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  • Betty Girardeau

Cousins

Updated: May 25


One of the benefits of moving to Tennessee was being a bit closer to "Tuckaway," the family retreat built by my Mother's family in the upstate area of South Carolina, just a bit south of Asheville, North Carolina. Almost every summer when I was a child our vacations were spent with our grandparents in Virginia and South Carolina, with my favorite time being in South Carolina. Usually our cousins from Alabama would be there at the same time. They were closer in age to my sister and me so we had a lot of fun together. But the best time of all was when we would go to the mountain cabin known as "Tuckaway." The log cabin was pretty rustic, and while there was electricity, there was no indoor plumbing. The cabin was built beside a creek where there had been a mill at one time. The waterfalls just above the house had created a lovely pool that young and old enjoyed on hot summer days. And at night the soothing sound of the falls was a lullaby for everyone. We children spent hours playing on the rocks around the stream and waterfall, one summer making little waterwheels from sticks and squares of the metal roofing that was being put on the cabin. At some point during the week at the cabin the men would prepare an outdoor fire pit on which to grill my uncle's famous Chicken Brissel recipe. Accompaniments were usually sliced fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, potato salad, and a beverage that came to be known at "Tuckaway Punch," made from tea, pineapple juice, lemons, orange crush and ginger ale. Often the dessert would be homemade peach ice cream which was made in an old cranked ice cream maker. In the evenings everyone would sit around and play games or sit and chat, the adults sharing stories that amused and fascinated us young ones. Those were halcyon days indeed. The fall after I was married the dam at a summer camp above "Tuckaway" broke and washed everything, except the wonderful falls, away. The whole family was devastated. It was many years later when my older cousin, who had become a successful architect in Atlanta, came up with plans for a new "Tuckaway." This one has indoor plumbing and a washer and dryer. The electric stove is a wonderful improvement over the kerosene one that had been in the original cabin. Once again we were able to gather from near and far at this wonderful retreat. Thankfully we were able to enjoy several "cousins' week-ends" before my older cousin and, then, my husband died. And this is where my children voted to go to spend the rest of the week together after my husband's memorial service in 2017. It was fun to introduce my grandchildren to this special place. The pool carved out by the falls is not as spacious as it once was, but the falls are exactly as they have always been, creating the same ambience of sound I remember as a child. The beautiful flora that surrounds Tuckaway has returned in abundance after the devastating flood, much of it being wild rhododendrons. Today's image was one I took of them the first year we cousins were able to gather together again at this special place. My favorite memories of summer will always be those spent at "Tuckaway."

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