Monday, August 4, 2008

Setting up housekeeping -- really!

And so, anyway, there we were, on our way back towards 'da Tech' with the now 'our' car just chock full of stuff, including the wooden clothes dryer rack (altho it was not around hubby's neck*, which had been my mother's 'perfect' solution as to how we could possibly fit everything in).

We were headed to the Portage Lake 'Cabins', just east of Houghton, Michigan on Highway 41. (Be sure to scroll down a bit from the top of the page to find Portage Lake and Houghton. That humongous expanse of water all around the Keweenaw Peninsula is Lake Superior!)

I had delightfully romantic visions rolling around in my head of a quiet lake, tree leaves rustling in the wind, an occasional deer, perhaps a moose or two, and rustic cabins.

Well! The reality was that the 'cabins' (three of them) were actually reconstructed motel units. Six units in all, initially. Harry Doyle, the owner and builder, had knocked out some of the interior walls so that each 'cabin' was composed of two of the original motel units. We were in the middle cabin.

Railroad tracks were right behind the cabins, no more than 20' away, between us and the highway. Everything would rattle and shake when a train went by! The ground sloped down from the cabins to the lake, maybe eighty feet or so away. It was beautiful, just not quite what I had imagined!

[It wasn't until spring arrived, tho -- April, at least, I should think --, that I could actually see the ground. We arrived in January, had to park our car across the highway at Mabel and Harry's, and then snowshoe in. Can you imagine unloading a packed to the rooftop car on snowshoes? Harry and Mabel both helped us, so it wasn't too bad. Besides, we were young and foolish and madly in love!]

Two rooms. In the second one there was the bed and dresser, a few shelves (one larger one where hubby studied) and a shower and toilet. I don't remember much in the way of a closet. It was probably more like one of those standing rack thingees. Not much room to move around, but it was sufficient for our brand-new housekeeping needs.

The first room, now, did present a problem, particularly if we had company. I remember one time when John Scully and another of my husband's buddies were over. We'd been playing cards and having a really fun time when John announced that he had to go to the bathroom. That was a problem! There was no way he could squeeze through the very scant space between the table and stove to get into the other room. We had all already gotten up and pushed our chairs in -- all, that is, except for the fellow sitting right next to the wall, who couldn't get out --, but there still wasn't enough room! If there'd been just the two of us, we'd have had the table flush against the wall.

SO! Three engineering minds trying to work out a solution, and me trying to keep from crying I was laughing so hard! Finally John said, "I know exactly what to do," and he got down on his hands and knees and went under the table to the other room. Problem solved. That was one tiny room, I wanna tell ya.

Harry was only 4'10", or so, and everything was built to his specifications. We had to duck coming in the front door and going through any other doorways. We leaned down to reach the light switches and door knobs. We alternated washing and wiping the dishes. If one of us did both things, that person would end up with a backache from bending over to reach the sink and countertop.

We were on the waiting list for married student barracks-type housing on campus, but one would not be available until September. In the meantime, this would do. (To be continued.)

*See "Memories of my mother ... (part five) ..."

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