This is a serialization of the new book written by Carl Flowers, owner of Silveus Plantation, the subject of "Groton's Anonymous Mistress." The 300-year-old home is accessed by Kemp Street near the boundary of Groton and Dunstable.
By Carl Flowers
Boots came on the scene sometime in the early spring of 1950. By the time I met him, he was a large kitten not yet fully grown. I could do almost anything with him. He was one of those cats that thought he was a person.
He won first prize in 1950 at the Dunstable Grange Fair in the cat exhibit. Boots was from of one of the first litters by a pair of kittens my Aunt Esther brought home from the Red and White in 1949. That's where we did most of our grocery shopping the first year or two.
My aunt surprised me one day after coming home from the grocery store. It wasn't uncommon at the time to bring groceries home in cardboard boxes. On one particular day, the boxes had been brought in and set on the kitchen table. I was asked to take the groceries out of the boxes so that my aunt could put them away. When I opened the box with the kittens, two little heads popped up. The rest of my day was fully occupied. By the end of the next summer, when it was time to go back to Florida, the two kittens had grown into a menagerie of thirteen.
My aunt got rid of them all with the exception of Boots and one other named Jasmine. They were the last of the cats to be seen around the Mistress, due to a certain
Boots wasn't the only pet hanging around the Mistress in 1950. Grumpy was an old chicken way past her prime laying days. The few times she did lay an egg, it was usually a double yolker. Seeing two yolks in a single egg was a wonder to my eyes. I'd never see them in grocery store eggs. Grumpy was given to me by Cedric Moison, who was in the process of getting rid of his chickens. At the time, Cedric had been hired to install the Mistress's plumbing conveniences. They included all the modern everyday things like a kitchen sink with running water, flush toilets, and bath tubs with showers.
Not long afterwards, Cedric became the town's plumbing inspector. Cedric became the plumbing inspector for a couple of other nearby towns.
Anyway, Grumpy followed me everywhere. It might have been because she was the only chicken around, or she might have been a bit leery of Boots. Actually it might have been because I always tossed her a few kernels of corn. I was told Grumpy died a few days after my parents and I went back to Florida. As it turns out, Grumpy ended up being chicken soup. This was a fact I never knew about until years later.
Another of the Mistress' more interesting finished touches was the telephone. It was a desk-top cranker with the telephone number of Pepperell 206 ring one-two. The ring one-two was one long continuous ring immediately followed by two short abbreviated rings that the caller had to crank out.
Everyone on your party line knew when you were getting a call or making a call because your ring was heard in the house of all the other party line members. The other party line members couldn't make a call until we hung up, but you never knew who might be listening in on your conversation. If you needed to call someone on a different party line, you had to ring the operator with one long continuous ring. In Fort Lauderdale, none of this had to be done. You just dialed the number of the person to whom you wanted to talk. If you wanted to reach someone who lived out of town, you dialed zero for the operator.
After the first couple of summers, my parents would drop me off till the end of the summer. Some summers, just my mother and I stayed. Sometimes I was put on a non-stop flight to Boston. None of the trips were mundane, irrespective of whether the trip was by car or airplane. In Georgia and South Carolina, I remember plank bridges that went clankety-clankety-clank when you went over them. Many of the bridges were one lane with barely enough room for a single car. I always worried what would happen if two cars met in the middle of one of the bridges. Who was supposed to do the backing up? One bridge in particular had a guard rail no higher than a curb. No matter who was driving, I was always afraid we were going to run off the bridge and drown. Bridges like those were common until the Interstate Highway System came into existence.
To be continued next week.