“The Farm”

“TheFarm” By Michael Pierce Barber Page 1 of 3 Life was simple at the age of ten. Time seems to get lost in change as we age. The changes one generation experience, later generations will never understand or feel its intimacy. So be it the same forevermore. In time the journey will become the past and lost in time. The trip from Mt. Sinai to Baiting Hollow took forty minutes, but the adventure has lasted a lifetime. I was a boy of ten in 1959, just starting to be aware of my surroundings knowing that summer was the best time of the year, without school that meant free time to play. Summers at this age became the best times of my life. A life now holds within sixty-four years of change. My Grandparents residence was in Richmond Hill, NY. Their summer home was in Baiting Hollow, LI. We, my family of eight would go to the farm almost every weekend during the summer; I would anticipate all week long what the weekend adventure was going to be. The journey from Mt. Sinai along Rt. 25A to Sound Ave, a single lane country road going east and west with only one traffic light in Rocky Point at Broadway. Farm land lined the road traveled without the congestion of suburban life we know today. Passing only a few dozen cars along the way, I had plenty of time to gaze out the window at the landscape and depending on the time of year savor the sights, sounds and smells nature would offer. Turned soil in early spring, new plantings, ripe strawberries and peaches in bloom growing until the branches would sag as they ripened. The raw smell of soil as the farmers dug new potatoes and the smell of cabbage left till late fall are still a favorite of mine. On Sound Avenue I was watching a tractor going west pulling irrigation pipe along the side of the road. ……“Are we there yet”? Breaking my thoughts and interrupting the sounds my brother and four sisters were making. Passing the hamburger and soda stand near the top of the Boy Scout Hill I knew we were very close. “Go faster “we would cry, hitting the gas at the top of Boy Scout Hill my father would grin and the engine of the’59 olds 98 would roar and take us flying down the hill. Much to the chagrin of my dear mother whose white hands clung to the seat with her feet pressed through the floor. We slowed down quickly as we traveled up the east side of the hill for the family farm was at the very top of the hill. A serpentine turn to the right brought us down the gravel road to the Farm house. Bordering the gravel driveway was an electric fenced corral. Grazing within were a half dozen Black and Brown Angus who did not even acknowledge our grand entrance. The electric fence, we were told, was there to keep children out of the pen so they would not get hurt by the Angus. Sugar Maple trees lined the driveway and shaded the back yard while blocking the view of the Big Red Barns that tenant farmer Bruno would fill with potatoes in the fall. A great challenge to climb for my cousins and me. “The Farm” By Michael Pierce Barber Page 2 of 3 Under the grand maples sat my Grandfathers and Grandmothers 1959 and 1956 Cadillac Deville’s. Quite a setting up against an immaculate white farmhouse with a wraparound porch. I did not realize at the time how lucky I was, somehow I knew it was a special place. The smell of fresh bread and hopefully hot cross buns filled the air as we left the car, running towards the kitchen door. We all hoped to put the icing on the hot crossed sticky buns or at least be there in time to lick the pan clean. We would then have a farm fresh breakfast and consume the day with play with or without my cousins on any particular weekend day. There was never a shortage of things to do at the farm. During the season the hill was covered with raspberries and blueberries that we ate to our hearts content or picked for my grandmother to make jam. Sometimes we would go down to our beach house at the end of Edwards’s Avenue for lunch and pick beach plumbs or go strawberry picking at Lewins for fun. Canning is another event we all helped with, Grandmother, a saint dealing with all our commotion. We would play horseshoes or croquet in the back yard. My cousin Greg who loved to play golf would like to hit golf balls against the Big Red Barn, a backdrop stopping the balls dead. We would always like to sit on the farm tractors and pretend to be working the fields, making all the sounds tractors make. Occasionally we would all go to the Baiting Hollow Congregational Church on Sunday but never seemed to miss the chicken barbeque, an annual event that the Church still holds to this day. My Grandmother, a painter of landscapes, sometimes would donate a painting to auction at the event. I believe a painting of hers still hangs within the church. I remember the potato chip factory and hayrides at Lewins. I remember aunts and uncles and cousins too, Sunday dinner and football games, laughter and stories told. . I slept in a canopy bed once every summer and wrestled my brother on the bunk beds on the third floor for fun. I remember my first date with a local girl. I was thirteen and went double dating with my cousin Greg to the movies in Riverhead. Scared to death, but I was thirteen you know! All summer long we would visit the farm year after year, having the time of our life thinking that this is just how life was. I was a privileged child, a lucky child living an extraordinary life. This Farm in Baiting Hollow was a stepping stone for the rest of my life, setting an example to strive for, to find balance in life, a balance and example I feel I never found again. “The Farm” By Michael Pierce Barber Page 3 of 3 William Howard Barber, Grandfather “The Gentleman Farmer “as he was called. Head of surgery at Bellevue Hospital in NY passed away in 1963. The Farm was too much for my Grandmother to manage. She along with her children decided to sell the farm ending what now seems only a dream happening a long time ago. The Farm still sits today with its 225 acres without Angus grazing by the road and soil unturned. The home was burned and rebuilt; never reclaiming the grace and dignity it once held and lost many generations ago. Untold it story sits in our minds and gently is fading away as life consumes the years, as it is all meant to be. The farm had all the makings of a Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn Adventure. Exciting experiences of youth, learning experiences for what life may choose to become, a goal and aspiration within a Child’s future. I was so enamored by the Farm I did not want it to be sold. I could not understand at fourteen why I could not buy the farm and live happily ever after. I asked my father if I could buy the farm, he smiled as fathers often do. A smile of understanding for he knew too how I was feeling; I think he felt the same emotions, shown in his sympathetic smile. The emotional loss without Grandpa and emptiness felt without the farm. An emotional void never understood during my youth, forever longing to be filled. I have traveled many times along Sound Avenue during my lifetime, still living in Mt. Sinai; retracing that summertime ride of my youth for business and pleasure. The landscape has changed along the way, very few farms to look at till you reach Sound Avenue. Many traffic lights stop us at hundreds of stores. People in a hurry with no particular place to go, turning in for coffee after blowing a red light, all look transfixed, it seems to me. Something still changes in me when I turn onto Sound Avenue. At peace with my past, my youth reappears as the joy felt so many years ago plays in my mind with life forces stimulating my body from deep in my soul. I see the farm as I remember it to be and hear my childhood voice saying to me along the way,” Are we there yet?”And “Go faster.” At the top of the hill, my foot hits the floor and a smile comes over my face. Respectfully submitted, Michael Pierce Barber July 21, 2013.