Dorothy Smith

The Life Story of Dorothy Smith

interviewed by Susan Smith, June 1989

 

I’m the mother of Susan Smith, and I was born in Shelburne, Massa­chusetts 65 years ago. When I was a girl, things were entirely dif­ferent than they are now. I lived on a farm. The farm was mostly a dairy at that time but my father gradually transferred to apple grow­ing, and at one time we had sheep ‑ so it was sort of diversified farming It has evolved during the years to be an entirely apple growing farm, an apple orchard, but back in the old days it was much different. I was one of five girls, five girls on a farm, and we had a wonderful time but I imagine our father was sort of hoping for a boy mixed ln somewhere along the line. My first recollections ‑ well, let me see ‑ I don’t remember too many things that happened when I was very small, except that I can remember going to my uncle’s wedding ­ at least I think I can because my mother said that my sister ‑ my old­er sister and I ‑ I was the second of five girls, by the way, my old­ er sister and I were the only two who went to this wedding and she says that when we got ready to go to the wedding we did something terrible, and it seems to me as though it was to put some zinc ointment on the floor and go skating on it before the wedding, which probably upset her quite a blt because we were all dressed for the wedding and she was get­ting ready herself. So I would say that probably happened when I was about two or three years old, and I really think I can remember that, but that’s about the first thing I can remember. I can remember when Herbert Hoover was defeated for the Presidency, and FDR came ln. .that was ~quite a while later, though, wasn’t it? Well, anyway…My early schooling took place at the Skinner School. It was a one‑room school~ I can remember two different teachers that I had. The first was an o~d­ er lady and she was a very kindly lady, we enjoyed her very much. We had a wood stove and the older boys had to start the fire each day, and then they had to go up to the Goodnough’s ‑ a house next door ‑ to get water, and we had water in a well, some kind of water container that had a little spigot on it, and we could get water from that all day long. Just imagine ‑ no running water and, of course, backhouses out back which must’ve smelled quite a bit. We had to go through the room where we hung our coats and hats to get to the girls’ room. Girls had a room for their coats and hats and the boys had another one, so it was a very segregated school. I can remember working at the blackboard and very often one of the older students would help the younger ones. I had to skip one grade, or maybe two, because I was the only student ln the class and the teacher thought it would be better for me to be ln with some other students. It was the kind of a school where, of course, everyone participated ln all the activities. We used to have places to speak, as they called them. We had to speak pieces for Christmas, for various activities during the year. I remember the Christmas party, particularly, and the mothers and fathers would come for a short even­ing program and we’d all have to speak our pieces. I don‑t remember ever doing any real drama, but that was the closest thing to it. We had spelling bees. We had ‑ the other thing I remember about this that was quite different than students would even know about now ‑ is that we had inkwells,..and it wasn’t until you got into the fourth or fifth grade that you were allowed to have ink and an inkwell It was dropped right into a hole in your desk, and the pens were these terrible, scratchy old things. You got a new pen point whenever the teacher could­n’t read what you were writing, I guess, and it took quite a while to break in a new pen point so if you got a good one and got it working well you tried to keep it and not let anybody else use it because it did disintegrate pretty fast if you passed it around too much. Let me see…what else…Oh‑recesses! Recesses were wonderful at that school because we had a hill right behind the school and in the wintertime we could slide down the hill ‑ I suppose on our sleds ‑ some people brought their sleds. I can remember one person who brought a “rip”, a double rip which is big, long, two‑runner sled, and several of us could get on at one time. We used to have great times with that. I think marbles were one of our favorite things in the springtime, and in the spring­ time one of the best things was to get your long stockings and long underwear off. Mother always thought that we tried to take them off ,before it was really quite time. We always had to wear long underwear and hold the underwear down while you pulled the stockings up, and so no one wore slacks in those days. It was terrible to have that awful underwear with wrinkles all up your legs. My days at that school were numbered because there were several small schools in Shelburne and at this ~unction in the history of Shelburne they decided it was‑well to think about‑ a consolidated school, they called it. So it was in the middle 1930’s I believe when probably I was in about the third or fourth grade, that we moved to the new consolidated school. It was about three or four miles from our house. Oh ‑ I forgot to say when I was ln the one‑room school, we used to walk to school. And we had one boy on our road who was very difficult to walk with ‑ he was always picking on the girls because it was largely a girls’ neighborhood, and this one boy used to give us quite a bit of trouble. So we always tried to walk either ahead or behind Winfield so we wouldn’t have to associate with him. The other nice thing about