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ATPM 3.08
August 1997



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Apples, Kids, & Attitude

by Robert Paul Leitao,

Mt. Misery

It was more years ago than I’d like to admit. Three of us sat on the right side of Mr. Moore’s sixth grade class. The room was arranged so that students sat in more of a circle than conventional rows. To my left sat Philip and to my right, Charles.

Philip was a natural artist. If he were a baseball pitcher, he’d be called a “southpaw.” He liked Led Zeppelin music and could draw any object that popped into his mind with extraordinary accuracy and detail. We thought that was cool. Charles was the prolific reader of the class. Tall and lanky, he’d add vitamin and calorie supplements to his milk at lunch that made it taste like eggnog. We thought that was cool, too. Of course, it was the early 1970's. The elementary school kid definition of what ranks as “cool” has changed a bit in the ensuing years.

Richard Nixon was in his first-term as president and Tang, a flavored “space-age” powder that was mixed with water, was the breakfast beverage of choice for school kids across America. There was no such thing as a personal computer. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak had yet to help create Silicon Valley. Don McClean’s “American Pie” filled the airwaves and the original Star Trek was finding its way into heavy syndication.

Life at J.H. Coles School in Cherry Hill, NJ seemed rather good. Lower grades filled the one-story annex, while the “upper class men” reigned in the older, multi-story building at the center of the campus. Evidence of more parochial times still existed. The entrance at one side of the school was marked “Boys,” and on the opposite side was an entrance marked “Girls.” It was a time of transition in America and a time of change in public schools. We were among the last students of a generation taught by older, seasoned teachers who had the gumption and community support to remain in their profession well into their late 50's and early 60's. Sometimes we learned more from the teachers’ stories than we did from textbooks. We were at the end of one era in public education and the beginning of another.

Our last year of elementary school included a rather unique event—a week-long camping trip. We didn’t pitch tents and cook over an open flame, but five days of cabin living with your elementary school classmates is an adventure! Add some high school students whose job was to assist in leading us and supervise our cabins and you have a recipe for any variety of surprises.

The campsite was formally called “Mt. Misery.” Our first night was filled with group songs and stories around the camp fire. The air was filled with the scent of nature and the sky was filled with glistening, shimmering stars. We shared homespun stories and our mutual excitement for the upcoming schedule of crafts, hikes, science experiments and campground fun.

After the camp fire, we retired to our cabins (girls in one row of cabins, boys in another). In addition to Philip and Charles, my cabin mates included Gary, my best friend since Kindergarten, and a few other boys from Mr. Moore’s class. We slowly unpacked and got ready for what we hoped would be a good night’s sleep in the middle of what seemed like the wilderness. Just before the official “light’s out,” our high school guides advised us, in hush tones, to keep a vigilant ear open for late-night rustlings of “Blind Paul.”

This nefarious character, according to our guides, had been in the area. Our guides, of course, had never actually seen Blind Paul. His existence was a matter of legend. They told us they had heard about half-eaten remains of livestock and forest creatures being found close to our camp.

According to legend, Blind Paul angrily roamed the Jersey pines lashing out at others because of his mutated appearance (he was physically huge, overly developed and had a single large eye located in the center of his head). To make matters worse, he had apparently been driven to madness by cruel treatment he received as a child. He wandered the Jersey pines in an unending rage, feeding on any piece of flesh that crossed his path. According to our guides, the last thing Blind Paul wanted to see were non-mutated young boys having fun and enjoying themselves in the middle of his territory. It would only drive him to further rage!

By the time they finished imparting this overly embellished story, it was after midnight. There we sat, rather “bug-eyed,” listening for any sounds which might suggest Blind Paul was roaming through our camp site. We shut all the curtains and, unlike the kids in Jurassic Park, made sparing use of our flashlights so as not to attract this legendary beast/man.

Our high-school guides knew the situation was a near-perfect set-up for such a story. Most of us were eleven or twelve years old. It’s an awkward time in the life of a boy. We stand on the last steps of childhood and impatiently reach to open the doorway of adolescence. It’s a time when we might make a transition from fantasizing about being Superman to dreaming of spending personal time with Wonder Woman.

It’s a time when our imaginations work massive amounts of overtime and our sheltered lives provide us with few skills to distinguish fact from fiction, especially when we are miles into the woods and far away from familiar surroundings. Charles, my classmate and now my roommate, had a fast metabolism. After that spine chilling story, he was not about to sleep. He was elected to take the first watch. If we were to be Blind Paul’s next victims, we wanted to know about it!

Early the next morning we awoke, relieved that the night had passed without incident. Charles, who remained at his appointed overnight post with only a few short lapses into sleep, looked every bit the tired night watchman at daybreak. Breakfast lifted our spirits. We didn’t divulge to anyone outside our cabin our concern for the whereabouts of Blind Paul. We didn’t want to be alarmists. We did look for evidence of Blind Paul’s presence and whispered about who would stand guard that night. We decided to work in shifts.

