Thursday, May 31, 2007
The picture to the left is the first time Jack meet the Terrorist face to face about three years ago. He has not learned his lesson. Last year another trip to the vet and last night almost exactly a year to the day, he found another one.
This time the terrorists are using their young as suicide quillers. Softball size pin cushions can't be more than a few months old. It seems this radical group is training them from the womb.
According to Jack, "It didn't even look threatening, just a slow moving little ball of fluff, until I bite it. The darn thing exploded in my mouth with a hundred tiny projectiles of pain. I realized my mistake and tried to hide but, the tiny dead terrorist gave me away and those girls found me. Please not the pliers! But of course they tried them until I showed them my teeth and quill covered mouth. Now I get to go for a ride."
Leo, the big one is afraid of terrorists, he spent the night shaking in fear that he would be the next one...that got a face full of darts. When Jack disappeared to the vet, he must have thought we get rid of dogs who bite porcupines. He seemed relived to see Jack come home today.
Well Jack went for his expensive, $230 ride, and has returned back to his normal hunt for anything mode. I think we are going to have to find him a job to pay for his appetite for terrorists. I know we own the world's most expensive pin cushion.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
It was the first trip with our used Boy Scout canoes and some fighting erupted after Joe and Lousie's canoe capsized twice. The first tip over caused a switching of seats and the second a blaming of the tipping of the canoe.
For what ever reason a paddle duel broke out half-way down, some pictures are not posted here since they are not appropriate for younger or possibly older viewers. After several minutes of slapping and finger jesters a truce was reached and a questionable embrace followed.
All kidding aside they weren't as angry as the pictures might imply. A word to the wise. Canoeing can be a very bonding or
dividing experience for couples when the river flips you into a cold cold creek. All and all it was fun. But I hold with my original water level minimum of 2.0 for canoing down Pine Creek; 2.5 is probably a better bet. Floating down the Pine Creek on a pleasant day with a great breeze; listening to the gentle water falls trickle along the edge of the creek, and hearing the cry of the eagle can't make anyone's day bad.
Mountain Girl, Paula, Logging out!
Monday, May 28, 2007
We had lots of visitors over the weekend. Unfortunately, many of them came while we were gone. Beverly and David built and installed two bluebird houses on the property and they are absolutely great. We are looking forward to seeing some bluebirds adopt them as their special nesting areas. They came and erected one of these while we were out and about and were sorry to have missed them. So a special shout OUT and THANKS to them.
It was David's sister who broke her foot hiking back to the crash site of the P47 mentioned in a previous blog. Seems she has had to have surgery on the leg and it is slow to get better. We certainly wish her the best.
The second surprise which also came while we were gone was this nice bunch of cut flowers. Since there is no note this gift is a mystery, but still appreciated after a long winter. It is great to see the colorful flowers and definitely put a smile on both of our faces. Thanks to our mystery deliverer. We were actually having our own day off Sunday and did a very touristy thing and went canoing down Pine Creek even though the water was low. Friends were up and we had not done any canoing since moving up here five years ago. Seems when you live here there is always work to be done...there was work that day....but for once I ignored it.
You will probably notice my posting will be much less often during the summer months. My carpentry business really picks up and it is much more difficult to take the time to gather information for you all. I will try to get a couple of postings in a week regardless. Have a great Leetonia Day!
Mountain Girl, Paula, Logging out!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
The last time this happened three years ago, they just about burnt the forest down with their "controlled burn". I came home to find the mountain on fire and knew nothing about them doing it. Guess
they forgot to tell us. There isn't much in this woods that scares me but a fire is one thing that sends chills through me. After calling 911 and getting an "we don't know anything about it", I called the Forestry Department and found out, yes they were doing a controlled burn, but it was under control.
Well, it wasn't under control and after about three fire departments and a 100 acres they did get it under control. My trust factor is a little low with this group....so now you see why I was concerned seeing the return of the burners. This time it was a little greener and not quite as dry so I am glad to say they didn't burn the forest down. But they still didn't let us know....so much for communication between the State Forest and the residents of Leetonia.
Looks like good weather for Memorial Day come up and enjoy the fresh air of Leetonia. Mountain Girl, Paula, logging out!
