Jill of all Trades, Master at None

gram mThis morning , Gram Martin saw me down by the pond and called me. I thought she might need some chores done but she called me over to sit next to her on the big porch. She told me she heard I won first prize in the poetry department in the Portland Sunday paper. She said she was very proud of me and then she really surprised me! How would you like to take over for me and write the local news for the Advertiser-Democrat, she asked. Well, I just drew in my breath and said, I can’t do that, Grammy, I don’t know what to write about. Well she assured me that she would help me find the news and then I would get the free newspaper and when I got through reading it, I could pass it on to her.

I love reading and I love writing, but after all I am not that old. Grammy kept patting my hand and telling me all I have to remember is to use a pencil and write on the lined copy paper that the paper sends to her free. She went into her bedroom and returned with a big stack of black lined paper and on the top , it said Advertiser-Democrat Norway Maine.

Well I have been feeling pretty important since then. Ma is coming in the yard now from getting some groceries at Vallee’s store so I am hoping she will agree to my writing for the paper. What are you up to, young lady, is the first thing she asks, so I know she can read my face like a book. I explain about Gram wanting me to write for the paper and without a hitch, puts her grocery bag on the cupboard and said, well, that’s good practice for you. But don’t you start and then get tired of it. Once you start , there is no stopping because your grandmother will not get her paper. I show her the copy paper and she smiles so I think she might be a little proud that I am going to gather the news around Greenwood Center..well, along with Gram’s help.

By the way, Ma says, I have a job offer for you if you want it. Another job offer and this one might pay, I am thinking! Do you want to babysit Flossie and Stan Seames’ two kids while they work in the mill? Pays $12 a week, Floss says. Sure, why not, I thought.

Well, here it is, Monday morning and 6:30 a.m.  Oh, boy, my eyes are half open but Dad stops the car and I walk up the little hill to Stan and Flossie’s house. It is a little house with a porch and sits up by the woods. I like it already. There’s a big rock in front of the house with flowers growing near it. Flossie tells me when the kids have their naps and shows me what to give them for lunch at noon. She asks me if I can make curls like Shirley Temple with Evvie’s hair. Evvie is four and I am not sure how she will like me fooling with her hair and a rat tail comb every morning.  Raymond is six and he is very quiet but has a cute little grin. Stan asks me if I mind stirring something in the back room in a tub once in the forenoon and once in the middle of the afternoon and tells me there is a paddle there to stir it with and I say sure.

Wow, for my first babysitting job, these kids are angels. Evvie sits through her curling job every morning and Raymond is always busy playing with his toys. Come noon, we all have lunch and when I tell them it is nap time, off they go with no argument.  Charlotte Cole lives right next door in a little house, but she works at the mill, so we don’t see anyone all day.

The summer has gone really well and it is almost time for me to end the baby sitting job. I am thinking about a few of the things we have done. One day at noon, we decided to open the can of spaghettios that Flossie had left.  Well, I put the old hand can opener to it and it exploded. Spaghetti everywhere, on me, on the counter, in fact some went up on the ceiling. Raymond and Evvie laughed as hard as I did. I got up in a chair and Raymond handed me some wet cloths so we had everything cleaned up by the time their parents came home. One day while they were taking a nap, I decided to surprise Flossie and made a chocolate cake with a recipe that I found. It turned out really good and she was so pleased and said it helped her so much. And remember all this time I am stirring Stan’s project in the back room twice a day. That was the cause of the only arguing that Raymond and Evvie ever did and I resolved that. They watched as I took the paddle each time and stirred the big tub of liquid around and around…but each time, they both wanted to lick the paddle. Well, neither would give in, so finally I told them that one could lick it in the morning and the other in the afternoon. I guess a lick of home brew never hurt …if it is one lick a day !  No more arguing!!!  I am going to miss those kids so much!!

Gram checks in with me with the news of their visitors and any other news that comes her way. She makes sure I mail it in time for the paper to get it printed and is really proud of the way I am writing so nice and clear as she has not had any complaints from them. She says this gives her more time to do other things like work on her quilts and knit hats and mittens for all the grandchildren.

