Thursday, May 28, 2015
Following Chapter 13 is information about “sugaring” in Cavendish. To read the prelude and other chapters of Tiemann’s Memoirs go to Coming to Vermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann.
I bought a pair of bear-paw snowshoes with some Christmas money. This type is stubby and broad, without a tail, and is adapted for getting around in brushy or rough country. $o I was able to go into the woods despite the deep snow, and began to do a little chopping. This was new type of work and I was not adept at it, but in time I had plenty of practice.
Below the house, between the road and the large mowing, is an area thru which the back brook flows, and has always (I imagine) been lowed to remain wooded as it is no good for anything else. The growth is mixed. Maple and pine had been logged, but a fine new scattering of rock maple had started up, and I had a vision of a sugar bush in this convenient spot. It needed a lot of clearing and thinning. There were yellow birch, elm, beech, ash, and the usual weed trees such as wild cherry and soft maple, And opposite it, the growth between the road,:. and Tracer Brook was similar. I didn't look any further for a "wood lot," To be in,business, all I had to do was put my wedges in my pocket, shoulder ax sledge, and snow-shoes, walk about a hundred yards down the road, kick into the snowshoe harness, and step in among the trees. "And get two jobs done in one operation," I thought.
It turned out to have been good judgment, and this is where I got our fuel during most of the years we burned wood, which was until 1963. Several times I chopped, or had chopping done, over by the road which is our eastern boundary, partly to eke out the supply but also to make use of some old "gone by" trees.
But I couldn't spend all my time getting up wood. "Where are you going to put those new chickens?" Isabel wanted to know. So I started work on the new chicken houses, which already existed in skeleton form. When we came, there was a good stone foundation and part of a frame for a lean-to shed against the south side of the big. barn, into which a doorway had been out. Altho apparently intended for cows,. it seemed it would serve us much better for chickens, so I began making modifications. As it was too large for our immediate needs I decided to have three compartments; we'd use one immediately and have the remaining space in reserve. It all needed to be roofed and floored and sheathed and was another of those jobs, which turned out much bigger than anticipated. It had to be part-time work, which always seems to drag; also I was "learning while doing." Fortunately there was on hand a supply of rough-sawed boards; of uneven quality, it still saved me some expense for sheathing.
The first of March was like spring. Such days come to deceive, one into thinking winter is over. It induced me to make up an order for vegetable seeds, which was fun, altho it still was months to out-door planting time and longer yet to getting a crop. This realization took some of the joy out of life, as we had only a few jars of tomatoes and pickles left in the cellar and some dried beans in the attics. Having to spend more for food really hurt.
However, keeping busy is a good antidote for worry. There remained plenty to be done in the house. Isabel just then was scraping and cleaning some of the old spruce panels preparatory to their being put in place above the kitchen mantels This required that I first remove plaster-and lath and fill up the stove-pipe hole. But before I could do that there had to be a hole made thru the ceiling and the floor above so the pipe could go up, and into the chimney in the bed-room: a rough and "temporary” job. At-a much later date, in Montpelier, I came across and purchased an unusual circular register made for just this situation, with a plate in the canter to remove for the pipe to pass thru. Meantime a tin box with a hole in the middle (as fire protection)/had to serve, but even with this we noticed the room was warmer. - Of course the kitchen again was in a fine mess, but when the panels were in place and the small strip of Sheetrock ceiling fitted in against them it made a nice looking job.
When we first came to Windy Hill we used to be amused by the stories of the varied uses to which a kitchen might be put. But no longer. That March a couple of sick hens were only the first in a procession over the years of live stock needing special attention and warmth... Eggs had increased to about sixteen a day, almost 100%, one of them weighing “a quarter of a pound. But still no calf.
By mid-month the winter really started to break. Altho replenished quite regularly the snow was settling, and as the frost ca,me out of the roads they degenerated to that horrible condition of muck and ruts which annually brought traffic practically to a standstill. In short, it was "mud season." The children thought this was fine as they began a monthly holiday, meant to coincide with the bad going.