Monday, May 21, 2007
We believe the Al-Qaeda is possibly breeding porcupines and releasing them into the state forest to destroy the Leetonia economy. Reports are widespread of the destruction of vehicles; cabins, and anything made with a certain type of adhesive the tiny
terrorists are attracted to.
These gnawing machines reduce a sheet of plywood to a puzzle piece overnight, chew tool handles, eat cardboard, rubber, and all types of hoses. They have also been know to pierce the two guardians of Leetonia, Jack and Leo with sharp quills eluding their capture and causing the dogs expensive trips to the hospital for quill removal.
One terrorist animal made a fatal mistake and developed lead poisoning after making a meal out of a shop vac last night. The picture of the dead terrorist is to to the left. If you see one of these animals do not attempt to pick them up with your hands. They have been booby trapped. So far no effective means have been developed to stop this terrorism attack.
Mountain Girl, Paula, logging out in Leetonia!
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Watching someone work holding a chain saw in one hand and swinging from tree to tree effortlessly give you the illusion that this work is easy. Take it from me controlling a chain saw when you are firmly rooted to the ground can be enough of a challenge to do safely for most people.
Many people are injured and sadly killed up here every year in the logging industry and just trying to trim up their own trees. Be careful lets make 2007 a safe chain saw year.
The pine will be remembered by a chain saw carving I will be doing for the Wolfram's out of the large trunk to this tree. Also I am getting three large pieces of the tree brought up to do more carvings. Each piece is 3 foot in diameter and 10' long. Lots of fun for Paula and hopefully some nice animal additions at the camp.
Mountain Girl, Paula, logging out!
Friday, May 18, 2007
I longed to live at this cabin for as long as I can remember. My grandparents brought at least one of their five grandchildren with them every summer and being the oldest I came up the most. When grandpa worked second trick at Harvester, grandma would shuffle us off to bed early. He would come home after work Friday and load up the car and carry us out asleep for the twelve-hour drive. Grandma would navigate and keep grandpa awake while we dosed away most of the hours of the trip. By the time we woke they didn’t have to listen to as many, “Are we there yets?”
Grandmother kept us organized. She wrote everything down. Grocery lists. To do lists. Budgets lists. She tracked it all. There weren’t as many fast food places to stop at then and looking back I am thankful. Instead, she packed breakfast and lunches. We would pull over and have the fresh sandwiches, fruit, and desert she prepared. On chilly a thermos of hot chocolate would be part of the treat. It always tasted good and she loved to see us eat her cooking. Grandpa wasn’t a man to linger in fact you were lucky to get him to stop the car at all. A point that made traveling at night easier for kids that demanded frequent potty stops.
Grandpa drove the big old Buick through the 15 miles of narrow back roads to the cabin. Half scared and half in awe we would look over the side of the car to see the dense trees, tight turns and steep drop-offs. Of course grandpa’s speed and tales of how many cars had gone over the side only increased our fears and thrills. Grandma gripped the door handle and prayed silently. The last mountain before we reached the cabin grandpa would proclaim we needed no more gas to get to the cabin still 3 miles away. He would turn off the engine (mind you before power steering and brakes) and coast all the way. He stopped at the bottom opened the gate turned the car back on to climb the driveway.
Then the true order of things began. Grandpa would unlock the cabin and set grandma’s wheelchair near the open car door. He bent over her like a human crane. She held tightly around his neck and he would lift her with one strong swing to the chair. I’d never seen my grandmother walk. She’d been a victim of the Polio epidemics in the 40’s when my mother was nine. Her body confined to a chair she commanded the operation. The battle plan: clean, clean, clean. Our reward would be her cooking when we finished.
Grandpa was the hardest, strongest, working man I know and thought the world of my grandmother. He acted like her legs following every order to the tee for the most part. Grandmother, or Ruth as her friends called her was no stranger to hard work. She had been raised a farm girl in a large family in
Grandpa’s idea of a perfect vacation was to get as many things done as possible outdoors. Grandma’s had a list of indoor projects. Idleness came only after exhaustion from a day’s work. I loved the outdoors and became my grandfather’s shadow helping him to tame the mountain. Grandpa came from a long line of Irish farmers and had particular ideas about how the land should be allowed to develop. Farmers like to clear the land. His theory: “ Conquer by mowing.” Armed with his large Gravely walk behind mower he would head out to conquer new territory.
