Before we started going to the muskrat farm in Maine, we went to Norwell every year. We had a Ford Tin Lizzie, a Model T that Mother drove down. We came for the whole summer, my two sisters, Nana, and my mother. Norwell was great-grandfather Cushing Hatch’s farm, the man known as Grandpa Hatch.
My mother had a big bell, an old school bell like the one in the Winslow Homer painting. She fastened it to one of the sheds. All summer long, my sisters and I would go all over the farm, we’d all go everywhere, and just roam—we were absolutely free. When mother wanted us, she’d ring the bell and we’d hear it all over the farm and we’d all come, wherever we were.
We used to play house under the stairs and also in the little cellar hole that was burned in King Philip’s War. That felt like not so long ago to us.
In the fall, when the men came to hay the fields, we were allowed to stand up on the wagon when the hay was brought in and stamp it down. That was so much fun, to ride up there. Sometimes we’d upset a little nest of birds, or field mice.
The man who took care of the farm, Uncle, Unc for short, was supposed to keep track of where we were in the fields when my mother and Nana were in the house. One day, he couldn’t find us anywhere. My mother had said, “Now be sure you look and look and see where those girls are,” and he had to go back and say he couldn’t find us.
We knew he was looking for us, but we had gone up in the shed where the hay was piled. We weren’t supposed to be there, but it was the most fun place to be! There was a chute where the hay would come down—oh we loved to jump in it! Well, we had been very quiet when Unc had come looking for us, very quiet, but we knew Mother wanted to be sure he found us so when he came back over, we began to come out, one after another, the three of us, down the chute where the hay went, we just shot out. And he was so proud to have found us! Just imagine, three little girls and a hayloft!