After being on John Lipscombs radio show I have encountered a lot of interest in getting out of the system and getting to some place of relative safety and freedom. I am going to write about that today. In honor of economy, I am going to publish this on my blog instead of on the communal blog.
My experience with a communal venture has taken many strange turns. I was with a bunch of Hippies out of New York City for a while. Not much of a nucleus to work with. I had a few people up in northern Indiana at an old farm house for a while. No economic base and no chance of it. Stupid kids, I reckon. Then I went to a new venture down in Brown County, Indiana. It was better than anything I had seen before but nor good enough to stake my future on. Then I met a man named Daniel Wright and that got me hooked. The man knew what he was doing and had the spirit on him to make it happen.
Being a true man of God and a child of the depression, Daniel knew how to work and survive. I didn't know as much about survivalism as Daniel but I damn sure knew how to work. I got the message and the nuggets on survivalism by watching and participating. The school of hard knocks is what it is called. We were heavily engaged in sawmilling and logging but there were other things you picked up on the way. Daniel was not much for hiring outsiders to do our building. If it was going to get built we were going to do it ourselves. You picked up on a lot of construction that way. And that kind of education stays with you.
Up until the late 70's Daniel and his wife Lois owned everything in the Valley. I thought that was fine and dandy. Daniel was like a father to me and having Pa in charge just seemed right in my eyes. But then he made the business into a partnership, with every one on the Valley an owner. The cooks, the school teachers, the truck drivers, any farm people we might have and so on. Everybody was an owner of the business and we filed a gigantic partnership filing every year. The IRS hated us. They like Corporations and single proprietorships. We never were too popular with the government. I remember they gave us a complete tax audit two times in three years. My brother was a business man out in society and I asked him about that audit trip. He said it sounded like somebody didn't like us. We wore the audits like a badge of honor. "Fuck Scag" was our motto. We would have gone to war for that old man. He was the wisest and kindest any of us knew.
Also about that time Daniel and Lois signed over the whole property to the people and the people in turn signed over their individual shares to seven men who were called trustees of the Valley property. The seven men were men Daniel thought he could trust. The property was actually owned by a land trust and the trustees were elected by the people with no time limit on their term of office. The trust papers basically say that the property is to be held for God's people. The trustees are responsible for seeing to the payment of the land taxes. There is no sword of dismissal over any one's head. Perverts and criminals can be booted out and every one else is free to roam. In our present incarnation you must pay $12.50 per week to live in the Valley, unless you are retired, at which point you are released from that obligation. We have never taken any one's pension money and would only do so if it meant our survival.
But when we started it was all for one and one for all. And we worked our asses off. We were very young if you averaged our ages. And the young are for war. And let me tell you we warred like maniacs. We got every board out of that mill that it would cut. We logged impossible tracts of timber and made a profit. We built our buildings of an evening and on the weekends. And we had muscles in our shit. We were Phase One men and women. We were the arms and legs and backs that God used to get this place going. And some of us were damn proud of it.
The overall attitude in those beginning years was basically do or die. There was no room for failure. And you have to have that in your mind as a group if you are going to make it. We didn't know it at the time but we were learning the rudiments of survivalism. Not too many years after I got here in 1971 Daniel built a storage cellar. All concrete. 70 feet long and 14 feet wide. The floor has one foot of slope front to back. I have seen that cellar packed completely full of food. And that includes the aisle down the middle. Of course, that fullness has not been achieved in a couple decades. The Old Man passed on in 2001. He would have a garden that would knock your sox off if he were still alive. He was a communal man and a survivor and he would get the job done. Of course, no one had the balls to turn him down either. You don't deny a man who has given his life for you.
We lived pretty free down in the Valley. We basically followed Daniel and what he was trying to do. We had a big piece of land to romp on. We ate venison all the time. Not too many people ever came down in the Valley looking for trouble. But we were united behind that old man. God had given us to that man and we thought it was very cool. It was a rough place. A good fight on Saturday night around the keg was nothing. When the fists started flying and the boots started stomping the women just got the hell out of the way. We looked out for the kids. They were pretty precious to us. We all had dreams that the kids would replace us in the mill and in the woods when they got old enough. That turned out to be a pipe dream. The kids all went to school and got educations and won't go near a sawmill. Can't say as I blame them. A sawmill is a loud, dirty, dangerous place to work. I don't miss it much.
There was not a clear picture for us to see where we were going with our lives. If you had told me that I would be living in a small apartment and retired by the age of 62 I would have laughed in your face. Couldn't happen! But it did. The body is not the same as in years past but the spirit is still there. You never know what your destiny is in life. You work and labor to your utmost and then the older years come upon you. Surprises lurk at every turn in the road. Be ready for them and try to accept them with a good spirit.