Wednesday, January 3, 2018

My Christmas Story

My story begins  with my first Christmas------ December 25th, 1934.

 My friends and I were waiting patiently in our box on the table in the dining room.
A freshly cut pine tree was standing in the front window. It too, was waiting to be decorated soon.

It was very, very quiet -- not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
Then suddenly a man did appear,
dragging a chair, which he placed by the tree.
Up he climbed and attached a beautiful spear.

 Next he wrapped the tree with lights -- strings of garland and cotton snow,
 a Santa hung high, the mushroom down low,
 a little boy with a tall hat, a bear -- then me,
we all were hung on bouncy branches around the tree.

Tinsel was draped from branch to branch,
and with the slightest draft, every strand shimmered and danced.
All was quiet for the next day --
but, we were excited to be out after a long stay.
Then into the house there rose such a clatter,
when what to my eyes should appear, but a miniature person crying and screaming as there was something the matter!
The man had returned with a beautiful lady carrying this noisy spoof.
This bundle of joy was born December 10th to Bill and Ruth.
Now the quiet was in shambles -- but no matter,
I will hang around in spite of the clatter.
For the next few days I watched the family hustle about doing Christmasy things,
Two large stockings and one small, were hung from hooks and rings.
Boughs of greens were placed  around -- the wonderful smells of Christmas were abound.
Santa came and went and left a present or two, It was rather skimpy around the tree -- you see,
because it was a Christmas during  the Great Depression.
And William Raymond was Bill & Ruthy's Christmas present.
On Christmas day, Nana and Gramps came bearing gifts.
It was all recorded on Baby's First Christmas list.

Relatives, neighbors and friends were generous with a rattle or two.
I watched the gang dwindle to a few, and then knew -- this day was nearly through.
I was soon to be put away for a year -- along with the others, including the spear.
This routine has been going on for many-a-year -- It has been 83 times I'm out and free --
to be hung on a pretty Christmas tree,
I really don't know how many more times I'll last,
you see I'm delicate -- I'm only made of glass!
But I'm feeling sure -- I'll  see my family once more,
That will be when I'm eighty four.

Pluto is my younger  friend,
we'll hang together to the end.
Clowning around is fun.
Good by for now -- I've gotta run.
The little Clown
 "Christmas isn't a season
  It's a feeling."
  - Edna Ferber

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Pine Island update

I have recently received a new addition to my Pine Island stories. Upon reviewing them, I find my early stories were published in the Mariner Newspaper and not as a blog. Consequently, many of my friends and followers have not read these.

I have had to rely on my memory to pass on to you my youthful adventures on a little island near my home in Seaview. I had no photos at the time of the writings, so I sketched what I remembered. Now, thanks to the Bonney family, formerly of Seaview, I have Pine Island post cards sent to the Bonneys from some of the folks that vacationed and hunted ducks on Pine Island, c. early to mid 1930s. "The Good Old Days."

The first Pine Island stories appeared in the Marshfield Mariner "Around Town" column by Kezia

"Mud fights and cookouts on Pine Island''
On the east side of Pine Island was a wooden walkway out to a leg of Broad Creek. At the edge of the creek were a dock, a ladder to a lower landing, and a diving board. The walkways and dock were built mostly from driftwood lumber scavenged from the marsh. The camps also were built from mostly salvaged lumber.

Approaching Pine Island & looking east. Note the wheelbarrow full of firewood at this end of the catwalk.
L. is the North camp. Sketch done in 2013.

Although I don't remember this as seen, if you look at my sketch below, the middle camp appears to have a second floor or balcony.
Looking west. My sketch as I remembered the camps.
Duck hunters of Pine Island. They are standing on the deck of the North camp & before the porch was added.
The first camp in the front line, the porch is on the east end. Note the lady at the water pump.
At low tide, I would have mud fights with the kids staying on the island. The older kids would grind the mud into us! Every inch was covered in black, slimy mud. Sometimes we would wait until the tide came in enough to wash off. Other times we would lay near the water pump while another pumped. It took a lot of pumping to clean up, and the water became colder the longer it was pumped. The pumped water on the island was salty and discolored, used only for washing.

At mid-to-high tide, we would dive or jump from the board or off the railing. Full high tide would cover the dock and walkway, but only ankle deep. It was a challenge to ride my bike out to the dock, and a bigger challenge to ride back through the water.

