1986, age 43-44, Part 2 of 2

A year of growth and changes
1986 was a time of change around the homestead.
On one hand, we were continuing to get rid of various ‘survivalist gear’ we’d purchased and not used over the years. Amongst the items we sold were
•  an emergency generator, $950
•  double-barreled shot-gun for $175;
•  two each .223 semiautomatic rifle with two each 30 round banana clips sold for $600;
•  the  10 foot by 12 foot cabin tent and cots we used when camping on our property right after purchasing the acreage
•  a welding machine, $100;
•  pipe threader, $150
•  and an electric flour mill, $300.
The sum of these sales amounted to $2,275, which was equivalent to twelve weeks of Donna’s net wages.  Much of this money was spent refurnishing our house, a project that began late last year.

[Photograph below: JP’  by the flower bed, in front of our mobile home at Nightstar*.]

On the other hand, our delightful two year old daughter, Jane, was experiencing important milestones, among which were:
•  ‘All by herself’, she filled a cup of drinking water from the kitchen faucet.
•  She helped collect duck and goose eggs.
•  Was given her own swing — which I made and suspended from a tree in the back yard.
•  She spelled her first word, “dog.”
•  She visited the Shriner’s Circus in St. Cloud.
•  Jane’s maternal grandparents bought her a large red tricycle, which she learned to ride at  ‘death defying speeds’ along our driveway.
•  She was introduced to a balsa wood glider airplane and the art of kite flying.
•  She went with us on her first camping experiences to Kathio State Park,  and then to Itasca State Park.
•  On Halloween eve, Jane was dressed in a homemade clown costume and taken out for her first night of ‘Trick or Treating.’

Camping at Kathio State Park [1]
When Jane was nearly three years old, Donna and I decided to go tent camping again. It had been quite a few years since our last camping trip so we were both looking forward to the event. One Tuesday evening during mid August, we rummaged through our camping gear and pulled out our old six-foot by eight foot, yellow and blue mountain pup tent, an ice chest, Coleman stove, Coleman lantern, etc.

List of Camping  Gear
binoculars,8mm by 40 mm Kleenex tissue, box
camera knives, paring &   butcher
cash, $20 extra mixing spoon, spatula
clock oven, fold down
clothes pins, 6 pen & paper
clothing, spare changes plastic sheet, 10′ by 12′
coats, socking hats pots & pans, assorted
Coleman 80 quart ice chest radio, multiband
Coleman camp stove, 2   burner, white gas silverware
Coleman lantern, white gas. skillet, cast iron
cord, nylon, 30 feet sleeping bags, 2
dishes & cups, plastic tent, 6′ by 8, mountain   style’
firewood filled feed bag toilet paper, roll
flashlight towels, 2
hatchet wash cloth & hand soap
insect repellent wool blankets, 2
Jane’s boots & play   shoes
Camp Food List
bacon muffin mix, blueberry
bread, sour dough, loaf mustard, jar
butter, small tub onion, 1 medium
cheese, Cheddar Onion soup mix, dry
chocolate drink, mix peanut butter, jar
coffee, instant potatoes, 2 medium
eggs, 1 dozen pork & beans, canned
Frito corn chips pork steak, 2
hamburger, 1 pound rice, 1/4 cup
hash, canned roast beef salad dressing
honey salt & pepper
jam, jar sherry
lettuce, 1 head tomato juice, 6 sm. cans
lunch meat tomatoes, 2 medium
marshmallows, 1 bag water, carbonated
milk, dehydrated wine, white

During the next two days, while Donna worked, Jane and I washed the long unused gear, made a supply list and packed for the trip. At that time, we didn’t have a lot of camping gear so everything fit neatly in the trunk and back seat of the Ford.

Jane was excited about the prospects of her first camping trip. We’d told her about our backpacking and camping experiences and all the fun we would be having cooking meals over the campfire and on the little stove; we discussed marshmallow roasts, seeing the other kids at the campground and maybe even visiting the park playground. Jane was ready to go camping!

Since State Park campsites were taken on a ‘first come first serve’ basis, we made plans for Jane and I to drive the forty miles north-northeast to Kathio State Park at Mille Lac’ s Lake and set up our gear early in the day, before all the weekend campers arrived. Donna would go to work early, get off early, and meet us at the campgrounds during the afternoon.

Jane and I left just before noon, stopping at the Dairy Queen in Milaca for a lunch of hamburger, French fries and soda pop.
When we arrived at Kathio State park, we found that about a third of the camp sites were already taken; it was probably a good thing that we decided to leave early and get a campsite.

Our Park use fees for  two nights totaled $18.00, which included:
1) $12.00 at $6.00 per night camping fee and
2) $6.00 at $3.00 per day auto entry fee.

Jane and I drove slowly through the grounds, found a good campsite and began setting up our tent and equipment. Because we were camping with a small amount of gear, it only took about an hour to set up camp.

