When I was a toddler, my dad was stationed in Seattle, Washington. We lived in Kirkland.
While we lived out there, my grandparents – my mother’s parents, Hoyt and Willie Cook – drove out there to visit, and we all went on vacation together to visit several national parks.
Right after Christmas, I bought a turtleneck shirt that reminded me of a story from that vacation.
See, my grandparents had a travel trailer, and my parents had a tent. We had a station wagon, and in those days (late 1960s), I wasn’t strapped in a car seat when we traveled; I could crawl around and play in the whole back area. In the very back of the wagon sat a wooden box that my dad built to hold the camping supplies.
One of the sites we visited on that trip was Yellowstone National Park. My dad unloaded the camping box and set up the tent. We saw some sights, had dinner, and bedded down for the night.
Well, something woke up my Pap-pa. He was a light sleeper. He looked outside and saw a bear in our campsite. Now, I certainly don’t remember any of this myself; I just heard the story a lot growing up. My mom doesn’t know for sure what Pap-pa did next, but we both agree Pap-pa probably ran the bear off. I can just hear his voice now, “Go on, bear. Git outta here!”
Whether he ran the bear off or just watched and waited, eventually the bear did leave. And Pap-pa came out to the tent and told my parents, “Give me that baby.” I didn’t need to be sleeping in a tent with a bear on the loose, he told them. I needed to be safe in the trailer. And so I was.
Mom said, the next day they took a closer look at the camping box and saw claw marks on it where the bear tried to get into it.
I love that story, and I’m so glad to have found a shirt that allows me to tell it every once in a while. Now, all I need is a little pin of a bear to help make the image complete.