Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Remembrances of Gifft Hill - Dad's Cistern

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.


  1. Ohhhhh! I love the memories! Thanks for taking me there, Bish. Just a thought...have you ever read, "I Capture the Castle?" Your fond memories remind me so much of Cassandra's recollections. It's one of my most fave books, EVER. XOXO

  2. I have certainly heard of the book but have not read it, of today it will go on the top of my "to read" list! Thanks CJ.

  3. Wow! Your memories are priceless! A writers goldmine! I'm ready to go and do some glorified camping!

    Awesome memories and awesome pictures! And even more awesome that they let the cistern stand!!!!

    Wow! Did I say the word "awesome" enough? Just in case I didn't


    I love reading your memories!


  4. What a great post. I loved the pictures too. Your life there sounded like such an experience.

    BTW -- I love how you added the photo to your blog heading. I'd like to do something like that with mine. Was it hard to figure out? I'm lucky I got my name up there.

  5. Christy, I blush! Thanks.

    Thanks Rena. Growing up in the islands was as close to idyllic as a human could possibly get.

    I'm glad to say it wasn't difficult to figure out how to put a picture in my header. Go to LAYOUTS, click on PAGE ELEMENTS,
    your header (blog title) should be your first element. Click on EDIT. From there it's easy to add/delete images, very like posting a picture on your blog. I have a feeling now that I've figured out how to do it I'll be changing mine from time to time.

  6. Thanks Bish! I'll have to give it a try. That is, IF I can pick a picture to use!

  7. What great have such great pictures...Thanks for sharing...

  8. Thank YOU Brenda. Glad to see you wandering around again.

    Thanks, Nora for stopping by.


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