“It was such an honor. I don’t think I truly appreciated it at the time.” To become a High Senior Captain for Color War is bestowed upon the best leaders in camp. Jim Klapman was the first camper to receive this honor TWICE. His father was one of 4 brothers, 2 of which became West Enders (Johnny and Kenny). His older brother Paul first came to camp in 1976. Jimmy came to camp at the young age of 8 years old, unheard of at the time, and was ultimately a 7 year camper.
Jim said he was probably 40 pounds “with a little fro” when he started in 5A in 1979. He was not nervous though, as his brother was a camper and Uncle Kenny was in Gottlieb to watch over him. “Some kids were homesick, but I had my brother and uncle.” Kenny was such a big guy. Jimmy remembers hearing stories about him chasing some local MAN away from camp at the age of 14. Bobby Ryter was one of his counselors that year. While fellow Randolph friend Rob Goldstein was there, he also felt comfortable immediately making friends with campers such as Kenny Brandeis and Dave Andelman, who were in his cabin.
Jimmy just loved coming to camp each summer. “Packing for camp was even better than the night before Christmas or Hanukkah. I couldn’t sleep the night before because I was so excited to get up to camp.” Young Jimmy loved all of the sports and activities. “Watermelon, Capture the Flag, Counselor Hunt, Gold Rush and intercamp sports. I liked them all.” One year the camp brought back boxing. “We were inspired by Rocky and made our own robes.”
Jimmy had some funny memories as well. He giggled as he recalled the many times his counselor, Ricky Leppo, would blare disco music while combing his hair in the mirror and talking about how much of a ladies man he was.
The one activity Jimmy didn’t like was swimming. “It took me an hour to jump in the lake because I absolutely hated being cold. I remember hiding behind the canoes with Kenny Brandeis or going up to the infirmary faking sickness.”
Jimmy loved “Pizza Night” and remembers participating in a corn on the cob eating competition with Brian Ashley in the Mess Hall. He loved the barbecues, eating hot dogs and hamburgers. But, like most old timers, Jimmy beams when he thinks about the Pizza Barn runs. “Pepperoni stall! I was once headed to a ski trip a few years ago with my family and ended up driving by it. My wife thought I was crazy, but I demanded we stop there.”
At West End, the name Klapman conjures up memories of athleticism, size, speed and dominance, especially during Color War. Klapman is to Color War what Manning is to quarterback, Curry is to 3-point shooting, Baldwin is to acting, and Kennedy is to politics. In fact, the name “Klapman” appears more on Color War plaques than any other last name- 7 times! The next most are Kaplan, Swartz, and Goldberg (at 5) and very few of those campers were even related to each other. The 7 Klapman names are all closely related. There is Uncle Johnny (White Olympians 1970), Uncle Kenny (White Tribe 1979), brother Paul (White Warriors 1981), cousin David (Men in Blue 1997), and cousin Jared (White Saints 2007). Then of course, there is Jim Klapman (Blue Dynasty 1984, White Express 1985). Since then, there have been 3 more “Double Plaquers,” with Ron Glickman (89-90), Max Parker (02-03) and Ben Liebman (07-08).
More than anything else, Jimmy looked forward to Color War. In 1979, Jimmy remembers being blown away by the coaches’ entrances. One of his coaches on the Blue Cavalry came off of the Mess Hall roof. Then there was the “Broadway Production” of Song Night. Unlike Uncle Kenny or cousins David and Jared, Jimmy Klapman was not the typical menacing Klapman. In fact, he was given the job of leading the lines for song night and was a mainstay in the “Cute Patrol.” This was/is a yearly group of cute little kids that a Color War team chooses to lead the formations and sing lines to songs hoping their adorableness would resonate with the judges. Jimmy loved the intensity of the week. “Your best friend, you barely looked at him if he was on the other team.” While Jimmy lost more times than he won (2-5), he remembers the great Blue Lords. “Alex Berger was a hero, coming out of retirement to coach us.” Jimmy’s best Color War event was the Steeple Chase. He won every year, except an unfortunate 2nd place one year. He credits Color War for teaching him the importance of preparation and competition, which helped him in hockey, school, and business.
