Remembering my Friend and Fellow Adventurer, Thelma Dietz

Our 20 year reunion,in the middle row, l to r, me, Marion S. who also helped a lot, and the most wonderful Thelma Dietz.
For ten years I was a Blue Bird leader, then as the girls go older, a Camp Fire Girl leader, and went on through high school with them as a Horizon Club. The numbers and the girls changed along the way, but at the end there were nearly 20 girls from three different high schools.

I'd never been able to do all the things I did if it hadn't been for one of the mothers, Thelma Dietz. No matter what crazy idea I thought up, Thelma was ready to help me. She wasn't the only mom who helped, I had some great mom, but she volunteered every time.
Thelma is at the top left, I'm next with the headband. We'd gone to L.A. to the Observatory, but my car broke down so we went to my dad's who had an observatory on the roof. I think they liked this better. The little boy is my eldest son, Mark, who really wanted to be a Camp Fire Girl.

She helped with all the Camp Fire candy sales and her daughter usually sold the most candy.

We went camping even when the girls were Blue Birds. Back then, it was to near by public campgrounds. We learned how to cook all sorts of delicious things over a campfire. When we became Camp Fire Girls we got a bit more venturous. Once we went to Rose Valley and camped, and it snowed during the night. No, we didn't pull out, we stayed there and did everything we'd planned to do. (The Boy Scouts who'd camp nearby left as soon as it started to snow.)
This is a day trip we made to Bubbling Springs Park in Hueneme, Thelma's not in the photo, but she probably took the picture. See if you can find any of these girls in the reunion photos.

When I was about 8 3/4 months pregnant, we camped in a primitive area owned by the Camp Fire Girls. (The doc said I could go as long as I called the CHP to bring me to the hospital if labor began.) We did just fine. I didn't go into labor, but I also didn't do any hiking. That's where Thelma Dietz and another great mother came in.

When the girls reached high school age, we decided it was time to try back packing. I knew nothing about it and none of us had back packs. (This was years ago when only serious campers had back packs.) We managed with some gas mask carriers we got at an Army surplus store. We hiked into a very primitive are in the Sespe National Forest. There were outhouses along the way. I carried a big pot with my pack that banged me in the head every time I leaned over. A neighbor with a Jeep hauled our sleeping bags in for us--and came back and hauled them out at the end of the weekend. Who came along on this adventure? Thelma, of course.

We camped at the beach and cooked a turkey in the sand. Had I ever done it before? Of course not. Who stood by me hoping it would actually be cooked, Thelma, of course. And yes, the turkey was delicious.

We did some sort of camping trip every year and Thelma was always my smiling side-kick.

Once we made a trip to Hollywood and stayed in a hotel on the Sunset strip. We had tickets to several TV shows. Since this was long before the Internet, there was no way to tell how faraway our hotel was from the TV broadcasting studios. It was a long, long way. It's really a good thing we'd had all that practice hiking.
The first night we were there, the girls tried to sneak out to do some exploring on their own. Thelma and I suspected they might try that, so we sat in the coffee shop where we could see anyone who left the hotel and we caught them.

We put on plays to make money, saved Green and Blue stamps to turn in for money, and I can't remember what all to save for our very last trip. Thelma helped me through it all. Two years before the trip I planned with the Greyhound Bus company to take my girls and another Horizon Club. I had to fill 40 seats. To give you an idea how long ago this was, the fee for the bus was $1000. A lot for back then and a bunch of girls to come up with. Our trip was great. We went to the Gene pumping station at the border of Arizona and California where the water from the Colorado River starts on its way to California, then we spent two days at the Grand Canyon and one in Las Vegas before we headed home.

Thelma didn't go with us this time, but she helped make it possible, and she was there to send us off and greet us when we came home.

Thelma died this week, but I'll always remember how brave she was to go along with whatever crazy idea I came up with--and no matter what happened on our adventures, she always had a smile on her face.

Thank you, Thelma Dietz for enriching my life and the life of many girls and teens.
Thelma didn't make it to this reunion. First row l. to r. Ruth Klingler who talked me into being the Blue Bird leader, Marion Schleicher who helped me too, and of course me. In the back row, first names only: Debbie, Joan, Yolie, Dana, Kathy, and Wanda. 



Monti said…
What a lovely story! How lucky these girls were to have you, Thelma, and the other moms who helped make their lives so rich!
We had a great time, and looking back we were both very brave always trying something we knew nothing about. A few years back I ran into one of my Camp Fire Girls and she told me that I'm the one who showed her that she should try anything she really wanted to do.

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