Edward Downie’s Life as a Markham Hill Cabin Dweller in the 1950s
Updated: Jan 28, 2020
(written by Edward Downie and edited by Lisa Orton)
I lived in a couple of places on Markham Hill in the late 1950s: a house behind (north) of Evangeline and Laird Archer’s home and one of Mrs. Markham’s cabins by the swimming pool.
Chris Sanford, a teaching assistant in the Languages Department, lived in the large cabin by the water tower. Herbert Garelick, a philosophy teacher, lived in the house east of me when I lived in the house behind the Archer residence. Richard (son of the president of Oklahoma Baptist University at the time and an art student) was my predecessor in the cabin by the swimming pool.
My cabin was one room, perhaps 20' X 10', heated by a wood-burning stove. I used to fill my VW bug with scraps and ends from the ax-handle factory. I dipped water from the swimming pool, maybe fifty feet away. I had an outhouse which I don't remember sharing. I can't remember furnishings, but there must have been some. I cooked on a gasoline camp stove I'd purchased from Herter's Inc. No shower, I bathed in the swimming pool which I shared with leeches I discovered one day. In frosty weather I'd stand on the edge naked working up my nerve, jump in then miraculously find myself standing on the edge again. Soap up and repeat. It was an interesting life; I learned a lot.
One day when I was trudging home from class up Markham Hill, Mrs. Markham pulled up beside me in her Rolls Royce and asked me if I'd like to take a ride in the vehicle. Of course, I replied in the affirmative, and hopped in. She proceeded about a hundred feet into the garage and asked me how I'd liked the ride.
When I lived in the cabin by the swimming pool one preternaturally still and moonless night, I was awakened by the heavy tread of an interloper, or interlopers, into my isolated domain. I picked up a stick of firewood (fodder for the stove) to use in defending myself and stepped out the door into the nearly pitch-black night. Walking a few feet I perceived the presence of a large animal peacefully cropping grass--a horse.