Sunday, September 23, 2012

Farm Story 2 - Hop, Skip, and a Jump

     September brings thoughts of school and school bus rides. For a first grader on our street, all it takes is a hop, skip, and a jump onto the bus and then off to school.

     Today our road is a busy county road and the hazards walking this road are such that a mom would not choose to walk it with a child and never allow one to walk it alone.  School buses must pick up young children at their driveway on the same side of the road as their house is located.  They don't have to cross the street to get on the bus.

     In 1925, Ethel was a six-year-old first grade student.  She and her brothers, James and Robert, would depart each day for a one room school on a school bus that picked them up at their house.  However, the trip home at the end of the day was, without explanation, different.  It was a reverse of the morning route with a slight catch.

     In the early days, our area was divided into villages.  Union Village was located at the intersection of Hillcrest Road and Mountain Avenue.  It was at the intersection of these two roads that six-year-old Ethel and her brothers, James and Robert would be let off the bus to take the long walk home.  No one was waiting in a nice cool car on hot days nor a warm car on cold days. Actually, there was no car.

     The final leg of the trip home was a one mile walk up a dirt road that gradually increased in steepness.  A mere 2 minutes by car today, but on foot - it was 24 minutes to be exact if one kept up a steady pace.  At four minutes the children would reach a brook and then continue up the steeper part of the hill that was wooded on both sides. It would take another 17 minutes until Emerson Lane was reached.  At this point there would be the summer cottages inhabited during the warm weather by a Jewish community of vacationers who wanted to escape the city heat.  The final minutes would lead to the driveway entrance and home.

     Were there any perils along the way on this dirt road?  One time the three children walked the road and were stopped by a talkative gentleman.  As the man struck up a conversation with them, Ethel was positioned behind her two brothers.  As good brothers do, they protectively hid their little sister. She fondly  remembers her brothers' effort to this day.   Fortunately, it was the local doctor who knew the children.

    In spite of the idea that children were much better behaved in days gone by, sometimes discipline was needed and it could be meted out to the whole group.  What happens when everyone in the school needs discipline and must stay after school?  All, that is, except for the first graders.  The older students stayed behind and the first graders were put on the bus as usual.  Ethel rode the bus home, was dropped off at the bus stop, and started the long walk up the road all alone.  Imagine the relief she must have felt when her farm driveway came into view.
     Upon finally reaching the house and safety, there was no one home!  Her mother had taken Robert to the dentist that day and had not yet returned.
The Safety of Home - View is from south of the farm.  

    There at the house, Ethel waited all by herself.  As Ethel tells the story she remembers that hearing her brother James's voice at Emerson Lane was "the best sound in the world."
     Most likely there was an enthusiastic first grader's hop, skip, and a jump in excitement and relief as well - no longer all alone.
(These entries will not be ordered chronologically, but by conversations about pictures and events as remembered.)

Family recipe

                          Fresh Carrots Au Gratin
2 cups fresh carrots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 Tbs parsley, chopped
1/2 cup Italian Bread crumbs
3 Tbs butter, melted

1. Simmer carrots and onions in water seasoned with salt and pepper until tender, drain.
2. Melt butter; stir in flour.  Add milk gradually, stirring constantly.
Cook until thickened, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove from heat.  Stir in cheese and parsley.  Add carrots; mix well.
4. Pour into greased 1-quart casserole.
5. Combine crumbs with melted butter; sprinkle over casserole.
6. Bake at 375 about 20 minutes.

My tip: Double sauce; add extra carrots and onions.

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