As many days were pleasant I continued the tree-pruning, doing six tipples and the big old crab. This was interrupted when Dan put his foot through the floor of his stall, and I found it so rotten it required complete replacement. I luckily was able to get at the mill (the same piece that ground my meal in the fall) some thick bridge planks of elm, the best of flooring for a stable. Dan was scarcely earning his keep, with only an occasional job now that the wood was all hauled. Nor was it good for him to stand so much of the time in the barn. We used him for occasional trips to the village, as when Wy and I drove him to the freight office to pick up some rolls of roofing for the chicken-house.
A boy calf at last arrived,- on March 17 so of course he was "Pat." It was quite an event for the children, who had been most interested in progress. Fortunately there were no complications other than "caked bag" which is not unusual. The cowls udder became hard and feverish, partly, in this case, because the calf was limited in his energetic efforts (bunting and kneading and working at the teats) to get food. We wanted to wean him promptly. Hot compresses and rubbing in a salve, together with regular milling, soon worked a cure.
While this was going on we were setting a few sap buckets, borrowed with spouts - from our good neighbor. "Don't bore the holes too deep" he cautioned me. "The sap layer of wood is just inside the bark. Put them on the sunny side, not much higher than the snow level." "I don't suppose we will need very much," I remarked. He snickered. Well it takes about a barrel of sap to make a gallon of syrup." I was skeptical, but he wasn't kidding. We emptied n dozen buckets, more or less full, twice a day for a couple of days and soon had pans of sap steaming on every stove in the house before it snowed and spoiled the run. And we finished off enough syrup for breakfast one morning.
The bad weather also held up my plan to paint the eves in the rear of the house before moving the scaffold to the front. (The neatly-laid stack looked beautiful.) Instead, I prepared some seed "flats" (shallow boxes of any convenient size) with earth and planted yellow tomatoes, onions, cabbages, and cauliflowers,• a bit late as it proved; these things start slowly and should be in by Lincoln's Birthday. They require resetting to give them greater strength and plenty of room, before going out doors about mid*May for most things, but not before Decoration Day for tomatoes which are susceptible to late frost. While I was inside Isabel kept me company working on her first hooked rug: she became very skillful at this, and also braiding. - But it seemed the cold and snow would never end.
The chickens had suffered during the cold, and from their heavy production; another was sick and one died. But our new cow "Maria" proved to be a good producer, giving better than ten quarts a day. Pat was growing fine: before the end of two weeks I estimated his weight between 60 and 70 pounds, and already he was more than Wyeth could handle. He also was almost weaned. The udder congestion had cleared up so we could use the milk, and with such abundance we set it in pens over night when the cream could be skimmed off and soon Isabel had enough to make our first butter,- a great occasion. Then I got the crank separator to function and this turned out to be more efficient. Pat had to be satisfied with skim milk, but he was too greedy to notice the difference.
At last came a few days of good weather so I could do the painting job. We then moved the staging to the front of the house.
Sugaring in Cavendish: The short sugar season in 1934 was not unusual, as “sugaring” can very from year to year in its duration along with the quantity and quality of the syrup produced. The same year that the Tiemanns made their first batch, Homer Kingsbury, who lived several miles away on Chubb Hill, sold 14 gallons to the First National Store in Ludlow at $1.23 per gallon. Read Sugaring in Cavendish
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Summer Theme: Yankee Thrift
The smell of apple blossoms and lilac-could there be anything sweeter? It’s a reminder that the Museum will soon be opening for the summer season and so planning is underway for activities at the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) Museum. This summer’s theme is Yankee Thrift-Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” The serialization of Philip Tiemann’s memoirs of Cavendish in 1933, see article below, has been a good reminder of ways we can adopt the depression era approach to reduce waste, save money and live a simpler but satisfying life. That said, a quick trip through the Museum’s laundry day exhibit makes us grateful for electricity and washing machines.