Like any invader you must plan a rogue to cover your invasion. “Snakes liked tall grass.” He would spout as justification for his mowing; citing the time he had to kill a rattlesnake in front of the house ready to “attack” my mother’s Boston terrier. Grandpa was the mowing master and all weeds would bow to his command. The yard grew larger every year. Until, he was mowing the road back to pond and then to my grandmother’s dismay the side of the mountain. He wanted to make sure she had a good view from her kitchen window. Grandma’s view would have been happier with a few weeds instead of watching her husband try to mow five acres of near vertical terrain. Her complaints fell on deaf ears and she settled with making sure he got plenty of fluids and food to fuel his mission.
One weed evoked a deadly response from my grandfather when he saw it. He called it a dock. It stood about four to five-foot high when mature and had a green spike. Now I know it is called mullein. Turn of the century Leetonia boys used to dry its broad leaves and smoke it in place of tobacco. I think the mere height of the weed taunted him. He would climb half way up the mountain just to chop one on those offending plants down.
My grandfather also had a strange response to heat. He had one uniform, long pants, long sleeve shirts and a baseball cap. The cap was to protect the balding “landing strip” as us kids called it on top his head from the sun. He claimed people didn’t understand proper of heat protection. Since he worked daily around temperatures of thousands of degrees in the heat-treat plant who could argue. “To protect against the heat you must totally cover your body.” He would state, claiming those half naked people where just letting their skin fry. Of course my grandfather’s modesty was so notorious that if you saw him with only a t-shirt on you would be meet with an embarrassed shout and the quick slamming of a door. So we never knew whether it was modesty or truth that shrouded him with a heavy layer of clothes all year round.
The “landing strip” on my grandfather’s head was a thing of great amusement for us kids. It changed colors in response to certain things. When he worked hard it dripped with sweat beads and sometimes turned red. The best were his headstands. Just seeing a man doing a headstand on that bare skin amused us. When he arose it would always be a crimson red. We loved to tease him unmercifully.
Grandmother was the ever-ready guardian of right and wrong had an alarm that went off telling her when fun had gotten carried into hurtful attacks. Her ability to control Grandpa was feat no one else would even attempt. Grandpa had two things that turned on the grandmother alarm. Overheated political debates with my Uncle and the heavy handedness he used on all grandsons. For some reason he thought the three boys were lazy slugs and us two girls were hard working angels. I agreed with him of course. But, even I cringed at some of his attacks. The boys needed to do little to provoke him. If they walked by him at the wrong time a kick would follow. Idleness at work meant a “quick tap” as he called it with the hoe or what ever he had in his hand. None of their protests would stop him but one word from grandmother would. “Now Paul!” she would say disapprovingly and he would stop. This seemed like some sort of magic to me. How could a wheelchair bound woman weld such power over a tough, angry, Irishman? We never knew, but I know the boys were grateful for it.
My grandfather’s philosophy of animal life was very different from mine. He determined there were good animals and bad “varmints” as he called them. Good animals had nothing to fear from grandpa, but the bad ones were destroyed any chance he got. His list was obviously another hand down from farmers trying to protect livestock or poultry. I on the other hand would try to nurse and save any hurt animal wild or tame that I found. Our philosophies were at obvious odds and bound for a collision, which they did on two separate occasions.
I hiked through the woods any chance I could get. One time I found an adult red fox with an injured rear leg. I seemed to have the ability to get away with things others couldn’t. The fox let me pick him up and I carried him back to examine the wound. It was full of maggots and infection. Of course, my grandfather was less than impressed with my efforts. Much to my protest he told me I could not keep the fox. He said he had found someone who would take care of the fox. I relinquished the fox without choice. Foxes were not on my grandfather’s good animal list and though he never told me I am sure it never got the kind of help I wanted to give it.
