for mothers and children. The retreat was called “Paradise Home” or the “Jewish Country Home” and the social workers from the Hebrew Benevolent Society would select families who could attend for two week sessions in the country.

Sketch for the Country Home of the Hebrew Benevolent Society, Catonsville, Maryland.  Thomas V. Stars Landscape Architect, April 24, 1910. JMM 1996.063.001.

In 1922 the camp was officially renamed the Woodland Country Home and became an independent constituent of the new Associated Jewish Charities. The 1922 booklet, Some Important Accomplishments of Your Charity Association, said that 246 men, women and children were given a vacation that summer. By 1928 the Woodland Country home is described in campaign material as, “vacations furnished for husbands and wives, parent and children – some 335 in all, at the Woodland Country Home during the exhausting mid-summer days. Pleasant little bungalows scattered through beautiful groves of forest tress. A wonderful way of bringing back health, and renewing courage to the sorely pressed.”

Invitation to dedication of new cottages including directions to the camp. “To reach Woodland Country Home: Follow Frederick Road to Paradise Avenue (six miles from City Hall), then South along well-marked road about three-quarters of a mile.” JMM 2017.068.003.106.

The 1930 Season Report to the board of the Associated Jewish Charities listed that, 460 individuals were served by the camp consisting of 119 mothers, 4 fathers, and 336 children under the age of 14. Of the 336 children, 62 were eight to thirteen-years-old unaccompanied by an adult. Over 900 hundred people had applied for a vacation that summer.

Campaign postcard from 1930, written on the back, “Boys and girls, undernourished babies, and work-worn mothers, each summer obtain relief from the sweltering heat of bricks and concrete, in the green shady surroundings of the Woodland Country Home. Rest, good food, and outdoor recreation soon put color in pale cheeks and ‘pep’ into listless bodies.” JMM 2017.068.004.003.

Another campaign brochure from 1930 showing the children at the Woodland Country home having afternoon milk. JMM 2017.068.004.017.

Woodland Country Home July 25, 1931. JMM 1996.063.128.

In 1948 the camp would once again change its name to Camp Woodlands and would exclusively serve children as a summer day camp. They also provided one week at the end of the summer for Golden Agers Camp, for those young at heart, but over the age of 65. In 1951 the Jewish Educational Alliance (JEA), the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association and Camp Woodlands merged into one new organization, the Jewish Community Center or JCC. Camp Woodlands would continue to operate until the summer of 1953 when Camp Milldale was opened on Stevenson Road. The Catonsville location was purchased by the state for highway development.

Below are the pictures I found in the Nat Lipsitz collection.

They were all taken in July and August of 1951.

These are amazing photographs but because they are negatives no one is identified.

If you recognize anyone please let us know! (Particularly the winner of this turtle race.)

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A Story from the Archives: Is This Goldie?

Posted on October 22nd, 2018 by

Blog post by JMM archivist Lorie Rombro. You can read more posts by Lorie here.

In 1948 the United Jewish Appeal, with the help of numerous international organizations assisting in moving over 240,000 displaced Jews from D.P. Camps, France, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, Hungary, North Africa, Shanghai, and other places to new lives in Israel, America, Canada, Australia and all over the world.

One of the vessels moving refugees was the USAT General Stewart that was originally used in 1946 to transport the troops home from Europe and Asia. By 1950 the General Stewart was being used to transport refugees for the International Refugee Organization, traveling from Bremerhaven Germany to New York and Halifax, Novia Scotia. Many of these refugees fleeing to the United States and Canada were Jewish.

On December 1, 1950 Abraham, Sonja and their 4-year-old daughter Goldie Friedman would board the USAT General Stewart in Germany with almost 1300 other refugees and twelve days later arrived in New York. Aaron and Sonia were the sole survivors of their families, their lives had been torn apart by the Nazi regime and after ten years of living in ghettos, concentration camps and as a displaced person they would be able to start a new life in the United States.

The Friedman’s were met by workers of the United Service for New Americans, part of the United Jewish Appeal, an organization that was supported by the Associated Jewish Charities and Welfare Fund in Baltimore. From the harbor the Friedman family boarded a train to Baltimore and were met by Mrs. Julian Adler, a representative of the Council of Jewish Women in Baltimore.

Above images from the 1949 Associated Jewish Charities scrapbook.

Sonia, Aaron and Goldie Friedman and Mrs. Julian Adler from the Council of Jewish Women in Baltimore, JMM 1996.063.041.

I learned about the Freidman’s in the 1950-1951 Associated scrapbook in the museum’s collection. The Friedman family would have an entire article written about them in the New American magazine distributed by the United Service for New Americans. The first article, ­Baltimore Opens Its Doors to a Newcomer was printed on December 29, 1950. The article starts with “The recently liberalized immigration law has resulted in a new flow of refugees to this country…. Baltimore is receiving an average of ten such families a month…Approximately $300,000 is spent annually by Associated agencies for its refugee aid program, a quarter of a million dollars of which is expanded by the Jewish Family and Children’s Bureau. The Story of the arrival of and adjustment of one family under the auspices of the JFCB, the Friedman’s, will be told pictorially as a regular weekly feature of the Jewish press.”

As I moved on the next page of the scrapbook something about the picture on the cover made me turn back the page, the names were so familiar. On a whim I took a picture of the article and texted it to my mother, “Is this Goldie?” After a few hours, my mother texted back, “YES!”

I couldn’t believe it, the little girl in the article was one of my mother’s closest friends. I had grown up my whole life knowing Goldie and her family, we took family trips together, my first time at Disney was with them. I had met her father as well and remembered him as the kind and sweet grandfather of my friend. Because of this I was able to find information in our HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) records on Goldie’s arrival to this country and her parents’ history.

At the museum we often get to help families find information on their history, sometimes it’s hit or miss but it’s always very gratifying when we can use our collection to help someone understand their past. And in case you were wondering I always take a peak to look for my own history as well. United Hebrew Charities Donor Booklet, 1915, JMM 1997.134.067.

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