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A bear grabs Mary's ham at Yellowstone National Park

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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Mary, Alma and Alice are still on their road trip and this week they end up in Yellowstone National Park and Salt Lake City. Enjoy!

Thursday June 16, 1938

Woke at 7:30 and dressed. We ate breakfast at Chondeau and Dorothy had hotcakes and ham and I had eggs, ham and fried potatoes and did Alma and Alice laugh, as we have ham in the car. Our breakfast cost less than Alice's bran flakes, coffee, toast and tomato juice. Hers was $.40 and ours was $.35. We drove steadily until we reached Helena where we had a malted milk and bought some fruit and cookies. Then we did not stop but once until we came to Gardiner, Montana. We passed by a rattlesnake that was asleep or dead, we thought, but when we backed up there with the car it was gone. My, it was a big one! We saw so many lovely wildflowers, especially some bright blue ones that look like delphiniums. Yesterday we saw what must've been wild forget-me-nots. They grew all over along the road. In Calgary, lettuce was $.10 and strawberries two boxes $.25 Meat very cheap. Pork sausage $.19 a pound and steaks very low Films for my camera cost $1.50. We saw several large flocks of sheep on the hills, which are certainly a grand sight, and many colts and calves. I took a good picture of some horses silhouetted against the sky line. We honked the horn and then they ran. Saw lots of groundhogs, squirrels, etc., run across the road.

Dorothy is fighting the stove The coal fire will not go fast enough to cook her chops Wrote a letter to Sam telling him about our trip Sent a card to Mrs Irving.

Friday June 17, 1938

Dorothy woke us at an unearthly hour of 6:30 and we ate breakfast of ham and scrambled eggs. We had some gas put in the car and bought some cards and groceries in the town of Gardiner before entering the park. On our way into the main part of the park, we saw a moose and at a large open place, a deer and one bear on our hike at Mammoth Hot Springs. It was very interesting too. The hike at Mammoth was very good. One woman asked what made the floor of the tennis court green. She asked so many crazy questions we shall never forget her Alice saw the deer squat and said oh what is he doing now and then did her face turn red! The deer used that method when nature calls. Wildflowers we saw were blue clematis, yellow daisies and arrowroot and blue Lupin and delphiniums. We saw one bear first and one deer on the hike and two moose and then we saw the beaver dams Two black bears on the way to Roaring Mountain. One big black bear that some people fed by their car and two elk feeding amongst the trees near one of the geysers and one brown bear near Norris geyser basin in a herd of about 15 elk in another open field. We came by so many geysers that it is hard to tell about so many. We found a cabin for $4.00 & 40 cents for wood. After we had settled for the day we went over to the curio shop and saw lots of stuff that simply is junk. I wonder who will buy it? We visited the photo shop and wrote some cards and then watched Old Faithful spout. It certainly is a grand sight. The first time we saw it today was when we first arrived and it was hailing so we could not leave the car. We ate a good supper and I had hung the ham up in the window in a sack. Just as I was about through eating I looked out and saw a big bear going by and I jumped out and grabbed the ham from the window. My, how the girls laughed! We then followed the bear as he went after the garbage cans. Several other people were taking pictures of him. He certainly meant business the way he went after the garbage cans. Now we're going to an outdoor lecture if it does not rain. It is thundering and lightning so now we can't tell what we may have. I wrote six cards and mailed them. Mailed two newspapers and a card to Sam this morning We certainly thought it was funny to have to buy wood by the bundle. They sell a bundle for $.20 plus a 4-pound sack half full of kerosene-soaked sawdust for fire starting. The fire starts hard but the wood holds the heat when it gets started and we had no stove poker. We sat at the outdoor lecture and it started to rain so all went inside. We enjoyed it very much and then went home to bed. The lecture was on the formation of Yellowstone Park and was given by one of the ranger naturalists who are school teachers in the winter and out in the parks in the summer.

Saturday June 18, 1938

Up early and went on the geyser hike at nine. The ranger told us that the fringed gentian was the state flower of Wyoming. We ate lunch at the cafeteria and then drove to West Thumb to canyon and saw the bear feed and went home. The rain came and made it very cold yet the bear feeding was very funny. There was an old bear with three tiny cubs and oh they were cute. Then we saw a big bear that all were afraid of. How they puffed when they ran away from the feeding stand. Alice and I went swimming in the pool but it wasn't nearly as nice as we expected. Alma pressed dresses and Dorothy made her lunch which we ate in the car waiting for the gate to open to the bear feeding. We were the third car in line and waited 1 1/2 hours so had lots of time to eat our lunch. We saw two coyotes at the bear feeding, one black bear on the road and about 40 elk. To bed early and all were very tired.

Sunday June 19, 1938

We got up early and had the car all packed and Dorothy and I were fixing the robes in the backseat of the car when we heard something at the back of the car. Dorothy said "Who's in the back of the car?" and we got out and there was a bear after our ham. He tore the side out-of-the-box and grabbed the ham and ran. When Dorothy shut the trunk door she found the key broken. So we got the garage man to solder the key and we left Old Faithful about 10:30. We drove to Cody, Wyoming from there and it was a fine trip. There were some very narrow roads but the scenery was grand. Ate a chicken dinner at the Mayflower cafe and it was good.

