November 27, 2005

by Reb Yudel
Motorpsycho Camper: A Herzl counselor remembers Zimmerman

From the latest print issue of Moment, a letter to the editor:

I read with interest the article about Bob Dylan AKA Robert Zimmerman ("The unauthorized Spiiritual biography," August 2005) especially the part about his experiences at Herzl camp. In the summer of 1957, I was a camp counselor at Herzl. On the first day, we welcomed the campers who arrived almost exclusively by bus or car. An unusual event was the arrival of several campers on two motorcycles from Hibbing, Minnesota. One of the motorcycle campers was Robert Zimmerman, guitar slung over his shoulder, and as I recollect, the other was Louis Kemp, who wrote a recent article in Moment about his celebrity Seder with Marlon Brando. Already known as a rebel, rumor had it that Robert Zimmerman had received his motorcycle as a parental gift for agreeing to attend Herzl camp!

Robert, joined occasionally by a few other campers, spent most of his time singing and plyaing his guitar and not participating in most organized camp activies. According to my recollection it was especially hard to get him to participate in athletics. Despite being a teenager and camp rebel, he was an intelligent and friendly kid who was well-like dby his fellow campers and counselors. He remained friendly with my brother David, who also attended camp that summer, and occasionally through the years, stopped in at his bookstore, The Hungry Mind, on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota. My enduring memory of Bob Dylan from that summer is of a young man sitting on the roof of one of the cabins, strumming on a guitar and singing loudly with his characteristic high-pitched nasal twang.

Joel Unowsky, Gaithersburg, MD


Anybody who's taken the trouble to read a Bob Dylan biography (or maybe just the right magazine article) can make this story up, without having to have been be there at all. And this one most likely was made up. This so called memory holds not one original -personal- observation, there's nothing in it that hasn't already been described. The last sentence definitely confirms the suspicion. Any true Dylan fan who's familiar with the earliest tapings knows why.

Posted by: Leo Nierse at December 2, 2005 1:38 PM

I was a camp counselor at Hertzl camp and thought the article in Moment was very un-informative about Dillon at hertzl camp and gave a false positive picture about Dillon at the camp. I wanted to add something to the moment article. I don't even recall hebrew lessons at Hertzl camp. The article made him out to be an ideal camper which he was not. And, yes, I have not read any of the biographies about Dillon and some other moment readers might not have either.

Posted by: joel Unowsky at July 16, 2006 12:50 PM
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