A Memorable Vacation
Our family did not often go on vacations when I was a child. We would go down to my grandmother’s home in Monroe Utah, or we would go to family reunions, but that was usually my family’s idea of a family vacation. I never stayed in a motel or hotel until I was an adult. I can’t even recall eating in a restaurant with my family.
One vacation that stands out in my mind was a trip to Bryce Canyon. We went to Bryce Canyon several times during my childhood and youth. I don’t think we stayed overnight there; we must have driven over from Monroe, stayed the day and drove back that night. I especially remember a trip to Bryce Canyon in the summer of 1953. My grandmother Hansen was with my parents and six of us children. The youngest was my brother, Will, who had been born in the previous February.
My mother loved to hike and was a very physical, athletic woman. My father worked at Hill Air Force Base and many times in the summer she would have a picnic supper ready when he got home about 3:45 p.m. and we’d go up to Mueller Park and hike until late afternoon and then eat in the park. I have wonderful memories of hiking with her everywhere. We all love to hike to this day.
My grandmother Hansen was a tall, statuesque woman with a clearly defined idea of what a woman should and should not do. She was a “lady” in every term of the word. Her family had been among the original settlers in the area, and her father had been a leader in the community. She was a talented dressmaker who could make a chic dress and matching hat from homespun fabric and a vogue pattern, and she had her own store in her later years. She was a strong, opinionated woman who was not afraid to state her views.
We were all so excited to hike down the canyon, because to us, that was the best part of the trip. Dad was carrying my three-year-old sister, Janet, on his shoulders, and mother was preparing five-month-old Will for the hike. That was when Grandmother Hansen hit the roof! I don’t recall the actual words that were said, but the meaning was clear—ladies don’t climb down mountains with tiny babies. Babies are too fragile to be dragged down trails in the heat and dust! Mother tried to explain that they did it all the time—they loved to do it. Grandmother stood firm; mother would hike down the canyon with Will over her dead body!
I remember watching the altercation with wide frightened eyes. My quiet, soft-spoken mother never got upset. She never argued with anyone over anything. I’d often wished she would stand up to my father, who was very domineering and overbearing, but she never demurred. Yet here she was standing up to Grandmother Hansen. I looked to my father to see if he would support mother or grandmother; he mumbled something about his mother being right. Mother and grandmother strode angrily went back to the car with tiny baby Will.
I can’t remember much about the hike. I’m sure everyone else had a wonderful time, but all I could think about was what was happening in the car at the rim of the canyon. Was Grandmother yelling at Mother like my father always did when someone disagreed with him? Was Mother crying? Was it hot in the car? Was the baby crying? Finally, we got back to the top and I ran to the car.
Mother and Grandmother sat there silently starring out the front window. Little Will was asleep on the back seat. I was afraid to ask anything at the time, just gave Mother a big hug and told her all about the hike. Later I found out that she and Grandmother had sat there without speaking the whole time we were gone. I gained a lot of respect for my mother that day!