Sunday, January 11, 2009

Margaret "Grits" Davis recollections

Aunt Grits’ Recollections

Some of you have urged me to write some recollections of my childhood and youth. Up to now I have put it off, either from pressure of other occupations or just inertia. But here goes. You have asked for it and I am about to begin. It will probably turn our to be more fun for me than for you, but anyway you can stop reading whenever you get too tired!

The house where I was born was about 3 miles from Asheville, N. C. and a little over a mile from the small town of Biltmore where we went for mail, ice and a few items of food and household supplies. Biltmore was also a train stop where we met passengers and picked up freight packages.

Leaving Biltmore to get to our house we would cross the Swannanoa River on a high iron bridge (recently built to replace one washed away by a flood) then turn east following up the river on a fairly good (depending on the season of the year) dirt road for about a mile, passing one house. A narrower road turned off, leading through a field, crossing a brook, and plunging into a dark, wild beautiful glen where the brook rushed over rocks, and rhododendrons grew thick and lush, -- then out, -- and there was our house! The family named it “Tanglewild” on account of the rhododendron thicket.

Beyond the house a lovely valley widened out toward the north, nearly a mile long to the east of this were low hills and to the west a mountain ridge – “Beaumont” – (“Beaucatcher” to many of the local people) – beyond which was Asheville. The [unknown sentence at the bottom of the page]…
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many years. The brook, which flowed along the western edge of the meadow, came down from the hills far to the north and was normally a delight, but thunderstorms occasionally cooked up a “freshet” (?) and the brook would become a roaring torrent, even overflowing the meadow to the detriment of some of my father’s best crops. The road crossed the brook close to our house. Through a “ford” for horses and carts, with a foot-bridge for pedestrians, then skirted the east side of the meadow, ambled up a hill where our second house was later build and finally joined another road which climbed over Beaumont to Asheville.
The house at Tanglewild was old but comfortable enough, -- two stories, flat roof, not very attractive, painted grey. It was the land rather than the house that attracted my father; he had moved to N. Carolina from Lawrence, Mass. (where my brother Minot and “Davey” were both born) to escape from New England winters which were considered pretty lethal for anyone with any sore of respiratory trouble. My mother’s brother, Uncle Paris Folsom, had already settled about 3 miles east of Biltmore, also under medical advice. So my father bought 100 acres and did very well living off the land; his best paying crops were fruits and vegetables which were carted to Asheville several times a week.

I recall little of life at Tanglewood, as we sold it when I was four. I do remember being taken for donkey rides along a cart road to the big farm, and I have a distinct mental picture of a kitten following us one day and falling into a hole from which Davey rescued it. The house itself I could hardly forget as for years we passed right by it every time [maybe missing a line at the bottom of the page]
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My mother died when I was two – from a severe attack of pneumonia. Aunt Anna (?), one of my mother's two unmarried sisters, promptly came down from Boston and took over the care of us three children and the running of the house. She was still quite young (early 40’s?) and attractive, but had no apparent pr9osepct of marriage. I have often wondered at and admired her courage in stepping into such a situation and have hoped that this self-sacrificing act may ? her a fulfillment which she might otherwise have missed. She and my father were good enough friends, but he was not an easy person – determined, sometimes obstinate, a good ?-man and completely honest, but very withdrawn emotionally; even with us children there was little outward show of affection, though I can remember being held in his lap and read to when I was quite small. Words of praise were scarce if we did something naughty; -- no corporal punishment but for days a complete withdrawal of any notice of my existence, which hurt much more than a spanking would have. I can’t remember that this strangely distant-emotionally relationship with my parent hurt or even bothered me; I think I rather took it for granted and accepted it. I admired and looked up to him but was seldom really at ease with him. Davy and I called him Papa (accent on second syllable); Daddy, Dad and Pop more not in good standing then. Minot later took up the more dignified “Father”.

My sister’s nickname “Davey” was actually acquired till many years later; I believe it [I think the bottom line may be missing at the bottom of the page]
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… Lanier Camp; when growing up she was Marigold or Mary to the older generation, “Mame” to me. Minot’s nickname for me was “Megrits” later shortened to “Grits”; Peg, Peggy, Miggy and later Pen were names applied to me from time to time by various relatives and friends. My name for Aunt Anna was “Mugsy” after a bear in one of my favorite stories.

Aunt Anna was out-going, affectionate and demonstrative; the trouble there was that she spoiled me – the youngest and a “delicate” child. Our other maiden aunt – Aunt Ellen – was the head of a small private school for girls at 19 Chestnut St., Boston. She was poised, dignified, rather reserved, would stand for no nonsense but was really warm and understanding. In the early days we saw her only during vacations; we liked and respected her and I think she was genuinely fond of us, especially Minot of whom she saw a good deal during his boarding-school days. She and Aunt Anna were really devoted to each other but in constant disagreement on trifles.