My next run in with grandpa was over some skunks. He had killed a mother skunk not far from the house and thought he had killed all her babies. He was wrong. I went to the murder scene and found several babies alive. I scooped them up. Determined not to make the same mistake twice. I didn’t tell grandpa. Instead, I took them to my tree house to nurse them back to health. All was going well. I stole food to feed them and they seemed to be doing fine. At some point my grandfather figured out something was going on. He found the babies and callously threw them in a wood fire. I can’t explain the feeling I had seeing my orphans toasted bodies. Even at 50 thinking about it causes me grief. I would not try a rescue another animal again near grandpa.
This didn’t ruin my relationship with grandpa. We didn’t share the same views on animals and from that point on I didn’t subject any animals to his cruelty. His pride in my work made up for his other failures. Once I heard him say, “I rather have Paula work with me then six men.” I was proud to think he valued me so highly that during a time when most women weren’t valued the worth of one man let alone six. I always enjoyed working outdoors and would never let him outlast me in any chore. We had a silent competition of who would quit first. My youth punished his stubborn pride and he suffered more at the end of the day. Looking at him grandma surely thought one more project would put him in a grave. I can’t remember either of us quitting before dinner or dark; the only justifiable reasons to stop work.
Grandmother although impressed with my work ethic was not as impressed with the type of work I was choosing. When I reached puberty this concern developed into a lecture. “Girls shouldn’t do so much lifting and heavy work,” she told me. “You are young now but later you will be sorry.” Both my mother and grandmother had always wished I would show more interest in indoor chores and how I looked. I could have cared less. I could wear the same pair of jeans everyday and barely had time to brush my short hair. Other girls seemed silly wearing dresses, makeup and acting like fools around boys. I loved sports or any activity where I could excel. Acting like a Barbie doll was not one of those activities.
Try as they might neither mother or grandmother could change me and they felt a sense of accomplishment to get me to attend my high school proms wearing a dress and feeling like I couldn’t move or breathe. Not surprising my adult life has been filled with training animals, carpentry and my love of outdoors. My grandmother might be surprised to find out her granddaughter is still nailing on shingles at fifty and hates to wear dresses.
This is a reprint from an article I had published in the Pennsylvania Reader in the fall of 2002.
The next picture is the barn swallows putting up a nest on the new siding while I am trying to finish it. This is their work in one day...they are very persistent and fast I hope I can get everything painted before the birds start hatching out babies.
Well, I am hurrying outside to see if I can get some of it painted before my cabin becomes one big nest.
Mountain Girl, Paula, Logging out!
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Most of the maple trees are leaved out and the oak trees will shortly follow. I am expecting the woods to get much darker with leaf cover by memorial weekend.
I finished the rest of my siding under my porch after the head butting incident on mother's day. The worst part of the following days has been a reaction to the tetanus shot, making my arm hurt and making me generally tired. Well, at least I am blaming the tiredness on the shot.
The hummingbirds are going full blast now. When they fly by you it always sounds like a bottle rocket being shot off past your head. They are very territorial birds and I am glad they are so small. If
were the size of Robins or larger they would be dangerous animals.
The mist in the morning reminds me of how humid it is here in the forest during the summer. We often have fog and mist during the night and early morning. The ground is always damp with dew and the green moss clings to everything. You must be diligent with your wood and roof care to keep things from rotting and leaking. But of course a bad day in Leetonia is still better than a good day anywhere else for me. Rain is a welcome day of rest from working outside and the promise of a greener tomorrow. Mountain Girl, Paula, logging out!
Monday, May 14, 2007
Lee looked at me and said, "It looks like you are bleeding." Soon my hair filled with blood and it started running into my face. I knew all head a face wounds bleed a lot more than the size of the wound would indicate so I wasn't too concerned about filling a few paper towels with blood. Then I wondered if I would need stitches so I attempted to see it in the mirror only to find out my eyes weren't on the top of my head. When I looked at
the mirror I saw my face when I looked down the floor. So Lee took a look and pronounced, "I think you are going to need stitches."
This means an hour trip to Wellsboro to the nearest hospital. Since my little gash was not a "code blue". I got to sit for an hour before the doctor agreed with Lee. He didn't stitch me however, he stapled me five times. I think it was just faster and easier for him. We spent a total of three hours to get the five minute procedure done and return home. I had a little bit of a headache, but awoke this morning without feeling too bad. I am off to paint the outside of a cabin today and I will be paying closer attention to low hanging objects. One side benefit my tetanus shot is now good for the next five years.
