Abandoned places


Eileen Muza is one of us (“The Pioneer of Ruin,” HCN, 9/17/18). How many of us there are, I have no idea, but we can be found in condemned houses in cities and scattered across the countryside. I myself bought a piece of land adjoining the Chanchelulla Wilderness Area in California in 1987. I moved into a 1958-model house trailer that had been abandoned for 10 years. Out of a $498 Social Security check, I paid $243 a month mortgage and had $255 a month to live on for a start, for food, car and firewood. There is no telephone or public power here. I did a lot of the work myself toward fixing the mess up. Eventually, I got a USDA grant for a roof and a water tank. The local community action agency gave me an oil heater and some help every year for heating oil. I got a VA pension and some help from other sources. I’ve had trouble with dope growers and various “social workers” trying to run me out. It has been a real hardship to make a go of it, especially now that I am in a wheelchair. But I won’t give my home up. Real estate prices have gone so high that it seems like only the rich can afford an apartment or a house. So we homestead the modern way: We find a rathole to crawl into and fix it up. We gather materials from dumps and other abandoned places and make do. And we find inner peace.

Carolyn Munn
Hayfork, California

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