Rough draft


Chapter 2       1950 - 1953


The Farm  in  Maine  - 


Excitement was in the air the next day as Kenny and I explored our new surroundings. Mummy took us up to the attic. All the attic beams were bare and exposed.


"This will be your room," she told me, as we stood in the small room at the head of the stairs. The one window composed of six small panes of glass, looked out to the cow pasture and woods beyond. There was a partially slanted ceiling under which I would sleep for the next seven years. Part of the chimney went up through the walk in closet.


"Wow, a chimney in my closet," I exclaimed in surprise.


"Yes, It'll give off some heat come winter."


Down the short hallway, the larger bedroom looked out towards the yard and the barn. A hole was cut in the floor with a heat grate over it, for warm air to flow up in winter.


"This is Kenny's room," Mummy said. 


"Why," I want to know. "I want this room, it's bigger and I'm the oldest."


"He's a boy and needs to be able to see what's going on in the barnyard." My "rationale" didn't hold water next to hers. Needless to say, Kenny was pleased.


There was no plumbing, bathroom, running water or phone. Kenny and I explored the shed which opened off the kitchen into two empty rooms, then through a heavy swinging door to the outer shed with a pit for Daddy to chop wood for the stove. The "back-house" (toilet) was at the far end of the shed. For toilet paper, we used “The Boston Globe” newspaper that Mummy would receive daily in the mail. It had to be wrinkled soft to use effectively. 


Climbing to the darkened second floor, there were two small windows. We spied two old spinning wheels with spider webs all over them.


“Wow, I wonder if these are real?" I said, "I bet they don’t work now.”


After a closer look, we conclude they don’t. 


When I asked Mummy what they were for, she explained,


"People used to spin wool from their sheep and make it into yarn to make clothes with." This became clearer when I saw Mummy darning a sock one day later on, 'cause the heals had worn out and she said, 


"This yarn could have come from spun wool from someone's spinning wheel, like up in the shed."


Next time there I looked more closely at the old spinning wheels trying to imagine how that could be done, but I couldn't figure it out. I concluded some parts must have been missing.


That week we were enrolled in school five miles away. School was a two story brown shingled building with a flat roof that housed all twelve grades. The yellow school bus picked us up at the end of our long driveway. We were the first ones on the bus in the mornings and the last ones home. Driving up two extra miles of mostly dirt road on the Point road made an eighteen mile daily round trip to and from school. I was in fifth grade and Kenny in fourth. He skipped first grade because I had taught him to read, Mummy had told me.  


Out of twenty-three kids in my class in 1950, only nine graduated seven years later. But it was always the largest class. Only one girl graduated the year before us and six in the class after us. Before we moved, my teacher started teaching me fractions. She thought my new school would be teaching them and sure enough they were. Barbara was assigned to get me up to speed with the rest of the class in fractions, so each math class we'd go to the back of the room where she tutored me. I really enjoyed getting this special attention and we became friends.

Most weekends at home were spent watching new things happening. The barn was huge and seemed full of loose hay until the day Daddy climbed up to the loft one day and discovered it was all pushed forward to the edge of the scaffold to look like the barn was full of hay. Daddy said it was really only a third full. 


That was the first lie the real estate man told him. The second was that there was a public bus that went by the house every day. When Mummy heard there was no such bus, she told me later that she felt stuck with no way to get to stores. She'd never gotten a driver license.


Attached to the back of the house was the "well house" where we pumped water from the well and carried it into the house. In the dirt cellar, Daddy discovered three feet of ice beginning to melt. A toad was frozen in the ice and one warm day he brought the chunk of ice outside where Kenny and I watched in amazement as the ice thawed around the toad and it was still alive! We could hardly believe it.


In order to drain the melting water from the cellar, Daddy put one end of a hose into it and stretched the other end down the slope towards the woods. I watched as he sucked all the air from the hose until water began coming out. I was amazed at his technique of getting the water out of the cellar with the power of suction and gravity. We kept checking over the next few days, to make sure the hose stayed under water in the cellar. 


Since we had no electricity for a while, I did my homework by the dim light of a kerosene lamp, with a dark green glass shade. In order to get electricity to our farm, Daddy and our closest neighbor Mr. Keene, a quarter mile away, had to dig a mile of six foot holes for the electric poles. Daddy ended up digging most of them, because Mr. Keene was often unable to. After an electrician wired the house and barn we had bright lights everywhere. Everyone was extremely delighted.


Our big brown telephone was installed one day while I was in school. I was surprised to see it hanging on the wall in the kitchen. It had a crank on the right side and the receiver hung on the left. Each one of the seventeen parties on our line had a special ring. Ours was four short rings. If we wanted to call someone who wasn’t on our party line we had to crank out one long ring for the operator in town. Then she'd connect us to the number we wanted. Long distance calls back to Massachusetts were very expensive.


Our first cow Daisy soon arrived and a bit later a grey work horse named Mouse came, plus Molly our second cow. Mousie is so good natured and strong. He becomes dedicated to Daddy who loves him a whole lot and was so proud of how hard he worked for him. Whenever a truck or a heavy machine became stuck in the mud, Mousie would strain hard and always pulled it out. Our only transportation to town for groceries, cow grain and other materials was with the wagon and Mousie pulled it. Daddy soon bought a truck.


