Quite impressive: My classmate drives a tractor – #atozchallenge

Quite impressive: My classmate drives a tractor. Seventeenth of twenty-six posts in the April 2017 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Whispering Chimneys: My Altamont childhood” — where my genealogy journey began. Wish me luck — I’m more than halfway there!

When I was in first grade, most kids I knew were pretty much like me. They went to school, came home, played in their yard then went to bed — only to start all over again the next day.

If they operated a vehicle it was most likely a bicycle — and I had just barely graduated to a two wheeler. So imagine my surprise when I saw something quite impressive on the farm next door — one of my classmates driving a tractor!

The first time I saw him bump by atop the giant vehicle I could hardly believe my eyes. But sure enough he bumped by again — making wide circles as he tilled the field next to our back yard. How could this be? He wasn’t much bigger than me!

A real working farm

I thought about our farm Whispering Chimneys. Sure there was some chicken growing, hay mowing and a family business or two going — but my parents and maternal grandparents weren’t operating a real working farm. Not like the Mennonite family of my classmate next door.

By: NatalieMaynor

Their farm was really something. They rotated their crops — one year there might be clover growing near us, the next year corn, and sometimes nothing at all while the field lay fallow.

On the best years they rotated the cows nearby! I loved to grab handfuls of grass from our yard and feel the cows’ warm breath when they poked their giant heads through our fence and rooted in my hands for the treat.

I decide to investigate

I decided to ask my classmate about the tractor driving the next time I saw him on the school bus. Only he wasn’t on the bus the next day, or the next — so I finally asked my parents about him.

“Oh, he gets time off school during planting season to help his parents on the farm,” Dad explained. Time off school? Really? Well, now I was even more amazed!

Here was a small boy — about the same age as me — who could already drive and got to skip school to do farm work. Quite impressive indeed!

Up next – Recital: “I’ll never dance again!” Please stop back!

 © 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Please like and share:

Peg: My postwar mom – #atozchallenge

Peg: My post-war mom. Sixteenth of twenty-six posts in the April 2017 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Whispering Chimneys: My Altamont childhood” — where my genealogy journey began. Wish me luck — I’m more than halfway there!

Peg — my postwar mom — was twenty-four when we moved to Whispering Chimneys in 1950. She was a piano major and music education graduate of Potsdam College in Potsdam, N.Y — which is where she met my dad.

Before they married, she taught music at the Atlantic City High School in New Jersey. She even made the local paper for leading the children’s chorus at the American Association of School Administrators convention.

My mom makes the papers. (Atlantic City Evening Union, 25 Feb 1948). Click to enlarge photo. A recent college grad, Peg was 22 and just  starting  her career as a music educator. Scan by Molly Charboneau

But after I was born, Mom took a hiatus from teaching that continued throughout our years on the farm. Which is not to say she wasn’t working.

Operating the cabins

Being a mother and housewife was a full-time job — and for a while she also helped run the farm’s three cold-water tourist cabins down by the road. Here’s how Dad described the job in his essay about the farm years (they being my parents).

Me with Mom on the running board of our maroon Dodge, circa 1952. Photo: Norman J. Charboneau

…they had the overnight cabins to make an income. This simply required that someone had to be home every night to sign in the tourists.

The following day the cabin had to be cleaned, the bedding and towels washed, and the beds made for the next guests. This lasted through one season and the next year the sign came down.

A steady presence

Unlike my dad, who left every day for work, my mom was a steady presence in my early life. She got me up, dressed and fed; spent the day with me; and put me to bed each night.

She was the one I ran to if I hurt myself playing or when I got sick — like the time I woke up with mumps, took one look the mirror and yelled, “Mom, I have no neck!”

My bevy of little girlfriends was also her doing because Mom made sure I socialized with her friends’ children — at our house, at their houses, at dance class, at church, at the public pool or for birthdays.

Civic minded

Mom hosted an electrical repair class in 1952. From the Events of Today column of the Schenectady Gazette, May 14, 1952. Source: fultonhistory.com

Mom was also community spirited and joined the local Home Bureau, a New York State-wide homemakers’ organization.

According to an article I found in the May 14, 1952 Schenectady Gazette, she even hosted an electrical cord repair class at the farm for the Home Bureau’s Evergreen unit — where I’ll bet my dad was the presenter!

The heart of our family

If Dad was the head of our family — its planner and project developer — Mom was its heart. And in this way, they balanced one another.

Mom was a trained musician, arranger and composer who had already led choral groups before I was born. And she imparted her artistic talents to us children from an early age. By the time Sound of Music was released in 1965, we were able to quickly learn the score and sing it four-part harmony on car trips.

Mom was a role model for balancing a creative life, a family  and a career (which she resumed after we children were older) — and for me, those lessons began in the early 1950s when we lived on the farm.

Up next – Quite impressive: My classmate drives a tractor. Please stop back!

 © 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Please like and share:

Out on the porch: An intangible essence – #atozchallenge

Out on the porch: Destination or state of mind? Fifteenth of twenty-six posts in the April 2017 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Whispering Chimneys: My Altamont childhood” — where my genealogy journey began. Wish me luck — I’m more than halfway there!

Out on the porch of our Whispering Chimneys farmhouse I whiled away many an hour — as did my family.

And over the years the front porch evolved from a mere destination to a state of mind — tranquil, contained and ideal for watching the world pass by.

An outdoor multipurpose room

In warm weather, our porch served as a sort of outdoor multipurpose room connecting our side of the farmhouse with my grandparents’ side.

The front porch at Whispering Chimneys the year my family moved there, as documented in my baby book. Scan: Molly Charboneau

We had a regular-sized living room door that led out onto the porch and my grandparents’ big main door opened there, too.

Each door had its own set of steps onto the lawn — and a third set of steps at the side was great for running to the big swing set across the driveway.

The farmhouse had two other porches — a small one off our kitchen for toting groceries in and out and a rickety one we never used off my grandparents’ wing. But the front porch was where all the action happened.

A great escape

Out on the porch you could see and hear the traffic on Route 20. So it’s no wonder my first word was truck, not Mama or Dada — much to my parents’ disappointment.

As I grew older, the front porch became a great escape. It had Adirondack chairs where I could sit and take in the view — with flat arms wide enough for snacks or a coloring book. And the porch roof provided cooling shade on a sunny day.

From the porch I could spot the letter carrier delivering the mail, so I’d know when to head down to the mailbox. And sometimes I’d find my grandmother out there — working on her knitting while she kept an eye on the antique shop — and we’d have a chance to visit.

A special feeling

There was a special feeling on that porch — an intangible essence of my early childhood that I thought I’d lost when we left the farm and later when I moved to New York City.

But then I visited the Queens Farm Museum one quiet weekday — and as soon as I sat out on the porch of the Adriance farmhouse the familiar feeling returned.

And just like that, I was back on the porch at Whispering Chimneys as if it was yesterday — surveying the world and watching the traffic go by.

Up next – Peg: My post-war mom. Please stop back!

 © 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Please like and share:

Growing family trees one leaf at a time