President’s Letter July 2014
Not much excitement going on in Luckey. The diner has opened up downtown again and people have a place in Luckey to meet and eat.
THERE WILL BE NO MEETING THIS MONTH as there is a schedule conflict. There will also be no Friends of the Library meeting if you are also a member of that group. Hope to see you in August.
Ruth Rothenbuhler has procured a Luckey Trojan sweater complete with cheerleader letter. I have purchased a shadow box designed for displaying such a thing and will mount the sweater in the box. I am trying to think of a place where lots of people would see it but it would not be in the sun. I am thinking maybe there might be a place in the library out of the sun were we could put it. If someone has an idea, let me know.
This month’s reading is again from Ortha Wight’s, “This is a Long Letter”. Hope you enjoy it.
“Hear the boom of the cannon
and the roll of the drum
On Fourth of July in the morning
Hear the march of the soldiers
As onward they come
On Fourth of July in the morning.
Hail – Hail – Fourth of July
Hail – Hail – Fourth of July
Welcome this Holiday
Hail to this jolly-day
Glorious Fourth of July.”
It was my father’s Birthday and was celebrated by all America.
The 1890 celebration was put off till a later date when the House would be finished. The frame was up, the siding on, the floors in place. Everything called for its special kind of wood. Dad had cut it from the woods, hauled it to the saw mill, had it dressed and seasoned. Oak for one part, elm, ash, walnut, cherry – one for window frames, doors, woodwork. Cherry for the mantle shelf. He knew every board and every board went into its place. There was no warping nor squeaking of stairs.
Windows rolled up and stayed there. There were grooves and ropes and window sash irons – no more fitting of little pegs into holes to make a window stay in its place; but they were not so perfect after all. They rattled in the wind that whistled around them and into the house, and the grooves for ropes and sashes were the solution to the flies’ problem of where to spend the winter.
The first warm days of Spring brought out the flies by the dozens. My mother’s swatter was bent on murder. Flies crawling out of the woodwork were an insult to her new house. However, that came later. This was July just before the house was ready; the flies were elsewhere.
Bees zinged around and challenged a man working high on a ladder – sometimes he had to make a quick descent in sudden battle, his straw hat flapping wildly to fight off the attack.
Gardens in July go over board. They have something to do so they overdo it. Early in July the green beans are ready, the wax beans are ready, the peas run wild, and so does everything else.
Those garden things are such a treat when they first come out, but by two weeks later you are ready for a change. Beans can stick out of your ears by the end of July and they never took too well to canning. Nothing could spoil more thoroughly than a can of green beans, so it was better just to keep on eating them while they were fresh. Every day my poor mother brought in the beans – her apron half filled with them.
One of the nicest things about July was the Sunday School picnic on the fourth, held in somebody’s woods, and fireworks afterward at the Corners.
The other nicest thing was raspberries. We called them RAHSberries. It was more than twenty years afterward that I heard them called RAZZberries. But whatever they were called, they tasted like something from Heaven. For every meal we had berries, and many of them, handled gently, went into glass jars to be eaten next winter.
The brick cellar, resting on the Rocks, was waiting to bulge with food for winter. The new house would be finished by Fall and Life would begin there.
It was in July that the Gypsies came. Their camping place was across the fields on the old curved road – near Grandfather’s sugar camp. Grass was deep there, and tethered horses did a good mowing job. Wagons were parked near the fence, and camp fires were fed by pilfered dead wood from the Sugar Camp.
In our childhood days, Gypsies brought the thrill of our lives. I could see them better from the top of the rail fence across on the other side of the road. There I sat watching and listening.
Children played, dogs barked, camp fires smoked. Women in their bright calico dresses walked to the store by twos or threes. They were said to scatter in that many directions when in the store, and not to be above a little theft here and there.
But Mr. Davidson made them welcome and theft or no theft, he was their good friend.