Well, it seems like I have had quite the summer. I am not sure I wrote everything correctly and timely and not sure I did the babysitting right, but that $12 came in handy when it came to buying my school things!!!

Traipsing Behind

dad1My mother says I am just like my father. Once in awhile she will say you’re your father’s daughter that’s for sure. Usually it is when I get in trouble or my sense of humor gets me in trouble, I should say. She says I am always “traisping behind” him and I guess that is true. Sometimes we both get in trouble together.

I think sometimes Dad woke up one morning and realized he had four kids and didn’t know what to do with them. He seemed befuddled what to do, so he took to the outdoors and if one of us wanted to join him in what he was doing, well, that was just fine with him.  I can barely remember Ma being off somewhere one day and Dad had to go to town for kerosene. Well, I was about four years old and he couldn’t leave me alone, so I sat in the front seat looking out pretty proudly as we motored up the little road. All went well until we were back in the door yard and Dad went to open the door for me…well, you know I thought I was a pretty big person and could open it myself. Somewhere our signals got crossed and Dad shut the door on my little finger. Well I let out a wail that would put coyotes to shame. Dad had no clue what to do, so he got back in the car and we rode up and down the road to Locke Mills forever and he kept pointing out ducks and birds and people’s houses until I stopped crying. He finally told Ma that night and she rushed over and looked over my fingers and said Beryl Martin, that girl will have a crooked finger the rest of her life.

Well, now I am twelve and Ma was right about that. The finger is crooked but not so you’d notice it unless you point it out and I am not about to do that.

One day Dad asked me to go trout fishing with him on Twitchell Pond. I don’t fish. I keep Dad company as he runs the little motor on Uncle Louis’s boat at a really slow speed. His fish line dangles out and he is hoping for a brown trout. One day we were on the back side of the pond and he pointed out Nick’s point to me and Johnny Howe’s camp and Eichel’s camp. It is strange to see the camps up really close when you are used to seeing them from our door yard on the other side of the pond.

The hawks were screaming around Rowe’s Ledge and I asked Dad how far up “Pie Rock” was. Well, there is this rock on the side of the ledge that looks just like a piece of pie. Well, he says, Muff, do you want to hike up there. I thought he was kidding, but he cut the motor and we drifted into Brooks’ beach. Off we went. Dad went ahead and held back some of the alder bushes so they wouldn’t whip me in the face and we climbed and climbed. Finally he looked back and said, well here we are. I was truly disappointed. I thought “Pie Rock” was a magic place and there was nothing but a scraggily little pine tree growing out of a crack in the rock and some moss here and there and twigs. I think Dad saw how disappointed I was, because he said, look over the pond. Well, then I turned around and oh, what a beautiful sight that was. It was like I could see forever and the little brown speck was Wagner’s camp on the far side of the pond. It was magic after all!!

We sat down for awhile to catch our breath and I noticed the pitch on my pants and shirt and dirt on my arms. Ma would not be too thrilled with that.

Finally Dad said we had better start back before Ma got worried. it was sure easier going down! We went across the pond directly home and Ma said she never knew Twitchell Pond was so dirty!  I figured I would let Dad tell her we hiked up to “Pie Rock”.

Well, I have to say that I have learned a lot from Dad, even though it might not be too useful. He told me if I caught any perch off my rock, that I would have to clean them. So one day, I came home with a stringer full and he found a flat rock and said, go to it, Muff. Well, I liked catching them but not too sure about cleaning them. He showed me how to clean the first one and after that gave me his knife and left me to do the rest. The first one was quite a test, but after awhile it came natural and I finished cleaning the perch. 

Ma told me that night it was a nice mess of fish to have for supper. Dad cleared his throat to make sure he was heard and said, I think she will make a pretty good Maine guide some day. That was when Ma gave Dad “the look” and told him he had three sons he could work on for that and her daughter was not going to be herding men through the woods just because she was traipsing behind him all the time.

Dad grinned and tapped his foot, took a sip of his coffee and Ma knew he had got her again.

