My last post touched, just a bit, on being without electricity. Being without power isn't nearly as difficult as being without water.
Many people, like our nearest neighbors the Thomas's, had four or five 55 gallon drums to catch rain water. If there was a draught (dry times are usually December through May) then water had to be hauled by donkey and/or mule from the catchment. A donkey or mule was loaded with dumb boxes which carried four, five gallon tins. So basically, 20 for 40 gallons is what the Thomas's would use in a day or two for all their needs, from cooking, to bathing, to washing clothes.
The Castle up at Gifft Hill was special in that our little four room shack actually had a 600 gallon cistern. I recounted how the cistern was built here.
This is a wonderful picture shows Erva playing with a basket ball. It was probably taken around 1957. Behind her you can see a stone wall under construction. That's Dad's cistern. It was the first thing we started to build when we moved up there. The cement mixer is to the right. Mom mixed the cement. She had the recipe down pat; just so many shovel fulls of sand, so many shovel fulls of concrete, and just the right amount of water.To the left, next to the stone wall, you can see the little cistern that "came with the house," and the gutter feeding into it.
We picked, gathered and hauled every single rock. We scavenged most of them from an old stacked rock wall that was on our property. But sometimes we took the jeep, hitched up our little Sears trailer, and went out rock hunting along the Gifft Hill road. We were like the three bears, only there were four of us. Dad got the biggest rocks, Mom got the medium sized ones, Erva got small ones, and I picked up the smallest ones of all.
While Dad was doing rock work and Mom was mixing cement, Erva and I filled in the gaps between the stones with cement and often pushed in shells and little bits of beach glass.
Here's a picture of our "wash room," the area behind the Castle where we took our baths. You can clearly see the stone work and the syphon hose filling up the large blue enamel coffee pot. Erva still has the pot, proudly displayed on top of one of her cabinets. Next to the pot you can see one of the round red plastic wash basins we used to take our baths. The over-turned tub was used to rinse clothes on the days we did laundry.
Unfortunately, we no longer own the property up at Gifft Hill. There's another whole story about why we had to sell it and move to St. Thomas which I will not go into here. Suffice it to say, each of us mourned the loss in our own may.
But, several years ago, I finally braved a visit to see the place I had loved so well as a child. There, to my delight and amazement, was Dad's cistern. The new owners, in building their home (which you can see in the background) had let the cistern stand, a testament to its ability to hold water. No one knocks down a good cistern.
Here's another view of it.
And lastly, here's a close-up of some of Erva's and my handy-work where we pushed shells into the cement between the stones.
At the time we were living up at Gifft Hill we weren't doing anything unique or unusual. Most everyone lived as we lived. But in retrospect, we were a bit like pioneers. Mom called it glorified camping.