Uncle Paris’s farm “Maple Spring” was only three miles away so trips back and forth were easy and frequent. His three older children, Theodore, Narmie (?) and Paris were considerably older than we; Charles was near our age and a pleasant companion of whom we saw a good deal; Blanche, a little older, sometimes condescended to play with us. Uncle Paris was a dear, but Aunt Ellie was one of my pet dislikes; she was fat and flabby, talked a mile a minute mostly about her ailments, and was quite silly. She was terribly afraid of horses and used to tell us that on the few occasions when she had to go [bottom of page left out]
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from nervousness.

The only grandparent I ever knew was Grandfather Folsom – a dignified, white-haired Unitarian minister who lived with us very briefly before he died. I remember him only vaguely.

Strangely, Papa and the aunts seldom spoke of our mother. As I never knew her I never actually missed her. I would frequently think and wonder about her without any feelings of deep sadness though wishing I had known her. Later I used to wonder what life – and I – would have been like if she had lived, and sometimes during the throes of some adolescent problem I would think “if only my mother were alive I’m sure she would understand. Largely through some of her letters which the aunts had kept I gathered that she was a very lovely person and deeply religious. As we grew up I can recall no discussions about religion, but it was apparently taken for granted as an important part of life. Papa would read from the Bible Sunday mornings and we would sing a couple of hymns. Probably we said the Lord’s Prayer – and were taught prayers to say at bedtime. For a while there was a Unitarian minister in Asheville; Unitarians were scarce in that part of the South, but enough rallied around to hold services in a hall, and we were regular attendants. When those were given(?) Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt made over the town of Biltmore and built a nice little brick church and imported a very (?) nice Episcopal minister. We went fairly regularly to that service. It was in this same church that Pop and I were married.
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The summer after mother died the aunts took us to Nantucket renting a cottage at Sconset. I vaguely remember the beach there. That winter for some reason we spent in Cambridge in one of the houses on ?ayerweather (?) St. connected by a covered passageway and owned by the Hooper family. The five Hooper girls ranging in age from twelve to twenty were friendly and helpful. There was a small pond near by where, with their skates, took us for lovely fast sled rides. A reservoir at the top of the hill, with a high fence e and a path around it, was a good place for games and races. I remember having pneumonia that winter and riding to Boston in the horse-cars with straw on the floor to keep one’s feet warm.

The next two years in N. Carolina were largely taken up with the planning & building of “Crowhurst”; we moved in the summer of 1890. It was really a delightful house, on a hill northeast of Tanglewild, with an unbroken view of the distant pi?gah (?) range to the southwest and, after ? a vista through the woods, the craggy range to the northeast. A short distance from the house there was an interesting landmark that we loved – a great lone pine fully twice as tall as the woods around it, spreading its great strong branches protectively over its surroundings. The house was quite large, shingled, stained brown, with ample rooms & wide porches, and a bathroom – considered a great luxury by our few neighbors. Unlike Tanglewild it was well heated, with an open fireplace in nearly every room and an excellent woodburning furnace in the spacious basement. During the winter Papa would go down at bedtime every night and pile several big gree3n logs on the fire which would b urn slowly all night. Cutting and hauling the winter’s wood supply was a job that occupied most of the autumn months
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as the woods where most of the cutting was done were far over on the(?) slope(?) of Beaumont.

Another luxury was running water – achieved by a somewhat complicated process. Rain was frequent and ample and was put to good use. Gutters and pipes carried rain-water from the roof down to two large underground cisterns; from these pipes led up to a hand-pump in the kitchen and twice a day one of the “hired men” would pump enough water up into a large tank in the attic from which more pipes – and gravity – carried it down again to the kitchen & laundry links and the bathroom. This rain-water was quite adequate for washing and some cooking but no good for drinking, so two or three times a day someone (very often Davey or me) had to take two pails down the hill perhaps an eighth of a mile – to fill them with lovely clear water from the “spring”. These was a spring-house where some semi-perishables were kept; it was located in nice cool woods and was a delightful place to linger in on a hot day before taking that grueling trip back up the hill carrying two full pails.

The barn was all the way down the hill – partially hidden by trees. It was larger and practical but not beautiful; build on a side-hill. It had 3 or 4 levels and housed all the animals. The hens had a separate domicile? never ? to spend much time in it – they meandered freely often stealing their nests in will hidden spots. The top floor of the barn contained wagons, plows, hay rakes, tools etc., and there was a trap-door leading to the big hay-? Two floors below; the hay would be brought in on the upper floor and forked down through the trap door. On the next lower level were the horse stalls with their own entrance, harness, saddles and feed bins. Below this were the cows and pigs and
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a large vegetable cellar. [can’t read top line] climbing a ladder – was large and full of interesting miscellany and good hiding places. On the tight of the big barn door was the ‘carriage house” containing the mountain-wagon with a top and curtains to let down in case of rain, a surrey with a top, an open buckboard and a one-seat buggy with a fold-back top.

