Does anyone take the time to write and snail-mail an actual full-length letter anymore? Yep, 95-years-young, Jean Rutan sent me just such a letter recently, commenting about my “Who Was Grandma Gatewood?” story in the October 2021 issue of Ohio Cooperative Living. She included a phone number, so I called to thank her for the letter, and we chatted for quite some time. She had some very interesting memories to relate of the Hocking Hills nearly a century ago, which is why I’m including part of her letter below.
Jean Rutan, Pioneer Electric Cooperative
Over the years I have enjoyed many of your articles, and the recent one about Grandma Gatewood was no exception. She was quite a lady. I can’t imagine taking off on such a hike [Appalachian Trail], especially in snake country. I’d be afraid I’d have a bedfellow.
Especially did I appreciate her love of the Hocking Hills. My mother read about the “Hills” years ago, probably in the Ohio Farmer [magazine], and persuaded my father to take our family there. At that time, I was only five or six years old, and we had a Model T Ford. The Hocking Hills we saw were probably similar to what the Gatewood family saw — there were no nice stone bridges or steps. Those were put in later by the CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps]. To come up out of Old Man’s Cave there were wooden ladders roped to trees, what a thrill! And women wore dresses in those days.
Ash Cave is my favorite, and I have been there in all seasons of the year. My husband and I made the Winter Hike in January several years ago and enjoyed a bowl of the Logan Lion’s Club bean soup at Cedar Falls … but they had run out of corn bread!