'Sand Hills' trips mean picnics
September 29, 2012
Some knew it as Taylor's Grove and even more referred to the place as Oasis State Park. In my circles it was simply "The Sand Hills" growing up.
A trip to the "Sand Hills" meant a picnic, playing in the sand dunes and maybe a ballgame.
Our first line of attack was always the dunes. We couldn't wait to get into that sand and get our shoes and socks off. Rolling down a hill or jumping off a bluff into deep sand somehow was outstanding entertainment back in the days when we got one television station by antenna pretty good and one kinda fuzzy.
Pulling a screaming sister or girl cousin down a sand hill by the ankles was also grand entertainment for a 10-year-old boy.
We tried to sand surf but never had much luck until a man from our church that took our youth groups on hayrides and picnics built boards and showed us how to wax them and make them go on that red sand.
The ball games consisted of tackle football atop one of the dunes with the edge of the hill or alternatively the edge of the pucker brush as the out of bounds lines. Hard to run in that sand but a lot more fun than getting tackled on grass.
We also had some big softball and baseball games. Sometimes including 12-15 to a side. There was a backstop down on the hardpan near where the Visitor Center is today. If you were lucky you remembered to throw your baseball glove in the car, if not you played bare-handed or tried to talk someone on the other team into lending you their glove.
Awhile before sunset we would show up at the picnic area hot, thirsty and hungry. The picnic sites were somewhat shaded by cottonwoods and had massive concrete tables and iron grills mounted on pipe.
Hot dogs and potato chips were the usual main course, washed down with ice cold bottled pop out of a metal ice chest. People opened the pops and threw the caps on the ground in the driveways. It seemed they paved the ground but they sure were dangerous to walk on barefoot.
Normally one or more freezers of ice cream were hand-cranked on a typical picnic there and a watermelon or two was floating in a washtub full of ice water.
As the sun began to set we were just getting started as we went back to the hills to play Hide-and-Seek, Kick-the-Can or Capture The Flag.
More digging was usually done and some normally got buried to the neck in the sand. Thinking about it now I can still remember how warm the sand was on the surface, even after dark, and how cool and moist it felt just a few inches down.
I don't think it would be possible to compute the number of shoes and socks that were lost in and on those dunes. One thing was for certain though; even if you didn't make it home with your shoes you always took home a little memento of your time at the "Sand Hills" — in your pockets, your pants cuffs and your ears.
Oasis State Park celebrates its 50th anniversary next Sunday, Oct. 7 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. — I'll see you out there.
Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: