When asked what it means to be “one of the boys,” Greg Harper unapologetically stated, “I’m prouder of nothing else, sorry Honey (his wife Paula)!” Harper or “Harpy, which was on my White Union helmet,” came to camp in 1976 as an 8-year old for 2 weeks. In 1977, he came back for 4 and was an 8-weeker every year after, through his CIT year in 1984. “My mother worked at the Brighton Courthouse. The legendary Judge Norman Weinberg sat on the bench in those days.” One day Harper met Judge Weinberg, who recommended that his mother get him a membership to the Boys and Girls Club so that he’d have something to do when his mother had to take the judge into town. Then the judge thought about the camp in Maine being even better for Greg, saying, “He’ll talk to a tree, so he should make friends easily.”
Greg remembers the first time he got off the bus in Parsonsfield. “Alan Sands helped with my luggage and then I ended up on his league team.” Harper loved all of the activities, especially Capture the Flag, Jujube, Tennis (he won the camper-counselor tennis tournament), and Counselor Hunt. He even liked cleanup! His memory of camp is astonishing. When asked about a funny camp memory, the question seemed insulting as everyone should know about the Alex Berger bull fighting story. On the way home from a 15 and under baseball game, the van came to a halt because there was a bull, yes a bull, on the road. Alex Berger stuck a red shirt out of the window and played the role of a matador. The bull did not play along, but the randomness of the event made Harper smile. The bull must have escaped from someone’s farm.
As with most West Enders, Harper loves talking Color War. In his typical selfless fashion, Greg’s favorite camp memory is not even about him, it’s about the glory of his lifelong pal, Eric Marder. In 1983, Marder was almost in last place in the high senior distance (on White Union) and in fact almost got lapped by the great Mike Gladstone, who had never been defeated. With about a lap and half left, Marder sprinted the rest of the way and won an epic upset. Gladstone never saw him coming. At that time Eric Marder was not the runner we know he is today. Greg and his teammates carried Marder down the inner path to the volleyball court, like he had won the Super Bowl. The White Union meant so much to Greg. At one point, the Blue Force coaches damaged one of their signs at their volleyball court. The White Union coaches knew which buttons to push and took Greg out of the Mess Hall during the meal to show him the sign. High Senior Football was the next sport and as the “thinnest middle linebacker ever,” there was no way Harper was going to let his team lose that game.
Harper was very proud of the time his Blue Buccaneers soccer team was hopelessly losing 6-2. His coach made the point “We need more people like Greg Harper,” as he played his hardest to the bitter end. While Greg was not able to stay on staff very long, he did come back as a CIT and got to coach for the winning Blue Dynasty. He was a volleyball coach and went 3-3 vs. his fellow Union captain, Jay DiRuscio. Greg has no problem boasting his encyclopedic Color War memory, “I remember the OTHER team’s songs.” “I was 4-2 as a camper on the Dragons, Tribe, Bucs, Berets, Lords, and Union.” But, for Greg it’s all about the Union. He speak about them, like the proud parent of the class valedictorian.
Harper speaks about camp like it’s a romantic novel and is a true quote machine. He loves to boast about the lessons he learned from West End. “Mind over matter. I could do anything. I was a skeleton and they taught me how to hustle. You can beat someone if you want it more.” Bill Margolin has had a huge influence on his life. “Total hero, role model, means so much to us. He’s a father figure.”
In 1989, Harper turned 21 and was able to stay Old Timers Week for the first time. “30 consecutive years, and I finally left State Street Bank because they would not give me the OTW days off.” He keeps coming back because of “the camaraderie, the feeling, no matter what, I have THIS in my life. I’m so thankful.” As a lifelong musician (drummer), Greg is incredibly envious of the House Song, “Hundreds of hearts that beat as one; it’s a phenomenal line.” He talks about camp in a serious manner, but then rolls into an amusing story. Every year he goes to Negril, Jamaica, on the western side of the island. He stays at a resort that is locatedironically on “West End Road.” Greg wears his West End House Camp gear with pride while there, to the utter confusion of the natives.
“I cannot exaggerate my love for camp. It means everything in the world to me.” Harper still wears his 43-year passion for camp on his sleeve, like he wore his White Union t-shirtduring song night in 1983. He hopes to pass on his camp legacy to his nephews Avery and Jameson, who live in San Diego. Thank you, Greg Harper for “Remembering” West End with me and showing that you are most proud of being “one of the boys.” Sorry Honey!