Looking west from the dock. North camp on the R. "Sunnyside" must be the center camp.
The camp fire was next to the catwalk. The dock was the access to Broad Creek.
A dory was tied on the south side of the dock. The two men and two older boys would row out through Broad Creek to the clam flats at low tide, dig clams, then go fishing in the river. They would return as the tide came in, going with the tides. There were plenty of flounder, mackerel, cod and haddock in the mouth of the North and South Rivers.

The men would clean the fish on the dock. I was invited twice for a cookout. This would be the fish fry. I would help with the cooking fire in a stone circle. Plenty of kindling could be found above the high tide line and firewood was delivered  to the campers, by wheelbarrow!

"Mom" on the R. was Agnes Bonney. Julia & husband were the camp owners.
There was a steel cook plate across half of the fireplace. The men filleted the flounder; the women rolled them in cornmeal, and three of us kids kept the fire going. On went the flounder, mackerel and hot dogs. Mmmm, was that flounder good! I would have no part of mackerel! The haddock and cod were saved for fish chowder.

Notice the nice flounder he has.
The North camp. This is the only camp I was in. We would play checkers by a Coleman lamp at night on the porch.

The above photos are copies of post cards of Pine Island, and are compliments of the
Lawrence "Larry" Bonney family, formerly of Seaview.

"There's no place like camp.
I wish I could stay forever!"
- Unknown

Below is the original blog published in the Mariner from Jan.13 to March 3 2010.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Trees of Seaview

As I was growing up in the village of Seaview between Summer Street and Station Streets, I became aware how important trees were to me.

The first swing I remember was hung from a huge maple tree in our yard. My Dad would push me up so high I could touch another limb with my feet. I could never achieve that height by pumping. I could twist the ropes so when un-twisting it spun so fast it made me crazy dizzy and I couldn't stand. Still a little that way, And I don't have a swing!

My dog, Skippy, would try to grab my feet as I spun around, and once did he hold on to spin with me. I laughed so hard tears were in my eyes. Now you have to remember this was when I was 5 or 6 and during the depression. This was my entertainment.

During WW2, I was 8 or 9 when my Dad set up a wall tent under the biggest maple tree in the yard. It was shaded and cool all day long. In the fall these maple trees provided me with huge leaf mountains that I could jump into for hours.

Skippy, my dog, would become so lost under them, it would take all I could do to find him. He loved it, this was his entertainment too.

Up on the hill behind the old Railroad Station, there was a grove of white birch trees, Oh how I loved to swing on them.

Robert Frost seemed to have it right; (from "Birches"

''I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
and climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
but dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches''.

We had three apple trees also, but they just didn't provide the same climbing and swinging as the maples and birches.

The maples were big but, the elms across the street were much taller than any other tree around. They rose into the sky like sky scrapers. They were nearly impossible to climb -- the limbs were too far from the ground to reach -- and if you could, there were no low branches to grab onto.
There were four stately elms and one runt on the Seaview Railroad Station property.
 The four on Station Street were very large and healthy; the one near the tracks was the runt, and dying.  c.1943.

Mr. and Mrs. Baltimore Oriole made their home in a grey, neatly-woven nest, hanging from a limb that reached out over Station Street. Mr. Oriole sang his beautiful song to us for many summers. I remember one summer,  the tree was sick, the branch that supported the orioles' nest broke and crashed onto Station Street. Fortunately, the oriole family had raised their youngsters and had left.
Sadly the Great Elms died and the orioles never returned. (c.1955)

These Elms were at 272 Summer Street. (''The Little Green Light Tea Room'' c. 1910)

Today, this lovely Cape Cod home appears to be doomed.
Elms along Elm Street on the left and birches on the right.
   Looking E. from Summer Street,  c.1910

 Elms along Prospect and Summer Streets, looking E.  c. 1915
Elms along Prospect Street, looking E.
Elms lining the four corners of Marshfield Hills
and every street in the hills.
More, stately elms on Patrick's Lane, once Bridge Street/Main Street.

The lane to Daniel Webster's Estate.

These are just a few of the Stately American Elms I remember in town.

How sad I was seeing our five elms fighting to live, but slowly succumbing to the Dutch Elm disease.

