FRANKLIN — Having lived in their 2 1/2-room shingled home for 40 years, Carleton and Connie Robbins insist they aren’t about to leave any time soon, even if their only source of warmth is two kerosene heaters that give them headaches.
The Robbinses have plenty of company among their fellow Franklin residents, many of whom lost power Thursday morning. The couple said Sunday they believe it could still be a couple of days before it is restored.
They also have plenty of company coming to check on them in their tiny home, the last house on the highway before it enters unorganized territory. Friends and neighbors bring food, water and other supplies, including a generator Connie says she’s too scared to use.
Unfortunately, as far as the Robbinses are concerned, the visitors also bring unsolicited advice — the belief that the elderly couple should leave their home for a warmer place.
“I don’t want to leave,” says 82-year-old Carleton, looking up from a bowl of Dinty Moore beef stew and buttered crackers. Frail from sciatica in his left leg and from other ailments, the retired blueberry raker and hunting guide doesn’t get out much these days, and doesn’t care to go at the moment, even though the temperature is expected to drop to zero overnight.
“We’ve been here for 40 years. If we can’t tough it out here, we might as well quit altogether,” says Carleton. He says he just wants to make it to the year 2000, to know he has lived out the century.
Connie, who is 68, concurs about staying. Although many of her friends have fled to Florida, she would rather be home with Carleton, and their 13-year-old dog, Cindy.
The Robbinses lost $150 worth of groceries when the refrigerator warmed, their five bird feeders hanging from the clothesline outside the kitchen window are amply stocked, drawing plenty of the chipmunks and colorful little birds Carleton so enjoys watching, particularly now that television is out of the question.
“I’ll tell you what I do miss is our church,” says Connie. “The hours are so long here. He’s not much of a conversationalist,” she says of her husband, who gives the lie to his wife’s assertion when visitors come, by cracking a broad smile and filling their ears with stories.
A devout Christian, Carleton says he was a drinker until one night when he saw Jesus standing at the edge of his bed with arms outstretched. “I knew what that meant. It was 27 years ago, and I haven’t had a drop since,” he says.
For now, the Robbinses are warm enough, and are taking on faith that they’ll continue to be. Says Connie, “We’ve got a guardian angel in our house. That’s for sure.”