Every summer, when I was a little girl, Dad took two weeks of vacation. One week was for getting ready to go, and one week was for the actual vacation. He always took us camping. Dad learned how to camp in the army, but he learned how much fun it could be from Mom. Mom camped when she was a little girl, and that’s before there were even campgrounds.
First off, we had to bake cookies for the trip. Mom had a big lard-tin that had to get filled up with home-baked cookies. Deanna baked Cherry Winks, yucky, I hated those: marachino cherries and corn flakes, I hated both of those things. Corn flakes ’cause of the six thousand boxes we ate saving Post Toasties box tops for all those free cereal bowls and juice glasses, and marachino cherries were so sweet they made my teeth hurt. Vickie made no bake chocolate cookies, that’s the first thing I learned how to make in 4-H Cooking; except for learning how to make a root beer float, but that doesn’t count, that’s just scooping and pouring, any do-do bird can do that. Bonita made peanut butter cookies, yummy, those were best still warm with a glass of good, cold milk. I liked to hold a bite of cookie in my mouth and let the milk soak in. That’s almost the same as dunking, but no crumbs in the milk glass. Mom hated dunking, it was against the rules. I made chocolate chip cookies, my very favorite kind, and the kind I got my first blue ribbon for in my first year of 4-H. Each of us Big Kids made about 10 dozen cookies. I had to eat some right out of the oven, ’cause that caramel-good smell with melting chocolate made my mouth get slippery inside and it seemed like those cookies just begged to be eaten. That left a big greasy stain on the newspaper, so I put new cookies on those stains, so Mom wouldn’t know I snitched cookies.
That was just about enough for one week of camping, ’cause some days we got ice cream instead of cookies.’ Making cookies took a long time, ’cause I could only bake one sheet at a time, and each sheet took exactly 12 minutes. Let’s see, that’s 12X10 or 120 minutes. Okay that was only 2 hours of baking, but then there was the mixing and washing the dishes, and finally packing into the tin, with a perfect circle of waxed paper between every layer of cookies. Holy smokes, that was a project. Twelve minutes was too long to just sit around staring at the oven, so I liked to read in between. The only trouble was, if I got lost in my book and forgot to set the timer, pretty soon somebody was yelling, “The cookies are burning,” which was usually Mom, ’cause nobody else paid attention to smoke like Mom did. Grandpa was a fireman, so she knew all about fires and she was scared to death of our house burning. She was always saying, “Are you trying to burn the house down?” That was another one of those questions I wasn’t supposed to answer. Once I wondered what she would say if