I was born in 1939, and grew up in a small town near Ft Stewart, Georgia.
During WW2 lots of folks lived with us. After the war there was a lot of stuff
that was left as folks went back to their own lives. One on the things that was left was a WW2 Jungle Hammock. At abut 10 years old in 1949, I would
string it between to oak trees in the side yard. I had a little fire pit and would
build a fire and roast potatoes. I would snuggle into the hammock, zipped up
and fall to sleep, when my grandmother would yell, and make me come inside.
I did this summer and winter. Also, left was an army sleeping bag made with
wool blankets not down. When it got cold, this thing worked great in the hammock. (It did not get below freezing a lot, but it did get a ver damp cold)
In 1952 or 1953, with and old surplus plywood back, and a JC Higgens 410 shot gun I was allowed to spend the night in the woods (swamps). But I was not allowed to go further than they could hear the shotgun. (Three quick shots)
I had several spots I would go, and tried many things with the hammock.
First the place was full of bugs and snakes. the hammock was the answer.
I would cut very long slender poles and string them through the top like normal, but tie the to the ground on the side away from the fire. They would
stick up in the air facing the fire. I had an old poncho that I would tie to the poles that extended the top way out towards the fire as a reflector.
I always dug a pretty deep fire pit, with a small trench going away from the hammock. I would start a fire as soon as I got there, getting coals going.
I don't know why, but I always roasted potatoes, mostly in dirt, over coals
pulled into the small trench. I tried many combinations of stuff, and finally settled on scooping out the patatoe and mixing it with a can of deviled ham!
When I got ready to turn in, I would cover the fire with a mound of spanish moss and it would smoke like hell. No bugs. In the morning it was pretty much still going.
My breakfast was four strips of bacon, fried in a surplus mess kit. Did not
pour off the grease, and two eggs dropped right on top. That's where my heart problems started! The smoked bacon would not spoil, and the eggs were wrapped in toilet paper.
While camping, I spent a lot of time looking for limbs or trees to cut for
walking sticks, and cypress knees that poke up out of the swamp that I cut, then boiled to get the skin off that made great lamp bases, or just wood
art. Sold a lot of them to "yankees" on US 17 on their way to Florida. I also
loved to get a rattle snake because the rattles, were hot sellers. (Thanks to
Joined the Navy in 1962, and ended up in Washington DC in 1966. Started hiking the AT, using my surplus back pack, hammock, mess gear, collins machette, wool sleeping bag, new svea stove, only to discover that there were no mountains in the swamps of georgia, but there sure were in Virginia.
They hammock was 6 or so pounds, and the whole thing was a man killer when put together.
Thinking that the back pack was the problem I went whole hog and got
a "Mountain Master" external frame deal. After loading it all up, it still
weighed the same and still was a man killed.
Started to working on getting the pounds off, and by this time had a hiking partner, and we would do a week at a time on the AT, and that forced the issues. But we both agreed that we would not give up carrying considerable
"snake bite medicine". Other non-essentials HAD to go.
In Sonny's Surplus in DC, I found surplus white canvas Navy hammocks, probably from before WW2. We first rigged them under ponchos. Then
we discovered tube tents. We would string the hammock through the tube
tent with its own line. The tube tent was pushed all the way to the foot, with
a line that went up to the head where the hammock was tied. We only
pulled the tube tent over us if it started to rain, and we could do that by
pulling on the line without getting out of the hammock. In cold weather
we had a canvas covered foam pad that went into the hammock, tied every foot
by ties that his wife put on the hammock and the pad.
We always refused to take any food that we could not find in any store along the AT.
Breakfast was oat meal, real brown sugar, and hot tea with honey.
Lunch was sardines, an onion, and saltine crackers.
Dinner was Uncle Ben' Spanish Rice and tuna combined, with extra onion and
tabasco. It next night plain rice and corn beef. Next night plain rice and Hormel chili with no beans, etc. Always rice. We carried enough to live just on it. I remember we got strung out in Penn during an ice storm and had rice and honey for several meals.
In the hammock looking at the stars was alway Johnnie Walker Black and spring water. We solved many of the worlds problems, looking at the stars,
consulting Johnnie, and knowing if it rained all we did was pull a line and listen
to the rain on the plastic tube.
Sadly, my good hiking buddy of 30 years in now hiking an easier trail.
I haven't been out since then.
I still have my original hammock, the moutain master, the colllins, etc. When
I pull them out you can still smell the smoke, and I think of my buddy "Mo"
I am now turing 70, and in 55 years or so of campimg I never slept on the ground.
Hang in There.