"Trees love to 
toss and sway.
They make 

 such happy
- Emily Carr

by Ray Freden
Seaview/Marshfield, 70 years
Down East Maine, 11 yrs.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Marshfield's Hay-days are History!

Yesterday morning, as I sat on my deck, having coffee. An almost lost but familiar smell drifted across my nose, the cutting of the August hay. The sweet smell of the newly cut grass is next best to the East wind coming across the bay. Well, I jumped into my truck, and headed east. About a mile away, the John Deer behemoths were cutting and baling at the same time.


But, no more bales -- giant jelly-roll-ups lined the field. Some different than Decker Hatch's operation. 


Oh how I remember Dirty Joe cutting North Marshfield’s hay fields and loading and un-loading by hand pitchfork!

'Dirty Joe'' Joe Bradley, haying off Corn Hill Lane. c.1950
Caption: Decker Hatch, mowing hay off Union Street.

The harvesting of hay was a much needed winter food source for the farmers’ livestock.

Tools of the trade before machinery:

Wooden hay fork.
Hay saw.

Haying was usually done during the hottest August days and done bare-chested. Hayseeds mixed with sweat pierced the skin, and the sun cooked the workers.


OK, now into the barn! All for a dollar-a-day!

Caption: An early horse drawn hay baler.

This was a much easier way to handle hay.


Now we just stick our fork lift finger thru the bale and load it.


No bale has been touched by a human's hand. 


I have just returned home before noon, just short of 3 hours of watching todays operation.

The first truck load just passed my house, about 6 hours from todays start-up.

You will have to part with about $50.00 per 1100 pound round bale today. Your horse will need about 2-2.5 tons of hay next winter.

''He who feels the benefit should feel the burden''
Old Yankee proverb

by W. Ray Freden
Seaview/Marshfield, 70 years.
''Down East, Maine,'' 11 years.

Monday, May 2, 2016

As I Remember Decker Hatch: Part 5

Decker did not impress me as to his mechanical abilities. Although the saw mill kept running in spite of him. Maybe because the machinery was built to last a lifetime or a number of lifetimes. On occasion, there was metal breakage due to old age and usage fatigue. If Decker couldn't fix it with some fencing wire, he would have to call in the local welder and his portable equipment. This distressed Decker because the welder didn't work for a dollar an hour!

And, bye the bye, both Decker and his son had trouble pronouncing "dollar," the L's were replaced with W's. They had no trouble with, a "buck," a "fin," or a "saw-buck," but a dollar was more like a,  "dow-wa."

Although I have no idea what broke,  I remember the welder being there more than once. Other repairs were usually tackled by his workmen, Elmer and Burt Fish. Decker would mostly oversee and provide tools.

His tools, OMG! They were as vintage as the Mill itself. The tools were carried around in an old canvas bag with leather handles. One handle was missing. I convinced Decker to make a wire handle replacement to take the strain off the existing one. Finally he did, and it was made from wire.

Some vintage Ford truck tools.

His favorite tools were two monkey wrenches. A large one, and a small one. Also, there were pliers, an adjustable wrench, and a few screwdrivers, the blade type. I don't think Decker knew what a Phillips screwdriver was, nor, had any use for one.

More vintage Ford automotive tools that I have used for over 60 years.

His next favorite tool was fencing wire or hay baling wire. A good amount could be found in his tool bag as well as seen in numerous repairs in the Mill. I remember a coil of it hanging on a wood peg in the mill.

One fall morning Decker was leaving Franklin's shop as I arrived. I said, "Good mornin Decker."

He replied, "Nothin good so far," and left, walking down Pine Street.

After I got to work, in the shop, Franklin brought me up to date. It seems Decker's yard truck, a Ford model AA, wouldn't start. That meant the workers couldn't carry out Decker's morning plans.

Frank asked me if I had my tools, and of course I did, in my car's trunk. Off we went to the Saw Mill yard and up to the disabled truck.

I put my test light to work and found no power to the starter. Decker told me a new battery was put in by his men last week, and it's been starting fine.

Next, a look at the new battery. Well, it had almost fallen to the ground and snapped the ground cable.
The battery box had long ago rotted away, and the fence wire holding it had also rotted and broke away.

Franklin had gone back to his shop,and I was left to solve the problem.

