One of my favorite stories my father ever told me was also one of the shortest stories he ever told me. He told me many stories about growing on the Wisconsin River. Or he grew up near the river. He was able, on a bright, warm summer day to wander down to the river. I do not mean the creepy Saturday Night Live way of living in a van by the river. Rather the freedom of being able to just walk to the water. One of the stories dad used to talk about all the time was being the grocery delivery boy for the local grocery store. He still had the sign in our garage when mom and dad lived on the farm. It was in the garage we painted brown. I have no idea to this day why we painted the garage brown, but we did. Spent an entire IU Football game on the radio painting the garage.
If you want your groceries put away let dad do it. That was the message he always shared. The sign said as much. I wonder what happened to that sign now, all these years later. The farm is now gone more than 30 years. But the memory of that sign perched in the rafters of the garage is one that sticks with me. Not however the shortest story dad ever told about growing up in the Dells. Interesting by the by, that Amazon and Walmart offer in your house deliveries of food now. I suspect my wife would go crazy if someone else put things into her pantry and her refrigerator. She likes things a certain way. I guess that is why we don’t use that service.
The story that I remember the most about my dad growing in Wisconsin Dells was the summer he got a part job as Smokey the Bear. My father, my grandfather both loved the outdoors. The great biologist Aldo Leopold, was often in the Dells. His books focused on the magic of the flora and fauna of the Dells were probably part of my father’s inspiration to be a biologist. But the summer he wore the smelly bear suit and talked to children about forest fires and fire safety is one that sticks. I have read the books of Aldo Leopold, they are amazing. I have wandered the paths of the Dells. You can see them, the wooden trails that led into the magic that was the rock formations in some of today’s pictures. But the image of my dad in the Smokey the Bear suit, that one I cannot share. It is in my mind’s eye only.