black bear

Gordon brings home a bear cub

My brother and sister with a bear cub in our home, 1965.

Bob and Susan Sharp playing with a bear cub, Gordon Sharp in the back. April, 1965, Reedsport, Oregon.

My Flickr contact and friend Gary Sharp has been scanning old photos he’s digging out of boxes at his mother’s house. These two are terrific and tell a great story.

“My father Gordon Sharp owned and operated Sharp Logging Company that he and his father established in the early 1950’s near Reedsport, Oregon. He was at one of his logging sites in April, 1965 and came across a bear cub with no sign of its mother around so he brought the bear home and it liked being with us. We fed it milk with a baby bottle and took good care of it. My mother remembers that Gordon contacted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the bear was relocated, maybe to a zoo.”

My father feeding a bear cub in our home, 1965.

Gordon Sharp feeding the bear cub, April 1965. Reedsport, Oregon.

Black bear on car in Yosemite

Black bear on car in Yosemite

July, 1969, Yosemite Park, California. I took this out our car window against my father’s advice. We went to Yosemite as a family each year until I went away to college; my parents continued to go for many years after. Those were amazing years in Yosemite and we even experienced the famous Yosemite Firefall where park rangers got a pile of logs burning on top of Glacier Point and pushed the embers over the 3000′ cliff to the delight of the tourists below (well, not directly below).

Yes, we went to Ansel Adams’ slide lectures and met him numerous times at his gallery in the Valley.

Those were the days. A few years later I was back in Yosemite as a climber. Those were even better days.

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Warren, Connecticut. We were watching the NewsHour and I kept hearing this noise from the backyard but didn’t pay it much attention as it was raining out and the rain makes noises on gutters and things around here.

Then I stood up and this is what I saw, exactly this view at this scale. I yelled something and Anne turned around and gasped. I ran to the basement to make sure the cat was inside (she was, thank god) and then up to the office to get camera. Quickly (and stupidly) put 300mm f/4 on (should have left 24-70 on to get whole bear) and ran downstairs. It was obvious I couldn’t get him through the window so I had to go out on the deck. I was not happy about this, it was raining and this is a very large bear, much larger than I thought we had around here. I snuck out on the deck but he saw me, so I quickly squeezed off a few bad shots and ran back inside and locked the door (he could have beaten it down in 3 seconds). He, in turn, lazily got down and walked into the woods.

Anne was all worked up “did you get him, did you get him” and I’m thinking “crap, I’m just glad to be alive.” Did I tell you, this bear is big. How big? This feeder is six feet off the ground (I hang them from trees on string to keep squirrels off but not high enough it seems) and he’s sitting on his butt here, lazily having his dinner. If he stood up full height he’d be, well, bigger.This ain’t no nature show. This ain’t no zoo shot. This is my backyard!