walking to school was that we had wild flower contests, and every spring we would try to get to school first with a new wild flower, and the person who got the most “firsts” of wild flowers ‑ who brought in the most first ones of the season would get a small prize from the teacher, and I can recall that she always kept a list on the blackboard as I remember it. Wouldn’t you have thought somebody would’ve erased one or two, but I don’t believe they ever did. Or at least she must’ve remembered who brought ln what. Well, now to get back to when we moved to the consolidated school, This was a three‑room school, so we had the first and second and probably third grade ‑ first, second and third in one room ‑ fourth, fifth and sixth in another, and seventh and eighth in the third room, I believe. Our teacher who had been with us at the one‑room school moved with us to the consolidated school, and I had her there, I believe, too, for one or two years. At the consolidated school it was quite wonderful because we had hot lunches. Before we had always had to carry cold lunches to eat or occasionally we would go home if our mothers were able to come for us and take us home for lunch, But this being quite a bit farther away, and so many children had to come by school bus now instead of ~just walking, that we had to have hot lunches. But this was entirely different from any hot lunch program you’d‑ever hear about to­ day They had a stove and a sink in the hall ‑ it was rather a large entry hall ‑ and some days the teachers had to go out and make the cocoa, and that was what the hot lunch consisted of ‑ hot cocoa for the day ­ or they would go out and heat the stew, Other days we had one lady who brought in hot lunches and she would make the most delicious macaroni, spaghetti and those sort of things ‑ maybe….I don’t remember what else, But anyway, she brought delicious things in and the teachers were res­ponsible for serving it in the classroom There was no lunchroom, No­ thing of that sort, At consolidated school I think we probably had a little more elaborate programs for the holidays, and, of course, there were more students in a grade so it made it a little more interesting, not ~just one or two in each grade, and the teachers only had to teach three grades instead of eight, So it gave them a little more time for each student When we went to consolidated school we went on a school bus driven by Lewis ‑ “Louie” Goodnough ‑ we always called him. He drove for years ‑ years, and he was the kind of a school bus driver who knew everybody’s names and history, particularly birthdays. Some­ times he would remember the kids at Christmas time by bringing them little gifts, And when my mother was making doughnuts ‑ my mother even made doughnuts before breakfast, occasionally, so we could have hot dough­ nuts for breakfast ‑ and when she was making doughnuts she would always have us take some to Louie, It was a very, very congenial arrangement. And I don’t believe we ever had any disruptions on the bus where people had to be put off the bus because they had misbehaved. Everybody liked Louie, and he was ~just like a father or grandfather to all of us. My next experience with a different school was at Arms Academy. That was where I went for high school, and at the time Arms Academy consis­ted of two buildings, one of which is still standing, but the other one was torn down many years ago Oh‑ actually, it consisted of three, be­ cause we did have a gym built across the road from the original Arms Academy and we used the gym for physical education classes. But I think that was while I was at Arms Academy that it was built. It see~ed to me as though I had some gym classes in the old science hall before we moved over to the Cowell Gym. Arms Academy was conducted in much the way high schools are nowadays. We had to move between ~lasses We had more classical studies, r believe, than some students do now. There was always Latin offered. I did not take Latin, but anybody who took the college prep course was offered Latin if they wanted to take it. I chose French instead, and we had an excellent French teacher who startled us all by coming in the first day and speaking nothing but French, and we had to guess what she was saying. It was very confus­ing because we had never even been exposed to any foreign language ­ never even heard anybody speak any foreign language, I don’t suppose ­ and this was quite a shock to us when she came in and started greeting us all in French and trying to make us understand what she was talking about by pointing~ to different things in the room. The other teacher that I remember particularly in high school was our science teacher His name was Mr. Freude,and he must’ve been at least 6’6, at least to timid freshmen, he certainly looked that big. He was a rather large man, sort of a bear of a man, you might say, and he was ~ust a delight­ ful person once you got to know him, but he stood for no disorder in his classes. Anybody who tried anything out of line, he put them right in their place. We had excellent science classes. He taught every­ thing: biology, general science, physics, chemistry. Course we didn’t have as much in any of those subjects as I suppose they do now but he was at one time elected Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, and we felt very fortunate to have such a special person on our staff, and have had him as a teacher for several years. I was in the college prepara­tory classes and so took mostly English and science and math We did have agriculture classes which are hardly even part of high school cur­riculum nowadays, but in those days there was a very active Future Farm­ers Club in our school, and we had home economics ‑ in fact I think the home economics was in the same area where the school lunch program was taken care of ‑ and I don’t remember but what we ‑ I don’t remember much about the school lunch program at that school. Well…to get back to my childhood at home…we had a large farm as I have said, and we had horses instead of tractors at the beginning. Maggie and Molly were our two horses. When we were little once in a white Dad would let us ride on the horses when they were doing some work, and we had to hang on to

