This is one of those stories that are a legend in our family. It gets better with each telling– the story gets more gory, the “bear” gets bigger, the danger gets scary. But, let me start at the beginning. Pull up a chair my friends, it is story time…
Growing up, my grandparents belonged to the Diamond Gypsies Camping Club. I honestly don’t know if my parents belonged too or if we just tagged along with them. We started out staying with them in their Airstream and eventually moved into a tent. After tent camping for awhile, my parents decided to buy a fold-out camper. Once we had our own camper, we ventured out on our own to various campgrounds and places. We even camped in Canada once!
This particular story takes place in Toledo, Ohio on a warm summer’s evening. Mom, dad and I headed up north to visit the Toledo Zoo and to stay in a campground for the weekend.
One of the things we always ate when camping was pizza pies (or fire pies, or hobo pies- everyone calls them something different). You take a special pie maker, place two slices of bread on each side and fill it with fillings. We would make pizza pies with Pizza Quick and cheese. We also would make fruit pies using canned fruit filling. Then, you place them in the bottom of the fire pit and cook them until they are toasted. Invariably, we would also roast marshmallows and make S’mores.
This particular night, I remember us sitting around the campfire and my father got out his woodworking tools. He had just taken up carving (which is about as far as he got with it). He had some balsam wood and was using his tools to make who knows what. I don’t know for sure what happened, but I remember him cussing and dropping everything.
Blood was running from his finger.
It kept bleeding and bleeding and bleeding.
(Years later, he told me he probably should have gotten stitches).
Finally, my mom got him doctored up and we went to bed.
Prior to going into the camper, my mom took some leftover food and threw it in the fire and we went to bed.
If you don’t know much about fold-out campers, the center part is solid, while the sleeping part is made of tent material. You can hear– and if the flaps are open– see everything going on outside.
Middle of the night, I hear “scratch, scratch, scratch.”
The sound continues.
Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.
There is a sound of something being knocked over.
Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.
My dad finally jumped up and pointed a flashlight outside and yelled and something scampered away.
An animal had been in the fire pit eating the food mom threw in there before heading to bed.
I am totally convinced it was a bear.
My dad, the next morning, with his hand bandaged up decided it was a raccoon.
To this day, I am sure it was a bear.
A bear was eating fire pies out of the fire pit at a campground in Toledo.
A bear escaped from the zoo stopped by for a midnight snack.
(Hey, my parents lied about the tooth fairy, they could have been lying about the bear too.)
And, truthfully, things like this always happened when we were camping… crazy stuff happened… we even spent the night in a campground WITH a bear in a pit.
I think that damn bear followed us around on our adventures…
That wasn’t a raccoon.