Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hopper Family at The Farm

Hopper Family at The Farm
Originally uploaded by jhhymas

Here I am (far right) with all my brothers and sisters in 1953. Our fabled farmhouse (built 1840-1860) was without heat when we moved in and had one faucet (the sink drained into a milk can) and a few bare hanging lightbulbs. We used to bathe in a tub we filled with the hose running upstairs and then warmed with stove-heated kettles of hot water. I got to bathe first, thankfully, then Susan, then the boys in a group. Little Marjory got her own purer baby bath.

There were rotten potatoes in the cellar that had grown long sprouts. There were rats and mice. We called it The Farm. My parents bought me two $75-dollar horses, Sis and Cindy. They gave us $10 off on Sis, a roan, after we bought Cindy, a sturdy red-brown horse with a black mane and tail. Both horses were with foal.

This place is the basis for much of our family folklore. I lived here less than three years, then went away to college, marriage and the rest of my life. But my brothers spent some fine years here and we still love to think about the 140 acres and barns that went with the place. My sister (light dress, next to me) went back recently to visit, and sent me a photograph, which inspired this trip down Memory Lane.

My parents moved to Ohio from here in 1957 and I have never been back, nor attended a high school reunion. I have heard that the US government spruces that we planted have turned our pasture into a piney woods. I am afraid it would make me deeply sad to return.

Behind us, and downhill, is the Mohawk River and on the other side is the GE Research Lab where a lot of our friends worked in the 1940s and 1950s. It's a very different world now, I sewed the skirt (dark rose color) and blouse (sheer with tiny flowers) I am wearing and used the blouse pattern (it had three pretty tucks across the front) to make more blouses to take to college. I made lots of similar skirts without a pattern.

My adored youngest brother, Robert, (second from left) died almost ten years ago. I will always miss him. It doesn't seem so long ago that this picture was taken, but it has been more than fifty years. We were still absorbing, then, the knowledge of the atom bomb, and had never heard anything about a place called Viet Nam. We did not yet have a TV, although some people we knew did. And since we lived near Schenectady, there were good channels we didn't get to watch. America at midcentury in New York State. one family, dressed for church and lining up to have a picture taken.

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