FUN by Mildred Grant

          As time progresses, the definition of fun changes. I was born in Westmoreland, New Hampshire,October 29, 1921 at the Reed Place. We lived there while Dad substituted farm labor for Mr. Pierce in place of another hitch in the Army. I know the Reed Place only from photos, stories my Mother told, and personal observations made in later years. We moved to the Goodrum house when Dad went to work for John Burt. That house I remember. The main floor plan, the smokehouse and barn. Small front and side lawns. All situated on the main road through town.

            My brother, sister, and I soon became acquainted with the bachelor, free-thinking farmer across the dirt road. Henry Hall was big on allowing his livestock to roam freely. Great fun playmates—never mind the messes our feet tracked home. We found our way to the town library where we discovered the latest Raggedy Anne and Andy books to be enjoyed as we sat on the big flat stone in the pasture near our house.

            At the end of the workday, Dad would sometimes drive the pair of horses he used every day on the farm for a special visit with us children. Chester, Eleanor, and I would go part way down the road toward Mr. Burt’s farm, wait impatiently for Dad to stop beside us, reach down from the high wagon seat, grasp our outstretched hand, and swing us, one at a time, up to sit beside him. Those horses were enormous and so strong!! That was fun!!

            The family next to Mr. Hall was named Hawks. We children were sure they were very wealthy people, because, at the top of the steep embankment in front of their home, they had a lawn swing! One day Mrs. Hawks even invited us to come up and swing! Oh, pure joy!

            More than one of our “fun” adventures turned into disasters. One such  was brother Chester’s plan to run away from home! Mom had restricted us to our own yard for trying to steal one of Mr. Hall’s piglets. Running away was supposed to prove just how much we wanted our own pet. Maybe not a pig, but a kitten or a puppy, both of which Mr. Hall had in abundance. Chet chose a sunny, cold, early spring day, to stage our trip of protest. North on the road out of town toward Park Hill we trudged. Dad was nowhere to be seen as we passed Mr. Burt’s farm, so we just kept going. Eleanor, a year and a half older than I, was having difficulty keeping up with Chet, and my little legs were fast giving out.

            “Come on, girls,” Chet urged. “We’re almost at Park Hill. See? There’s the church spire!”

            El gasped, “ There’s also a horse and buggy coming up behind us. We’d better get off the road and let it go by us.”

            We huddled together at the very edge of the dirt road, but the driver stopped the horse and buggy right beside us.

            “Hello, children!” We recognized our  doctor, his conveyance and his horse. “Where are you going on this fine day?” he asked

           Chester pushed out chest and chin, saying, defiantly, “We’re running away! Mom says we can’t have a pet!”

            Having just passed these children’s pregnant Mother who was in a state of panic, the Doctor hid a smile of relief as he urged the children to get into the buggy. The doctor’s telephone was closer than taking the children home right then.

            “We’re not going home!” Chet cried, emphatically.

            ‘How about going to my house?” the doctor offered. “You need to get warm and rested before the next part of your journey.”

           Chester, looking at his sagging sisters, reluctantly agreed that the girls needed to rest.

            Park Hill is a glacially deposited high mound with a large, starkly beautiful, white church built at it’s highest point. Viewed from the bottom of the hill, its spire seems to pierce the sky above. Six or seven large, old colonial homes are closely clustered at the base and part way up the hill. One of them was the doctor’s home.

            Having heard them coming, the doctor’s wife flung the kitchen door open as she exclaimed, “Oh, George, You’ve brought little children home with you today! This is such a treat!”

             Chet hopped down from the carriage by himself, Dr. Craig handed Mildred to Mrs. Craig, then he followed everyone, as he carried Eleanor into the warm, fragrant kitchen.

            A quick glance at the shelf clock over the kitchen sink told Mrs. Craig it was nearly lunch time.

            “Do you think we could get permission to keep them here for lunch, George?” she asked.

             Sending a broad wink Chester’s way, the doctor said, as he left the room, “I’ll go right now  and telephone to see if such a plan is possible.”

            Boots, hats, scarves, coats, and mittens were taken care of just as a smiling Dr. Craig came back into the room .

            With great apprehension, Chet asked, “What did Mamma say?”

            Oh,  your mother is relieved to know where you are and that you’re safe. You can stay for lunch and your Father will come to pick you up about two o’clock. How does all of that sound?”asked Dr. Craig.

            “I am hungry and I’m glad Dad is coming for us. It’s a long walk back to our house. I could do it, but the girls couldn’t,” Chet boasted.

            A sandwich lunch topped off with plain doughnuts dipped in new maple syrup—a real treat! The best fun—so far!

            When Dad arrived he found three well-fed, very tired children. Mildred was actually asleep head down on the tray of the high chair, her last bite of doughnut clutched in her plump little fist. Eleanor had complained of painful “knots” in her legs, so Dr. Craig was gently massaging away each spasm as they continued to cramp.

            “Daddy, Daddy, please can I ride on the horse’s back his time?” Chet begged. “I’ll hold on real tight!” he promised.

            “Not this time, son. I need to hear the whole story of today’s escapade,” Dad said. “Get your things on, I still have chores to finish once I get you three home.”

            Dad turned to the Craigs, saying, “I owe you a  big debt of gratitude . . .“

            The Craigs interrupted with thanks of their own for the loan of Dad’s family.

            “We really enjoyed having them here!”

           Chester surmised that this was about the biggest trouble he’d ever been in, but he still thought we should have a pet. Maybe he’d better wait until Grandma Dimond came for a visit. She’d make sure he had a kitten or puppy!

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