Upcoming CHS Events
• May 31 (Sunday): Opening day of the Cavendish Historical Society Museum. The museum will be open every Sunday from 2-4 pm until Columbus weekend.
• June 14 (Sunday): 2-4 pm Yankee Thrift Workshop-No Sew T-shirt Totes and other items. Please bring an old T-shirt and scissors.
• June 27 (Saturday): Annual plant sale at the Museum grounds.
• July 12 (Sunday): 2-4 pm Yankee Thrift Workshop-Housekeeping, Make It Yourself . Learn to make your own clothes detergent and cleaning supplies.
• July 25 (Saturday): Fifth Annual Cavendish Town Wide Tag Sale
• Sept. 13 (Sunday): Annual Phineas Gage Talk and Walk, 2 pm at the CHS Museum.
For more information about these and other events, please use the contact information listed above.
Coming to Vermont (Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann
Philip Tiemann was born in New Jersey in 1900. He moved to Brook Road in Cavendish, VT from Chatham, New Jersey with his wife Isabel (Carr), and three children Wyeth, Ann and Joyce in 1933. Naming the property Windy Hill, Tiemann wrote about the family’s experiences “Memoirs of Coming into Vermont (Cavendish)” during the height of the Depression,” in 1966, after his wife had died (1958) and just a few years before his own death in 1969.
As part of the process of applying to have Windy Hill listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, the current owners of the property, Mary Anne Butler and Peter J. Von Bartheld, obtained a copy of Tiemann’s Memories and provided the Cavendish Historical Society with a copy. In order to share this fascinating piece of Cavendish history, CHS is serializing the Memoirs by chapter, each week on their blog. After each chapter, CHS provides an aspect of Cavendish history that Tiemann touches on, covering such topics as what Cavendish was like in the 1930s, Hawks Mountain, keeping house etc.
These were not easy times for the family, as they were learning how to farm, and living without any of the luxuries they may have had in New Jersey. It wouldn’t be until 1947 that the house was wired for electricity, so a wood stove was required for making meals and weekly laundry would have been extremely labor intensive.
Cavendish in the 1930s
To help put Tiemann’s Memoirs in perspective, it’s helpful to understand what the 1930s were like in Cavendish.
The Stock Market Crash in 1929 did not have an immediate impact on Cavendish. Few people had investments to lose, and for the Gay Brothers Woolen Mill, 1929 was the best year, financially, in the history of their business. It took several years before the depression was felt. Cash was scarce, but for many farmers, that had always been the case. Frugality was part of the Depression, but it wasn’t caused by it.
With a population of 1,418 people Cavendish was a farming community but also had a number of small businesses, many of which were able to weather the Depression. There were two woolen Mills, Gay Brothers in Cavendish village and Black Bear, which replaced Proctor Mill, in Proctorsville. In 1937, the latter mill, though profitable, closed, most likely due to union strikes the year before. The building was sold to the village of Proctorsville and never used for textiles again. It burned in the 1980s and today is now the Proctorsville Green.
In 1933, a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was established in the Proctor-Piper Forest in Proctorsville. It was located on Bailey Hill above the Hillcrest Cemetery. One hundred twenty five unmarried men, between the ages of 18-25, came from New York to join local men in clearing trails for horse back riding and hiking and to create a recreational area. In 1935, the CCC completed its Proctorsville project and the group moved on to New Jersey.
Besides the Duttonsville School in Cavendish Village and the Proctorsville school on Main Street, there were still four rural schools-Center Road, where the Tiemann children went, Tarbell Hill, Wheeler and Gilchrist. The latter two were on Twenty Mile Stream Road.
The Opera House in Proctorsville had a pool table and two bowling lanes. Dances were frequently held there as well as the screening of silent movies. There were also boxing matches and minstrel shows. Sophie Snarski, who played fiddle for dances, said that between the dances in various locations-including the “kitchen hops,” where farmers would take turns hosting a dance-there was a very active theater group. In fact, she was playing almost every night of the week as well as the weekends.
