Nothing Spartan in lifelong friendships

Nothing Spartan in lifelong friendships

Moe Liss chronicled friendships that began at camp and spanned decades.

When Moe Liss met his Camp Veritans charges on the first day of camp in the summer of 1951, the just-out-of-high school counselor could not know that he was forging friendships that would last for over 60 years.

Liss had been a junior counselor the year before, the first for the new day camp being run by the Paterson YMHA (now the Wayne Y).

When summer ended, Liss invited his campers – aged 8 to 10 – to join him at the Y after school on Fridays. They organized themselves as the Happy Go Lucky Boys, and met weekly, paying a dime a week in dues to help pay for such activities as going to see the Brooklyn Dodgers play. The group grew over the years and the “boys” grew into men.

Moe Liss now.

The Spartans, their new name, were members of the Paterson Jewish Youth Council, which included clubs, fraternities, and sororities. By 1962, however, changing demographics took its toll; the Spartans “died a natural death.” Total enrollment over the years: 110.

Twenty-five years later came the resurrection. Now grown up with wives and children and professions, some of the former Spartans contacted Liss. Ads in newspapers across the country helped locate 70 alumni; 35 attended a reunion held at Camp Veritans in 1987.

The reunion led to monthly dinner meetings, ball games, theater trips, and two cruises, marking the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the group’s founding.

“The kids who became Spartans are now close friends of mine,” says Liss. “That spirit of kinship lives in all of us.”

Last year, Liss published a book of memories of the Spartans, both their camping years and more recent socializing, “The Boychiks of Summer.” He is scheduled to speak on the book and the group at the Wayne Y on March 26.

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