Saturday, February 27, 2016

The day the bell would not ring - Summer 1967

Summer 1967  Cazadero,  Sonoma County, California  -  Girl Scout camp

My friend Pauline and I were going to be Seniors in September 1967 at Redwood High School in Marin County, California.  This was our last year at Camp Royaneh, a Scouts camp.  See Camp Royaneh.  At the time it was both a boys and a girl scout camp. It looks like now it is just for boys. Our church had rented it for the week each year for the girls only.

Me and Pauline

I met Pauline in 1963 when my family moved to Marin County, California.  I missed my Girl's camp that is summer because it is already happened before I moved to Larkspur. I had already gone to camp two summers with the church group from San Francisco to the Sierra's.
So it was not until between my eighth grade 1964, freshman year that I went to camp with the church group from Marin County.
So 1967 was the fourth year that I went to girls camp with Pauline and the other girls from Marin and Sonoma counties.  Girls church summer camp is for girls ages 12 to 18.  You can go after that as staff.

Usually there was a good 80 to 100 people at this camp.
The camp was really nice. It had a swimming pool,  a dining hall and a craft building.
We had canoeing, swimming, archery, first aid training, general camping knowledge, and fun gatherings at night.

Every night we would sleep in open air cabins that basically had no windows or doors, but for low walls and a good roof.  Each cabin had 6 to 8 metal frame beds with ticking mattresses. You had to supply your own sleeping bag and accessories. There was one big overhead light, but we could not turn it on or off. There were No electric outlets! There were bathrooms with showers here and there between some 50 cabins.

The first year I was there they had horseback riding, but they did not have it after that year when I went.  The food was good and we all had our duty to help in the kitchen at least two meals during the 6 days.  We arrived on a Monday and left on Saturday.  Going to church on Sunday at home was always very exhausting as we are all very tired from our week of camping.

                               Map of Camp Royaneh

Routine was gathering for the flag ceremony before the breakfast,  having a lunch and a nice dinner. In the evening a campfire sing-a-long, skits and general organized chaos.

In the daytime  we had classes and free time. Part of camp was to get merit badges just like boy and girl scouts. So we had to pass classes and teach the younger kids, too.

By the time Pauline and I were going to be seniors in 1967, after four summers, we were done with the morning bell!
I believe that the bell rang at something like 7 AM to get us up and go to the flag ceremony and breakfast, and then we started our daily routine.

                Me and my date December 1967

She said - she said

One day Pauline said, "We have got to stop that bell!"
So I said to her,"How can do that?"  She said, "We have got to put a sock or something over the clanger and prevent the clanging of the bell!"  I said, "Do you realize that bell is over 8 feet up?"  She said, "Yeah, I know." She continued,  "Well, you are 5 foot five and I am 5 foot eight.  Between the two of us, we'll have plenty of height to reach the clanger and wrap it up."
I said quizzically,  "How are we going to do that so that no one will see us doing it?"  She retorted, "We will get up at 5 AM and quietly go down there and wrap up the clanger."

This was practically us, me with long blonde hair holding up her with long dark hair.

So I said okay.  Scratching my head, thinking in my mind we are two crazy people like Lucy and Ethel or Laurel and Hardy or some such crazy duo who always managed to get into major trouble with their harebrained schemes.

Left - Ethel, middle - a factory supervisor and right - Lucy, try to work at the Chocolate Bon-Bon factory

So we figured it would be best to choose the last day of the morning bell, which is Saturday morning.
So mind you - 1967 this is 49 years ago. I do not recall what she used to tie up the clanger on the bell, as she was in charge of that job.  I think I was the one that had to wake us up.
We thought we were 'all that'  because we were the oldest girls at camp.
I was 17 1/2 and born in December 1949 and she was born in November 1950 so she was 11 months younger than me.

At camp we were thick as thieves and we had previously double dated two young Army members.  She had met Glenn and was dating him and so her and Glenn found a young man, Joe, for me.  We had dated them on and off for almost a year. We wrote letters to these young men at the Army base in Marin County while we are at camp.
All we could think about was getting back home and having our dates with them.
So we had been best buddies since 1963 and talked to each other almost daily.

Up with the Chickens

Saturday morning we got up. I am not sure how we got up early enough. We got dressed and carefully made our way down to the gathering area [Parade Ground in map] by the dining hall and the craft room's building.
Each cabin had a cabin mother and I do not remember who that was that year, but apparently we got out of the cabin without her waking up.  I am sure she if she did hear us, She probably thought that one of us was making our way down to the port-a-potty.

