I (1964) and II (1967) were organized at the original Sagamore site, which was a Vanderbilt estate at Raquette Lake in the Appalachian Mountains in New York state. The estate had been converted to a conference center. I've seen only pictures of the place, but it gave the traditional setting of the conferences: an isolated place near water or otherwise beautiful place, where the participants would have possibility to sports and outdoor activities. The lectures were very few, only 6 invited ones on theory and experiment in the fields of charge, momentum and spin densities. There was a morning session, afternoons were free, and then an evening session. No abstracts or any other written record of the conference was made in the spirit of the Gordon Conferences. Another important feature was that the organizers of the conference were also running the daily matters; for instance, the bar opened at noon, and it was free. There were certainly some excesses, but drinking together started many life-long friendships. The organizing team was from the AMMRC in Watertown, Mass., Dick Weiss, Johnny DeMarco and Dave Chipman.
III (1970) was the first one in Europe, held in Aussois, France, near Modane at the Italian border. The main organizer was Erwin Bertaut from Grenoble, and the conference site was a skiing/hiking lodge owned by the CNRS and used for conferences. The accommodation was very simple, we slept in large rooms, which reminded me of the time of military service, but the nice part was that we stayed up late and talked and talked. The structure of the programme was the same as in the first conferences. The bar was open, and often in the nights we gathered around Dave Chipman, who played guitar. The conference was in August, 50 that the afternoons were spent mostly hiking in the mountains. The banquet dinner ended by the announcement that the next Sagamore Conference would be in Finland, and Kaarle Kurki-Suonio accepted this offer. However, some tricks were played, and the next conference was not organized in Finland in 1973, but three years later.
IV (1973) was organized in that part of Soviet Union which is now known as Belarus. The conference site was a hotel in the outskirts of Minsk. The hotel was quite big, so there were other people staying in the hotel, and the restaurant was open to public. The organizer of the conference was Nikolai Sirota from the Institute of Solid State Physics. The programme was mostly based on the traditional consept of few invited lectures, but there were also contributions from the Russian participants; actually there was an extra day for those. I dontt recall poster sessions, and there were no proceedings. There was a conference excursion to the war victim monument in the Kathyn forest, which brought up other memories particularly among the Polish and German participants. The conference dinner that night was cold cuts and lots of vodka, and that precipitated heated discussions and even quarrel in the bar. It looked like the Russians were captives of their own propaganda, and there were many people who knew better what happened during the war. Next morning there was a visit to the Institute, and here Sirota obviously violated security rules by inviting foreigners to a place where classified research was going on, and this caused serious trouble to him later on. In general, one may say that the Sagamore spirit and totalitarian system were incompatible, even when the organizers tried their best.
V (1976) was held in Kiljava, about 50 km north of Helsinki. The conference center was owned by Trade Unions, and it was mostly used for training courses. The location was ideal for the conference, not far from the airport, but still isolated, there was a clear lake and jogging paths, tennis courts and indoor sport facilities. If there were any complaints, those were the smell of recently finished paint and somewhat Spartan kitchen. During the week, beer was free, and there was always a late evening snack, arranged by my wife. The lectured followed the pattern of the original Sagamore Conferences, so there were only review talks, two per day, and lots of discussions. This was the first time that a poster exhibit was organized. I recall that the posters were there all the time. The oral program was perhaps too limited, because the community was growing, and new people and aspects should have been given more exposure. We put the program together locally (Kurki-Suonio, Paakkari, and I) with some comments and suggestions from Dick Weiss and other original Sagamore people. The proceedings were published as a special issue of Physica Scripta (Vol.15, No.2, 1977).
The social part was a great success, and even now after more than 20 years people start telling stories how it was in Kiljava. We were lucky with the weather, and the sauna was warm continuously. It was politically dark time in the Breshnev era, and the Russians came with some "guides". Still I suspect that someone defected to Sweden.
VI (1979) was organized in Mt. Tremblant, Canada. It was a resort place about 2 hours drive from Montreal. Housing was in a wooden lodge next to the building where we had the lectures and meals. This was very comfortable, although the rooms shared by 2 people were rather small and modest standard (I stayed with Winfried Schülke because of alphabetic order). The discussions were a large part of the program, although the number of talks had increased. The conference lasted 6 days, of which one day was an open meeting of the IUCr Commission on Charge, Spin and Momentum densities (newly established), and one afternoon was the picnic excursion. On the average, there were 4 to 6 talks per day. Poster session was started with short oral introductions. In general, there was a good balance of traditional and new subjects like (e,2e) scattering. Since then also discussion on the CSM commission projects has been an essential part of the program.
Socially it was a pleasant conference, although staying in a commercially run place put some restrictions of having open bar etc. The surroundings were beautiful and impressive, although we got more than a fair share of rain. The place was far from any city, but it was not isolated, there were other people in the hotel, and there were different attractions you had to pay for (tennis etc.)
VII (1982) was in Nikko, Japan. For the Sagamore Conference it was a curious choice, because Nikko is one of the most tourist places in Japan. There is a large temple area, and shrines that Japanese people come to see from all over. I think that one of the mountains every Japanese is supposed to climb once in his/her lifetime, so that Nikko is a really busy place. The location is beautiful, and the conference center was an old wooden lodge, where the rich Americans used to stay when they visited Nikko in the turn of the century. I don't have a copy or very clear recollection of the program of the conference, there were talks and posters, but I can't really tell how many. The CSM Commission played a visible role, as it had become the Program Committee of the conference. The Commission projects were given much time in discussions. I think that the oxalic acid project was started there, as well as some theory projects.
We lived in big rooms, which were shared by 2 or 3 people. My roommate was Franek Maniawski, and 1982 was a difficult year in Poland, and the tensions were growing in the whole world. Political discussions involving Franek, Brian Williams, Joshua Felsteiner, Roy West, me and many others continued all nights.