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Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother

1955-1966 - Berg Family Camping Trips

The first family camping trip (Ca. 1955.) that involved tents and sleeping bags was made to the Pigeon River area of Ontario, Canada.

Later (Ca. 1957-60) week long camping trips were made with the family to the Black Hills of South Dakota where again everyone lived in a tent and slept in sleeping bags.

Campsite, Redfield, SD 1957

The first trip to Custer Park in June of 1957 involved a stop enroute at Redfield, SD. Redfield was at a point just a little over half way to the Black Hills. Because we had never been to the Custer Park campground in the Black Hills before, we elected to take more time going out the first time. We did not want to arrive late in the day at an unfamiliar location, try to find a suitable camp site, set up our tent and otherwise get organized for the night. Redfield is approximately 340 miles from our home in Fridley.

(Photo above right is June at the campfire in Fisher Grove State Park, on the James River, Redfield, SD, June 1957. The family car was a used 1953 Chevrolet.) 

The Custer Park Campground in the Black Hills is almost exactly 600 miles from Fridley. After our first year of becoming familiar with the Custer Park Campground and area, we would make the trip from Fridley to Custer Park in a single day. It meant getting on the road a 5 AM in the morning and driivning steady all day until we reached Custer Park about 5 PM in the afternoon. We would stop along the way only for gas and bathroom breaks.  Of course a stop at the world famous "Wall Drug" became a necesssity. Grandma June would make lunch enroute and we would eat while driving. Our camp site in Redfield the first year was at Fisher Grove State Park, on the James River just east of Redfield. It was just north of higway 212, our main route across South Dakota. 

The Black Hills campgrounds were in Custer Park located just west of Rapid City, SD. The favorite campsite was at the base of a cliff. There was considerable excitement one evening when a mouse was discovered in one of the children’s sleeping bags. Noon lunches were frequently a loaf of fresh bread that June turned into salmon salad sandwiches. The family had their first taste of Buffalo burgers while in the Black Hills.

(Photo below right is June preparing a Sunday Chicken dinner for the family at the Custer Park Campsite in June of 1958. We did not then realize that the family 1957 Chevrolet station-wagon was a collector's item. June in red high heels for the "Lords Day.") Camp Site Custer Park 1958 

The Black Hills towns of Deadwood, Lead, Sturgis, Keystone, Hill City and Custer were all explored as well as Mount Rushmore National Monument. Dinosaur Park near rapid City was also a favorite place to go. Even some short horse back rides wre involved when the family went to "Indian Point". The family also explored the site of an old movie "War Bonnet." A complete early days fort had been built at the site for the movie. All of the children in the family participated in the 1958 camping trip although Julie was unaware of it. June was in the 6th month of pregnancy with Julie at the time.

A day of fossil hunting was done in the nearby Bad Lands around Scenic. Fragments of the jawbones of Oreadons, Rhinoceroses, and Three Toed Horses were found. Complete fossilized small Turtles were also found. The University of South Dakota identified the specimens for the family. The specimens were said to have come from the Oligocene Epoch of the Cenozoic Era dating back to 24 – 38 million years ago. 

Stan and the boys enjoyed the fossil hunting enough that they wanted to return another year and spend a week doing nothing but  fossil hunting in the Bad Lands around the Scenic area. While June enjoyed a day of fossil hunting she could not work up any enthusiam for spending a week doing this. When Stan and the boys returned a year or two later, June elected to stay home with the girls and do their own thing for that week. Stan, Dave and Dan had a successful week camping and fossil hunting  in the Badlands. (1959-1960) They returned home with the station wagon loaded with fossils. (Although fossil hunting was permitted at that time, currently Federal Law prohibits the removal of fossils.) 

 Custer park(Next photo - below on the right, shows the family all seated at the table having the chicken dinner that June had just prepared - Custer Park, SD, June 1958.)

June's Dad (Grandpa Henry) and her Mother (Grandma Haldis) accompanied the family on one of the Black Hills camping trips in June 1958. Grandma can recall seeing her Dad shaving in the morning and using a mirror fastened to a tree.

Family camping later evolved away from tents and sleeping bags to a small rented cabin.

This was the mode of a later family vacation spent in the Copper Harbor area of Lake Superior in upper Michigan.

The final family trip to the Black Hills was in July of 1966. Grandma The family had just moved into their new home at 6025 Gardena Lane in Fridley. As David and Dan were then entering college, it was decided that this would be the family's last week together in the Black Hills and the Custer Park area of South Dakota. The years that the family spent together enjoying this beautiful part of South Dakota would leave many lasting memories. This final week of the family in the Black Hillsgain was one in which lodging was obtained at a motel with many of the family meals at the local restaurants.

Julie (age 7) recalled the wild but docile donkeys that strayed near the winding hilly roads. They would come up to the cars and stick their heads into the open windows looking for food. Susan (age 12) recalls feeding some of the wild donkeys from the family’s bag of "Bismarck's". It was also common to see Mountain Goats and Mountain Sheep along the roads. They were unafraid and could be approached by tourists stopping and getting out of their cars.

(Picture below of June's father Grandpa Henry shaving in the morning while camping with us at Custer Park in June of 1958)

  

Custer Park 1958

(Photo below of June feeding a Mountain Goat - Custer Park - June 1957)

 

june and a mountain Goar 1957

 

Reader's Notes: Readers are encouraged to read/review other chapter's (30 chapters) in this story of June K. Berg's life. (Reminiscences of a Traveling Grandmother) Each chapter is intended to be a capsule view of a small segment of June's life and travels.

The story is also intended to be a small segment of history from a time period of World War II and the periods both pre and post World War II. You will find the history is accurate and continues to be updated as new records and photographs become available.

June, a very humble person would never consider her life worthy of a story. To me June has been a lady for "All Seasons". A very unique, bright and highly principled Christian lady. While June like everyone, has likes and dislikes, I have never found her to be uninterested or bored with any thing that life has presented her. June was well traveled. She traveled to Europe eleven (11) times and made at least 100 trips in and around the United States. June would be included in Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation." 

It has taken the horror of Alzheimer's to awaken me to finally plumb the depths, and scope of June's Character, Spirit and Being. After battling Alzheimer's for almost 11 years, an exhausted June was finally called home by God on October 23rd, 2008. Her funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website under the "In Memoriam" label -   Click on:

"June K. (Rolstad) Berg - In Memoriam".