This is a follow-up to the July 1947 PM article about my hometown titled “Utopia in the Catskills” that appeared on the September 30 CounterPunch. Like the PM article, the documentary “Commie Camp“ that showed at the Tribeca Theater in New York last June celebrates the leftist subculture of resort areas within geographical and financial reach of working class Jews in the 30s and 40s—in this instance the children’s summer camps favored typically by those working in the garment district.
Among the powerful trade unions that existed in that period, none had a more openly Communist leadership than the furrier’s union. I have vivid memories of visiting relatives in Flatbush who worked in this trade in the mid-50s when I was 10 years old or so. I innocently tuned in “Amos and Andy” on their television (we did not yet have one of our own at home) and was instructed by the man of the house, a furrier, to turn it off since it was racist. It was the first time in my life that anybody had ever acknowledged that racism existed, let alone spoke against it.
“Commie Camp” was directed by Katie Halper who has worked both as a journalist at places like the Nation as well as on documentary films, most notably Naomi Klein’s “The Take”, an excellent study of worker-run factories in Argentina. The camp in question was Camp Kinderland that was founded in 1925 by the Communist faction of the Workman’s Circle. This organization played an important role in my own hometown (my grandfather Louis Proyect was the president of the Workman’s Circle there but affiliated with the Socialist Party faction.)
Read the rest of the article here: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/10/11/why-the-ruling-class-feared-camp-kinderland/