When  our work was done, Jane and I drove around the campground to locate the closest water hydrant. Not far from our campsite we found a wondrous playground, complete with several swings and a seven-foot high slide.
Jane had never been on a slide, so I explained how it worked. She had fun climbing the ladder, but found it scary to move out onto and sit on the steeply inclined plane. She came down that first time holding onto the smooth metal rails, her eyes wide with apprehension. Then,  after slowly dropping off the lower end of the slide and assessing the event, she ran back around to the ladder yelling over her shoulder, “Slide fun!”. After about six ‘trial run’s she began to relax her grip on the handrail which allowed a faster, smoother slide. As the weekend passed, Jane often had her eyes, mind and heart on the playground.

While waiting for Donna, I occasionally heard some one’s portable radio in a distant campsite. The sound of rock and roll invading the park seemed incongruous with the setting. During my many childhood camping experiences, I never saw a portable radio at a campground. In the mid 1950s I don’t think ‘portables’ were very common, but still, taking a portable radio to camp in the mid 1970s was quite a rare event. By the mid to late 1980s finding a radio at camp was not unusual, in fact, we brought our multi band to Kathio, but now, even portable televisions were beginning to show up.

Jane and I walked about the campground, visited the modern bathrooms several times; sat in the shade at our campsite, looking about, watching the chipmunks, birds and other campers; we talked about all the neat things we were seeing and doing.

Donna arrived during the late afternoon and promptly set about preparing supper. We chatted about the events of our day and how nice it was to be outdoors in a campground again. After supper, washing dishes and putting all out outdoor things under a tarp, we became tired from the long, event filled day. The family decided to go to bed early; just before dusk, we climbed into our small tent and quickly fell asleep.

Saturday morning, under clear skies and warm morning temperatures, the family had a camp breakfast consisting of: camp baked blueberry muffins with honey, eggs and bacon, coffee and hot chocolate for Jane.
After our meal and the washing dishes, we drove to the Park Headquarters and rented a fifteen foot long aluminum canoe, paddles and life preservers..

That morning, we took Jane on her first canoe voyage and what a trip it was!. We only paddled about a half mile along the Rum River, but were totally surrounded by wilderness and isolated in nature. Jane was wide-eyed in awe as we pointed out two Box Turtles on semi submerged logs, two beaver lodges, a swimming beaver and thick carpets of water lilies.

After canoeing, we drove into Onamia to do some miscellaneous grocery shopping.
On our way back to camp we drove past a Box Turtle attempting to cross the road. I backed up and Donna brought the turtle into the car for Jane to see. As we continued driving, Donna showed Jane how the turtle had withdrawn its head and legs under his shell. This was Jane’s first ‘hands on’ experience with a turtle, she was excited and in her excitement she kissed the turtle.

From the turtles perspective, it was being held by a dangerous and probably hungry giant. As Jane lowered her face to kiss the creature, the terrified turtle flexed its head out from under the shell and clamped onto Jane’s upper lip. Jane yelped  and dropped the turtle, which hung momentarily from her lip before falling to the floor. I rapidly stopped the car on the shoulder of the road. We surveyed the lightly bleeding damage to Jane’s lip, while reassuring her that the turtle was just as scared and that she should never kiss wild animals. With that, the turtle was promptly and unceremoniously set free right there along the roadside, fortunate for him we’d stopped beside a bog; the turtle was undoubtedly quite glad his ordeal was over.

Back at camp Donna treated Jane’s small bite with an antibiotic salve, she recovered with little further thought of the event.

Saturday afternoon, we visited the park Interpretive Center and its small museum of Indian artifacts. Donna commented on the fact that we had quantitatively more and qualitatively better ancient Anasazi artifacts in our curio cabinet than the museum had Indian artifacts in their museum, and Kathio State Park was located on a centuries old, Mille Lac’s Chippewa Indian village site.

During mid afternoon, I crawled into the pup tent and took an hour and a half nap. Meanwhile, Donna and Jane walked about the campgrounds exploring nature. Donna showed Jane spiders working in their webs, moss growing on trees, butterflies and acorns.

That evening after a hearty camp stew [2] supper and  just before sunset, we started our campfire.
As hot, yellow-orange coals developed in the fire-place, I sharpened several small saplings to a point.  Jane watched with keen interest as Donna and I skewered marshmallows onto the sticks and held them over the glowing coals to roast. After seeing how the process worked, then tasting the roasted marshmallows, Jane’s wanted to try her hand and thus officially became a ‘marshmallow roastin,’ camp kid’.

Early Sunday, just after dawn, I awoke and slipped out of the tent and hurried into the bushes to pee. At 6:00AM it was quiet and still throughout the campgrounds, there was a hint of fog and mornings chill in the air. Walking back into our campsite, I  looked around at the other tents, reflectively studying their style and composition.

Observations made at Kathio SP: Tent styles
It was plain to see that tent styles had changed considerably during the last thirty years. In the 1950s, tents were made from canvas or a lighter cotton fabric, all were impregnated with a waterproofing material, often mixed with paraffin. As the years passed, the percentage of cotton in tent fabric decreased. By the mid 1980s, most tents are manufactured using man-made materials and require a “fly” over the tent for effective water repellency.Tent styles of the 1950s were basically either the umbrella tent for families, or the two-man pup tent for soldiers, Boy Scouts and kids. By the 1990s tents came in a variety of styles and shapes, including: domes, various cabin types, a few umbrella styles, many one and two-man pup tents and a small variety of special climate tents for snow camping and mountain tents.

