Many Hawthorne students
attended Cibola, the summer camp run by Sandy and Eleanor Orr in New
Mexico, but many others who never went to Hawthorne are Cibola alumni
as well. This page exists for Cibola alumni and staff to tell the
story in their own words and pictures.
We need your story! To add your story (or pictures) to this page, please contact Steve Knapp:
1955: Hugh Tyson
1957: John O'Hara
1957: Rose Marien
1960: Lance Webster
1961: Peggy Diggs
1962: Carl Grossman
1962: Doug Hamilton (added March 13, 2010)
1964: Derek Fiedler
Legacy Of Cibola: Steve Knapp
As the summer of 1955 approached, my Aunt and Father told me that they had heard of an Archeological camp in the SW perhaps from Tony Bryan's parents (they had some connection through friends in Greenwich Village). I was appalled by the idea of sifting through the dust of dry canyons for uncertain bones. I had no curiosity for digs. I had attended wonderfully creative camps in addition to some vaguely fascist ones in the past summers, and I knew, given my family situation, that staying in NYC for the asphalt melting summer heat was not possible from any perspective. Eventually, despite my misgivings, (I have vague memories of being in one of NYC grand stations boarding the train for Washington possibly with John Fields).
I was launched into the Orrs orbit.
We were bundled off to various homes in DC for the evening, and I remember being enchanted by the lights and conversation in someone's home before the next day's great embarkation with our bizarre flotilla of vehicles that would take us first to Chicago and then to the high deserts of Northern New Mexico.
I remember a day on the cross country trek with Eleanor when a small group of us rode with her and one of the Counselors, who had an artistic background (Dante?), in an old station wagon that stuffed in about 7 or 8 souls. We were liberated from the larger vehicles that were lively but could be oppressive in the summer heat and usually rendered everyone stuporous at midday. Those who shared this remembrance will have conflicting Rashmon type memories, but fortunately this was not a Bonny and Clyde crime spree. It was an inspired day that embodied Eleanor's genius for imagination and good natured mischief. We stopped at paint store somewhere in the summer blast furnace of the Midwest and purchased supplies for a vehicular transformation. We painted the station wagon with brilliant colors and designs and Eleanor said that we would now be a circus troupe that had become separated from its main body and was seeking to rejoin them.
We would drive the car to the middle of main street in many small towns and pretend that the engine had malfunctioned. We would all jump from the car and start pushing our circus wagon while attracting great attention. After people became curious and even solicitous, we would thank them for their good wishes and jump back in the car and take off for our next caper. I had never experienced anything like this before. I was bewildered but thrilled by the nuttiness of it all. I believe that you were in the band Daphne. I so enjoyed the company and inclusion, but I can't recall specifically who shared the madness other than Eleanor, Dante, Daphne and possibly Liz Ickes.
After many long hot days interrupted only by the one cool night on the Lake Michigan Sand Dunes when we picked up the Chicago gang, we arrived in the high desert ridges of the Northern New Mexico where the camp was located well above the small town of San Cristobal.
I was in Tex Wilson´s cabin. He would get us up for lung rupturing runs at as the sun came up over the ridges. You never ran easily at 7000 feet, and I remember bending forward with desperate fatigue after a mile distance and wondering if my breathing would ever return to normal while catching the aroma of sage, ponderosa and red dust in the hills above the camp as the air surged into my lungs. Tex would often agonize whether his conditioning and muscles were adequate for fall football and girl attraction, and we would try to reassure him that he looked great in his black teeshirts. Indeed, he did have fine musculature but his doubt was deep and not accessible to our well meaning reassurances. So it became almost a morning Kabuki theatre to try and bolster his confidence.
The Activities in the 2nd Cibola summer in 1955 were wonderful in my remembrance:
A James Thurber´s Fairy Tale, "The 13 Clocks" was transformed into a play with rehearsals on the upper level of the barn, a whole Comedia Del Arte Wagon was constructed and towed to the Taos Fiesta with camp actors inside, great trail rides were led by Carlos Trujillo in the Wheeler Peak wilderness and other expeditions went to Indian Pueblos and the Gallup Indian Market. Daily activities started in the patio of the wonderful hacienda below its great central Ponderosa pine. Eleanor presided, improvised and delighted us with her enthusiasm and imagination.
The summer flowed quickly by. I was delighted at experiencing this different other world and was not happy to return to my Quaker boarding school. I missed the friendships, the romances (real or imagined), the weejie (Ouija) board nights, the Southwestern beauty and found the return to school dry and boring except for soccer.