Zippety Doo Dah

IMG_0672It is a Sunday afternoon and the summer sun is warm and lazy in the sky.  Curt and I have run out of things to do, or so it seems.  He is five years old and I am nine. We have rolled the old car tires on the road all morning and and just tired of trying to think of other things to take up the day.

Ma looks as though she is tired as well. We have taken the clothes off the line and brought them in and folded what we don’t have to iron. It is too hot to start the wood stove and heat up the iron today. My cousin, Vance is visiting at Gram Martin’s but I think they have company , so don’t want to go there and intrude.

Would you like to go to the movies? I cannot believe that Ma just said that. Dad is out on Twitchell Pond fishing and the car is sitting in the yard. We have never been to the movies ..not ever. I ask her if Vance can go with us and she says it is fine with her if his grandmother says so.

We all pile into the car and to Bethel we go!  Ma says there is a special movie for kids called “Song of the South” which should be something we like. I am a little scared, because I have never been to the Bethel Theater before and not sure what to do. Ma says not to worry and that she will take care of every thing. She says she can only afford one container of popcorn so we have to share.

Curt takes my hand and I know he is scared, too. Vance walks with Ma and they go up to the ticket window. She buys three children and one adult ticket. There is a big man standing there and what a wonderful smile he has!  Ma tells us later that his name is Freddie Grover. Well, he certainly is very friendly and I don’t feel scared any more.

There are rows and rows of red plush velvet seats and we sit near the back. First on come the news reel and it is in black and white and tells us all that is going on in the world. Then there are the comics which the screen says are “Short Subjects”. We laugh and laugh and the movie has not even begun.

The movie is magic. Uncle Remus sings in it and others sing and I have never seen anything like it. The time goes so fast, that before I know it, the movie is over. The magic is gone! Ma gets us all up and we go to the car and my head is still spinning. I can see she enjoyed it as well. Maybe it was for kids, but it was a change from her work at home and at the mill.

All the way home, I sing Zippety Doo Dah, Zippety yay or something like that. I couldn’t get all the words but I knew the tune. Ma says if we are good all week and Dad goes fishing again, maybe we can go next Sunday. I guess she enjoyed it more than I thought. What is the movie next week, Ma? She says it is a musical with Doris Day and Gordon McRae and she likes musicals. So do I!!  Curt is not sure he wants to go to that and Vance says he will be gone by next Sunday. Well maybe Ma and I will go together.  She tells me that she does not like the movies with the fighting and blood and all and says there is enough of that in the news without it being in a movie.

I think she was talking about the time that Dad wanted to treat Uncle Louis and took him to his very first picture show. It was “Sands of Iwo Jima” starring John Wayne and Dad talked about it for a week and said that Uncle Louis almost popped his eyes right out of his head when he saw the big screen. Ma said she had heard enough about the war without living it all over again. Maybe that is why she decided we would go to a happy movie. I hope we go again. I didn’t know the magic in a movie at the Bethel Theater.

I bet I will be singing Zippity Doo Dah all week when I roll the tire down the tarred road, want to bet?

Hunting Season

huntersOh, the drab days of November. I have always hated this month except for Thanksgiving. The trees look like little skeletal fingers reaching out and could look creepy, if one lets his imagination run wild.

But there is excitement in the house. Dad and my brothers are excited for days before the first day of the month. Hunting season is coming and if you are any one at all, you have a rifle and the month of November is Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled into one. I don’t know why I can’t get excited about it.

We can sure use the meat and there is nothing like a good piece of deer meat when it is tender and fried just right, like only Ma can do. It is evening and there are at least three cars in the driveway. I sit over in the corner by the wood box while the men gather around the table with Dad to plan some strategy for getting a deer. I hear words like Overset Pond, Furlong Pond, up the Ames Road and cross over to Spruce Mountain. I have no idea where some of these places are, but it seems that they know the whole mountains like the back of their hands. At least, I know my Dad does and he is kind of  the captain of this hunting team, I gather.

Ma has a new glass percolator and Dad keeps going to the stove and getting it to top off the coffee mugs steaming there on the table. Smoke wafts off cigarettes burning down in ashtrays, so concentrated are the men studying the hand drawn map that Dad has laid out for them. There are those who will be drivers and those who will wait in certain positions for the deer to come by.

