A Wench in Yellowstone

Pidge tells of a midwestern girl, with the values of proper Minnesota small-town upbringing, who took off to Yellowstone for a summer job in 1972, the year of Yellowstone's centennial.

Old Faithful Inn"I worked at Old Faithful as kitchen help the summer of 1972. In March or April of that year, I decided I didn't want to go to summer school and I thought it would be fun to work at a resort. So I went to the student employment center and they laughed at me.... "those jobs are all signed up in September of the previous year." But they had application blanks for Glacier and Yellowstone, which said right on them "apply before October." What the hell; I sent the applications in and got job offers at both places. I had timed it just right because there are a number of people who were hired in the fall, but drop out right before summer.

"Choosing between Glacier and Yellowstone was hands down the MOST difficult decision I've made, before or since. I REALLY wanted to work at Glacier, but they paid less, and the season was almost a month shorter, so I went with Yellowstone. I was afraid I'd made a big mistake; I wanted to see tall, rocky, craggy mountains, and Yellowstone has more rolling, tree- covered terrain. But Yellowstone was a blast, and I got to see the Tetons, so I got my view of the craggy rocky mountains.

"Yellowstone employees were refered to as Savages; we thought we were tough, but later in the summer some kids from Glacier came down and we looked like prissy little housewives compared to them. I had never been away from home except a week of Bible camp, and had never camped and certainly never backpacked, so it was really an adventure.

Yellowstone bear"One of my most prized posessions is a tiny little teddy bear, about 3 inches high, that one of the waitresses gave me. She was from New Jersey and was part of the dashing hippie gang, who smoked cigarettes and pot, drank, went skinny dipping in the hot springs.

I liked and envied their free spirit and disdain for authority, but I had too much "good girl" in me to be one of them, so mostly just listened to their stories and laughed at their adventures.

Their nickname for me was Wench, since I was the kitchen help, and one day I was out front in the restaurant and got told to get back in the kitchen where I belonged and I was muttering 'Get back in the kitchen, Wench.'