I returned for parts of the subsequent 3 summers at Cibola but the magic mix of the first 2 summers was gone. I think that the undertaking of organizing the caravan and getting enough campers and counselors across the country was a massive endeavor with so many pieces. It was an imaginative, non traditional summer weaving that brought so many of us to a land we could not imagine from Eastern Cities. Eleanor and Sandy involved us in their vision and their adventure. We experienced a part of our country that we would not have ever know without Cibola. We are grateful to them for that wild venture that marked our lives in different ways.
I suspect that running a school and mounting the summer camp was too exhausting and difficult after 3 or 4 summers and the sheer planning necessary for what could never be a sustained summer migration and gathering, quickly ran its course after its initial magic.
Many of us found our way back to the SW in the years after Cibola. In medical school, when all of us, in my class, faced the Vietnam draft, I researched my options. I knew that serving as a Doc in the military after my antiwar work would be a disaster for both parties. I took the best alternative option, and The Indian Health Service, led me back to the SW in 1970 and to Santa Fe in 1974. I stayed in this fascinating city until different work opportunities led me away in 1988.
I found that the SW and its 3 cultures is more complex weave than I had imagined, but I loved this historic land, the people and the work. During the course of that Southwestern experience, I had the great good fortune of meeting my wife at the Santa Fe Indian Hospital in 1980. We are now planning to return to Santa Fe in about 2 years and found a wonderful home there during a visit this January. I so look forward to being back with old friends and seeing the summer lightening storms crackle across the sky in that land that the Orrs introduced us to so many years ago.
Caravaning west to Cibola that first summer, we left the Great Plains and went
into the Rockies. It was mindblowing. From
the endless miles of cornrows and wheatfields, to the foothills
revealing the dark outline
of the mountains, closer to see the snowcapped peaks into the Aspen
hills, finally camping in the pines by a large creek, then the awesome
sunset. The largest thing I had seen before was the Appalachians.
The Spanish set out to find the seven cities of gold, Cibola. Our Cibola is
more about the people than the country. Yet, seeing that awesome
land affected everyone. I'm not sure we could have grown or
changed without the new environment, at an age when our own chemistry
was perking or boiling or whatever.
The first lesson learned was that everyone counted, though you may have hung out with a few people more than others. It was neat to meet people with different places, different accents. In those days you could tell if someone was from Boston, New York, Washington or Chicago in less than a sentence.
The commonality was in doing the same journey. After the first summer you knew that Eleanor was going to take over a courthouse, play touch football with a canteen at Notre Dame stadium and climb into a cistern of water in the desert for relief from the heat.
You also knew there were going to be some potential disasters, either from nature or manmade. Climbing out the side of Canyon de Chelly to avoid a flood had a big emotional effect on some. Having some townies come looking for some of the lady campers also had an effect, giving that they were armed. Not to mention a bus race or two. We were a group, whether in whole or in part.
Working for hours in the driving ran after the dam broke upcreek to keep the water from ruining the fields for the whole valley. The daily work assignments. Harvesting cabbage for lettuce. Freezing your ass off at the campsite just above Georgetown, Colorado. (The next night it snowed 8 inches.) Eating apple jelly or rice pudding until you couldn't stand it anymore. The mosquitoes at Lake of the Ozarks. Those god-awful peacocks at the artesian well in Kansas. None of this was done alone, it was shared with others.
The crux of it all was the journey to the mountains and desert. Learning the value of water. Climbing into history thru the long deserted cave dwelling. Listening to the Indian chants of "The One-eyed Ford" at the campfire. Sitting atop the mesa next to Spider Rock, at sunset. Shiprock at dawn. Driving, then walking, across the desert road with a full moon. No headlights needed. On moonless nights, the meteor showers and stars you could never see back east.
The dance on Saturday. The fiestas when the whole valley showed for food, drinks and games. A group of campers from the east singing songs of the west at the Taos festival. The volleyball games between cabins 3&4 while everyone else was on long siestas. Waiting for the different groups returning to Cibola from different places -- Mesa Verde, Chico Canyon or Blue Lake -- so you could see friends who had gone elsewhere. Eleanor's group the last all of the time. Sandy's steady hand.
The desert in front of you and the mountains behind. On that first summer, Franny playing the Normam Luboff Chior album from the roof of the main building as we packed out to head back east the next day. We all looked at the sunset that day.
Each person had their own sweet wish the last night of camp at the bonfire. The wish that this summer would not be over or it wouldn't be their last. The Spanish never found Cibola because they were looking for something tangible. The Cibola we went to is gone only for those who want it to be.