Mountain Girl, Paula, ouching off.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Mother's day in Leetonia means barn swallows attempting to build a nest on the house. This year they are particularly upset, since I am redoing the siding on the camp and they can't seem to find a place to build that I don't interrupt their progress.
I took the back porch of to do some repairs, which is a spot they have build many of their nests. They keep looking and looking for their old spots and can't seem to figure out where they went. They land on my ladder and look at me wondering what I am up to next.
Next are some pictures of Cedar Run General Store a place most mother's like to visit when they come to the area. It is full of gifts and nic nacs. You can see a beautifully restored canoe hanging on
The next picture shows the bar they serve a lot of ice cream when it gets warm and sandwiches. It is one of those cozy places that takes you back to the early 1900's as soon as you walk in the door.
Today is the day to think about your mother. But it is also the day we think of all the mother's who have come before us and those who will come after us. Looking at this old store makes me think of
all the women who worked their during the last century..their personal struggles their victories and the hardy spirit they had to have to live up here in the Pennsylvania woods.
Today I remember my Grandmother Ruth Maholm 1900-1970, whose great spirit and story telling has inspired me to write.
My mom Marge Hewitt 1932 who lets me know regularly that acting your age is so boring. My daughter, Mary Todd 1974 whose personal courage has taken her to a new purpose and direction in her life; and her daughter, Reilly Todd, 1995, who defines flexible, fit and energy. I am thankful for all these relationships and what they have taught me and what I am still learning from them about what it means to be a woman and a mother. Have a great Leetonia Mother's Day!
Mountain Girl, Paula, logging out.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
A picture of a P47
Cold Springs Camp
Long Shot of gate to road.
Close shot of gate to road
GPS location of site is: N 41 degrees 33.646 minutes
W 77 degrees 35.184 minutes
elevation 1804 ft. This is the center of the circle about 75 feet from crash site.
Plane crash location from
There isn’t a lot left of the wreckage, which has been pillaged by souvenir hunters. I took a picture of the twisted aluminum body still sitting at the site. Lee Anne said she heard the propeller to the plane was once hanging on a camp in Slate Run, a fact that needs further investigation.
Lee Anne stood in the crater made by the plane’s impact and you can see it is about as tall as she is and about 10 foot wide. The stone is very nice and the flag in good repair. I am going to check with the Boy Scout Troup that put the stone there and see if there is more information about Lawrence J Ritter’s family.
As I lay in the crater looking up through the trees I thought about the cold snowy day the P47 crashed into the hill. You can almost hear the sound of the engine as it became one with the mountain. I wondered if the pilot knew he was going down much before impact. Just from the looks of things I am certain he did not survive the impact. It took seven months before they found the plane and not much of the pilot remained. It was November so it was probably during deer hunting season when someone came across the wreckage. The site reminds you how quickly life can be taken. Captain Lawrence Ritter died at the age of 27, not a long time to spend on this earth.
I am continuing to look for more information about Captain Ritter his family and the accident. For now enjoy the pictures and for those of you capable of walking at least 4 miles go up and see the site. It is a bit of history so easily forgotten it seems few people in this area even know it exists. A great walk for memorial weekend!
Mountain Girl, Paula, logging out.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Today is tree day and a check outside shows the apple tree just about ready to bloom. The willows along the creek are greening up fast and the Fire Cherry in the front yard is blooming sparsely. I think the cold snap affected it.
The side of the hill shows a little color starting on a few of the trees . Anyone with tree allergies is definitely feeling the sniffles. I walked up to the P47 crash site and will be posting that information tomorrow. Have a great Leetonia Day.
Mountain Girl, Paula, Logging out.
Monday, May 7, 2007
On Thursday, May 3rd, after lunch and a morning of turkey hunting Leonard Riehl had no idea the most interesting part of his day was yet to come. Carol Riehl, Leonard’s wife and her mother Kathryn Hand had heard about a plane crash site from Carol’s brother in the Tioga Forest as they explained this to Leonard he thought he knew where it was and they were off to find the plane.