‘the sweaty old horses and their harnesses while he was driving them along to do something. But most of the time we weren’t allowed to ride the horses because I guess he thought they had enough work to do with­ out carrying one or two children besides. I remember, ~just vaguely, when we had an icehouse. And I suppose the ice was used to cool the milk, because I remember the milk was all put into cans in a big vat of water, and I suppose the water was cooled by the ice from the icehouse. I can’t remember ever having ice in the house for an icebox it seems to me we always had an electric refrigerator, what I can remember The other thing that was a little different about our house was that not only did we have an electric refrigerator, but we had an electric dish­ washer when I was quite young, because my grandfather lived in the other half of our house, and he was very solicitous of my mother. He thought anybody who had five little girls needed all the help she could get. And so he bought us one of the first dishwashers, and it was the kind where we had to fill up a dish pan full of hot water and pour it into the dishwasher, then plug it in, then it swished around, and I suppose cleaned the dishes pretty well. And then we were through, it pumped out, but I think it was not automatic ‑ at least not completely auto­matic, certainly. We had to pour the water in ‑ I can remember doing that. We pushed it out of the way, it wasn’t what you’d call perman­ently installed. It was moveable, and it had to be pushed out of the way from the sink when we weren’t using it. Also, in the corner be­ side the sink, I can remember we had a little box that was lined with metal, and the water from the spring ran into that. And we dipped in­ to that‑when we wanted a really cold drink of water‑we would dip ln and get a drink of water from the spring water. Otherwise we used whatever came in the sink, but this was special, because it came from our spring up the hill, and it was nice, cold drinking water. We had a wood stove in our kitchen, my mother baked everything on a wood stove for many years, It was quite an innovation when she finally got an electric stove she was very clever at baking on the wood stove ‑ she’d get us to run out to the woodshed and get small sticks so she could build up a hot fire, she’d say, and then she’d bake whatever she was baking. Almost every week she’d bake pies. She made quite a bit of bread, but she didn’t make all our bread She made many, many muffins and things like that ‑ cookies. We all had plenty of experience learn­ing how to cook under Mother’s guidance. She was an excellent cook, and she always liked to have us help. She was a very patient lady who gave us time, to help her when she was baking. My grandfather ‑ my paternal grandfather ‑ lived in the other half of our house. His first wife was Ellen. She was my grandmother, and she died the year I was born. He married a second time, and his second wife lived only, I think, less than a year. I do not remember her. But then in the early 1930’s he married again, a third time, and this one was Aunt Kay, we called her. She was a very prim, proper lady, and she kept a beautiful house for him. She had lovely furniture. She brought some with her when she moved here, and I remember particularly her grandfather clock. She was a very good cook and she used to make especially sour cream cake which was one of my favorites, and always invited us in to have a piece when she had it in her pantry. She had a pantry where she did her mixing, and where she always cooled her baked things white ‑ when they first came out of the oven. Before Aunt Kay arrived I think my grandfather had his sister Julia helping him. She was a maiden sister who was very gifted ln writing, and she used to write children’s stories­ had many of them published ln the Youth’s Companion, and she was a very kindly lady who went around and helped sick people ln the town when they needed somebody to come ln to help during an illness. I believe she kept house for Grandpa, but I don’t remember much about that. I do remember that one of Grandpa’s favorite breakfast foods was pickles. He very often had sour pickles and if there was a piece of apple pie he was apt to have that for breakfast, too. And we used to go in, and there he’d be sitting, eating his pickles for breakfast, and it was really quite a thing for us children. Grandpa was very musical. He was ‑ had an excellent bass voice, and he persuaded his grandchildren to sing with him at every chance he could get. His grandchildren were ~just us five. My father was an only child, so Grandpa had us five girls When a new radio station opened in Greenfield, they used to ask differ­ent churches to provide the music for the religious service each week, and they’d have one minister come in and give a little religious ~service and then different churches would provide religious music. This was my grandfather’s forte. He loved religious music. I remember that when he was 80 years old he had his five grandchildren go down and sing with him, and I think