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The End of the Castor Hilton

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Published on: Dec. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 25, 2010

That small Ozark cabin in the woods was exactly what we had in mind for a remote getaway within an easy drive of St. Louis. It was rustic which, in this case, is another word for primitive. For running water we could choose between the spring a hundred yards or so along a narrow weedy path or the crystal clear Castor River, twice as far away. Bathroom facilities consisted of a small ramshackle building set back in the trees, just a short sprint from the cabin's back door.So, there was no running water, no bathroom, one smoky fireplace for heat, and mice droppings scattered over the bare pine floor. Two rooms and a path accurately described it. But we knew what we wanted and this was exactly it!

Through the years we dug a well, added a bathroom, installed a wood burning stove and carpeted the floor. With all that, plus the big screened porch that was already there, the cabin became positively civilized.

A profusion of memories include our offspring who, conventionally enough, were born in chronological order, but somewhat unusually, appeared alphabetically. First came Bill, then Bob, followed by Jack and Janet.

I remember when Bob drove directly to the cabin to meet us after leaving the military. That's when his dog, Patchouli, who had lived only in the plains of North Dakota and had never seen a tree, stood and barked ferociously at the towering hardwoods surrounding her.

Teenage Janet and her girlfriend braved a weekend there alone one time. They were sure the dog, which belonged to Bob and had been borrowed for protection, had been bitten by a snake, so they carried 40 pounds of canine half a mile to a neighboring farmer. The dog loved it but recovered quickly when sentenced to walking after a diagnosis of no snake bite.

Bill and his wife honeymooned at the Castor Hilton. Not a glamorous trip but the price was right for newlyweds.

We were snowbound there for a week once. Come to think of it, the cold temperatures and deep snow were the determining factors for indoor plumbing.

Jack and his wife are the ones who have always been there when work had to be done, but the whole gang showed up for major jobs like carrying and cutting railroad ties to build the patio.

Yes, there are lots of memories. There were the chilly spring mornings

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