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Memories from Joanne

I have a tremendous number of memories that come from not only the farm but all around that whole area. I have spent many many whole summers there as a child as well as many short periods ( weekends and short stays from when I was very little right through to the present time ) I even lived there for more than two full years in the early 1950s. That whole span of my connections happens to involve over 60 years. I inherited my family’s house on the farm and still spend the majority of vacation time there.
I was very young when Granpa Hunter was still alive and I’m not sure what true memories I have of him. I think I have a memory of walking with him on the road between his white house on the hill over toward the farm. My mother, Marian, was very fond of her dad and told me so many stories about him that I may have “false memories” borrowed from all that she and others told me about him. My dad, Joe, also spoke to all of us about all the things he did with Granpa so those ideas are all embedded in my thoughts too. I know Granpa treated Joe like a son…something my dad was forever grateful for, having lost his own dad when he was just a young boy. I do have some recollection of Granpa Hunter giving me silver dollars. I always grew up with pictures of him in our house, so his image was always there to be close to us.
I know that he is really responsible for creating that whole farm area…so he gave us the base for a wonderful childhood because of all the things I enjoyed doing right there in that area.
I remember going to Darien, Conn. and to the big houses there…I had fun in the back yard of one of the large homes…I’m just not sure which it was anymore. The back had a lot of trees with a grassy floor area to walk on… there was a lot of stone work.. and a garage that was way in the back. I remember big gatherings of people, including the Shoemakers, the Deckers, another brother of Granpa’s ( I’m not sure which one)
.. Then later, there was a smaller home, maybe in Stamford…after he died where Grangar lived still with Pearl, her housekeeper. I know when he became sick, and went away to a hospital, it was a very rough time for my mom….she was very close to him and his illness and death really “threw her for a loop” as she would say.
The farm has thousands of memories for me, but there are other areas too that we all enjoyed BECAUSE Granpa gave us a place to come together and become a strong extended family.
I have many stories in my head about the knoll and early picnics & overnight camps there; the picnic grounds were another area that we camped at and cooked at and played baseball at…and just had fun running around…the pine tree stands next to the picnic ground were magical and gave us a great place to run and hide…. The pine needle floor of that area is a wonderful smushy place to walk on.
The old tennis courts below the big white house gave us wonderful times to practice and play tennis…no matter what our skills or our ages. We all got better at our skills summer after summer…and had fun rolling the clay courts, chalking the lines and then finding all those high flyer balls deep into the woods behind the high chain-link fence. The tennis courts even gave us lovely sound effects if we were up on the porch after church or at a Sunday afternoon dinner with Grangar… ( I don’t recall dinners there with Granpa, because I was too young to have strong memories when he was also there.)
I loved the old “Brown Bungalow” and its big stone fireplace and dark walls.
Sunset Hill is a place we all zoomed over to …to watch the beautiful sunsets…of course, we still do that..and always will.
Indian Lane on the other side of Sunset hill was a great place to walk..or take a “Chrysler Ride”.. I guess Mr. Hunter did those rides in the early day, but Uncle David was the driver for us….
The shale pit..way up the road past Sunset Hill was a great hike ( well, a tough hike) up to the top for a picnic lunch.
The walk down to Red Rock was always a challenge…not so much going down as trying to muster up the energy to come back up after a full afternoon there.
The ravine above the lake was a pretty walk as well, especially when there was enough water to enjoy the trickling water shoots…
I’m one of the Hunter Grandkids kids that started out enjoying the lake from the ‘old side’….I loved the cement dock and the barrel floats and the two old army pontoons with the net bottoms…. we had so much fun with all of that….
When the 1955 flood hit, that changed a lot of things, including the whole lake and countryside around there. The ‘new side of the lake’ was born and then’ the old camp’ became a part of the scene too.
Back up at the farm, there are so many memories that I’m not sure where to begin.
I just about lived there…actually, I did in the early 50s when we spent 2 1/2 years there…. My sisters and I went to school in Stroudsburg and were there on the farm all the time…year ‘round. I was around 8 and we stayed there until I was about 11.
That time period probably helped cement my early memories and those memories continued to grow right through the rest of my growing up. Even when we moved to New Jersey, Dad and I would come up to the farm 1 ½ hours away for most weekends, while Mom stayed with Linda and Barbara so they could be ‘teenagers’ in their ‘new hometown.’
I just about lived in the barns and shed and EVERYWHERE there was to go. I became Mr. Deitrick’s pal and followed him everywhere, hanging on to his red truck door as I stood on the running board with the window rolled down…. I knew every inch of that place…
* The Reservoir building out in the field… I called it my “Echo House” because you could sit on the slate and shout out words and they’d echo back. I would stay there for hours… I always wanted to be married there but it was too big a progect to get the floor fixed at the time. I wish we could get that cleaned up and the floor repaired now; it is a great place for kids to enjoy.
