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A Photo Stirs Summer Memories

June 13, 2020

Another Way for week of June 12, 2020

A Photo Stirs Summer Memories

My oldest sister has always been the photographer in the family. A few years back she gave us siblings some blown-up black and white prints which I treasure highly.

One is unposed from 1960, when I was nine. The photo shows our family eating our first supper “back at the cabin” after Dad satisfied his dream to build a pioneer style cabin out of hand-cut logs. My sisters confirmed it was the first supper there because in the picture, the cabin’s door was not hung yet.

The cabin was about 12 by 18 feet, with cement floor and “chinking” (like cement) packed between the logs to keep air and critters out. There was one door, two windows, and a fireplace and chimney built by Uncle Lester. A loft inside extended over the front “porch” area of the cabin, with a ladder made of smaller logs. Friends loved that “secret” loft with a mattress squeezed in. For a while we had a bed downstairs, but we soon learned that with the actual bed frame removed, you could pack in a lot more kids for a slumber party.

My middle sister helped cut the logs and apply the chinking and when they finished, she took a nail and etched “Linda’s Cabin, 1960.” She got a bit of flak from the rest of us for that. Dad always said his only expense for the cabin was $50 for the tin roof. It made a cozily raucous sound when it rained. Later we added a cement block grill given by Uncle Woody and Aunt Arlene.

The cabin faced a small pond that Dad had someone dig. He filled it with blue gill, where we learned to swim and pluck off bloodsuckers. We also soon learned to beg Mom on Saturday nights, “Can we have supper back at the cabin tonight?”

The details this photo preserves are precious. That evening, we had a card table to hold our food, and Dad is sitting on the door’s threshold, eating with a plastic plate balanced between his knees. Mom and my five-year-old brother Terry, are sitting on a plank Daddy put up between the outer wall of the cabin and the front post. Mom is smiling while eating and wearing a polka dot skirt and white blouse. Her long jet-black hair (not dyed, mind you), is fashioned into her usual roll. Terry’s face is almost covered by a hot dog or other sandwich.

My middle sister and I are standing behind the card table, no place to sit. My oldest sister who took the picture, must have also stood to eat. Linda (now Pert) had on jeans and a t-shirt, a telltale sign she’d been in the field or barn that day helping Dad. I’m wearing a dress. Yes, you read right, dress: that was what we wore unless we were working on the farm.

The table has on it a large gallon jug—probably Kool-aid, a chip bag, plastic boxes and maybe one tall jar of dill pickles. A cardboard box sits under the table, which Pert recalls Dad loading onto his tractor to carry the picnic supplies; the rest of us walked the short lane. I’m so grateful to Nancy who captured this “evening out” so well.

The picture reminds me of a slowed-down time before TV (didn’t get one until 1963), a time for family meals, a time when Daddy could fulfill his dream of a pond and cabin beside a small creek and windmill that pumped creek water to the pond. We also had a shallow well nearby for drinking water, probably only 30 feet deep. Dad loved nothing better than for he and Mom to throw together a party with relatives or a Sunday school class from church.

It brings tears to my eyes, missing Daddy, but so thankful for the strong foundation he and Mom gave us all to grow up to be honorable women (and) one man. Dad and Mom’s strong faith, amid the struggles they faced give me confidence that we will not only get through earth’s calamities and challenges, but will one day be reunited in spirit with Dad in the better place.

Perhaps you’ll want to dig out an old picture that you’ve seen many times and use it to stir your pot of recollections and stories and love.

I’d love to go back to that old cabin, but it is no more; it only exists in our memories and a few treasured photos.

A later photo of our finished cabin–this time VERY posed for a family Christmas card about two years later. Photo probably by David Yoder, an uncle and hobby photographer. L to R: Pert, Terry, Dad, Nancy, Melodie, Mom

My thanks to sister Pert for helping me remember some details here, and to Nancy for the old B&W photo.

Comments or your own memories? Write to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  


  1. As you know, photos have served me well as blog topics and have helped verify detail in my memoir. You are fortunate to have an older sister to preserve this precious photos.

    In my case, I’m the oldest sister! 🙂

    • I wish I had some of the movies you had from your aunt! And I think I subconsciously used your method of helping verify detail through the picture. Without the picture, I would have never, never remembered those details, like the gallon jug of Kool Aid.

      I’ll have to ponder whether to share some of the others older sis gave us. 🙂 Thanks for pointing these things out, Marian.

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