The New England Hurricane of 1938 struck on Sept. 21. Strong winds blew down thousands of trees while heavy rain caused flooding again in the river valleys.
By the mid 1930s, the Proctorsville Gulf Road south to Gassetts in Chester (Route 103) and then east on Route 10 to Springfield had been paved. This made it easier for Cavendish men to work in the machine shops of Springfield. While work was slow at the height of the Depression, before the end of the decade, with the war heating up in Europe, jobs were available and many men were commuting daily to Springfield for work.
Reference: Chubb Hill Farm and Cavendish, Vermont: A Family and Town History 1876-1960 by Barbara B. Kingsbury
While much of Tiemann’s Memoirs deal with farm work, what about Mrs. Tiemann’s responsibilities?
In 1933, if you lived in one of the areas of town with electricity, and had the funds for an electric washer, you still had to run your clothes through a ringer before you hung them out to dry. It wouldn’t be until 1937 that Bendix introduced what we view today as the automatic washing machine that combined washing, rinsing and spinning.
In many households, Monday was washday. Clothes were sorted, pretreated, soaked in large tubs and agitated using a “dolly stick” or something similar. Particularly dirty clothes were then scrubbed on a washboard. Many homes had a system where the washtub would be set in cement or brickwork, with a firebox underneath and chimney to take away the smoke from the burnt wood.
Washing soda (sodium carbonate) was used to clean clothes that had stains or grease or oil on them. Because of the coarse nature of the crystals, they were rather harsh on clothes, to say nothing of being hard on skin.
Depending on how dirty the clothes were, they may need to go through the washing cycle twice before heading to the rinsing tub. Lifted by a stick, clothes would be rinsed with cold water until clean. Either using their hands or a “wringer,” also called a “mangle,” the clothes were rung out and hung on lines to dry.
Whites would have been done in separate tubs and a bluing solution added to help whiten them.
If a family could afford it, there were rotating drum devices that could be operated by hand, which were more effective than the dolly stick and scrub board. These initially were wooden drums but as the technology improved, metal drums, that could be heated, replaced the wooden drums. Stop by the Cavendish Historical Society Museum (open Sundays 2-4 pm from Memorial Day to Columbus weekend) to see an example of a drum cleaner and many other laundry devices used throughout the years.
Washing clothes was an all day affair, so clean clothes were often ironed the next day. Flatirons were filled with hot coals, and when hot, ironed out the wrinkles. Another way was to heat up “irons.” Because these would quickly cool off, the 1930s housewife would have 2-4 irons on their stove or fireplace to help speed the process.
Household laundry starch was added to the washing process not only to stiffen clothing collars, shirt-cuffs and women’s undergarments, but starch also protected the clothes from stains and sweat. Dirt sticks to the starch, not the fabric and therefore washed off more easily when the clothes went through that exhaustive wash-cycle again.
While large houses would have had a special room for the laundry called the “scullery,” for many homes, the kitchen would do double duty as the laundry room.
Because it took so long to clean them, people wore clothes much longer than people do today. It wasn’t uncommon for men to wear their shirts for one week, two weeks or even up to a month, before having them washed.
According to the American Bible Society, the best thing to do with it is to recycle it. "It should be remembered that a Bible is a book. It may be helpful to think of the ways we discard books. It would be a good thing to make it useful, and one way to do that is to recycle it. Recycling is an honorable act and that is fitting for a book such as a Bible."
Cavendish Historical Society Board: Dan Churchill, Jen Harper, Bruce McEnaney, Kem Phillips, Gail Woods. Coordinator: Margo Caulfield
BECOME A MEMBER, RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP, DONATE
If you have not joined the Cavendish Historical Society, need to renew your membership, and/or would like to be a volunteer, please complete the form below and sending a check, payable to CHS, to CHS, PO Box 472, Cavendish, VT 05142. All contributions are tax deductible.
