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Old 10-05-2004, 04:00 PM   #1
Doug Weber
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"Cropsie" Stories

Both as a camper and staff member, stories of "Cropsie," the deranged hermit of the Wel-Met woods, were commonly told as campfire tales designed to scare campers out of their wits. The basic tale, as it came down to me, according to both the Narrowsburg and Barryville traditions:

"Mr. Cropsie" (no first name was ever used) once lived happily in the woods, near a swampy area, in a little log cabin. He had a wife and children. One day, some Wel-Met campers carelessly let their campfire burn out of control. It set a forest fire and burned down Cropsie's cabin. His wife and children were killed and he was horribly mangled.

Ever since then, as the tale goes, "Cropsie" wanders the woods and from time to time, picks off an unwitting camper, whom he drags off into the swamp, subjecting him or her to ghastly tortures, (which, as a Unit 3 and 4 camper especially, was always about other boys and usually included genital mutilation and/or castration.) Despite all efforts by Wel-Met, Don Maine (I don't know the spelling), local Sheriff, the US Army, Godzilla, nuclear bombs and the like, no one can ever find and eliminate this perpetual menace in the woods.

The story was virtually identical in N'burg and B'ville. (Was there a Silver Lake version? I was a Pioneer there and don't remember one.) In N'burg, the Cropsy house was somewhere (I think) in the woods near the dam one had to cross to get out to the Unit 3 and 4 campsites on the other side of the lake. In B'ville, it was near some swampy area that I don't remember. Help here?

In any case, as an adult, I later spent time for at least one week of the summer at all of the following:

UAHC Camp Eisner at Great Barrington, MA.
UAHC Camp Harlam in PA
UAHC Camp "Guci" in Indiana
The camp at which they filmed the movie "Meatballs" in Ontario, (I was there for a NFTY regional event)
New Jersey YM/WHA Camps in PA
Camp Ramah in Palmer, MA (10 summers.)

In these, (Reform, secular and Conservative Jewish) summer camps, every single one of them had a variation on the "Cropsie" tale. I even found it at a non-Jewish YMCA summer camp in the Rockies, near Winter Park, CO. Sometimes the legend is called, "The Hermit," or "The Creep in the Woods," but only at Wel-Met did he have a name. Everywhere else, in my personal experience, the campfire tale is related as a generic horror story.

I'm thinking of writing up the "Cropsie" Legend for an academic folk-lore journal. My daughter (Tali, 21, now a senior at U of Colorado in Boulder) did a little research on this topic a few years ago for her "Folklore" class, but I'd like to go a little further.

My own guess is that "Cropsie" got his name from the street in Brooklyn near Coney Island. Perhaps there was something especially creepy there? Perhaps Cropsy was named by a resident of the old "Trump" village in that neck of Brooklyn?

If you can embellish the tale, know (or think you know) the genesis of this Wel-Met legend, please share it here or let me know privately.

I'd especially like to know, if you (or perhaps your children) attended other summer camps, did they have something remarkably like the "Cropsie" legend? If so, did the hermit have a name, and if so, what was it?

The last part of my query is, if you do know of other camps where the legend was told in essentially the same way, was (or is) that camp a Jewish one? My hypothesis is that there was something special about predominantly Jewish campers from the outerboroughs and the near-in 'burbs which was condusive to nuturing this kind of tale.

BTW, how does one spell "Cropsie?" Or is it "Cropsy?" This was an oral tradition!

Let's hear some Cropsy stories!

Happy Sukkot,

(Rabbi) Doug Weber
now of Newton, MA (until this summer, I lived in Colorado)
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Old 10-07-2004, 11:11 AM   #2
Adam Siegel
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You know, I never him called anything but "The Cropsey Maniac".
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Old 10-07-2004, 11:22 AM   #3
rgrubman
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Cropsy

Here is a link to a story on a folklore website...http://www.soon.org.uk/stories/the_legend_of_cropsy.htm
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Old 10-07-2004, 12:42 PM   #4
Marty Korngut
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Cropsey

I spent a few weeks as a cook in a camp in the Catskills in (I think it may have been) 1974.

It was a Wel-Met style camp in that it was operated under the watchful eye of the Metro NY Jewish League (or something similar).

In any case, they too had a Cropsey's House.

I guess the name's never been trademarked.
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Old 10-07-2004, 03:39 PM   #5
Phil Dorfman
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Cropsey

I was curious since I lived near Cropsey Avenue in Brooklyn from the mid 60's to mid 70's. I never heard a Cropsey story growing up in Brooklyn.

I did a little research found the following.