that must’ve been ~one of the highlights of his life. He was so proud to be on the radio, and to have his grandchildren singing with him, I’m not so sure we were so pleased about it, but Mother and Dad thought that we should do it for Grandpa’s sake. Another thing that Grandpa started which was a nice tradition, and I wish it still continued in our family, and that was that every Sunday night he would come in and say: “Well, could we have a little music?” My sister Helen would get over to the piano and play and Grandpa would lead the sing­ ing ‑ or, really, he just sat there and listened ‑ but we had him sing My father was not musical at all, my mother wasn’t either, so we glrls and Grandpa used to do most of the singing, but we just had wonderful times singlng together. He always closed the evening ‑ I suppose it was about a half an hour we sang ‑ and then he would close by singing ‘God be with you, ”til we meet again’ ‑ every Sunday night. We had various instruments that we tried ‑ none of us turned out to be, real­ly, high class musicians. But my sister Barbara took lessons on the trumpet. I took lessons on the violin. Helen took piano lessons, as did Barbara and 1 for a few years, too, and I don’t remember about Margaret­  and Catherine, except that they both took voice lessons. They were the two who really took after my grandfather and had beautiful singing voices. And so they were his pride and joy because they could sing up to his standards. The work on the farm was never easy, and our farm was not a very prosperous one, I’m sure, particularly during the depression years. But we never thought we were poor. We didn’t have everything that many of our friends did, but I don’t know as they did either, come to think of it because we lived in a town where every­ one was in about the same economic ~level. Most everybody was farmers in our town at the time. We used to help with haying, or I don’t know as the girls were really help, but we had fun watching. We had a big hayfork that ran along the ridge of the barn, and our hay was all lif­ted by pitchforks onto the wagon with the horses pulling it, then the horses would draw it into the barn and this big fork would drop down from the middle of the ridge pole and my father ‑ I can see him now ­ pushing the fork tines into the big load of hay. The more he could carry up, the better, each time, And then he’d get the pulleys going. This big fork‑full of hay would go up to the ridge and sling along the ridge pole, and then drop into the mow. Of course, before we finished farming, or before we finished haying, we got to the point where we’d had a baler, and everything was entirely different, but this soft, bulk hay ~ust in the mows were wonderful places for children to ~ump in the hay. And all the daring ones would go up on the beams way up in the top of the barn and jump as soon as they dared. Once the hay got up high enough in the barn we could ~ump in the hay, and that used to be a great, great recreation for all of us, One time the haywagon was in the barn, empty, and we children were playing with Junior Swasson, who was Aunt Kay’s nephew, was here, a city boy, and he was a little bit more daring than we girls were, And he thought it would be wonderful to take the haywagon and ~ust ride down the hill, There was a slight incline from the barn floor down to the level of the orchard out behind the barn So he thought we could ~ust ride down that hill and have a llttle spec­ ial time. So, we took the wagon out of the barn, and got on and rode down, but unfortunately the wagon took a turn ~ust before it got to the bottom of the hill and ran into what was the chickenhouse at the tlme I don’t think our father was too pleased about that. Another accident that I remember that I felt completely responsible for, of course, I was responsible for, we had a ‑ I don’t know whether it was, I guess it was like a leather top on our car. Cars weren’t made solid o~ the top at that time. It had sort of a fabric or leather of some kind on the top part of it. We kept our ~kis on a rack up over the car in the gar­age. Well, I thought one time that I needed to get my skis out and no­ body was there, so I thought well, I can ~just climb up and pull them down. Well, the ski was ~just a little bit too high and I wasn’t quite tall enough, but I gave it a yank, and the ski went through the top of the car. It went right through this fabric on the top of the car, and I was so afraid to go and tell my father. But to his credit he didn’t really get too angry at me. He said “Well, that’s too bad”, and he took something and taped so that there was no hole in the top of our car and I guess eventually he got it fixed a little more securely. But I shall never forget how afraid I was to go and tell him that I had made a hole in the top of the car. For vacations, we never went many places that cost much money. But I’m sure we had ~just as much fun as people who go miles away and stay at affluent resorts nowadays. One of our favorites was to go over to my grandmother’s house in Ashfield She lived about 14 miles away. Her husband had died ‑ she was my maternal grandmother ‑ and her husband had died many years before. She lived in an upstairs apartment in her farmhouse and she rented the downstairs. Well, we used to go over there for three or four days each summer, and I’ll never forget what wonderful times we had ‑ how that woman could have stood five of us descending on her ‑ but she always acted as though we were ~just the nicest company she could possibly~ imagine. She had a schoolteacher who boarded with her during the winter, and walked to the little one‑room school a short