Marcy S., age 16, Tennessee

Dear Diary — Day dawned windy, cloudy — clear and rather cool. Daddy took yesterday’s holiday today. Mom certainly minded getting up at 7:30 for my sake. Just before breakfast William called to see if we were still going, due to rain. I emphatically told him we were. 

About 9:00 I went up to get Helen and she wasn’t even dressed. Her mother had waited till this morn to tell her she thought she shouldn’t go because there was so much work to be done — canning beets, to be exact. Besides, they might go on their vacation tomorrow and Helen’s help was needed to get ready for it. Mrs. M. told Helen to go ahead and although Helen was mad, she went. Presently, arrayed in slacks and carrying lunches, we were ready to go. Met George and persuaded him not to take “Youripedees” along — a stray puppy he had found. Dr. Nut walked partway with us. 

Twenty-five minutes late, we finally arrived at William’s. Mary was sitting on the porch, reading. She gave George some water and then we parted. Stopped at Goody’s and sold her a ticket. She said she didn’t think we’d ever make it to the tower. Note: having slept on it, we decided to take all risks and, Pap being none the wiser, to hike to the tower, as originally planned. I then ran back to leave the money with Mary who would take it to the Webbo with her where Mom could get it. I wore the little glass horse for good luck. 

At last we were on our way. Went up behind Massop and made the steep ascent to the reservoir road, following the telephone line. Above the road there was no path so we struck out into the damp wilderness of weeds and bushes and briars with me in the lead. I soon surrendered that place to George, however, when we came face to face with a forbidding wall of rock. George scrambled up first and then William followed. With the latter’s manly help we two weaker creatures managed to reach the top, puffing and blowing. Dark clouds were gathering above but beyond a few sprinkles nothing exciting happened. As we struggled upward I expected to see a snake at every step but was disappointed rather pleasantly. 

At last we reached the top of the ridge and there found a road. We soon left it for a path through the woods. There was a heavenly breeze (or rather, wind) and as it swayed the great trees it sounded like the ocean. We soon came out again on a road and could see the other side of the mountains. We passed a house on the mountaintop and two dogs came out to greet us. We humored them and got by unharmed. 

George insisted that the way to go was down a hill to a well and then up again when it would have been much easier to have stayed on the top. We felt so free and strong up there on the mountain path with the wind and the clouds above and the green world about us. At a certain high point we caught a distant glimpse of the tower and we thought we’d never get there. It looked to be on another ridge. We went down into little valleys and up steep hills and finally sat down to rest and take a “swig” of water. We went through a pine forest that smelled so sweet and finally on to the very top of the mountain. It was very beautiful with small green bushes and trees and the clouds got darker and “windier” and we felt rain drops. George and I fervently hoped it would rain hard but William and Helen didn’t want to get wet. 

After passing a big dead tree which, George declared, would be perfect with a buzzard perched on one of its black limbs, we came into different country. It was on the side of the mountain through higher bushes that had to be pushed aside and with tall trees rising above. Oooh! I loved it so much! We turned soon and went down to the left over the pine needle-carpeted path and out into the open again. Here we saw the wire that led evidently to the tower. 

We went on and on and finally ran down a steep hill to the ruins of a cabin which we girls had found last November. It was deserted then but had burned since. We “nosed” around a few minutes and then followed the path until it cam out into the road leading through an old orchard. There were apples on the trees but they were far from ripe. Out of the orchard and down the overgrown-with-weeds-road to the gravel road leading to the tower. Just at the bend there was a spring where we quenched our thirst and filled Helen’s water jar. Then we started up the hill and the gravels were very hard to walk on. It seemed such a long way but finally the tower rose ahead of us and at long last we reached it. 

George and William (extraordinary creatures) actually had the strength to immediately ascend the steel structure and sat there on the top step under the cabin to eat their lunch. Helen and I were contented with a boulder which proved to be very comfortable. I drank water till I couldn’t hold any more and only had room for one big meat sandwich. Helen’s sandwiches tasted of mothballs due to the fact that George had not been very careful with the bag he had carried our lunches in (Mother’s bathing suit, rubber-lined bag) and which had just before been taken from the cedar chest encamped in mothballs. One sandwich had come unwrapped and was dirty beyond repair. George and William threw papers down and the wind carried most of them into the trees. 

After lunching Helen and I ascended the tower and sat down with the boys to see how loud we could yell. Thought the wind would blow us away. Then we descended and went over to the cabin. We played a few games of hide-and-seek and then Helen sat down to empty her shoes. I yielded to temptation and threw one shoe to George. He ran over to the tower, went up and threw it out. None the worse so on the way back to the cabin I extracted the laces and Helen thought George had them. While she was going after him, I carefully placed the laces where she had been sitting and went over to see how George was defending himself. Helen soon suspected me and I advised her to go back to the cabin since she was sure to find she’d left them there. Of course she found them. 

