Nails, A Tin Can, and Florence

Dearest Readers,
I’m changing up the pace a bit with another childhood story for my grandchildren.  You know, how some things become part of the conversation whenever you meet up with someone years later? That’s how it is when I get the rare chance to see Bobby, Wayne, or Janet. We tell the story and laugh all over again.   Enjoy . . .

listen to Grandma Carol tell the story as you read along.

Nails, A Tin Can, and Florence
September 1953

For three dreary days, it rains. Water pours under the front door. Tired of using towels, Daddy drills a hole in the wooden floor in front of the door, so the water runs back out. This works because our house is elevated above the ground, supported by brick pillars.

The rain stops. And that hole? Daddy covers it with a tin can lid, nailing it in place with his hammer and nails.

That’s what happens when a hurricane named Florence makes landfall fifty miles from our Alabama home bringing with her seven to ten inches of rain.
I wonder if it’s still there.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Now for the rest of the story:

I wrote the above for a writer’s group. The assignment?  Write a story using the word “nail” and immediately I thought of this one.  The challenge was to write the story in 100 words. You don’t need to count the words . . . there are 103. It’s a great exercise for a writer to learn about the economy of words.

Looking back:

Uncle Lehman and his family were missionaries in the Bahama Islands [A] and had come for a visit. There we were, four children in a tiny two-bedroom house on Ellis Griggs Road, Opp Alabama. Oh, the excitement and joy of being with my three older cousins, Bobby, Wayne, and Janet. Both of our families had moved away from Pennsylvania. We missed each other and our families up north.

Mother, Daddy, and I had recently moved to this house a few miles from the tiny community of Dixie to Horn Hill where he became the pastor of Mt. Olive Bible Church.

About those brick pillars . . . Most houses in the southern countryside were built off the ground, supported by brick pillars. This photo of the remains of the corner of our previous house in Dixie will give you the idea.

The one we lived in during the hurricane time now was not as high off the ground but followed the same pattern.

As you can see, there was enough room for dogs and cats and other animals to run around under there, as well as the more adventurous child. I, however, was not one of them.

Note:  Sixty-five years later, we found the remains of that Dixie house when we stopped to on a visit through Florida in 2018. The forest had grown up around it. These bricks and the ones from the fireplace were the only evidence of a previous structure.

Back to the “nail” story:  I don’t remember much of anything specific about that visit. I do remember the joy of being with my cousins and the laughter as the scene unfolded especially when Daddy produced the tin-can-lid idea. Somehow, we all felt as if we shared in the brilliance of finding a solution.

Mother was not willing to live with a tin can lid nailed to the floor of her living room and solved that problem by keeping a throw rug in place. Our houses would seem primitive to you but when everyone else around us lived the same way, it didn’t matter to me. Mother took pride in keeping our homes neat and tidy; she always made the houses we lived in feel like home.

That tin can lid was still in place when we moved a year or so later so we could be closer to the church.

In April 2018, we stopped by on a visit to Alabama. The owner wasn’t home, so we didn’t ask to come in. As you can see, this house isn’t as far off the ground as our Dixie house. Over the years, the owner closed the space, but you get the idea.

Hmmmm. . . Do YOU  think the lid is still there?


[A] A group of Islands off the Eastern coast of Florida. I found letters the brothers had written to each other, with dreams of us visiting them on their island. It didn’t happen, probably due to the cost of a plane ticket. Those brothers loved and missed each other like your Daddies miss each other. My dream for all of you reading this is that you miss your siblings and your family if you don’t live close to each other.

* * * * *

And now Dear Reader, may you go on with your day with a smile on your face. And for those of you who know my Dad and Mom, remember them with fondness.  I am in the process of getting Dad and Mom’s story of their life and ministry ready to share.  Stay tuned.


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