It is on those nights when sleep eludes and my mind is like a hamster on his wheel that I let it go up and down the “tarred” road of the little hamlet where I grew up. Perhaps it is because I know, in time, I will fall asleep in the midst of an old memory.
I start my journey at Dan Cole’s farm which, from my very first memory, I identified as the mile marker from our home. If you walked to Dan Cole’s, you had walked a whole mile.. a tremendous feat for little feet! It was essential for giving directions in the summer to those”out-of-staters” trying to find this and that. ‘Oh you go to Dan Cole’s farm up the road about a mile..white building, turn right and go up over Rowe Hill’ was a phrase repeated incessently most summers.
Then the Case cottage with its annual picnic for all the Greenwood Center neighbors, complete with entertainment from the Cole family. Charlotte and Lillian singing “Wintertime in Maine” with Irving in the background playing guitar. The rest of us milled around the food table and ate as though we hadn’t eaten in a fortnight.
Below I see Stan and Flossie Seames’s little green house on the knoll. Now there was the finest couple ever. One of my first baby sitting jobs was caring for Raymond and Evvie , then six and four years old. They sent word home by my parents that they needed someone for the summer; pay was $12 a week, was I available. Well, just so happened I was and one of the best memories ever in my junk drawer. Each morning Evvie had her hair curled like Shirley Temple. She sat still as a mouse while I wound each curl around the handle of the comb. I hate to admit it, for fear Raymond might get a swelled head, but those two were the best kids I ever sat with in my short baby sitting career.
However there WAS one fly in the ointment. Stan had a tub in the back room and the first day, asked if I minded taking the paddle near by and stirring the contents twice a day. That was no problem. The problem arose when each of my little ones wanted to lick the paddle after the stir. We finally worked it out that one licked in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Compare that to today’s standards and I would be sitting in a jail cell and they would be ruined for life. Traumatized, I am sure. It was harmless and that was the extent of any arguements the entire summer.
One day, I became very bold, found a recipe and decided to make Flossie a chocolate cake. I don’t know why, except at home I was forbidden to get into the ingredients for fear of failure. I remember trembling a bit when she and Stan came home from work and showing her the cake( actually a very good looking one)…well she was so pleased one would have thought I’d given her a million dollars and she couldn’t stop telling me how much that helped her. Music to my 16 year old ears! Maybe that made up for the time I was preparing lunch for the kids and took a can of spaghetti-os from the cupboard which had been laid aside for that meal. Innocent about all foods and anything to do with it, I put the can opener in the top, took one spin with the hand and it exploded. We had spaghettio’s everywhere..even the ceiling. It was a long afternoon of cleaning.
Now you can see why I have such memories in many of the houses in our hamlets. That was the year the hurricane came through. The kids were having a nap and I noticed bottles flying over the porch. Soon Stan and Flossie arrived, followed by my parents to take me home. I stood in our living room and watched the trees bend almost to the ground. The first hurricane I remember in the summer of 1954.
So I leave the Seames and go to the brown house where my great Uncle Elmer Cole lived . I see in the entry way his assortment of cough drops and other necessities that the neighbors drop in to buy and chat. I only have to say, “Hello I am Ethel’s daughter” and a huge smile appears and he takes my nickel and hands me Smith Brothers cough drops.
Laura Seames lived in the white house and such a lady. She bought the Grit from me and when I was in contention for Carnival Queen, bought a ticket to “help me out”…such a lady.
Of course there was the Cole farm with its big truck, big sand pit and they were rich because they had a telephone! One highlight from that family was the day I went on an unscheduled ride. I was practically on my own turf walking nonchantly along when Elwin came down the “flat”riding his new bike. I admired it and told him I had never ridden a bike. Being the gentleman he was( or maybe I roughed him up a bit) I was soon on the bike seat. Elwin was running aside of me yelling” keep pedaling, slow down” which, to me, meant two different things. Then the yelling went to “stop” and I had no clue. Long story short…I arrived at the end of our drive way, hit the mail box went over the handlebars, landed in the dirt. By the time I picked myself up, Elwin and his bike were headed up the “flat” toward home.
In this time period, my Uncle Glenn and family had moved and a new family came to live next door. I remembered all the plays that my cousins Louise and Carmen and I put together using their picnic table for the stage. The Center was empty after they moved and the sign with the big bear advertising my Uncle’s taxidermy business was gone.
So many memories flitting and fluttering about in my midnight mind. I am now at our own little house in the woods…..think I will wait for another sleepless night to continue the journey.