They were horse-traders – the famous Broadway Gypsies who owned nice homes in Toledo and lived there during the winter. After a week or so in our vicinity, they would break camp, put out the fires, gather up the children into those quaint little wagons, and move on. I watched them sadly – it would be lonely without them.
After my parents moved over into our house, my Uncle Dave married my Aunt Mollie and lived across the road at Grandma’s.
By the time I was three years old there was a new little cousin over there. My earliest memory is of her. What I encountered before then, I’ll never know – but suddenly my memory comes alive. It is of a January day. I am dressed in my Sunday best, we leave our house from the back door and walk across to Uncle Dave’s.
In the parlor there is a long white box and when I am lifted up to see, there lies little Linda in a white bed with a long white dress. There are green leaves along the bed. Little Linda had died.
Out in the fireplace room people were sitting – Aunt Mollie in a small rocking chair by the fire. There my memory closes the door.
Later other little cousins came and we all grew up together. In the 90’s we knew nothing but play and happiness.
There was sunshine and there was shade. Uncle Dave made a great wonderful swing from a high branch in the Walnut tree. We played in bare feet and calico dresses, walking ankle deep in the sand lane that led to the cemetery lane. We called it the “Gravy yard lane”, for the cemetery in those days was the Grave yard. “Gravy” to us!
Once going there to play, Ruby, Bessie and I came upon a casket on the ground! It had been removed by workmen who were in the process of moving it. They were somewhere else digging the new grave, so our curiosity had to be satisfied. We peeked in! When Ruby saw a foot, we had seen enough and ran back to Aunt Mollie’s as fast as six bare feet could carry us.
The cemetery was a favorite place to play on a Summer afternoon. We knew the tombstones and visited the special ones often: the little lambs, clasped hands, doves and flowers. We memorized the verses – such as:
“As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, so you will be.
Prepare for death and follow me.”
An open grave would send us home in a hurry but nothing ever frightened us enough to keep us away.
Our graves were at the top of the hill. Grandfather Loomis reserved a large area near the graves of his father, mother and baby brother. When his father and baby brother were buried there, the whole place was still his farm. That part of the Ridge and some distance West the rock had been covered with a deep layer of sand – not so good for farmland, but perfect for a grave yard.
Uncle Dave’s orchard stood on the same hill between the cemetery and the house. In July the summer apples were ripe, and that meant apple pies and apple sauce. Harvest apples – ready long before the winter apples.
Grandmother’s kitchen had been a place of action long before my arrival at that house on the hill. My mother and eight brothers and sisters had grown up in it since its beginning forty years before.
When Grandfather built, he chose the highest part of the Ridge for all his buildings. A long lane connected them with the McCutcheonville Road.
Built around a large square area for a garden, they were grouped as a compound. House first, in the best location. At its rear stood the wood shed, the Colvin house, a chicken house and the granary. Turning right was a long building for cattle or sheep. Another right turn was the horse barn with mows for hay above the stables. Next the cow barn for cows, and hay above them. Between cowbarn and the lane stood a wagon shed and a buggy shed and tool house. Next to that, the barn yard for the cows, the huge scales for weighing wagons, a windmill, and an ice house.
The house was New England Colonial in style, painted white and built for eternity. Four rooms and the Buttery on the first floor, hall and open staircase to three rooms and large hall on the second floor.
The mahogany stair banister was kept polished by three generations of children taking the quick way down stairs. A huge wide door with narrow windows on either side led on to a portico, with latticed sides and wooden benches for cool resting on a hot summer day.
The butt’ry was the place for children to gather. There were ten gallon crocks and five gallon crocks filled with cookies or doughnuts, tins of home made bread, bins of flour, bins of sugar, tables for pies – deep dishes of fresh butter, apple butter, honey and the like.
Freshly picked fruits were there in Season. A creamery with ice held the galvanized tins of milk and cream. All the food for the long kitchen table was in the butt’ry – hot in summer – freezing in winter.
Wheat ripened in July. It stood tall and yellow by day and sparkled with trillions of fire flies by night. Cutting and threshing were July’s chief work, and a good crop was money in the bank for farmers.
