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Old 03-12-2014, 03:53 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Sarzana,Italy
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Default The Farm 1938

I am a very fortunate man
I have seen kerosene lamps lighting the farmhouse where I was raised.There I listened to Peter and the Wolf played on a hand crank record player,listened to the news of the Second World War. Rode to town in a model T Ford, stood in the school yard and pledged my allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. I have known and lost loves, made and lost a small fortune more than once, lived homeless and dined in restaurants with no price on the menu. I would not change one thing that I have experienced in my seventy five years of living. This post that you are starting to read is quite long; consequently I have broken it down into two parts. It is written it in hopes that my experiences may be of value to others.
CHAPTER 1: The Farm 1938
Two women that were standing over me were talking about me. I felt shame as they examined my naked body. I recall the smell of Lysol evaporating from the tub of warm water that my great Aunt Lillian and my Grandmother, her sister Hazel had prepared. They had removed the urine soaked cloth covering the sores that extended from my waist to my knees. They then washed me, covered me with ointment and wrapped a clean white cloth around my waist, then put me in a white iron crib in the corner of the bedroom where my Great Aunt Lillian slept with her daughter Eva.
One night Eva started screaming when her father Andrew came into the room. Eva’s screams awoke me and I could see him hitting my aunt and dragging her from the bed towards his bedroom.
I could see them fighting like black shadows in the backlight coming from Andrew’s open bedroom door. From my crib I could see everything: Eva standing on the bed screaming; Andrew pulling my aunt by her hair towards the open door, raising his hand and slapping her; Her silently resisting, holding onto the top of her nightgown.
I started screaming and crying as they disappeared from my sight and the door closed and I was alone in the dark. After a while Eva came to my crib and let the side down. I was still crying loudly as she climbed up beside me. We sat there in the dark holding onto each other, Eva repeating, “Shush, shush now.” until I stopped crying.
When Auntie came back into the room she picked me up and held me in her arms and told me not to cry as she took me into her big bed. “Don’t cry Joey, God will take care of us” and I fell asleep.
It was the first time I slept in a big bed and the closest I have ever come to feeling maternal love.
Great aunt Lillian was all to me. She was my protector, my educator and the mother I had not yet known, she was a tall, once beautiful, woman who the hard life on a New Hampshire farm had made into a woman of the earth.
At nighttime I would sit in my crib and watch Eva brush, then braid, then wind her mother´s hair into a bun and pin it with a tortoise shell comb.
When I was bigger, Auntie would let me brush it for her. “Always 100 strokes, no more, no less Joey” she would tell me, and we would count each stroke together. “Ninety-eight,” she would say. And how many do we have left Joey? “Only two more to go Auntie.” You are a good boy Joey.
I do not know at what age I arrived at that farmhouse nor how I got there, but I remember the farm very well, as it was my home for eight years.
It was a large white two story building with green trim around the south and east sun porch windows. It was set upon a foundation of fieldstone that had been picked up from the 160 acres that surrounded Andrew’s farm. There were four rooms on the main floor, two separate bedrooms. One was for Andrew, the other for my Aunt Lillian, Eva and me. The upstairs of the farmhouse had four large bedrooms, all with washbasins and chamber pots. To this day I remember the smell of those pretty porcelain chamber pots as I would empty them into a slop bucket and carry it down the stairs to dump into the toilet.



It had a kitchen and a large dining room containing a long wooden table where we would all eat the evening’s meals .This room also served as a place to listen about the war in Europe and The Pacific over the radio and a parlor for family and guests.
The entrance to that dining room was through the busy hot kitchen which was always filled with the aroma of roasted venison, chicken, pork, and soups.
Pies, breads and muffins were baked every day in the wood-fired Majestic stove.
Each morning from the stone lined well, Aunt Lillian would draw water with a gray hand pump, build a fire with kindling and start the morning coffee, then fix school lunches for her three sons Andrew, Carl, and Bob and prepare breakfast for all before the roosters would begin to crow.
The kitchen contained a gasoline powered Maytag washer which stood by a window where the stinky and toxic fumes would be exhausted outside by a flexible metal hose. A small square green table for breakfast was placed against one wall with the chairs hung on wooden pegs from the wall. In a corner close to the stove and wood box was a large oak butter churn where I would sit cranking the handle watching the beaters turn the cream to froth then to golden flakes. My arms would tire as the large nuggets would form. “Auntie, what will happen if I turn the crank backwards?” I asked.
Turning from the concrete sink and the large pressure cooker full of kidney beans for lunch, she said, “If you do that all the butter will turn back into cream, Joey.” Weary armed I would keep cranking until I had a large lump of butter.