On the next two pages you will find a picture and an account of the house tread-mill. It stood on the upper floor of the barn and was an important item in the running of the farm. It was connected with a small silo and used to cut up “sileage” for the animals feed, as well as to saw wood. We often played in it, pretending we were horses – incidentally, making it go was very good exercise. The horse that ran it had to be well-disciplined and good-natured; I often wondered that they submitted as willing as they did to what seemed like such a boring occupation.

Our new house was really remarkably well planned. I don’t know whether we had a professional architect, but someone certainly did a good job. Downstairs there was a hospitably wide hall, a library, parlor, dining-room, one bedroom & dressing-room, two pantries, kitchen, laundry, two small maid’s rooms and a large woodshed which also contained the maids’ :earth closet’ (john), upstairs there were six bedrooms, two dressing rooms, linen closet, large storage closet and the bathroom. The attic was large, with some head-room, containing many fascinating objects (and the water-tank) and was a great place to play on rainy days.

Davy’s and my room faced south, toward the Big Pine with Bustee (?) – a lone mountain ridge – in the distance. The
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river was half a mile or so away so we couldn‘t see or hear it, but we could hear the trains just beyond and above it – particularly the freight trains at night. The hill magnified the sound and there was quite an up-grade going north which the heavy freight trains often had difficulty making. I would lie awake listening to them puffing and snorting, stopping and starting; sometimes they would just have to give it up – a few loud blasts on the whistle and finally a second engine would come hustling up from Biltmore and after a series of bumps and jerks they would be off and finally out of hearing so I could go to sleep again. Another night sound – in summer – was the Katy-dids but their sing-song “Katy-did, Katy-didn’t” was rather sleep inducing.

From 1890 on, “Crowhurst” was my real center of existence – actually until I was married. There was much time spent in the north to be sure, more and more as the years went on, but for both Davey and me Home was the brown shingled house on the hilltop with its surrounding hills, woods, fields, fruit trees, grape arbor, berry patches, hayfields, cornfields – and the barn. Minot spent little time there as he was sent to boarding school (Powder Point, in Duxbury) when about eleven. One year of small private school in Asheville was tried with rather poor results, then another winter in Cambridge with Minot and Broome & Nichols, Davey at Miss Ingols (?), I at Miss Manson’s (?) Kindergarten. The next winter was spent at Crowhurst again, once more trying the private school in Asheville for Davey and me. After that two winters in Boston living with Aunt Ellen but going to school across the street, to Miss Bridge’s School for younger girls. At that point [?] decided that [?] should not be left alone so
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much and that N. Carolina was a healthier place for us anyway, so four winters and all but one summer were spent at Crowhurst, with governesses to assure our educational progress. We had three different governesses – Miss Farnham, a charming person, Miss Holbrook – indifferent – and Miss Blake who stayed for two years. Morning lessons were not very arduous, we had much free time in the afternoons, and the three young women fitted into the household pleasantly. To be sure I grew to dislike Miss Blake, largely because she disliked me, realizing that I was spoiled and that I got away with a lot that I shouldn’t have; she adored Davey and showed it, so probably a good deal of my dislike grew from jealousy. I vented my feelings sometimes by writing in my diary stories such as; “Walked to Biltmore with dogs & Miss B” – for which I was severely reprimanded by my teasing brother who took a pencil and reversed Miss B’s position to before the dogs.

It is hard to capture in words the rather special quality of life in the mountains of N. Carolina from 1890 to 1908. It was simple, leisurely, difficult at times, natural – almost ideal for growing children. To be sure we had no movies, television or radio, no autos or airplanes, so swimming pools or ski-tows. Were we deprived, or were we really just as well – or better – off without them?

The climate was delightful – enough variety – seldom too hot in summer or too cold in winter. In midsummer it was better not to stay too long in the hot sun, but there was little humidity, the temperature rarely went over 85 and the nights were comfortable. Very [Sentence at bottom of page gone] occasionally
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taking a day off from lessons. Mosquitoes were practically non-existent, but flies abounded and chiggers – a revolting tiny red thing that bit and itched. There were very few poisonous snakes, and in all my year I saw only one rattlesnake.

The pace of living was slow – it had to be. We had no electricity and for some years no telephone and whenever we went anywhere it was on or behind a horse or on foot. This was simply accepted as a fact of life and never seemed to bother any one. The need for and obsession with high speed had not yet taken possession of otherwise sensible people. A fast gallop on a horse was lots of fun, but was always brief except on the level river road, -- the many hills, mud in winter and dust in summers always slowed us down. Of course there were passenger trains but even they seemed to more or less take their time – on the Asheville branch anyway – and were never really expected to meet their schedule. Having no telephone we couldn’t find our ahead [don’t understand] the train would be, if we were meeting someone; this meant often a wait of an hour or more or even driving back home & returning later. I remember on one trip south the engine broke down near a small town and during the 2 or 3 hours that it took to fix it we watched an exciting baseball game between the local townspeople and the train crew, with some of the passengers joining in.

