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~ Kathy M.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

"The Cabin on Smith River Near Ryan Narrows" by Stanley Buck

This week's prompt had me stuck until yesterday.   Alan's photo reminded me of pioneer cabins, and just a little while back I had posted about Little Kitchens Over Time.

Then, I got an idea.  Well, actually two ideas that will surely make my Saturday morning quite busy on the computer.  Good thing that I got up at 5:45, because it looks as if I will be making two Sepia Saturday blog posts now.

I was recently contacted by a nice gentleman named Stanley Buck, now 78-years-old and still living in Oregon.  Stan had read my Sepia Saturday blog post about McNeil School/Guntner and Panther Creek and had sent me stories to share about growing up in the Smith River, Oregon area.  Stan was friends with some of my Traylor relatives also.  Meeting new folks is a wonderful part of blogging, and I am so happy to have made a new friend in Stan.  I know that you will enjoy his story and his mother's poem about their time living on the river.

"The Cabin on Smith River 
Near Ryan Narrows"
 by Stanley Buck 

Listening intently, all he heard was the river running gently over smooth rocks. But then with a sharp outburst of profanity a blue jay announced his presence and landed on an alder limb over his head. Torchy didn't care; all he wanted to know was, "Where is the school bus, and when will Stanley get home?" Where is it? It's time! Torchy, our small terrier, bounded up the ladder on the side of the house and crouched patiently on the peak of the gable roof with his paws crossed in front of him, and waited. Greatly amused at the dog on the roof, the kids on the school bus, Lloyd Traylor, Doris Traylor, Albert Meserve, Chane Strickland, Myrna Freske, Dexter Kuykendall, and others, were elated and began laughing. Torchy ran across the roof and flew down the ladder, ran across the yard, and was right there as I stepped from the bus. The dog did this every day.

This cabin was one of several places where we lived on Smith River.  As crude as it was, built mostly from rough lumber, my mother loved this place; although she kept it clean, there was little housekeeping. The back porch was 50 feet from the river; and so was her fishing rod. At her pleasure, she grabbed her fishing rod and headed for the river regularly. There she and Lil Eight Ball stood on the river bank, about 50 feet from the house. Lil Eight Ball, our small black cat, hardly more than a kitten, was always ready to go fishing. He followed my mother to the river, and each time she caught a small fish he tried to snag it from the hook before she could finish landing it. If she wanted to keep the fish, she had to keep the cat from taking it first. But it was a game; the cat liked her and she liked the cat.

In the woods, cool dark shade covered the rear of the cabin facing the river. A screened box fastened to the outside of the house, accessed by a small cabinet door inside the kitchen, served as our refrigerator. She called it the "cool cabinet"; and it really worked. We kept milk and fresh vegetables in it just like a real refrigerator. Other people on Smith River had the same kind of makeshift refrigerator.

An open spring fed water from a pipe to the house. My dad had a piece of wire screen on the inlet. Not often, but sometimes the water stopped, so we had to go remove a few alder leaves from the screen. Hot water flowed through coils in the wood range, and then into a water tank that was similar to a modern water heater, but needed no electricity. The wood range heated water and the cabin. 

It was quiet living with no electricity, telephone, and even without radio most of the time.

During WWII everything went to the war effort, so that meant no BB guns or bicycles were built. Even other metal toys were not available. That left only paper and wood; plastics were not available yet either. About all I had was my chemistry set, a few books, and all outdoors. Then the war ended. 

After the war ended consumer goods were still scarce, so it took awhile for the supply to catch up with the demand. I wanted what most boys want, a bicycle and a BB gun. I earned 12 dollars and fifty cents picking sword fern. So, I found a used, but good, old Montgomery Ward "Hawthorne"; my first bicycle. I was overjoyed.

One day I came home from school, and a box on the kitchen table said, "Daisy Red Ryder Cowboy Carbine"; my dream came true. Hard to find, but my dad had found one, and bought it for me. It was late 1945 or 1946 and BB guns were barely in production again. (Daisy still makes Red Ryder BB guns, so I bought one at Walmart a couple of years ago. I wanted it for old time sake. I'm not alone.) 

I always wondered why my parents would leave our new home in Portland, and go to Smith River. Well, it wasn't my father's idea like I had always thought. My mother hated Portland and longed to live in peace and quiet again without being a slave to possessions, noise and confusion, dirty air, nasty water, and congestion. 

She was a clean, hardworking, Christian woman. She was well proportioned, and always at an ideal weight. She was classy and mannered; with a cool northern European beauty. She wore clothes nicely and looked as pretty as any movie star. Also, she never had an enemy in her whole life; everyone liked her. She took up little space on this planet, and she did a lot of good. About 50 years ago, or more she wrote this poem about that cabin. She lived to 88, and died in 1998.

"The Shack"
 by Ruth Buck

Just below the curve of road,
Just above the reach of flood,
Flanked by alders and a spring
Stands my old grey clapboard shack.
Somehow shedding out the rain
which in torrents comes again.
Patched up paper on the walls,
Caulk marks on the painted floors.
Pieces gathered here and there
make up cupboard, stove, and chair.
I've been a slave of finer homes
To keep abreast of Mrs. Jones.
But now, it seems I'm always free,
Because this shacks' a slave to me.

So, there you are, my friends.  If you enjoyed this story, please visit my Sepia Saturday friends by "CLICKING HERE" to find other neat photos and stories.  To read more about my family and other stories featuring old photos, memories and more, please look for this picture of me and my dad on the left-hand sidebar and read whatever else catches your fancy.  Thanks so much for visiting!

~ Kathy M. 

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

At Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy, if you miss a day, you miss a lot!  All material on this post is copyrighted and not for use without my permission ...Please click here to go to my home page and see what is happening in Mayberry today.
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Linda Reeder said...

Oh, I did enjoy this very much, and the poem is wonderful!

Postcardy said...

I would love to live in a place like that in summer, but not year round.

Wendy said...

I'm glad you and Stan found each other, if for no other reason than to share this fine story and poem. I'd say his mother really knew herself and lived her philosophy.

Kathy Hart said...

Lovely - thank you for sharing!

Peter said...

I don't know anyone in Oregon... :(

Little Nell said...

Such a well told tale and as for that poem, it has such warmth. You see, I knew you'd pull something out of the hat!

Karen S. said...

The Shack poem is so wonderful, as was your tale! I just loved my trip to Oregon and someday I must go there again.

Tattered and Lost said...

Oh my how I'd like to step back in time and spend an afternoon sitting in the shade beside the cabin and the river. Time well spent

Bob Scotney said...

Stan Buck's story is delightful as is Ruth's poem. Some of our so-called poets could learn a thing or two from her.

Christine H. said...

I can almost taste that spring water with no chlorine. It sounds so beautiful and peaceful, but I'm sure there was also a lot of hard work.

Queen Bee said...

Interesting story of a life I can't imagine living. Guess I'm too spoiled with the conveniences for an easier life. Sounds like it worked for this family though.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post, Kathy, and another case of Blogging Serendipity! :-) Jo

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