August asked me what I thought about living there. I told him we could try it, try country life and if we didn't like it we could always move back to the city. So we returned to Worcester to get ready to move away. August was working for the Morgan Spring Company and as the tenement where we lived was right next to the railroad the company set aside a boxcar for us to load our furniture in. This was soon done as we did not have so much to load. Morgon Spring arranged for our stuff to be taken to Barnstead.
We moved to the farm in April, 1919. We were welcomed by a Danish family who somehow found out we were coming. They had a warm soup ready for us, and we were very thankful for that. I will never forget the immensity of the task that faced us when we first entered the house. The house was cold. There had been no heat in the house all winter, but there was some wood in the woodshed. There was a big stove in the living room and when we got a fire going, things seemed better.
There was an old orchard with many good apple trees. All in all, the farm consisted of about seventy two acres. There was also a stand of pine trees ready to be cut at any time. Nearly all of the huge white pines were three feet in diameter. The rest of the farm included pasture for cattle and about one third was, or had been, farmland.
There was a well about fifty feet deep and the water was ice cold. The water pump was in the ice house where ice, cut from the lake in the winter, could be stored for use in the summer. Of course, there was no ice that first summer. There were blueberries in the summer and cranberries in the fall.
There was a hen house, but it was useless because the hens just lived anywhere they pleased, and I never liked them. But I did learn to chop off their heads.
There was another farm across the road to the north, but no one lived there when we moved in and it remained empty until Carrie Evans and her older brother Fred moved into the place. When Carrie, who had been a good dressmaker for a better class of people, moved into that old farm house, they found in front of a fireplace a plaque cut in limestone dated 1846, so that was really an old house, too, but they restored it to some extent. I liked Carrie Evans and learned quite a bit about sewing from her.
On our side of the road, some little distance to the east, was a large farm occupied by a family named Tasker, a family of English extraction. When the Taskers heard that some young people had moved in they came to welcome us. I remember that they said that they had only a small farm now, even though we knew their farm to be quite large. Later on I went to visit them. Their house had twelve rooms. It had been larger but it had been made smaller on account of a fire. It seemed to have once been a retirement home or a summer hotel.
One day August came home with a blind horse named Prince. It took courage to sit up and ride a blind horse, but there was no accident or any unusual thing that happened to anyone because of Prince. Another day August came home with two brown cows. I recall him coming into the kitchen and asking me if I knew how to milk a cow. I took a pail and went out into the barn and milked both of the brown cows. I had not done it for many years, but I soon became very good at it.
That first summer August also bought a pig. It must have been about three months old, for it was quite large and I took on the task of feeding him. If given the chance, pigs keep themselves very clean, contrary to what many people think. They keep their feeding trough clean and if given a lot of straw, they build kind of a sleeping nest, burying themselves down into it, and they keep that very clean too. August had planted a lot of carrots meant to be used as cattle feed. One day that fall, I took my son Roland down the hill to dig them up. We heard a "ruff, ruff, ruff," and there, galloping down the hill, was the pig. He had smelled carrots as we dug them up and somehow had climbed out of the pig pen. It was not long before Roland was riding around on the pig's back and they were both enjoying themselves.
August had also planted a field of corn and some potatoes. The potatoes had been put into storage in the cellar during the first winter. The cellar was not warm enough and they froze. So the following year we had to bank up the outside of the house with fresh pine branches with the needles on, for insolation.
One day in the following spring, August wanted help with the spraying of trees in the apple orchard. He needed help to hold the sprayer while he was pumping. I was standing on the wagon that was being drawn by the horse. The ground was rather uneven and I fell, injuring my back which never had been very strong. In his attitude toward the farmwork August didn't take any consideration to the fact that I hurt my back.
August had begun to criticize me a lot. The food was never right. If I made a casserole, he wouldn't touch it. He would never eat anything that had the ingredients mixed together. He never ate any vegetables or shellfish, He said they made him sick. And he didn't want these foods placed on the table. Worse, Roland had started to imitate him. I tried to make the food as appealing as I could.
To help make more money I placed an ad in a Boston newspaper advertising Room and Board on a farm in New Hampshire. I got many answers. Among them there were two letters from Swedish families that came to live with us. In one of these families the man had very poor health and they would not let him do anything, not even read the newspaper. He had to have complete rest, they said. The man in the other family had been drinking too much, but his wife had succeeded in getting him into the Salvation Army as a Yard Bird. This Salvation Army man had the bad habit of swearing violently whenever he talked about religion. We were all a little ashamed when he did it but it was really comical and entertaining. Some time after the families had left I looked for my little bible that I had been given in confirmation class in Sweden and found that it had been moved. When I looked through it I found that many passages had been underlined, such as "Jag säger eder skall sorgen och tandagnisslan vara" (I say onto you that there shall be sorrow and the gnashing of teeth) and similar verses. I didn't like the idea of a bible with such negative and pessimistic passages underlined so I took it out and burned it.
A neighbor family that was going to move away had a small upright foot pedal organ that they wanted to sell. I though August should buy it as it was a good organ. We paid ten dollars for it but there was no one in the family that could play it. I found out that there were some blind people rooming at a nearby farm for a few weeks so I invited them over to play the organ for fun. They were the jolliest men you could ever find.
