Tag Archives: Black Hills

Odds and Ends13 Years Old and Church Camp

All of my life was not built just around family, of course.  One personally dramatic time came for me when I turned 13.  Most of the girls at school began to wear high heeled shoes for dress occasions.  Braces did not lend themselves to such fancy footwear, nor to the very popular tennis shoes! That summer just before my 13th birthday, my maternal grandmother finally had her way and I was sent to Church Camp.  We were not active in church as a family, but my grandmother was very involved. She read her Bible everyday. Why she did that remained a mystery to we children, but my Dad said, “It is just something that is important to her, like the newspaper and news magazines are to me.”  Grandma tried to see to it that John, Morey, and I attended Sunday School regularly, but she didn’t drive and we lived on the other side of the town.  She had to rely on my Mother to get us there and that made our attendance a very spotty thing. However, this particular year as she saw me approaching the teens, she was determined that I should know more about Jesus, and she offered to pay my way to camp.  Since I knew the pastor’s son and had played with him and his sister when visiting Grandma, she used the fact that he was going to encourage  me .  I was a little reluctant, but our family had always “camped” so I figured camp would be something like that and I would probably like it

Camp wasn’t at all what I’d expected.  Only eight of us from the church in Winner attended, seven girls and Wendel.  The other girls were “church” girls and they bunked in twos.  I was the odd girl out so to speak.  But the director moved me into their cabin, by putting the counselor in a bunk bed, that she shared with me. Rather than using  the bottom bunk for her own things as all the other counsellors could do, she had an “extra” which meant she was inconvenienced, thus she wasn’t a whole lot friendlier to me than the girls were. From the beginning I had a terrific physical struggle. The camp was in the Black Hills and everything that went on was at a different level, with perpendicular paths!  I could walk on crutches readily enough, but I needed a wider path to swing them. Everything here was on a trail and for me a trial.  Swimming was down at the river, chapel was up on the hillside, campfire was on top of another hill, nature walks were on trails through the woods. The reality of camp for me was that I was confined to the small flat area that included our cabin and the Dining Hall.  That’s it ,final!

The other girls were actually a little pleased that I was so on the fringes of camp life since I didn’t really belong to their Sunday School clique anyhow, but it worked for my good, as God knew it would.  They were always talking about “the boys”, which seemed silly to me.  That year there were only seven boys at camp and about 20+ girls. Wendel as the 7th boy was from a small town and was the preacher’s son, so he was an outsider too. Then there was a boy with asthma who couldn’t do too much, so the three of us hung around a lot while the others went off on current camp activities and free time.  When the last evening came for the special party meal, we could eat with two camper’s of our choice, instead of with our cabin mates as we regularly did. We were all to write down the names of two people we wanted at our table.  Without consultation, Wendel, Dick, and I all wrote each other’s names, so we were together.  The other girls were really unhappy that I the most unpopular girl at camp should end up with two of the seven boys at my table. Somehow that got me over the hump of not wearing high heels and tennis shoes, i could see that what boys liked about me had nothing to do with how I dressed.

Once again my father explained it to me.  You are used to boys, you have brothers, mostly boy cousins, and lots of uncles. You’ll always get along fine with them. I guess he was right, I started going steady my freshman year in high school (age13) and never was not promised to someone until I got married at 19. I don’t recommend that for young people, but for me it worked out just right. As to sexual activity, it had no appeal , for it was understood in our family that if you respected someone you kept your hands to yourself, and why would I want to date someone who didn’t respect me? I certainly would not be able to “love” someone who didn’t respect me, so…no thanks !!! Kissing , hugging, and holding hands were fine, but that was it.

The other outstanding memory of my High School years is of the loyal girl friends I had. A different one each year volunteered to match her class schedule to mine. She sat by me carried “our” books to each class, fought the locker rush, carried my crutches up and down stairs as necessary.  Beverly, Betty, Carol, and Cathy – unsung heroines. Thank you!


Hot July

My mother loved me, but she longed for a larger family, two of her babies died after birth, one when I was three and another when I was five, then when I was seven, she was again pregnant.  This time Dr Studenburg was taking no chances.  She would be sent nearly 250 miles away to the big hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  The baby would be taken by c-section so he could be monitored there from birth.  She would be going to the hospital in late July.  Two of my uncles lived in our home town, they were younger than my father and talked to my Dad about going on a hunting trip in the Black Hills.  They urged him to go, since it would be his last chance for a week end off before the new baby would come.  My father had had polio when he was a child, he used both a brace and crutches.  While he was an excellent shot, he was dependent on someone else to get him close enough to be able to hunt.  He was tempted to go with them, but reluctant to leave my Mother after all they’d been through with the previous pregnancies.

She, however, encouraged him, “It’s a month away yet.” He said.  Though she too was fearful, she feared more for my father if something should again go wrong than she did for herself.  It was very hot that summer.  Before my Dad left town he brought me home a gift, a pair of roller skates.  He told me seriously to take good care of my Mother.  Mom didn’t feel very well with the terrible heat wave, so she mostly sat by the fan, but I spent all that day outdoors going up and down our hill on my new skates.  My legs ached that night when Mom put me in bed, but “That’s logical, you aren’t used to skates and I’m afraid you over did it,” she said as she smiled and hugged me good night.

The next morning I woke up early, anxious to go skating again.  But I knew my mother was still asleep, so I got some books off the shelf by my bed and read for awhile.  Then I had to go to the bathroom.  When I stood up from the stool, my legs buckled.  I wasn’t hurt, just surprised!  There was no sound yet from Mom’s room, (I could hear through the closet) so I got up and went quietly back to bed.  After awhile I decided I’d very carefully get myself some cereal, but when I slid off the bed, I fell down again.  This time I was afraid and called Mom.  She was afraid too!  She called our family Doctor.  He came right over to the house, his concern for Mom made him more than willing to do a house call.  He suspected polio, and told my mother to go get Grandma to stay with me and he said for my mother not to come back home until he called her.

With the high fever now raging, the dreaded diagnosis came; it was indeed polio!  Dr Studenburg was reluctant to tell my Dad who had had polio when he was seven.  But he decided Dad must come right away to be with me.  He would not allow my mother to come home so near her delivery time.  She must stay at Grandma’s.  Where was my Dad, that was the question.  He and John and Jim had gone hunting in the Black Hills , but beyond that, who knew where the hunt might take them?  Dr Studenburg called the State Troopers and asked them to find Lorne Osborn.  It was urgent he told them then he gave them the description of the car.  Meanwhile he did what he could for me.  I was burning up with fever by this time, for polio does it’s damage –of killing muscles– in the high fever stage.  He and Grandma used cool rags, aspirin, cold baths and whatever they could there at our house.  They didn’t want to take me to the local hospital because for the unknown nature of the disease.  No one knew for sure then how it was transmitted.

When the State Trooper pulled Uncle John over sometime the next morning, the brothers figured he wanted to check their hunting licenses, but when he said, “Which one of you is Loren Osborn?” they knew licenses were not the problem.  My Dad answered and immediately thought of Mom. “I don’t know what it is about Sir,” the trooper told him, “It’s a medical emergency and they need you at home right away.” What a total surprise it was when they got back to town and found the problem was with me not Mom.  My Uncle John and Dad took me up to Hot Sptings that afternoon in our car.  They had a section in the hospital for polio victims, even a children’s ward, since so many had polio that year.