Friday, November 20, 2009

Game Creek Visit


Back in October, signs went up around the town announcing what has become an annual event out at Game Creek. The entire town is invited to come out and enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner at the farm. This year the celebration was on November 8. It actually works out better to have it early. The most recent snows would have made it impossible to travel by car or truck if it had been delayed.
This was only the second time that I've been able to attend, but both times have been memorable. The tabernacle was decorated as ornately as it could be and the food was delightful. I noticed that all the residents of the farm stayed in the kitchen and waited on all of their guests to get their plates before finally serving themselves. The warmth and hospitality was refreshing and once again I was very pleased to be able to attend. After dinner there was a beautiful slide show with scenes from around the area and several musicians performed as well.
Before dinner I had an opportunity to walk around the camp a little bit and get a few pictures. I wish I could accurately describe the range of feelings that coursed through me as I walked. I once thought I might die there before I got away I so desperately wanted to leave. I was angry and depressed and felt trapped, but on this day I was here because I was invited and I wanted to be there and I was happy to visit, but also sad to see how the place had changed. The tabernacle has endured years of freezing and thawing and shifting so that the outer walls are sagging and the beams inside are bowed. I can't help but wonder how much longer it can stand and if it did collapse or have to be razed, would there be any thought of replacing it with a smaller version? The fact is, the folks living there are by and large on the back half of their lives and just staying on top of the every day needs must be a full time job. I'm afraid that one day there won't be anyone left to carry on the chores that such a place demands. There is firewood to split and animals to attend to and fences to mend. I'm not sure if most of the meals are eaten together still or not, if so, that requires a lot of work both before and after the meal. I see that a new boardwalk has been built past one of the original buildings and other boardwalks need to be replaced.
At one time pets weren't allowed, with a few notable exceptions, but I noticed a half dozen dogs this time, and I was glad to see them. Though it has been a few years since paint has been applied to any of the buildings, when I was living there, none of the buildings were painted. I know that now everyone has a cellphone and I'm not sure how many computers there are on the farm. At one time it required a trip to town and a darn good excuse to make a phone
call, and even having a radio was looked down upon. My how the times have changed. As Martha Stewart would say, it's a good thing.
The green cabin in the top picture used to be called the Mosher cabin or the MacKenzie cabin, after the families that occupied them. I can't recall exactly how many people lived in that small home when we first arrived back in '76, but I believe it housed four families. All of the cabins were cramped then. I guess it was a step up from the large army tents that the original group stayed in that first year though. At the time, the boardwalk out front was comprised of just two slippery boards nailed side by side and it was almost impossible to keep from sliding on them... good for balance I guess. The red building beyond was the Banaszack cabin. It was built after the place they were living in caught fire. At the time three familes and some single women were housed there as I recall. It later served as the school when the family moved to another farm up in Haines. As I looked around the memories just came flooding in. For ten years this was my home, for better or for worse. When I look around and see the need, part of me just wants to come out and help- maybe put in a new boardwalk or pack some firewood or set up a new fence. For all the animosity I once felt for this place, I'm afraid now that it may not be around much longer, and that would really be a shame.

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