ways above her house. So, we couldn’t go when Miss Etta was there, but as soon as Miss Etta left, Miss Etta being the teacher, as soon as she left for the summer, then we could go and we used Miss Etta’s bedroom and Grandma had an old­ fashioned iron couch that opened up that she put two of us on, so Miss Etta’s bed took two, and Grandma’s couch took two, and I suppose one of us must’ve slept on the floor. And one thing I remember was that it was ~always so hard to get used to a new bedroom and a new place to stay, and one time I told Grandma that I didn’t think I could go to sleep because her clock made too much noise. She had a ticking clock. So my dear grandmother said “Well, that’s no problem”. And she stopped the clock for me. She stopped the clock so that I could sleep at her house. She used to take us down to the~ brook. Never did Grandma know how to swim, as far as I know. And I can’t remember her ever putting on a bathing suit. But she took us down to the brook, and there was what she called the sheep hole. It was ~just about probably to our necks. We all knew how to swim, or at least we thought ‑ we were very confident swimmers I don’t think we were. She used to take us down there, ~e didn’t live near a brook ourselves, so that was one of the biggest treats to go to Grandma’s and go to the brook. We could sit under the falls, and keep cool on a hot day, a way that I can never remember doing since, hardly. It was ~just wonderful to go to that cold, cold brook. Other recreation, well, I might say that we did all learn to swim at the Greenfield Swim­ming pool. My father was a person who really insisted that we all learn to swim And I am eternally grateful to him, because our nextdoor neigh­bors were another family of girls and their father didn’t know how to swim, and he never took them and they never learned and never enjoyed swimming. But our father took us to the Greenfield swimming pool many, many nights in the summertime after he’d been out ln the hayfield all day, and we’d go down and we’d watch with envy as he showed us how to swim He’d swim across the deep end of the big pool. And then we would go over to the children’s pool and he’d get us started and it was a great, great accomplishment when one of us could go across the big pool with Dad. He took such patience with us that we all learned to swim My mother was not a swimmer. She used to go down and help watch the younger ones while he had the older ones learning to swim. One of the biggest treats was occasionally we used to go to the swimming pool for supper, and they had beautiful fireplaces and picnic tables there, and we used to cook hamburgers and I never had a hamburger that tasted any better than the ones we cooked at the Greenfield swimming pool. My moth­ er had one sister ‑ my father was an only child ‑ my mother had one sis­ter, and we used to go to Auntie Marion and Uncle Leo’s house, this was my mother’s sister, Auntie Marion, and she used to invite us occasion­ ally during the summer, too. When we went there it was entirely dif­ferent. She lived in a mill town and there we were regulated by whistle at the mill. When the whistle went off we would see Uncle Leo walking home from the mill for his lunch. And then when the whistle blew again he would have to leave and go back to the mill. Uncle Leo and Auntie Marion were great picnickers and they had more equipment than we ever thought of having for cookouts and so on. They’d keep their car all stocked~ ready to go on a picnic at the drop of a hat or a moment’s no­tice. They took us many, many times on wonderful picnics in their a~ea and I remember that their house was quite a bit different than Grand­ ma’s, and Auntie Marion had a spare room or two and so it wasn’t quite as crowded when five of us visited her. One time, Auntie Marion had to take my sister, who had some klnd of a….I can’t remember what she had . some kind of a contagious disease, and so Auntie Marion was the one who took her so that the rest of us would not get exposed to it. Speaking of diseases, we were very frightened of polio because in tfiose days everyone knew that polio was a very dreadful disease and frequently was ~atal. Well, we tried to stay away from places where polio m~ht be rampant and we tried to not get exposed in any way we posslbly could. But one year my sister Barbara contracted polio, and that was a very, very frightening time I remember because we were all quarantined in our house. We couldn’t go out at all to school or anything, and I can re­ me~ber how my father used to read to Barbara and we used to sit in the hall and listen to the books because they were wonderful books. He was so patient trying to help her fill in the long days when she had to be in bed. Luckily, she had no permanent paralysis from her polio, al­ though it may be what caused later problems in her life, she apparently had no serious repercussions from that disease. And we were very thank­ ful that none of the rest of us got it. Let me see…Other vacations.. one time we went to Darian, Connecticut to visit my father’s Aunt Hat­ tie. That was a real excursion, I’m telling you, we never went any­ where that far. And for five of us kids and Mother and Dad to pile in­ to the car and go down there and stay ‑ I suppose maybe two nights or three. Darian, Connecticut was probably four hours from us or maybe three, but it seemed like we were going to the end of the world. And she lived such a wonderful life. She had what she called the big stone house, and that was rented, and then she had what she called the little stone house and that’s where we stayed with her, and it just seemed llke an enchanted cottage. I