13 July 2017

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #56: Camp Kinder Ring Plunge, 1942

As has been covered in this blog before, the Workmen's Circle, now SoCal Arbeter Ring/Workmen's Circle, an association devoted to the Jewish community, Yiddish culture and social justice (for more here is the organization's website), operated Camp Kinder Ring, which began as a youth camp in 1928 and then served all ages until it closed thirty years later, in 1958, presumably because of a lack of reliable water.  That fall, a massive wildfire swept through Carbon Canyon destroying part of the site and sections of nearby Sleepy Hollow, which lies just to the west.

The facility included a community hall, buildings for lodging, a swimming pool, and much more. Some of these structures survive as part of a horse and cattle facility on the east side of Canyon Hills Road north of Carbon Canyon Road on the Chino Hills side of the canyon.

Incidentally, the elderly owner of the site recently passed away and there are rumors that the property may be sold.  If that happens, expect developers to hungrily eye the property for more homes and for the camp buildings to be destroyed without documentation of their historical value or importance.

That happened not long ago with the ruins and remains of other structures and elements of the camp, wihch were razed a couple of years ago without so much as a report or survey about their existenc as the construction of the Hillcrest housing development, now in its third phase, went underway.

The swimming pool, or plunge, at Camp Kinder Ring, owned and operated by the Workmen's Circle for Jewish youth and others between 1928 and 1958 on the site of today's Hillcrest housing development and a horse and cattle ranch near Sleepy Hollow in the Chino Hills portion of Carbon Canyon.
After the camp closed, the site was used as a country club, as "Ski Villa" utilizing a plastic needle covered run for outdoor, all-year skiing (an idea that, not surprisingly, lasted all of a year in 1966-67), and as the "Purple Haze" counter-culture bar, among others.

Today's entry is a postcard titled "A View of the Workmen's Circle Camp Plunge," the swimming facility for the camp.  It shows the large cement pool, what were likely changing rooms, and nine persons in swimsuits on the pool deck. In the background are a portion of the Chino Hills, where the Oak Tree Downs and Oak Tree Estates developments are today.

On the reverse of the card is the camp's name, mailing address and city (of course, Chino Hills was some fifty years away from incorporation!).  A date stamp from a Los Angeles post office shows the date of 28 July 1942 and there is a stamp encouraging the purchase of defense savings bonds and stamps and a 1-cent mailing stamp "for defense."  The United States had entered World War II, just seven months before after the Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbor.

A note from "Herbie" to Mrs. Tillie Katz of Glendale mentions that he was swimming and hiking as part of his stay at the camp.
A message written in pencil from "Herbie" to Mrs. Tillie Katz of Glendale notes that "I go swimming 2 times a day" and "I went hiking last Wednesday and am going again today," giving two of the main activities for youth campers like "Herbie," while spending part of their summers at Camp Kinder Ring.

It's extremely rare to find anything about Camp Kinder Ring, so this is a very welcome addition to the documentation about an important element of Carbon Canyon history.