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It's very cold this morning. The sky is gray. The air is wet. I think, "That ground hog won't see his shadow today." It's Ground Hog Day, 1974 and I've never seen a more dreary day. After several "family discussions" based on Mary's visions of her dead grandmother, we are moving to "the bottoms." Dad has quit his job, and he and Mary have bought eighty acres along McGee Creek. Wherever that is. And, an old school bus. The discussions amount to Dad and Mary telling us girls what we are going to do. Mary's four kids and Kathy are too young to "discuss."
Daddy's driving the bus and Mary's driving the car. It seems to be taking forever, then we're there. No, we're not. We're at the road that goes to there. Now the real adventure begins. Mary parks the car and everyone climbs into the bus. We start down the road. It's steep and muddy. A slip here and a skid there. The low tree limbs screech against the roof. I'm scared. We stop. "Are we there now?"
"No," someone says. There's a sharp turn to the left on the side of the hill. Daddy gets out to look. The road is slick, narrow and the edge drops straight down. Dad says it's too dangerous to go on today. We're only about a quarter of a mile in and we aren't even on our property yet. There's a small, flat clearing just to the right, before the turn. We start unloading and set up housekeeping right there on that level slip of mud.
The cow and calf were brought down yesterday. The problem is that they are all the way down. Another quarter of a mile. Somebody is going to have to walk down there twice a day to feed and milk.
The bus now has the bunk beds around the back. Dad and Mary's bed folds up out of the way during the day. Kathy, who is seven and a half months old, sleeps in a bassinet.
The first two seats behind the driver's seat are set up like a booth with a small table between them. Opposite the booth is a counter about four feet long. We have a Coleman cook stove and a water bucket there. Between the counter and the first set of bunk beds is a large, red, metal storage cabinet for canned goods and dishes.
Under the counter is flour, corn meal, and lard, each in five gallon cans, a one-hundred pound sack of potatoes and a fifty pound sack of onions. We use a kerosene heater to warm the bus but only use it at night. We burn one gallon of fuel each night. When we wake up cold, it's time to get up and start the day.
I'm not going back to school and, of course, Debbi has graduated. The rest of the school-aged kids have to walk the one-half mile to catch the bus each morning and afternoon.
Each day, we work at clearing the site where we plan to live. It, too, is on a hillside but without a cliff. I've never seen a chainsaw before but, well, here I go.
Oh Bert, You leave me with nothing to say. What a challenging life you had as a girl. I am so very glad you are here to tell it all.
I see you figured out the copywrite symbol......