can just remember how all her friends were so solicitous of all of us girls, and we had such a wonderful tlme qoing to visit some of her friends right next door. We’d walk to the different people’s houses and she’d take us to visit them. She was so proud of us. We thought that she had just:an elegant place to live compared with our house. It was beautiful, but I’m sure that if I went to visit now it wouldn’t look quite as startlingly beautiful as it did then. One time we went to Hampton Beach in New Hampshire with the next door neigh­ bors. They were going and for some reason they invited us to join them on their vacation, and that was quite an expedition because they had four girls at that time and we had five, and they had no boys. So there were nine girls going on a vacation to the beach together. They had a small cottage as I remember it. My mother and father had one room and I think all of the girls must’ve slept in the living room part of it. But it was just such~ a different experience for us ~because we’d never been to the beach ~before. We didn’t even know what the ocean looked like as I remember it. And that was my first experience going to the beach. My parents were very strong Congregationalists and we were very active in the Congregational Church in Shelburne all our lives. I remember that my father was treasurer for years and years. Every Sunday we went to Sunday school and church. And my grandfather went to church and sat right in front of us. It was ~ust expected. No one thought of staying home from church unless they were very ill. We had a succession of ministers. Some of them were better than others but they were all kindly people as I recall, and we always had wonder­ ful Sunday school picnics outside with a big group of people attend­ ing and then a big ballgame in the afternoon. I don’t recall there was much religious emphasis on Christmas or the holidays, particular­ ly Easter, as there is now, but I do remember that at Easter time al­ most every year we had one new outfit. That was our new outfit for the summer season, and Mother would try to get us something nice for Easter. We always wore hats in those days, and white gloves when you got old enough to. It wasn’t considered proper to go to church for women unless they had a hat on, and of course when we girls got old enough that was part of our attire too. I think that was one of the main influences in my life ‑ our church ~s always meant a great deal to me and I still am a member of the same church, and go reqularly. When it came time for me to go to college I thought I would like to go to an expensive school. I don’t know why, but the next door neigh­ bors had connections with Mount Holyoke and one of their girls was go­ ing to Mount Holyoke. Mount Holyoke was way out of our range, though, and when Father discussed it with me I realized that I would be lucky to go to our state college, and I was really very happy to go there, after I got started. I had a wonderful experience there and I’m sure it was just as appropriate for me as Mount Holyoke or some expensive private school would have been. The first two years…well, the first year and a half, I believe it was…my sister and I commuted to col­ lege. Barbara was a year ahead of me in school and she and I could commute much less expensively than we could stay down in the dorm. But then, the gasoline shortage came along during the war and we had to stay down, and Barbara and I roomed together for two years I remember. And then when she finished I roomed with a friend whom I still keep in close touch with, and we had a wonderful time living in men’s frater­ nity houses ‑ this was a time of colleges being without many men on the campus, and the fraternity houses were turned into dormitories because some of the women’s dorms were not ‑ well, there weren’t enough women’s dorms to accommodate all the students. So I lived in a men’s frater­ nity house which has always been a little shocking to some of my fami­ ly. The last year ‑ I majored in home economics at college ‑ and the last year we had to live in a home management house. I don’t know if that’s done very much now, but at that time it was an excellent experi­ ence. We lived there probably a couple of months. About seven or eight girls at a time, and the home management teacher lived there with us. Each week we were on a different level of expenditures. For instance

I can’t remember what the amounts were, but possibly we’d have $1.00 per person per day to spend for food. And we would have to plan the meals around that ~mount of money so that we got to realize what kinds of food you could buy on a very low income, and what you could buy on a more adequate or higher income. And it was really a great experience I can remember how we found out that you have to use a great many things like beans, soups and things like that when you’re on the lower incomes, and you can go to steak or a few more expensive meats when you’re on the higher income, and then of course the medium incomes were easier to manage, perhaps. The home management house was a wonderful experience for me. At college, I think I was in the glee club, but I really did not have too much time to be in any outside activities besides that. It seemed to me as though I worked very hard in college. I can remember when we were commuting that I used to get up early before we left in the morning for school and do some of the final homework. And we had a place where we used to eat our lunch every day with all the other commuters, so it was a nice experience, I went there for four years, and after that, my first job was in Vermont as a 4‑H Club agent. I can