Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It happened in April..............

........1938 - 73 years ago. We were living in Ramsey, New Jersey and I was in the fifth grade. Typically, in our lives at that time, my dad was looking for another job. Every year, during the 1930's, my father's job was ending. So combining thoughts of new work and a dream of a place to live, we took a Sunday drive up the Hudson River, crossed the river near Hudson, New York, and ended up 15 miles northeast in the remote village of Spencertown. It was the one I wrote about a couple of weeks ago when I talked about the Presbyterian church.

A mile or so south of town, atop a hill, we found a lovely but cold picnic spot. Nearby my parents found a decrepit old house that seemed to fit their idea of a dream home. Junky old pigpens, a leaning garage, and a swayback barn surrounded the house. The house could rented for ten dollars a month or could be purchased for 2300 dollars and would include 43 acres of land and a year-round trout stream out back. It was too much to resist and so that became our home for a number of years.

We lit the house with kerosene lamps since there was no electricity. We pumped water from a deep well outside and under a porch. We cooked on an ancient black wood range and took baths in a washtub - but more often used a waterfall in the creek. The pigpens were torn down and the wood either burned or used for a dam to make a swimming pool behind the house. The bathroom facilities were "outback" or in bedroom chamber pots or "thunder jugs".

Despite all the improvements, the house was not practical for winter life so we spent the cold weather at my grandmothers house a hundred miles south, where we experienced the 1938 New England hurricane. Our Spencertown house survived the storm and we moved back there for good in late Spring 1939. Eventually the place became a real showplace and I have never forgotten it. And I have never forgotten that it all began with an cold, miserable April picnic in 1938.

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