By Mia Cunningham
Anna Eikenhout (1902-1986) used to be an honors graduate of Ohio nation college, a fine-arts librarian, a talented pianist, and an avid reader in 3 languages. Harlan Hubbard (1900-1988), a little-known painter and would-be shantyboater, appeared an not going husband, yet jointly they lived a existence out of the pages of Thoreau's Walden. a lot of what's recognized in regards to the Hubbards comes from Harlan's books and journals. in regards to the seasons and the panorama, his writing was once rapturous, but he was once emotionally reticent whilst discussing human affairs in most cases or Anna particularly. but it was once via her efforts that their lifestyles at the river used to be really civilized. viewers to Payne hole remember Anna as a beneficiant, gracious hostess, whose intelligence and artistry made the small apartment appear grander than a mansion.
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And she would have been just as annoyed if Harlan had thrown the shirt into the rag bin instead. During the week of my summer visit Anna either postponed her heavier chores or, more likely, did them while I was out and about with Harlan. At any rate, her housekeeping was invisible to me except for the sweeping of the floor a couple of times a day. For example, I never saw her iron with the old Dutch brass irons that held live coals. And I never saw the ali-day production that was washday, but Harlan wrote about it in Payne Hollow.
The bartering soon fell off as the small, self-sustaining farms began disappearing and farmers started buying their groceries in town like everyone else, but the friendships with the Hubbards endured. Families grew and word spread. Payne Hollow became a popular destination for church outings, school field trips, scout expeditions, and extended-family excursions. One weekend afternoon during my second 1954 visit, the number of drop-in visitors from up on the ridge reached fourteen, plus three dogs.
And into this markedly unconventional life she introduces the ritual of a formal guest book. The guest book remained a fixture of Anna's homemaking and recordkeeping. At first she entered all the names herself, but gradually, in the 1950s, she began having the guests sign, probably because of the sheer numbers. From about three hundred visitors a year in the late 1950s, the annual count gradually rose to a thousand and more by the late 1970s. Or perhaps something more than the mere quantity of signatures was involved.