I watched him milk the cows sitting on a little three legged milk stool he'd made. We had plenty of milk ourselves, but one day I saw him dumping milk out down the hill outside the barn. I asked in great amazement,


“Why are you pouring the milk out?” 


“I can’t sell such a small amount,” he says. “We need to get some more cows first, then we can sell it.” 


“How many more cows?”


“Well, maybe two or three, we’ll see.”


As soon as we had electricity Daddy bought a milk cooler to cool the milk. Mummy kept things cold in the cooler by suspending them from a string in the cold water, because we didn’t have an ice chest. Well, we still had our old ice chest, but no ice to put in it. Daddy bought some more cows from Mr. Dacon and as each new cow came we gave her a name if she didn't already have one. There was Jesse the Guernsey and Betty the Holstein and a few more that first year. 


It was an exciting time whenever we heard someone drive up the driveway. We’d run out to see who it was. It was usually Mr. Dacon with another cow, Kenny and I would watch while he opened the back of his truck and yelled at the cow to get her out. Daddy and the other farmers always yelled at the cows and hit them too. I asked Daddy one day, why he always yelled and hit the cows?


"It's a cow’s way of life," was his reply. "They're very stubborn so you have to prod them along." 


He milked them all by hand morning and night. Once I asked Mummy how much we got paid for the milk.


"Six cents a quart," she said.


"That's not very much," I asked, "Why so little?"


Mummy told me about a "middle man" and how they always made the greatest profit.


Summer soon arrived and I heard the peeping of many toads in the small shallow pond out back every night. I enjoyed listening to their peeps as I went to sleep. The water was about a foot at the deepest part. Kneeling down on a flat rock at the edge one day, I peer into its shallow still water. I am utterly amazed at things that look like little sticks moving along the bottom. I called them stick bugs. Each summer I'd check to see if they were still there and they always were, but I never learned what they actually were called.


I saw tadpoles in a jelly like substance and couldn't resist taking them from the pond and putting them in a fish bowl to watch them grow into frogs, but they only grew feet and a head before they died. I never knew why they didn’t keep growing into adult toads.


During that first summer, Kenny and I helped Daddy put in pasture fence posts and we'd go after the cows every evening to drive them back to the barn for milking. I did not like that job. On the weekends we helped Daddy do other things. Once we watched him wire up a six volt battery to the barbed wire fence, so the cows would get shocked if they pushed against it.


Mummy usually read to me at bedtime; books like “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, Heidi, Black Beauty and other books she felt were  "wholesome." Mummy thought reading was very important and wanted me to love reading like she did. As she read stories to me, I imagined vivid scenes of the story and actors. My brain became accustomed to picturing things, which proved useful later on when I wanted to build something, I could easily picture it already built in my mind.


One morning on December 7th, Mummy announced our first calf was about to be born, so I went to the barn to have a look. I was immediately shooed away by Daddy, but not before I saw something grey and fish shaped coming out of the back end of Daisy. I sneaked another look as Daddy sliced open the grey sack with his finger and out popped a soaking wet and shivering baby calf. I thought that was a miracle and Daddy didn’t punish me for looking.


Mummy suggested we name her Pearl because it was Pearl Harbor Day. Soon I learned to feed her by putting my finger in her mouth and pushing her head down into a pail of warm milk, letting her suck my finger and some milk, which was a trick to teach her to eventually suck milk from the pail, without my finger.


In the winter Mummy had to get up around 5:00 a.m. to start the wood fire in the kitchen stove so it would be reasonably warm when we came down for breakfast. I got dressed at lightning speed to keep my skinny self from freezing on the spot. At night I crawled into bed under mounds of used heavy overcoats which Mummy’s friends had sent us.


The next Spring, a man drove up the driveway and parked by the barn. We saw Daddy bring Pearl out of the barn. 


“Daddy, what are you doing with Pearl?” 


He responds, “I’m selling her to this farmer today.” Kenny and I immediately burst into tears, and began pleading with Dad,


“No, don’t sell her. We don’t want her to go!” 


We both cried and carried on so badly Daddy didn’t sell our first calf; not then anyway.


Mummy loved the clean air, sunshine and quiet of the farm and so did I for a few years. Since I could only go to school and back, I had no chance to play with other kids and socialize outside of school. I wanted to, but Daddy couldn’t drive me anywhere, he was too busy and we couldn't afford the gas Mummy said. 


As a result I spent hours upon hours and days upon days, especially in the summers, outdoors playing with and discovering all kinds of wildlife. I easily and naturally fell totally in love with Nature. I felt at one with all the wildlife I saw.




Mummy convinced me that Jesus and God knew all about what went on deep inside of me; everything. There was nothing he didn’t know, and I could not keep any secrets from him. She said Jesus always loves me and he also knows every single thought I and everyone else has. If I lie or sin in any way and don’t ask for forgiveness I will end up burning in hell forever. That scared me a lot and I often contemplated the “forever part” of burning. It seemed impossible to comprehend.


