Saturday, October 3, 2009

Prospecting and Wild Strawberries: A Childhood Memory

Ken Christison, Sr., Elizabeth Christison, Gayle Christison, Brian Christison

Randy Seaver, author of the Genea-Musings Blog, has a regular Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge for geneabloggers. Tonight's challenge is to write one of your most vivid childhood memories. And tonight I accept the challenge!

My recent gold panning experience brought back memories of my Grandpa Christison. I wish I could say many memories, but I wasn't around him enough to have many memories. Therefore, the ones I do have tend to be pretty vivid to me.

When I was a child, Grandpa Christison lived in Salida. He worked as a deputy sheriff for Chaffee County, but spent his spare time prospecting or working his mining claim up on Poncha Pass. I remember camping at our camping spot on Spring Creek one time when I was seven or eight. My Dad drove the International Scout up the mountain trail until we found Grandpa's old green International pickup. I don't really remember anything about the claim other than Grandpa doing some shoveling. There wasn't a big hole or anything. Another memory is of Grandpa making pancakes and cooking them on the griddle over the open fire. I remember being amazed because I didn't know you could make pancakes when you were camping!

My most vivid memory is of Grandpa taking us hiking up past his claim; following Spring Creek until we found the spring, the very beginnings of the creek. Surrounding the creek were wild strawberries--the tiniest little berries that packed a strawberry punch like I'd never tasted before! We ate strawberries and knelt down by the small creek, cupped our hands and drank water from the cold mountain spring. I can tell you I've never had strawberries that tasted so good.

This memory came back to me when Shirley and Larry Weilnau took John and I hiking at Cache Creek. As we hiked up the mountain a ways, my eyes were on the ground looking at the wild strawberry plants. Even though I knew I wouldn't find any strawberries in September, I still couldn't stop myself from hoping one bright strawberry might reveal itself to me. It dawned on me that prospecting and wild strawberries will forever be entwined in my mind.

Grandpa Christison and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to Oregon when I was in the 4th grade in 1974. The above picture was taken in their yard in the trailer park in Salida when we said good-bye before they moved. It's the only picture I have of Grandpa Christison, Elizabeth, my younger brother, Brian, and I together. Actually, it's the only picture I have of Grandpa when I was young. I wish we had pictures of Grandpa at his claim or camping or cooking pancakes.

Grandpa Christison died in 1994. We had a family memorial for him at Spring Creek in 1995 and his four children drove from California, Oregon, and North Carolina to remember him at one of his favorite places.

So, here is to prospecting, wild strawberries, pancakes, Spring Creek, and Grandpa Christison! Thank you for the special memories.