Thursday, July 30, 2015

Chapter 21: Tiemann Memoirs/Halloween

Following Chapter 21 is another memoir of Halloween at the Center Rd School, approximately a decade or more after Tiemann’s recollections. For the prelude and links to all of the chapters go to Coming to Vermont (Cavendish):Memoirs of Philip Tiemann.

That year there was a delightful Indian summer, than which is no more pleasant season. Crisp nights gave place to mild, sunny days; the hazy atmosphere was relaxing, On every hand the great golden maples surrounded by their brethren of varied hues illumined the nearer landscape against a more somber backdrop of evergreens clothing the mount­ains. No matter how busy, I always could pause now and then to "lift up mine eyes unto the hills," How right was the old prophet who first voiced those words!

Of course, as I have intimated before, one never accomplishes all the last things which should be done, However, we progressed, There was a good supply of cord wood stacked by the roadside waiting for my neighbor friend (whom I had again helped hay during the, summer) to haul it to the house and saw it,- but if I could cut more, all, the better!  I finished the first coat of paint on the windows and a bit later, on all the trim, Then came our first butchering job: the yearling calf, which made the children feel badly and we did not enjoy; yet no one was sorry to have the delicious chops and cutlets, and the 33 quarts of meat which Isabel put up in jars. I had prepared myself, for it - yes- by studying government bulletins, which showed in detail how the carcass should be opened and skinned and cut up. And I had helped a neighbor with the same process. But I was clumsy at it and wasted a lot of time.

Despite all the work, we managed to fit in some good times. The usual Halloween party at the school on a Friday evening was attended by all the parents, and was fun, The children got a great kick out of dressing up. It started on a discordant note for us because or cows had turned up missing; but we couldn't search for them after dark and at the party we heard of some "strays" so next morning at 6 A.M. Wy and I were after them and they were ours. We brought them home just in time for him to go with a load of children Isabel was taking to a 4H roundup at White River Junctions.- Also, Wyeth had begun to take an interest in photography, and was learning to develop the films and make prints.

As the days grew shorter the nights became frostier; the leaves had fallen and the fields were drab. Yet there always is some color, At certain seasons I take pleasure in looking out on the steep bank of trees behind the house, which turns pink as the sun rises, while the glittering frost crystals on the fields melt when the sun strikes them leaving white patches in the shaded spots. It is over too soon.

Then came the grey days, overcast and shivery with chill wind moaning in the chimneys and causing the trees to wave their naked limbs. These evenings we drew close about the hearth-fire, ant talked of moving in the kitchen range. However, it was almost Thanksgiving before we were forced to do this, which of course necessitated the change-over of the water inlet pipe and drain, This year I put the sink under the back win­dow between the bookcases in place of the shelf, and had everything ship-shape only to discover that the drain thru the foundation leaked back into the cellar. "I'm sorry," I told Isabel. "While the drying I'll have to run the drain pipe out the window." Which I did, us­ing a piece of hose. By this time my wife accepted such things philo­sophically. Also she was cheerful because she had received some advance orders for syrup and felt her business was making headway,

A Heatrola from the 1930's.
At last we were able to buy a new "parlor stove to replace the old pot-bellied affair, which had served us so far. It was a "Heatrola" with an 'outer shell, which was designed to circulate the warmed air. It could be fed larger logs or chunks thru the end door and so kept a fire better, This proved a very good investment, adding materially to our comfort, Along with tip stove we purchased storm windows for all the first floor. Of course despite ordering them as near to size as possible none fitted without considerable trimming, which job I was most happy to complete in mid-December, by which time we were having some very cold days. They worked a tremendous improvement by keeping out the cold breezes.

I was at last finishing the shingling of the chicken shed, into which the prospective new laying flock had been moved when it had outgrown its quarters in the summer kit hen, (The cocks were disposed of when they reached a size for fryers, being either sold or "canned.") The old biddies in the first shed-section were molting most of the fall and hence were off their usual good egg production; the young ones were just beginning to lay. We were troubled by a rat infestation,- they became so numerous and bold that Wyeth or I could go out with the .22 and shoot them as they stole grain from the feeders. Also using traps and poison, we kept them under control, but it remained a problem. The dog and cat were of little help.

The two cows we now had - one of them dry - were tested for TB, a new and good state requirement, and were found OK. Then the one I 'was milking caught cold and developed a caked bag which gave us quite a bit of concern.   This was a different kind of trouble than that which often occurs after freshening but the treatment was much the same. As I recollect, it was not until after the war that some of the new "wonder drugs" proved useful to inject into the, teats. Anyway, she recovered; but for a while we had to boil the milk, which no one liked.

The children were invited to attend Sunday-school at the Baptist church in Cavendish, and Isabel was glad to furnish transportation; it meant a late dinner but was nice for the kids, The simple life of that time provided few social activities for young people; by today's standards, especially on the farms, it was a bit rugged. So any chance to get out was welcome to them.

Center Rd School
Halloween Memoirs of Center Rd School: Sandra Stearns in her book “Cavendish Hillside Farm 1939 to 1957”  describes her memories of Halloween at the same school the Tiemann children attended, Center Rd School, just a decade or so later. Below is an excerpt from the chapter “Ghosts and Goblins.”

Each year the Center School had a Halloween party. Our greatest joy was to be invited to Cliff and Marion Johnson’s home to explore their attic looking for our attire. High button shoes, red flannelled long johns and dresses and hats from years ago were abundant there. Marion was always good for a unique costume herself. An unknown student always appeared and only by the process of elimination and observance of a missing person were we able to identify her.

Corks were burned and rubbed on our hands and faces to darken them. Lipstick was used liberally and we wore it for days before it washed off completely. Pillows were stuffed everywhere in our costumes making humped backs, roly-poly bellies, extreme fannies and bouncing cleavages. We wore our Dads’ boots and shoes, the bigger the better. Our teacher, Mrs. Pickard, often dressed up as a gypsy and would tell our fortunes by the lines our psalms. Costumes were judged and prizes were awarded. ...

The older students made a ghost walk outside, around the building. It was real dark so a rope was used to guide the “unsuspecting’ parents thru our horrible moans, rattling chains, clanging pans, crazy cackles and wolf howls. The route and the noise never changed much from year to year, but our loyal parents made our efforts worthwhile. They fulfilled their role of scared participants and we were delighted with their shrieks of fright!

One year we were invited to attend and participate in the large Halloween party at Duttonsville in the Town Hall. [This would have been in what is today the Cavendish Historical Society Museum building. At one time, Cavendish village was referred to as Duttonsville.] We had never trick or treating and most of us were too bashful to try. I for one felt lost among all those unknown kids and did not enjoy myself. It was decided after that to continue our own party.

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