Whereas tents used to all be made of green or tan fabric, today’s tents come in a variety of colors and shades, including: blue, brown, gray, green, orange, purplish, red, tan, white, yellow. Wooden tent stakes were replaced first by steel stakes, then by aluminum, which are themselves currently undergoing replacement by plastic stakes. Wooden tent poles were first replaced by aluminum in some tent designs and are now being displaced by flexible plastic tension rods.

Gathering firewood [3]
There was a time, and not long ago when one counted the ever-present campfire, as one of the major enjoyments of camping. I’ve spent countless hours at night, snuggled down in my olive drab Army coat, with my black stocking cap pulled down over my ears, sitting on log or  rock, sipping a warm drink, while staring at the hypnotic flames and occasionally up at the stars. The memories of watching the flames and feeling the campfires heat on a cool night, while sitting and talking with friends or family, has been one of life’s simple pleasures.

When the family was camping at Kathio State Park  this August, we brought along a burlap bag filled with previously cut firewood. Bringing your own firewood to the campground is a significant point, because times have changed.

When I was a boy, camping with my parents in the early 1950s, it was my responsibility to collect firewood, maintain the woodpile and tend the campfire. There was never any difficulty finding windfall branches or a fallen tree close to the campsite. While Mom and Dad set up the tent, I began scouring the area for twigs, sticks and branches. Several times a day, I would run to a densely treed area and haul out firewood and build up a supply for that night’s fire. Often we cooked part of the family meal on our homemade fire ring (a ring of stones).

During the early 1960s, upon returning from my tour of duty in Army, I continued to go camping. As the 1960s progressed, I found that firewood was becoming more and more difficult to find. I had go farther and farther afield to find limbs and deadfall and occasionally had to leave the campground for our wood.

By the mid 1970s, most park headquarters or their registration offices had begun selling small bundles of firewood. The approximately eighteen inch in diameter bundles had precut and split foot long lengths of firewood tied together. Very often these wood bundles looked like remnants from a local lumber mill, the irregular outer bark and wood parts of tree trunks that remained after the bulk of the trunk had been cut into lumber. Most often the bundles were composed of Poplar, Birch or some other fast burning ‘weed tree’ species, seldom wood as desirable as oak or Maple.  The wood bundles cost $1.50 each in 1986 and kept a campfire burning about an hour. Interestingly, a single bundle of firewood cost the same as the extra cost incurred to rent an ‘electrified’ campsite.

Besides there having been a loss of scroungable fire wood in the park environs, there has also been a loss of the rustic campfire setting. In 1986 all the parks have basically standardized their concrete and rock, or steel ring fireplaces.

Thinking back to 1970, only about one half of the campgrounds that I happened to camp at had ‘developed’ fireplaces.

Another fifteen years earlier, in the mid 1950s, the camp fireplace or rock fire ring was frequently made by the camper. During the mid 1950s, most campgrounds didn’t have campsites per sae, you simply drove into the area designated “Campground,” found a location you liked and set up your tent. Everyone pitched together to help carry the closest picnic table to a location near your tent.

Over the years, previous campers had collected rocks from about the grounds and arranged them in a circle or square as a fire ring for their campfire. Often one camper would set up their tent in a spot where there was already a picnic table and homemade fire ring, thus avoiding any other labor. Sometimes we’d dig a shallow fire pit, carry rocks from the closest ‘fire ring’ and make our own custom fireplace. Flat rocks were laid along the inside edge of the fireplace and a metal pot for hygiene, coffee and dish water was set on these to heat.

Although the family had a Coleman, two burner, white gas stove, we often cooked our breakfast in a cast iron skillet over the campfire. In the gray of many a chilly morning and evening, my childhood family and later friends and then my own family huddled near the campfire to warm themselves. At such times, while our meal cooked, everyone busied themselves doing little camp duties or meal oriented chores while chatting in muted tones, enjoying the peaceful surroundings and each other’s company.

Within twenty years after the mid 1950s, all campground’s were subdivided into small campsites to facilitate renting these “cubicles in nature” to the hoards of campers trying to escape the confines of suburbia every summer’s weekend. Now in 1986, gone are the free style fireplaces, the windfall firewood, the logs and rocks we sat upon, and gone along with these elements is the full pleasure of the outdoor experience that we once enjoyed. Today, the experience is catered.

The Park Ranger’s
During the 1950s, we campers occasionally didn’t see any State Forest or State Park personnel during our overnight campout. Just as often, however, a Park Ranger would drive through the campgrounds just before dusk and collect a small camping fee from the campers. You could count on paying for the privilege of camping in the National Parks, where there was usually an automobile fee as well as an overnight camping permit. Where ever fees were collected, they were reasonable and paid for the convenience of having pit toilets and a hand-crank water pump located somewhere on the grounds.

During the 1960s and 1970s, full-time Park Attendants appeared at the state level. The growth in the number of park personnel continued to mushroom. Within little more than another decade, by the 1980s, there were receptionists at the information stations; grounds keepers who mowed the lawns, cleaned the bathrooms and dumped garbage barrels; Park Rangers who drove through the campgrounds perhaps four times a day checking auto and camping permits; a Historian, Naturalist or Forest Ranger who might give several hour-long educational programs for campers, or be responsible for the parks Interpretive Center. Large parks had more personnel and smaller parks fewer.

