Thursday, August 20, 2015

Chapter 24: Tiemann Memoirs/ Fletcher Farms

 Following Chapter 24 is a brief history of Fletcher Farms.  For the prelude and links to all of the chapters go to Coming to Vermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann.

In the course of marketing the dressed cocks I called on a man who wanted help with his office-work, and as I was qualified the contact resulted in employment for a half to a full day weekly for the next several years. The modest pay was a great help in buying groceries, which I did upon leaving work, thus avoiding a special trip to the village. While it cut into the time I had formerly given to writing, it was more productive,

For some reason the haying dragged out that year, and was not finished until the end of August. Probably it was a summer when I had to spend a couple of weeks in training at Fort Ethan Allen in order to retain my active Reserve Commission; but this was something in which I was keenly interested and so did not begrudge the time when it could possibly be arranged. I even managed to keep on with a military correspondence course in order to secure more credits. I'm sure most people of that time considered it a rather idiotic but harmless hobby, but it gave me satisfaction and a needed change,- and later on paid off handsomely, I think to the Country as well as to myself.- Anyway, the haying finally got done and/then there was the usual multitude of cleanup jobs. Isabel, after putting up the usual garden crops, found some nice peaches in the market and filled many jars (this was something we were very fond of but could not grow successfully in our climate,) And I bought a Jersey heifer calf to raise,

Wyeth had to be taken to Rutland for an eye, check. He had been working hard and deserved a break, so while we were in town I let him browse around a couple of sporting goods stores, One of his hobbies was firearms and I believe it was on this expedition that he found a fairly good Sharps carbine the purchase of which we were able to finance (it being long before the days when antique weapons even approached their present astronomic prices,)-Also in the entertainment field the family attend­ed a Walter Hard program which was very good, in the "theater" which had been constructed in the big barn at Fletcher Farm, a recently constituted philanthropic group, just over the Cavendish town line in Ludlow.

The autumn was chill but beautiful, and the few rainy days were useful for inside painting. I also gave the cow barn a there cleaning, sprayed it with disinfectant, and finished the walls with a good coat of white­wash, Then a neighbor wanted help getting in corn for ensilage. And at last I got around to digging the potatoes - a modest ten bushels - which ended the garden, We were so busy that a couple of nights we had to work by lantern light, out at the barn plucking ducks and chickens for market, It was on one of these evenings that I happened to look toward the north where the horizon was brilliantly alight, "What do you suppose it can be?" I asked Isabel - the first thought being fire, always a horrid possibility in the country, But as brilliant shimmering fingers shot up into the sky we could not doubt that it was the Aurora Borealis. It was the first such exhibition we had seen here, and was a breath taking spectacle lasting for almost two hours. During late summer and fall the northern lights are not uncommon as a pale band of gold across the sky, but seldom do they put on a real show.

Then came a period of cold and snow, "Do stop in and prod them about the stove," Isabel urged. "It's freezing here," The Heatrola had gone to the shop for a repair I could not make myself. So I prodded and received the stock answer about hard-to-get parts. Tho it grew milder for a while, it was bleak and rainy and we were very glad when the stove was returned, 'the more so because I was in bed with another of my severe colds (an affliction which bothered me less and less, doubtless thanks to outdoor life and healthful climate.)

My convalescence was enlivened by Isabel's account of how she had purchased a "player" piano, which someone had abandoned in storage. Not exactly handsome, it had no music rolls and we never tried to see if the player would work; but for the girls to' learn and practice on it was well worth the $15, we paid for it delivered! (At a later time after inheriting a real piano, we gave the "player" to some summer neighbors,... who later in turn contributed it to an auction, and it ended up on the platform of the to hall where I imagine it still is,)

Altho the cord wood had been brought up and stacked at the shed in good season, the sawing was delayed and it kept getting later and later. Then intense cold - 10 below zero with that good old northwest wind ­and snow hit us in early December. This further hold up and then made difficult the sawing stint. So when at last it was completed I was considerably relieved, and there seemed and adequate supply.

Time not otherwise occupied I spent helping Isabel change some of our domestic arrangements, which began to assume their final pattern. Neither of us had liked having our bedroom on the first floor (not having boon brought up with this system) but considerable work was necessary before the two north rooms upstairs could be used. Forming the partition between wore their closets, shallow but so long that the far end of each was most inconvenient to reach. By tearing out the one belonging to the front room and shortening the other, needed space was gained for the smaller room. I then built a new closet for the front room extending out into the hallway by the foot of the attic stairs. When this was finished and much plaster repair down on the walls, the room was re­decorated with a simple rose pattern paper the girls liked. The trim was painted white. We had found a little old iron stove "Rathbone & Go. Pat. 1865" and set it up on the hearth to take off the chill. The girls moved in and used that room as long as they remained at home.