Sometimes the river road – our usual route to Biltmore – would be badly washed out by a spring flood and we would have to detour by a road that led over the lower arm of Beaumont. After one of these floods it would take some days to repair the
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Striped suits, some of them actually chained together called the “chain gang”. Late in the 1800’s the road between Biltmore and Asheville was macadamized and trolley car service started and we would often walk across to it, enrooted to town, thus saving a mile or so of walking. A year or two before we moved away there was the automobile that used to travel that one hard road.

For most of the year we were outdoors the major part of the time, and the possibilities for happy occupation were almost limitless. A great deal of our time and interest was spent with animals – horses principally, dogs, cats and kittens ? rabbits and the various farm animals. The work horses we had little to do with, but there were always 2 or 3 good riding-driving horses that were usually available if we wanted to go anywhere; these were usually rather run-of-the-mill animals but quite adequate and better suited to our way of life than thoroughbreds. We were not averse to walking, even the 3 miles to Asheville if we had to, but much preferred a horse. Davey and I were good riders and loved horses – Minot did not, if fact he would often start off on the back of a horse and return on foot, leading the horse. We were some of the first females to ride astride (or “cross-saddle” as it was more properly called) on the advice of our doctor uncle, and someone invented a Harket(?)-saddle which we used for years instead of the regular English saddle or a western. We had an old side-saddle or two that my mother had used – and the aunts on rare occasions – and would try them as a stunt. We also
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Distance, but that had its disadvantages – some horses backs were sharp and uncomfortable and they were always slippery. One day we discovered, down on the edge of the meadow, what we were sure was a valuable mineral spring, full of iron. We had heard of people buying mineral water; our discovery might not only bring health and long life to all of us but maybe we would bottle and sell it! We would get a sample for the family to try, so with pail and cup we hopped on Red Fanny (?) double and bareback – and returned to the meadow. The spring, on further inspection, proved to be small and shallow and it took a long time to fill the pail, dipping the water our by a cup-full so as not to roil up the bottom. As it was getting late, we took a short-cut back, up a rough steep path, Davey in front holding onto Fanny’s mane, I behind holding onto Davey with one hand and carrying the pail in the other. Of course, you can guess what happened – Fanny gave a lurch, I lost my hold on Davey and slid ignominiously over Fanny’s tail with all the treasured water down my neck – dampening not only me but our enthusiasm for the mineral-water business.

A great deal of our time was spent in the woods taking the dogs with us, exploring new paths al-water business.

A great deal of our time was spent in the woods taking the dogs with us, exploring new paths and (?), hunting wild flowers and birds. A big thrill was finding a whip-poor-will’s nest – just two eggs laid on flat ground – which we almost stepped on; fortunately we knew enough to look for the nest in the opposite direction from that which the mother bird (feigning a broken wing0 had taken. Much time also was spent near the tops of good
[Bottom line hard to read]of which there were a number not far
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From the house. At one time we had a large sand pile in which we would construct roads and houses – the latter inhabited by families of sticks of all sizes who led very interesting lives. Dolls we didn’t care for. We collected caterpillars, feeding them in a covered shoe-box with holes punched in it for air, watching them spin their cocoons and emerge later as butterflies. We took a good many rather inferior snapshots, developing and printing them in a large upstairs closet as a “dark-room”, with a red lantern for light.

Each season seemed to have some particular attraction – winter open fires, with popcorn and toasted marshmallows on special occasions. In the sprint excitedly watching for each early wildflower as they came along –- we knew just where to look for the different species, hepaticas, arbutus, spring beauty, bloodroot, etc. etc. – all had their chosen habitats! Almost my favorite season was haying time; there was something very special, after the little mild “helping” the hayers, about being boosted up to the top of the load nesting into its sweet-smelling depths – horses impatient to be off, wheels creaking under the load – the ride up the hill from hayfield to barn was never long enough. Then there was chestnutting in the fall, over in the chestnut grove beyond the big pine, -- hunting in the grass for the nuts (still in their prickly (?)) that had already fallen, then climbing the trees to shake down more.

Davey and I were usually quite good companions in spite of the difference in age, but we also had some pretty terrific fights – kicking, scratching, biting.
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Periods of being “out of peace” with each other, practically not speaking for several days; but that would get boring after a while and we would manage to think up some reason for being “in peace” again. I was a selfish and spoiled brat and wanted my own way; Davey was sweet-tempered and inclined to give in, but could stand up for herself if things went too far. Minot I adored in spite of the fact that he often teased me to the point of tears. A rare invitation to accompany him on a bird-walk was a triple red letter day for me. Later he and I became quite close and wrote each other long confidential letters after he went out to the west coast.

