When I was 2 we moved from the apartment near Boston to Rockland where I lived for the next 15 years & was in & out of for the next 7 after that. It was my Grandfather on my Mother’s side’s ancestral home, (we lived with my grandparents too) built in the 1830s by my great great great Grandfather & was a large semi Victorian farmhouse on 10 acres of land 9 acres of which were wooded, the other one was the yard. We had a large barn & a little house behind the house. When we moved the house was still being finished, you see it had had few updates, my grandmother told me as a kid that when they decided that they were going to live there the only electricity was a light bulb fixture with plug in holes in it in the center of the ceiling in each room, the electric cords had to be run from the plug ins on the ceiling across the ceiling to the wall & down. I’ve seen pictures & it wasn’t pretty. My Grandmother was determined to have things the way she wanted, she wanted a brick addition in the kitchen where the stove was built into the brick work, there was a continuance of the counter (with a piece of marble from an old table for the counter top) & a fireplace, mantel & woodbox all built into the brick. She also wanted the wall in the dining room to have the chimney taken out of it & the 2 windows taken out, a huge picture window put in & corner cupboards installed to either side of the picture window. She used to tell me the contractor thought she was nuts & both he & the people hired to do the work kept telling her things weren’t done that way. She persevered & both rooms were beautiful. (this is the only really good picture of the fireplace & it is a fish eye view I’m afraid, I’ll never understand why my father was so entertained by the fish eye lens but he was) Having lived there a long time, I have many memories, My bedroom was over part of the living room & my Grandparents bedroom, My window was on a direct line of sight with the back window in the living room, a friend & I would use yarn tied around the necks of stuffed animals & dolls to do puppet shows for my brother & her’s who would be in the living room playing while we were upstairs. that no one ever fell out the window is still pretty miraculous to me! I also had a habit of climbing out the upstairs bathroom window, the window was about 4 feet off the ground & the roof came up to the bottom of the outside of the window, I’d climb on the toilet & then out the window & sit on the roof & look at the stars. We lived there during the ‘Blizzard of ’78’ as it is always referred to by people from Massachusetts. my parents shoveled first a path & then the whole driveway, we had a lot of fun playing in the high piles of snow, though my brother was only 4 & so not allowed to play in it much because of the kid who fell into the snow & couldn’t get out & died of suffocation in a snow bank right next to his front door after that same blizzard.
See those Icicles above the door? I had a similar rack of them fall on my head when I was 4 or 5, one of them over to the side of the house was just long enough that I could stand on tiptoe & reach the bottom of it, I wanted a piece of ice to suck on & broke the tip off, I remember being disappointed that only about 2 inches came off the tip & then the whole rack came down on my head, I still have a bump on my head from that, right over my left eye at the hair line (it’s also the same place I hit diving into a river in Maine 12 years later- I think it’s got some past life connotation- but that’s just me!)
Being homeschooled, I spent a lot of time at home, mostly reading. Also walking in the woods, we had 9 acres behind the house to explore, there were fascinating things like rocks which still showed the marks where they were cut to make the foundation of the house & another largish rock which was flat on top & made a very nice seat, there were stone walls all over the place, (this was Massachusetts after all- 100+ years before, these woods would likely have been pastures) There were swampy places with fallen trees to sit on & watch the tadpoles & frogs, a pond large enough for skating (not on my actual property but on my cousin’s so I had free range) One notable place had a very big rock, over 6 feet tall, with a natural hollow which made a good fireplace, it was cleared out & had a rock ring to contain a fire & was sooted up as someone had used it, I think I remember my mother saying my Uncle used it sometimes, right near the rock, there was a brook which meandered along beside the convergence of 2 rock walls & cut through a rock, I tried many times, to take pictures of it back in the day but could not get anything which really showed how it was, the last time I was there was in 1991 & the adjoining land had been made into a cul-de-sac & someone’s kitchen window was only about 15 feet from this place. Very depressing- of course I hope the people who own that house know about & appreciate the brook, the rocks etc, & that they haven’t done anything to damage them. My familys house was sold that year so I’ve never been back to the woods or the house, though my Mother has & says it looks great inside now. I think I like having my memories intact, of the room which was first my playroom & then was our school room, how the wasps loved to come in to that room because the windows got a lot of sun all day & was warm. I could go on & on with memories but I have to stop sometime on this one!
Picture Notes: The first one is of the house I grew up in around 1910 when it was already about 75-80 years old. 2nd picture is of miss 17 at about age 18 months playing the piano in the dining room, about the only picture I had which shows any of the picture window & one of the corner cupboards. The third one is, as I said there, a fisheye veiw of the brick addition on the kitchen, #4 is my father shoveling after the blizzard of 78 & the last picture is the whole family (all 5 of us) after the blizzard, I’m holding a chalk board which says ‘we survived the blizzard of 78’ though you can’t read it.