Meantime George had been getting very brave and was climbing off the steps and around the steel bars. I soon followed his example and it was lots of un. William and Helen said they wouldn’t do it. They finally went off to explore and I got very brave and declared I was going to walk a cross-bar about 20 feet (or more — I have no idea of height or length or distance) from the ground without holding — there was nothing to hold to. But George said, “I wouldn’t do it, I wouldn’t do it.” He wouldn’t even dare me to. Nevertheless I started across and I’m sure I could have done it if George had kept quiet but was very discouraging so I decided not to risk my bones. 

Helen and William returned and began climbing around, too. William’s arms and legs are so long that he could walk the cross-bar and hold at the same time. Helen was as positive as I that she could walk it, too, without losing her balance but the boys did everything but encourage her. Then we all started sliding from one “floor” to another. The bars were somewhat like this: (here she drew a small graphic). Anyway it wasn’t very safe but we weren’t a bit scared. We thus risked our limbs until 1:30 when we decided to set out for home. Our hands were black with dust, rust, and dirt and it was nice not to have to be so careful about what you touched. George and I held hands and George tried to induce Helen and William to but it didn’t work. 

Just as we came in sight of the spring it started to rain and we could see the storm coming fast across the mountains to the north. We filled the water containers and then Helen and William “lit out” for the one-time hog pens near the ruins of the house. They would at least afford a shelter from the rain. George and I followed and we hoped it would just pour — so romantic. When we reached the old orchard George broke two big branches off a sassafras tree as a protection against the rain and we held them as best we could against the driving wind. We were so camouflaged from the trees in the orchard — except for our protruding feet. By the time we reached Helen and William at the “shelter” the rain had stopped and the blue sky was chasing the rain clouds away. George and I voiced our regrets but Helen and William were jubilant! 

We started back the way we came. William teased me about Earl — in fact, they all did. When we came to the spot where we had met the wire we didn’t turn off but kept on a path to the right. I don’t think Helen noticed it at first or she wouldn’t have gone so calmly a different way. It was just like walking through a jungle and it was fun to pretend we were. We soon came to the conclusion that we were definitely on the wrong side of the mountain and more likely to end up in Oakdale than in Harriman. We drank water at intervals and I ate my other sandwich. The others nibbled George’s fudge. Finally after a lot of ups and downs we got on the right side of the mountain and started downward. 

The wind was very strong. The side of the mountain was very steep and the trail led over rocks and around trees and was slippery with dust. Helen was in the lead, then William, me, and George bringing up the rear. I was just remarking, “It’s about time that one of us fell, we usually d–” when my feet left the ground and my — er, bottom hit it — and hard! William came to a belated rescue while Helen and George doubled up with laughter. When I had sufficiently recovered from the rather painful contact I, too, laughed. It was so very close. We sat down and rested for a few minutes and then continued. William stuck to the ship pretty closely for a while after my unhappy experience. Once George, while practicing his policy of “leap, don’t run,” missed a sharp curve and we found him reclining on a smooth boulder. 

With no further mishap we reached the bottom at about 3:30. Followed a gravel road until we at last came out near Massop. My legs felt as if they would fall out of their sockets. At long last we reached William’s house and Helen and I immediately plopped down on the front porch swing and rested. Both of us could boast sun-burned noses. Helen’s was so red! Soon Mr. and Mrs. Farmer returned from work and inquired about our hike. 

After we were refreshed with ice water, William got the car and drove us home. We passed Earl and George loudly informed him that I was in the car. He waved to Mary as we drove past the Webbs. At length we got home and parted. Mom and Dad were away but Mom came just as I was entering the bath tub. Was I dirty?! And I had some funny scratches on my leg. 

Drove to town with Mom after bath and then came back and read magazine story. It was unpleasantly cool and looked like rain. The breeze was a December one. Dad came soon with letters from Maggie and Greta. Dad and Mom had been to the movies to see the Kiwanis-sponsored “Little Men.” Dad positively didn’t like it but Mom did. 

I loved this morning on the mountain but somehow I didn’t like the afternoon so well. After supper I read the letters and settled down to answer them. Dad went to a meeting. About 7:30 Carlyle and his pretty wife, Elizabeth, came to call. I played the piano for them. Elizabeth used to teach piano and said I played the Prelude very well. She is more friendly than she was last year. When they left I finished the letter and then to bed.