The weather was perfect on the two mile walk back into the woods they saw a woodcock, a grouse and a turkey. When they reached the end of the logging road they looked around the entire turnaround and Carol spotted a small American Flag waving them toward the site.
April 26th, 1946, Captain Lawrence Ritter lost his life on a training mission from
After viewing the wreckage Carol turned and walked back towards the logging path. All of the sudden she went down and snapped her ankle. It didn’t take long for Leonard to figure out his wife’s foot was broken and she wasn’t going to be able to walk the two miles out of the woods. He left his mother-in-law Kathryn with Carol and hiked out to his vehicle as fast as he could.
He stopped at my house, no one home; Mick’s house no one home, and the Jack Bonitz camp no one home. He then met another person on the road they encouraged him to just use Mick’s phone the door is always open. Leonard called 911 and in about 50 minutes they made it to Leetonia. He directed them up to the site where the forestry service unlocked the gate and started cutting trees out of the way to get the 4-wheelers through. Leonard says, “There was a funny part were all these guys were holding on to the 4-wheeler and they hit a bump, they all flew off.” Fortunately, none of them were hurt.
The sun had long departed and the girls were getting cold having dressed only for the warm Spring day. The army of rescuers arrived none too soon and collected Carol and Kathryn. They made their long trip by ambulance to the
“No,” she said emphatically.
Of course after the leg is healed and the pain of the day forgotten, she will have a great story to tell about finding the crash of the P47 in
Leonard and Carol Riehl are both from
I now have specific directions to the site and will be getting pictures as soon as I can get up there. So this story isn't over yet.
Special thanks to Alice Sommers for connecting me to the people in this story and Deb Finkbinder for telling me where they were staying.
Sunday, May 6, 2007
Things have been busy in the woods. Sorry I haven't been blogging the last few days, but this should make up for it.
You are probably wondering what a picture of a fern plant coming up and the view from Cushman overlook have to do with a mystery in the woods.
Well, on Thursday it was reported that three people from Ohio were hiking in the woods off Francias Leetonia Road and in order for me to drive there I went past Cushman and had to take a picture. It is hard to drive past that view with a camera and not take a picture.
My reason for attempting to repeat the steps of the hikers will start now. It appears one of the hikers broke her ankle while hiking back a logging road with her husband and daughter. The husband left the daughter and wife and drove to Micks to call 911. Mick not being home and his door unlocked...as usual. The man walked in and used the phone. Four-wheelers and chain saws were brought in to work their way back to the woman who is now sitting in the dark with her daughter. It was a full moonlit night so it wasn't real scary. Any of you who have been here on one of those nights know you don't need a flashlight to see pretty well in the dark.
For the most part this would have been a NO BIG STORY, except for why the hikers were in the woods to begin with. They were looking for an old B-52 plane crash site that happened in 1946. I had never heard of such a thing so of course I wanted to follow their steps back to the site. The only information I had was it was the first logging road to the right after the Spring House and it was back about a mile and a half. Well, sorry to say this wasn't enough information to find the plane. Hence, the second picture of the fern popping up on the logging road was about all I found. The quest isn't over. I will be pursuing a more accurate location. I must have a picture of this event for the blog and find out some more details.
If any of you know anything about this incident, please email me.
Mountain Girl, Paula, logging out!
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
This is a reprint of an article I wrote for the Pennsylvania Reader shortly after I moved here enjoy:
I moved to my family’s mountain cabin last year to live permanently. My dream started as a small child spending my vacations here and growing to love the land and the animals in the forest. The cabin purchased by my grandfather in the 1940’s was now mine. With my children grown and gone it would be my time to live on the mountain. The cabin is near a small ghost-town called Leetonia along the tumbling waters of Cedar Run, where there are only two other full time residents, both men. Few women come up here except in summer or on snowmobiles flying by in the winter.
Staying here on vacation always left me wanting more. But could I live here full-time? Seven miles from the nearest plowed road, heating mainly with firewood, without television (my choice), 18 miles to the nearest grocery, 30miles to the nearest McDonalds, and 50 miles to the nearest Wal-mart? I did not mind the isolation as my partner-in-adventure Lee came with me, along with my dog, Jack.
