Yellowstone Fever

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Do you have trouble falling asleep at night?
I have the answer; my dad’s home movies of Yellowstone National Park.
Trouble is, I haven’t figured out how to market them to all you insomniacs out there yet.
 
We made that family trip to Yellowstone in the summer of 1956, I believe.
I just remember being car-sick most of the time from riding in the backseat sandwiched between my two brothers. It was especially bad when we arrived in geyser country.
Now, there’s a place where the devil has provided people with  a little preview of what Hell will be like; hot gasses boiling up from the bowels of the earth causing water to shoot high into the sky or just ooze to the surface creating little burps of slimy mud… like a thick spaghetti sauce bubbling on the stove.
The whole place stinks of Beelzebub too..a sulfuric stench not unlike rotten eggs.
 One of Yellowstone’s million or so mud pots..peww
It didn’t seem to bother anyone else in the family but me.  So, while they explored this steaming wonderland on foot, I stayed in our ’53 Mercury..miserable from a combination of heat, car sickness and that awful odor.
I remember being afraid to cough or sneeze for fear that I would erupt like Old Faithful from both ends.
Anyway, that’s my memory of Yellowstone National Park.
But my Dad loved it there and took reel after reel of film..much of it while he was driving the car.
For some reason, he didn’t trust my mom or any of us boys with the camera.
So a lot of the footage is shot through the windshield and shows his left hand gripping the steering wheel with a Camel cigarette between his fingers.
After we got home, it wasn’t long before Dad had the film developed and spliced together on one big brown reel.
 
My Mom was a great cook and she loved to have company come over for supper.
But those delicious meals usually came at a price; an after-dinner show that we should have called the “Wonders of Yellowstone” narrated by Harry Lund.
“You haven’t seen these have you?” he’d say to our well-fed guests. Before anyone could answer, though, the lights were shut off, the projector was switched on and..there we were…back at that hell hole he was so fond of.
 
But after a few minutes of watching Dad’s long rolling shots of mountain highways, trees and Yellowstone Falls, people’s heads around the living room would begin to bob backward and forward as if Mom had slipped a Mickey into their roast beef.
Children, including my normally hyperactive cousins, would crumple on the carpet and doze off out of boredom.
 
It never seemed to bother Dad, though. Showing those home movies always gave him great pleasure even without an attentive audience.
 
I think of my folks a lot during the month of November. Mom would have been 99 on the 13th, Dad 101 on the 27th.I would give anything to taste her fried chicken again and to sit in our darkened living room listening to the hum of that projector and hear Dad’s voice describing..one more time..the joys and dangers of feeding bears from right out of our car window and the unforgettable aroma of Yellowstone’s geysers.
I would stay awake this time.

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