Phone Number: _____________________ E-Mail: ____________________________
__ Individual Member $10 ___ Senior Member 65+ $5 ___ Sustaining Member $500
__ Household Member $15 ___ Contributing Member $250
___ I would be interested in serving, as a volunteer .I would be interested in serving on the following committee(s):__ Program Planning __ Fundraising __ Building (Museum)
__Archives _ Budget –– Cemetery __ Hands on History
Donations are always welcome and can be designated as follows:
__ For general purposes __ Educational Programs __Publications
__ Archaeological Activities _ Museum & Archival __ Special Events
__ Rankin Fund __ Williams Fund __ Hands on History
__ Other (please specify) __ Cemetery Restoration
Following Chapter 12 is information about 1930s merchants doing business in Cavendish. To read the prelude and other chapters of Tiemann’s Memoirs go to Coming to Vermont(Cavendish): Memoirs of Philip Tiemann
Then the New Year was upon us, we had no desire to sit up to see it in, but we did invite some friends for dinner by way of celebration.
Besides shoveling snow, my only pressing outdoor activity was getting up wood, If our supply had not again gotten down to the danger point, I would gladly have put off facing the bitter cold. One morning it was 36 below zero, with wind, and that day I did not go out. There was ice in the kettle on the stove - the fire having died down during the night; and the eggs the children brought in were frozen (despite the cold we were getting about ten a day.) Even the cellar was not safe-we lost a lot of our potatoes. The part of the foundation above ground level glittered with frost, despite being banked on the outside. The kids did not linger on the way to and from school.
I was indeed glad that some of the roadside supply of cord wood remained. Of course it had been mounded with snow by the passing plow, which made it hard both to locate and to dig out. I borrowed a logging sled (a platform on two pairs of heavy iron-shod runners), tossed on e blanket for Dean who needed extra. protection when standing despite his fine fuzzy winter coat, took a shovel end ax, and we brought up perhaps one, or sometimes two or even three loads of snow-crusted logs and threw them off in front of the shed. Here I, and Wyeth when he was home, went to work with bucksaw and ax. It wits no slight lob keeping abreast of the fires in that Weather. Actually we had to keep ahead, as we found the frozen near green wood was mighty poor fuel until it at least had time to thaw. Sometimes this required big stacks in the kitchen.
The children of course were outdoors less in the extreme cold. The walk to school generally was enough, and they were well bundled up. We soon discovered that foot-gear was especially important and, to our surprise, that leather boots were superior to rubber for keeping the, feet warm, so long as they were dry, with one or two pairs of heavy wool stockings, depending upon the temperature.
In the woods I wore "packs" which had leather tops on rubber feet, with felt liners and the heavy stockings; they assured dryness altho over a long period might get cold. I also had been given a splendid sheepskin lined leather coat; good against wind, especially when riding, but too clumsy to work in. If chopping, a wool shirt and sweater (over "long johns" of course) generally wee sufficient and sometimes too much, One tried to find the point between getting chilled and being sweaty. Any shield from the wind was a greet help.
In the house we kept reasonably comfortable once the fires head been built up in the early morning (my job.) Then at least the downstairs was warm, and we spent mighty little time upstairs. We dressed and undressed by the stoves, making a dash for the bedroom and pulling up many, many blankets. It made a surprising difference in the room above the kitchen when the stovepipe was run up thru the floor and into the chimney there. I also put a register in the floor in Wy's room, which, on sunny days, often was the warmest room In the house. (It now is my "study".)
A recurring problem was to keep supplied with the items that had to be obtained in the villages. By good fortune, one of the stores in Proctorsville would deliver groceries on Saturday if the roads were not too bade so on, that morning we frequently went to a neighbor's to telephone. an order. (Having a phone at that time was beyond our means; but I believe we shared the bill.) The delivery truck was a Model T Ford and would get thru when nothing else on wheels could.-If we-had to go in ourselves we sometimes borrowed the little brown mare, who could get to the village and back with the sleigh in about half the time it took Dan. But we used him too.
