Before tiny houses were a thing to be desired and featured on TV shows, my parents were living that way with a baby in tow (that’d be me). The apartment that they were living in when they first got married didn’t allow children and here I was, fast approaching the outside world.
They bought a little travel trailer and lived in that before deciding they wanted to have a little more adventure. They replaced it with a slightly newer one and off they journeyed to Alabama. They have lots of tales from that time there. When they decided to come back home to Naples, Florida, they parked the trailer at my Papa’s and we lived in it there while deciding what to do next.
The Flinstones Shriner’s (to know who they are check out this article)were selling the 1959 school bus that had carried around the little cars that they drove in the local parades. My dad thought that he could make it into a motor home. He bought it from them in 1979 for $300.
We continued to live in the little trailer while he converted it into a home. My parents had bought some land out in the Everglades halfway between Naples and Immokalee. For about two or three weeks prior to the big move, my dad went out and mowed a pathway through the property to be able to drive the bus onto the land. I remember the bus being parked beside my Papa’s side door of his home. My dad said that it was only parked there on the day that we were pulling out. We moved out to the property the summer of 1980. I would have been almost three so that memory is probably one of my earliest memories.
Once we made it there and parked our new home, my dad took out the driver’s seat and put a gas fridge in its place. When you came up the steps you were in the living room. When facing the back, there was a couch on the left and my mom’s cedar chest (which I inherited at 16 and my daughter will get when she turns 16) was on the right. If you continued on, there was a counter with a sink and hot plate on the left and a dining room table with two school bus seats facing the table on either side of it behind the wall on the right. Continuing on, there was a door on the left with a little tub (they had a toddler, so they opted for a mini tub that had to be cut down to fit) and toilet. My bed was a bunk built over the wheel well on the right side. There was shelving above the bed for storage. Then you would come to the door where my parents’ bedroom was located. They had a double bed and tallboy dresser in there.
The lights were run on 12 volt. My mom would hook the 12 volt up to her car battery from a little plug that stuck out of the grill of the car (a creation of my dad’s) every night and if my dad needed it during the day, he had an extra battery out in the shop. We had a pitcher pump that my parents would get buckets of water from and they would heat it up to pour in the tub to bathe me. They would suffer through the cold bathing of themselves right at the pitcher pump. At some point, my dad built a little outdoor shower with a hose and sprinkler set up for a cold shower.
We lived in that bus for a year or two, until my mom gave birth to my brother when I was 4 ½.
It was on the stairs of that bus that I tripped and chipped off half my front tooth that would be missing until I lost it and replaced those front teeth with ones that were much too large for my face. In that pitcher pump, I would play in the water and squeal with delight in the hot, humid summers.
My parents were pioneers in a new land. I learned a lot about hard work, simplicity, and loving life from my times in that wilderness.
For more about my youth and growing up in the wilds of Florida, check back on Thursdays. I’ll be talking about present tense recipes, books, trials and growth on other days!
Let your light shine!