I couldn’t believe we were going to go camping at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park. To my childish mind, I figured we were going to the real Jellystone like in the cartoons. It seemed too good to be true. I wasn’t disappointed. When we arrived, it turned out to be unlike any camping I had ever experienced (before or since!).
There was a swimming pool and a campfire pit where there were nightly gatherings for stories or presentations. It even had an outdoor movie theater so we watched cartoons every evening. That’s where I first saw “In the Bag.”
The catchy tune has stuck in my head all these years. Our family still does butt bumps as we sing, “Put it on the stick. Put it in the bag. Bump. Bump.”
The Jellystone Park camp store had game rooms. While my mom and her friend were plunking quarters into the air hockey table, my dad was plunking quarters into the Pachinko machine. It was a Japanese pinball machine for lack of a better way to describe it and he hadn’t seen one since he was in the army, stationed in Japan. The silver balls cascade down, bouncing off pins in a random, beautiful, and mesmerizing way.
Mom, on the other hand, was anything but mesmerized. Although she had never played air hockey before, she had taken to it with wild ambition. I had never seen her so aggressive and animated. This new game brought out a competitive streak in her and I was shocked to see her behave so out of control in public.
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Campground was definitely one of the most memorable events in my childhood, leaving lasting impressions of both the place and my parents that I would never forget.