Mary Hughes’ Life as a Markham Hill
Cabin Dweller in the late 1960s
Community Radio show
aired on KPSQ 97.3 FM:
Written by Mary Hughes and edited by Lisa Orton
Bud Saunders, one of the first persons I knew who lived on Markham Hill in a cabin and who dated my sister in the 1960s, died a few days ago (late June 2019). Instead of paying the very low rent to Mrs. Markham, he cleaned out the swimming pool each year which was quite an ordeal. He would dive down and collect snakes at the bottom. The pool was beautiful but of course no one swam in it.
I lived in a cabin on Markham Hill from 1968 through 1969. What I call a cabin was actually a shack. It was a deal at $25 a month.
It was the hippie era and we were seeking enlightenment. I remember gatherings of counterculture people, poets and writers who didn't really fit into traditional ways in Fayetteville. A friend was sent home from college for wearing pants and the bar scene was fairly spare at that time. Women were definitely not expected to pursue careers, or worse, to ask Mrs. Markham if they could live in a cabin in the woods.
Fayetteville's early hippies and revolutionaries often rented cabins from Mrs. Markham. I was one of the fortunate ones to have one of the cabins. No plumbing, but there was an outhouse shared by all the cabins and we could walk to the edge of the large field by Mrs. Markham's house and use a hand pump to fill our containers with water. One night I walked to the outhouse and discovered a rattlesnake right by the door. Someone in one of the cabins made a makeshift outdoor shower, probably fed by rainwater. Pretty basic but what a beautiful place to live.
One winter day, Mrs. Markham walked all the way down to the cabin I was in and brought me a turnip, saying that she thought I might be hungry. She was fairly elderly by then.
It was bliss living in a cabin on Markham Hill until I allowed a revolutionary into my life. However, we both pursued an interest in plants, and scoured the pastures and woods for flowers which we distilled into tinctures, so we had essences of Queen Anne's Lace and Angelica, among others.
I walked to the university and back, and the evening walk across the field to the cabin was wonderful.