I remember I made curtains for the bedroom that I was really proud of. I bought unbleached cloth for the curtains and some green checked material for a strip at the bottom and I embroidered hollyhocks.
Farm life was a little lonely and I wanted to have a telephone but August thought it was unnecessary to have a telephone at home. In 1923 I became pregnant again. When I told August about it, he seemed neither glad nor sorry. He just said nothing. I wanted to take in some more boarders that summer for a few weeks but it seemed that August did not want me to have any money of my own. One night there had been a bad rain storm and on the following day I wanted to go to Pittsfield to get some things for the baby. As we lived on top of a hill, the water had run off, and the was no way of knowing the condition of the road farther away. But in the morning I started off anyway. When I came to the next valley, I found that the road was flooded and closed off. Luckily, August had recently replaced the old blind horse with a younger and better one. I had to take a side road through a wooded area. After that, the road was better and I managed to reach Pittsfield. It did take some little time. And as in December it grew dark rather early, it was real dark on my way home. During the day August had found out about the road conditions from neighbors. He had gone to the Taskers to make some telephone calls to find out if anyone had seen a young woman driving a horse and buggy. The Taskers, too, had begun to make some inquiries and they found out that I was in Clarktown where I had an errand to do. When I got close to home I saw August and Roland standing in the road ahead, swinging a lantern. So the day ended very well after this adventure.
One day during the Christmas week there came a man in a truck with telephone workers came up to the house and said to August that they had an order that said that we wanted a telephone put in. I don't know what August answered but he came in and asked if I had ordered a telephone. I told him that I had, but that he could have it taken out after the baby was born. A few day later on the 28th of December I went out to feed the chickens and the lid to the grain bin in the grain room was stuck and I had to pull to get it open and suddenly I felt a sharp pain and I had to steady myself for a long while against a wall. The pain did not last very long and I didn't think much about it for the baby was not expected for a couple of weeks. When August came in in the evening, he said that there was probably a big snow storm coming, because it was snowing hard already. I didn't tell August about the pain, but about two o'clock at night I woke up and felt labor pains beginning. I woke August and told him that it was time to call the doctor. He asked me if I was sure and I told him that I was. I was thankful that we had had a telephone installed and I think August was too.
The doctor knew about the case. His name was Tuttle and he had been away in Boston and had just come back an hour or two earlier. By then it was snowing real hard and it was impossible to come by car, so he had to change to horse and sleigh. He came to the house about six o'clock and the baby was born at about eight o'clock. Doctor Tuttle said it was a fine little boy. He was named Lennart. August was somewhat disappointed at first, as he thought that it would be nice to have a girl, but I didn't think that it made any difference. One more boy would not alter life very much, and later in life it proved to the the greatest blessing to have this son, who became more good-natured than the oldest turned out to be.
August had warmed water in the kitchen, but after that he stayed out in the barn. I had made a little bassinet and there was nothing for the Doctor to do but clean and dress the baby. Afterwards, when the neighbors heard of that, they all said that they had never heard of a doctor doing anything like that. Staying out in the barn seemed a little unfeeling or hard. He was occasionally mean to animals, too.
One time I went into the barn and discovered him beating the horse as hard as he could. On another occasion when he was milking a cow, and a cat came close he squirted milk in the cat's face. The cat didn't consider this as much of an injury and promptly licked it off.
I was still bothered by severe headaches occasionally and sometimes I was forced to stay in bed for a day or two, but the frequency of the headaches was diminishing as I grew older.
Soon after Lennart was born, perhaps it was in the spring of 1923, there was an epidemic of whooping cough in the one-room country school that Roland attended. It was impossible to prevent it. Soon little Lennart had it too, and he became very sick. But after a few long days he got better and began to take a little nourishment, and he was a happy little boy again.
In the summer months of June through August, I took on boarders and had a farmer girl to help take care of Lennart. I saved the money and as fall approached I told August that I wanted very much to take a trip to Sweden to see my folks. I think August was a little worried because things were not the best between us. He was hard and demanding. I think he realized that he had been going somewhat too far in some matters and was anxious about what this separation might mean. I made preparations for the long trip, buying things from various mail order stores, did some sewing, both for myself and for the two young boys. One day in the beginning of December, August drove the three of us to the Railroad station at Barnstead in the buggy. We were met in New York in the early evening by the travel agent who took us to a small hotel. The next morning we boarded the Swedish liner "Stockholm." (passport photos) During the trip across the Atlantic, Lennart was as good as gold the whole time and Roland was big enough to take care of himself. He was very interested in all the machinery that was running the ship. The weather was fine until we came to the North Sea, and then almost everyone on board got very seasick. I remember the mountainous waves that flushed over the main deck. The crew had to close the ventilators and the doorways to the cabins as well as the outer doors to the passageways. The next morning we could see the lighthouse on the shore of Toland Vinga. While the passengers were having breakfast in the dining salons, the ship was towed into the rock-rimmed harbor of Gothenburg. From Gothenburg the passengers scattered in all directions. Kindly people helped us to the train in Gothenburg where we started the trip to Halmstad, a four hour journey. We arrived in Sweden just before Christmas 1924 and just before Lennart's first birthday. It had been ten long years since I had seen my home town and my folks. I soon found out that things hadn't changed much.