The Cropsey's were among the early Jewish Dutch settlers in Brooklyn, according to the link below.
http://www.bklyn-genealogy-info.com/Worship/Jew.History.html

Cropsy (without the 'e') was the camp maniac in the 1981 horror movie, 'The Burning'. http://www.hysteria-lives.co.uk/hysterialives/Hysteria/the_burning.html

A hard to find book, The Legend of Cropsey: A Legacy of Terror at Summer Camp by Hugo Furst, can be ordered at amazon.com.
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Old 10-08-2004, 10:51 AM   #6
Steve Sturm
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Wink

Cropsey the deranged hermit who lived in the woods somewhere between the Narrowsburg Lake and Ten Mile River Boy Scott Camp moved to Wyoming shortly after Wel-Met closed.

He is currently living in Washington DC in an un-disclosed location, and is currently employed as Vice-President of the USA.
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Old 10-08-2004, 01:08 PM   #7
dmkdmk
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cropsey unmasked

Actually, Cropsey's real identity is Tom DeLay, Republican U.S. Representative from some swamp in Texas and now the House Majority Leader. And if wants to get you, he calls the FAA to track you down. Beware!
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Old 10-08-2004, 04:15 PM   #8
ArtBefartnickle
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You are both wrong as I actually knew him. He was your worst nightmare, the one that wakes you up from a sound sleep in the dead on night, with your palms sweating and the sheets wet. He lives in your closet or under your bed, and between conscienceness and death.

He is neither Chaney nor DeLay, not even Tom Ridge who keeps changing those colors faster then Cropsie hacked up little campers. He is the slime crawling out of your TV set.
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Old 10-08-2004, 05:16 PM   #9
Steve Sturm
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Cropsey Unmasked

Cropsey, or Dick Cheney, was unmasked as Darth Vader lay dying in Star Wars.

Anyone remember Sambo, the insane mass murderer that escaped from a Mental Hospital? I believe it was 1970 in Narrowsburg that we pulled the trunks from the rafters and barricaded the windows.
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Old 10-10-2004, 09:58 PM   #10
EricLiebes
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Unhappy Cropsey & Delay

No, you are both right. Delay & Cheney are the slim that crawl out of my TV set. I'm "lucky" enough to live in Delay's district. 2 positive results: I can send him email notes (He only accepts email from his district) and we get to see our votes count against him, since we are the only ones in our precinct who vote against him.

--Eric
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Old 10-11-2004, 12:27 PM   #11
dmkdmk
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DeLay

Holy gorilla balls! Tom DeLay's district makes Webber, Kansas look like the East Village! And DeLay himself makes Cropsey look like Elmo from Sesame Street! At least Cropsey wasn't lopping off whole sections of the Bill of Rights when giving in to his basest and most violent instincts.

My advice: Get the hell out of there, and fast.

I'm the ghost of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and I approved this message.
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Old 10-12-2004, 02:56 AM   #12
Scott Engelhard
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Cropsie

Hi Rabbi Weber, and others:

You'all would do well to leave the legend of Cropsie alone. Just forget about it for God's sake. Comparing Cropsie to politicians may be easy, but it is jive, and can only disturb the maniac and any offspring who still inhabit the mountains and woods. Like the hairs standing up on the backs of your necks, foreboding the chaos Cropsie is capable of wreaking... it's all too real.

I remember one of the legend's most disturbing aspects. Cropsie's family was indeed wiped out by a fire, and he was driven to fill the void by combing the woods for virginal, procreative opportunities... It's a sad scenario, but Cropsie was desperately trying to start a new family. That's why we would zip our sleeping bags together, and using our palms like chastity belts, try to protect our girls.

Thank God, through the diligence and perseverance of Wel-Met boys and girls, we ran out of virgins sometime in the early to mid-70s, and as Cropsie found slim pickins at our camp, he moved over, concentrating on the Boy Scout camp. It was a counselor at the scout camp who wrote the screenplay for the movie, "Deliverance," with Ned Beatty playing a victim, and the townspeople serving in the role inspired by the evil-doings of the monster. The twist was the townies, in their fear, misplaced their rage and became as evil as the monster (a common literary device, popularized and tweaked by J. Swift, throughout "G's Travels," and later in John Denver songs). Not that there's anything wrong with that, if that's who you are...

As you know, I think it was Maimonedes, in 12th century Europe, who wrote a parallel commentary in El Diario-La Prensa, foretelling the Spanish Inquisition, some 200 years later, and attributing some of the anti-Semitic sentiment to a beast, Cropsiesimo the Forest-Dweller (supposedly a marshmellow-toasting Sephardic Jew). Cropsiesimo, loved marshmellows a la carte, but was incensed when his wife added the candy-food to his sweet potatoes. In the original Spanish account, it was this invention of "t'simas," which sent him into a panic-frenzy. "She spoiled the sweet potatoes," he told a jury, tasked with deciding his fate, after he killed her by lacing the kugel with poison raisins. According to culinary history, the nice part of the story is that this is when raisins were first included in the traditional kugel recipe. Unbelievably, he was found not guilty because, at the time, for a woman, ruining the sweet potatoes was a capital crime. This was before Virginia Slims.