Dad is showing more enthusiasm than usual as he takes the glass percolator back to the stove and does a little clog along the kitchen floor. He miscalculates and hits the front of the wood stove with a clang. Ma makes a deep gasp as she has run a Popular Club Plan at the mill to get this treasure. The percolator doesn’t break, but Ma tells him she will be glad to get them coffee any time they need it. She gives Dad the look that says if he had broken it, there would have been drastic action right there.

I don’t participate in the hunting season at all. Shooting the .22 just once was enough for me and if we did not need the meat, I would hate to see the deer shot…that is just the way I am.

It is morning and the hunters all gathered and left at daybreak. If Dad gets a deer, he will be home soon and we will all run to the car to see what he has. I know he shot a ten point buck once over behind Nick’s Point, he said.

After he gets one, he goes up to Locke Mills and tags it and then he comes home and the others help him rope it up in the apple tree by our house. Within a few days, he dresses it and gives meat to all those in the hunting party. He always says who ever shoots a deer , must eat a piece of raw liver in the woods. Now I say that is gross and don’t believe that he makes them do it, but knowing my Dad and his wanting to be a frontiersman, maybe he does. I don’t know and don’t want to know.

After he dresses it out, he drives what we call railroad spikes in the side of the house and it is so cold, he hangs the quarters on the spikes high enough so the neighborhood dogs cannot get to them. When we want meat for supper, Ma gets out the fry pan and he takes his hunting knife, goes out, cuts off slabs and brings them in to her. We don’t have electricity but the cold air keeps it frozen stiff.

Dad can always tell by how the deer meat tastes whether it has eaten a lot of acorns or whatever deer eat. Sometimes he thinks it is a little bitter, but we eat it anyway. Ma made mincemeat once out of the neck and other pieces and that was delicious.

The only time Ma gets upset is when she fixes Thanksgiving dinner and the boys and Dad are late in coming to eat. Sometimes they are on the track of a deer or seen one that has been wounded so they are tracking.

Ma goes hunting once in awhile and is a good shot, they tell me. I guess I am the last hold out. I don’t think I can ever shoot an animal or even shoot a gun for fun.  Curt says he thinks he will when he gets old enough. I tell him good, when I am old and married, he can bring me deer meat. He told me not to count on it.

Well, fishing season and honey bee season is over, I guess Dad has to find something outdoors to keep him happy, and there is nothing that brings a big smile on his face than a dusting of tracking snow on a November morning. That is a good thing!

* Picture: L-R, Beryl,Ethel, Rex Martin, Joe Cole, Roland Martin with the five deer they shot one year..

Bees, Back Roads and Bullets

dad1Sometimes being the only girl in a house full of kids is hard. Ma says I will never be a girl, but a tom boy all my life. I am twelve and I am thinking she is right. There is one thing I do not like and that is hunting. Hunting is fine because we use the meat and Lord knows, with six people in this little house and food costing so much, we can use all the meat that is hunted. Just don’t ask me to even think about it. Dad has been hinting that a good time to get used to handling a gun is around twelve and I think he has glanced at me a couple times. Well, let me tell you, I do not want any part of a gun.

But Dad is insisting that maybe, just maybe, I could become a good hunter. Well, you just don’t talk back to your parents, so you just keep quiet and hope he forgets about it. This Saturday morning, he has taken the .22 off the gun rack and wants me to come outside in the chilly October air. He tells me he wants to show me how to hold the gun. I can do that. He puts the gun in my arms and shows me the correct way to point it and when not in use, the barrel to the ground. I am willing to do that. Then he puts a bullet in it and tells me to aim and pull the trigger. No, Dad, I just do not want to do that. Just once, he says, aim at that birch tree. Oh, Lord, help me. I don’t even like the sound of a gun, but I will try.  I put the rifle to my shoulder, squint one eye, look through what he just pointed out is a sight and squeeze the trigger. Well, he lets out a whoop you would not believe. I have hit the tree. Well, who couldn’t hit something that big a few feet away I thought. I hand him back the rifle and tell him that maybe another day I will try again. I don’t think so, but maybe I can help in some other of his hobbies and believe me, Dad has a few.

