Mary Bohac

Mary, affectionately known as “Big Mary”, was the head cook at Camp Fitch for many years. She is remembered by staff and campers for her rolls, pies, and especially her doughnuts. Joe Check hired her to work in the kitchen for the 1956 Season.[1] Before that she owned and operated Junior's Coffee Shop on Market Street with her husband. Although Joe ceded the roll of Camp Director to Robert F. Thompson for that season, Joe was still responsible for hiring the staff. Campers began to immediately love the camp food. Years later, Joe would attribute the quality of her cooking as the primary reason for the financial turnaround and success of Camp Fitch in the 1950s. The meals were no longer “lousy” and kids no longer were grumpy. No matter how bad the weather was, her doughnuts could always make up for it. [2]

The love of her doughnuts did not stop with the campers and staff. They could be used as a highly successful bargaining chip when Camp Fitch needed a favor. The other camps in Pennsylvania were able to participate in subsidized milk programs through the state government. Milk was scarce at Camp Fitch, but no solution could be found. Fitch was an Ohio organization and Paul B. Davies told Camp Director Joe Check, “No. No way. We don't want any part of the government.” Joe Check went to the government agency anyway. He brought twenty dozen of Mary's Doughnuts with him. Camp Fitch was soon “Swimming in Milk.” Camp also received all the flour, meat, butter, and cheese it could use! The same tactic was used to get Catholic Priests to come to camp to give sermons, and then hopefully attract more Catholic children to come to camp. The local Bishop forbid it. He wanted nothing to do with the YMCA. A weekly donation of Mary's Doughnuts proved to be all the motivation the priests needed to visit Camp Fitch.[2]

Big Mary worked as head cook until her retirement in 1979.[1] She worked in the kitchen along side Little Mary and Darla Lyder's mother, Velma Watson. She lived in the apartment above the old dining hall in the summers. Later she moved to MVIMA Lodge, also known as the Cook's Lodge, once that was completed North of the old dining hall. After retirement she moved to Florida, spent time with her 12 grandchildren, and lived with one of her four daughters, Mary Ann. She passed away in Melbourne, FL on July 9, 1997 at the age of 90.[3]

References

1. a, b Youngstown Vindicator, February 4, 1979. Mrs. Boha to Retire As Camp Fitch Cook. Vindicator Printing Company, A36.
2. a, b Jeffery Collier, July 22, 1975. Interview with Joesph T. Check: Youngstown State University Oral History Project. Youngstown State University.
3. a Youngstown Vindicator, July 9, 1997. Death Record. Vindicator Printing Company, B5.
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