Betty Saltman Steinberg (“Aunt Betty”), a camper and counselor of many summers, is a graduate (Bachelor of Science) of the Women’s Department of Physical Education and Health, New York University (NYU, where she and Uncle Moe met in their freshman year). Aunt Betty holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Betty taught for 25 years at Jamaica High School, Queens, NY—thirteen of those years coinciding with Moe’s tenure at Jamaica (a situation that encouraged a number of “camp-style” pranks—all harmless, of course).
Aunt Betty’s classes at Jamaica included Modern Dance (an elective choice), regular Gym, Health, Child Psychology—an elective offered as a Social Studies credit—and in later years, a Yoga elective which became very popular.
In her travels, Aunt Betty often meets former students who remember the close of every Yoga class when, to students sitting cross-legged with hands palms-up on knees, in Yoga style, Aunt Betty would say, “Wherever you go, all day, may a loving hand rest lightly on your shoulder…” and then all would say, “Shantih, Shantih, Shantih…” (Hindu for “Shalom.”)
At Chickawah, Aunt Betty planned and coordinated all outgoing trips, and in the tradition of Uncle Chick, was always available for song night at the piano. She also had many program ideas, her favorite being the change in Chickawah’s “free swim” and “instructional swim” system.
In earlier days, the A.M. swim was for instruction, and each afternoon was free swim. To facilitate a swim lesson for every camper, Aunt Betty devised a system for all campers to be matched to swim groups according to their level of ability. After that, at every swim, some groups met for instruction in designated areas, and some groups had “free swim.” The result was an instruction class for every camper every day, and a free swim every day.
“Free play” days (which, in the early days, were Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) became “Elective Days,” which were structured more carefully with sign-up sheets for campers to sign up for the electives of their choice. That way, Betty, Moe and Mickey would always know where everyone was, and counselors could see at a glance who would be arriving for each activity period. And if parents called, Aunt Betty always knew where she could find you!
A writer par excellence, Aunt Betty was always available to help write verses for Blue & Gray song contests—and comedy was (and still is) her specialty. For example, in the late 60s, one Harvey Schwartz—of the Harvey Schwartz Memorial Buffoon Award and legendary camper and counselor—brought two fraternity brothers with him from Tulane University to be counselors. One verse went like this:
“Here they come, one by one, and they’re here for the sun and fun, because they’re… HARVEY’S BOYS! Every one is a joy—and a sure-fire American boy…. What happened to ROY??”
“He’ll get you a job and recommend you high, If you’re a friend of Harvey’s and an A. E. Pi! So come and bring your tennis shoes… Be sure to pay your union dues… Go with Harvey—he’s kosher and he’s par-vee! Go with Harvey’s boys!”
But Aunt Betty’s talents didn’t end there. She was always available for sewing… Island Swim Patches, torn bathing suits, even costume-making for Chickawah’s fabulous dramatic and film extravaganzas! (Who could ever forget those coffee-dyed teepees and loincloths she and Susan helped make for the on-location shoot of the Native American epic, “Natonka”?)
Last but not least… Aunt Betty is the original and one-and-only Doyenne of the Chickawah Chirps! She tirelessly coordinated and almost always personally typed (on special mimeograph stencils) all the campers’ reports from the field, and creative writings, and saw to it that all cartoons and drawings made their deadlines—while Uncle Moe ran the mimeograph operation (those were the days—long before computers!) on those long sheets of colored paper.
Then, interested campers would come up to the house and help collate and staple the printed sheets together for the latest issue of our beloved Chickawah Chirps, hot off the press! (Betty always had a treat waiting for devoted Chirps helpers after long hours of newspaper assembly.)
In retirement, Aunt Betty’s major talent and interest in music, and in Barbershop quartet harmony in particular, have kept her a longtime and actively performing member of the Greater Nassau chapter of the Sweet Adelines. (“Sweet Adelines” are the female counterparts of all-male Barbershop quartets… did you know that male Barbershop singers and female Sweet Adeline singers never sing together, because of the difference in the sound-wave properties of male and female voices?)
Aunt Betty regularly travels to different cities for some serious choral performances and competitions. In fact, the Greater Nassau chorus is currently still Number One!