The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed my mom, Sally, about her childhood. She’s road tripped all over the West with my grandparents and aunts/uncles. I’ve always been envious of the places she’s been, so it was fun to hear her tell dozens of stories about not only her adventures, but life in the 60s and 70s. I thought this was a good story to start with because traveling and camping was such a big part of my mothers’ life.

A tiny plot of land within the woods illuminated under the moon and echoed with the sound of shouting kids. Sally and her four brothers and sisters explored the boundaries of their little campground within Yellowstone National Park. Among them, their overwhelmed parents tried desperately to keep track of them all. At the center of the grounds, the beginnings of a fire flickered in the wind, offering little warmth unless you’re close enough to burn a finger. Little Sally, only five years old and the youngest of the children, pushed the stones beneath her feet around as she circled the fire. To her right was her father, Robert, who cursed under his breath as he fought the wind attempting to put up the last few pieces of their tent.

Sally began wondering toward her pack of siblings when she heard her eldest brother, Bob, call for everyone’s attention. She ran as fast as her 5-year-old legs could carry her until she was about 40 feet away from a large black bear next to a trash can. He stood on two feet, slowly digging for the most appetizing supper he can find. The bear frightened her at first, but nothing she hasn’t seen before. Sally was in awe and took a couple steps forward to get a better view.

“Don’t get too close, Sally, I hear bears have a sixth sense for scared little girls!” Her brother Bob said snickering. Bob had a couple feet on Sally, and wore more thick eye glasses that took up took up half his face.

“Pshh I can take him!” Sally said looking up at Bill and pointing to the bear. She looked back at the bear for a moment, and began to feel sad for the big guy, having to dig so hard for his food. So, she ran back toward the tent, which was finally in one piece, and found her mom.

“What do bears eat?” She asked her mother, Margaret, with an innocent tone, as she knew feeding the bear would probably not be condoned.

“They eat small animals and plants; they love fish. Why my dear, you don’t want to feed the bear, do you?” Her mother already knew the answer to this.

“Of course not.” Sally said, fighting the smile forming across her face.

She immediately turned and ran into the tent. She jumped around in the pile of blankets for a long while until she wore herself out. Sally sat still for a moment but shot up at the sound of several soft crunches outside the far side of the tent, facing the neighboring campground. She assumed it was someone in her family, until she thought about the bear from earlier. The sounds grew louder. She heard scratching and a low growl, too close for comfort. She looked through the closest window in the tent, but only found trees blowing in the wind. She dreaded her next move; She dashed to the one on the opposite side, but again found nothing. Frozen still and scared half to death, Sally screamed, then ran for her parents. Before she could reach them, her brother Bob and older sister Mindy jumped out from beside the tent laughing. Bob inched closer to her, letting out the same low growl.

“Watch out, the bear’s gonna get you!” Mindy said, laughing with Bob. Sally sighed with relief for a moment, but boy was she angry. She wanted to huff and puff, but decided her energy was better spend on planning revenge. 

Camping Trips

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August, 1969
Yellow Stone Park

I interviewed my mom, Sally, about her childhood. She’s road tripped all over the West with my grandparents and aunts/uncles. I’ve always been envious of the places she’s been, so it was fun to hear her tell dozens of stories about not only her adventures, but life in the 60s and 70s. I thought this was a good story to start with because traveling and camping was such a big part of my mothers’ life.

Decade: 1960s
Rating:
Recorded by Michelle Hand on April 27, 2018
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