Read a true story and
amusing personal account of simple living in the middle of the woods in
roomed cabin. Read about the pot-belly stove and the snake that came
into the cabin through the crack in the floor. One person's account of
living the simple life.
Living: Old Timely Ways
- I don't know about teaching any
the "good old simple ways" of doing things. Growing up back in the
hills of Kentucky, five miles from the nearest paved road and two miles
from the nearest neighbor, with no electricity or indoor plumbing, we
lived simply, but we may not have lived the best. Far as I'm concerned,
even the most conservative of them, have a lifestyle that's full of 100
times more modern conveniences than we ever had.
never got ice cream, candy or soda pop. At 12 years old, I saw my first
television cartoon..."Popeye the Sailor". I saw my first singer on the
TV. It was Rudy Valley singing "Winchester Cathedral". Later, I'd see
my first cowboys and Indians in a show called "Rawhide". Also, I
remember seeing "Lassie" and a show for kids, on Saturday morning,
called "The Banana Splits". That was about the extent of it. My Great
Aunt owned a set and, sometimes, she'd turn it on for awhile when I was
visiting. Most of the time, she preferred to leave it off. Her son had
bought it for her, but she never did take to watching it. I'd have to
wait till I grew up before I got to watch much TV.
Simple Living in the 2 Roomed Cabin - The Exterior
two-room "cabin" was built from "sawmill slabs", so it looked like it
was made of log, but it really wasn't. When the sawmill "squares off" a
log, the pieces cut from the side are just waste. These rounded slabs
were free for the hauling. Basically, they were used as siding, only
they made a more substantial contribution to the structure of the
building. They were "chinked" with mud, just like a cabin would be,
only to a lesser extent because the thinner edges of the slabs
overlapped each other. Eventually, our cabin's exterior walls were
covered with tar paper, then with a sort of green "rolled roofing"
material that had a "brick" pattern to it. Personally, I preferred the
look of those rounded slabs, but the covering helped keep the wind out.
Simple Living in the 2 Roomed Cabin - The Exterior
interior walls were cardboard boxes with wall paper covering. There was
no dry wall, plaster, nor insulation of any kind. We couldn't afford
such luxuries. The ceiling was the same way. The roof was made of
tin...and I miss that most of all.
We heated with an old
pot-belly stove and my Grandmother cooked on a wood-burning stove.
Grandmother cooked with wood, but we heated with coal dug right from
the mountainside. It was free. It had to be or we couldn't have used it.
Simple Living in the 2 Roomed Cabin - The Kitchen
room of our cabin was devoted to being the kitchen. It had a sink with
the drain pipe running on the ground, just outside the cabin. The sink
was part of a "shelving unit" that was made of sheet metal. It had 4
metal doors on it and two metal drawers. Someone had bought it for us.
It came with a set of the same sheet metal cabinets that were mounted
over it. I think there were 4 doors in those cabinets. Outside of that,
we had a table and 3 chairs and there was a large "wood box" by the
stove. That was all.
Simple Living in the 2 Roomed Cabin - The Second Room
The other room was our bedroom/living room.
It had 3 iron beds, a chest of drawers, a "dresser" with small drawers
and a large, round mirror attached to it, and a "couch" that sat right
in the middle of the floor. Each bed was in a corner and the pot-belly
stove had the last corner all to itself. Grandmother made our own
quilts. Her "quilt frame" had been whittled out by my Grandfather and
it hung from the ceiling, out of the way.
Simple Living in the 2 Roomed Cabin - The Floor
The floor was made of
the same sawmill slabs with the flat part turned up, naturally. It was
covered by linoleum. This, too, was a gift. Before that, it had been
just plain, but it had been "worked down" with bricks and sand from the
creek, to make a smooth finish. It had cracks in it. You didn't dare
drop a penny on it. My Mother used to talk about all the change and
marbles that must have been under that old floor; things she'd lost
when she was a little girl.
Simple Living and the Rattler
Occasionally, a snake would come up
through the cracks of that old floor. Grandfather tried to keep the old
"creek rock" foundation chinked so they couldn't get in, but they'd
still find a hole. One day, Grandmother moved her clothes basket and
there was a big timber rattler under it, with its head stuck down a
hole in the floor. She grabbed the meat cleaver and cut it in two where
it went through the floor. Grandfather awoke, one morning, and felt
something moving around on top of the quilt. (Mountain nights get cool,
even in the summer.) He thought it was the cat, but when he rolled over
and kicked it off, he heard the rattles hit the floor. He grabbed his
pistol from under his pillow and shot it.
I still have those
rattles...twelve rattles and a button. He tied them to his fiddle's
bridge and they stayed there all the rest of his life, rattling when he
hit a certain note.
Simple Living and Entertainment
That old fiddle was our only entertainment, for a
long time. I can still hear it echoing back off the hills when he'd sit
on the front porch and play it.
He didn't know many tunes and I
never did hear him play with anyone else. Eventually, Grandfather
traded a wristwatch for an old "transistor" radio. It was a little
"cream colored" radio with no back on it. Only one station would come
in over those mountains, and then for only about one hour in the
evening. He'd take it down off the shelf, plug the little 9-volt
battery into it, and we'd sit on the porch and listen to a Bluegrass
Music station, I don't know from where. (Eventually, I grew up to be a
professional musician and made a lot of my living on the road, playing
5-string bluegrass banjo. I guess that music got into my blood. I'm
retired from that, now.)
I could tell you more about our simple living, but that's probably
enough for now. I appreciate your interest and will continue if this
hasn't bored you to tears.
- Written by Jesse Taylor
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