He loves to line honey bees. It is quite an art, actually. He sets up some pans and I don’t know exactly what he does, but the bees come and get his offerings and off they fly and he times them and watches what direction they fly. Now my Dad should have been a frontiersman because he loves everything outdoors. He puts his hands right in the middle of the bees. This morning I just stood a foot away and he motioned me to come over and took my hand and put it right square in the middle of the bees. See, he says, they won’t hurt you if you don’t crush them. Well, crushing is the last thing on this mind I can tell you. I know after the first frost, Dad will have everything timed right out and know exactly where the bee honey is and we will go and dip some. Well, I will go if Ma says I can. Time will tell. He is thinking it is up on the Ames Road.

The Ames Road is just another one of those back roads around Greenwood that are so much fun to ride on. The car kicks up the dirt and if Dad drives slow enough, we can see different birds on tree branches even. One road I like is the Martin Road and once in a blue moon, we ride up to Irving Martin’s farm. It is usually a door yard call but it is so much fun to see the old gnarled apple trees down in the side yard. We drive by an old cemetery and I wonder about the people in there.

Sometimes Dad takes us as far as the road goes up toward Sheepskin Bog when we leave Mr. Martin’s farm, but usually he turns around if the rocks are too big in the road. He says it isn’t worth losing an oil pan over.

But back to the bees. The nights are getting colder and every morning the grass is crisp with white and I know that the honey is ready. Dad is ready. I love to get the honeycomb. Ma agrees I can go this year but adds if I get stung, it is my own fault for wanting to follow my father around. He brings a friend and off we start for the Ames Road. Armed with flashlights, we leave the car and walk a short distance and sure enough! Dad shines a light up the tree and there is a big old bunch of honeycomb and honey just dripping almost. I am getting chilly as I really don’t have a good warm winter coat but the excitement is keeping me warm enough. Dad makes me stay in the car so I have no idea what is happening. He and his friend have two pails and they dip honey and some comb and leave a lot at the site. Dad puts the pails on the floor in the back seat and tells me it was worth the time he put into lining them and it would sure taste good. We drive home and into the driveway and as I start to get out, there is something crawling under my sock. Oh, no! A sharp sting and I know I did not get away free. Ma will have a fit probably .

Dad and his friend tell Ma about the honey and show her. She is excited as she likes it in tea and uses it in cooking too. She looks at me and asks if I am ok and I have to tell her I have one sting. I have to sit down. She sighs, goes to the cupboard and takes down the box of baking soda. Pretty soon, she swirls a bit of water into it and makes a paste and swabs it on the sting. I am glad Ma knows so much about medicine and pain killers for sure this time!!

I don’t like bullets and guns, but I sure do like night time adventures with Dad and well, those back roads..I sure wish there were more of them!

Summer Fun

cloudOur little neighborhood is kind of a sleepy place to live until summer arrives and Twitchell Pond is a sparkling blue again in the sun. As soon as school is over in June, the summer people , as we call them, slowly filter in to their camps. 

I am ten years old, so there is not much I can do except take care of Curt while my parents are working. In a couple of years I think I can find a job baby sitting.

Mr. Kenyon has sold his cottage across the road to Mike and Minna Jacobs. They come from Massachusetts and stay for most the summer, although Mr. Jacobs works for Scott Paper and travels to Philadelphia quite often. The camp  across from Grammy Martin’s is called the Wagner camp and is owned by Dick Wagner, I think, but Babe and Benny Hoos come most of the time. I think they are all related somehow.  We don’t really have much in common with them and usually Dad hauls us off to Indian Pond when he finds it way too much to deal with, as he says.

