Wednesday, April 13, 2011


4:02 PMEDT

Imagine you moved into a large house and were told that you have free run of the
 whole place--except for the room on the left at the top of the stairs. That door
would be always locked. What room would then occupy your thoughts more than
any other?

I was seventeen. It was 1966. We had moved to Sultan, Washington the previous
summer, my Dad, a minister, being assigned to that parish. I heard rumors that
there was a nudist camp near Sultan, but I didn't yet know where. Then came an
article in the "Everett Herald" about nudism.It mentioned the Lake Associates
nudist camp on the Sultan Basin Road, and also Fraternity Snoqualmie, a large
nudist camp "four miles south of Issaquah." That's all I knew, but it was enough.
I had never been to Issaquah, a town 43 miles south of Sultan, on Highway 90. I
would find it.

I told my parents I was going camping for the weekend, loaded up my bicycle
saddlebags with camping gear, and pedaled off. I rode my bike out of Sultan,
then ditched it and the supplies deep in the underbrush, out of sight, and
walked out to the shoulder of the highway and, carrying only a coat, stuck
out my thumb.

Fortunately I've always looked younger than my age, and it's not difficult for
a boy to hitch rides. It was Friday evening, though, when I was dropped off
in Issaquah--too late to try to find Fraternity Snoqualmie--but I walked
around the town until finding that only one main highway headed south,
and so assumed that was to be my route the next morning.

Night came on. I went into the entranceway of the Issaquah High School
and lay down on the concrete porch, with only my coat for warmth.
Although it was summer, the nights were cool, but it was the hard concrete
that finally got to me. With all my joints aching, I got up sometime in the
night and went looking for a better place to sleep. I came upon a parsonage,
and being a preacher's kid and knowing about a minister's kindness and
charity, if I were caught, I stepped into the back yard and lay on the lawn.
The hard ground was a lot softer than the concrete, and I slept.

At dawn I was wet with dew, and cold. Before the parsonage household
woke up, I was eating a cheap breakfast purchased at a local market.
And dried out by the morning sun and with a full stomach, I hitchhiked
south out of town.

I couldn't very well tell the driver who picked me up to take me to the
nearest nudist camp, nor was I even sure it was the right way. I just
said that I was going to a friend's house a few miles down the highway,
and then stared at the roadside to see any sign of Fraternity
Snoqualmie. To my excited delight, there it was, right out there in
plain view--a sign on the left of the highway with the camp's name on it,
next to a long driveway going up the hill. Not wanting to be obvious, I
waited about a half-mile farther before saying, "Here it is. Here's his
house. Thank you." He dropped me off, and I acted like I was walking
to a house. When he drove out of sight, I came back out to the highway
and walked north to the road leading to what was described as the
largest nudist camp in the Northwest.

It turned out to be a long, long driveway--quite a hike on foot. I stepped
quietly in order to hear any approaching car, and when hearing one, I
quickly slipped into the underbrush and hid as it went by, peering out
and imagining that soon that family in the car will all be naked. It
seemed unreal--too good to be true. Further up, I came to a stretch
in the road that had a cliff on one side and a dirt wall on the other,
and dreaded anyone coming then. To my horror, I heard footsteps!
A man was walking down the road and coming toward me, around
the bend still out of sight. I had nowhere to go. I hated the thought
of running back down the hill, and besides, he was now too close
to avoid. He would see me running down the hill when he rounded
the bend. There was only a small, scraggly bush growing out of the
dirt wall, and I hid behind it hopelessly. Not only could someone
see me through the bush, but when even with me I wouldn't even
be behind it, but beside it, in plain view. I hid as best I could, and
stayed perfectly still. Miraculously, the man walked by focusing on
the road several feet in front of him, and never saw me! As I continued
my hike, I wondered why a man was walking down that road anyway.
Perhaps he had sneaked in, like me, and was leaving. Or perhaps he
was hiking and would have enjoyed throwing a trespasser off the cliff.

