Tuesday, May 14, 2019

52 Ancestors - NATURE: Up a Creek with the Terrible Five

You’ve heard of “Throwback Thursday.” Consider this “Throwback Month.” While on vacation, it is impossible to do new research and post fresh stories, so for now, please enjoy a combined but slightly revised “throwback” from 2013 and 2017.

When I knew my grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker as “an old lady,” I never pictured her as a spirited young girl with lots of friends who enjoyed getting together for beach weekends and camping trips in the great outdoors like her photos portray.

Pictures from a camping trip along a river or lake puzzled me for a long time.

I wonder if they brought the boat with them or if it was a rental. If so, what kind of place was this?

Since Helen apparently liked taking pictures but not journaling about them, the reason for the trip was a mystery. Family reunion? Summer vacation with cousins? A getaway-weekend with friends and coworkers? I did not know. The presence of a rather grizzly older woman and a child made me think this was an outing with extended family rather than the 1919 equivalent of the senior class trip.

Maybe the older woman was simply the chief cook and bottle-washer. With all the activities Helen and her friends had planned, they surely didn’t have time to cook. 

They were too busy boating,

fishing and hunting,


listening to music,
Aunt Helen with the Victrola
and maybe just getting to know one another better.

Then I found among a small collection of greeting cards a folded cardboard on which was glued a poem. It explained everything in humorous detail.

** A triangle of paper is missing. Words in brackets represent a logical guess based on the syntax of the sentence. If no logical guess could be made with any certainty, I inserted dashes inside the brackets.

The Memorable Camping Trip

The third of July dawned bright and clear
We all left home with merry good cheer.
Going away on a camping trip
To have a good time, sure you can bet.
Lots of dancing, and things to eat
Nice place to swim, good place to sleep.
Nothing to worry about in the care of the “Terrible Five,”
Now we are lucky to be alive.

Landed at Northwest, Va., about eleven o’clock
Tired, sore and hungry, it sure was a shock.
The roads were something awful, bump, bump, bump all the way
Gee, it’s a wonder our hair didn’t turn gray.
We went in bathing to rest our poor bones
But the water [was] full of snakes, mud and stones.
About that [time] someone called,
“Dinner is [ready], come one and all.”
Everyone [ - - ] for they were starved it seemed
But what [did they] get to eat, but beans, beans, beans.

The [ - - ] under two big trees
And [ - - ] down and ate what they pleased.
After dinner we loafed around awhile, and went out in the canoe
For there really wasn’t anything else that we could do.
Then someone started the Victrola,
So we started to dance, and as we danced,
Someone said the country people were in a trance.
And if we did not stop, they would have us put in jail
And we would have to get someone to go our bail.

So we decided at last, to go to bed
But soon discovered there was no place to lay our weary heads.
So we stretched out on the ground under a tent
Then the wild animals their weird sounds sent.
They screeched and howelled and cooed
And scared us so bad we couldn’t move.
Somehow the night passed over
And Sunday came and went.
And we welcomed Monday, as some great event.
We left Northwest about half past two
And got bump after bump, until we nearly turned blue.
Arrived home about seven or that way
Only to discover that red bugs had come home with us to stay.
So I tell you dear friends, if you want to die
Just go on a Camping trip, with the “Terrible Five.”

The moniker “Terrible Five” must have been part of a running joke among the friends who seemed to enjoy getting together often whether at a riverside camp or at Ocean View. Perhaps the poem was written – AND preserved for presentation – to be read at some other gathering of “The Gang.”
Helen captioned this "The Gang" at Ocean View, Virginia
about 1919-1921
Here are "The Terrible Five" at Ocean View

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. What a treat to have the poem to accompany the photos!

  2. That was great they chronicled their trip by poem. I'm not sure I would want to be part of the Terrible Five!


  3. Ahhh, this brings back such sweet memories of my grandmother's scrapbook. I think she and your grandaunt would have had a blast hanging out together. With or without the Terrible Five.

  4. What a great poem! It would be today's rap song!

  5. Oh I remember those years of rolling around on the ground, and then bringing home the chigger bites! So glad you found the poem to accompany some of the photos. What great memories to discover!

  6. What a great find in that poem! It sure puts a different twist on what you can gather from the photographs!

  7. What great photos to blog on. I especially love the one with the victrola!