HISTORY OF PASCO COUNTY
The Marks House
By NELL MOODY WOODCOCK
The Marks’ house in Lacoochee and the cabin behind it were enclosed by a wire fence. The back yard abutted the Baptist Church Cemetery. The Methodist Church was at the end of the road in front. Charles Berkstesser built the house for his aging mother and rented the cabin.
Renters were screened to satisfy him they were responsible and would look after Mrs. Marks, who was deaf. My father, F. E. Moody, passed the test.
We lived on the rear screen porch of Mrs. Mark’s home one winter, until the cabin became available and we moved into it. Pleasant and sad memories linger with me about the porch and the cabin.
It was the days of free range for live stock, all houses were fenced in. But the primary purpose of Mrs. Mark’s fence was to keep children out of her yard. I couldn’t invite friends in to play or stay overnight.
For a child, living on the porch was exciting. There was a tiny kitchen on one end of the porch. My sister Emma Lou slept on a cot in that room. Daddy and I had beds on the other end. There was no bathroom on the porch. A shuttered window to the house had been converted into a makeshift doorway and we had to climb into Mrs. Marks’ house to get to a bathroom.
Mrs. Marks took a liking to me and we spent hours talking. She’d hold one end of her tin horn hearing aid to her ear, and I’d talk into the flared end at the bottom. I was in awe of the immaculately dressed woman. There were rugs on the floors, pictures on the walls and we sat near a fireplace.
A small electric heater that sat in the kitchen was our heat. It was round and had a cone shaped heating coil. It created a brilliant red glow in the dark. Heated bricks, wrapped in towels and placed at the foot of our beds, warmed out feet.
An awning over the screened portion of the porch helped keep heat in and rain out.
Cheese toast on sliced bread was a Sunday morning treat. Homemade biscuits grits bacon and eggs were the norm on other days. By the age of six, I could make biscuits from scratch. When the five o’clock whistle blew and daddy was on his way home, biscuits were ready for the oven.
It was a cold Christmas morning on that porch when I learned that Santa Claus didn’t exist.
Earlier, while daddy was at work and my sister in school, I found a box of gifts under his bed sent from his sister in South Carolina. I’m sure he knew the box had been tampered with, but he never let on.
Christmas Eve I placed a piece of cake for Santa Claus on a bare, blue doll bed that I owned. Next morning when I raised up in bed expecting gifts, only the cake was there.
“Oh daddy, he didn’t come,” I said, crying. Daddy had comforting words, but I had to face the stark reality of life.
That little blue bed and piece of cake are etched in my memory.