Having your twin brother at West End House Camp presents a unique experience. Dan and Morry Levine first came to camp in 1983 for 2 weeks. Their father (Howie), grandfather (Mo) and uncles (Norman and Dick) had all been to camp before them. The Levines were well connected when they arrived. Their pediatrician at home, Dr. Charlie Schlosberg, was a friend of their grandfather’s and would visit camp with his caring wife, Emma, to volunteer. “They looked after us.”
Dan and Morry started off their first of 4 years as campers in 1A, with the 1B having more of the veteran campers in that age group that year. Dan enjoyed soccer and the rest of the league sports. Morry was a little homesick but he thought leagues were “phenomenal.” They both loved their counselor Ralph Santosuosso Jr.
Gottlieb year was clearly their favorite. They got to join veteran campers like Mike Andelman, Eric Liebman, and Andy Zinman, who had always been on the B side. Also, they had Dean Goldberg as their Senior Counselor. “He was a cool guy, kind, paid attention, so mature.” On the Gottlieb trip, as they left the Maine Mall and were headed back to camp, Dean stopped the van, shut off the lights and pretended the old blue van broke down to scare them. It was a memorable prank but they got home safely.
Dan and Morry both enjoyed being on staff even more than being campers. They enjoyed coaching, especially the intercamp teams. One year (probably 1991), Dan led the 13-Under team to a tournament championship and Morry led the 15-Under team to a title as well. “We had (Ron) Glickman, (Scott) Eagerman, Eric (Wilensky), and (Dave) Gorin; we were unbeatable.” Dan liked coaching, because it was so much like the education field, his future focus. Morry was a Junior Counselor for 3A, my cabin, in 1989. His combination of kindness, laughter, and nonstop smile was infectious. An all-time favorite counselor of mine.
One of Dan’s most enduring memories was in 1987 as a CIT, which still is widely regarded as the most challenging summer of all time as there were only about 22 staff and 90 or so campers. In fact, there was only 5 Color War coaches per team because they needed more referees. As CITs, they were in kitchen every other day, much more than the norm. Dan Levine’s saying in the 1987 Spirit reads “Today I was in kitchen and I reffed 2 games; this is ridiculous.” It was a stressful summer for the staff, but Johnny Stoller was the program director and he made it work. Dan remembered the emotional moment when “the busses pulled out and Johnny cried because they made it through the summer.” Dan admires how Bill Margolin was able to turn it around in 1988. “Camp was in dire straits. Bill just stuck with it and built it back up.” Both twins hold Bill Margolin in the highest regard. Their father, Howie went to Bowdoin College with Bill so they knew him well. Dan said, “He was always a stable force, someone we could always trust, ALWAYS.”
Like most West Enders, Color War brought out some of their favorite memories. Dan and Morry always were paired against each other (except once as campers) and were a great head to head matchup. This was on full display as both were chosen to hit the 3 consecutive free throws at the beginning of the Apache Relay. Each claim they won those battles. I had to giggle because 30 years later, twins Brandon and Ryan Karp, went at it in the Mystery Question almost every single year with a similar dispute over who got the better of those head to head battles. One of Dan’s favorite memories was as a High Senior on the all-time great 600 club team, the White Vice. He wasn’t a captain, and one of his coaches pulled him aside and said “We had a choice and we chose you over your brother. He said I had more value.” Not sure Morry agreed with that assessment.
Both Dan and Morry got their chance to coach Color War in 1988. Dan said, “picking the names, teams, it was like putting the pieces together of a puzzle.” 1988 is regarded as one of the best Color Wars of all time (Ryan’s Top 5 Color Wars) and Dan and Morry coached Basketball against each other for the Blue Machine and White Empire. Morry was very quick to say he beat Dan. Upon fact checking, Morry’s teams got 34 points compared to Dan’s 26. Dan remembers guaranteeing the Head Coach, Johnny Stoller, that if they drafted Jimmy McDonaugh, he would not lose the Basketball game. Johnny agreed and after losing the game, Dan went up to the fields, saw Johnny who proceeded to give him the choke symbol in disgust. Johnny Stoller’s size and presence in that era have led to some Paul Bunyon like tales. While it is true that Johnny could hit a softball deep into the woods on the big diamond and a wiffleball far over Gottlieb, some of his Blue Machine coaching stories have been debated for years. One of the more absurd ones is that Johnny scored a goal in Low Junior Soccer from the sidelines. Morry shared a famous tale that that has more merit. In the Apache Relay, as the White juniors were winning the relay, Johnny had his player RUN up the road with the cup of water and all of the water spilled out, which would require the player to go all the way back to the 4s porch for a refill. When they got up to the Soccer Field, Johnny supposedly had a backup stash of water in his mouth and spit it into the cup before the referee could see. Dan’s response to this accusation was “Never been proved.” Blue Machine was up 20 going into Song Night over Morry’s White Empire. John Zinman was reading the scores in the Mess Hall for each event and it clearly was going to be close. As a 10-year-old for Machine, I could not keep up with the math and had a sinking feeling the Empire won by more than the needed 20 points. I looked up to my coaches after the Alma Mater score was announced and Dan Levine raised his arms in the air. That’s how I found out I won my first Color War.