In the meantime the new roof had not been neglected; in fact the rear was almost done. It necessarily had to wait, now, then, depending on the weather and on the occupation of my roofer friend: if he was called back to work in the mill for a few days he had to comply or risk losing his job. A lot of employment was on such a part-time basis at that period. Anyway, the worst of the leaks had been covered, and we found that one benefit of slate is that when snow begins to melt and get heavy it will slide off. As there .are no eaves gutters, there is nothing to hold the snow or force it back under the slates. On the other hand, when the cascade comes it is hazardous and prevents use of the front door in winter.
When at last we had a January thaw (which never is a certainty) it was very welcome. It didn't last long. There was one mild, disma1, rainy day and the snow 'settled" considerably,- just getting ready for more, I assured the children. - A note on the cheerful side about then was the arriva11 of the first catalogs for seeds, equipment, and poultry supplies, always good reading on a farm. Also on a couple of good days I could begin pruning the apple trees, which should be done while they still are dormant.
We were anxiously awaiting the expected calf, and very short of milk. A pullet died, cause unknown, and signs of spring broodiness began to appear in the rest of the flock. I ordered a batch of baby chicks as replacements. "Come fall, they'll give us eggs enough to sell, and also cockerels for meat.” I promised Isabel.
As a very pleasant surprise we received $500. on the legacy,. with, however, a hint that it might be the last payment due to legal entanglements. It was the more welcome because the rent we were supposed to be getting for our house in New Jersey wasn't being paid. We never were able to collect, and finally were forced to sell out for the amount of the mortgage , which involved a distressing loss.
One thing we continued to get plenty of was snow. "Poor man’s fertilizer,” my neighbor called it. Its friendly blanket did at least protect the roots of vegetation (preventing "winter 'kill") and it seemed to make the house warmer, too. This., despite the puzzling fact that it soon melted where in contact with the foundation, leaving an inch or more of air space. It always melts in the same way around the trees. I do not know the explanation; it doesn’t seem that any warmth is possible.
By mid-February, when the cold was loss bitter, the children were having fun outdoors with skits, sleds, and a toboggan left by Santa at Christmastime. Of course they had friends among the neighbor children; and occasionally we joined them. But they also had their own chores, and were helpful it various ways. Wyeth backed me up manfully on the wood job.
Then it became frigid again. One morning our nearest stamped in wiping the fog from his glasses and the tears from his eyes. "Jearusrileml Wouldn't you know it?" he roared," Water and drain both froze up tight, Guess we'll have to carry water from the brook." That meant a path thru the snow and chopping the ice daily...."And we'll have to lead the horse," he growled. "She won't go by herself."
“Cheer up.” I told him. “Most our potatoes are frozen,” He grunted. "This winter will be something to compare to for a hundred years."
Yet I couldn't help reflecting that we perhaps were better off than people in the cities. My mother had written about her frozen pipes, and how New York was tied up for days by a nine-inch snow f all; whereas we were getting along well enough, with at least some of the roads plowed even when others were closed by six-foot drifts. Our own water had continued its steady flow; when the drain iced up a couple of times a few kettles of hot water cleared it without much effort.
|Pollard's Store today|
Perkins Store remained the main store in Cavendish village. In 1932, Anna Percy rented the General Store, which H.I. West had operated for many years. She bought the store in December 1935 and ran it for more than ten years. Fanny Bacon and Carrie Spafford had a gift shop on Main Street.
Ralph and Maude Parker, working at the Parker Sawmill and Wood-Working Company in Proctorsville felt that the family business had not suffered any in the Depression. They made wooden handles for kitchen utensils and tools and found good markets for them. Don Belknap and his Elm Valley Creamery did good business during these years-the market increased for his milk as he usually won the contract to sell milk to near—by CCC camps. Chubb Hill Farm and Cavendish, Vermont by Barbara B. Kingsbury