Among my Mother’s treasures, I found this letter I wrote to her in the..probably..early eighties..since I never dated it, it’s a guess. Apparently, it was written when I was longing for a visit.
Dear Mom in the Maine wilderness:
It is raining tonight, so thought it a good time to write back home. Drops of rain are pounding on the “tin shed roof” and it sets me in mind of going to bed in the attic of our little house in Greenwood, Maine. Speaking of sheds, I wonder when people stopped using the regular old wooden sheds. You know, the kind with wood piled in tiers..just so..for the winter. There was an air of mystery about the old wood shed. Hidden nooks existed for everything..from a bottle of the neighbor’s home brew to the buck saw with a newly broken blade. The latter always occurred when the wood box was empty. Worse still was taking a mighty swing at a chunk of wood and driving Dad’s favorite double- bitted axe into a rock or burying it in dirt to the handle. Nothing was more sickening than a huge nick in a freshly ground axe..unless it was Dad, with said axe in hand, towering over you waiting for an explanation.
I really miss fresh fish. Oh, I could drive to the local fish market, but carrying fish home in a brown wrapper is a far cry from a stringer full of fresh perch, bass or pickerel.
This year everyone celebrated the Fourth of July with gusto. I remember your rowing us across Twitchell Pond to Nick’s Point with a big watermelon to celebrate. I’m not sure whether we were celebrating the Fourth or that you once more successfully navigated the old wooden row boat to its destination.
When one moves from home, he tends to look back much more than I realized. Remember canned milk during World War 11. To this day, I cannot bear the taste of it..but how fortunate we were to have it. Karo on cereal, molasses cake, molasses cookies, molasses on hot biscuits. The big treat was oleo on bread sprinkled very lightly with sugar..or perhaps the treat was the oleo itself coming in a special package, when we squeezed and squeezed until the yellow was smoothly and evenly spread though out the mixture; Shredded Wheat was purchased because the miniature bales were packed between cardboard pictures we could color.
I look at the gawdy lights and advertisements in the city and wonder, if I ever knew, back in the days of kerosene lamps that I would ever live among such artificial lighting. I would not pretend to give up my electric lights, but there still is a satisfaction of smelling kerosene soak up the wick of an old lamp. A kerosene lamp in our home was as holy and precious as the crown jewels. Cursed was he who dared black the mantel of the” Alladin Lamp”..cursed was he who broke a chimney. Our Jello set very well in a December snow band and the brook bubbling by kept any beverage we might have “fairly cool”. There was no washing machine. How many Saturdays did you bend over that big tub of water scrubbing clothes on those metal ripples until your fingers were raw? I saw a scrub board at a flea market for five dollars and was tempted to buy it for you, but I know you appreciate my humor only to a point. I look at my sewing machine and remember your newspaper patterns, a scratch of your head, your feeding old material through a treadle machine and another creation was born. How many winter coats did we wear which you manufactured from nothing?
It was a necessity that you work in the mill. But how sweet when you were laid off for a few days. We jumped off the school bus and rushed in the kitchen to sample the doughnuts on the table. These were a superb treat you didn’t have time to make when you were punching the time clock at the mill. I know you’re still punching that time clock. Some day, I hope you can come out here long enough to see a bit of this country. It’s not all that bad…if you’re not a native of Maine and like to walk through fields barefooted with buttercups winding in and around your toes.
It’s late and the rain is still falling. I look out upon the intersection with streetlights shining on the rain puddles…and in closing, will pretend it’s Twitchell Pond and in just a minute I’ll run down and jump in head first.
They were hard days…those old days..but how simple and beautiful some of the memories.
Love and miss you.
Your loving daughter,