By most standards we were not strictly brought up. There were certain rules that we were expected to observe, such as regular hours for bed-time and getting up in the morning, being on time for meals which were always served at regular hours, doing our allotted chores, etc. etc. Usually we conformed because it was really easier. The bed (or rather sleep) hour was pretty easy to evade because there were many quiet ways of amusing ourselves after we had gone upstairs; sometimes we were caught, but punishment was seldom severe – an extra chore or doing without something we wanted. But I vividly remember two times when I deliberately disobeyed and then foolishly tried to lie my way out, bringing on papa’s peculiar and harassing type of punishment.

We were expected to do a certain number of chores both indoor4s and out. We al2ways had two servants – a cook and a “second-maid” – sometimes white, sometimes black; but we had to make our own beds, help with the dishes, do some of the dusting and mopping, clean and
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fill the kerosene lamps. We were also given a little instruction in cooking which was rather good fun specially if the cook happened to be a nice one.

The outdoor chores were usually more fun than work – picking fruit, going to Biltmore for the mail, feeding the chickens, hunting eggs. The latter job was quite intriguing as the laying hens had to be watched and outsmarted; they had an uncanny way of finding out-of-the-way places for nests. A hen would usually cackle after laying an egg, so the trick was to observe where she was when cackling then the next day lie in wait nearby and observe where she came from before she started cackling. Sometimes they would outwit us completely and we would come across a next with ten or twelve eggs in it – most of them too ancient to be edible. The job I really disliked concerning the chickens was chasing a hen that had been marked for the stew-pot; we could outlast any hen, but sometimes it took quite a while to tire her out or trap her so we could pounce on her. Then she had to be taken to one of the men for the slaughter, which I always got away from as quickly as possible. Families of little chickens were fun to watch and play with; they would wander around following their mother, and were so cute to pickup and cuddle. We were not required to take care of the horses – cleaning them and their stalls, feeding and watering, but that was one chore we often did voluntarily.

In spite of the generation gap we children had many good times with older people – family and friends. Aunt Anna played games with us – dominoes, backgammon,
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One summer during the governess era the aunts took us to Seal Harbor, Maine, a delightful two months, with a nice group of young friends. We rode bicycles wherever the roads were good enough, went on sh?ling picnics to outlying islands and climbed mountains. Occasionally a hired “three- seater” would drive us to some distant picnic spot and whenever we went though a town we would treat the inhabitants to a lusty rendition of the Seal Harbor yell. The Maine water was considered much too cold to bathe in (we hadn’t yet learned to swim) but on one very hot day we finally teased the aunts into letting us go for a dip in the harbor; -- that and a ;lunge in Eagle Lake on a picnic were the extent of our open-air attentions. That summer I had my first experience of being kissed by a boy; -- his sister dared him to do it.

I might put in a foot-note here in regard to the general subject of the behavior or young people at that time. I said my “first” experience – actually it was practically the only one until I was engaged to Pop – kissing. Petting etc. just were not done by “nice” boys and girls, even at college age. Some of my acquaintances who were somewhat freer in their behavior we considered rather “fast” – don’t think for a minute that we were prudes; I really believe we enjoyed each other’s company more pleasantly and naturally having a more intimate relationship something ahead to us, to look forward to, -- in the meantime we had endless delightful good times together, sometimes just two sometimes in groups. We didn’t go steady” – unless we were engaged. Of course we fell in and out of love, had “crushes” and occasional broken hearts. A girl could easily gauge a man’s feeling for her by the number of times he would drop in on an evening, take her places,
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dance with her at dances. The dances were fun with a capital F. Some were card affairs, with the men filling out the girls’ cards, but most were “cut-ins’ with a “stag line” and ushers. And of course always one or more hostesses. And really danced, instead of the present day jiggling around.

From 1899 to 1908 much more of our time was spent in the north; there were four winters of school in Boston, three summers in North Hatley [Aside: see], Canada, a trip to the West Coast and of course, for me, four winters in Cambridge. I’m rather vague as to the ? Papa lived during the years until 1903 when Davey – having given up the thought of college on account of eye trouble – went back to Crowhurst to stay. It must have been tough for him in many ways, but he always had some sore of a housekeeper, did some traveling in the winters, and I know he was genuinely anxious for Davey and me to have the kind of education and other advantages that living in Boston could provide.

Our first summer in North Hatley, on beautiful Lake Massawippi in 1899, we learned to swim, (?) and paddle a canoe, fished for perch, bowled in the town bowling alley. We stayed at the Le Barons’ boarding house. Mrs. Le Baron made fresh doughnuts several times a week – a ceremony that we seldom missed; I have never much like doughnuts since, but am not sure whether that is because I ate too many or that never again have I met any as delectable as the hot ones right our of Mrs. Le Baron’s oven. The other two N. Hatley summers were equally delightful; we rented a cottage so no more fresh doughnuts, but plenty of sociability; summer camps for boys and girls
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Not yet very prevalent, and resorts like N. Hatley still drew a good many young people.