* The flat white fence that shouldered the entrance road… it was tippy but it was a great challenge to walk that fence row..from beginning to end…it was great to make it all the way to the stone posts at the end.
* The stone gateway as you entered the farm…I liked the right side better than the left…it was cozier and more friendly. I would run down and wait for “Mr. Post” our mailman… We had the best Mailbox too. It had a bolt latch door and looked like a tiny play house….too tiny for real people but great for even good-sized packages to be kept dry.
* The big trees by the garden slate steps….and the white pointy gateposts that guarded the garden… I used to climb the Right side tree…that had the best branches that let you climb up very high and sit…once you got by that first struggle to get up to the bottom rungs…
* All the apple trees on the right hand corner that had knarly apples that the horses and I both liked…
* When you walked up the hill, you could stop at the stone fence and step down on the slate stone steps…they would shift a bit but never fall or give could count on that.
* The shed seemed really long…so many doors…and when I would help move them for Mr. Detrick, it would take a lot of yanking and tugging to make them slide enough to get equipment out.
* The manure pit was another favorite place to be…not necessarily on the manure but on the side walls… They had a great slant and it was fun to walk up them and the wiggle around the white braces along the top… until you got to the shoot where the “Big Boy” would be tied up….. you remember, the thing that moved the manure from the stall area to the dumping spot. It made great sounds…that chain that screeched and clanked and then chattered when it was released as the trough lowered to the almost ground.
*I spent tons of time in the lower barn, helping Mr. Detrick tend to the cows and Dream and Silver, the horses. I cleaned up a lot of manure and straw…over and over…and I loved to sweep out the barn too. I’d help with the hay and dump a bale down the shoots; I loved to put my hands in the oat barrels as I helped to feed the horses. I wasn’t as much help when the cows came in…they were a little intimidating…as they sauntered in to their own place in line. I stood behind the stocks and shut them …but I didn’t want to be out in their way as they walked in the doors..
I even helped inside the silo several times….stomping down the silage as it came in the shoot from the top. All the little corners of the barn are very vivid pictures to me. I spent hours at a time in the hayloft, climbing around , re-arranging bales that were crooked and making little places to sit ….it was a wonderful place to climb…and it always changed when it was filled with hay… it had a totally different feel when the two sides were full … then when it was nearly empty. It seemed SO HUGE when the built-in ladders were up so high, but when all the hay was in, it was just a higher playground….nothing to be wary of…. I used to help fill it too. Those bales were heavy but I always enjoyed making it all straight and tidy….
I could reminisce about that barn for months and months…..every corner has special memories for me.
* I never spent a lot of time in the pig house … we didn’t have pigs consistently…but the chicken house was always a busy spot. I likes the right side the best….I’m not sure why but it was nicer.. maybe sunnier….. I think the younger chickens were in there. I used to be a little wary of the big chickens because they would always swarm around you and not let you walk into their home very easily. Mr. Detrick taught me how to shoo them back and make them move.
*The milk house was another great place…. I’d go in sometimes when Mr. Detrick would put away the fresh milk he had just gotten from ‘the girls’
I remember the squeaky outside screen door….it had a distinct sound….
I could go on and on about this place we call Hunter Farm…it is very special to me…..
* Each building on top of the hill also holds other sets of memories; the Old College and all the stages it went through; Uncle David’s house, before and after it was enlarged; Bibsey’s house and her little shed/garage… and the Shutt’s house which I now am calling mine….
* Even the fireplace ‘between the two houses’ was special… all those family picnics right out there on the crest of the hill….The special benches; the red stones that held up the grate to hold all those pots and steaks and corn on a corn poker holder…… and everyone’s great shared food…. Two of my favorites were my Mom’s bread and butter sandwiches for the little slices of steak…and Bibsey’s great coleslaw….. “best in the land”….; and then there was all the tossed salads and watermelons and baked beans and deviled eggs… and the BIG 5- gallon cardboard containers of ice cream to make sloppy cones with…. It was all a lot of fun…..and that all still happens…in one form or another…

I guess the real point of this set of memories is to reflect on how much the area has given all of the Hunter family….the 5 children of Wm T.; the 17 grandchildren; 40 great grandchildren, and I’m not sure how many great-great grandchildren…. Granpa gave us a place to be a family …and stay as family…..many of us still have very strong ties to the farm…there have been at least 12 family weddings or wedding celebrations here and many other connecting parties…many of which are still held ‘between the houses’…all of them help to keep us in touch and rooted together….
Granpa Hunter gave us that gift….and we all should remember that…..he taught us to care about each other and stay in touch…..not a bad addition or on-going tradition to pass on to others…. not bad at all.

Joanne Shutt Weiss

One Comment

  1. Margie Zimmerman wrote:

    Thanks for sharing your memories with us. My best memories are of the Hunter Family Reunions at Thanksgiving in New Jersey and the fun I had with Stowie and Tommy under the tables. Also Uncle Tim Hunter delivering the dessert on roller skates.

    Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

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