Feb 3, 2016

George Who?

February 3rd, 2016 George Who? Every Tamakwan arrives at camp in a Pointer. Only George Hirsch arrives by water ski! Who is George Hirsch and what is his connection with Tamakwa? Former Camp Director/Owner Dave Bale tells all!

He’s a former Tamakwan and now a very successful international businessman, who travels the globe. And he loved Tamakwa so much that to this day in his travels, he always goes out of his way to make time and the supreme effort to pay a visit to camp by passing by, usually on water skis (his travel mode of preference) to wave hello. Being the communicator that he is, he likes to write to camp routinely from wherever he travels, usually via Western Union Telegram (his communication mode of preference). He’s an Old School kind of guy; what can we say? His travelogues typically include references to people he sees along the way, such as an uncle in Cairo who is a Cairo-practor… or places he visits, like the Good Wall of China (which is just a few feet shorter than the better known Great Wall of China).

And true to the format of telegrams as they were written and transmitted back in the day, George typically ends his sentences with STOP.

But here is what you may NOT know about George.

He attended Tamakwa in the late 1940s from the New York area. There are a few vintage photos in the camp archive featuring George. In a number of them, he is seen wearing a T-shirt from the New Rochelle Track and Field squad, of which he was a member. In fact, he’s wearing that shirt in a photo from 1948, where he is seen paddling in a canoe with none other than a young camper at the time from Detroit named Carl Levin. Today we know that name as the retired senior U.S. Senator from Michigan.

The track and field career took George very far. An avid lifetime runner, he became founder and chairman of the famous New York City Marathon, one of the leading international sporting events of our time. The business for which he is so famous around the world is publishing. He was the founding publisher of Runner’s World Magazine, among a multitude of other fitness and health related journals. He was also the founding publisher of New York Magazine, probably the first in the genre of glossy event, lifestyle and issue oriented city magazines.

I had the good fortune to have a phone conversation with George Hirsch several years ago. He told me of a memorable anecdote about Tamakwa’s founding director Unca Lou Handler. Many years after his Tamakwa summers, George was in Detroit sometime in the 70s on a publicity tour and was being interviewed on WJR, the city’s top AM news/talk radio station, which was well known for being broadcast from the towering Fisher Building in downtown Detroit. He was on the air for about an hour. When he emerged from the studio into the station’s lobby, sitting there waiting for him was Lou. George was totally caught by surprise. The two men who hadn’t seen each other in years gave each other a big bear hug. “Lou,” said George, “What are YOU doing here?” Lou told him he was driving on the Lodge Expressway listening to the radio. He heard the interview and that it was George Hirsch, who he knew so many years ago at Tamakwa. Lou just HAD to go out of his way and make the effort to come by and see his dear old Tamakwa friend and say hello. True story, STOP.

There are many aspects of Tamakwa that are special and quirky and often Tamakwans (new and old) find themselves wondering “What’s up with that?” After this summer’s SNL video “What is this?”, staring Rachel “Drama” Manson and Joeley Pulver, our newest blog segment was born!

If you think of anything that makes you think “What’s Up With That?”, please email them to us at howhow@tamakwa.com and we might just answer them on a future blog!