The Cave Family

     Sarah and her brother, Fallon, got off the school bus and looked back as it disappeared around the curve.  Then they started the long walk to their newly acquired home.  It was a home, but not a house like everyone else lived in.  It was a cave in the side of a small mountain at the end of the narrow, curvy trail-like road leading to it.

     They had a house before their dad, Joseph died of tuberculosis.  His passing left their family with very few worldly goods and living in another state.  Suddenly, in 1942, they were dependent on their mother’s only sibling, a brother in eastern Kentucky.

     Their uncle had a very small, crowded house for himself and his family, so Sarah’s family of three could not possibly move in with him.  He was, however, the owner of 40 acres of land in a mountainous area that was once part of their grandfather’s farm.

     Desperately needing shelter for her family, Sarah’s mother, Gracie, remembered a wonderful little cave where she had played as a child.  It was located at the back of those 40 acres, and its opening faced the rising sun every morning.

     Inside, there were no dark passages that led to imaginary, scary places.  It was just a ceiling-high area that curved slightly within the side of the mountain.  The opening was about the size of a double-door entry.  The solid rock floor was surprisingly level.  If her brother could construct a suitable closure for the opening and a way to install a stove, she and her family would have a temporary home.

     Gracie’s brother, being a very talented carpenter, soon constructed a satisfactory entryway with a hole left open for a stove pipe.  It wasn’t airtight because of open spaces around the edges so wet clay was packed around the wood to join it to the cave’s natural opening.

     A used, flat-top drum stove was bought in the nearby town and installed for both heat and cooking.  Floors and walls were swept and brushed as clean as possible.  The family’s meager supply of furniture, rugs and household goods were moved in.

     A nearby natural spring would supply their water and provide the coldness needed for preserving perishable foods.  Running water and electricity were luxuries reserved for city dwellers and businesses so, in that respect, they would not differ from their country neighbors who lived in houses.

     A job in town for Gracie and a new school for the children were the next challenges.

     During the first day of school, Sarah’s teacher asked the students to write a story telling of their experiences during the summer break.  Sarah suspected that no other student’s story could be as interesting as hers, but she preferred not to tell it.  She was not ready to let any of her classmates know that she was a cave dweller.

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