Do you think they knew?
It was in October of 1937, in the midst of the Great Depression, when my grandparents purchased 190 acres (+/- as the deed states) about 8 miles outside of town along the road to Wright’s Mountain. My grandfather was the town doctor with a young family and I’ve often wondered just how they were able scrape together the funds to not only purchase the land but then build this modest one room cabin during a time when his bills were as apt to be paid with live chickens and black raspberry jam as cold hard cash.
But regardless of how it all happened, I wonder if they knew the impact this little get-away would have on their descendants.
I’m pretty sure the cabin was not built as a vacation destination. Since I doubt that in the years preceding World War II there were many vacation days built into a country doctor’s life, I think the cabin, in its earliest years, was more a spot for an afternoon of quiet, or maybe even that safe place where my grandmother could take the kids for a break in the routine. Knowing my grandmother, she probably used it for parties too!
Fast forward to the 1950’s. Although as a family we ALWAYS came to Bradford for our vacation (last week in July/first week in August = Plant shutdown = two weeks in Bradford), we stayed at our grandparent’s house – the Big House in the middle of town (complete with the Doctor’s office and Nurse Cora) and later a small house just outside of town affectionately called The Little House. I think that four young children coupled with no electric, water that needed to be pumped by hand from the not-very-close-by well and the random cow plops that dotted our meadow and path to the pond made “cabin time” a bit more challenging during those years. (My grandparents leased out their property to a nearby farmer for his dry cows to roam. The cows did a great job of keeping down the undergrowth and added a bit of whimsy to the cabin ambiance, but you never knew when you might come across one of their deposits.) We were more apt to pile in the jeepster for an afternoon cabin excursion or maybe, as a special treat, an overnight camping adventure.
While it wasn’t the ultimate destination for our family vacation, it was still the highlight. It was the spot where I learned to swim, bait a hook, row a boat, enjoy fresh caught trout for breakfast and how to read by candlelight. Precious memories all. By the late 1960’s electricity had arrived and we began to stay at the cabin for longer stretches of time. Or maybe it was that my grandparents were getting older and the happy mayhem of our family (now full of teenagers) was best enjoyed by them visiting us at the cabin rather than us staying with them and just visiting the cabin. It’s hard to say. But by the early 70’s, as our generation was getting married and starting our families, the Cabin became the destination. We could hardly wait to introduce our little ones to the joys of the Cabin. (Difficulty of children napping in a one room cabin notwithstanding. At least there were no cow plops!)
1998 – The last summer my Dad (center) made it to the cabin.
2012 – the Cabin’s 75th Anniversary
This summer, along with the four of us “senior siblings”, six of the thirteen cousins and their families spent time at the cabin. Several others longed to be here but couldn’t make the logistics work. Hooks were baited, inner tubes were inflated, frogs were caught and books were read. Naps were taken and favorite spots were explored. Maybe even a party or two was enjoyed. And important moments like these were shared.
Grampy Doc and Lizzie > Dad and Mom > four siblings > 13 cousins > 29 (and counting) second cousins
I wonder if they knew…….