At 6-8, the tallest camper or counselor ever to attend West End is unofficially Peter “Gos” Gosule. His grandfather, George Eavzan, was an old West Ender and his Uncle, Barry Eavzan had attended camp in the ‘50s. There was never any doubt where Gos was going to camp. “When you turn 9, you are going to West End.” This was not so easy living in New York and there was a very small population of New Yorkers at WEHC at that time. So, in 1972, Gos started off in 5A and his counselor was the legendary Brighton Lew.
Gos quickly made friends that first year, grew up with them, and some remain his best friends today. “We grew up quickly, you kind of had to, but the whole experience was awesome. Brett Barenholtz, Bobby Ryter, Neal Shrier, Aaron Leppo, Al Hack, Dave Eagle, Howie Green, Al Sands,” Gos names his pals like they are the starting lineup for the 1927 Yankees.
Gos not only enjoyed Leagues and other classics like Capture the Flag, but also intercamp tennis and basketball (“We kicked other camps ***”). Gos was a great hoops player. In fact, he quite fairly mentioned that he was snubbed in the recent Reggie Bird article, when I listed the all time great hoops players. Gos went on to play for the Great Danes of the University of Albany.
His favorite memories have always included hanging with his friends. “I can trust anyone from camp about anything in life. 9-10 years old until the day you die. These are guys you grow up with, can talk about the good and bad in life, and are always considered part of my family.” Gos was clearly moved by the support he received from the camp community when his mother sadly passed away a couple months ago. Living in NY at the height of the COVID-19 quarantine, visiting his mother in the hospital was extra stressful. He was so touched by how many West Enders reached out to him.
Gos loved to reminisce about his 1977 Gottlieb year. “It’s like graduating college. Then you go to work as a CIT.” As a High Senior Captain, Gos was on the losing end of the first major Color War blowout. Statistically, the White Stallions are the 4th best team of all time and Gos was a captain on the outmatched Blue Convoy. The Convoy met at the Volleyball court, despite the fact that in that era, Blue always seemed to end up at the Waterfront. So, Gos was a little confused by his team’s meeting spot as well as by the lack of talented athletes. “We have some of the worst athletes up here…I’m really hoping this is a fakeout,” Gos thought. They had 2 divisions go 0-6. It was the biggest beatdown in camp history to that point. However, his High Seniors showed true character and went 5-1. “In Water polo I got tossed for standing up in the goal. We were up like 11-0 and Peter Chantiles tossed me after his third warning of ‘Gosule, get off the bottom’.” In Gos’ defense, as a 6-8 goalie, I’m not sure where his legs were supposed to go. Maybe there should have been the “Gos rule,” that a waterpolo goalie must be under 6 feet. The other fun memory Gos had of that war was when his High Seniors decided to start a food fight in the Mess Hall because the score did not matter. That cost blue a handful of the few points they had.
Color War got much better as a coach, when Gos coached on the White Tribe. The coaches entered in canoes, leaving from the Doctor’s cabin (aka Steve’s Cabin) and entering at the H- Dock. They wore headdresses and war paint and came to greet their team for the first time during a lightning storm, in metal canoes…safety clearly was not stressed in that era. Given the outrage over the insensitivity of the current Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians names, it’s safe to say this Color War theme will not happen again.
As the Basketball coach, he had a stacked group of Low Juniors and told his team “no low junior group has ever won the relays 10-0.” That is still probably true. Despite all the random relays, some of which involved bat spins, his group won all 10 relays. When it was announced in the Mess Hall, Gos encouraged his Low Juniors to stand on the table and chant. It was an amazing accomplishment and Gos likes to have a good time. He coached again the next year and lost with the White Outlaws.
There were some great times on staff. One year, Jeff Solomon was the program director and was living in the Auxiliary (G1/Bobby’s Cabin) by himself. Gos and his co-counselor (and partner in crime), Alan Hack, thought it would be funny to lock the door with a padlock and nail in the shutters before first bell in the morning. It took a while for Jeff to get out. When Gos saw Jeff at Old Timers Week years later, he said, “Don’t worry, Solly, we’re good here. By the way, you aren’t sleeping in the Auxiliary, are you?”
Some classic days and nights off were spent at the Bowling Alley, Old Orchard Beach, and of course Pizza Barn. Gos looks forward to Old Timers Week more than anything during the entire year. While other camps may have an alumni day, Gos is appreciative that we are one of the only camps that has a full week to get together with old friends. “Camp is the great equalizer. Nobody cares what you do for a living, how much money you make, what kind of car you drive, or where you live. When you drive through that gate, it’s all about having a great time, whether you are there for a week or a night.” When his crew first started attending OTW, Gos and his boys from 2B had huge battles in hoops against the older 2A crew of guys like Mike Finn, Dave Bikofsky, and Peter Avergun.
“West End House Camp is a magical place. It has stayed with its roots. New camps have these huge amphitheaters, swimming pools, air conditioned bunks, etc. Seeing the Rec Hall, not much has changed, the H-Dock, Old Timer’s Dock, Mess Hall, the same writing on the walls…” However, the bed sizes have also not changed to accommodate a near 7 footer.
A great example of the lifelong connections made at camp was evident for Gos on the West Coast. A year ago, Gos was on vacation in California and his back went out on him. He was on painkillers, trying to stretch his back and was walking on the beach in Santa Monica by himself. 3000 miles away from his home in New York, he ran into another West Ender, Jimmy Zalcman. “I ran smack into him, hadn’t seen him in 30 years. We chatted for an hour and a half. You can’t make this stuff up.”
Bill Margolin has been a longtime friend of his family. “I see him every year and give him a kiss and say I love you. He still remembers my address when I was a camper!” Gos has always been so appreciative of the personal letters Bill has written to him, especially the one after his grandfather died 25 years ago. When it comes to Bill, Gos said, “I can’t measure what he’s meant to me.” Although he was a little embarrassed about the time when Bill caught Gos and his friends breaking into the walk-in fridge at 3AM during Old Timers Week for a snack.
Gos works in New York City as a headhunter for Fortune 500 companies and law firms seeking talented lawyers. He was ashamed to admit he is a longtime Jets season ticket holder, though he has made up for it as a lifelong Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins fan. Gos has 3 children, 2 of whom went to Indiana University (great school). His other child followed his athletic path and was a Division 1 swimmer for Binghamton University.
The lifelong friends Gos made at camp mean everything. “Longtime friendships, they are your brother for life.” Being “One of the boys,” means “when times are tough, knowing you have people outside your immediate family that are there for you.” He credits camp for where he learned how to be resilient. “We grew up quickly. It was sink or swim back in the day!”
Thank you, Peter Gosule for “Remembering” West End with me. At 6-8, it’s not surprising that Gos proudly stated, “Yes, I was pretty good at Rafterball.” Thankfully, you can’t get tossed for having your feet on the floor!