We interrupt this blog about dogs to bring you some breaking news: The House Formerly Known as Camp Herman has been torn down.
Yes, the old white colonial on Devon Road, home to the Beagle Man and family for over 30 years — through June of 2018 —is no more. Rather than get carried away with my own nostalgia, here are some recollections and impressions from the three generations of boys-now-men — Hermans and non-Hermans alike — who grew up there.
When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth (Matt and his friends):
Alex: We played so many games of football in that front yard. I remember we always made it so it was me and Matt against Greg and Friedy. Which was the most unfair teams you could have. Yet we somehow always convinced them to agree to it.
Friedy: I’m pretty sure Mrs. Herman saved me from drowning in the pool once, one of the first times we came over. I kept saying ‘Help’, and Matt and Alex were laughing because they thought I was kidding.
Matt: I was 6 years old when we moved to Westport, so when I had first pick of bedrooms, I picked the one right in the middle so I could be near everyone in the family. Obviously from about 12 years old on I regretted it, and everyone made fun of me for having the worst room in the house. I was 6!!!
Medieval Times (Greg and his friends):
Paul: The memories of wiffle ball are endless. The deep left field wall was always a bit much for me but I embraced my status as a contact hitter competing for the batting average title. I always loved how the competition never ended with the seasons, it was always simply a transition. In the summer months I enjoyed getting dunked on in the pool where I acted as a less mobile round mound of rebound. In the winter months we would focus our attention to the Little Tikes hoop in the side room. Fortunately for me, we eventually raised our jerseys to the Little Tikes rafters and found PlayStation (the original with those weird shiny discs). By the way, I was hoping that Bruce’s “Wrecking Ball” would have given me a good quote to add but unfortunately it didn’t. Pretty impressive ending however for a generational artist… Whoa-ho-ho, Whoa-ho-ho, Whoa-ho-ho, Whoa-ho-ho, Whoa-ho-ho, Whoa-ho-ho, (etc.) Well said, Bruce. Long live 7 Devon.
Andrew: I’ll mostly remember HORSE on the mini hoop, Nintendo sports jeopardy in the playroom, endless wiffle ball games in the yard and as much Celeste pizza and Pepsi as you could ever dream of. But also…Greg’s pool party bar mitzvah — epic!
John: Drinking all of the Pepsi cans and eating all the Entenmann’s cookies and somehow thinking no one would notice or know it was me (sorry) . . . Many, many different variations of pool basketball after Fortuna’s sandwiches at the kitchen table surrounded by our football team photos . . . Learning how to play wiffle ball with no idea how to run bases — and Greg being the only one nice enough to teach me . . . The garage at Devon Road served as the greatest storage unit in this history of storage units, as it effortlessly housed a pair of my ski boots for nine years . .
. Giving up on a game of Madden with Brian to return 20 minutes later to find him still playing the game and running up the score against no one . . . Greg, Brian and I doing a goal line stand drill with a six- or seven-year-old Robby on the den couch. Him vs us. Tough kid . . . How good it felt to pull up and see all of my friends’ cars already parked in the driveway and along the stone wall. [That stone wall is about the only thing still standing. See bottom photo.]
The Modern Era (Robby and his friends):
Robby: For my 8th birthday, I wanted only one thing: NFL Sunday Ticket on DIRECTV. Every Sunday from 3rd grade to Senior year of high school, 8-12 friends would come to the 7 Devon playroom, watch football, eat Carol’s nachos, drink Sunkist orange soda, and play outside during halftime. Too many memories to count. One of my favorites is Gau chasing Nick around the house for an hour straight so he could beat him up for talking trash about the Bengals.
Tyler: Home of the best wiffle ball and football fields in town, with the nicest Sunday living room setup to exclusively watch Dolphins games — 7 Devon was everyone’s favorite home away from home. We shared a lot of laughs, a million nachos, and even a little blood. You will be missed.
Dylan: My my, what an era. Endless games of deer, categories, horse, football (RIP my eye) (CONCUSSION!), and of course, wiff. I will never forget the days of Chrissy D’s wet sweatpant leg kicks, endless football Sundays, Sunkist and Sour Patch Kids, and Ricky (RIP). Don’t be sad that it’s over, smile because it happened! The same great crew of people have stuck together and will be together until the end of time, no matter the geographical location.
Chet: The moment I’m sure everyone will mention is Dylan’s fateful encounter with the Adirondack chair and the resulting scar. He had to watch the Giants’ first Super Bowl win over the Patriots with one eye and a “CONCUSSION!!!” 7 Devon won’t ever leave his face . . . I think Robby and I were in ninth grade when we re-watched the CLASSIC “Westport vs. Westport” Fairfield County PAL playoff game in the den. Between that and the countless Jets’ losses suffered through in there, it might be for the best that the house is gone.