At threshing time the machinery came in the evening – the engine steaming and puffing like a monster alive, and hauling behind it the Separator. The Separator was another monster, red and hungry. It devoured a bundle of wheat, separated grain from the straw and deposited them in separate places. Wheat grains went into clean bins in the granary. Straw blew from a huge blower and formed a stack – or went through some other process that turned it into bales.
All day the engine snorted and chugged and all day wagons from the field brought grain for the great maw of the Separator. Neighbors came with wagons and teams to help – women cooked a huge dinner – everybody worked and everybody was fed – even children who came to watch the “thrashing machine”. It was a Social day, and one we always enjoyed.
One compliment a farmer’s wife coveted was “She sets a good table” and women went really all out to set a good table for all the good neighbors who were there to help.
Aunt Mollie always came to help in the kitchen and my mother went to help when Aunt Mollie fed the “thrashers”. Children lived in a state of ecstacy [as written] – with noise everywhere, people everywhere, wheat bins to climb into, and the most food you ever saw.
When the threshing was over, a great lonely lull fell on the countryside – life was hardly worth living in all that peace and quiet.
Grandmother Wight’s birthday was on July 26th – that meant a little evening ride to her house. She and Grandfather lived on the other side of the River, in a white house with an array of buildings for accompaniment. The lawn sloped down toward the River, a garden sloping with it. A foot bridge crossed a deep gully that led to the River, and a white picket fence surrounded the whole yard. A hammock hung between the willow and a white birch. It was a beautiful yard for swinging and rolling down toward the River. Loose boards in the River Bridge made a nice clatter as horses trotted across.
Grandma and Grandpa were Scotch and usually had an elderly relative living there. Grandma Thom and Auntie Young were on Grandma’s side of the family and Grandma Wight was on the other side. The old people were hardy and lived well into the nineties. They had come from Scotland when they were young and had earned a nice life in this home of their children.
They asked for very little and earned their board and keep by their eternal sewing of carpet rags. Every old worn out garment was cut into strips and sewed to bright strips of new material. Wound into balls, they eventually went to the carpet weaver’s. Grandpa’s sister, Aunt Jane, had married a weaver and they lived in a little brown house up the River.
Grandma’s birthday just about finished July and oh dear, Summer was almost over! As we rattled across the bridge, the water was low and there was the sweet scent of growing corn in the evening air. Before long the oats would be ready to cut and before you knew it Fall would be there.
The katydids and the bull frogs serenaded each evening – singing “Six weeks till frost”. If we needed rain, there would be a dusty layer over the roadside grass and the horses hooves kicked up a cloud that settled all over us riding behind them. Whew such a dust – we should have rain soon!
But rain brought thunder and lightening again, aiming and firing and threatening to kill us – and if it missed us, we lived to walk barefoot in deep mud from the Oak Tree to the Big tree. If you work at it for awhile, [as written] you can become expert at squeezing flat mud squares high above our toes. Mud pies dried on the flat top of the door yard fence.
Sun tan in the 90’s was considered ugly; thus the wide brimmed hats, and for every day a sunbonnet. Hats, for Sunday, were beautiful, but sunbonnets were not for me! When I left the house I was properly hidden from the blazing sun, but in no time the ghastly thing was hanging down my back – the strings tied firmly under my chin. The sun and wind felt good on my face – even if I ended up later with a layer of tansy in sour cream spread* all over it. Nobody wanted a tanned up kid.
The next thing we knew it was August.
*Tansy mixed with sour cream was used as a facial cream to remove freckles. The two ingredients were mixed and applied as a plaster and left on over night. This sounds like pretty messy stuff to me!!!
When typing Ortha’s or anyone else’s original works I make every attempt to type it as written. That includes spacing, grammar errors, capitalization, spacing etc. This month I had enough room so that I could include the spacing that Ortha used in her original. Her entire document was written with the double space every couple of sentences. Strange.
Over and Out………..Sally