Back Row: Jesse & Roy, Roy, Edwin, Walt, Etta, Lily; Middle Row: Ruth, Elizabeth, Edwin, Peggy; Seated Harry (Grampie) & Rose (Grammie); Front: Rosemary, Barbara, Jean and Buster, the dog.
We talk of our annual pilgrimages to the farm. There was a myriad of life-enriching and happy times, some of which I’ve jotted below in no particular order of time or importance. Those long and languid summer days and nights when there was no TV, little radio and a once-in-a-while movie which was tinged with guilt since Roy didn’t approve.
[Website editor’s note: Memories eight decades ago of the little girl (Barbara) in the middle of the front row in the photo above]
Sleeping outside on the gentle slope under the crabapple tree until there was one ghost story and one unexplained noise too many.
The magic of the carnival at night, and the power I realized one year when I refused to go (I forget what dastardly deed Elizabeth had done to inspire the revolt) and had to be begged and cajoled since Grammie wouldn’t allow her to go without me.
The embarrassment and excitement of the date Elizabeth and Peg arranged for me with Pearly (who was six inches shorter than I).
The treks across the fields to go swimming in the icy cold Pleasant River.
The Nazarene church services and picnics.
The gala 4th of July celebrations with Roy in charge of setting off the fireworks display (and the time Peggy was burned by a firecracker.
Buster barking a welcome down the length of the roadway;
Family gatherings on the lawn climaxed by someone (usually Uncle Bert or Pete?) Taking up a collection and going into town for ice cream.
Walks into town with mouth shut tight when the devil’s darning needle were about & supposedly could sew your lips together if found apart.
Fireflies (which could be caught and put in jars).
Butterflies which couldn’t be caught no matter how fast we run;
Warm, blustery days when we could actually sit on the wind;
Cool, damp days when the warmth of the wood-burning stove was welcome.
Bringing in the wood & pumping water for the stove reservoir;
Big sugar cookies in the gray, earthenware jar;
The smell of doughnuts cooking and the “holes” which Grammie saved;
Playing croquet by the hour;
The rope swings with wooden seat made by Grampie, one hanging from the elm and the other from the crabapple tree:
Delicious smell and feel of the cool cellar reached through the trap door in the pantry;
Cavernous attic with mysterious boxes;
Sitting around the table after dinner (especially when Mom and Uncle Walter were there) and listening to Grampie tell of his adventures as a young man and his “Well, I want to know!”, which transformed an ordinary fact or story into something very special;
Grampie’s snoring when he fell asleep reading on the couch after supper and the ritualized hand to the brow movement which sometimes accompanied the snoring (and Grammie’s broom handle by her bed with which she deterred the action at night);
Grammie’s long salt & pepper hair which I loved to comb, and her kindness when I burned my hand on the lamp chimney and sprained my wrist falling out of the tree; tree;
Reading the Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs in the outhouse;
Flowers outside the kitchen window (larkspur, nasturtiums, holy hock) with humming birds darting about;
The drudgery but comradery of shelling peas and snapping beans for canning after picking them in the hot sun;
The tenderness of the first corn on the cob;
The summer birthday celebrations;
The delicate crocheting of baby clothes which Lilly made by the hour (and her stash of Modern Romance magazines which were very enlightening);
The patchwork quilts with the game of remembering what was made from different materials;
Cleaning the lamp chimneys with care and trying not to breath when emptying the slop pails;
Picking out tunes on the piano in the front parlor (which was used only for guests) and the china cabinet in the corner which held special dishes and a robin’s egg;
The special summer when Uncle Walter was there and enlivened the day;
Mother’s arrivals and departures for what seemed like far away University of Maine in Orono (how I hated hearing the creak of the stairs as Grampie came to awake her on Monday mornings);
Wash day, with scrub tubs, hand wringer and clothes spread to dry on rocks as well as clothesline;
Picking raspberries and currents;
The hateful chickens which attacked city slickers, especially on the way to the outhouse;
Worrying if it would rain before the hay was cut, stacked, loaded and brought into the barn;
Jumping in the hay loft from the above beam with heart in mouth;
The gracefulness of the oats swaying in the wind;
The profusion of devil’s paint brush, queen Anne’s lace, goldenrod;
The thrill and scariness of thunderstorms (Uncle Walter reassured that for every count to ten, it meant the lightning was one mile away;
Waiting to hear if the rings would be 6 shorts; signaling that the call on the crank wall phone was for us;
Picking up the mail at the post office;
Shopping at the candy story where one cent would buy so much candy, gum;
Temperance meeting at the Baptist church, singing in the choir, taking the pledge;
Fly-catcher streamers hanging from the ceiling in the kitchen with the frantic buzz the caught ones made;
Itchy mosquito bites on arms & legs, impossible not to scratch;
Cows being called home at dusk with bellowing and clanking bells;
Going into town with Grampie in a wagon pulled by a horse and watching the blacksmith shoe it;
The closeness and brightness of stars and moon and the thrill of the occasional northern lights;
Hugs the day of leaving with Buster following beside the car barking us goodbye.
Copyright Barbara Sorensen 1985-2019 All Rights Reserved