So we get down there to the bell tower.
The bell was on top of a huge tree trunk like I said was about 8 feet tall with a big brass bell that was about 18 inches tall.

I knew that I was stronger than her. As far as having more muscular legs and could carry weights because my Dad taught me how.  So I said, "Okay, I boost you up and you will stand on my shoulders."
I had already had cracked my clavicle on the left side in an auto accident a few months before that and it was still very sore. [See photo above]  I had no idea that it was cracked or even broken until 25 years later when I had an x-ray and the doctor said when did you break your clavicle? I think it was at this incident that it was finally broken.

Pauline probably weighed about 120 pounds and 5 foot eight, as I mentioned.  She was squirming like a worm on a fish hook to do the job of tying up the bell, which seemed like forever to me. All that time, all of her weight on my left clavicle with her left foot.
Finally, she got the job done and I let her down, and we slunk back to our beds.

No bell ringing!

We were so happy that we did NOT hear the bell at 7 AM.
Finally, somebody woke us up and said that we needed to get down to the bell circle for morning routine before breakfast.
I do not recall what time it was that they realize that the bell was tied up and sent people to the different cabins to wake them up and get us down to the circle.
Pauline and I were standing there in the circle for roll call and flag ceremony trying to wake up and keep from laughing.  The leadership were clearly wroth with whoever it was who had tied up the bell!

They never found out.  We never confessed.

I guess they decided it was not worth pushing the search since it was the last day of camp and figured maybe the guilty parties would confess later.  I suppose they could have held our merit badge rewards or something, and a stern lecture from our church leaders.
I never said anything and I do not think she did either. Nobody in the leadership ever said anything to us after that.  If they did figure it out, that it was us, they probably dismissed it as a prank and other then the day starting out late, no harm was done.

My punishment and of course was my cracked clavicle.
That has stayed with me until this day I still have a very sore neck and shoulder on the left side.
That one crazy friend that you have to match your crazy ideas stays with you your whole life.

Was it worth it?
Despite my injury I would say yes!

I think a harmless prank and getting away with it gives you a little something to think about in your old age. Like me now some 50 years later!

                  1960's Mounds Bar my favorite candy

What's important to a female teenager?

Remembering how you thought the most important things were: that you could find the correct nail polish color, or have enough money to buy your favorite candy bar, or wondering if your dress looks good enough to attract the attention of that young man whom you want to ask you to dance. What little money we had from babysitting or some part time job after school and weekends would surely not support a car payment!  I turned in a good percentage of my money to my parents and they paid the car payment. I had to share the car on the weekends with my brother.  I gave rides to kids to and from school and they paid me gas money - 25 cents a gallon!

Growing up

All too soon it will be mortgage payments, car payments, student loans, your child's orthodontic bill or the leaky roof over your head.
It was not often that I pulled a prank or was part of pulling a prank because I had been teased so much as a child I did not like to hurt other people.
So when Pauline proposed tying up the bell. It sounded like something that would not be really harmful to other people and would give us a secret pride of overcoming the status quo.

Camaro Incident

Of course it age 17 and half you think your infallible.
A few months later, being ridiculous, I was in my car chasing after another car driven by a male friend. Me in my 1968 Red Camaro, I thought I had a good command of my car.

I was chasing him and his car and I really did not know the neighborhood.  We turned the corner and the road started going downhill and I took to turn around the corner a little too fast.  He said he looked in his rear view mirror and saw me fish tailing around the corner. He said it looked like a scene from a movie.  Well, unseen hands had helped me to keep that car on the road and not flip it.
He stopped at the bottom of the hill and I stopped behind him.
He got out of the car and came over to me and he said I looked like I was white as a sheet and asked me if I was okay.
I said yes.  No more car chases after that for me!  In our youth we think we are infallible, and we do silly things.  I had my share of auto accidents and lucky we I did not die from any of them.
I did get damaged with a broken knee in one accident where a car stopped in the middle of the road at a crossroads on a rural Highway in 1973.
I did not drive for more than a year after that. It took me a long time to get used to driving again.

Flag Ceremony, Camp Tautona, Tautona Girl Scout Council, Barton Flats, California, 1940 - 1960s

As to that bell at the Girl Scout camp, at I am sure it is still there.  I wonder if any of the other campers have tried to tie up the bell so it would not clang?