Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Camping On The Acreage

Hi Bill

This week I’ve been thinking about when Dad was working to get our house on the acreage livable. I’m not sure about when that was but it must have been the early to mid-1950s. I’m pretty sure that you were not thrilled by the plan to move out of the city to “The Farm” as we called it. You were a teenager and had lots of good friends in the city, especially Ernie and Eddie. I was 4 to 6 years old when Dad was trying to get us moved out of Grandpap’s house and into the seemingly endless construction of our soon–to-be home. Okay, it eventually became a very nice house on a very nice property. However at that time it was stressful for all of us, although I was too dumb to really understand the long-term implications of what was going on.

As you probably remember, that acreage had a small rustic cabin on it and Dad rehabbed and enlarged that cabin over many years even after we had permanently moved into it. I have complex and conflicting memories of the parents dragging us to that property during summers to campout in that cabin for weeks (or what felt like an eternity to me). I suppose Dad used his vacation time from work (or was he laid off sometimes) just to work his butt off on that property. Again, it eventually became a wonderful large home but back then Clarkie’s time on “The Farm” was not all that wonderful. 

You probably remember that rustic is a way-too-elegant description of that cabin and the property. I believe there was a well with a hand pump outside the cabin for water. However, there was no plumbing inside. Now, little Clarkie was not at all enthusiastic about “doing his business” outside.  Yes, like most little boys, Clarkie was already down with peeing outside. No problem there. Just find some bushes to hide behind and let it drain. However, the number-two function was a little trickier to handle. Ah, but we didn’t have to “go” outside. No, there was an “Outhouse” on the property. What a relief, huh. Well, that was one cold creepy, crawly, crittery, and stinky little building, especially at night. Using flashlights in that tiny building while sitting on a splintery toilet seat over a hole in the ground did not foster a satisfying bowel movement. Ah, but at night we had a chamber pot to use in the cabin. Who the hell wants to use a chamber pot inside a small cabin! Please Lord, give us a real bathroom! Also there was lots of wildlife on the property, which added to nighttime experiences in the outhouse. 

Speaking of weather, even though it was summer it sometimes got cool (even cold) at night and we had no heat source. Then there were those summer rain/thunder storms and the roof leaked. So we had to have pans and buckets catching the leaks, etc. I believe we slept on cots and sleeping bags, which was fine for me. I believe we had electricity in that cabin, but I’m not sure. I didn’t have to worry about all those circumstances, but I did have to endure them. I suppose those experiences contributed to my life of insecurities and compulsive toilet habits. I know you helped me cope with those camp-outs, although I think maybe you (a teenager at the time) sometimes bugged out back to the city with friends.

However, it wasn’t all bad. When it was warm and sunny I was able to roam the acreage, which was full of trees, overgrown vegetation and wildlife, although I had to be careful to avoid poison ivy, bees and wasps. Unfortunately, I hadn’t met anyone in the neighborhood. In fact there wasn’t much of a neighborhood there at that time. Therefore I had no one to play with. However, you were there most of the time to help me get through those “camping on the acreage” experiences. Also my recollections are probably inaccurate. Maybe those camping trips were only for a few days and maybe the outhouse didn’t stink as bad as I remember.

I’m sure your memories of these back-to-nature experiences are much richer and probably more positive than mine. I would enjoy hearing them.

Please take care of yourself and your family.

Sincerely Clark 

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