If it were up to me, I'd never hear the name of Cropsie again. And I'd implore my fellow campers to just leave it alone, and be glad that we made it out of the woods... Alive...

Truly, with Love,
Name withheld out of fear



PS - I don't have any facts, but have a gut feeling that Cropsie's name had nothing to do with the avenue in Brooklyn (but just seeing the sign on the Belt Pkwy, still gives me the willies).



Rabbi: I lived in Newton for awhile, after college. Hope you enjoy it! Do you have a brother, Mitch, Unit 5 counselor in 1974? If so, I was in his bunk. He was a fun-loving and funny guy; he used to buy us meatball subs, when we knocked down specific guys on teams we were playing against... That was some good, clean fun.

In the words of Rabbi Zimmy: May God Bless and keep you always... may your wishes all come true... may you always do for others, and let others do for you...



By the way: Slime "oozes" out of your tv set. Slime does not crawl, since it has no hands or feet. (see F. Zappa, Cosmik Debris, as in "Look here, Brother, Who you jivin' with that Cosmik Debris?")


I hope I never hear about Cropsie again. Just forget about it for God's sake! Now I won't be able to sleep for a week.
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Old 10-12-2004, 10:08 AM   #13
dmkdmk
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newton

Dear Name Witheld, et alia:

I would like to believe your account -- for after all, it suggests that those of us who have left the fertile Delaware River valley for less verdant and more virginal pastures can take comfort in being out of the reach of the demonic figure to whom you allude. Alas, your story is as fatally flawed as a certain cocaine addict's account of his National Guard Service (at roughly the same time as the main events in your explanation, by the way).

The facts are these: The film "Deliverance" was released in 1972. Given the exigencies of film production, and the fact that the action of the film takes place in summertime, the latest the movie could have been shot was summer of '71. That suggests the screenplay was written in 1970 or even earlier. Given that, as you report, the scourge of virginity persisted at Wel-Met into the early-to-mid 1970s, the lack of putative victims could not have caused the Bad One to migrate westward to Ten Mile River and thus inspire the story that both ends of Ned Beatty so memorably acted. The film had already been made.

It is my understanding that the Evil One actually headed EAST once wel-met had run its course. And, in that regard, I note that within the City of Newton, Massachusetts there is a place called "Newton Upper Falls," which suggests a geography remarkably similar to the Delaware River and its rapids. It should also be noted that Newton is a prosperous Boston suburb whose demographic makeup is not unlike that of the Wel-Met constituency. Isn't that a more logical new locus for one who preyed on Wel-Met girls, as opposed to the white trash that was the mainstay of the Boy Scout Empire?

just wonderin,'
Mayor David B. Cohen
City of Newton, Mass.
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Old 05-07-2005, 01:13 AM   #14
rabrouns
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Cool Mr. Cropsy's first name

In response to Doug Weber's comment about Mr. Cropsey not having a first name...it was Abe. At least that's the way I first heard it. I actually told the Abe Cropsey story to a bunch of little kids in Tustin, California (that's Orange County for all you non-californiatype folks). The next day I received a phone call from one of the kids' parents asking me, very politely, not to tell their son any more Abe Cropsey stories...I guess some people can tell 'em!
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Old 05-08-2005, 04:30 PM   #15
lceasar@nyc.rr.
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Cropsie

The original story of the Cropsie Maniac!...

Judge Cropsie was a judge in criminal court in Brooklyn in the 1940's. He was also a rabid Brooklyn Dodger fan. When the Dodgers lost the worlds series in 1941 because of Micky Owens passed ball, he went ballistic and proceeded to kill his wife in a demonic fashion. We began to hear of him dimentia during my years at wel-met, between 1954 and 1957. It is believed that he lives a hanibal lector type existence in the village of Yulan. When I was in unit 4 we were taken on a hike around the lake. Our counselors kept hiking us until we were totally lost. We finally found our way to Yulan around dinner time that evening. Obviously we were missed when we did not make it back for dinner. When we were picked up ad returned to camp, our punishment was no canteen for a week. We also lost the assistant counselor and to this day I am not sure if Judge Cropsie took him or Dan Morris fired him. Does anybody know exactly what happened to Jack's assistant counselor in 1957???

