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Lookout Mountain

Four years old and moving again ! I thought we were never going to stop going up...up...up ! Lookout Mountain really isn't that big, but to a four year old child, it was huge ! I was so afraid the car was going to start rolling downhill, and we would not be able to stop it.


Daddy's company had contracted to build a bridge on top of the mountain. In 1946 there wasn't much on the mountain - a few scattered houses and a very small grocery store.

In this isolated area, several construction families lived in tents. It was not like a congested tent city. There was plenty of space, so we all chose seperate areas to put up our canvas houses.


Ours was a huge old circus tent, approximately 40-50 feet long and 18-20 feet wide. It was partically sectioned off to make two seperate rooms.


In the front part we had our kitchen and living room. In that part, we had a kerosene cook stove, a cook table, a dish cabinet, an ice box, and a table with four chairs. On the other side we had a small couch, a rocking chair, an end table, a cabinet and my little red rocking chair.


In the back part, we had two double beds, a dresser, two chest-of-drawers, and a homemade clothes rack.


We would drive big nails in the partition to hang coats, hats, etc. Many times we had sawdust put down on the ground for our floors. The last thing we did at night was wipe the sawdust off out feet so it would not get in our bed.


If we were going to be in a location over a few months, Daddy would put down some kind of rough wood floor. We thought we were fortunate to have a wooden floor; it also meant we might get to stay there awhile. Daddy would also get wooden pallets and put several out in front of the tent. We used these pallets as our front porch.


Our tent was set up beside the river near a big waterfall. The water near the banks was shallow with huge rocks in it. The water was so clean and clear you could see the bottom. That changed , of course, as you got to the deeper part of the river.


We would wade out to the big rocks and sit on them while reaching under them to catch frogs. As children, we were afraid of the waterfalls. We knew if we ever went over one, we would never be seen again.


The clean, clear water was also a source of our bathwater and water for washing clothes. Water was hauled in for drinking and cooking.


We would go down the mountain on Saturdays to get supplies, usually to Huntsville, Alabama. Chattanooga was on one side of the mountain and Huntsville was on the other side. It was really a treat to go to town, where sometimes we got to see a movie. It seems that it was always a western !


I have a memory of my mother sitting on the porch rocking my sister. My brother and I were playing in the yard. A big rattlesnake crawled up near my mother. She yelled for us to stay out there and not come close to the porch. A construction worker heard her screaming and came to kill the snake.


At a raw construction site, the workers used dynamite to blast out some of the areas to work. Before blasting, they would yell several times,"Fire in the hole ! " Those words meant for everyone to take cover and make sure their bodies were protected from the falling rocks, dirt and other objects. We were fortunate that our tent never had a big rock fall on it.


When the steel beams were in place for the bridge, Daddy would walk across the beams to the other side of the river. When you walked the beams, you could not put your feet together. You had to put one foot in front of the other, or you would lose your balance and fall in the river. I would hook my fingers in his back belt loops, and he would tell me, "Put one foot in front of the other. Keep looking forward, don't look down at the water, or you will get dizzy." The main problem with walking across beams was you had to walk back across them to get home.

Winter was approaching, and, due to work delays, the job took longer than expected. Then came the really unexpected - a huge snowfall ! We were snowed in for two weeks and unable to get down the mountain. All the workers and families were down to living on canned goods from the small store, and the store's shelves were almost empty.


Finally, we were able to go down the mountain to town to get supplies. The bridge was soon finished, it was time to pack up and move on to the next job.


Geri Byrd

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