After winning as a High Senior Captain in 1984 for the Blue Defenders, he ended his camp career captaining the White Express, which lost a close Color War. That Color War started during the Pledge of Allegiance before breakfast. 1980s camp historian Kevin Lustig recalled, “CITs Eric Mason and Mike Tollins were going to raise the flag and Jimmy was to lead camp in the pledge. As Eric and Mike unfurled the flag, it had a COLOR WAR IS NOW sign on it.” Jimmy started off the pledge, “I pledge allegiance to the… WHAT THE HELL?” Not quite what the founding fathers had in mind, but a great start to Color War.
One regret that Jim has was not becoming a CIT. He was a serious hockey player and began working at hockey camps while attending Randolph High School. After high school, Jim did a post graduate year at New Hampton Prep, a hockey powerhouse at the time, but also a school known for their basketball prowess. Current Providence College coach, Ed Cooley was playing there and he recalls seeing coaches like John Thompson, Bobby Knight, and Jim Boeheim scouting on their campus. After a successful post-grad year, Jim wound up at Bill Margolin’s alma mater, Bowdoin College.
Jim played four years of college hockey at Bowdoin and was named captain in 1993. That team went on to win the 92/93 ECAC Championship. After college, Jim played a year of professional hockey in Sweden in 1993/1994. In 1997, at the suggestion of his high school coach, Jim tried out for the Maccabi games in Israel. It was the first time they had ice hockey at the games. There were 150 guys who tried out in New England and another 150 in the Midwest. Jim was fortunate enough to make the team and really enjoyed his time representing the United States. “We had a very good team, including Mike Hartman (1994 Stanley Cup winner with the NY Rangers) and Billy Jaffe (Current NHL and Bruins analyst). Unfortunately for us, the Canadian team had 4 NHL players as well as Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers behind the bench. Regardless, it was such an honor to represent my country and was also an amazing cultural and athletic experience for me.” The Americans took the silver medal in the tournament.
At West End, Jim learned to appreciate people from different backgrounds. While Randolph was a relatively diverse suburb at the time, at camp he got to live with kids from different geographical, racial, and socio-economic backgrounds. “I really began to appreciate that there was a world outside my hometown.” He learned the value of chores and to be more responsible and accountable. “Discipline, preparation, and competition, healthy competition that helped me in high school sports and in college.”
Jim knew that hockey was not going to be his long-term career. He started working at Acadian Asset Management in 1996 and is still there today, 24 years later, as a Senior Vice President, Relationship Manager. It has been an incredible journey with Acadian, a firm which gave him the opportunity to relocate to Australia in 2005. In fact, both of Jim’s children were born there.
A few years ago, Jim’s wife, who is a nurse, took a job at a girl’s overnight camp. Their daughter was also attending that camp, so they needed a place for their 7 year old son, Gabe (seen with frisbee), to go. Almost 40 years after Jim attended camp as an 8 year old, his son Gabe came to West End House Camp for the first time. “It was surreal when Gabe went, very exciting for me. I remember dropping him off. It was harder for me than him.” Like his dad, Gabe is a great camper and a good little runner, placing 2nd place in the Distance race during the 2019 Color War.
He knows Gabe is in good hands with his fellow Randolph and Bowdoin College friend Bill Margolin. “He is the best. He knows my address (he knows everyone’s address) and is a living legend. We both lived in Randolph, went to Bowdoin, and were in the same fraternity. I looked up to him and have always truly respected Bill. I am even more appreciative now for what he has done for camp and the generations to come.”
Jim’s brother Paul goes to Old Timer’s Week almost every year. Jim took many years off before coming back. “It’s such a part of who you are. The bonds, the friendships. I went back and it felt like I had never left. The same conversations as there were 35 years ago. Time stands still.” Jim remembers one time he was running a half marathon in Boston on Storrow Drive and ultimately through the city. He ran past a coffee shop and saw his old bunkmate Dave Andelman outside. As he ran by, he said hello, and eventually made plans and went to dinner together shortly thereafter.
Jim doesn’t remember every little detail about his years at camp. “You’ll have to consult Greg Harper if you want to know who won the Spelling Bee in 1981.” But he is thrilled to be considered “One of the Boys” of West End House Camp. “You are part of a brotherhood that extends back generations and generations. You share a powerful common bond that only a West Ender can truly understand.” Thank you, Jim Klapman for “Remembering” West End House Camp with me. I wonder if the United States Maccabi team would have selected you had they known about the extra line you added to the Pledge of Allegiance.