Curley is home. What a tale he might tell of his adventures. We are left to only speculate, but he certainly captured the imagination of untold numbers of his community this past month, as well as the world beyond. We fully expect that he will be the star and the marshal of the town parade come spring.
His “captors”, the Loomers, personified the spirit of what in these parts is called “Minnesota Nice” when they decided to donate their $300 reward to a program which helps families in other countries purchase goats for their villages. So, the spirit of Christmas giving lives on.
We’re feeling the spirit, too, here on Mt. Faith and it has to do with home, sweet home. Thanks to my friend, Marguerite, who is a member of the local historical society, I was able to unearth a book entitled “How Green was our Hilltop” by Laura Gilloley whose family bought this property for $1500 in the early 1900’s and lived there for over 100 years. Because of Laura I now know where her “Ma” had the pea-patch and how she hoed the garden “her face protected by a wide straw hat with the black cat perched on her shoulders.” And that “yellow rose bushes grew on the lawn south of the house, and pink wild roses grew all over the east hill, which slopes down to the creek.” UH OH!
And so much more. I now know where the water was heated for the Saturday night baths, and how the cupboard against the south wall was “piled to the hilt” and how sister Mary “bossed” the cake baking, and how the old deserted sewing machine behind the wood burning stove was used to spread kernels of corn to dry, and how they had to watch for slivers while scrubbing the old pine floor, and how Ma would dip a long stick into steaming white clothes from the boiler to the washing tub, and also how Ma sewed flour sacks for summer underclothing. I can envision against the south wall of the sitting room, a large high walnut book case filled with Harpers, Scribners, “World’s Best of Composers” – all “beautifully bound and lettered in gold by Pa.” I can appreciate that the doors to the parlor were always open and folded back because the piano was in the parlor – “a golden oak Kimball upright, ornately carved with oak leaves and acorns.” And that the three music racks stood “groaning under their loads.” “Melody of Love”, “The Low-Backed Car”, “The Rosary”, “The Holy City”. I now know that a picture of Grandma Meade hung on the west wall of the sitting room and that Grandpa Meade in his Civil War uniform looked at them from the east wall. I know that the pine floors were painted a terra cotta red “except in the kitchen and Ma’s braided rugs were scattered over much of the floor area.” And eventually after much discussion they bought their first factory rug for the parlor and that it was “a nine by twelve foot bright red flowered rug with a green background…ordered after much discussion of choices for thirteen dollars from Sears Roebuck catalogue.” (Red and green – so akin to our palate!)
Laura also mentions that the hallway downstairs “led to a stair-well with steep steps and a solid banister. (My Stair Master!) And that “the banister withstood many a slidedown with never a quiver.” And that the upstairs of the house contained two large bedrooms and a storeroom (now the bathroom). She goes on – “The boy’s bedroom upstairs had a stove pipe going through it from the floor to the ceiling which received some heat from the sitting room stove below, and kept the four occupants warmer than their sisters in the adjacent south room which was without heat. (Our bedroom now.) Before going to bed in winter the girls would heat the flat irons, wrap them in cloths, and place them in bed toward the foot of the bed. By huddling together and by piling on quilts, none of the girls suffered anything worse than profound shivers. Once in a while when all was quiet someone yelled out in protest if her partner’s cold feet accidentally (?) touched the protester.” YES! I can relate. My partner has cold feet too!
Here we are at Mt. Faith now sensing the reverberations of many lives. Their spirit resounds. The intimations of all those years is ever present. If I’m in the parlor I can almost hear the piano. If I’m climbing the stairs, I see out of the corner of my eye, Dooly and Budge sliding past me. In the dining room I know that Pa and Liz sat across from Vin and Mary. Laura, in her history, brought it all alive. And it’s home, sweet home.