In “The Old Days” Kids Had a Blast!

(or — TNT Didn’t Used to Be a Cable Channel)

Grandpa Kerr had a big vegetable garden on the flats by the slough at the old Dorsey Place. He harvested a tremendous amount of root crops; enough to last all winter; probably two tons of potatoes, carrots, onions, rutabagas, parsnips, turnips, anything that grew in the ground. We had no way of storing them so dad dug a cave in the face of the cliff. It was deep enough that it did not freeze in the winter and it was dark enough that you could even store potatoes.

Hank decided that he wanted to dig a cave also. He was about twelve and I was about four. He got some dynamite somewhere. I don’t know where he got that dynamite and I didn’t ask him. So he and I dug a cave. That was back in the days when dynamite used a cap on the end of the fuse. We didn’t have a crimper so we crimped the caps in our mouths with our teeth. If it had gone off it would have blown our heads off.

The cave we dug wasn’t as deep nor as high as Dad’s. Ours was only about twelve feet deep and about four and a half feet high inside. The one that dad made was probably about six feet high. The ground was very firm, compressed clay, so we didn’t have to shore it up.

The cliff was probably eighty feet high. Our cave was about forty feet above the river, where the bank changed from a just a steep slope to a vertical slope. Dad had built wooden steps coming down from the house for the first forty feet and then a trail to go down the rest of the slope to get to the farm ground, what we called the sand patch. The cave was on this trail.

We moved away from the Dorsey place a couple of years later and the Tompkins family moved into the house. The Tompkins boys told people that there was a lot of gossip about the Tompkins making whiskey, but they found caves on the Kerr place! The talk about the Tompkins’, however, wasn’t just Prohibition-time gossip, as evidenced by their staggering hogs (but that’s another story).

Elma Hewitt remembers the cousins going to see the cave at one of the Hewitt family reunions in the mid 1930’s when they were held at LaDru Thornton’s grove, a couple hundred yards from the Dorsey place.]

[Henry & Elizabeth Hewitt>James Andrew Hewitt> Sylva Hewitt Kerr> William Henry (Hank) Kerr & Jean Kerr]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.