Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Three Bears' House

In the early 1940's, my father was stationed at the Army Air Corps base in Greenville, South Carolina.  At the same time, my mother was working at the YWCA in Greenville, South Carolina, and was in charge of arranging events for the servicemen at the base.  They met at one of those events and eventually married.  They remained in Greenville until 1945 and a few months after my brother was born they moved to Cincinnati, father's home.  Before they moved North, my mother bought 5 acres of land from her father, Solomon Alexander Jones, and my father (with the help of Solomon and other Jones men) built a cabin which they intended to use as a summer retreat.  They had no idea of the influence that this place would have on their lives, their children's and grand children's lives, or various other relatives and friends.  As was the custom, the cabin was given a name.  There were many "summer people" who had built cabins on Cedar Mountain and each had a distinctive appellation.  Vera & George chose Triple Oak because of the large oak tree in the front yard that had a single trunk that split into three large branches about 6 feet from the ground.  The name was very stately while the cabin was very meager.  Dad used rough cut lumber to side the cabin in batten and board fashion.  The interior was not insulated, but rather showed all of the studs & joists.  A huge stone fireplace was the focal point of the living room.  The stones had come from blasting the spring which provided our water.  Solomon did the blasting of the spring and the building of the fireplace.  The cathedral ceiling was supported by several large Poplar tree trunks used as beams.  The downstairs bedroom belonged to Vera & George and the two loft bedrooms housed guests until Bert & I came along.  The name of the cabin was changed by Bert.  Looking forward to their summer visit, Bert asked when they would be going to the Three Bears' House (obviously influenced by a bedtime story).  The name stuck!  At first, there was no indoor plumbing, but my meticulous Northern grandmother, Gustava Stinson, insisted that my grandfather, Herb, build an indoor bathroom after her first visit.  Mother cooked meals on a wood-burning stove and I remember visits from the ice man to replenish the "coolant" for the icebox.  We did not have a telephone or television until the late 1970's.  There was no need for "artificial" entertainment...we had relatives that were very entertaining!  There was our cussin' cousin Markley, so named because of his colorful language, and his old-maid sister, Corrie.  Uncle Paul was a storyteller and quite a comedian.  Uncle Speedy (Clyde Gustavus) was the teaser.  When he came to visit one Saturday and noticed my hair curlers as I was preparing for the weekly square dance, he asked if I was sending or receiving.  Bert & I spent every day with our cousins; Martha and Paul Howard and Ruth Jones.  We hiked the woods, waded in the creek, picked blackberries, swung on grapevines and walked the footlog across the creek.  What a wonderful childhood we experienced! 
All of this has come to my mind today because my brother & I are organizing a trust with the bequest left to us at Mother's death in August.  We named it The Three Bear's House Trust because the cabin is the focal point for our extended family.  Five generations of the Stinson/Jones family have enjoyed summer vacations and have been profoundly influenced by the house and it's builders.  Today, it looks very different from its original facade.  Winterizing the house for year-round living by my parents changed it drastically. But when I close my eyes and think about the cabin, I still picture it as it was during my childhood...a house full of laughter, love and character.  For those who did not have the privilege of seeing it then, I provide these photos.  They were taken in 1972 by Lance McKinney and yes, that is a very skinny Melody playing with our little chihuahua, Taco, in the front yard.

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