Eventually I could hear people. Adults and children were both laughing
and shouting, and it sounded like many of them. The road took a turn
to the left and I glimpsed a gatehouse and jumped back, then left the
road and made my way through the woods. Western Washington State
woods are full of heavy underbrush, which is wonderful for someone trying
not to be seen. But for some reason when I sneak, I get a nervous
stomach; and often when I get a nervous stomach, I have to poop. It
came on strong, and there was nothing I could do about it but squat
down and go. No toilet paper. I picked large leaves from a tree and
did my best to wipe. The leaves were thin. It was not a good

I continued through the woods, following the sounds of the people,
and finally came to the open grounds of Fraternity Snoqualmie.
There was a broken-down school bus at the edge of the clearing,
with no one in the immediate vicinity, and behind this bus I took off
all my clothes except for my shoes and hid my clothes beneath a
big board. I then, for the first time in my life, walked out intothe view
of men, women and children, stark naked.

As I walked down a driveway toward the crowds, I saw a woman
coming toward me, walking up the same driveway. Moments later,
 I passed the first nude woman I'd ever really seen. She was probably
in her forties, slightly heavy-set, but not unattractive. Her breasts
swayed gracefully as she walked. She ignored me as though passing
me on a city sidewalk, but I ogled her as much as I subtly could, and
suddenly a problem arose. I knew by then, somehow, that an erection
is not quite proper in a nudist camp, and was horrified to see a man
now walking up the driveway. Suddenly I had a great idea. Nudists
sunbathe! I could pretend I was sunbathing. So I scurried over and lay
belly down on the grass beside the driveway, with my cheek resting on
my hands and my eyes watching the man. As he passed by, he gave
me an odd look. Later I figured out
why: Never having been nude in the sun before, I was almost sickeningly
white, except for my hands and face (I even wore long-sleeve shirts as
a rule), and on my feet I wore, not only shoes, but black leather dress
shoes, the ones I wore to church! And to top it off, leaves do not toilet
paper make. It was in a restroom there, that I discovered I had poop
smeared on my butt. That man was very kind only to give me an odd
 look. Oh, yes, one more thing: They have an area for sunbathing. I was
lying in the parking lot.

When my problem went down, I got up and walked closer to the crowds,
 only to have the problem arise again. This time I just sat on the ground
and blocked the problem with my legs. I was near the restroom then.
Naked men and woman and children were going in and out, and during
a pausein people I slipped into the restroom and into a stall to rest
(and use real toilet paper). Some wet paper towels later, I walked out
into virtual public in only my shoes. (I've heard many people have
nightmares about being suddenly naked in public. Curiously, I've had
these dreams, too, but they have always been good dreams.)

As it turned out, this was the weekend of Fraternity Snoqualmie's
annual Seafair celebration, and the park was packed! There were
hundreds of people there--naked people! In less than twenty minutes I
overcame my problem, and I began to meander through the many visitors
--a very white boy with tan hands and face, wearing black dress shoes,
trying to fit in.

And somehow I did. It was as if I were invisible. I sat around among
the people, waited in line at the snack bar, having returned to my
clothes to get some money from my pants pocket, and no one even
spoke to me.

I remembered how traumatic it was the first time I had to undress in
front of others. Only I had seen myself since puberty, and I thought I
 looked funny. People would surely laugh if they saw me, right? Then
came P.E. in junior high, and I was required to shower after class with
two dozen other boys. This was a dreadful experience for a sheltered,
preacher's kid. Other boys seemed to take it in stride, laughing and
joking and talking about teachers and school and sports and TV shows.
Of course they looked okay. I looked funny. But then no one laughed at
me. Most of them were circumcised, many weren't, it was just one or the
other, no big deal. Some had smaller genitals than I, some larger.
There were varying degrees and areas of tan, some different colors of
skin. A lot of boys were fatter than I and jiggled when they walked. Some
were really skinny. Really, I didn't look that funny after all. And pretty
soon I, too, was laughing and joking and talking about teachers and
school and sports and TV shows. Taking showers in school
became easy for me, although having other boys snap me with towels
was hard to get used to.

