My parents met in Red River in 1953 and married in 1955. They started building a cabin up Bitter Creek Canyon soon after. They did not have much money, but they had time and good friends. The cabin was dried-in by the time Craig and I were five and six years old, but it had no water or electricity until years later. The mountainside was fairly steep – so the cabin’s front porch was about 6 feet off of the ground. The driveway could be a booger to drive up. Mom often got a running start and just flew up the driveway with us kids bouncing off the roof of the car (no one wore seat belts back then). She was even wilder in the 55 GMC pick-up truck - Craig and I liked to see how high we would bounce in the bed of the truck. The trip down the driveway and canyon could be just as exciting. We often talked Mom into coasting down the canyon and into town without hitting her brakes in our old Rambler. Mom was great!
There were outhouses located up the mountain between us and the neighbors on either side of us – two outhouses – both two holers. Dad hauled water from town for drinking and bathing. We had a large galvanized tub that would hold both Craig and me at one time. Just like in the old days, the tub was placed in front of the fire and the kids were sent outside to play while the adults bathed. We were then brought in by twos and bathed in what was often some dirty water. Why was the water so dirty? Our backyard was a mountain and it was not called Bitter Creek for nothing.
Craig and I played all over that mountain. We had "forts" and tree houses and swings from pine trees. It was a kid’s paradise. The cabin itself was a playground. Dad would set us up in the rafters and we would swing from one to the next like monkey bars. We had a red wagon that we rode down the driveway often picking up enough speed to jump the road and land in the creek bed. Sometimes we crashed and burned before reaching the end of the driveway. My knees, elbows, and ankles were black and crusty from the rocks and dirt. We did not have hiking boots back then; we had PF Flyers or little red Keds, which were not much protection for the ankles. My hair usually had tree sap and pine needles stuck in it causing a tangled mess. But still, Mom managed to get my hair back in a ponytail. Craig always had the "tick-free" hair cut – a buzz or burr as it was called. Our standard uniform was overalls or jeans and a T-shirt, which were well worn by the end of the summer. Craig and I were like twins; we wore the same clothes.
We had a cat that would catch chipmunks. Then Craig and I would catch the cat. Dad built us a box with a screen lid so that we could shake the cat until it dropped the chipmunk in the box. Craig always got to shake the cat while my job was to snap the lid on to keep the chipmunk from escaping the box. The only time I got to shake the cat, I got so excited that I dropped the cat in the box with the chipmunk. The chipmunk didn’t make it, and Craig was irritated with me (nothing unusual there).
Not only were our legs and arms crusty, they were chapped by the dry desert air. No amount of lotion kept us soft. Our cheeks were rosy and red like Campbell soup kids. My lips were always chapped – I had a nice pencil thin mustache that was actually a chapped area on my upper lip. Mom kept smearing Chap Stick on us to no avail. But to this day, I love the smell of Chap Stick. It brings all these memories flooding back. We sold the cabin and bought a lodge (which holds its own special memories) in RR in about 1968. This photo was taken about six years ago while we were vacationing in RR. The large windows above the stairs was the kitchen. Dad did not want to extend the porch over that window. He wanted to be able to "see the sky" while drinking his morning coffee. And that is what we did - we drank our coffee and watched the birds and chipmunks from that window.