I was 10 years old, and like every summer, we went on vacation to a place in the Catskill Mountains called the Police Recreation Centre in Elk Park, New York. It was a vacation destination for the families of New York City Police Officers. It was a vacation resort with Bungalows and hotel rooms like any resort. Actually, it was a hotel at one time in its past and the City of New York purchased it for their Police Officers. I’m sure many didn’t know that this existed as it really wasn’t publicized.
Sundays at the Softball Field
A mile north of the main facilities was a ball field and on Sunday’s a casual softball game would be put together and the families would go and there would be a game and plenty of horsing around for the kids. Surrounding the ballfield were a wooded area with fauna and flora native to the Catskill mountains. Having only a knowledge of pavement and buildings, this setting was quite unfamiliar to me and the other children. Like most children at age 10, they are curious by nature and tend to wander off. We did wander off into the woods that day. After a few hours, we returned tired from an exhausting day.
It started about a week later. And all of a sudden, I itched and then I itched some more. But my scratching the itch didn’t help, it just got red and nasty looking. So like any kid, I ran and told Mom. She looked and immediately said, “That’s poison ivy, don’t touch it.” I never heard the term but “poison” was definitely a word I knew and that scared me. I thought I was gonna die. My Mom was so calm. I wasn’t as calm cause my skin was turning red, I imagine the frantic itching didn’t help, but I remember small bumps all around the area and that definitely scared me. It scared me because there were a couple of acne faced older kids in the neighborhood and they had it bad and I thought, “Ah, so that’s how they got that acne, they have poison ivy of the face'” I immediately ran to the bathroom and closely examined my face. My mother came in and handed me gloves, they were golf gloves, and told me to wear them and not touch the area. I quickly agreed without hesitation. I didn’t want “pizza” face.
Calamine Lotion, my new best friend
The Police Recreation Centre had a nurse and the following morning; a night of no sleep because of the itch, we went to get me checked out. Sure enough my mom was right, Poison Ivy. The nurse rubbed this pink lotion on the area where it itched and it almost immediately stopped itching and I was relieved. I know now, it was Calamine lotion. I had to continue with the lotion for a week or so afterward and it was gone and I never got acne either. After that, my mom packed Calamine lotion with us when we went away, guess she learned that kids will be kids. I never had an encounter with Poison Ivy again because the City of New York sold the Police Recreation Centre and we never went back to the Catskill Mountains again. I would gladly endure another round of Poison Ivy for another week at the Police Camp. Those were the days!
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