As kids, each summer, we lived a life free of restrictions. My Dad worked grading roads and was away from home all week so my mom packed up 3 or 4 kids (depending on when the older kids left home), and sometimes, neighboring kids who accompanied us. We joined my dad ‘on the road’. Sounds pretty much like camping, doesn’t it? Only we living in a wooden bunkhouse like these.
It was, to say the least, primitive. My mother didn’t even have a stove, just a two burner camp stove and a Dutch oven that she could bake things in. We carried water from near by farms. But for kids, it was ideal. We could run all day and still be in sight of the bunkhouse. We learned that you can’t step on cactus in canvas tennis shoes and not have to pick out the sharp thorns. We learned to watch gophers and hawks and observe baby birds. We captured garter snakes. I shudder at the idea now.
We returned to town Saturday about noon. My mother would have to do the laundry, look after a huge garden (a lot on either side of the house), get groceries, stock up on books at the library, prepare whatever she needed for the next week, go to church and again be out at camp Sunday night. Yeah. It must have been a lot of fun for her. Not really.
One of the things we enjoyed–as did she, I expect–was bringing back flowers and bugs for her to draw. Roses like this, black eyed Susans, butterflies, blue bells, etc. After she passed away, we shared her pictures among us and I think we all have framed them and hung them somewhere we can enjoy them.
I lived like a pioneer even though it wasn’t the 1800s. It’s given me a first-hand taste of the life. I hope my experience enables me to give my historic stories a real sense of having been there.
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