Camp clothing styles
Campers have become much more conscious of clothing styles than they were in the mid 1970s. Donna and I were able to make this initial comparison, because we spent a full month camping at Kathio State Park and at Charles Lindbergh State Park during August and September 1974, during which time we spent a lot of time observing other campers.

Until the late 1970s, people wore, older, heavy-duty clothes while camping. The basic camp outfit consisted of a heavy-duty jacket. long-sleeved shirt, blue denim jeans, heavy socks, and boots or loafers. Only a half decade later, by the mid 1980s, camp clothing has become stylish and considerably more fashionable. The current clothing style tends to be brightly colored and may be coordinated between spouses or to match the family’s camping gear, particularly the tent colors. Those who understand class differentiation and its associated clothing symbols wear more subdued colors combined with khaki or white trousers. During the warm part of the day shorts, a tennis hat and sun glasses may replace the trousers and jacket.

In 1986, the camp outfit, for adults, includes shorts or slacks with a color coordinated canvas web belt, a rib knit sports shirt, colorful tennis shoes or boat shoes, white socks or no socks at all. Campers in their luxurious recreational vehicles and tent campers who are ‘roughing it’, both dress the same, both groups are dressed and groomed just as ‘natty’ as the other.
On the other hand, fat people and families who are fishing with motor boats, though gaily attired, still have a scruffy, hard look about them. Campers who are on vacation or touring, and those who bring their canoes or bicycles with them, appear to dress better than the families who camp with intentions of spending all their time fishing.

Preparing for our next camp out
Sunday morning after breakfast we packed our gear and returned home.
We thoroughly enjoyed our brief experience and talked amongst ourselves as we showered, then cleaned and put away the camping equipment. Early Sunday afternoon, we decided we’d go camping again, at Itasca State Park, during the long Labor Day weekend that was approaching in just two weeks.

In the days that immediately followed our trip to Kathio, we were browsing through several department store catalogs, looking for a larger tent. Finding what we were looking for, we drove into St.  Cloud and purchased several items, including: the tent, a new forty-eight quart ice cooler,an  air mattress pump and a plastic tub sized for washing camp dishes.

The eight foot by ten foot cabin style tent had a sewn in floor and mosquito netting, it  had a two-tone in color with a light blue top and dark blue lower half. With the larger tent we would have space inside to stand while dressing and undressing, room for a small night stand with radio, Kleenex, etc. and the Porta-Potti.

Having the Porta-Potti inside was of particular importance, it saved us from having to take a walk in the middle of the night to either the camp bathroom or run out into the bug infested bushes. We also ordered an eighteen cubic foot, completely enclosed car top carrier made of  tough flexible plastic, to help transport our newly expanded camping outfit.
And so the family returned to the camping experience.

Camping at Itasca State Park
As planned for the Labor Day weekend, the family drove northwest to Itasca State Park for a holiday that would last from August 27 until September 1 – an extended weekend. Donna attached a couple of vacation days to the holiday giving us nearly a week off.

It was dusk by the time we had our equipment set up that first evening, too late to start a camp meal, but just the right time to dine at the park’s Douglas Lodge restaurant. (smile)
The rustic hundred year old, log cabin style-hotel and restaurant was very pleasant and filled with a campground atmosphere. We arrived just before the restaurant closed and ordered their  ‘Special of the Day’, which included an excellent thick slab of meat loaf, a generous serving of mashed potatoes with gravy, glazed carrots, rolls and a visit to the salad bar. We were amazed at the tasty food quality, generous quantity, the great atmosphere, and service which only cost $6.50 each for Donna and my self, and half price for Jane. By the time we finished our leisure meal, we were the last patrons to leave the lodge.

Our five-day visit to Itasca State Park was filled with tours and sightseeing including: the Pioneer Cemetery, Indian Burial Mounds, Peace Pipe Vista, Mississippi River headwaters and Headwaters Interpretive Center, “Snakes Alive” educational program, Preacher’s Grove, Wilderness Drive, and a hike along the Wilderness Orientation Trail, the Wegman cabin, the 9,000 year old “Bison Kill Site”, largest Red pine and White pine in Minnesota, and the park museum.

Jane cooks her first meal
One evening, we had plans of making hot dogs with buns and canned pork & beans for supper. I cut each of us a short length of tree branch to roast our hot dog on.
Jane thoroughly enjoyed roasting her own two hot dogs. Actually, the term ‘enjoyed’ is not exactly appropriate. Jane did enjoy the novelty of roasting the hot dogs, but there was more subtly involved with this learning experience. She seemed to understand and appreciate the fact that she was doing something important, that for the first time in her life she was cooking her own supper and realized the importance of the step.

Music [midi: One Moment in Time]

Jane’s young personality seen developing
At nearly three years of age, Jane is very outgoing and friendly, more so than any other children I’ve seen. She easily engages adults in conversation and is fast to make friends with other children. We have surmised that her outgoing personality has probably come to her from her Grandmother Eulah and my father Robert F. Pierce, both of whom easily engage strangers in conversation. Donna, and particularly I, are quieter and more introverted, both Donna and I were shy around strangers when we were young.

