Camp Nebagamon’s history is told in new book


The day my son was born, March 10, 1947, my father called his friend Muggs Lorber to register infant Laurie at Camp Nebagamon. Muggs was the founder and director of the immensely popular boys’ summer camp in northern Wisconsin, which he and his wife Janet ran with great aplomb for almost 30 years until they retired. Laurie took to Camp Nebagamon like a fish to water and almost until his untimely death at age 53 he loved the camp as a camper, a counselor, and for years as a participant at post camp, now called Family Camp.

Since its founding in 1929, Nebagamon has had four sets of outstanding camp owners and directors and continues to this day to provide boys with a summer of outdoor activities ranging from tennis and swimming to wilderness tripping as well as spiritual and ethical guidance. All of this and more is chronicled in a brand new, hot-off-the-press book, Keeping the Fires Burning – A History and Memoir of Camp Nebagamon by Nardie and Sally Lorber Stein who happen to be the second set of camp directors and the daughter and son-in-law of Muggs and Janet Lorber and who ruled the roost there until 1990 when they, too, retired to be succeeded by Roger and Judy Wallerstein.


Everything you ever wanted to know about Camp Nebagamon (complete with multitudinous photographs starting with “Hoss” Alan Mayer in 1929) can be found between the covers of this 245-page book. “When we set out to write this book, our goal was to capture the essence of Camp Nebagamon and all of those people, past and present, who have created its unique history. We wanted our readers to share in the joys and sorrows of the camp’s alumni and delight in memories that may have been lost. Most importantly we wanted to preserve Camp Nebagamon’s legacy,” Nardie and Sally say in their preface. They have done a remarkable job of preservation of information about the site, the staff, the traditions, the campers and even camp words that appear in a glossary.

The Steins point out that there are other wonderful camps attended by St. Louis boys — Camps Thunderbird and Sabra, just to name two — but it is the magic of Nebagamon that remains in my memory. My Laurie met and made lifelong friends with boys from Chicago, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Louisville and points north, south, east and west. He, along with other kids, experienced initial homesickness, a subject Nardie discusses in the book, and unlike his skinny friends Laurie was a member of the “FBI,” which, if I recall accurately, was then the Fat Boy’s Institute and is now the more politically correct Fabulous Bodies, Inc. To this day, Nebagamon campers adore the camp and their directors including Nebagamon’s current director Adam Kaplan.

Keeping the Fires Burning is available locally at Left Bank Books in the Central West End or on line at It’s a must for Nebagamon alumni and their families who will wallow through its nostalgia.

Matzo Ball Gumbo by Marcie Cohen Ferris is a fascinating and beautiful book on the culinary tales of the Jewish South. I was introduced to it recently by Lisa Cohen (no relation to Marcie) of Atlanta who I met at a bat mitzvah in Ridgewood, N.J. Both a history book and a cookbook, it is filled with great stories about Jewish families and their cuisine. There are 30 excellent recipes from places like colonial Savannah, Ga. and Charleston, S.C., Civil War era New Orleans, and contemporary Memphis. Pictures abound, and as I looked at so many of those familiar Jewish punims I wondered, “Do all Jews look alike?” Actually Shirley Mosinger, who hails from Atlanta, found lots of her mispocha in the book and kept exclaiming, “Look, there’s my great-uncle.”

Matzo Ball Gumbo is both scholarly and haimish. Its author, Marcie Cohen Ferris, is Associate Director for Jewish Studies and assistant professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina, which published the book. Thoroughly researched, she documents Southern Jewish domestic, social, racial, religious and business life over three centuries. Recipes and attitudes about food come from personal journals. “With the proliferation of cook-books published in the 19th century through both commercial and community-sponsored efforts, women’s domestic culture became a permanent record of women’s history.” Ferris explains.

Her record of Jewish foodies is punctuated with amusing and amazing illustrations and advertisements. For example, the menu from the Jewish Widow and Orphan’s Home Banquet in New Orleans in 1886 includes Green Turtle potage and Bouchers of Oysters. There are ads for a meat company in Vicksburg, Miss., Aunt Jemima’s Latkes and photos of Gottlieb’s Bakery and its bakers in Savannah. Of special interest is the ad announcing “Coca Cola is now kosher” and the story of its certification in Atlanta in 1936.

The recipes are wide ranging, well detailed and easy to follow. I particularly liked “Garfinkel Noodle Pudding,” which the author made very successfully for her students at a University of North Carolina “Shalom Ya’ll” seminar. “Pesach Fried Green Tomatoes” sounds good enough to eat daily, not just for Passover, and of course there is a recipe for “Creole Matzo Balls.” Matzo Ball Gumbo (Chapel Hill, $29.95) is available through Barnes and Noble or It is not only a good read, but also a good lesson in the history of Southern Jewry.

LILI SANDLER is a four and a half pound black toy poodle with a warm, outgoing personality. She has never met a stranger, no matter the size, from a huge canine to a huge person. Lili has been trained as a therapy pet in Sarasota, Fla., although she has not practiced her trade in a year or so. Five-year-old Lili actually belongs to my significant other but spends her life sitting in my lap especially when I am at the computer doing what you are reading. Am I looking for a home for her? Heck no! What I am doing is testing the waters to see what the needs are out there for therapy pets. Let me know if you have any suggestions for Lili’s talents as she is equally good with children and adults. You can reach me at [email protected]