A FARM BOY'S TREASURY OF MEMORIES
April 25, 2016
It has been said "Bloom where you are planted". There is much to be cherished from this saying as are the memories of experiences. Memories serve as a treasury on which to build hopeful possibilities. I believe we are forever being molded by life’s blossoming experiences.
A dairy/ vegetable farm was the setting. The four seasons of the year determined the course of daily events during those Depression years of the 1930's. The scene was a farm house and dairy barn surrounded by farm acreage, tucked away in the picturesque rolling Boston hills of western New York. A glimpse over the hills of the western horizon would often display the glistening sunset streaming across the clear Lake Erie waters. That was my childhood homestead. Other farm families were our neighbors and when in need, they were always there!
We were a family of five: Mom, Dad, my older sister and brother, and I... the youngest. We each had our jobs to do. For the most part, my mother was in charge of the household duties and my Dad managed the farm chores. But, each of the five of us was busy with both house and farm; there never was a dull moment.
Rural electricity had not as yet come to our area. Kerosene lamps and lanterns provided light for both house and barn. And wood served as the source of fuel for the kitchen stove and living room heater. A battery operated radio and newspaper provided the news, the weather forecast, and the farm market report. These two media sources, along with "word of mouth" from neighbors served as our chief source of news.
Daily milking chores...morning and evening... were done by hand, and milk cooling was in a cold water bath. The farm tools were powered by the team of horses named Doll and Jim; they were almost a part of the family. In fact, when I could get away with it (I can now admit it), I would give each an extra measure of grain. Our 500 chickens provided eggs for the family and market. Cleaning the barn and the chicken house was a daily task.
The season of the year determined the daily farm tasks: Spring was fence mending, getting the soil ready for planting, and sowing the seeds. During the summer season there was weeding and cultivating, hay mowing and gathering, and harvesting of peas, beans, and cucumbers. The autumn season was the major season for harvesting potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, and grain. Winter was major tool repair, sorting potatoes for market, and barn repairs. Of course, for the three family youngsters, attending school at the one-room school house was in season, three of the four seasons of the year.
Our Mom had a schedule as well, with the various household tasks. On Sunday evenings, water was put into the laundry wash boiler and placed on top of the kitchen stove. Monday was laundry day in the hand- operated washer and hand ringer. In fair weather, the laundry was hung on clotheslines in the out –of- doors. Tuesday was clothes ironing day with the use of flatirons heated on the top of the kitchen stove. Wednesday was sowing and mending day. On Thursdays, major tasks were cleaning the floors, wallpapering, quilt making, curtain cleaning, and rug making. Friday was the day for house cleaning and Saturdays were always reserved for homemade baking days. During the harvest season... home canning of fruits, vegetables, jam and jelly... was a major undertaking. Much of the food we ate was produced on the farm, and preserved for use during the long winter months.
These are just a few of memory glimpses of my early boyhood days. I realize that many ways of doing things have changed over the years. But these memories are far more than just a passing thought. They are remembrances I take pride in sharing with others. You know, we are here where we are today, because of past yesterdays. You see, we are like a lump of clay in the hands of the Creator; we are forever being molded by the many memorable experiences of yesteryears. Indeed, a bouquet of blossomed memories can't help but last a lifetime.
As an end note: Some of these fond past memories are in effect in our home even today. My wife Elaine continues the past practice of canning and preserving fruits, vegetables, jams and jellies. She enjoys hanging laundry out of doors and ironing most of that which is laundered .And, she takes great pride in embroidery work for our grandchildren such as tablecloths and pillow cases. Elaine enjoys touch-up paining of woodwork, a bit of wallpapering, and washing and hanging of curtains ( but for me, the hanging part is like "ugg"!). However, thank goodness there are some things that never change. They are a treasure!