This story, while true, does not tell the reader much about the lifestyle or history of the period, circa 1938. It does, however, point out that there was a time before television, before electronic games, before electronic devices loaded with apps when a very different world existed, a world in which children made up their own games and the only boundaries were the limits of their imagination.
THE ADVENTURES of the SUNCREST INDIANS
When I was a little girl it wasn’t uncommon for families to have a cabin in the mountains for vacations and family gatherings. My grandparents had such a cabin in the mountains outside San Diego in a place called Suncrest. The cabin was in a beautiful wooded area. There were several kinds of trees, and ferns and wildflowers grew everywhere. A narrow road ran through the area, and here and there beside the road was another vacation cabin. One of these was different from all the rest. It was much bigger than all the other cabins, and it was made entirely of rocks. Everyone called it the “Rock House”, and a scary thing happened there, but I’m getting ahead of my story.
The year I was nine my mother and my aunt decided to take all us kids to our cabin for spring vacation. I was the oldest, then my cousin Bobby, then my sister, Arlene, then my cousin Teddy and finally my cousin Barbara. Barbara was little so, of course, we never let her play with us.
After packing what seemed like everything we owned and driving to the cabin, we arrived just in time to unpack, have dinner and go to bed. The next morning we could hardly wait to go outside and explore. As soon as my mother and aunt said we were excused from breakfast Bobby, Arlene, Teddy and I ran for the woods and didn’t stop until we were out of sight of the cabin. Each of us found a log or rock to sit on. We sat and looked at each other. Now what were we going to do? Then I had an idea. “Why don’t we play Indians? We could build a camp and hunt and do all kinds of stuff”, and so the Suncrest Indians were born.
The first thing we had to do was build a camp. Everyone dragged all the tree limbs and branches they could find to a clearing. After a lot of trying, shoving and arguing, we finally had all the longest tree limbs with the bottom end on the ground and the top end braced against a tree in the shape of a teepee. When covered with branches it looked like a real Indian house, well almost. We gathered all the rocks we could find and placed them in a circle to make a fire pit. Bobby wanted to know how we would start a fire without matches. I had been studying Indians in school, and rather smugly explained Indians didn’t use matches; they rubbed two sticks together. Not sure just what kind of sticks Indians used, we tried rubbing all the sticks we had, first one and then another. We rubbed and rubbed and rubbed, and nothing happened Undaunted, the Suncrest Indians decided to forget about fire and go on to other things.
Soon we had rags tied around our heads as headbands. Every time we found a feather one of us would stick it in our headband. I had the most feathers because I was the chief. Bobby had thought he should be chief because he was a boy, but I reminded him I was the oldest, Indians were my idea and I was bigger than he was. He decided to be the medicine man.
Each day the Suncrest Indians had a new adventure. Bobby and I used some string and sticks we found to make bows and arrows. We didn’t make bows for Arlene and Teddy. We gave them sticks and told them they were spears. Bobby and I shot at every squirrel, bird and rabbit we saw while Arlene and Teddy threw their spears. The animals of the woods were in no real danger, however, as our arrows fell to the ground as soon as we shot them, and the spears never came close to their targets. We did war dances and sneaked through the trees to attack our enemies. We tracked each other through the woods. This didn’t work out too well when Teddy was the one being tracked. Only six, he got scared whenever he got out of sight of the rest of us and stopped to wait for us to catch up. We climbed trees to act as lookout. We built snares to trap wild animals. We peeled the silver bark from beech trees and wrote secret messages on it in Indian picture writing. We sat around the fire circle and had pow wows. We blazed new trails. We marked these trails by leaving arrows on the ground made of rocks and putting marks on the trees with crayons, and every night the Suncrest Indian warriors came back to the cabin where our mothers fed us, bathed us and tucked us into bed.
The days passed quickly and soon we had only one day left of our vacation. Since none of us could come up with a new idea for the day, we decided to go on a scouting trip. “Mom, can we go for a walk down the road?” “Okay, but don’t go near the Rock House. There are snakes there.” I’m afraid telling me about snakes was the wrong thing to do. As soon as we were out of sight of the cabin we headed straight for the Rock House
Now not only was the Rock House made of rocks, it sat on a rocky outcropping and had large boulders all around. When we got there we could see there was no one home, so I started climbing on the rocks. The others followed, and, a little scared at first, we began looking all around for snakes. Minutes went by, and we didn’t find any snakes, so we got braver and braver. Soon we were poking sticks in the holes and crevices in the rocks to see if that was where the snakes were hiding. Just when we were about to give up it happened! We scrambled over the top of one of the boulders, and there, on a ledge right in front of us, were several snakes sunning themselves. For a moment we were so surprised we couldn’t move. Then we brave Suncrest warriors turned and ran as fast as our legs would carry us.
At the road we stopped to catch our breath, and everyone started talking at once. “Did you see that big one?” “That brown one almost bit me!” “It did not.” In the middle of this excited chatter Bobby and I had the same thought. If our mothers found out what we’d done we would be in a lot of trouble. Bobby looked at me. “I won’t tell if you won’t.” I was quick to assure him. “Well, I ‘m not going to tell.” That settled, we turned to Arlene and Teddy. “You guys better not tell either if you know what’s good for you.” Two little voices said, “We won’t.” “Okay, that’s it. Nobody is going to tell. Right?” Three small heads nodded in agreement. . When we got back to the cabin and our mothers asked, “Where have you been?” Bobby and I answered “Out”. “What were you doing?” “Nothing”, and we glared at Arlene and Teddy who didn’t say a word.
Soon it was time to drive back to the city. Our vacation was over. And what about the Suncrest Indians? We had entered the wilderness and tamed it, we had faced wild animals and survived, we had fought our enemies and won every battle and we had barely escaped the fangs of poisonous reptiles. We declared it the best vacation ever and went home.