Thursday, July 03, 2008

Another Yarn Contest: My Black Hills Summer Vacation

See that panorama up there? Those are the Black Hills of South Dakota. Where I come from originally (Illinois), they're called Mountains. (Since I've lived in California now for over 30 years, I have a new understanding of the difference between hills and mountains.)

But way back when I was a teenager in the '60s, those were the highest mountains I'd ever seen. The summer I was 15 I went with a youth group to a summer camp -- not for camping, mind you, but to work. Our job was to dig a trench from the top of the mountain down to the camp to hold a pipeline from a water supply for the camp.
Every day in the morning, we climbed this mountain. Every day at noon we climbed down for lunch and a rest period. Then we climbed back up and back down at nightfall.
I hated this youth group. I'd only been a member of the group for a year or so because my father, a church choir director, had just moved from one church to another. So not only was I a "new kid," I was a choir director's kid. I got picked on a LOT, and especially by the boys.
It seemed every time I turned around the boys were playing some sort of trick on me and snickering at me and thinking I was a stupid dolt.
Mind you, I know now why they were doing it.
My daughter is the spittin' image of me and has been at every stage of her life. In fact, she looks so much like me that when sorting family photos, if they're not marked with the year, I sometimes have to stare at the photo and look at the background and figure out which one of us it's a photo of.
This is what my daughter looks like today. She's 29. She doesn't look much different than she did at 15 -- and therefore not much different than I looked at the same age.

Not bad, eh?
So, like I said, in my old age (and after it's too late to work it), I realized that those guys were teasing me and tormenting me because -- Dang! I was hot!!!
(I'm not even going to say "If I do say so myself" because at the time I thought I was really, really ugly. It took having a look-alike daughter and seeing her every day and watching the men sniffing around her to find out that that coulda been me if I hadn't been so stoopid!)
Of course, people tried to tell me, "It's only because they like you," but I never listened.
Anyway, I digress.
One day after lunch time on a really, really hot day I was wandering around the camp biding my time and enjoying my rest period when these four guys from another cabin walked up to me and asked me to help them.
Of course, I was immediately suspicious. But they seemed really desperate. "Hey, Jo Anne," the hottest one of the bunch called out, "can you help us? We really need to find a hollow-J goose-necked smoke sifter to clean out the fireplace in our cabin and we can't find the camp director. If you see him, will you ask him if he has one?"
"Come on, guys," said I, "you think I was born yesterday? You guys are pulling my leg again."
"No!" they yelled. "You gotta help us. Rev (the minister leading the work tour) is gonna kill us if we don't get this fireplace cleaned today!"

By the way, I ran across this public domain photo on the internet and it looks surprisingly like the cabins we stayed in:

I felt sorry for them and told them I'd try to find the camp director. "But what was the name of that thing again?"
So they had me repeat it over and over and over again and I walked around the camp reciting, "hollow-J goose-necked smoke sifter hollow-J goose-necked smoke sifter hollow-J goose-necked smoke sifter hollow-J goose-necked smoke sifter hollow-J goose-necked smoke sifter hollow-J goose-necked smoke sifter"
until I found the camp director.
"Say, Mr. Camp Director," I said, "do you have a hollow-J goose-necked smoke sifter anywhere? The guys need one to clean out their fireplace."
"Oh, sure!" he said, not missing a beat. "It's up on top of the mountain hanging from a sky hook!"
Oh, no. If these guys were going to get their cabin cleaned in time for inspection, I'd have to climb the mountain, find the hollow-J goose-necked smoke sifter, come back down and get it to them before we had to climb back up again for the afternoon shift.
So, being the helpful and generous soul that I am,
(oh, yes, Dear Reader, I did)
I. Climbed. The. Mountain. Again.
Well, I guess I gotta make this long story short. Lucky for me, my friend Pam wasn't hungry enough at lunch time to come down the mountain and had decided she'd rather stay up there than have to climb it again in the afternoon.
She had no idea where they kept the sky hook up there but she helped me look for a little while.
Then she said, "You know, Jo Anne, I think a sky hook might be some kind of a joke. I mean, where would you hang a sky hook from?"
I didn't tell her about the hollow-J goose-necked smoke sifter. I just waited on top of the mountain for the afternoon shift to arrive.
Along with the raucous laughter.


Anonymous said...

What a great summer memory. It's amazing the constants in our world: camp is camp. Boys tease girls. pranks are done. Glad you made it down the mountain to be part of our group.

ponyknit said...

Hahahah cute story. Lovely photos!
Congrats! You won a prize in my contest, stop by and check it out!

Myownigloo said...

A prize! I won a prize! Funny, though, it wasn't for the contest I wrote the story for. Wonders never cease.

Myownigloo said...

You know what else? I always wondered why the guys rated the cabins that had the fireplaces....