It’s not often that I run across a neat little collection of this type. It’s not a recent collection; it was made by Sarah Elizabeth Jetton of Davidson, NC in the early 1930s. It is a collection of her own camp memorabilia.
Sarah attended Camp Greystone, located in Tuxedo, NC, for at least four years – 1931 – 1934. Because she was in her late teens and early 20s during these years, I’m assuming she was there as a camp counselor. During this time Sarah was attending college, first at Salem College, then at Davidson. From that fact, we can deduce that Sarah’s family must have been well off, as this was the height of the Depression, and college was a real luxury during those days.
While I couldn’t find what Sarah’s father’s occupation was, it is possible he was in banking, as both Sarah and her only sibling both choose banking careers. I’ve been reading a biography of Henry Belk, who with his brother John Belk established the Charlotte, NC based Belk Department stores. According to the biographer, Le Gette Blythe, this area of North Carolina was somewhat insulated from the financial troubles of Wall Street. Belk used a system of supply that worked directly with the many textile manufacturers of central North Carolina, and by cutting prices most of them were able to stay afloat, and to even grow during this time. (My father had three sisters who left the mountains during the Depression, went to the Charlotte area looking for textile jobs, and found them.) This surely made for a happy banking situation.
At any rate, Sarah kept all her camp souvenirs, and a dealer had bought the entire lot at the sale of her estate. I was attracted to the booth by the sweater, which was such a great item, but he rightly refused to sell just it, vowing to keep the collection together. So I decided to pass, because I knew this is a collection that will mean much more to the right buyer than it would to me. Still I gave it serious consideration, and it was only the subsequent purchase of two 1920s frocks that made any further consideration pointless! (in other words, I was broke!)
Camp Greystone is still in operation today, and is still run by the family of the man who founded it in 1920. It is located in Tuxedo, NC, which is just south of me near the South Carolina line. Tuxedo was started as a mill town when a textile factory was built there around 1907. As a source of power, the company built two lakes which quickly became summering spots for hot flatlanders. Before long there were several summer camps along the edge of the lake. It’s quite picturesque, with vintage cabins and boathouses dotting the lake shore. Let’s hope it stays that way.