Then we went to work on the room they had vacated in the southeast corner, The first task was to build a small closet behind the door (in most old houses, closets must have been a second thought, as where rooms did not lack them completely they were very poorly designed.) Then this room, also, was completely "done over". Isabel choose paper with a small oak-leaf-acorn pattern, white on blue, the floor was paint­ed a darker blue; trim and ceiling, white. The pipe from the room below gave enough warmth so that we blocked the-fire-place flue, This had one serious drawback: occasionally moisture distilled from not-quite-dry wood condensed in the short horizontal length to the chimney and ran out at the seams, the odorous black drip splashing from the floor onto the wallpaper and baseboard, making an unsightly mess. - Isabel and I moved in as soon as we could, and it has been the "master bedroom" since.

This move completed, we could better see the way we wanted to arrange things down-stairs and I began to plan, The larger part of the long back room would make a nice kitchen, with a bath partitioned off in the cor­ner adjacent to tie old kitchen which would become the permanent living-room, The "front parlor" would be convenient as a dining-room, opening directly into the new kitchen behind it. Water for the bath and kitchen was the big problem, as the gravity inflow from the spring provided no pressure; but I had glimmer of a thought as to how this could be work­ed out, My ideas tend to germinate slowly so it is best to give them time,- a matter of years in some cases. Then the result usually is sat­isfying, There seemed no hurry in this case, and there were more pressing matters.

During the summer we had acquired some ducklings. They were most amusing-creatures; loved the back brook and grew amazingly. A little cracked grain kept them well and happy. When they reached maturity we selected the best drake and two ducks to keep for hatching eggs in the spring; the others we sold or ate. But I wouldn't have bothered with them except for var­iety, They were a great nuance to pluck because of the fine down which required perseverance to remove (it could be singed off but this was apt to spoil the appearance.) - I fixed a nice one for Isabella birthday.

Along with other preparations for Christmas I was having made for her a pair of snow-shoos by a man in Maine who specialized in such things. They turned out to be very good and also gay, with red and green wool tufts around the front edges. Then one day the minister came up from the village and we all went out to the pasture and cut some nice spruces to decorate the church, as well as fir trees for both families. - We sent trees "home" as usual, and also some dressed chickens.

However, we never did really catch up on the lost time; in contrast with the previous year everything continued to run late. Moving in the stove and hanging the storm sash was not accomplished until just before the holidays. Them by helping a neighbor saw for a couple of days I financed a shopping expedition to Rutland. And in between times I was getting up as much reserve wood as I could. Then. everything came to a halt when it turned mild and rained all one day, making it too messy to work outside.

A lovely candlelight service at the church on Christmas Eve did much to sooth rather frayed nerves, even tho Isabel and I had much to do when we got home. Santa Claus does not always lead an easy life!

Fletcher Farm and Walter Hard: Tiemann describes how the family attended a "Walter Hard Program" at the newly formed playhouse at Fletcher Farm. Born in Manchester, Vermont in 1882, Walter Hard ran the family drug store there, but his heart was in journalism and story telling. By 1930, Hard had produced his first collection of poems, Some Vermonters, and his column regularly appeared in the Rutland Herald, Boston Transcript, Boston Globe, New York Herald Tribune, and Chicago Tribune. When he died in 1966, Walter Hard left behind nine books of poems and two prose works, one of which he wrote with his wife, Margaret. He was an Editorial Associate for Vermont Life from its first issue in autumn 1946 until spring 1951; wrote the “Green Mountain Post Boy” feature in Vermont Life from summer 1947 until the winter of 1955-56; and continued to write an article of observations on Vermont and Vermonters in that magazine twice a year through the autumn 1960 issue. Learn more about Walter Hard at the Vermont Historical Society website

While most locals think of Fletcher Farm (Route 103, located in both Cavendish and Ludlow) as a craft school, the farm was established around 1783, when Jesse Fletcher and his wife Lucy, came from Westford MA. Passed down from one relative to the next, in 1928 Mary Fletcher and her daughters gave the property to the National Board of the YWCA to be used as a training school for young women. Not successful, the property was returned to the Fletchers. In 1933, the entire property, including more than 400 acres of forest land and meadows, about half in the town of Ludlow and half in Cavendish, was given to a newly formed non-profit educational foundation, Fletcher Farm, Inc., with the condition that the property should always be used for educational purposes for the inhabitants of the towns of Ludlow and Cavendish and such other, places as may be determined by the Trustees

The big barn was remodeled into an auditorium with stage and dressing rooms. The Fletcher Farm Players, aspiring actors and actresses from Ludlow, Cavendish, and neighboring towns, often gave performances there. In the summer of 1936, there was some activity every week at the Farms: Farm Women’s Week, Home Demonstration Week, Music Week, Public Health Conferences, and several plays.

In 1948, the Farmhouse, barns and sugar house were leased to the Society of Vermont Craftsmen, a non-profit organization, who have continuously operated the Fletcher Farm Craft School ever since. It's purpose is to provide instruction in the Arts and Crafts under the expert guidance of skilled professionals.

To this day, Ludlow and Cavendish split the taxes associated with Fletcher Farm.  It now houses the Supervisory school union for both towns, playing fields (soccer and baseball) and continues to provide a wide array of craft classes throughout the year, which are offered at half price for Cavendish and Ludlow residents.

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