By midweek, our concerns that Blind Paul might be in the immediate vicinity had been upstaged by the business of crafts, rock and mineral collecting and group science experiments. We became closer as friends and classmates. The school’s principal joined us for an overnight and spent part of the evening teaching me and my classmates a few things about playing cards. It was a time of male camaraderie and bonding. It was also a few days spent with my best friend, Gary. We first met when I joined his Kindergarten class after our move from Massachusetts. We would soon be separated by our junior high school room assignments. The days of elementary school innocence and fun were quickly fading behind us. About a year later my family moved to Connecticut. Our trip to Mt. Misery is among the last memories I have of my best childhood friend.

Almost fourteen years after the trip to Mt. Misery, I acquired my first Mac. Steve Jobs had already moved on from Apple to start NeXT. His brilliance was a matter of Silicon Valley legend and his reported “quirks” were already part of computer industry lore. Then, as now, most Mac enthusiasts have strong opinions about Steve Jobs, good and bad.

A lot of things have changed in my life and the lives of millions of Mac users in the years since I first turned on my Mac Plus. Other than my personal affection for the Mac, my life is very different than the day I placed the all-in-one Macintosh on a black laminate particle board desk in the living area of a rented basement room in an Arlington, VA townhouse.

Things have changed at Apple Computer, too. The return of Steve Jobs and his involvement in day-to-day business decisions of Apple Computer have caused quite a stir in the Mac community, Silicon Valley and the international press. In many ways, the debate over Steve Jobs’ most appropriate role at Apple hasn’t changed much in the twelve years since he first left the company.

From my vantage point, some of the views expressed about Steve Jobs paint a picture of a man not too different than Mt. Misery’s Blind Paul. While Steve Jobs hasn’t been accused of leaving the remains of half-eaten live stock and wilderness creatures in his wake, we’ve heard concerns he’s disappointing millions of Mac users as he single-handedly rips apart Apple Computer and destroys the Macintosh. Perhaps it isn’t just adolescents who have trouble distinguishing fact from fiction.

People sometimes forget that a lot has changed for Steve Jobs since he co-founded Apple Computer and helped create Silicon Valley. What may not have changed is our opinion of him. The successful release of Mac OS 8 and the introduction of Apple’s latest hardware have been sometimes overshadowed by speculation about Steve Jobs and his role at Apple. Controversy sells copy. The departure of Dr. Amelio and the reemergence of Steve Jobs as Apple Computer’s chief visionary helped create worldwide interest—for good reason.

His keynote address at MacWorld Expo rocked the stock market , the press and the computer industry. Not just for what he said, but for the manner in which he said it. He communicated a new vision for Apple Computer. He spoke about new strategic partnerships and the future of personal computing. In short, he took center stage and by his presence turned the world’s spotlight on one of the most innovative organizations in American history—Apple Computer, the company he co-founded. He stood above the fray. He commanded people’s attention. From Boston, he had the world as a stage.

Before he finished speaking, millions of people knew that Apple Computer had a new board of directors and a new relationship with its former arch-rival, Microsoft. In less than an hour, Steve Jobs changed the minds of Wall Street analysts about Apple Computer and the purchasing decisions of thousands of computer buyers. Thanks to Steve Jobs, it was now safe to buy Apple on Wall Street and Main Street.

This was not the Steve Jobs that’s been described in the press. This was not the legend-and-lore Steve Jobs. This was a seasoned innovator and industry leader responding to the marketplace and the needs of millions of Mac users. This was a man who “buried the hatchet” with Apple’s biggest rival so that he might raise his leader’s sword and move the company forward toward victory, rather than sideways toward defeat. This was Steve Jobs, visionary and leader. A lot’s happened to Steve Jobs in twelve years. Until MacWorld Expo, very few people noticed.

When I look back on the handful of days we spent at Mt. Misery, I often wonder what happened to my classmates, Philip and Charles. I often wonder, too, about my childhood friend, Gary. If I saw them today, I wonder if I’d recognize them. I don’t know how much we’d have to say, or what we’d have in common, but I do know our outlook and ideas will have changed since the days we stood together at the threshold of adolescence, just before leaving the comforting sights and familiar sounds of J.H. Coles Elementary School in Cherry Hill, NJ. Our time at Mt. Misery brought us closer together. It was a shared adventure.

When we returned to Mr. Moore’s sixth grade class we had a good time sharing stories about Mt. Misery. We even spent time laughing about Blind Paul and our gullibility. Philip “spoke” with his hands. He drew pictures of the legendary “Jersey pines madman,” with an added twist. His version of Blind Paul wore Levi’s. We’ll see how the world press and millions of Mac users view the legendary Steve Jobs and his plans for Apple Computer.

