When I think of farm life, I am reminded of my grandmother who lived on a farm in Hollis in the horse and buggy days. They had one cow which they milked and a horse to pull the buggy in the summer and the sleigh in the winter.

One picture of my grandmother that I own shows my two great aunts leaving the farmhouse by buggy. Their trunks are on the back of the buggy and they are all dressed up for the trip, (wearing) big hats with large flowers, long dresses and coats, gloves on their hands, hair up in a bun, ready for the ride to Boston.

My mother and grandmother are also in the picture. My mother, age about four, holds a teddy bear, and my grandmother is standing by the kitchen door with her apron on. My grandfather is holding the reins of the horse waiting for my great aunts to climb up into the buggy seats.

These days have gone. The path next to the farmhouse is a driveway. The trees around the house have been chopped down. The barn is gone. No need for a barn if there is no horse or cow. The house stands alone, a relic of the past. There is a “for sale” sign out front, but no one can buy my memories of summers spent in Hollis with my brothers and sister and mother and grandmother on what was once “the old farm.”

What is it about looking back that seems so sad? Is it so hard to realize that change takes place and much of it is for the better? Cars make for a different kind of life than the horse and buggy.

Electricity replaces the old gas and kerosene lamps that required so much care cleaning the chimneys and polishing the metal reflectors.


The light was dim and people often went to bed as soon as it got dark under the kitchen table.

Was life much simpler then? I doubt it. The work was hard; the cow had to be fed and milked; the horse brushed, fed, exercised; the chickens’ eggs had to be gathered. At the end of the summer the old stove in the breezeway was kept going as the abundance of food was canned in an effort to provide food for the winter.

The convenience of a grocery store to bring us food – fresh food, even – all winter long is something our grandmothers never imagined. The convenience of a car to take us places and enable us to commute to work was unthinkable.

Nostalgia for the good ole days forgets the harshness of the life they lived, the constant work, the struggle to remain healthy, the scourge of diseases without antibiotics or penicillin.

Would we go back to those times if we could? I doubt it.

In our technological age we face different problems, different concerns, and these require a different kind of strength. Speaking as a woman, the apron strings are done, the canning is minimal, I drive my own car and head out into my 21st-century life.

— Special to the Telegram

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