Prologue: “For the Good of the Service”
Park Service people, who are not loosely attached to their organization, know what Harold Nicholson meant when he said that his pulse quickened every time he saw the name Oxford, even on a jar of marmalade. Park communities are often in remote locales where the winters are long and residents must ward off cabin fever. Predictably, the program for the society’s 1981 meeting was heavy on nostalgia, including an exchange of telephone greetings with colleagues holding similar sessions in Omaha, Denver, Santa Fe, Seattle, and San Francisco. When the US cavalry turned Yellowstone over to the Park Service after guarding the park faithfully for thirty years, Albright became its first civilian superintendent in 1919. In case any reader may have overlooked the clues, the Park Service comes closer to being a tribal clan than a government agency. According to the ruthlessly unsentimental John Carver, the Park Service was suffering from a bad case of mystique.