I feel fortunate to have been a Mac user for all these years. I think of fellow Mac users as people with whom I’ve shared lots of common experiences. But, just like when my classmates and I moved from elementary school to junior high, Mac users will be leaving behind many familiar sights, sounds and ways of doing things. Thanks to the announcements made at MacWorld Expo, Apple Computer will no no longer be perceived as a “niche” manufacturer. For the first time in many years, it will again have an important role in developing an evolving computing industry paradigm.

I believe Steve Jobs is very smart. I don’t expect him to be perfect. For sure, he has some ideas with which I’m not completely comfortable. I’ll admit it. It’s OK. The results of his MacWorld Expo keynote address are a new global interest in Apple’s products and a dramatic increase in the stock price.

For Mac users, the next several months will mean even more change as Apple Computer continues to realign its products and development plans. There are many people who don’t like Steve Jobs and his plans for Apple. The problem is, Apple Computer doesn’t live in a world of its own. At least not anymore.

Despite the company’s recent problems, the Apple name and logo are among the most recognized brand names in the world. Many companies wouldn’t mind buying that name and logo at an attractive price. Apple’s stock price had fallen so low, it was vulnerable to takeover for the marketing value of the name and logo alone. Further development of the Macintosh and its OS might have been curtailed, eliminated. Hardware and software assets may have been sold to unrelated third parties. Remote? Far-fetched? Take a look at the purchase prices for other well-known brand names.

I’d rather have Steve Jobs and his recently announced changes than have Apple become a former computer company that puts its brand name on everything, including cheap radios and bowling shoes. To me that would be a real “Mt. Misery.” Steve Jobs has given us reason not to close the curtains and turn off the lights. Once again, Apple Computer has a very bright future.

[apple graphic] “Apples, Kids and Attitude” is © 1997 by Robert Paul Leitao,

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Reader Comments (20)

KW · October 24, 2000 - 01:01 EST #1
Just to let you know - the camp is still called Mt. Misery. In your artical, you mentioned that it was formally called "Mt. Misery." I grew up there as a camper, a counselor, the assistant program director, and the program coordinator. I am glad you have fond memories when you look back on your time at the camp.
R. Shoreline · September 20, 2003 - 13:08 EST #2
I recently went camping at Mt. Misery. I have been researching as to why it is called that, to no avail. Perhaps you could shed some light on the subject.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · September 20, 2003 - 14:58 EST #3
According to this site, "the Mt. Misery Campground was named by early settlers who weren't happy with the site's rockiness."
Lester App · April 26, 2004 - 09:25 EST #4
I attended J.H. Coles Grammer School from 1940-1950 (was left back twice).
Was wondering if there is anyway to obtain records of my class mates from that time and/or photos, I remember Brownell, Davis as 2 of the teachers but not the others.
Thank You for any help.
SF · May 10, 2005 - 17:25 EST #5
I'm going there soon, I cant wait!
Connie · July 26, 2005 - 12:59 EST #6
Great pics here - just as I remember from 1972!!!!'mount%20misery%20nj'
Bob Vary, Mt. Misery Webmaster · October 25, 2005 - 11:14 EST #7
Mt. Misery's web address is Check it out!
jo Dalba · October 28, 2005 - 09:40 EST #8
Mt. Misery is an abbreviation for Mount Misericordia.
Sandy · January 31, 2007 - 10:03 EST #9
I attended Erlton elementary. My camp experience was in the spring of 1974. That year, we had to go to Cherryford camp...not sure why. But I spent time at Mt. Misery with my youth group from church. Now, my 12 year old will be leaving to spend a week at Mt. Misery with his class from Rosa soon. Glad some things don't change! But now, it is the Jersey Devil that they lose sleep over!
Scott Hampton · November 24, 2008 - 03:18 EST #10
I was in Mr. Moore's class in 1971-72. I remember that camping trip but I couldn't remember the name of the place. All I could remember is that it was in the Pine Barons. And yes they were cabins and not tents. I not only remember having a lot of fun that week, but also remember learning a whole new side to myself.

Thank God for our memories,

P.S. I Googled J.H. Coles school but found that it has changed names.
Irv Schor · January 3, 2009 - 14:16 EST #11
Ironically just found this in a google post. I have a few pictures from Mt. Misery. I was at Coles in 5th grade (last year before it closed). For 6th grade we were split amongst other schools, a my experience with the camp was from Kilmer. I have a picture of the cabins, some of the lake/bog walk, etc. Mr. Moore was at Joyce Kilmer for 6th grade since Cole had been closed.
Kathy Fenton · April 10, 2009 - 15:13 EST #12
OMG what a blast from the past. I attended Coles School for K, 4-6 back in early 70's then we moved to New England (I still miss NJ terribly).
I too have tried to found out information on Coles but found out through old contacts in Cherry Hill it closed years ago. Does anyone know what year Coles did close? I have some fond memories of that school. I remember Ms. Greenfield was my 6th grade teacher and Ms. Donahue from 4th grade. I remember the camp trip in 6th grade. It was so fun. And of course the Jersey Devil stories. LOL! I haven't been to Cherry Hill in about 10 years now but when we have gone back to visit I hardly recognize the old area. Colwick neighborhood where I lived my childhood has changed for sure. I remember the Colwick picnics every summer. They were so much fun!! Ah the good old days!
Irv Schor · April 10, 2009 - 15:50 EST #13
The last school year for Coles school was the 1977-78 School year. I know this because I was shuffled to Kilmer in '78-79. Yes, they still told Jersey Devil stories during my visit at the camp. I fondly remember the B-Movie quality showing of the story, followed by the infamous midnight hike afterward. The school still stands and is use by a private educational facility or perhaps an outlet for behavioral challenged township/county students. I had Mrs. Donahue in 4th grade as well.
Kathy Fenton · April 11, 2009 - 14:50 EST #14
Thanks for the information about Coles school closing. Too bad. It was a great school. BTW I think my 6th grade teacher's name was Mrs. Greenblatt not Greenfield. So many memories - our McDonald's picnic in 6th grade, learning about the clouds and their formation outside by swing set in 4th grade, taking arts and crafts classes in the summertime at Coles. And of course the 6th grade trip to Mt. Misery. I do remember the cabins and having a dance toward the end of our week there. Great memories, though too long ago. LOL!
cheri stanziano · September 13, 2009 - 19:59 EST #15
I too went to Coles but we did not go to Mt Misery. I had Mr. Moore for 6, Mr Plotkin fo 5, Mrs. Greco for 4th forget the 3rd but Mrs. Harrsion for 2nd, Miss Levin for 1st and Mrs. Mathers for kindergarten. I always thought a reunion would be fun
Marilee Canter Jarvis · March 17, 2010 - 00:30 EST #16
OH wow this is a blast from the past. I went to Coles K through 6th. I too had Mr.Moore,but no camping trip. We also got sent to Queen of Heaven for 5th grade with Mrs. Hahn because of over crowding. And Cheri I think I remember you lol.The best part Is I have most of our class pictures.
My worst moment there was singing a solo In the Auditorium lol Up Up and Away.
gregg hopkins · May 7, 2011 - 21:10 EST #17
i attended Coles school from 1956 -1960. I lived on Chestnut Terrace and was a walker. I was Capt of the Safety Patrol the highlight of my years there. A couple funny things. It was me the put the snake on the girls softball backstop. My first day of school i was sent home for fighting with Jackie Clark. I got suspended for showing a picture of a " Hula Girl" around for 5 cents a look. Some of my teachers were, Mrs. Webb, Mrs White, Mrs Gray, Miss Johanson and Miss Rosen.
Don McGinnis (retired music teacher) · June 17, 2011 - 19:11 EST #18
In response to Cheri about her teachers at Coles...I see you forgot your third grade teacher. It would have been Miss Biehn (Judy), Mrs. McGinnis (Janet) or Miss Howison (Linda).
[Linda got married sometime in '73 or '74 and became Mrs. Miggliacchio]. So it depends on when you were in 3rd grade. Sad to say that Bill Moore, Ria Greco (Miss) and Edith Mather are no longer with us. You're also "very close" to remembering your 2nd grade teacher, it would have been Mrs. Harris. There are a few of us that still get together for lunch every now and then, and here we are some 33 years after Coles closed. Throughout the 60's and 70's Coles had a VERY unique faculty, unlike any other school, due mostly in part to Miss Jean Marks. Miss Marks was also a 6th grade teacher at Coles. I went looking for info for Coles school because of a retirement dinner for two teachers from Kilmer that my wife and I attended earlier this month and came upon this site. I also have pictures of all the faculty taken at the closing dinner in 1978.
Mike Morris · July 29, 2012 - 07:30 EST #19
I lived on Chestnut Terrace and was a walker as well! I remember Mrs. McCarthy, Mrs. Allman, Mrs. McGuiness, Miss Jones, Mrs. Marks, and Mr. Moore. Seems like I can't remember my 4th grade teacher. I would have gone to Kindergarten in 1970 at this school. I played a ton of stickball with friends by the old building. I have a ton of memories of old classmates I have lost touch with such as Scott Canter, Kenny Ryan, and Matthew McConville.
Donna moye · June 24, 2015 - 12:15 EST #20
wow,,,,I'm from cameden n,j, I was in the frostest hill school we went...we stayed in cabins 1973.I had a good time...I will never forget that any body remenber the song they use to sing to you...I still goes like this..we welcome you,to are center so fair,well treat you with housepitaity fair,and when its time for you to depart, just take a look of mt. misery in your heart..

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