TRIP TO CANYON DE CHELLY, 1957
Five days ago the camp was divided into three parts and we all set out in different directions to go on various trips. The group I was in went to Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. I don't know if you've ever heard of it because it isn't very well known, though it is supposed to be as magnificent as the Grand Canyon. All the way down there the bus we were on kept breaking down and at one point, going up a mountain, we had to walk about five miles. This was at three in the morning and it was freezing cold.
The next day we visited some Aztec ruins where we got a very clear conception of Indian society during the 12th and 13th century. It was quite like Bandelier except that the Aztec structures were much more durable and complete. The most interesting feature was a great kiva which is supposed to be one of the largest ones found in that area. A kiva is a circular, underground pit where the Indians held their religious ceremonies. These kivas are common to all Southwest Indians and range from about 50 ft. to 5 ft. The one that we saw was 48 ft. and was really magnificent. At one end there was a sacrificial altar made of stone, and at the other end there was a place where they made the fire. There were hollow pits all around which when covered with boards and danced on produce a hollow drum effect. The whole place was really interesting.
We finally arrived at Canyon de Chelly just as the sun was setting. It was really beautiful, for the canyon wall reflected the sunset and the whole canyon was red and orange and yellow and it looked as if there were a sunset in the East as well. The canyon walls are about 1,000 ft. straight down. In the middle of the canyon floor there is a huge, straight rock, also about 1,000 ft., called Spider Rock. Quite a distance away there is another rock, not so high or straight as Spider Rock, called Speaking Rock. According to the Navajo legend (by the way, the whole canyon floor is inhabited by Navajos) Speaking rock is supposed to report the names of the bad Indian children to the Spider Lady, who lives on the top of Spider Rock. She then carries the children to the top of the rock where she eats them. The very top is of white rock which is supposed to represent the bones of the many naughty Navajo children. Later on we heard an Indian chant which echoed all through the length of the canyon. It was beautiful.
The next day we went down into the canyon and saw a few ruins, etc. They were interesting, but compared to the vastness of the canyon walls they were nothing. At noon we climbed the cliffs, and although it was boiling hot we had a terrific time. It was quite dangerous and I'm surprised E-Orr let us go, for all we had were small indentations for our hands and feet, which were worn into the steep side of the canyon wall. We had a terrific Navajo guide with us though, who could climb just like a mountain goat.
When we came down we were all so hot that we decided to go swimming in a pool we had seen. We jumped in, clothes and all. It really felt terrific. All the time that we were swimming we noticed that Henry (the guide) was sitting by the edge, laughing, and afterward we learned why. We had been swimming in the sheep watering hole, and all it was a pile of sheep-shit and sheep-pee. But we didn't even care!!!!!
As soon as we stopped swimming it started to rain and the air started to get much cooler. We then learned from Henry that the canyon floor would be flooded and that the trail we had come down, which was easy as hell, would be washed out. We therefore had to climb the steep canyon wall, which was dangerous as hell and made even more so by the rain.
The next hour I'll never forget for as long as I live. We started climbing up the sheer rock cliff with only those little foot and handholds. It was straight up and that's no exaggeration. There were tiny ledges about every 20 ft. and then we were at it again. Because Henry wasn't with us we soon lost "the trail", and suddenly we had to climb this steep wall which had a tiny crack in it and no foot or handholds. At this point we were about two-thirds up and the drop was about 500 ft. The first person to go up was Hans, who is a counselor from Germany and is as tough as they come. With his help Willie (a girl in our cabin, very athletic) got up. Then Dave, a terrific boy.
Abby and me climbed up the same place onto a tiny ledge above. By the time we three got up Willie and Hans were way ahead. There was another steep cliff above the ledge I just mentioned, and as soon as I climbed onto the ledge and looked up I saw Dave almost at the top of the cliff above with his hand grasped tightly around one tiny root. Abby was clinging to his leg and was literally swinging from it. I really panicked!!!!! While trying to grasp footholds for myself I was trying to brace Abby´s feet - God. If the root Dave was clinging to had broken, all three of us would have plunged to our death.
Meanwhile, the rest of the campers had found the right trail, and, not being able to see us, left and were soon not within hearing distance. Dave and Abby had finally reached a tiny ledge above the second cliff I had mentioned. They couldn't stay where they were because it wasn't safe, and they couldn't even try to help me. So they left and said they'd bring back help, for I was constantly slipping, trying to find the foot and hand holds which weren't there and lying flat on my stomach. The rain was beating down on my back and I couldn't see or hear anybody. I was there for 10 minutes, sobbing and praying, trying my darnedest not to fall. Henry, who had waited below, guessed there was some sort of trouble and came at last to my rescue. He screamed at me to grab his hand but I was numb and shaking and deaf to all. He finally just grabbed me and all my weight was on him as he dragged me to safety.