While at the park museum, lovable little Jane engaged a woman in a conversation. As the two of them walked around the room looking at the displays, the woman began to explain what they were looking at and to tell Jane a little special information about each one. Since the displays were four feet above the floor, to high for Jane top see, the woman then began lifting Jane up so she could view the artifacts.

Jane makes a friend
One morning, we were sitting around the picnic table sipping hot chocolate and chatting about the day’s agenda, when I noticed a little girl from a nearby campsite edging closer to us. The girl, about Jane’s age, was pretending to look for small, special stones on laying the ground. She’d take a few steps, squat down, look at the ground for a moment then sneak a peek at us. Then she’d stand up take a few steps closer and squat and look for stones. I watched the girl out of the corner of my eye for a few minutes, then alerted Jane that there was a little girl behind her. Jane looked over her shoulder,  climbed down from the table and hurried over to our car to lean against the rear bumper, which was about half way between the girl and our table. The little girl, Sara, slowly approached Jane. The two girls stood about ten feet apart, not speaking, just staring at one another. After several moments, as if on cue, they slowly walked together. The girls signaling their intended friendship and passing a couple broken sentences back, and forth then scurried off to Sara’s campsite to play for a few minutes.

We toured parts of the park before lunch and again in the early afternoon. When we returned to our campsite later that afternoon, Sara and Jane picked up right where they had left off. Sara’s father gave the girls a ‘fruit loop’ candy to share. Both girls walked between our campsites, carrying their dolls [4]  in their left arm, a fruit loop in their right hand and both beaming with happiness.

The girls played for about an hour: sitting and playing in the grass between our campsites, sitting in lawn chairs, and running around the car — in opposite directions. While running, Sara, fell down, then ran to her mother to have the hand injury inspected. After the mother washed Sara’s hand , Sara extended the hand to Jane, where upon Jane kissed her ‘Ow-a’. Donna and I made a batch of popcorn and called Jane back to our campsite around 8:00 PM. We had a fun day!

[Above, a Journal 11 drawing from  the article, Approaching Interface.  A fleeting ‘now moment’ of shared reality wells up from nothing. We are the observers, looking northeast out from the kitchen window at a place called Nightstar* in the year 1986.
You are aware that I’m here beside you, my having come forward in time to join you in this dimension of strange space-time effects and ballooning worlds. As we stand here together, looking at symbols and communicating. We both look and see a transformation occur. Not quite overhead, a small flock of brown, wild ducks appear. They fly in a ‘V’ formation across the gray fall sky, only to disappear behind barren limbed trees, then out of sight over the forest.
The image collapses back to become part of the white plain, simultaneously, our shared reality dissipates and we are again lone observers locked into the immediacy of our own, all important, space-time locations.

As a child growing up in the early 1950s, I was surprised to learn the horrible fact that ‘just plain people’ occasionally preyed upon and killed other ‘just plain people.’ Of course, I knew at the time that there were policemen and soldiers, criminals and national enemies, but in my youth, I was surprised to find there was another source of violence. One day, while visiting a local drug store and reading their news stand comic books, I happened to look at the front page of the local newspaper and what I read, shocked me. According to the story, a greedy and demented man had taken out a large life insurance policy on his wife just before she was  fly somewhere by airplane. He secretly packed dynamite in her luggage with a timer set to detonate when her airplane was in flight. It was shocking to learn that someone had killed a whole airplane full of innocent, unsuspecting people and his own wife out of a greed for insurance money.

[Image above: Photocopy of  a drawing from Journal 11: Terrorism: The Early Days of Widespread International Guerrilla Warfare’.]

A few years later, in the early 1960s, the concept of threatening certain and sudden death on a number of unsuspecting people began to take on a new form. Occasionally an unhappy Cuban refugee to America would hijack a passenger airplane in Florida for a ride back to Fidel Castro’s, guerrilla exporting, Communist Cuba.

As the 1960s began to pass and the war in Vietnam escalated, strife increased in the USA. Negro Civil Rights stories splashed across the newspaper headlines as the sons and daughters of the affluent American middle class took to the streets in protest over war and racial discrimination. Toward the end of the 1960s, and into the early 1970s, it seemed that between the ‘draft dodgers’, disgruntled Cuban-Americans wanting to return to Cuba, various militants, social dissenters and other ‘crazies’, that U.S. passenger aircraft hijackings became almost a weekly affair.

At the end of the Vietnam War, during the early 1970s , ‘skyjacking’ in the U.S.A. declined; however, incidences overseas increased. The foreign ‘skyjackings’ mutated beyond the fairly benign form found in the USA.  If foreign authorities refused to refuel a commandeered airplane, if extortion threats were not met, or a passenger plane was not allowed to land at specific airports, the hijackers began singling out and killing individual passenger hostages and threatening to blow up the aircraft with everyone aboard. Religious and political factions from nearly all the Moslem Mideast began sending out commandos (terrorists) to hijack commercial passenger jets or plant explosives in luggage which was timed to detonate while the aircraft was in flight.

Terrorism became a quasi-political tool.

