Rain pounded on the tent fly but the sky had lightened to dull gray. I could not stay inside any more. I put on all my warm clothing and covered it with raincoat and rain pants. I dashed to the picnic shelter. While I was priming the stove, a gray haired woman poked her head out of the big log building next door. “There’s hot coffee here in the clubhouse,” she called. I hurried in. An electric heater on the wall glowed orange, but the room was cool. A handful of men clutched coffee mugs and huddled near the heater. Two women hunched over a puzzle at the far end of the hall. One of them straightened up. “Hello, I’m Jane,” she said,” Come on in and warm up. Help yourself to donuts and danishes. You’re not cycling in this weather, are you? It’s supposed to drop to 27
I warmed up my hands on a mug of coffee and gobbled a couple of goodies. Then I gravitated towards the jigsaw puzzle. I learned that Jane makes coffee every morning and organizes the social life of the park. It is difficult, though. The clubhouse is a beautiful room with glossy wood tables, but it is seldom used. “The management,” she says,” is interested in profit. They don’t care about people. I have to lock up this clubhouse right after coffee hour. And if people use it later in the day they can’t turn on the heater.”
I had personal experience with the management, when I went to the office later that morning. The assistant manager was working. I asked if we could stay a second night on site 20, the only high, well drained ground in the park. I explained that moving wet tents is a pain. “No ma’am,” she replied, “you sure can’t stay there. It’s reserved.” She continued: “I was surprised to see your tents here this morning. We do not allow tent camping anymore.”
Slightly daunted, I asked my next question: “Is there a pay phone?” “No, ma’am. The nearest pay phone is three miles away.” I looked out at the leaking sky. “Would it be possible to use your phone? I have a calling card.” “No, ma’am. We cannot let the public use this phone.”
Next morning we hurried over hard frozen ground to the clubhouse. “Miss Jane,” as they call her here, was at her station by the jigsaw. The coffee pot burbled. “They made you move over there? In this weather?” she asked.
I was frustrated after one day of dealing with the woman with the “Can’t Do Attitude”. Imagine how much worse it is for Jane. She tried hard to make our stay more enjoyable. After we put the last piece into the puzzle, Jane announced, “I’m leaving the clubhouse open so you can stay out of the cold today”.
We spent two more nights at that campground, in our site in the farthest corner. No one moved into Site 20.
Jane is a hero in that park.