It took me a full hour to stop shaking. I found out that many of the kids were crying, and it really takes a lot for some of these kids to cry. All of us had had close calls (mine was the worst though) and if it wasn't for Henry a lot of us wouldn't be here today. When E-Orr, who had ridden up in the jeep, found out what we had been through, she nearly had a cow. She explained, though - it was partially just to console us and partially true - that an experience in fear is good for you - that it teaches you your own limitations and also humility. That's probably the reason a lot of teen-agers go around in hot rods - because they're really looking for a thrill and are trying to see their own limits. I'm afraid I haven't expressed myself too well here, but actually the experience has done me a lot of good.
I have left out some of the more amusing details, but when we finally arrived back at camp we wrote a song* about the trip and I am including that instead of writing more. I gotta go now so, love, Rose
* I no longer have a copy of this song. It was sung to the tune of Sam Hall, and the only verse I remember is: Oh, we really had to pee, had to pee, Oh we really had to pee, had to pee, Oh we really had to pee ( don't remember this next line) so we peed in ecstasy, goddamn the bus.
I graduated from
Western High School, my mother, sister and I hopped in our orange VW
bug convertible and started off to see 'the West'. After a visit to
Mesa Verde, we stopped by Cibola for a quick visit to Ned and Doris
Sommer (friends who were there). I wanted to stay. My mom
didn't really have the money for me to do so, but Eleanor and Sandy
made some kind of deal that involved me getting up every morning at
5:30 and chopping wood to 'pay for' my stay. I still proudly
carry a scar from where - while sharpening my ax one of those mornings
- I nearly sliced off my finger. Eleanor and the 'nurse' on staff
elected not to opt for stitches, but just kinda taped it together and
I survived. I am glad I have that scar. It is a continual
reminder of a wonderful magical summer.
I remember having a horrible case of diarrhea and being trapped in the infirmary overnight with a fever and in the next room they were having a party but they had only one album..."Buddy Holly's Hits"....over and over and over. and over. I get an attack of nausea every time I hear a Buddy Holly tune, but it is still a good memory and I recently bought a CD of the songs.
I remember a breathtakingly spectacular hiking visit through Canyon de Chelley....
I remember an awesome horseback trip up Wheeler Peak.
I remember parts of the bus drive back...including losing our brakes on the buses coming down the hairpin turns into Georgetown Colorado, and us 'big guys' having to hop out of the bus at each turn to throw rocks under the wheels so the bus load of kids wouldn't go plunging over into the abyss.
I remember being hot and tired and thirsty as we pulled up to a public fountain in a town square somewhere in Iowa I think, and E Orr telling us all to get out quick and scamper thru the fountain to cool off, and get back on the bus and get out of town before the cops got us.
In fact, the Cibola experience is one of my most treasured memories from a difficult time in my life -- when my parents were in a bitter divorce and I was living with a mother, sister and grandmother who squabbled all the time. And I went right from Cibola into a tough time in college, so it really was a very special time for me.
There was a one-of-a-kind experience that summer - a Tremendous Legal broo-ha-ha with the Girl Scouts. Talk about frustration. We had driven nearly across the country, in anticipation of settling in at Cibola only to learn that Cibola was, at the moment, occupied territory - by the Girl Scouts. So it was that for the next days/weeks (I can't remember precisely) it meant that - instead of going to Cibola - we found ourselves in a holding-pattern, camped out on some sand dunes outside of town, while, during the day, Eleanor and Sandy (and some others probably) and some lawyers (I guess) would go into town to slug it out in court with the Girl Scouts. Eventually, they / we won and we were allowed to return to our homeland.Find Carl Grossman in the Alumni Directory
Oh, yes, well Cibola, what can you say? A bunch of relatively affluent kids off for something entirely different. From what I gather every year had its own vintage, but I think it maintained a common color. Most of the settings were the same, but the all important people kept shifting.
I remember Dave Dykes telling me that in '63 the bus turned over on the way out...If it was anything like '64 they would have been too tired to react much; and also of Stanley Hirsch's great falls: one backward off the front porch railing of the Main House....... stunned silence until several moments later Stanley's sensory perceptions kicked in and he responded with a belated "OOH", and two, when he disappeared off the back of one of those Navajo wagons in Canyon de Chelly, eliciting the same delayed response. No harm done.
In 1964 we had upgraded to a "professional" driver (E.Orr was too busy nursing one of her recent offspring), who we managed to keep awake, somehow, at least through Raton Pass, Eagles Nest, Taos and into San Cristobal, where it turned our we actually had possession of the ranch this time. A certain amount of time at Cibola was devoted to getting to know the neighborhood and repairing the ranch.
