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Comments on the 1964 Penn State Geosciences Field Camp

Bob Williams sent a letter in February, 2014. He lives now in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina:
Bob Williams
Please add my name (Robert B. Williams) to the list of Penn State students who attended Field Camp in 1964.  What a blast!  Best summer of my life. Learned so much. It was great to finally take classroom knowledge and apply it.

I was teamed for mapping with Robert Doyle Stiner. John Foster Houser was teamed with Shamsul Siddiqui, originally from Pakistan.  The second team that entered the Wild Cow Milking Contest in 1964 (see Lynn Brant's comments) consisted of Robert Stiner and John Houser who tried (unsuccessfully) to hold the cow steady and me (Bob Williams) who held the esteemed position of "milker."  None of us was smart enough to think about spitting in the bottle to at least attempt to fool the judges. I was very near the tail end of the wild cow. You know, near the two high kicking hoofs. Frankly I was less worried about milking than I was trying to come out of the contest with my head still attached to my body.

In the Field Camp 1964 photo, I am standing on the extreme right, gray plaid shirt, white cowboy hat, with my left hand stuck in my back pants pocket. Although you cannot see his face, Robert Stiner is standing next to me wearing a red sweatshirt and black cowboy hat. He wore the red shirt often ... like every day. Most students in the photo are wearing white cowboy hats, but Bob Stiner wanted to look mean and tough so he chose black. The photo was taken when we were discussing strategy (who was going to do what) with Lynn Brant for the Wild Cow Milking Contest.

Memories include the snowball battle we had on the pass between Idaho & Montana in early July; the extremely slow pace of the "locals" in the Lima area; eating meals on picnic tables; living in tents at the campground by Little Sheep Creek west of Lima, Montana; cold nights; mapping at night by the light of Coleman lanterns; washing in the nearby (very cold) Little Sheep Creek; showering once a week at the Peat Hotel in Lima; driving all the way to Dillon on Sundays for food & supplies; one very interesting side trip to the Grand Canyon; sleeping under the stars in sleeping at the base of Devil's Tower, South Dakota; the nice light blue GMC Chevrolet Carryall; and the big green International Carryall which John Houser drove and we nicknamed "baluchitherium" ... an Oligocene rhinoceros with a small head mounted on a gigantic body. Whenever one of the vehicles became stuck, "baluchitherium" with its front bumper-mounted winch always came to the rescue.

After leaving Montana, Dr. Albert Guber and I returned by way of Rockford, Iowa to collect upper Devonian fossils in the famous clay pit of the Rockford Brick & Tile Company. As a result I spent course time the following fall identifying the material we had collected. This lead to my returning the next summer and extensively collecting in the area of Rockford and Bird Hill and subsequently using the material for the subject of my Master's thesis.

I really admired the sheepherders who would simply fold up their tents and move to the other side of the mountain when their sheep became spooked and ran off to other pastures. After returning home from field camp, I remember telling my parents that I was going to become a sheepherder. Mother was mortified. Father simply said "fine," but then went on to STRONGLY indicate that I was going to graduate with a degree in geological sciences from Penn State first! He was cool with my being a sheepherder if that is what I wanted, but I was going to be "the only sheepherder in Montana with a Penn State diploma handing on the inside of my tent."

While away at Field Camp, I wrote to my parents at least once a week and mother saved all the letters and post cards. They are squirreled away somewhere in my office. When I locate them, I will add more detailed information to this discussion of PSU Field Camp 1964.

Thanks for preserving the memories!

Kind regards,
Bob Williams