The transition from a small ranch house in New York to a huge farmhouse in Maine was shockingly easy. Except for the reception on our television. In 1951, televisions were still a luxury in Buckfield, Maine.

For Gail Caiazzo’s father,”being able to feed his six children with the fruits of his green thumb became a full-time job,” she writes. Photo courtesy of Gail Caiazzo

Because my parents were in their 20s and already watching over a crowd of six children, the ranch house was a bit cramped, to say the least.

The farmhouse was located 3 miles in on a dirt road. It featured five bedrooms, a lovely living room with a fireplace, a generously sized dining room and a genuine farm kitchen. The kitchen had a slate sink and a pump that delivered water from a well.

The only downside of our new home was the fact the farmhouse did not have indoor plumbing. This meant the first item on the to-do list for my dad was to install a toilet. The second was the bathtub. As a 6-year-old child, I anticipated this renovation with a great sense of urgency.

The view from our side porch looked down on a gentle slope to an expansive field surrounded by rock walls. This spot became the place where our family garden would be planted.

My father grew up on a farm in Vermont, so having a farm of his own was a lifelong dream. Being able to feed his six children with the fruits of his green thumb became a full-time job.


During the winter there was much discussion over the selection of seeds. Some were ordered through the Sears-Roebuck catalog and some were sent from my grandmother in Vermont.

In the springtime after the snow melted, I recall watching Dad on his tractor preparing the plot for our garden. The fragrance from the freshly turned earth was powerful and delightful.

The colorful pictures on the seed packets were a source of hope that our garden would produce similar results. Red radishes, bright-orange carrots, soft green cabbages, deep purple eggplant and pure white onions were all waiting to be planted.

I was thrilled when Dad let me help with putting in seeds for carrots. He told me it was my responsibility to water and weed that tiny part of the garden.

The warmth of June brought the seeds to life. As I watched the green tops of the carrots popping through the soil, I begged Dad to let me harvest. “Patience, little girl, patience” was a phrase I heard countless times that summer.

As the summer progressed, the garden became a beautiful centerpiece in the field. The rows of corn produced delicious results. Fresh tomato sandwiches became lunch. My mom became an expert at canning and making pickles.

During that summer we learned that baby No. 7 would be arriving next April. Gardening would continue to be a priority.

I often visit that time in my life whenever I need a few moments of quiet reflection. Indoor plumbing and fresh vegetables brought so much happiness. Even though we were many people in one house, we were a family. It truly was a simple, uncomplicated life, the memories of which have served me well.

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