Grandpa worked in the city, but loved the woods. So in 1937 he bought 40 acres in Upstate New York, pitched an Army tent for the family to live in, then cleared white pines and hemlock trees for a cabin. We called it Camp – Camp Pinehurst.
Camp was made of formed concrete, cement block and wood. And each year, Walt would build more, adding a front room, bunk rooms, a kitchen with huge picture windows and a back room with a fireplace big enough to lay down in.
There was no running water or electricity. We hauled buckets down from the well to wash with and water jugs from town for drinking. Kerosene lamps were the norm. Our outhouse was the finest in all the land, with two holes and a shower stall that never got used. (Grandpa never could get water up onto that roof.)
Then there was the bar – a magnificent knotty pine creation with big glass bottles of ginger ale, root beer and orange soda pop stored behind and below. Adult beverages were hidden way up high, well out of reach of curious kids. The golden shellac of the bar top reflected faces young and old sharing late night yarns, some of which were mostly true!
(Below: Gramma and Grandpa at the Camp Pinehurst bar)
Three generations of family and friends gathered at Camp for clam bakes, deer camps, holiday celebrations and snipe hunts. We’d sing old fashioned campfire songs, punctuated by staccato explosions from a metal mesh popcorn basket. We scared ourselves silly with ghost stories which made our last outhouse run in the dark a thrilling adventure. We clung close to whomever had a flashlight, careful not to fall too far behind and be grabbed by ghouls that lurked behind every tree. No one wanted to relive that walk in the night, making the chamber pot balancing act a morning necessity. Woe to the person who dripped or tripped!
Oh that every child could have the gift of growing up in the woods! To discover the splendor of salamanders and toads, wander down a “bumpity road” and stuff wild strawberries into a dixie cup. To have the freedom to roam creeks, fields and hills without fear. To learn how to lower the flag from the pole at sunset, careful not to let it drape in the dirt. To see the stars against an inky black sky, without the competing glow of too many towns. To realize how much you learned without knowing it, simply because you lived in the woods.
That’s how I became a woodsy woman.