Huddled in the Dark – Part III

Huddled in the Dark – Part III

by Shirley Swift


What a yard sale we had. Everything accumulated over the past fifteen years was in the yard and garage. No one had extra money around these parts, so a quarter was the most expensive item. I even traded for some items. It may seem funny, but I did keep a couple of electric appliances. How could I not take my Belgian waffle maker? Hopefully we have enough sunny days so the generator can provide enough energy for a waffle or two!

People bought many things that they may never be able to use. Where are they going to get their electricity next year? It’s sad.

Deb brought her youngest daughter for the week so that they could help pack. We had enough money to rent a friend’s truck and learned we would only have to pay for gasoline. He even donated his time to help. I was so thankful, I was close to tears all moving day.

Only the cast iron pans were taken, plus non-breakable kitchen items. I almost left the wooden bowls and utensils, but decided they might be a good thing to have. Boxes of material for sewing plus the treadle machine didn’t take up much room. Very few items of clothing were taken. The wood stove and table and chairs and beds with two dressers made it onto the truck along with the gardening tools. There was also room for some of the wood we could not sell.

My son, Ted, had some tools and the buckets of plant starts. He had taken care to wrap and hide our money in the bucket; silver under the grapes; paper money under the blueberries; other valuables under the strawberries. We only carried enough money to pay for moving expenses and I took the example from our older relatives of sewing pockets on the inside of our clothes so no one would know we had money on us.

I had some personal items, photo albums, and the cats in their carriers. I actually stuffed one footstool in as well. Deb had our rocking chairs.

My daughter led the way to the farm, followed by the truck, my granddaughter and I next, and Ted brought up the rear. The three cars and the truck held everything we needed to set up a home and garden plus some comfort items.

Our entourage took almost 45 minutes to travel the 15 miles on back roads. We didn’t want any problems with pirates along the way. Pirates? Several families on the road, moving, had been way-laid by thieves. It was a growing problem. The thieves had been called pirates by one victim and it stuck.

When we pulled into the farm yard, a dramatic change had taken place since I’d been there. Firstly, the driveway trees had not been trimmed and anyone could have missed the drive if they didn’t know it was there. Smart, I thought.

Secondly, in the field behind the garden, there were two huge mounds of dirt. The underground houses had been started. We would have to unload everything into the pole barn for the time being. We would be able to live in our tents until then. I again compared myself to pioneers “camping” in their canvas-covered wagons until their sod houses were built.

Thirdly, a small hog was being roasted by the neighbor that had the back-hoe that dug out for our underground homes. While our items were being unloaded into the pole barn my grandsons helped me pitch the large dome tent. It would be snug but serviceable.

I learned what it cost to have the holes dug and it was what I saved by not having to rent the truck. The neighbor actually blushed when I dug into my bosom and withdrew money to pay him.

My friend stayed for dinner and left. Getting ready to drive out I handed him the keys to my house and said for him to load up anything he wanted when he returned to Kalamazoo. He said he would. Well, that was supposed to make me feel better. It didn’t, but it helped.

Roast pork and baked potatoes over an open fire. To me that is luxury. We are almost all together as a family now. I learned the other house being dug was for an extended part of my son-in-law’s family. His parents refused to leave their home but we all knew they would have to sooner or later.

First night on the new land. It was warm and the tent was comfortable. My granddaughter wanted to stay with me and I listened to her quiet breathing as she slept. Finally, I fell asleep thinking of all the things to be done. House, coop for chickens, prepare soil for next year’s garden. Can or dry as much food as possible for the winter. Sigh. We have arrived.


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