I believed everything Mummy told me, but I was a bit skeptical of that amazing power of God and Jesus; to be able to know the numbers of hairs on everyone's head even, not just me. But I “accepted Jesus into my heart” and she sent away for a silver ring that said, “I Am His.” I cherished it like a wedding ring, until the kids at school made enough fun of me for wearing it so I quit. Who to believe; the kids or my mother? I was confused.


None of the other kids called their mother Mummy so Kenny and I decided to start calling our Mummy, Ma instead. We stay on the farm all summer by ourselves. My summers become filled with delightful Nature explorations. There was something very special about being totally alone with Nature, discovering different flowers and little animals, sitting by the shallow brook, or just wandering freely over the pastures and exploring the edges of the woods. It wasn't long before I felt quite attached to the earth and Mother Nature.


I got the idea to build a desk to study on in my room. I begged Daddy to buy a piece of wallboard and some oilcloth to put over it for a smooth top, which he did. Then I cut down three skinny straight trees and made them into front legs with a board nailed to the wall for the back support; my first building project and I felt proud of it. 


One warm afternoon as I walked slowly up the pasture slope towards the house, an unusual feeling suddenly overtook me. I stopped and stood still for a bit, awed by an experience that felt like I'd become the ground itself, the pasture grass and all the earth and the space around me, as well as my body. It felt like we were all the same thing. The feeling gradually faded and I never told anyone.


I had another unusual kind of experience one day upstairs in Kenny’s bedroom. For some reason I was sitting on his double bed with its white iron head and foot rails, when I noticed how loud the stillness was. It was so quiet it was deafening to my ears. I was extremely surprised at how silence could feel so loud, without making a sound.


At the end of each summer our little pond usually dried up unnoticed, but when I was about thirteen, I took notice that all the toads were losing their pond water. I didn’t want them to die so I made a plan to take as many as I could, down to the brook across the road. I collected about twenty of them and put them in the big wooden box Daddy kept in the wagon. While waiting for Daddy to take me and them down to the brook, they all hopped out and disappeared, or maybe someone took them out, I never knew. I was greatly saddened, but when I saw Daddy, he told me, "They wouldn’t have lived in the cold brook water anyway." That helped me overcome my disappointment of losing them all somewhere.


I am frequently alone with my beloved Nature, but I never dared to even consider telling Ma of my great love I felt, although I wanted to share it. I knew she’d belittle or criticize me somehow, so I kept my special love to myself. I often sat pondering and experiencing Life and Nature in silence. I was fascinated with all of the life I observed up close and personal, in and out of the pond, from ants to field mice, flies and spiders in the barn. I was head over heals in love with all of Nature’s creatures.


One time when I was babysitting a mile up the road I noticed an encyclopedia there; much bigger than the one we had. I looked up ants and began to read. I became so fascinated with the life of ants, that every time I babysat there I brought my pencil and paper. I spent hours after the kids were in bed copying word for word, the exciting story of the ants and the different jobs they all had. I was extremely impressed with what I though was an intelligent existance.


I loved ants and flowers, the pond, the woods and wild life. I loved the barn swallows, the robins, the bluejays, the crows and especially my favorite, the chickadees. My only friends during the long summers were the animals, flowers, trees and birds. I was unable to socialize with other kids, living five miles from town. I sat with and among Nature each day in great delight, connecting at a very deep level.


I loved birds so much that when I saw a bird book advertised in a magazine, I begged Ma for it. One time, I had just received twenty-five dollars from a bond that her friend had bought me ten years earlier and it had matured. I was allowed to use it to buy my bird book “Stalking birds with Color Camera," which I still have, seventy years later!


I secretly hoped that she wouldn't guess how deep my feelings for Nature ran. I worried she’d somehow trivialize my love, so I always keep that joy to myself. I didn’t want to take a chance that she might think I loved Nature too much and it might be a sin, or somehow disapproved of for other reasons.

That winter I was walking towards the barn. Just as I walked out from in front of the shed onto our icy driveway, a white jack rabbit, which was running my way, suddenly skids to a stop at my feet, trying to change direction. I immediately bend down and scoop him up. 


“Hold him by his ears,” Ma shouted from several yards away, which I did, "I'll get a box to put him in," she hollered heading towards the shed.


I showed Daddy and Kenny. Everyone is pretty impressed with my capture. I loved watching him close up in that box. We released him to the woods when it got dark.


Sometimes in bed at night, I could not stop thinking thoughts in my head and it often troubled me. I knew somehow that I could not go to sleep while I was thinking. So one night, I came up with  a new and valuable trick to help me fall asleep. I said the words "blank, blank, blank, blank," over and over in my head. I focused my eyes on the tan color and the wiggly black bubbles and scribbles that seemed to make pretty designs inside my eyelids while repeating those words over until I fell asleap. It worked so well I used it often to help me fall asleep, and still do sometimes, but without the need to say, "blank, blank." I just watch those same squiggly, tan and black seemingly swimming designs with my eyes closed.


That Fall I began ninth grade, High School. There were two grades together all taking the same subjects, throughout high school, because there were so few kids.






















































Create Your Own Website With Webador