Finding an 80-year-old Memorial to a Boy Scout, Chiseled Along the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail
Gordon Wren, Director of the Rockland County Fire and Emergency Services, sent me the following story. I’ve never seen this memorial, but when the snow clears out, I’d love to try to find it. (And if you find it, we’d love to post a picture.):
“My father, Gordon Wren, Sr. was born in 1921. As a teenager in Rockland County during the Great Depression, he spent much of his spare time in the local woods and mountains.
He recalls camping at a Boy Scout camp in the mid 1930s, a camp called Camp Winaki. The camp was located on a lake now known as Breakneck Pond, in the town of Haverstraw. One of his fellow Scouts by the name of James Daley passed away from what he recalls as a congenital heart defect. A group of Scouts hiked up to a ridge above the lake and, using a hammer and chisel, created a memorial for their friend.
I enjoy hiking those same mountains over 80 years later. My father asked me to look for the small memorial but he only had a general recollection of where it was. I looked for several years, without success.
Last spring, I was hiking the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail and my dog, Teddy, decided to take a shortcut around a steep area of the trail. As I waited for him, I looked down and saw the chiseled letters at my feet in the hard, native rock. I called my father on my cellphone to tell him that I had found the memorial and took some photos of it.
My father recalled that one of his fellow scouts was still living in Spring Valley. He told me that his name was David Lipman (nicknamed Dippy back then). I looked up his name in the phonebook and sure enough, there was his name and number. I dialed the number and it was answered by a very young-sounding 90-year-old gentleman. I asked him if he remembered the memorial and he did. I asked him if I could pay him a visit and he said sure.
I then called my friend and local history buff, Art Gunther, and he agreed to accompany me.
We found Mr. Lipman to be physically very spry and mentally very alert. He recalled that he actually did the chisel work — losing a thumbnail in the process. He also remembers many other adventures that he had with my father and their buddies during those deep Depression years. Good memories between two of Rockland’s lifelong residents!
Their memorial was made approximately 80 years ago. It is located along the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail, on the ridge just above the 3rd Reservoir and northeast of Breakneck Pond. Anyone hiking that area can find the memorial at GPS coordinates N41 12 28.6, W74 05 22.8.
Rockland County Fire Chief