Posts Tagged ‘Home fire’

Dor and Bill  The Wanderers at Big Bear Lake, California

Dor and Bill
The Wanderers at
Big Bear Lake, California

 Daily Prompt: Salad Days

Is there a period in your own personal life that you think of as the good old days?

Tell us a story about those innocent and/or exciting times (or lack thereof).

They did not seem like the good old days but they were.

Right after we were married, Bill and I drove from Florida to California in a car without air conditioning or heat.  We crossed the desert at night with water bags tied to the front of the car and hanging out the windows (refills for a potential overheated radiator).  You might say it was an adventure but I cried all the way across country for leaving my home, my parents and everything I knew and understood.

And it did not get much better.

Bill had just graduated.  He was a real Civil Engineer and we were off to his first job building roads in remote areas of California.  There were no guarantees of furnished housing in strange places like Big Oak Flat, Hayfork, or Portola.  But we were young, eager, and flexible.

Well, semi-flexible.  One of our posts was in beautiful Hayfork, a mountain community where the only available rental was a one room shack with a tin roof and no bathroom. If I had known about blogging then I would have taken photos. However, since the view of our own personal shack was somewhat less than scenic, there are no such records available.

I painted and decorated the shack though and hung plastic curtains for shades.  And there was a shiny new refrigerator (the only mirror in the place).

There was a community bathroom and a shower for the ring of six shacks.  The tin roof made living conditions a bit warm sweltering hot, so we drove “down the hill” to Redding for an air conditioned motel room almost every weekend.

“I need to go home,” I would finally cry and Bill would send me back to Florida to visit my parents and friends.

But we made friends in Hayfork.

Ernie, the owner of the general store, had a small trailer/mobile home in his back yard.  One day Ernie asked if we would like to rent his trailer.  WOULD we!  It had an inside bathroom and tiny shower.  It had a tiny kitchen too, where I could cook, wash up, and put dishes away standing in one place (by simply pivoting around).


The trailer had a gas stove.

I never used a gas stove before so I decided to turn on the burners and let them go awhile before lighting a match.  BRRRROOOOOOOOM!  Everything exploded.  The doors and windows of the trailer blew open.  Our dog, Tinker, ran out and away (far away) into the snow.  My llama slippers were scorched.  I think my eyebrows were scorched too.  But there was no real damage and we all lived.  Bill had to go out and find Tinker though.

Those were the good old days all right.

But things got worse.

I was pregnant when we moved to Big Oak Flat near Yosemite Park. There was a gas station and a post office.  That was it.  The nearest town/drugstore/cleaners/hospital was over two hours away.  No diaper service and nobody ever heard of pampers in those good old days.

It wasn’t a shack we lived in but a house that had been moved from somewhere else and stood on cement blocks.  There were cracks in the floor wide enough to see flash floods rushing along underneath.   The cracks let in cold drafts too.

Bill at Big Oak Flat House on Cement Blocks

Bill at Big Oak Flat House on Cement Blocks

The water in the shower started off orange.  There was a frog in the shower once. Imagine my naked reaction to THAT!

And the doctor in Sonora told me he would not drive the 2 hours “up the hill” to deliver the baby.

“I need to go home,” I wailed.  I could not imagine birthing a child in such circumstances.  So Bill sent me home.  But once home I could not imagine having the baby without Bill there so I went back (Poor Bill).  Our son was born at the bottom of the hill in a small hospital and there were no mishaps. The only problem was it was going on winter.

I hung Corky’s cloth diapers on a line and they froze.  Then he got a recurring rash which I later learned was from me bleaching his diapers.

Or how about the time there was a blizzard and the heat went off!  This muttering mother trudged a mile (well, not really a mile) carrying a wrapped up infant through a blizzard to the landlady’s house.  Before you issue condolences, I may be slightly exaggerating.  It was a snow storm though and I did have to leave that freezing house to get help.

Bill and I roamed a few more months around the wilderness with our new son.  Everything we owned was packed into a Dodge station wagon, and again I cried.

“We need to have a home!  We need roots! We have a child now.  We have responsibilities!”

And so it was we returned to the city dwellers’ life.

Looking back in time, those Wilderness Days were our “Salad Days” of adventure, the good times, the young years, the experiences that left us with stories to tell.

Those years had so much impact  that I now think of them as a rehearsal for our eventual big move to country living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia (where we are now) with other stories to tell.

But I often think that if only I had known then what I know now, I would never have needed to go home.



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Your home is on fire.  Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe).  What did you grab?

I love this Daily Prompt because it made me want to clearly define “essential.”  And here is what I grabbed:

1)      My purse since it is a link to and protection from the world.  Who can do without lipstick, a hairbrush, mirror, hand sanitizer, some cash, a credit card, a cell phone and a camera?  I am assuming a handbag counts as one item to grab.  Maybe I should carry my Kindle in there too, and some daily food and drink.   I think I need a bigger purse now.

2)      The Emergency Fire box containing important documents, even though I have forgotten which documents are in there.

3)      My Computer for all the old family photographs that can be reprinted.  And I think I put photos of all our furniture in a computer file too (in case of a fire).  I can also keep blogging if I have my computer!

4)      My Bag of Chargers to keep all my electronic gadgets going – cell phone, computer, Kindle reader.  Must not forget the charger things.

5)      A Winter Coat, depending on the weather. Or a bathing suit.  Who knows, I could wind up in a motel with a heated pool.  Or I could head south and lounge on a beach whilst waiting for the house to be rebuilt!

This prompt really got me thinking because it is not only a grand writing exercise, but I realize I do need to update things.  For instance, I should add more family photos to my computer files because it would be easier to retrieve one computer than to lug all the albums out.  Besides, this prompt calls for five grab-items and I have at least 40 albums!

I thought of adding a change of clothes to the must have grab list, but I don’t have a change of clothes waiting and ready.  What exactly is in our “fire box” anyway?  I should check that too and add more papers to forget.  And how important is the winter coat or the bathing suit?  I guess I had visions of standing out in the snow watching my house burn.  Talk about a nightmare!  But, I have my purse so I could conceivably buy needed clothing.

Is there something else I should grab that would be more important?  I know we are only supposed to choose five items and the people in my life are assumed safe, but I would definitely grab my husband (and maybe send him back inside) because he could grab five more items!

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