Gau: 7 Devon was more than family, friends, and football. It was where dreams came true, fantasy teams failed miserably, and friendships that will last centuries were born.
Nick: 7 Devon — the site of Robby’s Bark Mitzvah where we discovered my mom was a star after her rendition of the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl.” Too bad I was an embarrassed teenager and watched from a distance while the crowd went wild!
Gabe: When I think of 7 Devon, I am transported back to the laughs, the tears, the victories, the losses, and the competition. It is a snapshot of my childhood that will never leave me. It may be gone now, but it will live forever in our hearts.
D: From deer to wiffle to ghetto and everything in between . . . 7 Devon was truly a staple of my childhood. Thanks Quank & Carol for the endless nachos at 4pm on Sundays, Kitkats and Celestes. I cried a lot (thanks Gabe & Chris), but boy was it fun!
Jake: 7 Devon Road was where lifelong friendships laid its roots. The same dozen gathered together watching 7 hours of football on Sundays in the fall and winter and as the seasons changed, the same crew made its way to the front yard, our wiffle ball sanctuary. While the location of these gatherings has since changed, the people have not and we have 7 Devon Road to thank for bringing us together forever.
Luke: My my god. 7 Devon is more than just the childhood house of a best friend; it’s where some of my most delicious childhood memories are from. Nestled away in the rolling hills of the Greens Farms neighborhood, 7 Devon often served as the stomping grounds for competition and camaraderie for Robby, myself and the rest of the lads. Sunday football, Carol’s butter nachos, Hank’s outrageous burgers, basketball in the driveway, playing with Ricky and hanging out with Luz are the foundations of 7 Devon’s robust legacy. I will continue my life by honoring the giving tree that was 7 Devon by continuing to hang out and compete with the lads in the same intensity and passion we brought to 7 Devon for the better part of 20 years. “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – Winnie-the-Pooh
Chrissy D: A tidal wave of excitement always rushed through me walking up 7 Devon’s brick pathway toward the door. I knew no matter which generation of kids were there, a lasting memory or a running joke was going to be made. 7 Devon was a place where we bonded, 7 Devon was a place where we grew, 7 Devon is and forever will be a place we call home.
The honor of the last word (okay, maybe the last several thousand words) goes to Greg’s oldest friend, the ever-eloquent Brian:
When Greg reached out to us to share a few of our memories of 7 Devon Road, I was simply unable to process the question. Not because I have trouble processing most questions, but because I basically spent most of my childhood and adolescence growing up there. How the heck am I supposed to share just a few?? I spent so much time at 7 Devon Road, that it wasn’t until Robby was about 6 years old when he had to be told that I in fact was not actually his tall skinny blonde-haired brother. 7 Devon Road was simply the best house a kid could ask for. There
were always an endless number of snacks: A fridge full of Pepsi, a freezer full of Mama Celeste’s, and a pantry full of cookies, chips, fruit snacks and starbursts. No matter what group of friends were there though, there was always that one friend who took advantage. Like that one time we found out RB secretly ate a whole sleeve of Oreos or the time(s) we found out Gelini somehow ate an entire box of Entenmann’s cookies. We went from playing HORSE on the Little Tikes hoop in the playroom, to playing HORSE outside, and then eventually just lowering the hoop so we could all dunk. Still to this day, I think the slam dunk contest at Greg’s Bar Mitzvah was rigged… Bloom was robbed! The backyard started with just a playground in the back, then a pitching mound and plate were put in and a wiffle ball field was formed. It’s where we all (Beagle Man included) spent countless summer days enjoying some “wiff”. Then there was the pool where we could all cool off. We’d backflip off of the diving board, skim off the slide on a boogie board, miss almost every shot that wasn’t a dunk in pool basketball, and cheat at Marco Polo…“Fish out of water!” “No, I’m just by the edge.” When it wasn’t a beautiful summer day, there was always the playroom. There was the Nintendo, where we’d have to go through an AB selector switch, blow on the cartridge and then perfectly adjust it in the console in order for it to work. We memorized every single roster in Little League Baseball (shout out to Rudy, Jaime & Hector of Spain), there was Tecmo Super Bowl where Matt and Greg quickly learned we could just put the game in simulation mode and a 3-year-old Robby would think he was actually playing the game himself (this would become the greatest babysitting trick in the book). There were the wrestling men pillows that Gelini and I used to keep stopping a 6-year-old Robby from entering the “end zone” aka couch, until Robby became furious and plowed through both of us on 4th and goal. Oh and then there was that game where we’d put a blanket over our heads and Matt and his friends would beat us with pillows. That was fun too. I could go on and on, but seeing how this is already a page too long, I’ll cut it off here and just say that it’s no wonder why I spent the majority of my childhood and adolescence at 7 Devon road. The place literally had it all!