The four winters in Boston were packed full of interesting and delightful activities. We lived with Aunt Ellen at 19 Chestnut St. and attended her school. There were concerts, theatre, gymnasiums, dancing classes, shopping in the stores across the Common, new and pleasant contact with friends and relatives. Even the serious work of getting an education had many good aspects; we enjoyed most of our classes and “homework” was not burdensome, and most of our schoolmates more fun to be with. Davey and I kept on with our music and had amateur concerts with the Bennett family. We went “rush’ to symphony concerts for 25c, in the old music hall off Tremont St. In spring and fall we rode our bikes out to Franklin Park where there were public tennis course and a gold course. Having no trees to climb was compensated for by discovering a secret way to crawl from a fourth floor sort of balcony to the roof of our house where we could sit on the ridge-pole with a fine view of Boston. Unfortunately this pleasant diversion was cut short by a busy-body neighbor who spied us one day and telephoned to the aunts. Actually we and our friends spent a good deal of time on the streets of Beacon Hill which were quite safe in those days; we had a variety of games and “stunts” and in winter spent many hours “punging”(?) (Riding on the runners or in the back of delivery pungs); the drivers were usually friendly and sometimes took us for long rides out in the Back Bay.

Living in the same house where I went to school had its advantages. We had a large, handsome yellow cat – Tommy Atkins – who was supposed to be strictly kitchen-bound during the school hours. Occasionally – not too often of course – I would find some errand to
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15 Marlborough St. had no children and were very “proper Bostonians”; -- fine, rather distinguished people of whom I was somewhat in awe. Miss (?) May had taken over Aunt Ellen’s school and moved it way out to Marlborough St., so I got a good deal of exercise walking back and forth; in addition uncle Charley gave me a season ticked to the Part Riding School, which was wonderful – in spite of the fact that I had to ride side-saddle. In bad months we rode in the ring, but on good days – with a riding-master , -- we took long rides on the many bridal paths in the Fens (?) and out to Jamaica Plain. The Cambridge Skating rink was another source of exercise – and fun. The aunts were gregarious and had a great deal of company, but any entertaining they did was always very informal. Uncle Charley and Aunt Martha had formal, full-dress dinner parties. On those evenings I had early supper in the pantry and later would lean over the third floor stair-railing listening to the chatter in the second-floor parlor and watching the guests descend, in couples, to the dining room on the ground floor. That, of all times, was the year I experimented with an occasional cigarette. Smoking was considered most unladylike and definitely taboo for girls my age. There was a convenient fire-place in my room and windows to Air it out; if Aunt Martha ever caught an incriminating whiff she never mentioned it.

The train trips back and forth to North Carolina were always fun. For many years the through trains from Boston to Washington were ferried around New York City -- a sail of about an hour, viewing the tall buildings, Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty – then off again from Newark, a late change in Philadelphia or Washington to the Southern R.R., sleeping in a berth, chatting with the jolly negro porters and other passengers. We would wake up to quite different
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Scenery – red clay, rather run down packing houses and farms; log cabins with pigs and hens running around the yard, but a few more prosperous abodes, and towns where nobody seemed in a hurry. Around mid morning we would start watching for the first sight of the Blue Ridge Mountains; going through the mountains was the big thrill of the trip – there were four tunnels, one long and three short, a lone hotel with a fountain playing in front of it, and places where you could look down and see the track below you where you had just been. After the mountains we would begin to recognize familiar landmarks, there would be a general bustling among passengers for Biltmore and Asheville, collecting baggage, consulting watches to see if by change we were on time, then the final down-grade speed-up, to a grinding stop at the station, -- papa and a dog or two in the buck board to meet us and a man with a wagon for our trunks (which occasionally got carried on to Asheville) – then the drive to Crowhurst, and all the things there that had to be seen and checked up on before we could possibly sit down for supper.

In spite of all the fascinating activities of city life and North Hatley summers, Crowhurst was always a haven that I welcomed and reveled in. The slower pace, the peacefulness, familiar places, sights and sounds, -- the very air – it was all restoration and growth contributing. We were free to be ourselves and act like tomboys, and had time to relax and think. This feeling by no means diminished as I grew older, -- if anything it increased, perhaps due to increasing ability to appreciate and evaluate what it meant to me. Sine if those summers Davey and I would be left more or less in charge, -- the aunts being off somewhere; papa would leave us pretty much to our own devices. One summer was spent largely in constructing a tennis court, which with shovel, hoe and
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Wheelbarrow, -- we literally dug out of a clay tank; and we finished it in time to have a good many games before going back to school. A good many of our young friends were away, but Lockwood Perry (Minot’s age and an old family friend) often joined us on long rides over the mountains, sometimes being gone all day. Papa was a worrier but made to objections to these trips since we had the supposed protection and steadying influences of Lockwood's advanced years. Unfortunately, on one occasion, largely spurred on by Lockwood’s enthusiasm – we got so carried away by discovering a way to reach a heretofore unexplored summit, that we didn’t get home till almost dark, finding a very worried and irate parent about to drive over to the Perry’s to discuss organizing a search party.