There were two doors exiting the kitchen. One led to the large pair of cut granite blocks that served as entry steps.
The other one led to the pantry, which was stocked with sacks of flour, salt, and sugar. Coffee, tea, spices and lard was kept in tins. Its shelves were lined with canned fruit and berry preserves along with cooked vegetables and meats in Mason jars
It had wide wooden counters upon which breads, pastries, cakes and pies were always being made by Eva and Aunt Lillian. It was the heart of the farmhouse and was my favorite room.
Walking through the pantry, you would find other stairs, following those that led up; you would enter ballroom with dusty maple wood floors where at one time music and guests would mingle. It had been abandoned since the Great Depression. There, in one corner of the ballroom, was a small gabled room that I was forbidden to enter.
It was the armory and contained many guns and swords, and a wonderful collection of model airplanes hanging from the ceiling. They belonged to Andy who was in the army fighting the Germans in the war to end all wars.
The other stairs that went down led to the woodshed where huge piles of oak, birch, ash, and other woods were neatly stacked for drying. All to be fed to the kitchen stove and the monster furnace that sat in a small stone walled room in the basement .Then there was the root cellar that containing the kegs of salt pork, smoked hams, bags of burlap full of Russet potatoes, mounds of straw and earth covering carrots, cabbages, and turnips that would see the Guinesso family, a half dozen foster children and a hired hand through the quiet and cold New Hampshire winter.
Going from the woodshed and to the right, there led a stone walkway to the toilet and its unforgettable smell. Its seat was made of a single wooden plank with three well polished holes cut into it – two large and one small for the children. A can of lye sat next to the old catalogs that we used for toilet paper.
Past the wooden toilet door with a half moon cut into it for light, this corridor continued...It passed by bridles, harnesses and rows of tools hanging from spikes driven in the walls. It ended at the ice house and a large ice-filled cooler in which bobbed silvery metal jugs full of rich whole milk which provided money to maintain the Farm.
The icehouse was built of thick hand sawn planks insulated with the sawdust to keep the precious ice, harvested every winter from Lake Massabesic
. That ice once stored, served as refrigeration for the milk, meat and the household icebox. The icehouse door was closed and locked to guard against anyone leaving it open and I had been warned not to go in there.
Beyond it was the huge red barn with the stalls for the animals. On one side were the stalls for the gentle enormous draft horses named Dolly and Molly.
On the other side, the stanchions of the many dairy cattle and a large brown and white Jersey bull with a shiny brass ring in his nose. How I tortured the animal by whacking its balls with a stick Above the stanchions and stalls were the floors of the hayloft where the sweet red clover hay when cut and dried; would be use to feed the animals through the winter. I love playing in the loft and it was one of my favorite places to hide when I got into trouble.
In the barn were grain bins full of oats for Dolly and Molly and the mice. There was dried corn which was fed sparingly to all the chickens, ducks and geese and turkeys that wandered around the farmyard. Several black and tan hunting hounds were chained to small houses nearby where they could remain warm and dry when the bitter winter settled in.
Lastly there was the collie dog that was allowed to enter the kitchen but had to sleep out at night. She slept in the crawl space by the wood shed under the porch. Her name was Lassie and she was my best companion and friend.
The end part one
PS, As my wife was preparing tax forms she told me that I had made ten dollars royalties from the sale of my book. I have no idea who you are that bought a copy but I thank you.
Here are a couple of new paintings to brighten your day.
Attached Images
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"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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