Otter Postcards from the Past: Updated


July 14, 2016 by Doug Webster

I’ve got a search bot that keeps an eye on EBay for anything Otter related (and that unfortunately includes another Camp Otter in New Hampshire).

But the following popped up recently and I thought Otterites would enjoy these two cards now on sale on the site:

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 3.12.04 PM

This first one appears to be of the lake but from the Crewson farm side.  There is no reverse side available indicating when it was produced or used.

The second is dated 1936 and shows a picture of the lodge and stairs leading down to the lake and the swim dock….in those days, the railings were much more ornate.

Otter 36 Card Front

The reverse side contains text…the card addressed to a Mrs. J.A. Bizzell, Ithaca, NY…no street address, but apparently it got through.

Otter 36 Card Back

Bud Bizzell is telling his mother that he is alive and well, and the opening part of the message leaves one with the impression that perhaps Bud had departed without telling Mom just where he went.  He then adds the helpful news that he has a “a sliver up my fingernail,” and then signs off.  I am sure Mom was heartened to get the news.

(This reminds me of brother Chuck’s famous Sunday letter home – required to get in to the dining hall – that read, “Dear Mom and Dad – Love Chuck.”  They got the letter and Chuck got lunch).

Given Otter’s early and strong ties to Ithaca and Cornell, it is to be expected that lots of the campers in attendance in the 30s would have Ithaca roots.

UPDATE:  Out of curiosity, after posting the above material, I Googled for any current listings of Bizzell in the Ithaca area and in so doing, discovered that James “Bud” Bizzell, the author of the above postcard, passed away December 23rd of last year at the age of 87 in Ithaca.  Additional information about him from the obituary states:

A master welder and fabricator, Bud had the ability to repair, engineer and create a solution for anything ever made. There are many whose lawnmowers will never again receive the amazing repairs he was able to provide. After thirty years employment at Cornell University Farm Services he chose to retire. Retirement gave him the opportunity to focus on multiple projects. Bud built and maintained the famous Bizzell Pond Skating Complex and Warming Shed. Skaters of all ages and skills spent countless hours on the pond as Bud kept watch from the kitchen window. He will be missed and remembered by those whose lives were touched by his wisdom and knowledge.

I then was able to track down an address and phone number for his wife Virginia, and she and I chatted by phone.  She indicated that her husband (“Everyone called him Bud”) had actually gone to several summer camps, apparently starting at a fairly young age.  “He never said a lot about his experience at Otter, other than that he had gone to a camp in northern Ontario for a couple of years.  “Apparently, according to family history,” she added, ” he was quite a challenge to handle as a youngster and the story goes that his mother spent every winter looking for a camp to send him to the next summer.”

Virginia said she and Bud met in the late 40s when he was stationed in the Seattle, WA area with the Army, and the connection was strong enough that she decided to fly back East to see him in Ithaca.  “We wound up getting married and were together from that point onward,” she said.

Interesting background on an Otter alumni who came to camp 80 years ago.  Thanks also to sister Barbara who helped me locate the obituary listing and then Mrs. Bizzell.  And thanks to Virginia Bizzell for sharing her information and memories.

2 thoughts on “Otter Postcards from the Past: Updated

  1. Moishe3rd says:

    Very nice.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Doug. Great picture looking across the farm and lake. That card looks like a real memento. Go for it!

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