At the end of one summer the two of us traveled out to Toledo, Ohio, where we visited papa’s sister Aunt Annie Kimtall(?), she and Uncle Reutch (?) took us sightseeing and we got acquainted with two grown-up first cousins – lovely cousin Edith and Cousin Will (?) and his wife and small (?) daughter. We then went on to Saginaw, Mich. To visit Uncle Charley Davis (papa’s younger brother) and Aunt Edith. They had a fine, large country estate and gave us a very good time. Harriet, their daughter was a very beautiful young woman, a good deal older than we were; their son Harry (?) was just enough older and sophisticated to consider his young cousins from the country and quite uninteresting – we saw little of either of them either then or at any other time. We were not very rich in first cousins – these four, Uncle George’s son, and Uncle Paris’ five (?)
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Miss Gould, an elderly relation of the Murphy’s, lived with them; she and the aunts were very congenial and one of us would often be sent in the buggy to fetch her up for tea or a meal. The Cheeseboroughs were a large family – old Mr. and Mrs. (typical Southern gentlefolk with more manners than money0 one son Joe – a very anti-social but able man – and at least 6 grown daughters. Their house, close to the river (?), and shaded by large evergreens, was dark and damp; there was always a pot of very strong tea on the stove ready to serve to any unfortunate guest along with rather heavy cake. They had a mean old gander that would run at us “gottling (?) and hissing and flapping his wings – which I didn’t much like. What Davey and I did like about the Cheeseboroughs was that Eliza and Miss Seppie (short for Septima – she being the seventh child) sometimes meant bathing in the river and we were allowed to go with them.

Our elders were literal and intelligent, keeping up with the times, reading good books and papers. Their relations with the blacks in the neighborhood were pleasant and friendly, and they had little sympathy with the attitude of some of our Southern friends. Even in Boston Aunt Ellen shocked the mothers of some of her students by not only having Booker T. Washington give a talk at her school but inviting him to lunch afterwards.

Asheville was not a large city, but it was quiet cosmopolitan – not at all typically Southern. Its healthful climate and beautiful surroundings attracted a variety of people from different parts of the country. There were two excellent doctors, a not very good dentist, a variety of quite up-to-date stores, several fairly luxurious hotels. Best of all for Davey and me there were two good music teachers – violin for Davey
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piano for me. Aunt Anna had taught me a little piano, and the pre-winter we spent in Boston at Miss Bridge’s school our best friends were the musical Bennett family; -- phy (?) Bennett played the violin and got Davey interested in it. It was not long before we learned to play violin and piano duets – something that we continued to enjoy doing together way into adulthood.

Social life beyond the immediate was by no means lacking. Our elders had a good many pleasant friends many of whom had children of various ages. Our favorite friends were the “other Daviess” who lived across the Mountain (Beaumont) close to Asheville, -- jolly Captain Davis, his charming wife, and five children, Sarah, the oldest, was a couple years older than Davey, Thornton, two years older than I, and Eleanor just my age. They didn’t have horses, but Thornton and Eleanor (?) manage to get over to Crowhurst frequently and were close friends. Thornton was good at thinking up new and venturesome activities. He and I discovered a small brook in the woods east of the house and decided to try damming it up to make a nice pool; we piled up stones and mud and started pushing good-sized sticks into the mud to make the dam higher. Thornton leaned his full might on a stick,--it broke and he landed kersplash in the brook; aw we were quite doubtful whether this little adventure would meet with family approval we had to sit in the sun for quite a while to dry him off before going home.

When I was almost eleven Thornton was playing one day with some older boys, in the Swannanoa River; he had not yet learned to swim; stepped into a large deep hole and drowned before the other boys could get him out. The death of a friend was so unbelievable that
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Something within me seemed to shut it our completely; perhaps I simply couldn’t face it, but I remember the aunts’ amazement, when the news was brought, that I didn’t join in the general weeping – I didn’t even shed a tear but after a bit went to the piano and played one of my favorite pieces. What I did realize for long after was the hurt of missing my playmate. Eleanor Davis and I remained fast friends for many years even after they left Asheville, -- writing to each other when we were apart, and visiting back and forth. She married some years after I did and went out to Colorado; we still sent each other Christmas cards!

There were other young people in town, of course, of whom we saw a good deal. There was even a dancing class for a while which didn’t go very well for lack of boys. One older boy I worshipped from afar, and once he actually danced with me, -- what a thrill! He had a part time job in a drug store and I always tried to do the drug store errands on our trips to town, in the hope of catching a glimpse of him. A group of six or eight lively girls and boys would ride out to the farm from time to time and we would join them for long rides and paper-chases. Sometimes we would ride four or five abreast for a mile or so on the ricer toad, blocking anyone driving behind and pretending we didn’t know they wanted to pass – they had no horn to honk and our chatter could easily drown out their protests; when we felt we had carried the joke far enough we would pull aside and apologize earnestly. Sometimes we would get more or less lost, and once fording the Swannanoa a horse fell and dumped his rider; there was usually at least one bad acting horse in the group, -- all in all they were delightfully exciting rides, Sometimes the gang would tie up
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Their horses and stay around the farm where there was always plenty of amusement – raiding the peach trees or grape arbor for fruit that wasn’t good enough for marketing, playing hide & seek, (?), three old eats, tag, etc. A familiar sport was jumping through the trap-door into the hay mow; that was all very well when the hay was piled high, but a different matter when it was low. I was a coward about jumping down two stories into not very soft hay and would sit miserably on the edge waiting my turn – often reneging entirely, at the cost of much teasing.