remember going up by train to be interviewed for the job, and the state 4‑H Club agent met me just outside of Burlington, Vermont. I interviewed for two different jobs and one of them was in St. Johns­ bury which was a nice‑sized town I thought that was by far the bet­ter job. And to my surprise they offered me the job, but I can imag­ine how shocked some of those men were when they asked me about what I knew about cows and the agriculture part of the 4‑H program. It seems that in those days they didn’t have a boys and a girls 4‑H agent. You had to be the one in the whole county, and I was responsible for both the boys and the girls work, and I can remember how embarrassed I was to try to work with some of the farmers. We had little calves given to various 4‑Her’s and I was responsible for trying to help ar­range to get the calves to the right farms and I really didn’t know much about dairying, but of course Vermont was a big dairy state and I did the best I could, I liked 4‑H work very much, but I think the hardest part of that for me was that I was always working evenings and everybody else was having a good time ‑ it was their recreation while it was my work and I always had to be there too many evenings a week. I got a little tired of that part of it. I think the experiences that I had there, though, really were something. I had charge of the 4‑H building at the fair one summer, and that was quite an eye‑opener for me. I had no idea how much it involved to get a 4‑H building filled up with all the different exhibits from the different clubs in the area. Then one summer I had charge of a camp, and I wish I could re­ member how many days it was, but I remember that it took ‑ it was quite a pro~ect ‑ it took weeks of preparation before we were ready to go to the camp. And I imagine the campers stayed, probably, three or four nights. I depended on my sisters a great deal to help me with that, and one of them who came was the bugler ‑ she always reminded me of how she had to be the bugler for camp. We had a nurse and a cook, but a great deal of the food I remember purchasing ahead of time and taking it up for the camp. I don’t remember how many campers we had but I imagine it was around fifty. Why people would’ve ~et me be re­ sponsible for their children out in the wilderness, I can’t imaglne.

We had a good time, though, and we did a lot of swimming, and we had a very responsible nurse, so I felt that sh~ was a great asset and prob­ ably the parents were happy that we at least had a good nurse on the premises Well…the 4‑H job ~asted about a year and a ha~f, possibly two years I was in St. Johnsbury, then I had an offer of a much more lucrative ~ob down in eastern Massachusetts. I was offered a job as a home supervisor for the Farmers Home Adminlstration Part of th~ time I worked out of the Lowell office in M.assachusetts, and part of the time out of the Brockton office. When I was in Jowell I just had a room with a family. It was a very pleasant place to stay. The job entailed visit­ing low income farm families and helping the wives plan wisely.  This was a program where the Farmers Home Administration loaned money to farm fami­lies, but with the stipulation that they get some help in managinq their affairs so that they would use the money wisely and possibly improve their economic status considerably. So my job was to work with the house­ wives showing them how to do canning, how to save money by buying wisely, how to use their skils at sewing or whatever else would be money‑savinq things, trying to help them with budgets. Of course I never made a bud­get myself, in‑this world, but I soon learned that you can help oth~r peopte even if you don’t quite know how to do it yourself sometimesl I worked with the Farmers Home Administration for two years ‑ Ohl I for­ gotl After I worked in Brockton, then for a while I was moved to Am­ herst‑North Hampton area. In the Amherst‑North Hampton area I w~rked with one of my real mentors, one of the people in my life who really made a difference, I think. His name was James Ford, and he was the farm supervisor in that area. He was an older man at the time, nearly ready to retlre. But he was just a delightful person, and he was a very inspiring person to work with. He had the farmers’ interest at heart, and he certainly helped me a great deal to mature and to learn what life was all about. It was while I was working in Amherst that the Farmers Home Administration decided that they had to economize and close some offices. Mr. Ford’s office was the one that was closed in that area, and I was out of a job. But he was glad to be retiring. He had thought of retiring before, and so he was happy to be retiring, and he urged me to go on to school. He thought there was nothing like advanced work in college. Once you’ve had a little experience ‑ it would be good for me, he thought, to try a graduate program. His school was Cornell, and hls wife was from Cornell, also. They were Cornellians through and through. In fact, her father was a Professor of Veterinary Science at Corne~l So Mr. and Mrs. Ford told me that I should apply at Cornell and see lf I could get into the graduate program in home economics there. So of course, I didn’t know much about anything ln that line. I hadn’t had too much experience wlth graduate programs, but I applied and I was ac­ cepted, and to my surprise I was offered a teaching assistantship. The stipend for the teaching assistantship was sufficient to pay my expen­ ses, plus a little bit more. I worked with several wonderful professors on the teaching part of the work, and I certainly had some excellent professors in the courses that I took at Cornell. My graduate degree re~uired two years of work, and at the end of that time I was offered an instructorship in the Department of Food and Nutrition.