Uncle O'Neal Goldberg (Neal Goldberg aka "The Magic Man")
We finally tracked down the elusive Uncle O'Neal Goldberg. Looking at the pictures and testimonials of his campers, it's easy to see that Neal raised the bar.
For twenty-five years, Neal owned and operated Med-O-Lark, a distinguished creative and performing arts summer camp for international students, and was a lead accreditation inspector for the American Camping Association.
While residing in Massachusetts, Neal raised funds for various children's charities, developed educational programs, and was a feature writer for a major Boston area newspaper. In addition, Neal was the Program Director for the Women’s Lunch Place, the largest daytime shelter for Boston homeless women and their children.
Sponsored by United Nations Educational Advisors Office, Neal traveled the world for fifteen years and performed countless benefit magic shows for children. Known as “The Magic Man,” he has received several service awards.
An avid flea market junkie, and dealer of rare minerals gems,and crystals, Neal lives part time in Jamaica, West Indies, where he created and is the Executive Director of The Learning Center. This cultural enrichment, and job training program has graduated hundreds of young Jamaican students. As the first honorary member of the Negril Chamber of Commerce in Jamaica, he is a popular motivational speaker and a resort and business staff trainer, (including Sandals, Burger King and Riu Resort). He personally sponsors several international educational and recreational exchange programs.
"Thank you for your kind words and thoughts. After SGF, I operated Med-O-Lark, a creative/performing arts camp for international teens in Maine for 25 years. Now I live both in Miami and Jamaica operating The Learning Center for young adults. Have been through both the trials and joys of life and feel very blessed. Thanks again, O'Neal."
"Special hello to all MOL and SGF campers and staff. You are always in my heart."
Here are quotes from campers and counselors about "The Magic Man:"
"Those recent pictures with Shorty were really great and brought back a lot of memories. I know he came along after your era but he should be in the all star category. Same with O'Neal. I only wish that someone could prod his sister to ask him to check in."
"I nominate O'Neal Goldberg for the same honor (i.e., Hall of Fame Counselor) -- he was just soooo inspirational for me for Soz, for Boozie, for so many of us as to his skill his ability to be a leader, psychologist, counselor and friend to campers and counselors. He was just the best to the campers."
"To this day as a school administrator and camp director (27yrs), I attempt to model myself after Barry, O'Neal Goldberg and Big Max."
"I want to take this moment to personally and publicly thank all of the fantastic counselors and staff men that showed me the way. Without their mentoring and modeling of roles I would not have succeeded as a counselor myself. So here goes... to Boozie, Lemon, Soz, Barry Brait, Slim (I was in your bunk), Lou Nise, Mike Epstein, Wally Loeb, Hoff (I was in your bunk too), Shorty, O'Neal, Walt Myers, Skins, Les Pearlstein, Mel Drukin, Marv Weber, John Flanagan and a thousand I can't remember I thank you all. Thanks for showing up in my life and the lives of countless of thousands of underprivileged boys just like me. You've blessed my life and given all of us new board members the stuff it takes to give back the SGF experience to another generation of SGF'ers....Bless you and Thank You!!"
"The pool with the slide, the games, etc. I especially remember O'Neal who acted like a crazed wrestler. The counselors, O'Neal included, would stage fake fights and we got the biggest kick out of them. It was like our own WWE at camp."
"O'Neal deserves the honor... and though he may not check in --- should he ever look at this website I think it will do his heart good to see he was IS remembered more than fondly. The memories he personally gave to campers are in their hearts forever. He is SGF at its very best. As a matter of fact, O'Neal is as much a part of SGF History as the flag pole on the Ridge, as Best Bunkie, as Bunkie News, as Olympics, as the thousand other memories that each former camper writes about in the Log In Book. I was glad I was there to see him and to be at camp when O'Neal made his Personal SGF History."
"I'm glad to see that O'Neal looks very happy. He always had that very positive personality that really inspired me. He was probably one of my very first, and maybe my most important role model. When you think about how impressionable you are at a very young age, it's probably not an understatement. The interesting thing is that he was never my counselor - that's how much of an influence he had. Can you imagine his impact on campers that were with him all of the time?"
"Thanks for that great piece on O'Neal. Like so many others he was truly an inspiration in my life."
"That guy was so damn influential. I can recall every little thing, especially that devious but beautiful smile!! And the boots! And so devoted to the kids....as it shows by his pursuits after camp. He was indeed a true saint!"
"Today, I saw Neal Goldberg for the first time in a long time. When I last saw him, he was 27 and I was 24 (i.e., 38 years ago). He is commonly known as "The Magic Man." We were standing on Lincoln Road on Miami Beach, where he sells his crystals, artifacts, jewelry, etc. every Sunday. I am writing this only because something very interesting happened while I was with him. A homeless woman came up to me and showed me the laminated business card he made for her with her photo and name on it. I was very touched to see that."
That about says it all.
O'Neal continued to influence campers for 25 years at Camp Med-O-Lark in Washington, Maine. Here are quotes from Med-O-Lark campers:
"Yep! And Candy drops!!... When Neal did the razor blades, that would gross me out."
"I was there while Neal Goldberg was the director and boy was it crazy fun!"
Obviously, O'Neal carried his shtick and SGF traditions wherever he went. A man who truly changed lives.
The Many, Many Faces of Uncle O'Neal Goldberg - Hall of Fame Counselor