Perhaps one contributing element to the pleasure of living at that time was the fact that the country was in a somewhat less turbulent state than at some periods. The Civil War was well behind us (it had touched the family in the loss of Uncle Justin Folsom) and certainly no one even imagined that such a thing as a world war could happen. To be sure there was the Spanish War, but that was short and didn’t seem to matter much, and it left us children with a new set of heroes to admire and talk about. When Madelson Battle’s wire-haired fox terrier had three (?) puppies they were appropriately named Dewey, Hotson and Schley; the gave Dewey to us, and he was one of the first dogs we had – a real credit to his famous namesake. We were taken to hear Bryan (I can still hear my father saying, as we came away: ”I’m sorry for the man”) and Teddy Roosevelt, when they made campaign speeches in Asheville; and when McKinley died I drew a heavy black line around that day’s entry in my diary, decorating it with flags.

Of course life was not without difficulties, trials and excitements, workmen would get hurt or sick, crops would turn out badly, and at one time a
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Strange disease killed all the horses. We had a few rather alarming chimney fires and once the house was struck by lightening – no real damage resulting. Papa had one rather wild horse – Phil Sheridan – a handsome beast; we were not allowed to ride or drive him, -- papa rode him and he was a good driving horse if paired with a steady one. One Sunday afternoon we had taken a long drive in the mountain wagon; coming home on a narrow winding road, a thunder storm hit us and the curtains were quickly pulled down. Then suddenly it began to hail – hard. The combination of thunder and hail was too much for Phil Sheridan, and he bolted. I remember papa calling back to Aunt Anna “better unfasten that curtain in case you have to jump”! Racing and rocking down that road for fifteen or twenty minutes is something I shall never forget, but luckily no upset – the hail stopped as suddenly as it began and Phil was brought under control.

To what we owed it I don’t know, but Davey and I were certainly a hearty pair. We probably had an average number of colds etc., but nothing handicapping till Davey’s eye trouble in 1903. Considering the active life we led and the number of times we fell off a horse or out of a tree, it was remarkable that we had no serious injuries. The major illnesses that I remember – in the family – were a long siege of bronchial-pneumonia that laid papa low in 1899 and the same trouble causing Minot to leave Harvard that winter to go West – Minnesota and later the Coast to work for the Weyerhaeuser Timber Co in which Uncle Charley Davis had a considerable interest. In 1907 there was the rather sudden death of Uncle Charley Folsom, and in 1908 papa’s final illness and death.
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our wagon and started, in a somewhat exhausted state, on the long drive back to Asheville. This harrowing tale has a happy ending – for me anyway; as there were three horses someone had to ride’ I can’t remember whether we drew lots or whether no one else wanted to ride, but somehow it fell to me. The third horse was a fast (?) single-footer (?) to outdo all single-footers; we soon left the wagon behind, weariness was quickly forgotten, the moon came out, and most of the way led though a long, largely unpopulated valley on a road that was actually level for miles. That ride! Just horse and me speeding along, the only sound that of quick hoofs on the road, the bright moonlight showing us the way ahead. The hardships and discomforts of the trip were more than compensated for – almost, (?) the frustration of failing to reach the top of the highest Appalachian mountain.

As I read over what I have written I wonder whether I have drawn an unrealistically rosy picture, -- whether I am perhaps prejudiced in favor of our way of life in those years! When you think of the freedom which we young people enjoyed – not only in North Carolina but in Boston – it is quite evident that living was such safer than it is today. It is true; there was a fair amount of petty larceny, particularly among the blacks, many of whom regarded it as simply part of life. An elderly black neighbor was calling on the aunts one day and greatly admired a clematis vine; when Aunt Anna offered to give her a shoot of it she exclaimed: “Oh no, Miss Anna – don you give it to me; I have to come over some night and steal it, or it won’t grow”! Of course we would hear or read of an occasional murder or burglary, and the presence of convicts working on the roads was evidence of a certain amount of law-breaking
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But the wheels of progress had not yet rolled us into the mess of crime and violence that prevails today. As for accidents – we had a few train crashes, industrial and other miscellaneous catastrophes, but there were so few contributing factors compared to the present day opportunities for violent death.

Anyway, -- rosy glasses or not, -- I am very glad I was young at that particular time, and deeply grateful for the experience of living during this period of great changes.
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