The time was Fall 1980 and I and my new wife of that year were living in the Mountains near Mt. Shasta, California. A Christian Minister had rented a large house to us normally reserved for a minister and family. Since 1980 was a lot like now economically in the U.S. with about 10% unemployment nationally, we had been fine until my wife had been laid off from a good local restaurant as a Hostess and any construction work, (carpentry, electrical or cement) had basically stopped locally because of the economy. Though we had savings we didn't want to touch that except for real emergencies so we were living then on less than $25 dollars a week for food for the 5 of us (kids, 5, 6, and 8 from our previous marriages) and my wife and I then were each 32). I was thinking of going to San Francisco or Los Angeles and look for work but my wife said she would not leave the beautiful living situation we had here in the mountains. So, I very much felt caught between a rock and a hard place. Then a friend who was visiting who owned property nearby said, "You have a beautiful new wife, Fred. If you leave and work somewhere else someone is going to try to steal her from you and that wouldn't be good for you, her or the kids. These economic times are bad. You need to try to make a stand here." I said, "I have never had to deal with times as bad as this in my life before and really don't understand what to do." He said, "Why don't you buy some property and build a house? You build homes for a living and I know where some good, beautiful but inexpensive land is. The only catch is it doesn't have electricity or phone. I said, "That isn't a problem for me. I just want to keep my family together during these bad times here in the U.S."
So, we used our savings to buy property and sold one of our vehicles to be able to buy enough building materials for me to build an A-Frame for us to live in. My father came up from his recent retirement in the Desert near Palm Springs, California to help me build our home at 4000 feet in elevation. The A-Frame was necessary at this altitude then to shed the up to 7 feet of snow that could be on the ground at one time from December to March or April at that altitude. So I needed an A-Frame so the roof wouldn't collapse from that much snow load if we weren't there when it happened.
I figured out that I saved between 700 to 1000 dollars a month in rent while we lived on our 2 1/2 acres and then you would have to add any utilities to that to see just how much we saved living on our own land off the grid. But if you multiply 1000 dollars a month times 12 times 5 years you get 60,000 dollars. If you subtract the 8000 dollars for the 2 1/2 acres of land at that time and add property taxes on a piece of property in that county that is developed you get our real expenses and then add another probably $5000 for building materials which were relatively cheap then compared to now. Plus we tended to buy our food in bulk monthly (at least our staples) so that helped a lot too. Also, there were no utilities other than Kerosene for Aladdin lamps and wood for our wood and cook stoves. And wood to heat the home came from a then 10 or 11 dollar permit to cut up and take home trees that were already down in the forest from the U.S. Forest Service. So, we survived very well and lived a Mt. Shasta Wilderness experience while home schooling our children using Oak Meadow School Independent study. We lived very frugally and had a really wonderful time raising our children and educating them properly ourselves. By 1985 the national economy had recovered enough for us to move to the Bay Area and buy a business. Now our children are: a Fire Captain, a lawyer, and a nurse and all doing well in their lives and our youngest now 21 is studying to be a teacher.