Mary reconnects with a summer camp friend in ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’

A new receptionist shows up at WJM in the “A Friend in Deed” episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show who went to summer camp with Mary Richards when they were 12.

But when Twinks McFarland (she loved camp so much she kept her nickname into adulthood) gives Mary a big hug on her first day at the office, Mary’s caught off guard and doesn’t remember her. When Twinks (Pat Finley) mentions that they went to camp together, it still doesn’t jog Mary’s memory. “I went to Camp Sunshine for five years and that’s where I know you from,” Mary says.

It turns out that’s not right either.

Mary and Twinks went to Camp Owmwuk together in 1950. It was the only year Mary went to the camp so the they haven’t seen each other in 18 years. In that time, as Twinks fills Mary in, the camp burned down and moved to the other side of the lake, Twinks’ father retired, she got a new car and got engaged.

The awkwardness of their encounter doesn’t end with the opening scenes of the episode (Season 1, Episode 21) as Twinks keeps coming around and, like some old camp friends who you have nothing else to talk about, almost exclusively talks about camp. Twinks edits the camp alumni bulletin and brings the camp scrapbook with her to dinner when they go out after her first day at the station.

Mary tries her best to be polite, but Twinks proves to be a challenge, especially when she asks Mary to be in her wedding. She also ropes Rhoda in. Rhoda isn’t humored at all by Twinks and doesn’t really pick up on any of her camp references. Rhoda’s only experience with camp was a day camp in the Bronx called Camp Adelman. “It was from one to three in the afternoon. You got there and you made some ceramic monstrosity in arts and crafts. Then you drank warm orange drink from a carton, then you went home. You don’t know what a deprived childhood is until you’ve sung campfire songs on the subway.”

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at Tangzine.com and MatthewRalph.com. I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

Leave a Response