When the little house moved from the glen to the hill, it left its bottom behind. The 1912 foundation was made from the large and abundant stones that both plagued and blessed most Connecticut farmers. The unending supply of rocks made difficult the plowing and planting of the fields, but easy the building of the walls. My great-grandfather William recorded “picking stones” as a frequent activity in the fields. The little house’s rocky footprint is still visible and accessible.
Yards away from the foundation sit two boulder-like stones. They cover an old well and keep animals and people from plunging into its depths.
Sometime between 1925 and 1943 my grandfather and his helpers lifted the little house off its stone base, transported it through the orchard, and positioned it on a new cellar at the top of the farm’s hill lot. Red painted, white trimmed, and dormered, the little house seemed a cousin to my own house – the one my father built in 1946 on Center Street in Wallingford, Connecticut. I couldn’t find a photo of the little house on the farm, but you can get an idea of how it looked from this picture of my own childhood home.
The little house on the hill was a dollhouse compared to the big farmhouse. In winter we climbed the pathway from the farmhouse driveway to the top of the hill. We borrowed big pots from my grandmother, saved pieces of cardboard from Christmas presents, gloated over new “flying saucers,” and fought over the prime sledding transport – the “Radio Flyer.” We took turns going up and down all afternoon with the promise of popcorn and hot chocolate in the farmhouse kitchen afterwards. The hill was short, but mighty. We often poured water on it to freeze a faster ride. Now, in my dotage, I feel sorry for my aunt, uncle, and cousins who had to walk up and down that hill after a Sunday afternoon of sledding. Ice is better for sitting down than for standing up.
In 1943 my mother’s older brother Francis married Glenna and brought her to live in the little red house on his parents’ farm. My cousin and his family live there still.
In summer we walked up the hill to the red house in sweaty pursuit of popsicles. Our Auntie Glenna led us down the cellar steps into the cool dirt-floored basement and opened the lid of the deep freeze to find the fruity popsicles nestled in their metal beds. Our mothers made their own popsicles – grape, strawberry, orange, and lime. But Auntie Glenna’s tasted best. Care was taken not to stick a tongue onto the frozen metal mold. It was so tempting. Maybe that hint of danger, and the descent into the dimly lit cellar made the treat more special – or maybe it was the warm and cheerful welcome we always got from our sweet Auntie Glenna.
On Monday: Corn