Now, back to the shop to make a plywood box for the battery, then to the Trading Post for a new ground strap. The most difficult task was removing the rusted bolt that held the ground strap. I used fence wire to hold up the plywood box supporting the battery. Oh yes, I too believed in fence wire.

I installed the new ground strap, I gave the starter button a push with the choke on, and away she went. Five seconds later, she stopped and wouldn't restart.

Well, I checked for gas and it was dry!

Off to the trading post again with my two gallon can for gas.

After gassing her up, off she went. I drove her out to the driveway.

When I returned from a late lunch, the old truck had been moved and now loaded with slabs outside of the saw shed. I never got a thank you, nor paid for the two gallons of gas.

Just another day in "Hatchville!"

by Ray Freden, Marshfield, 70 years.
Worked in Hatchville, 6 years.

"We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once."
- Calvin Coolidge

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

As I Remember Decker Hatch and his son Franklin, Part 4: Cutting Salt Hay

This painting reminds me of Decker Hatch cutting hay, salt or otherwise.
Painting by Frank F. English.
I mentioned cutting salt hay in my previous blog. Alternate common name: Saltmeadow Hay, Marsh Grass, Saltmeadow Cordgrass. Its a Hay-like grass found in the upper areas of the marsh. It grows 1 to 2 feet high, green in spring and summer, and turns light brown in late fall and winter.

Decker had his share of salt hay on his property behind the airport off Ocean Street. He had a large barn where he stored his hay cutting equipment and housed his horses during the cutting season. Most of the cut hay was stored at this site.

Built by Samuel Hatch. c. Early 1880s.
Corn was also planted in the drier fields nearest the airport runway. I found it great pheasant hunting on those corn fields.

Decker used a single horse hitched to the sickle bar to cut the marsh hay and corn stalks. A team of two horses were used for heavy work and to pull the wagon loaded with marsh grass.

A wagon loaded with freshly cut salt hay.
Cutting on the lower and wet salt meadow, Decker would fit the horse with "marsh shoes." They were a strange addition to the horses hoof, and rather awkward for the horse. These were used to prevent the horse from sinking into the soft mud.

A set of marsh shoes.
There are hundreds of variations because most were made by the horse's owner. There was a pattern applied for improvement of the marsh shoe in 1876. I once had two pair of marsh shoes hanging in my barn, each pair were different.

A team of horses wearing Marsh Shoes.
Salt marsh hay uses in days past:
Roof thatching
Insulation of floors and foundations
Insulation for root cellars

Garden mulch
Shrubs and trees
Insulation of shallow wells

Decker sold salt hay to horse farms for stall litter. Others would buy the hay for mulching blueberries and strawberries. A lot of hay disappeared when Decker was away. He would deliver a truck load for twenty dollars.

After salt hay cutting was over, Decker would return his horses to his sister's barn across from the Hatch's home. His method was to hitch the pair up to the back of his truck and drive up Ocean Street to Plain Street, and down Union Street. Although Decker drove slow, this was a long haul for a pair of old horses pounding their hooves on that hard pavement.

Now lets talk of a horse of a different color.

Decker loved horse racing -- "the ponies." When the racing came to the Marshfield Fair, Decker was there. His son told me he never missed a day of racing at the  Fair.

This was Decker's hobby, and he took it seriously. No tree cutting, no sawing lumber, no farming, no hay cutting. When the horses were racing, Decker was in another world.

Rounding the first turn.
He would get a lot of kidding about the "ponies" and how much he won or lost.

A number of times, Decker would stop into Franklin's shop to chat with Frank and kill time before his dinner. By now, I was accepted somewhat, I could have conversations with him. When I got a chance I would ask, "Decker, did-ja win or lose today?"

After a bit he would respond, "Y-see, y-win some, y-lose some."

The next time he showed up, same question, "Decker, did-ja win or lose today?"

His response, "Y-see, y-lose some, y-win some." The ''ya'' was almost silent. The "ya-see" was a "yse."

Franklin once told me to pay attention to how his father arranged his answer. I have always wondered if this was a hint of his wins or loses, or just by chance?

Read his answers again. Leave your comment at the end of this blog.

 Decker must be there somewhere.  
W. Ray Freden, Marshfield, 70 years.

"Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people." - W.C. Fields.