Sunday, August 04, 2013

A story that bears repeating

yellowstonebear01I spent much of the spring and summer of 1955 on crutches after I rode a friend’s bicycle into the path of a doctor’s Cadillac in April.

I think my parents felt I deserved something special, so they took me on a trip to the West, that included a couple of days in Yellowstone National Park.

Those were the days when stupid tourists (us included) thought it was OK to feed bears from car windows. Consequently, there were bears all over the place in areas where they are rarely seen today.

(Yogi Bear, the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character who lived in Jellystone Park, had an obsession with picnic baskets – a reference to those careless days.)

I shot these photos from our 1955 Ford Fairlane with my first camera – a Kodak Brownie Holiday Flash – of three of the 49 bears we saw during our time in the park.yellowstonebear02These were black bears and I don’t think we saw any grizzlies.yellowstonebear03

Despite the seemingly high risk factor, National Park Service records show injuries in developed areas from both varieties of bear averaged only 2 per year from the 1930s through the 1960s.

NPS stats show only seven people have been killed by bears in Yellowstone National Park in the 140+ year history of the park. To put this into perspective, the National Park Service says:

More people in the park have died from drowning, burns (after falling into thermal pools), and suicide than have been killed by bears. To put it in perspective, the probability of being killed by a bear in the park (7 incidents) is only slightly higher than the probability of being struck and killed by lightning (5 incidents).

It was on that trip that I first encountered Wallace China Rodeo and Boots & Saddle pattern restaurant ware with the cattle brands around the rim of the plates and saucers. Today, 58 summer later, I have a cabinet full of Wallace cowboy china as a legacy of that trip.

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