“Tent City”

1948-50s 076

One of the constants of my growing up was tent camping. Here, at age two, I have been bedded down in my own little pup tent, just large enough for a single air mattress, even though I only fill half of it. My parents shared a larger tent for the two of them. In fact, whenever we went camping the kids were in one tent and my parents in another. Eventually the kids were in two tents and my parents were in the station wagon. When we asked them why they preferred the car to a tent, they told us they liked to listen to the car radio!

We had a favorite place to go camping in central Oregon called Three Creek Lake. Today it is easily accessible from the now booming town of Sisters. In the 1950’s Sisters was a small ranching town and the road up to Three Creek was dirt and barely navigable. The ruts were very deep, and my parents had to balance the wheels to the sides of the ruts to drive on the road. To drive in the ruts ensured what they called “bottoming out” which apparently was a very bad idea.


For us kids, the drive was well worth the difficulty. We would watch our parents pitch the tents next to the lake, put on our bathing suits and jump in. Here I am floating on another of those war surplus air mattresses that we had plenty of. The lake was utterly freezing since it was at an altitude of 6550 feet, but we loved it. Only when we were shaking with cold and spouting blue lips did our mother insist we get out. “But Mom, we’re fine!”

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