In 1979, after the overthrow of the US backed ‘Shaw of Iran’, by followers of the Moslem cleric, the use of terrorism against U.S. nationals and US owned businesses in the Mideast began to develop in earnest. During the late 1970s, ‘revolutionary’ groups, supposedly representing large segments of Mideastern country populations, began sponsoring abductions. At first, their targets comprised groups of people, i.e. tourists on passenger jets, or a foreign embassy staff.  As Western nations in those areas began taking steps for their safety, the number of targets dwindled, so kidnappings shifted and narrowed to individual Americans who either lived in or had businesses in the Middle East. Acts of terrorism which were once aimed primarily at Israeli citizens, broadened to include Americans, then Brit’s and Germans.

During the 1980s, social movements in the United States began splintering, some factions became violent. Members of  ‘Right to Life’, an anti-abortion group, blockaded and even firebombed abortion clinics. During the 1990s, frustrated that their agenda wasn’t being accepted by the public at large, they began murdering the doctors and personnel who work in the clinics.

Meanwhile, various animals’ rights groups, and Greenpeace, have thrown paint on people wearing fur coats, sunk fishing boats, sent letter bombs to opponents, etc.
After the turn of the millennium, terrorists turned to bombing public gatherings, at first they singled out nightclubs and restaurants frequented by Westerners. The IED (improvised explosive devices) was used extensively against US and Coalition troops in Iraq. While Car Bombs (vehicles filled with explosives) and Suicide Bombers (person wearing explosives strapped to their body) were used, primarily in Moslem countries, against crowded public market areas.

These acts of group terrorism and senseless acts of murder by individuals are increasing in the U.S.A. and throughout the world. The murder and maiming of groups has become increasingly common. Like a deadly virus that is slowly becoming pandemic, the number of people and groups involved with violence is increasing, along with the number of victims. [5]

Don and Eulah’s telephone chat [6]
Every few weeks, Donna’s parents, Don and Eulah would telephone on either Saturday or Sunday morning, to see how we were doing and chat with Donna and Jane. The subject of one such conversation, on Sunday, November 16, was of a VHS video tape we sent to them of Jane at the Benton County Fair and about our home.

Eulah told Donna that Jane looked a lot older than two years of age. Eulah stated that from her observation of the video, “Jane displays a lot of patience for her age, while waiting her turn on the carnival rides”.
Eulah and I chatted for a few minutes at which time I noted that her voice sound a weaker and more tired than during our previous conversation, a couple of weeks earlier. When Donna and Eulah talked to one another, Eulah admonished her, “Take extra special care of Jane and see that no harm ever comes to her…be sure to raise her right and give her a good education…”

Jane was, her Grandma Eulah’s special girl, she loved Jane very much.

When Jane was given the telephone, she talked with her Grandmother about our dogs (Griz, Jessie and puppy Pepin), about playing with her tinker toys and how she would soon have a birthday.
A few minutes later in closing, Eulah spoke to Donna of Jane, saying, “She’s quite a kid.”

The death of Eulah Clara [7]
On Thursday morning, November 20, Don telephoned Donna at True Value Hardware with the sad news that her mother, Eulah had died. Donna immediately phoned me with the news and as soon as possible left work to come home.
At the time of her death, Eulah was eighty-five years, nine and a half months old. She was born Thursday, 7 February 1901 — 11 years before Arizona became a state.

Later: Don told us of Eulah’s passing (paraphrased): ” …It was a little after eight o’clock (in the morning). Eulah was partially sitting up, propped up in the bed. She was trying to take her potassium pill, I gave her several sips of water and she couldn’t get them to go down her throat. She was so exhausted she didn’t even want to talk. I noticed when she finally swallowed that it was like there was no reflex at all holding the pills. She kind of sat back a little and rested a bit. Then all at once her eyes flew wide open. There was no movement what so ever, except her eyes were the widest I have ever seen them. Right away the oxygen generator started to slow down. I tried to shake her, move her, and she was absolutely rigid. She passed away about 8:20 in the morning and by 9:30 she was leaving the house by way of the mortuary. It was a sad day. One that had been anticipated for a long, long time. She’d been losing weight for the last two weeks or so…she was below a hundred pounds when she passed away…”

Eulah’s spirit visits Donna [8]
Saturday night, the third night after Eulah’s death, Donna and I went to bed at our customary time and had fallen asleep., Sometime during the night, Donna awakened to see a brilliant white light growing in size toward the end of her side of the bed, but near  the  ceiling in the corner. She felt her mother’s presence beside her and indeed, Eulah asked Donna if she saw the growing and expanding light.  As Donna watched, she saw that there was a figure seated inside of the light. The figure was dressed in a simple gown and sat with open outstretched. The woman had a pleasant smile and was beckoning. Donna answered Eulah, who was still standing beside her, saying, “Yes. I see it. What is it?…Yes! You made it didn’t you? You’re really going to heaven!” Eulah’s presence then began moving toward the light. She answered Donna, simply saying, “Yes,” an utterance that trailed across the room into the light.

[The image above was photocopied from my Journal 4: The Passage. It’s a drawing I made based on  Donna’s description of her vision, discussed in this text. The drawing was entered along with Donnas write-up of the event.

As the light diminished in size and was reclaimed by the night, Donna realized who the woman in the light had been. The woman with outstretched arms, who was beckoning, was Eulah’s mother Maude, come to guide her into Heaven.

