Rosalie and I married on April 23, 1960. I graduated from veterinary school the first week of June and we embarked on a road trip from Fort Collins, Colorado to my first position in Sidney, Montana, camping out along the way, the only honeymoon we ever had.
After a night in the Medicine Bow range in Wyoming, and a second night at the Coulter campground in Jackson Hole, we arrived in Yellowstone Park. That evening, after using the outhouse, I stood at the water pump, brushing my teeth. There was a loud metallic clang, as a garbage pit lid ripped open. Rosalie screamed, and our German Shepherd Mister erupted into furious, angry barking. I grabbed the ax I had brought along to gather firewood, and ran down the gravel road, toothbrush clenched between my teeth, toothpaste foaming out of my mouth. My towel flew off my shoulder. My toes grabbed frantically, struggling to keep my unlaced boots on my feet as I ran. I saw Mister’s silhouette, clawing at the tent flap.
A small black bear was standing over the garbage pit at our campsite. Through the fabric of the tent, back lit by the lantern, I saw Rosalie. She was screaming while trying to hold Mister back. The bear looked over its shoulder as it reached down into the garbage bin for more of my famous chili. I spat out the toothbrush and started shouting.
“GET OUT! TAKE OFF! …YEEOUH!”
I squatted down and unzipped the tent flap that was starting to tear from Mister’s attack
“Let him loose honey. It’s just a small bear.”
I grabbed the dog’s collar as he lunged through the opening. The two of us now faced the bear, the dog growling, me waving the ax.
“GO ON, GET OUT …SCRAM!”
The bear moved to face us. He was nonchalant, now able to watch us directly instead of over his shoulder. He continued to fish out and eat the chili. When finished he turned, glanced over his shoulder, then strolled away, unconcerned by antics of man or dog.
Rosalie came out of the tent and stood next to me hugging me around the waist with her left arm and patting Mister with her right hand.
“My hero, and my hero,” she murmured.