Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chapter 16 Tiemann Memoirs/Summer Memoirs 1950s

With the close of school this past week, its interesting to see how the Tiemann children spent their summer months. Following Chapter 16, is another memory of Cavendish, kids and summer, but this one is from the 1950s, when drive-in movie theaters were popular.

To read the prelude and other chapters of Tiemann’s Memoirs go to Coming to Vermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann.

I should have said, "school vacation." The children probably felt' they were worked awfully hard at home, but they generally were good about it. And we did have some nice times together. "How would you like a picnics?" we asked Joyce on her birthday. There could be only one answer to that, so we made greet preparations and carried baskets of food across Second Brook to one of the delightful spots on its banks. Here, at a wide pool, it was decided to have a "swimming” hole." So, after we (and the ants) had enjoyed lunch, the kids got busy carrying stones and building a dam. The water didn't get very deep but they seemed to have fun.

After a while they got tired of this and went off up Strawberry Hill to do some picking. Isabel and I assembled the picnic gear and returned to the house. In the cellar keeping moist I had 200 asparagus roots or "crowns" received the day before, and these I carried up to a garden strip I had prepared in the mowing and began to set them in. There were to be two rows, each 200 feet long, which is quite a lot of asparagus when it has to be placed deep. It required more than the one afternoon.

The field crops were well up, and even the vegetables sprouted hopefully. But we again were having almost too much rain and the garden was very wet.  We sold more old hay; then bought turkey eggs to set under a couple of still-broody hens. This seemed a worthwhile experiment as one of our friends hid a fine flock, but I guess we lacked the proper touch. Of the few poultry that hatched and survived, we found the care of rearing them and then the task of preparing them for table were more trouble than they were worth. Again, experience.

Our cat Lena ("Leaping Lena") had been in a family way for some time, when one day she disappeared, and when next we saw her she was lean and bedraggled. "Where in the world are Lena's kittens?" was the anxious question. We couldn't find them, and had visions of their dying under the floor of the shed. But in due course Lena produced them with pride. The children were almost as pleased as she was but I didn't like it so well. Kittens could not be given away in that neighborhood.

This year I intended to get in the hay myself, and it was just right when I began mowing on June 18. I was able to get most of it into the barn dry, altho interrupted by showers. The area is subject to not in­frequent sharp thunderstorms. After a fine morning, and perhaps with hay down, the big puffy thunderheads would begin rolling up over the horizon about noon. This was the signal to immediately get as much dry hay under cover as possible, so disregarding the lunch hour frenzied activity would, proceed until the lightning cracks began, to come near. Then it was wise to seek shelter in the house. (I once was in a barn when it was struck, a never-to-be-forgotten experience.) And presently the rain would come driving down. Later that afternoon if it had clear, or certainly the next morning, we would proceed to the mowing to shake out any down hay, which had certainly gotten drenched, perhaps having to do it twice before it could be brought in. We didn't mind so much the extra labors that the hay should get spoiled.

 It required experience to learn to apportion the time in order to ac­complish the most. Altho the haying took precedence there were hours unsuited to that work. Then there was corn to be hoed or cultivated for which I used the horse,-drawn sprig-tooth which was adjustable to a narrow width; the asparagus also, "which unwisely had been placed in a spot dominated by witch-grass, and to keep the rows relatively clear was an unending struggle. The kitchen garden demanded more time than it should have; in the moist soil the 'witch-grass was even more a problem. In fact we found this pest almost all over the place; it grew from tough roots, which spread their way for almost any distance and required a garden fork and much patience to get rid of even temporarily. Any bit of root left sent up new shoots. For hay, it had the virtue of strong growth but was coarse and made only so-so.. foredge. (As compensation, there was no poison ivy anywhere near.) And work on the chicken coop continued to consume spare time; with the chicks growing fast I began to feel really pushed,

The first part of July was good haying weather and to my satisfaction I finished that job. Besides having a full barn, 1 sold some standing in the field. While the garden was noticeably backward the kids be­gan pulling radishes, the earliest annual "crop" - and then came green peas and chard, - We had discovered in the long grass "across the street" some ancient rhubarb plants; this we liked very much and 1 moved it to the spot back of the house where the scrubby plums had been before dying of black rot,

Of course the animals had been turned in the pasture as soon as grazing would permit, which that year was toward the end of May. It depends on the weather, as the grass has to be permitted to make a good start first or it will be cropped too close to the roots. Even Pat was nibbling green stuff at a great rate, but he could not be allowed with the others as he would much have preferred to get sustenance from his mother; so ho had to be tethered or kept in the barnyard, he was growing beautifully,

The brooks were really paying off. Aside from their very practical use of providing plenty of fresh cool water for the animals. they were, as, soon as they warmed up a bit, a source of much enjoyment to the children, who splashed around without much on and were getting fine and brown.

Summer Memoirs 1950-The Drive In: Sandra Stearns, who grew up not far from Windy Hill, on what is today the farm on East Road close to the intersection of Brook Road. In her book “Cavendish Hillside Farm 1939 to 1957,” she writes about her memories of the 1950s.

In the 50’s Drive-in movies were popular. Mom, Dad, Junior and I would pile into the old Chevy with a big batch of homemade popcorn and a gallon of homemade root beer. At dusk on many spring, summer and fall Saturday nights we would head to Ascutney or Bellows Falls. Each car had its own speaker to it could be tuned up or down as desired. The car was parked on an incline so the passengers in back could see just as well as those in the front. The screen was immense and built high in the air. There was a playground set up for children, which was busy before the movies began and during intermission.

Drive-ins were double featured with a snack break between the features. At intermission time pictures of food you could purchase at the snack bar were displayed on the screen to whet you appetite. Small children came  dressed in pajamas, for they surely would fall asleep before they returned home. The advent of television diminished the popularity of the Drive-in. Now families could sit at home, be entertained, eat and talk as desired.

The 50’s also saw the opening of Claremont Speedway-Jalopy Racing. “Babe” (Carroll, Jr) Davis and Oscar Towle were early participants from Cavendish. Dad loved the excitement. Lots of summer Saturdays were spent at the raceway, cheering on our favorites. Tires squealed, engines roared and the dust flew. As the cars sped around the track, there were numerous bumpings and bangings. Drivers lost control and went into spins, hitting the fence or going into the in-field.”

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