On Friday, I put my Grit bag on, with the big words in red, GRIT , on the side and deliver one to Grammy and Grampa Martin across the field. Then I start the walk up the “flat” to deliver to Laura Seames and past Uncle Elmer’s house to Stan and Flossie Seames.  I keep walking and my legs get tired. Everyone is very nice to me, so I think they know that it is a long walk. When I get to Dan Cole’s white farmhouse, I start up the Rowe Hill Road and start walking the road down behind Twitchell Pond to deliver to Hollis ( Hollie) Cushman. I like him very much and he is always pleased to see me. He makes me sit down and visit a little while and it does give my legs a rest. He asks me how my folks are and I tell him they are still working at the mill. He always tells me to make sure and tell my Dad to come visit him.

I have only had one mishap on my Grit route and that was because I got scared. When I first started the route, I was on the road behind the pond and suddenly, this animal came out of the woods. I had never seen anything like it. It was the size of a hedgehog but it wasn’t. It wasn’t a skunk or I would certainly have known that! It kept looking at me; I kept looking at it and it wasn’t moving. I turned around and walked way home. That time it was a Saturday and I described it to Dad. He said it had to be a possum and usually you don’t see them. He said it was nothing to be scared about and he would take the Grit to Hollie and go visit.  Sometimes I wish I had never taken the Grit route from Rex when he wanted to give it up, but then I would not have seen so many nice people.

Someone has spread the word that the Case family has come for the summer to their cottage above the Seames homes and they are throwing the big party for the neighborhood. They do this almost every year. They have a stage they have built and so we have music and food and it is lots of fun. Ma and Dad don’t go but they let us go. The Cole family is very talented, so Lillian and Charlotte Cole get on stage and sing in harmony. I like to hear them sing “Wintertime in Maine”. It is so pretty, but I am glad it is NOT winter! Irving gets up and sings too.  There are a lot of people I don’t know who get up and sing all evening long and there are long poles in the ground with lights burning.  The food is delicious, but I am shy, so only take a little bit of salad on my plate and sit on a stump in the corner of the yard and eat with my little plastic spoon and tap my toe to the music.  I think it is so nice that these “summer folks” want to have us come to their beautiful cottage and have such a good time.

My Aunt Vi and her husband, Harold have moved  from Connecticut and live with Grammy and Grampa and Louis across the field.  I went over one day and Aunt Vi was on the porch trying to unpack all her boxes. I hope she understands that we have to come and get our drinking water every day. There is still that huge hole in the water tank where the lightning followed the water pipe down from the spring in the pasture and came right into Gram’s kitchen. It still scares me to see it. But I was telling you about Aunt Vi unpacking. She smiled and said I bet I have something you would like. She took out a kewpie doll with pink feathers on it and it was on the end of a long stick. I was so pleased and ran all the way home with it. I have it on my side of the attic and it makes me happy just to look at it.

It seems strange to have different people at Grammie’s now, but I still go over and help Uncle Louis sharpen his axe with the grindstone and peek over the side of the pig sty to see how big that thing is getting. I don’t like pigs. All they do is grunt and wallow.  Uncle Louis piles the winter wood in the shed as he cuts it and you should see it! Every stick is placed just so and it looks like a great creation when he is done. I like to look at it and in the winter when he shovels the long hill driveway, it looks like he has cut a big piece out of a huge white cake. There is not a crumb of snow left in the driveway.

Summer can be sleepy here in Greenwood Center, but there are lots of happy things if you know where to look…and if you have a fish pole and a can of worms, too!

Let the Music Begin

blogAnother Saturday morning and I pull myself out of bed and look out the little window in the attic. The leaves are beginning to turn and many have fallen to the ground. Halloween is over and for the first time ever, Ma told me to go with Curt so he could trick or treat. We went to Grammy Martin’s and got a big fat cookie and then to Gracie and Charlie Day’s house where we got a shiny apple. Those were the two places we were allowed to visit and that was enough with the cold night air!

I have to dress warmly because Dad will be taking me to Grammy Ring’s for my piano lesson. Ever since we went to Sunday school at their farm on Rowe Hill, I have wanted to learn to play. She makes it look so easy. I am surprised that Dad is willing to take me, because this past summer I have been in trouble more than once.

