(My journal continues to chronicle life for my widowed mother, “Hester,” and me in our remodeled country schoolhouse without electricity or running water, plus events on my survey job with Massachusetts Department of Public Works.)
June 4, 1950, Sunday. Last Wednesday, the wild, illegal driving of others irritated me. Instead I should have thanked God that I and my vehicle escaped damage.
At 11 a.m. rodman E.R. was down a side street giving line. Party chief, Louis Johnson, was out in the road on the main baseline. A car stopped with Louis. It was the Agawam Chief of Police. Later, I learned that he was inquiring about E.R. It seems E’s mother attempted to fix E’s speeding ticket by calling the Chief. The Chief asked Louis, “Isn’t he sort of a smart aleck. He tried to make a liar out of the officer.” Did Louis think prosecuting E would do any good? Louis said E was a good enough kid, but he didn’t think it would do any harm. The Chief decided to reduce the reported speed from 65 down to 55 so as not to hurt E’s driving license and go ahead with the case.
About 2:30 p.m. a blue car stopped beside by transit setup. It was E’s mama and papa. “Where’s E?” He was a thousand feet up the road giving line. I was introduced to Papa, an ALA official. Mama made some remark about “the smartest fellow on the crew.” I didn’t know if she meant me or E, so my simple “Huh!” was an appropriate answer. The Chief had phoned them and wanted to see E. Hence they came to get E and go in with him. They returned soon. Chief wasn’t in. Since then I’ve heard no more.
Thursday, E found a dead animal in the road. It was mostly white with a few dark hairs on its back, pointed nose, medium-size ears, claw feet, and a long hairless tail. After several wild guesses I settled on ‘possum. Checking at the library proved O’possum right. I didn’t know these animals ranged so far north. Hester says her father Emerson used to go hunting and supply family with a ‘possum supper.
During rain between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. I went to the Universal C.I.T. office in Springfield to make this month’s car payment. Across State Street was the Sperry & Hutchinson Store. It’s a classy place. My jeans and jacket didn’t fit with all the perfume. I had enough green stamp books to get a bathroom scales.
Next I went to Alling on Worthington Street and bought a pair of Gantner, yellow swim trunks for $3.50. At Johnson’s Bookstore I got 8 more USGS topo maps for $1.20 and a logarithm book for $1.25.
At the Russell Post Office I found the “Tuffies” jeans ordered from Oklahoma. They have narrow legs, zipper instead of buttons, and kid’s size to fit my 28 inch waist.
Just before reaching Russell I overtook a familiar, black Chevrolet sedan full of children. Suddenly the sides bristled with cap pistols fired in my direction. From Postmistress Laramie I learned the driver was her sister, Beatrice (Mrs Dr.) Arenstam. She and school principal, Mr. Ward, had taken seventh and eighth graders to Mountain Park. Too bad it rained.
June 12, 1950, Monday. Friday we did final cross sections on the Suffield gravel pit. I ran the rod so E could run the transit and we finished in good season. We met a Connecticut state survey party. They wore white shirts and ties. George Berry brought the new weekly time sheets (instead of monthly) out from Greenfield. On the way home I met the old Grant house in the middle of Main Street. Building movers had it in front of its future lot, and traffic was detoured through Lindberg Terrace.
After my brook bath I found Charles Peckham and Danny at my well. They wanted to work the pump. We gave them root beer, and I played catch with them. When they left Hester and I went to Congamond and I had this year’s first dip in the lake.
Saturday I mowed the lawn. As we prepared to leave three Russell boys arrived on bicycles. Dickie Thayer, Billy McAdam, and Buddy (Charles) LaPlante said they wanted a drink but, most of all, they wanted to try the pump. All three help out at the General Store. Next our new tank of cooking gas arrived.
Finally we got to Westfield and paid Bryan Hardware $10 for the gas. Then I practiced piano at the library.
In the evening we visited Mrs Etta Kelso. Mrs. Rufus Coe was there too. They told of a Norwich man who mistook the abbreviation Co. for a proper name and remarked what an important person this Mr. Co. must be. I played duets with Esther Paquette, Mr. Kelso’s daughter. She had her mother-in-law with her.
Sunday, the Harold Pattersons visited. They caught me sunbathing in briefs at the brook. Six-year-old Dickie was thrilled with the brook and the well. We played catch and walked. I found a ladys slipper down beside the road.
June 13, 1950, Tuesday. Resident engineer, Clif Hubbard wanted us to lay out traffic islands at the intersection of Agawam’s River Road and Main Street. The plan was very incomplete and Louis had to do some on spot designing. While we were there, the contractor, Louis Saco, was hit by a woman driving a 1937 Dodge. He was taken to the hospital but wasn’t hurt.
Tuesday evening I bathed in Congamond, and then to Uncle Ralph Emerson’s. He showed us slides of their western trip—Boulder Dam, Grand Canyon and Yosemite.
When I stopped for gas in Tatham I asked Charlie if his garage could accommodate our survey carryall at the end of the month if I have to look after it while Louis is on vacation. He was willing.
June 21, 1950, Wednesday. Mother’s sister Maude (Aunt Betty Kelly) died last Sunday Morning. Daughter Marjery Latham sent a telegram yesterday. Hester was able to have Uncle Ralph put our names with his when he wired flowers for this morning’s funeral.
Louis let me take detail notes all afternoon to prepare for next week when he goes on vacation. I’m supposed to run the party.
Monday we took Bessie Sibley with us to Niantic and New London. It was too cold and rainy for the beach, but we explored coast roads and Hester and Bessie had a meal of fried clams for 85 cents each. We went up East Road to look over New Haven, then took the Wilbur Cross Parkway through West Rock Tunnel and got back to West Springfield about five.
There was a fire in the drying room at Texon across the river. Stanley Rusin told Hester that alcohol fumes had been suffocating. It is thought that a spark from an electric truck touched off the explosion. The young truck operator died. If windows had not been open, the building might have collapsed.
The same day a railroad laborer died from the heat. The hearse and State Police parked by Bear Den Brook bridge to bring him out on the mountainside trail.
I’ve received the first of my new weekly pay checks.
E paid a $5 fine on his 50 mph speeding ticket from Agawam. I was told his name was in the newspaper.
The laurel blossoms in our woods and along the power line are beautiful.