calling for "Elmer"

When I was little, my dad had a ritual he followed everytime he put out a campfire; he would shout into the darkness, hollering for “Elmer”
As an adult, I asked him where this came from and he couldn’t quite remember the story, but thought it had something to do with someone named Elmer at a campground at Huntington Lake, California.

Anyone know anything about this ritual or story?

" there is a history about “Elmer” the bear … humans love the creation of ritual … nightly extinquishing of the clifftop campfire".

From a history of Yosemite web site
It’s buried in there, and I can’t find it exaclty, but the gist is something to do with calling for Elmer the Bear during a nightly ritual extinguishing of a famous (?) clifftop campfire.


Welcome. Isn’t this place just amazing. You ask about something you dad did when you were young, and get an answer within 25 minutes.

The origins of “Elmer” can be found here:

quote from someone posting there: “P.P.S.S. Thanks for the info on the origins of Elmer.”


"I am so excited to find this site.
I spent much of my childhood in Yosemite in the late 1940’s, 1950’s and 1960’s. We always stayed in Camp 14. I made so many wonderful friends, but have lost touch. My name then was Patsy Groves.

Tubing down the Merced time after time and diving off of Stoneman Bridge and watching the Firefall with my friends was something to look forward to all year.

We recently returned to Yosemite for a family reunion. I couldn’t wait to shout “ELMER” at dusk. I did, and sadly, there was no response!

I have tried to tell friends about lying in my cot at night listening to calls for “Elmer” echoing around the valley, smelling the musky camp fire smoke (still love that), watching the stars through the tall, tall trees and listening to the rush of the Merced River, so close by. "

thank you for the quick replies.
The Yosemite site looks fascinating and I will go back to read the comments in detail when I’m not at work. I did scan the page and found the references to Elmer and some of it was very informative, but there seem to be two origins of Elmer, one being “Our mother always told us that “Elmer” was an elderly man who sold fruits and vegetables out of a cart” and another reference about Elmer being a bear.
Thank you Philster for the info, and if anyone else knows anything else about Elmer the Bear, please let me know.

My memories of my dad putting out the campfire and yelling for Elmer are not as spectacular as the Yosemite Firefall memories, but they are just as special to me.


“Stop yelling! I’m hunting for wabbits.”