As I’ve been writing about my summer on a Yosemite trail crew, people have been commenting “Boy! You have a good memory!” Well, memory is only a part of it. Obviously, I’m relying on my journal from that summer. However, one thing I’ve noticed is what a lousy journal I actually kept. It turns out to be a bare bones sketch of how Summer, 1987 played out. It has been most useful in pointing out dates on which significant events occurred. This allows me to at least go back and fill in the missing pieces that did not get recorded.
For instance, my journal from June, 1987 records:
• June 1: Jen’s story (“I thought you guys ditched me, so I hitched a ride.”)
• June 7: Botched burgers on K.P.
• June 8: Xem’s letters
• June 19: Mention of the climbing school we will be going to tomorrow
• June 27: The Search-and-Rescue
That’s not really very much coverage for the month, is it? How have I been filling in these gaps?
One of the first things I did when I started this project was a Google search for 1987 calendars. I printed out a set of monthly calendars covering April through September and filled in all of the entries from my journal. Then I could tell that Jen’s story happened on Monday, June 1, 1987. The botched burgers happened on Sunday, June 7. That makes sense. Patti, the camp cook, would have been grilling the burgers on a weekday. The Corpsmember K.P. was responsible for the entire meal on weekends. Xem’s letters came in the mail on Monday, June 8. What happened in the twelve days between Xem’s letters and the climbing school?
Fortunately, in the entry for June 19 I mentioned what had happened over the previous eleven days: “another fire, a camp move, and an overnighter on Sentinel Dome”, and then the climbing school coming the next day, June 20. However, they could not have happened in that order. We were still in Wawona when we did the overnighter. I recalled that one of the reasons we went up to Sentinel Dome was to see the full moon rise over Half Dome. The calendar says that there was a full moon on Thursday, June 11. We could not have been up there on Thursday night because we would have had to work on Friday, but after the overnighter we went to Glacier Point to watch the dawn hang glider launch into Yosemite Valley. Therefore, the overnighter must have been on Friday, June 12. This tells me that the second fire we went on had to have been between June 8-11…after Xem’s letters and before the overnighter on Sentinel Dome. The camp move had to have happened the week of June 14, after the Sentinel Dome overnighter, and before the climbing school that we did out of Tuolumne Meadows on June 20. From this, I can write down memories of the fires, the camp move, the overnighter, etc.
I have to admit to being disappointed at how much I left out of my journal even when I did mention events. I mentioned the climbing school. I did not mention that the Yosemite 1 crew drove down to join us for that weekend, and in addition to the climbing school on Saturday, we went to Bodie on Sunday. How could I not mention that?! D’OH!
I am also learning that the journal can be more trustworthy than my memory. In Jen’s story, I could have sworn that it was Wayne who drove the van, dropped the crew off at Comfort House, and went back to wait with Moose. My journal says it was Glen. I have to trust a detail like that which I recorded at the time over a twenty-seven-year-old memory.
This is how I am piecing together the entire summer. I’ll eventually do the same thing with my entire CCC career. I’m glad to have y’all along for the ride!
I’d like to point out that I’m certainly not the only Corpsmember who could do this. Any Corpsmember who kept a journal…even an incomplete one like mine…could do this as well. Come to think of it, you probably don’t even need a journal. Just sit down and start writing your stories as they come to you. This could be a great reason for a bunch of former Corpies to get together and swap war stories! I keep looking at amazon.com for somebody to publish a memoir of his/her time in the CCC, but I haven’t seen one yet. Well…somebody has to put one out there! Our stories…all of them…are just too awesome to let their memory fade away with time.
Start writing, Corpies!