Donna was filled with happiness for weeks after this unusual experience, knowing that we do pass from this life to another. As she said, “We can transcend into the light, into Heaven, if our hearts are good and filled with love. And we will be met and guided by someone we love dearly.”

Jane at 3 years and 1 month [9]
How different Jane’s and my early childhood years were.
During my earliest years, my father worked, then he was gone to the Navy during World War II.
My memories begin with only my mother and I about the house. Jane, on the other hand, has grown accustomed to my being around the house and caring for her for the last year and a half, since my layoff from Landy Packing Company. We are together daily from around 7:15 AM until Donna comes home from work about 5:30 PM.

During week days, I wash dishes; wash, dry, fold and put away clothes; clean, sweep and dust as required; mow the lawn, rake leaves or split wood (seasonally dependent); make our lunches; start supper; read; work on my journals; read to Jane and take care of her needs.
Although I keep an eye on Jane, she is mostly left to her own devices. She spends her day playing with various kitchen implements, pretending to mix and prepare food. Often she is seen giving her dolls a ride, in the bed of her toy dump truck. She colors in her color books, looks at the Sears and Penny’s Christmas catalogs and practices writing on a Magic Marker Board.

We sit together on the couch at least twice a day, spending about fifteen minutes per session reading from Little Golden Books, Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, and many other story books.
By her second birthday, Jane knew the letters of the alphabet and single digit numbers, by their shape and sound.  Since then, she began learning to read words of two to five letters, from my specially prepared three by five-inch cards. As the months passed, I increasingly laid the cards side by side to form simple sentences, such as,


By the end of November when Jane turned three years old, she was slowly reading from an old 1940s First Grade, Dick and Jane, Reader, she also had begun printing the letters of the alphabet.

A month later,  she could print her name and well over half the letters of the alphabet[10] , which was quite unusual and advanced for a three-year, one month old child! (smile) By 3 years, 2 months of age, she knew and could print the alphabet. [See Jane’s journal entries, above.]

Changing my correspondence technique
Late this year I made a few changes in my letter writing routine, with amazing results:
1) Ever since moving to Minnesota, I’d been writing my letters with a pencil, on simple 8″ x 11″ college lined school paper. When I began using quality stationary and a fountain pen, the apparent change in formality caused my return correspondence to decline.
2) When I quit writing five to ten page letters, after receiving one or two page replies, and began trading essentially, page for page, there was another decline in my return mail.
3) When I began waiting to answer my personal mail for as long a period as it took each correspondent to  answer my letter, there was a further reduction.

Occassionally, Donna would say, “I don’t know why you write so soon after you hear, you know they won’t answer you for, uhhh…how long’s it been?” or in a similar vein, “You spend the day writing and you got that (!) note in reply?”, she chuckles and continues, “I, wouldn’t be in any hurry to write back!”

Although I didn’t want to think about it, when I did, I realized Donna was right, there was little equity in the quality of mail exchanged with some of my correspondents.

Everyone loves to receive long letters in quick response to their writing.

A ten page letter takes the better part of a day to write. In terms of equity, I was giving $50 worth of my time, usually for $2 to $5 of the correspondents time, and had to wait several months for the privilege of a reply.

Within a year of changing my correspondence techniques, the amount of time I spent writing was reduced by at least fifty percent and over the next couple years it dropped to probably ten to fifteen percent of what it had been formerly.

Donna’s father flies up to visit with us for Christmas
Early in December, about two weeks after Eulah’s death, Donna invited her father, Don, to fly up from California to visit with us during the Christmas and New Year holiday.
Don was obviously depressed from Eulah’s recent death and happy with our invitation; plans were made for him to stay with us from December 22 until 8 January.

Don took care of some business he had to attend to in Redding, then flew to the Minneapolis International Airport.
He arrived on Monday, December 22, aboard Northwest Orient Airlines, flight #154, at the scheduled time of 4:53 PM.
Although Don arrived on time, all of his baggage, except for a ‘carry on bag’ went elsewhere and it took several days before the wayward suitcases could be rerouted and delivered to St. Cloud.
The day after his arrival, I took Don to visit several retail stores in St. Cloud where he had some last minute Christmas shopping to do.
Much to Jane’s delight,  ‘Grandpa’ spent a lot of time holding, playing with and reading to her. It was a match made in heaven, Don and Jane sitting together on the couch watching TV and hug-snuggling each other. Every once in a while as Don read to Jane, he would doze off to sleep for a few minutes, Jane sat with him patiently looking at her book until he would suddenly awaken with a start and resume reading.

Gifts and Eulah’s personal affects
On Christmas morning, the family gathered around our gaily decorated Christmas tree to open presents. Everyone took turns handing out gifts. There was something about having family together, that made Christmas more pleasurable than it was during those years when Donna and I sat alone, forlorn and sad after opening our gifts.

Among the gifts we each received were:
•  Donna: five cable knit sweaters, an antique ‘swan’ planter, antique figurines that had belonged to her mother.
•  Jane: two dresses, five Teddy Ruxpin Adventure Tapes & Books, two Teddy Ruxpin clothing outfits, two dolls, a kaleidoscope, Old Maid cards and a pair of Navy colored slacks.
•  Larry: two Harris Tweed jackets, two neck ties, and a sweater vest.
•  Don: a 5 inch by 7 inch framed color photograph of Jane, flannel shirt, wool scarf.

