And that is what history is all about . . .
The cabin, built from fat logs dragged up unpaved Sidney Avenue in 1914, still sits on its original lot. There must have been plenty of available property in Port Orchard ninety-seven years ago so why did the Bartows build their home on the edge of a deep ravine, a ravine that begins immediately outside the back of the house? I don't know and no one I've spoken to knows. The ravine is breath taking, with huge fir trees, salal and sword ferns sweeping almost straight down to the creek but anyone who walked behind the house in the dark was taking their chances since one miss step would send you in a slide that probably wouldn't stop until you either reached the creek or if you were lucky, got hung up to dangle somewhere in the bushes. But. . .the cabin has remained on its original spot of ground through storms and earthquakes and La Nina rainfall and the carefully monitored plum-line hanging in the corner of the living room moves only a little each year, so I guess the Bartows knew what they were doing.
The cabin plays host to the fictional "Orchard" family and visitors often stop by to see what each member of the family is up to. They can usually count on finding Mother Orchard and Amelia sewing or cooking, young Charles helping with chores, younger Teddy in some kind of trouble and of course Sadie, soaking in the bathtub upstairs while she dreams of dances and dresses and beaus. The head of the household, Lewis, finds plenty to do after working in the Port Orchard mill and the infamous Grumble brothers lend a hand in keeping the cabin standing.
This summer the Orchards are getting ready for the annual 1908 Fundraising Ball for Widows and Orphans and the kitchen and living room are filled with fabric and flowers and lace piled up at the old Singer sewing machine. Teddy has put down his toy rifle for a minute so he can try on his mother's favorite hat and Charles stares out of the window upstairs waiting for his father to quit discussing the merits of the latest pharmaceutical truss with one of the neighbors.
2011 has brought visitors from as far away as Australia and Singapore, the entire second grade from South Colby Elementary School and a young man I will never forget who was badly injured in Afghanistan. He came into the cabin, sat down and talked to me for over an hour. He'd received a terrible head injury which was evident both physically and mentally and seemed to need a sounding board in the form of "an older lady who has time to listen to me talk." We sat for another half hour in silence before he struggled out of the old arm chair and left me to wonder about the lives and fortunes of all the men who had taken a moment to rest in that chair before him.
And that is what history is all about.