Now I was having some of those old feelings. Maybe women would
laugh at me, maybe children would. For sure, this time, I did look
funny, with my odd tan and dress shoes. But no one laughed. I was
as accepted as anyone.

And I saw that TV commercials and magazines had been very narrow
in portraying the human body. It turns out that bodies are as varied as
faces. Here it was like someone took a city block of people and
stripped them all. But no one was embarrassed. No one ridiculed.
All were accepted, even the obese people whose fat hung down
enough to cover their genitals. These people would have had fun
with the fig leaf idea in the Garden of Eden.

There was a volleyball game going on, so I went over to watch it,
sitting down on a wooden bench right next to a very extroverted
girl about eighteen or nineteen who was shouting out advice to the
players. She leaned back and rested her arms on the back of
the bench, almost touching me, with her large, firm breasts poking
right out there only two feet from my wandering eyes. But my
problem didn't arise. I was relaxed. I was having a good time.

Later I went over finally to take a dip in the large swimming pool. I took
off my shoes and set them on the grass, and enjoyed the water.
Meanwhile I noticed a couple men sitting nearby watching me. They
looked like they might suspect me. Their dark glasses made them look
like some kind of agents. When I got out to dry in the sun, they
beckoned me to come over to them. I did, and one of them asked me,
 "What club do you belong to?"

"The Lake Associates at Sultan," I said.

"You're pretty white," he said.

"Yeah," I said. "We don't really get up there that often."

"How do you like it there?" the other asked me.

"Oh, it's okay," I said. "It's just a lake mainly."

He nodded slightly, and the two seemed fairly satisfied. Either
they were checking me out, or just simply curious why I was such
a white guy with tan hands and face. I got up and walked away,
then my tender feet reminded me. I came back, looking over at the
two men and said, "I forgot my shoes," picked them up, and walked
off with them in my hand.

I continued to enjoy the warm, sunny day. It wasn't long before the
novelty of nudity wore off, and I simply felt, for lack of a better word,
released. Curiosity turned into appreciation. Trespassing, amidst
hundreds of strangers, I felt incredibly free. I was now completely
relaxed about my body.These beautiful people accepted themselves,
and me. That distracted tightness seen so commonly in the faces of
people on the street was not seen here. People seemed real, open,
 relaxed, happy. Even that first day, that first real nudist experience,
I eventually disregarded the fact that we were naked, and was just
encouraged by a joyful presence of humanity I had never seen before.

Later in the day, I took a walk around the grounds, walking back up
the parking lot and around the vacation trailers. A nude mother
stepped out of one and asked me, "Have you seen my kids? Lunch
is ready and they're off somewhere." She assumed I somehow knew
her kids. I acted like I did, but told her I hadn't seen them, and walked
on while she peered from her doorway down the hill and over the crowds.
 I had lived a life full of inhibitions and embarrassment, was now lying
and trespassing in order to overcome it, and this lady's worry was
that her kids were having so much fun that they'd be late for lunch. This
was a beautiful and wonderful place to be.

Later that afternoon, I glanced at my shoulders and saw they were
reddening. I had never thought to bring sun block lotion, and my pale
skin was sensitive. I had exposed it to the sun for seven hours! So, it
was, sadly, time for me to leave. Perhaps some people noticed the
red boy with tan hands and face walking in his black leather oxfords
up toward the broken-down school bus. My clothes were thankfully
still under the board behind the bus. It felt constricting and lousy putting
them on, my sunburn of course not helping, and I crackled my way back
through the underbrush. As I walked down the long road toward the
highway, I dashed into the brush a couple times to hide from passing cars.
But this time, peering out, instead of thinking that the people in each car
would soon all be naked, I thought only how fortunate they are. They had
the key to that room on the left at the top of the stairs, and it was a good

I hitchhiked back to Sultan, arriving that evening, retrieved my bicycle from
the underbrush, and rode home. It was hard to hide my sunburn and it
bothered me terribly for days. Telling Mom I had gone without a shirt while
camping, she rubbed lotion on my burned
 back, too polite to comment about the burn extending down into my pants.

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