Best fried chicken I ever ate in a restaurant. We visited the Bill Cody Museum and bought some cards. It was very good and we wish we could have stayed longer. We drove back to the bear feeding and it was fair but there were not so many bears. We took pictures and I hope they are good. Home to cabin number 100 at Canyon Junction and now we are all resting. All very tired. We saw one coyote on the road, three bears, one elk and a fawn. One elk at Fishing Bridge then on the way home we saw 40 elk in different places. They are easy to pick out. But next time I'll get some binoculars so I can see things. The weather was fine most of the day and we all took several pictures. Now I'm going to clean up and go to bed.

Monday June 20, 1938

A very bright morning and everyone slept late. Left Canyon Junction at 5 to 10 and Dorothy bought some photos and I bought a wood tray. We took pictures of the falls and they all should be good as everything was ideal for picture taking. We saw two bears and 24 buffalo by Mount Washburn. There were 8 antelope in a meadow out towards the Cook Entrance. Dorothy got up close to the fawn to get a picture but she waited too long and it ran away. We drove as far as Buffalo Ranch and then returned to Gardiner. We stopped off to see the petrified tree and found the carcass of an elk near a swamp on our way out. Just as we entered the Gardiner Entrance we saw an antelope right by the road so we all took pictures. There were five in the field nearby and 12 up the hill. Entering Gardiner we bought our groceries and I am going to find out where they get their stickers made so I can have some made for Belfair. We got a cabin for $3.50 at the same auto camp and all cleaned and rested up. This is the nicest cabin we have had so far. Tonight after supper we are going to do our washing so we had the stove going full blast. For supper the menu was boiled potatoes, buttered beans, fried onions, steak, bread-and-butter, tea, pears and cookies. I took some wonderful pictures of the hills tonight. There was one of the ragged trees that should be especially good. However the little movie camera is a flop and now refuses to run. I wonder what's wrong. I know the film is right inside Wrote a short letter to Sam.

Tuesday June 21, 1938

Last night Dorothy washed soiled clothes and I hung them on a fine line outside of the cabin. They dried nicely and I ironed them so now are nice and clean. Alma and Alice washed and ironed their clothes too. I was talking to the owner of the cabins. He says no one in Gardiner is on relief. They have a gold mine that employs over 200 men, another place that cuts rock and sends it east that employs about 40 men and then quite a farming area. The park rangers come down to Gardiner to winter and that makes the town better. There is quite a business district and one large store where I found out the price of the stickers we had on the car. We got up early and packed again. We bought some more postcards and I mailed a picture to Henry for his birthday. We took some more pictures of antelope as we left Gardiner. The drive was fine until about halfway through the park, when it started to rain. Had the oil changed in the car in Gardiner We took pictures of an enormous moose that we saw in a swamp Then we saw six bears at different places of which people were feeding. We ate our lunch at West Yellowstone Alma's treat, and asked for mail at the post office but there was none. Took in several curio shops and were on our way. My, it was hot after the rain! Drove as far as Idaho Falls when we found a nice cabin at Mac's Deluxe Cabins for three dollars Bought some groceries and made dinner. All starved and so we all ate too much. Had some grand strawberries and cream This is a nice airy cabin and clean, but near the railroad tracks so now if they don't switch cars all night we shall get a good night's rest I drove all but about 40 miles today and then there was a nice dusty detour. Dorothy said you must smell them for every time she takes the wheel we seem to get detours. We looked at some very lovely cabins before we took this one. There are certainly a lot of cabins here so I guess there must have been a lot of trade last summer and expect more this summer.

Wednesday June 22, 1938

We left Idaho Falls early as everyone awoke about six. So we were on our way at 10 to 7. We ate our lunch a short ways out of Salt Lake City. We spent an hour looking for a cabin and finally decided on one at the Utah auto camp for $3.75. We cleaned up and drove out to Black Rock where we went swimming in Salt Lake. My, it was fun! We floated all over the place Couldn't swim as our feet would not stay under. But my, how salty the water is! I tasted it to see how salty it was. Drove back to town and went inside the Temple Gardens. We bought some photos and wrote some cards home. There we went on a tour around the Temple. The man took us into the Assembly Hall and then into the Tabernacle where he showed us how well you could hear. He dropped two pins and we could hear them clear to the back row. It was a lovely place and I wish I could hear the organ recital. The guide answered any questions we asked. As no one asked about polygamy, he answered that it was not in practice since 1890 when the U.S. government made laws that forbade it. No one who is not a Mormon can enter the Temple and if the Mormon himself has done something very wrong they have a hard time getting in. Mormons are married in the temple "for all eternity" instead of "death do us part." They may be remarried in their ancestor's stead "for all eternity" if those people were not married in the temple. It seems the Mormons spend a great deal of time looking up their ancestors. They are great believers in education and are in most highly educated city in U.S. per capita. We drove up to see the capital and saw the view of the city at night. It was grand. Home and ate berries, cream, tea and raisin bread. To bed after a good shower to get the salt out of our hides I took a couple pictures in the Temple Garden. I do hope they turn out good. The city is a beautiful sight at night. So many neon signs and it's marvelous to see. We saw the salt deposits on our way to Black Rock. They make salt from the deposits out of the lake 1938 was approaching the end of the Great Depression, but there were still people on relief in Belfair. Thank you for reading this week's diary.

Clydene Hostetler is a longtime Belfair resident, local historian, media archivist and documentary filmmaker of "Hidden in Plain Sight." She has been researching Mary Theler's life for the past 13 years. She can be emailed at

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Original Publication Date: June 16, 2016

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