Last edited by lceasar@nyc.rr.; 05-08-2005 at 04:38 PM.
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Old 05-12-2005, 02:28 PM   #16
rabrouns
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Cool Cropsie

I understand you counselor was delicious! We served him up with a fine chianti! MMMMMmmmmmm!
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Old 05-27-2005, 12:59 AM   #17
Scott Engelhard
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Unhappy

Hey Rabbi and others:

Maybe the artist, Jasper Cropsey's family is a spoke in The Wheel, or a branch in the tree... the Hudson River school painter was a sickly child from Staten Island... check it out... heard about the painter on Antiques Roadshow (don't tell anyone; my fifth or sixth love is art history - chicks dig it, and think it's real classy, see)... tried to cut and paste pictures from the website, but they wouldn't reproduce here (spooky). For more info, plug in Jasper Cropsey, and click on the first two websites...

Have a pretty strong inkling that Jasper is related to the monster-freak... The avenue in Brooklyn is most probably named for his family... DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CONTACT ANY CROPSEY FAMILY MEMBERS, especially before the reunion...

Be very, very careful... tread lightly... If you do go into the woods at Narrowsburg, make sure to carry a flashlight after dark (the magic power of the batteries will probably protect you, not to mention, well, you know...) Billy, don't be a hero...

I wouldn't go anywhere near the place without my own personal SWAT team... believe me, I'd rather be kidnapped by the SLA... but that's just me...

Have fun... best wishes... I'm scared, gotta go... don't use my name...

Love, Name withheld for posterity




Here's the poop, lifted straight from the website:


JASPER FRANCIS CROPSEY (1823–1900)

1823 - 1841
Jasper Cropsey was born on his father’s farm in Rossville, Staten Island on February 18, 1823. As a young boy, Cropsey had recurring periods of poor health. During these periods, while absent from school, Cropsey taught himself to draw. His early drawings were architectural sketches and landscapes drawn on notepads and in the margins of his schoolbooks.

Cropsey Farm, Staten Island, 1843

His artistic skills improved rapidly as Jasper mimicked whatever paintings, drawings, and architectural renderings he could find. At the age of fourteen, Cropsey entered an architectural model in a contest and won a diploma from the 1837 Mechanics Institute of New York fair. Soon Jasper Cropsey began a five-year apprenticeship for Joseph Trench, architect. Trench realized young Jasper’s artistic ability and provided him with studio space and art supplies in order to develop his artistic skills. Jasper took advantage of Trench’s encouragement and sketched and painted whenever he could. Cropsey mostly painted landscapes, copied from engravings of Claude Lorrain and other landscape artists.

The Cropseys returned to America in 1863, after selling everything at auction in England. Jasper and Maria were concerned about the Civil War. The war years were not good for artists and soon Jasper was teaching painting to select students as a way to augment his income. He also began to take architectural commissions. During this period he designed one of the first apartment houses in America, as well as the Gilbert Elevated Railway Station. Cropsey also donated his services in decorating the Drill Shed of the 7th Regiment Armory
(illustrated below).

In 1866 the Cropseys purchased 45 acres of land in Warwick, NY, on which Jasper designed and built "Aladdin", a 29 room Victorian mansion, in which the Cropseys would live until 1884. Aladdin was complete with a full artist’s studio in which Jasper would work.

In the 1870’s, the Hudson River School style of painting was in decline. Darwinist theory and the Civil War contributed to a movement away from spiritual and national themes. The "God as Nature" view of Cropsey was becoming less popular as people no longer believed that America was the "Promised Land" or the new "Garden of Eden.” As a result of the disillusionment in America, European art began to dominate the American art market.

The Barbizon School of France, impressionism, and other movements soon supplanted and nearly eliminated interest in American landscape painting. In 1884, the Cropseys were so debt ridden, they had to sell Aladdin and auction off Jasper’s paintings. They sold 68 works for $5000.The Cropseys moved to "Ever Rest", a house in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. Ever Rest overlooked the Hudson, and Jasper added a studio in which he would continue to work. In 1893, Jasper suffered a severe stroke, yet within months he recovered well enough to continue to work. These latter years were spent mainly painting with watercolors, as they were easier to manage than oils.

Jasper Francis Cropsey died in 1900 at the age of 77. Although Cropsey produced some fine paintings in his latter years, the art world had changed so much that he died in near anonymity. The work of Cropsey and the other Hudson River School painters would not come back into favor until the 1960’s.
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Old 12-23-2012, 08:57 PM   #18
Dave Weiss
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Cropsie

Thanks for the stories, as my addled memory needs lots of help. I thought he was a kid in my bunk all these years
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:19 PM   #19
Dave Weiss
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Memories

Will try to add friends as I can, anyone feel free to contact me at davidjweiss@optonline.net or call 917 664 3898 I would love to reminesce with you all
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