Many changes in five decades on Stinking Creek

It seems when people learn that I am more than 80 years old and/or have spent more than five decades on Stinking Creek, they must ask, “Have you seen any changes?” Well, of course, and I realize I see things differently at this age also.

For instance, the entrances to people’s houses, that has really changed. For many years most of the homes/houses were built on the side of a hill, which usually means there would be two, three or more steps up to the porch or door. More than once I have stood on some wobbly rock steps or insecure wooden steps to reach up to pull the screen door open. Since that door opened out, I often almost knocked myself off the narrow steps as the door swung open. Then I sometimes had to climb up to a higher step to push the inner door open. I also remember more than once reaching up to set nurse/ midwife Peggy’s brown baby bag inside to make it easier to have access to get in. More than one family knew that the babies came in that brown bag which Peggy often carried as she arrived in the red jeep.

Things? Yes, things like a skirt to replace my riding jeans and pencil and paper for the children to use in studying. One year at one school the children were particularly helpful because that year I was frozen fast to the saddle from the water splashing up. Unfortunately, that happened several times that one particularly cold winter. They would help me waddle, saddle and all, to the stove so the saddle would fall off, so I could change into my skirt and begin a day of teaching.

I did not think in those early days to insist that the school administrators or parents build a sturdy, safe and secure entrance, including steps and a handrail. I did install part of an eves trough over the door to help keep the rain from going down my back as I unlocked the door. However, at one school, several of the parents got together and built a shelter for my horse to be in during the school day. I guess that seemed more important than to have a sturdy handrail.

But times have changed for sure. As my hair grew whiter and more aged wrinkles appeared, I began to be much more concerned with safety in sturdy steps and a good handrail to grip. At 80 I even thought I should replace my stacks of rocks to my back door with a good solid rock stoop with six-inch steps rather than an uneven combination that needed constant balancing. Then I even added a handrail, and I find myself reaching for it constantly.

I am not alone in my thinking; I see more and more attention being placed on safe entrances, including handrails. I don’t really know when that became more important;   however, there are still too many homes where people still are not concerned about having good, safe entrances to their homes.