A Cold Experience at the Shepard Site
|It was one of those Saturday mornings
that was chilly and gray; Hugh Stabler and I had planned all week to spend
the weekend at the Shepard Site and open up a new area of excavations.
Hugh's father had granted permission to use his '32 Chevy, so all was set.
We packed our camping goods including canvas cots and cooking equipment.
We planned to stay overnight in the abandoned shack that Carter and Wingate,
the previous renters, had recently vacated.
We drove up to Poolsville and noticed that the weather had turned noticeably
colder so we made the decision to cut short our stay and forget about
staying overnight. With this in mind we passed up getting any 5 cent sandwiches
at the Poolsville general store with the expectation that we probably
be returning in the early afternoon. We drove on down to the River Road
(unpaved at this time) and turned right to cross the slough.
had to be careful for there was a narrow strip of rocks under the
water that you must know
exactly where they were before attempting to cross. We had negotiated
this slough many times before and thought we knew just where they were.
We proceeded on with confidence. About half way across, there was a
sudden lurch to the left. We had missed the rocks! We tried briefly to
and backward to no avail. We got out of the car, luckily wearing boots
and tried to lever the left rear wheel up with a long poll we found.
The idea was to place rocks under the wheel, possibly get traction
and hopefully get out. It didn't work.
Hugh's father's car, stuck in the mud and ice.
Cabin at the Shepard site, cold and well ventilated!
We unloaded most of our stuff and carried
it to the shack. At that time there wasn't a house in sight and the Shepard
home was far away and back on the bluff. Anyway we didn't want to disturb
him with our dumb troubles.
The shack was only a couple hundred feet west of the Sheppard Site so
we made a shovel test only to find the ground was frozen! All of this
had been for nothing! Now we had to decide what to do.
We were getting
hungry and it was evident that we were here for the night. We always
took our .22 rifles
along for we enjoyed target shooting and hunting crows. There was
never anyone else up here along the river in those
days so it was perfectly safeto shoot using moderate caution.
First we searched the shack and were fortunate enough to find a fish
about 3 feet of line attached. Now we only had to get bait. It wasn't
long before a flock of starlings that had been flying around lit in a
tree nearby. It took only one shot to supply the source for all the bait
we needed. We cut a sapling, tied the line to it and bated the hook with
entrails from the starling. Within an hour, to our surprised, we had
a 2 lb. catfish on the end our line.
Next we examined the junk pile outside and concluded that the three
legged potbellied stove there was useable so we dragged it inside and
used a rock for the forth leg. Scattered pieces of stove piping proved
to be enough to reach a window pane which we removed. Plentiful wood
produced heat and soon we were eating catfish, without salt.
There were plenty of cracks between the boards and of course there was
a window missing. We did not sleep well as someone had to stay up to
keep feeding the stove. This would lapse at times through the night and
frankly we nearly froze.
"We always took our .22 rifles."
|When morning finally arrived we discovered that
it had snowed during the night and the car was a dismal sight indeed. We
had to get out of there somehow. And, as if our prayers were suddenly answered
we heard voices and to our amazement three guys, a bit older than our 18
years, appeared out of the cold mists. We exchanged a few words and found
that they were running a trap line. They were about to continue on when
one of them said, "We can't leave these boys here like this." Thank
God one of them said "NO". We never told Mr. Shepard of this
|Footnote: The next time we visited
the Shepard site the "shack" was all weather striped inside!
From the beginning the name "Shepard " was spelled with one "P" as
was the site name. However, it is probable that the owner's name was indeed
spelled with two P's as the road sign that goes past his former home is "Sheppard" Lane.
No change to the site name is recommended..
Richard "Gates" Slattery at the
Winslow site in 2003.