FRANKLIN – Having lived in their 2 1/2-room shingled home for 40 years, Carleton and Connie Robbins insisted they weren’t about to leave any time soon, even if their only source of warmth was two kerosene heaters that gave them headaches.
The Robbinses have plenty of company among their fellow Franklin residents, many of whom lost power Thursday morning, Jan. 8. The couple said on Sunday, Jan. 11, that they believe it could still be a couple of days before it is restored.
They also had 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 brought food, water and other supplies, including a generator Connie said she was too scared to use.
Unfortunately, as far as the Robbinses are concerned, the visitors also brought unsolicited advice – the belief that the elderly couple should leave their home for a warmer place.
“I don’t want to leave,” said 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,” said 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, concurred about staying. Although many of her friends had 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, but their five bird feeders hanging from the clothesline outside the kitchen window were amply stocked, drawing plenty of the chipmunks and colorful little birds Carleton so enjoys watching, particularly when television was out of the question.
“I’ll tell you what I do miss is our church,” said Connie. “The hours are so long here. He’s not much of a conversationalist,” she said 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 said 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 said.
By Jan. 11, the Robbinses were warm enough, and were taking on the faith that they would continue to be. Said Connie, “We’ve got a guardian angel in our house. That’s for sure.”