Our relatives sent: A year’s subscription to National Geographic, $15.00 cash, a bushel of oranges and grapefruit, two fruitcakes, a box of dates, and a date/coconut cake.

Later in the morning, Donna opened two boxes of Eulah’s personal effects that Don had mailed preceding his visit. The boxes contained Eulah’s costume jewelry, dainty handkerchiefs, hats and scarves. Some other items that Don brought in his luggage were Eulah’s 1928 Bible, an old and very nice Amethyst necklace and a framed eightieth year birthday card from President Ronald Regan.
That evening after our Christmas meal, we sat around the table talking about Eulah. At eighty five years of age, she was amongst the last of that generation of people who settled the old west and brought it into the modern era. Her early life in the Arizona territory and after statehood, was a time that existed toward the end of that period, it was at the end of the horse and buggy days– the time when Halley’s Comet had last visited Earth.

Donna’s 39th birthday
Saturday, December 27th, two days after Christmas, was Donna’s thirty ninth birthday.We spent the morning chatting and playing with Jane.
During late afternoon, Donna opened her birthday presentsto find she’d received; seven pair tweed design stockings, a smooth faced brassiere, a pair of supple brown leather gloves with cashmere and wool linings.
After supper, we sat around the table, this time angrily discussing ‘illegal immigrants’. The paragraph that followed has been edited out of this public article.

Don returned to Redding,California
While Donna was at work on her week days, Don spent a lot of time watching television, reading to Jane, napping, reading my journals and chatting with me. I spent my time doing dishes and minor housework, working on my journals and writing letters to relatives and chatting with Don.
During late morning, Thursday, January 8, 1987, two weeks after Don’s arrival, Donna drove her father back to the airport in Minneapolis for his return home.
Why is it, when you have enjoyed visiting with company, when they leave a sadness sets in? In the days following Don’s departure, we missed his happy and exuberant presence about the house.

An oil painting of Eulah
Several months after returning to California, Don shipped to Donna, a large, framed, oil painting of her mother, Eulah. The well executed painting was made by Donna’s artistic, half sister, Kedina, and made from a circa 1929 photograph of Eulah;  whom I might add was a beautiful twenty eight years old woman. Don said the painting hung on the wall in Eulah’s bedroom for several years prior to her death. [See photo at left of   Eulah’s portrait painting hanging on our bedroom wall at Nightstar*.]

What’s on TV tonight?
My favorite programs in 1986.
•  Local Evening   News
•  National   Evening News
•  ABC, CBS or NBC evening movies.

Movies that Donna, Jane and I attended during the year:
Aliens with Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehm
Crocodile Dundee with Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, John Meillon
Down And Out In Beverly Hills with Nick Nolte, Richard Dreyfuss, Bette Midler
Flight Of The Navigator with Joey Cramer, Veronica Cartwright, Cliff   DeYoung
Heartbreak  Ridge   with Clint Eastwood, Marsha Mason,Everett   McGill
Highlander with Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Roxanne   Hart
Peggy Sue Got Married with Kathleen   Turner, Nicholas Cage, Barry Miller
Short Circuit with Ally Sheedy, Steve Guttenberg, Fisher Stevens
Space Camp with Kate Capshaw, Lea Thompson, Kelly Preston
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home with William   Shatner, Leonard Nimoy
Tai-Pan with Byran Brown, Joan Chen, John Stanton, Tom   Guinee
The Clan of the Cave Bear  with Daryl   Hannah, Pamela Reed, James Remar
The Fly with Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz

[1]  See Journal 11, High Plains Drifter, page 1836, “A Return to the Camping Experience.”
[2]  Camp stew: Cook together: about 1 quart of water containing a package of commercial dehydrated onion soup mix, 1/4 cup rice, 1 diced potato, 1 diced onion, small can stewed tomatoes. Add a pound of fried hamburger to the stew mix. Serve with sour dough bread topped with peanut butter. A hearty, easy to make stew good for cool and cold evenings in camp.
[3]  See Journal 11, High Plains Drifter, page 1844, excerpts from “A Return to the Camping Experience.”
[4]  Jane had her duck doll, “Ducky,” a gift from her paternal Great uncle Bill and Elizabeth Pierce.
[5] Over the next 14 years, while the threat of terrorism was drilled into the public consciousness as a huge threat, more people in the USA died from bee stings than from terrorist attacks. Fear generates business.
[6]  See Journal 12, Point of View, page 2007, part of the article “Jane Elizabeth Pierce: The days between ages two and three”
[7]  See Journal 4, The Passage, page 536, “An Account of the Death of Eulah Clara Roberts-___”
[8]  See Journal 4, The Passage, page 539, “The Passing of Eulah Clara___– Mother’s Farewell Gift”
[9]  See Journal 12, Point of View page 1984, “Jane Elizabeth Pierce: The days between ages two and three.”
[10]  See also Journal 11, High Plains Drifter, page 1822+, ” Drawings by Jane Elizabeth Pierce.”

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Filed under Autobiography, __4. Little House in the Woods- Beginnings: 1980-1987

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