~ I taught in the course in chemistry and foods with Professor Marion C. ~lint, and I stayed at the ~ob for three years. I certainly en~oyed all five years of my work at Cornell. It was while I was there that I met Henry Michael Smith who was to later become my husband. He was working in the cafeteria ‑ the home economics cafeteria ‑ the place where I ate many of my meals while living in Ithaca At the end of three years of teaching, I left Cornell to become Mrs. Michael Smith We were mar­ ried in September, 1952 Michael was at that time working in Hudson Falls, New York area on a farm trainin~ program director for Veterans who came back to farms and had special help from the Government to get established on their farms. His was a traveling‑around ~ob which was very interesting to him While living in Hudson Falls the first year we were married I worked at the Imperial Paper Company in a lab where they made colors for wallpaper So my chemical experiences at Cornell, the many chemistry courses that I took stood me in good stead for that job. I worked there for probably six months. And then at the end of that time we moved to Granville, New York because Mike had taken a job as teacher of vocational agriculture at Granville High 5chool I looked around and found a job there in a child welfare de­ partment as a caseworker, This was a dlfferent type of job for me, but I enjoyed that very much. It was working with chlldren who were placed in foster homes, and some of the situations were really eye‑opening for me, who had never been exposed to the kind of lives that some child­ ren have to lead. It was after about two years we had our first child, Susan was born in March of 1956, and at that time we bought some prop­ erty on Lake St. Catherine, a beautiful lake very near Granville. We had friends who had camps on Lake St. Catherine, and we thought it would be fun to have a camp there. Mike was ambitious, and almost ev­ ery night after school we would go over and work on the camp. He did most of the construction himself, and really put in hard, long hours in the evenings and weekends. It was a one‑room…well, really, two rooms upstairs and a porch downstairs right on the lake. We had great times going boating and visiting our friends up and down the lake. It was a lovely place to spend the summer days. In the summer of 1956, my father was looking for someone to go into business with him on the home farm back in Shelburne, Massachusetts. So he came and talked to Mike and me and we decided that perhaps that would be a good chanqe for us at that point in our lives. So we moved to one apartment in the hou6e where I was raised as a girl, and my parents lived in the other half of the house, The year after we arrived there, our son Timothy was born, and then two years after that, Marsha arrived. I was at that point, a homemaker only I had no outside ~ob, but I cer­ tainly kept busy with three youngsters and all the activlties that went on around the farm, helping with the garden, and ta~ing care of gar­ den produce, helping with anything that I could in the apple season, of course There was always the selling of the drops, and helping with some of the bookkeeping, The bookkeeping has become more and more my ~ob as the years have gone by, While our children were small, I had many volunteer activities I was asked to help with Girl Scouts, 4‑H, Sunday school, Cub Scouts, It seems as though I had my turn at almost all the youth activlties, but I always felt that supporting our child­ ren was part of my job, and both Mike and I tried to attend all the activities that we could at school when they were partl~pating, and attending the various Little League games and so on For a while I was a library trustee and have always been active in the church. In 1969 I decided that perhaps I would like an outside job, as I thought perhaps the children were getting old enough so that I could be away from home part of the time. I took a job as a teaching as­ sistant, really, or I guess that’s what it was called, at the high school in our tawn I worked with various people in the science de­ partment there as an assistant helping with setting up labs, cleaning up, and occasionally teaching a class. That was an interesting in­ terlude, but didn’t last very long because ~hat was the year that my father died rather traqically~ on a tractor accident, and I felt that after that I should be home with my mother. She was rather feeble and needed some help with her personal life, and so I felt that I should stay home. In 1972 my mother died, and this left us with the entire responsibility of the house and the farm. We moved into the other half of the house where my parents had lived, and since then my husband and I have been the owners of Apex Orchards and have tried to keep up the standards that were set for us, and expanded the orchards considerably. In 1980 we bought another farm about 18 miles away and since then our son has come into the business. Now he is taking over gradually, as my husband has officially retired. Mike still works almost every day, but he calls it that he has retired. My ~ob is about the same as ever, I am now church treasurer which takes quite a bit of my time, and I am treasurer of Apex Orchards, Inc., so I do all the bookwork for that. Mine has been a full and happy life. I have felt fortunate to have such a wonderful husband and three child­ ren of whom I’m so proud.”

 

 

 

 

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