Putting out fires

junior forest rangerI was asked recently how long I’ve been “putting out fires.” For quite a while, it turns out.

When I was little I became an official Junior Forest Ranger, one of hundreds of thousands of children recruited by Smokey the Bear. (I know, I know, his correct name is Smokey Bear but I grew up when it was popular to add “the” and taking it back out of his name just makes it sound wrong to me.)

My little Golden children’s book had a drawing of tiny Smokey clinging to a charred tree, his feet burned, his mother missing and never to be found. My heart was heavy with the sadness of it. I needed no encouragement to become one of Smokey’s rangers.

So when the Forest Service’s package arrived in the mail, I was beside myself with excitement. Official badge, pamphlet, card signed by Smokey himself, even a plastic spoon! As she pinned on my badge, my mother asked if I was ready to shoulder my responsibility.

I was. As she and I made the rounds in our small upstate New York town, I reminded the postmistress, the pharmacist, the shoe store owner.

“I am a Jewish Forest Ranger! Only YOU can prevent forest fires!” I declared with zest.

They all beamed at me, some of them even laughing with delight. The minister of our Methodist church seemed the most delighted of all. I was very pleased with the impact I was having. Who knew forest rangering could be so easy and make people so happy?

I like to think of it as my first foray into putting out fires. Thank you, Smokey.

Photo source: Disneyland Records Blog

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Comments

  1. says

    You reminded me of my childhood with this post. I’ve had my own share My little Golden children’s books, and of course, Smokey stands out. Thanks for sharing this.