By Diana Wanaamaker
As we drove up the 2 track path to the top of the mountain, I was in dumbfounded awe at the beauty of the mountainous scenery. Excited about the unexpected venture. Free and young with a bottomless spirit where fear never entered my minds thoughts. As we passed the shack with a young woman whose tattered clothing barely covered her body and her bare feet seemed to blend in with the earth’s covering. Next, the reality of my free spirit venture about dropped my mouth open and stopped my heart. The leader of this venture, whom we were transporting back to his family while he was on leave from the service, told me exactly where we were going. To a small home on top of a mountain, where there was no water and no toilet. I think I about swallowed deeper than I ever have and anxiously asked, “are you kidding?!!”. “No, not kidding”, he replied.
For the next 4-6 months I lived in the hills of Tennessee, amongst some of the nicest, wildest and craziest people I have ever met. The guy I was dating at the time, many moons ago, had taken his good friend back home to Tennesse, during his service leave. I had tagged along with my teenage thinking! One month turned into 2 and then some.
It was not long before I met the the much dreaded outhouse in the back of the shack. And a shack it was! They had nothing, and I mean nothing! There was electric by some odd chance. But no water! We would have to gather up all the milk jugs, put them in the back of the truck, take them down to the river and fill them up to take back to the shack. Bathing was done thru a wash basin, in a small room. The doorway was a shabby curtain covering the door’s opening. Clothes washing was done thru one of those old washer machines, that our mother’s probably grew up with. This round machine that had a open basin and you watch the clothes swirl around, while being washed. Then we would ring it thru the rollers and hang dry the clothes.
The outhouse was deep, dark and barely standing with old, tattered wood pieces. Next to the hole inside, there sat a Sears catalog for….well you know what. Yep! You heard right! Sears Catalog!
For dinner we often had potato sandwiches. Potatoes from boxed mixes, not real potatoes. Real potatoes were a luxury. For money, we hocked things we brought with us, and hoped to find some sort of work, which was little to be found back then, and pay was so little it would make you cry, for even those days.
What became a venture, became a life of survival and hardship. And I longed to come home.
There were many adventures, some scary, some fun, some sad and some never forgotten. I met some of the most amazing and kindest people I have ever met in my entire life. They would give their last shirt off their back and NEVER ask for a thing in return! With barely a formal introduction of who you were. There really is no match to Southern hospitality!
They say when one embellishes a past memory it is because something is missing in one’s life today. As I day dreamed this week of just running away, just taking me and Jay and disappearing off into a new adventure, to never be heard of again! How I longed for those free spirit days when the responsibilities were few and the freedom was abundant. How grateful I am today that I allowed myself to have such an adventure, so that I could lose myself in that thought and renew my spirit of yesterdays fun!
Today, I just make sure I NEVER run out of toilet paper!
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