1990 was not as great of a Color War experience. Dan was on the wrong side of the most lopsided loss of all-time for the Blue Cartel. “They stuck me with coaches who had never coached before.” The only good memory was his Color War entrance, coming out of a helicopter onto the soccer field. “Seeing camp from a helicopter was amazing, we dropped blue streamers at waterfront (Bad Boys meeting spot).” The helicopter cost them $500 and it could only fit 3 coaches. Brian Bloch, one of the Cartel coaches who was not on board, still claims he is paying for a helicopter ride he didn’t get to go on. Morry didn’t get to coach that year because he had an early college orientation at Syracuse University. However, his favorite camp memory was on Day 3 of that Color War. Bill thanked Morry for his hard work in the Mess Hall before he had to leave. In a rare act of approval from both Color War teams, the entire camp chanted and slapped the tables in unison “Mor-ry, bang bang, Mor-ry, bang bang.”
Morry’s favorite Color War was 1991 as the Head coach of the White Wranglers. “The Blue Jungle coaches were so cocky and kept saying there was no way they could lose. They said you are all just coaching so we can have a Color War. Winning was incredibly satisfying.” Dan was on that Jungle team, but I doubt he was one of the overconfident coaches.
Dan pointed out that he loves the connections he made at camp, especially with older guys like Kevin Lustig, Dean Goldberg, and Johnny Stoller. Morry agreed that the friendships have kept him connected to camp.
Morry has had his share of random West End connections. Morry’s middle child, Hannah, has a friend, Julia Cohen. One day her dad came to pick Julia up and he said that he was planning to go to Maine soon, “My camp does an Old Timers Week.” Morry found that an odd coincidence. Morry was shocked to learn that Jay Cohen, Julia’s dad, was a West Ender too!
When Morry first got his job at New England Cable News (NECN) as Production Assistant, he met fellow West Ender, Howie Green. Howie was shocked when they realized they both went to WEHC and they remain close friends today, even as Howie lives in Minnesota.
Given how much they enjoyed sports and working with kids as counselors at West End, it’s not surprising which career paths the Levine brothers pursued. Dan owns Engaging Minds, a tutoring company that focuses on teaching kids essential Executive Functioning (Organization) skills. Dan likes to say, “We don’t teach content, we teach HOW.” Engaging Minds has a Newton and Natick office and has expanded their sessions to include popular remote electives during the quarantine. “We have lots of parents who are West Enders at Engaging Minds. We have so many West End families because there is an inherent trust, so much brotherhood.”
Morry has worked his way up and is now the Director of Programming of NBC Sports Boston. He focuses on the data, ratings, sales team, content, and broadcasts. When he was 23 years old, Morry was working on “Mike Adams Sports World” and begged to be allowed to cover the Celtics NBA draft. One of his life goals was to meet Larry Bird. Howie Green was the reporter and told Morry “Make sure you get a good guest for the 11PM show.” At 10:30PM, Morry went to see if he could get ML Carr and out of the corner of his eye he saw Larry Legend. He introduced himself and Bird agreed to do an interview for NECN. At 23 years of age, Larry Bird and Morry Levine walked side by side past the big shots of the Boston sports media as Morry landed the big interview for his station, to the delight of fellow West Ender, Howie Green.
The Levine brothers both live in Needham these days, as it is not easy to separate twins. Dan has 2 children (Molly and Zach) and Morry has 3 (Jack, Hannah, and Samantha). Morry’s son, Jack, attended camp and is close friends with Matt Bloch’s twins (Jonah and Riley). Dan was quick to point out that his son, 6-year-old Zach, is a sporty kid who hopefully will attend camp soon as another 4th generation West Ender. Thank you, Dan and Morry Levine for “Remembering” West End with me. As a great admirer of the Levine brothers, I’d like to lead a more appropriate chant, “Mor-ry, bang, bang, Dan-ny, bang, bang!”