We explored Taos, of course, but the quirky nature of Taoseños was not addressed and it was only later that I learned their live and let live nature even extended to big hairy men with ill concealed guns, dressed as women, standing in line at the local bank. One can see how 'The Milagro Beanfield War' could be a straightforward assessment of Taos citizens of that time. It certainly wasn't as touristy as it's become.
We were allowed one beer at the local Arroyo Hondo bar and mixed with the local kids who were more than willing to help us get over our limit. I don't know if that bar is still standing, but it seemed ready to wash away at the time, both figuratively and literally.
There were enough of us that we would sometimes be divided into separate groups for trips. Trips would usually start by someone storming into a cabin in the middle of the night yelling "get your sleeping bags and ponchos we're leaving in ten minutes!". In darkness we clambered onto the back of the stake body truck, fell asleep again, and woke up rattling along at fifty miles an hour somewhere in New Mexico, Colorado or Arizona to a heart wrenching sunrise. Trips were the most memorable items of Cibola and we certainly had enough of them. Of those I remember:
1. Sand Dunes, Durango, Mesa Verde
2. Canyon de Chelly and Chinle where we nearly ended up in a wash because a flash flood wiped out a bridge and killed more than a few people who happened to be in front of us on the road. We spent the night at Chinle High along with a bunch of prisoners who had been recruited to work retrieving bodies. I learned that shepherding was a legitimate excuse for missing class among the Navajo. At Canyon de Chelly we slept in the back of the truck. We seemed to have been tired, wet, and cold most of the time at Cibola, and in the back of the truck that night all I wanted to do was sleep and all everyone else wanted to do was joke, so I finally yelled "shut the fuck up!", and after a moments silence E.Orr bust out in peals of laughter which set everyone else going and I knew I'd have to give up any thoughts of rest. We spent the next night in a hogan with a Navajo family singing and talking (again little sleep).
3. Santo Domingo Pueblo for the Corn Dance.... so much went on that I shouldn't talk about, but Joe Caté's kid sisters did get a charge out of getting me to eat some cold green soup that nearly fried my larynx. I desperately wanted to yell 'ASSASINS!' but nothing would come out.
4. Mt Lobo. Half of us, on horseback, went part way up the mountain that was directly east of the ranch and spent the night in a cloudburst in our ponchos under pine trees,the horses, having been hobbled by Mr. Trujillo were milling around in a mountain clearing and seemed to have very little trouble sleeping. In the morning everyone decided things were too wet to go on and saddled up to go back down. I was the last in line and had to get off my horse to retrieve my hat when my horse decided to catch up with everyone else. I was half on when that damn well rested horse took off and tried to scrape me off (like a tick) on every tree we passed doing twenty miles an hour.
5. Heart Lake. I was with the group that rode up. 20 or 30 miles on horseback isn't all it's cracked up to be, but at least it was warm and dry. When we camped at the lake E.Orr went into teach mode (when was she out of it?) and asked if it would take more or less time to boil water at that altitude. Today I'm surprised at how many of us got it wrong. One of the more obnoxious little kids got lost and we kept hearing mountain lions, but he eventually turned up anyway. So anticlimactic. We took the horses up the steep western slope and got a view of eternity while balanced on a fidgety horse who was in turn balanced on a ridge about a foot wide with ten thousand foot drop-offs on each side.
Of course there was so much that you can't begin to get into: the cow butchering, with Walter Ailes doing the honors and E.Orr jumping rope with the intestine, or running out of smokes and E.Orr trying a roll-your-own with sage wrapped in brown paper. John Jacobs dislocating his arm when a horse didn't want him on her. All sorts of little things. Camping smells. Crackling camp fires. I get the impression that people don't camp like that much anymore, on the ground, with a bunch of tired friends.
With the combination of my feeble memory, dyslexia, and altered brain wiring this is some of what comes through the ages. I can see Robert Jampolsky, E.Orr, Sandy, Bronwen Stickney, Nancy Adair, Marcia Linebarger, Christy Dodds, Christina Trujillo, Peggy Diggs, Joan Gold, Walter Ailes, John Jacobs, Charlie Phillips, and the Montagues, then the fog rolls in and people blend into Hawthorne again.
There's lots of blanks that others can fill and having taken a weak stab at it I hope someone gives it a try. Cibola I recently described to someone, as almost a cabal within a cult. It was certainly an extension of Hawthorne; almost Hawthorne on-the-road.
I remember how Sandy and Eleanor were so frustrated in trying to get us to have some school spirit and here we are forty years later and, my god, we actually do.Find Derek Fiedler in the Alumni Directory
March 13, 2010