Everyone should be so lucky as to have their own cabin in the woods. Of course, you may have to build it yourself, like my husband, George did. It all started when he was much younger and used to go hunting on the property that is now Recreation Unlimited.
When he became familiar with the of the lay of the land, he found a piece of property shaped like a triangle. The longer side of it was a creek (Alum Creek) with the other 2 sides meeting at a corner where 2 roads crossed making a natural border. It was three acres of land that had not been used for so long that it was just a mass of trees and vines that you could barely walk through.
George approached the owner and asked if he would sell those three acres to us. And he did. That was in the 60s. After George spent a long time clearing out the wild vines, he could tell it was a perfect spot for a cabin. Building a cabin on land with no electricity presents a problem.
You can’t have electricity unless you have a building on the land, and you can’t build on the land without electricity. So, he had to build the cabin, piece by piece, in what we call our ‘town barn’, and take them out to the location and put them all together. To begin with, he built a giant table because the cabin had to be up on stilts.
This was because of the possibility of flooding. The giant table was 12 feet wide and 32 feet long and would serve as the floor of the cabin. The front door was given to us by the man who owned the drug store in town, and had just gotten a new one. It was two-thirds glass. The windows came from someone else who was also doing some remodeling.
We had another two doors that we called French doors that opened at the end of the living room area. We had a bedroom and a counter space we called the kitchen.
We bought an authentic ice box for our refrigeration. Eventually we got electricity in the form of a security light. And with a lot more work, the cabin took shape and we began staying out there on weekends. We even had an outhouse.
My favorite spot was the fire pit that was close to the cabin. We kept a fire burning most all the time we were ever there. At that same time we were MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship) leaders. We had several parties for them out there. They could play volley ball, as well as miniature golf with those little plastic golf balls that have holes in them. We buried big opened cafeteria type cans for the 9 holes, so as to resemble a real golf course.
One weekend the MYF kids stayed all night. The boys slept on the ground around the fire and the girls slept on the floor inside the cabin. One girl drew a very good picture of the cabin, including the bonfire. She captured the view looking at the walkway and steps leading up to the porch that had been added.
Some years later, during the winter when the cabin was all closed up, someone broke in and took a lot of what we had in there. They left the door open thus allowing animals to get in and ruin what was left. After that happened, an acquaintance wanted to buy the cabin land. You might say they gave us an offer we couldn’t refuse, so we sold it to them.
I remember the day we signed over the deed. When I got back to my office, I felt that an overwhelming loss had just taken place. The loss of being able to go out there and enjoy sitting around a big campfire, walking around in the woods, or having other people come out to enjoy what George had built. Or, just listening to the peace and quiet.
If you would drive out there today, there is nothing left to show there ever was a cabin on that land. The wilderness has taken over again. And the cabin, security light, outhouse and fire pit are all gone. There is nothing left. Nothing but the beauty of the trees with the yellow leaves this time of year, the pine tree on the corner and the water still running in the creek.
It’s a little odd not to have thought of the cabin for years and years, and then just this past Saturday, have it pop in my mind to write about it.
But even more unusual is that on the very next day as I walked into our family reunion at All Occasions, I saw my old home movies (now on DVD) being played on the dining room wall. And after just a few minutes of watching, I saw our cabin, right in front of my eyes. It took my breath away to see it again after all these years.
I didn’t even remember that we had taken movies of it. But there it was, our cabin in the woods, just like it was when George built it. That same cabin that I had just thought about and had just the day before, written a first draft of. I plan to get that DVD out and play it again soon, so I can see those few seconds of the cabin, again, and again and again.
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.