Building the Rock Fireplace on the Eating Platform – by Paul Wills

July 14th, 2017 | Posted in Kitchen Project | 4 Comments

Paul Wills, February 2017

Eating Platform roof under construction 1959At the end of the summer of 1959, the outside fireplace on the eating platform was built.  I know because I helped build it, along with Grover Gates (the boss), Mel Mandel’s family, Jean Collard and others that I fail to remember.  My job was to collect rocks and sometimes mix mud; mostly collect rocks.  The rocks came from the tennis court (now the dance floor) up behind the Chalet building.  Lots of rocks to haul, but good shaped rocks to build with.

Dr. Mel Mandel was the camp Doctor the last session and at that time camp ended around August 28th.   There was also a ‘post’ camp, which went for another week.  Grover laid out the base shape of the fireplace during the last session, and Dr. Mandel was so interested in the project that he and his family stayed for most of September.

Camp-Kitchen-Historical-photos-106All of us who wanted to worked on the fireplace, but the younger family kids had the run of camp with all the animal chores and activities – a sort of mini family camp.  Dr. Mandel was a head doctor (Psychologist). I noticed Erma subscribed to the magazine Psychology Today, so I’m sure we all got analyzed, scrutinized, and categorized as the project progressed.  It was also a lot of fun since camp was over and things were more relaxed.  We could work in the mornings on the rockwork, and after lunch it was sort of free time.  There was always a lot of discussion about camping, psychology, world affairs, families etc.  It was a really interesting time, but  I was 16 years old and more interested in driving the truck and tractor.  Still, it was a lot of fun working with the Mandel family, Grover, and Jean (Grover and Erma’s daughter) to really build something useful and practical for all to enjoy.

There was a little sideline to all this activity.  One evening Mrs. Mandel went for a walk above the dance floor and came back all excited, eyes big, talking fast about strange animals in the apple trees where she was walking.  Grover listened patiently and then gathered up his .22 rifle and put on an old hunting hat with a big brim. Off we all marched up the hill on the big hunt.  Grover had the rifle and I had a big flashlight and as we approached the trees we could all hear movement.  When we shined the light upon the trees, there were many eyes looking down on us.  The Mandels were excited to count all the raccoons looking at us as they ate apples in the trees.   I think Grover had a big chuckle over the whole incident.  No shooting, but lots of wildlife viewing.

I would like to mention that the Mandel children continued to come to camp, as did their grandchildren, and the fireplace still stands and is used often by everyone to this day.


  1. Janet winans
    Jul 25, 2017

    I love it when Paul shares his memories and reminds us of what it’s all about, who we are and who we can be Thanks, Paul!

    • Francine Mandel Sheets
      Aug 26, 2017

      As a member of the Mandel family, I was 9 that summer. My Dad, Mom and little sister, Carol, came to pick us up at the end of the summer but none of us wanted to leave! We loved being a part of the Trinity community and ranch. We loved Grover and Erma and Paul, the ranch and animals. Dad still talks about helping build the fireplace and is so proud of it! We had so much fun I think it was a major highlight in our lives as a family. Trinity overall changed our family in remarkable ways. I hope our grandchildren have the opportunity to know and love Trinity as the generations before them did. Trinity is a special place that helps build and change people in special ways.
      Thanks, Paul, for remembering good times from long ago. My heart to yours.

  2. Bill Mautner
    Aug 26, 2017

    Hello Paul and Kent:

    Maybe you remember a time in the late 50’s when we used a long bar chain saw with a stinger on the end to cut down a perfect cedar tree to make shakes for the old, old barn at the bottom of the pasture. I do. I don’t remember whether it was at the Bar or Emily’s. I do remember that the saw continually caught on fire and we had to bury it over and over to put the fire out. We cut up the tree in shingle/shake length logs and split off shakes for the roof with a froe.

  3. Sydney Gold Elliott
    Aug 29, 2017

    Paul – only 1 of my many fond memories of you working at the Bar 717. In donating to the kitchen I remember back to my many hours in the kitchen with Rosie and the rest of the Wills clan. Thanks for all your work on so MANY projects

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