For years, I’ve searched for a tiny newspaper article about an overconfident little girl who accepted a dare to scamper up a tree to see who could climb the highest.
That little girl was me in sixth grade, and while I climbed the highest, I got stuck in a fork in the tree and couldn’t get down.
I wrote about this for the Sunday section of The Salt Lake Tribune when I was 11 years old. It was my first published newspaper article.
Several years ago, I went to the Salt Lake City Public Library in search of this story and spent a few dizzying hours looking at old microfilm reels. Sadly, I came home empty-handed. But, thank goodness for technology and newspapers.com because I finally found it.
In 1968, there was a section in the Sunday paper that asked for submissions of short, funny stories about things happening where we lived. I submitted my stuck-in-the-tree story, and every Sunday after that, I was eager to beat my mom to the front porch to retrieve the Tribune and scour the pages to see if my story was printed.
I was surprised to discover it not only got published, but I got the coveted prize of an accompanying cartoon drawing.
Now, for the backstory… the tree we climbed was one of a few large trees on a strip of lawn between our house and the road. When I realized I was too high up to slide back to the ground safely, I sent out the SOS to my brother, Kelly, who ran to get Mom to help.
Mom rushed out, probably muttered some colorful words about my carelessness, and then up she came! She climbed the tree to rescue me. I wish I had a photo of her heroic rescue. Better yet, I wish I’d written about it in my story, and that she had been drawn in the cartoon!
Kelly was so embarrassed by the whole scene that he hid behind the side of the house, peeking around the corner, worried someone would drive, walk, or bike by and see us both in the tree.
I can still see him nervously peeking out from around the corner by the garage, humiliated, and yelling for us to hurry before someone saw us.
So, my little story simply said, “My friend and I were climbing trees to see who could climb the highest, but when I tried to get down, I found that my hips were stuck in the fork of the tree.”
And there you have it, the beginning of my illustrious writing career, my first thrill (and accompanying panic) of seeing my name in print, my words on paper, and the start of a lifelong love of writing.
And, the end to my tree-climbing adventures.