Fast Friends Recall the Summer of '47

Happy Campers: Sheila Lepelstat, left, with her longtime pal, May Herlands.

hide captionHappy Campers: Sheila Lepelstat, left, with her longtime pal, May Herlands.


School's out, and summer has officially begun. And that means many parents and school-age children are thinking the same thing: When does camp begin?

Summer camp offers a chance for kids to spread their wings a bit. It can also help form friendships that last a lifetime — or, in at least one case, 58 years and counting.

Back in 1947, Sheila Lepelstat and May Herlands made a connection that has never been broken. When they were 12, the pair hit it off and palled around together, although as Lepelstat remembers, "we were the odd couple."

They grew up near each other in the Bronx, and stayed in touch after camp.

Asked what she did for fun in those days, Herlands says, "I taught you how to smoke, forced you to smoke."

"You went out to California to see your father, and you came back home with flaming red hair, at 15, and smoking," Lepelstat says. "And I thought, 'This was the best thing that ever happened to anybody.'"

Herlands and Lepelstat have remained friends ever since their camping days. They are now in their seventies, and although they've each moved — May lives in New Jersey, Sheila in Manhattan — they talk on the phone every day.

StoryCorps is the oral history project collecting stories around the nation, as friends and family members interview each other in a mobile recording booth. Copies of the conversations go to the Library of Congress — and excerpts are played on Morning Edition each Friday.

Story Credits

Producer: Michael Garofalo

Senior Producer: Sarah Kramer

Facilitator: Michael Ramberg



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