Leetonia can be found in the southwest corner of
In 1856, Silas Billings and his brother-in-law, P.S. McNiel erected a steam mill along Cedar Run and engaged extensively in lumbering. Several dwellings were constructed and became known as Billing’s Camp. Even an official U.S. Post Office was established. However, the era of extensive pine lumbering was coming to an end.
In 1879, the Cedar Run Tanning Company erected a large tannery at Billing’s Camp, using the hemlock as tanbark. To accommodate their workers, they erected more than fifty dwellings, a School House, and even opened a store. It was at that time that Billing’s Camp was renamed Leetonia in honor of Mr. William Lee, one of the principal owners of the tannery. Today, the few dwellings that are there are mainly cabins used as summer get-a-ways and hunting cabins.
I am a carpenter by trade and a sort of Jane-of-all-trades. I felt confident with any household repair or maintenance that might arise. I would share the isolation with Lee who also dreamed of living on the mountain. She eagerly volunteered to share in a journey off the beaten path and be my sounding board. My biggest concern was making enough money to pay bills. I hoped to pick up some work on local cabins as my main source of income.
It had been a very long time since the cabin had full-time residents. The cabin had never had a phone; however, it was a necessity that I felt we needed to have in case of an emergency. It took a mile of telephone cable to run from the nearest phone to get our service. The first time I made a call from Leetonia, I felt like I had taken a step on the moon. Then, the cabin went from the 19th century to the 21st century overnight with the addition of my computer and the Internet. Now the news, email, and weather can all be accessed from my remote cabin.
It would take planning to live here full-time. I couldn’t run to the store every day - once a week at the most. Receiving mail is an every-other day or longer event. Nine full cords of firewood must be gathered, spilt, stacked, and dried before the cold of winter sets in. Getting in and out of Leetonia depends on being prepared. I needed chains for my car, chains for my chainsaw, and chains to pull logs out of the way or myself out of a hole. In the winter I added the use of a snowmobile to traverse the unplowed roads.
After reading what Benjamin Esquire, an early settler in
We often had to pack our provisions 80 miles from
The want of leather, after our first shoes were worn out, was severely felt. Neither tanner nor shoemaker lived in the county. But “necessity is the mother of invention” I made me a trough out of a big pine-tree into which I put the hides of any cattle that died among us. I used ashes for tanning them instead of lime, and bear’s grease for oil. The thickest part served for sole leather, and the thinner ones, dressed with a drawing knife, for upper leather; and thus I made shoes for myself and neighbors.
I had 14 miles to go in winter to mill with an ox team. The weather was cold, and the snow deep; no roads were broken, and no bridges built across streams. I had to wade the streams and carry the bags on my back. The ice was frozen to my coat as heavy as a bushel of corn. I worked hard all day and only got seven miles the first night, when I chained my team to a tree, and walked three miles to the house myself. The second night I reached the mill. My courage often failed, and I had almost resolved to return; but when I thought of my children crying for bread, I took new courage.
As prepared as I thought I was for this adventure, I am finding out my weaknesses and strengths by living here. I am adapting to my environment and finding a way to live on this mountain. This past year I began keeping a journal of my adventures and I give them to you as a common bond that all of us share surviving in the Pennsylvania Woods. My notes start with how my grandfather became the owner of this little piece of heaven.
The winter sky of ‘43 whispered an ice-gray warning as Paul Maholm, my grandfather, set out from the Leetonia hunting camp carrying his deer rifle. His leather boots creaked complaints against the crisp snow already fallen. Paul’s buckshot laden leg reminded him of the dangers involved with snow and loaded guns. As an eager young hunter he had quickly climbed over that wire fence, but stumbling, his finger triggered the gun in a loud and painful lesson in carelessness. Doctors could not remove all the buckshot from his leg and it became a visual reminder of caution. He was no longer a novice hunter and quite familiar with the area he hunted; however, he paid little heed to the sky’s warning.