Rex and I had one day when we just squabbled all day. Ma kept telling us to “straighten out or else” and we would for a little while and then something else would get us started all over again. Finally we ended up in the front yard throwing our shoes at each other, if you can imagine. I am a little ashamed, thinking about it. Well, at that point out she came and told us to march into the house and sit in the chairs until she told us we could move. Rex did just that but I started running for the road. She yelled at me and told me I had to come home some time and when I did, the chair would be waiting. I don’t know what got into me. I just walked around the neighborhood and ended up sitting on my favorite fishing rock on the other side of Wagner’s camp for about an hour. When I went home, Ma was busy and didn’t even look up. She probably figured it was just another day at the Martin house.

Oh, Lord, and the unscheduled ride Rex and I took in the door yard. Dad’s friend, Toivo Lehto, came to visit with his son. Well, he has a mighty fine looking car and his son wanted to show us the inside, so the three of us jumped in to look it over. We knew better. You just don’t go jumping in other people’s cars. I don’t know what got into us. Ma was in the house and Toivo and Dad were walking around the outside paying no attention. Well, Toivo’s son put the car in gear and we started rolling backwards. I swear I felt my eyes getting bigger and bigger. Toivo and Dad came running as the car slowed to a stop. Toivo grabbed his son by the shoulder and shook him good and Dad just told us to get out and go in the house. His voice was very low and gravely so I figured he was plenty mad.

I also did something awful with my pet rooster. I forgot to tell you I have a pet rooster..well, now he is at Grampa Libby’s for the winter as there is no place for him to roost here. But he rode around on my shoulder all summer. Well, Curt is very afraid of birds. He does not like chickens , roosters, or any birds. One day I was mean and chased him with the rooster perched on my shoulder. Chased him way to the main road and boy, he told Ma that night. I got a real tongue lashing. I think that is why the rooster went early to my grandfather’s. Oh, well.

Well, today is piano lesson day and maybe both Ma and Dad think a little music will do me good and keep me out of trouble.  Here we go again, up to Dan Cole’s farm, hang a right and up the mountain to the top and down the other side til we get to Grammy Ring’s.

Grammy tells Dad to come back in an hour, seats me at the piano, points out my lesson in the beginner’s book and goes to her kitchen where she is baking. I will hear you playing and if I hear something that is wrong, I will be right in here, she always says. I have mastered this piece of music pretty well. I hate the finger exercises..up and down, up and down…drives me crazy but I love Grammy Ring and she is so sweet to teach me.

It is over an hour and Dad has not returned, so I sit and visit with Grammy. She tells me I have done very well and she sees that I improve each week. Ah, there is Dad and I pile into the front seat with him. He is grinning as we drive past the Sumner place to the top of the hill and says, well what did you play today, Muff? I can play The Peach Blossom Waltz from start to finish and no mistakes. Dad chuckles and says, well you must be doing pretty good. I have never seen him so excited about my music.

Into the yard we drive and it seems he is driving faster than usual. Come on, Muff, he says. He opens the door and what do I see in the corner of the kitchen. A huge church organ sitting in the corner of our kitchen!!!! Look at the pedals to pump and the stops…oh, the sounds that will come out of that. Where did you get it, Dad? Never mind, it was $5 and I want to hear you play. Ma is saying nothing but kind of shaking her head . I know she feels that a church organ in the corner of the kitchen is the last thing she needs to walk around. Sit down and play, Muff. Well I know lots of songs in my head and there are no pieces of music to read, so I figure I will just have to listen to the notes and play. Dad likes anything that is harmony, so I play a couple of songs I have heard him play on the guitar. The music is in my head so it comes out my fingers and this is so much more fun than watching those tiny little black notes.  Ma finally speaks up and says that I should only play when I have music and not play “by ear.” I tell her it is more fun this way. She sighs, shakes her head again and goes back to baking.

Suddenly, she turns and says if the organ is there, where are we putting the Christmas tree this year? Dad takes a drink of coffee, taps his foot and says, Ethel, you worry too much. When Christmas comes, we will put the organ in the other room.

I can’t believe I have my own musical instrument and I don’t care if it is an old church organ or not. It has its own bench and I fit on it perfectly.  I don’t know where it came from, I don’t know how Dad managed to get it in the house and probably it is better that I don’t.

I always figure a house is not a house without music.