He started up
Paul had just reached the peak of the mountain when it started to snow. This would be good cover for him as he tried to blend into the woods to avoid detection. Paul moved to the side of the deer trail to wait and watch. He could hear the snowflakes gently land on the ground one by one. Mesmerized, the forty-four- year-old man stuck out his tongue to catch one. His enjoyment of the sight was short-lived as the wind picked up slapping him in the face like a naughty child. Quickly, his winter wonderland became a blinding blizzard, the kind notorious for taking more than one hunter home early.
The twelve-pointer would live another day. The question was would Paul? He started to backtrack and to his horror found nothing. He could barely see his hand in front of his face. He knew that darkness and dangerously cold temperatures would soon follow. The hunter’s legs became heavy as he pulled them through the snow. He thought how thankful he was that he worked a job in a steel plant that kept him in good shape. He would need every bit of that strength combined with his stubborn Irish spirit to make it back to the hunting cabin. Hours passed as he trudged through his white prison – the snow coming up past his calves. Nothing he could see was familiar. Just as darkness fell, he thought he saw a light flickering in the distance. He labored toward the light and gratefully saw a small cabin, smoke pouring from its chimney.
A sense of relief hit him, and then apprehension. He couldn’t make it any further tonight. But would the sight of a stranger at night with a gun keep him from refuge? Before he knocked, he propped his rifle against the stack of wood that was piled near the door. The door cracked open. Two eyes viewed the snow-covered stranger beaten by the mountain.
”What are you doing out on a night like this?” A man asked, surprised to see someone at his door. “Get in here quick before you freeze solid.”
“Thanks,” Paul responded, grateful for the hospitality. “I was out hunting and, well I hate to admit it, but I got lost.”
“You are lucky to be alive in this kind of weather.” His host said sincerely. “My name is Low.”
“My name is Paul. Paul Maholm.”
Jay Low, along with his wife and kids lived in the cabin, made from wood lumbered right off the property by the loggers who first inhabited it. The only thing keeping the freezing cold outside from bursting indoors were two layers of ship-lapped wood covered with wallpaper patches. This night the wallpaper was loosing its battle to contain the wind. It rippled with every breath of the winter storm.
“Logging was the area’s main source of income and had kept the town of
As Paul listened, this bit of information pulled a previously hidden dream out of Paul’s mind. He had always wanted his own hunting cabin in the mountains he loved, and this property would be great. However, sensing Low’s distress over the situation, Paul showed no sign of interest. Instead, they talked about the mountains, hunting, and a bit of local gossip until neither of them could keep alert enough to continue. The wife and children had long since tired of their conversation and gone to bed, knowing they would be up periodically to put more firewood in the stove to keep from freezing.
Upon rising the next morning, Paul made a quick dash to the outhouse and offered to fetch the water from the creek for the morning breakfast. He took the dipper and pail and scooped the water in the bucket being carefully not to touch the bottom of the creek and stir up dirt into the dipper. Paul admired the Lows’ hardiness and thought of how many conveniences he had become accustomed to such as indoor plumbing and bathroom facilities. Electricity and phones were not a part of the Low family’s life.
The storm had blown itself out overnight and Paul was sure the other members of his hunting camp were forming a search party to come looking for him. He was anxious to get back. Thanking his hosts, he left his name and telephone number with Mr. Low and told him, “If you ever have to sell the place, let me know.” Low took the note without a word and hurried Paul on his way.
“You have about a mile and a half to walk just stay on the road and you won’t get lost,” Mr. Low called out as Paul turned up the road.
The mile passed quickly as Paul considered his chances in being able to purchase Low’s 80 acre tract. He didn’t have to wait long for an answer. The last bell at the
His dream began.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Well it's Tuesday, the first day of May, and time to look at the tree progress. One of the firecherry trees on the side of our hill is blooming, but the one in the front yard is still reluctant. The apple tree is greening up and the willows are still flowering. As you can see from the side of the hill we are still a long way from seeing leaves on most of the trees.
The grass has made the most progress, which is always a sign mowing isn't too far away. A very large porcupine woke up the dogs and me last night gnawing away on some left over plywood in my garage. It is difficult to keep any plywood around here it is like a porcupine magnet. Looks as though it might rain today. So I am off to work indoors. Have a great Leetonia Day.
Mountain Girl, Paula, logging out.