We hear that kids who aren’t lobstering can’t afford to buy a house when they get out of high school. When they get out of college, it can be even harder. They have to live with their parents. I can identify. That’s the way it was before the war.

I was born in 1936 and lived with my father, mother and maternal grandmother in her house. Three generations in one house.

True Hall was born around 1930 almost across the road from me. He lived with his mother, father and paternal grandmother in her house.

Leola Robinson, a brilliant unmarried woman, lived next door. She lived with her mother in her mother’s house. Next to them were Annie and Nanny Kinney. Annie married Nanny’s brother, Earl Kinney, and both families lived in one house.

Across the road from Nanny was Frank Hilt, his wife, Dora, and Aunt Lucy. I’m not sure of their relationship but it was probably Aunt Lucy’s house. I do recall that my brother inherited a pair of shoes that belonged to Aunt Lucy’s husband Sid, and that he wore them to dances for several years. Sid was born in 1867, so the shoes were high and had laces up above the ankles. When someone asked my brother why he wore such peculiar looking shoes, instead of saying they belonged to a man who died many years before, he said he had weak ankles.

Down the road were Harvey Kinney and his wife, Aunt Grace. They lived with Grace’s mother, Lyddy Caddy, and brought up Lucinda Polky, a great-granddaughter, so there were three generations in that house. Up the road three houses from them lived Victor Korpinen and his family. He must have married a widow because her son, Eino Ojala, lived there with them when their son, Ernest Korpinen, moved out during the war. So there were two generations in what I called the Ojala house. It has been “the Apple House” since Jamie Wyeth painted it. You can see it online. Two houses down from father’s was “Old Man” Elo, a son Reino, his wife and two children. They, like the Korpinens and my father, were from “away.” Except for the Halls, the rest of us were related. To make ends meet, both Elo and my grandmother took in two or three boarders who worked in the quarries.


That was before the war, and how we all managed to fit in one house is something that might well be studied today.

When it comes to housing, things are now much like the days of the Great Depression when it was taken for granted that two or even three generations would live in the same house. During the Depression, doubling up in our village was a simple, practical way to ensure that no one slept in a tent or went hungry.

We had a short boom after the war when unions ensured that a man earned enough to buy a home and car and support a wife and two children. But since Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down economics (the misguided belief that if you made the rich richer, some of the money would surely trickle down), that boom faded away like fog, and with the cost of living going up and up, many couples working service-economy jobs struggle to get by.

By my standards, part of the “struggle” is self-inflicted because the present generation has habits that I and my parents and my old neighbors never dreamed of having. To my antiquated, depression-era way of thinking, they leak much of the little money they do earn. They eat in restaurants, buy new cars on time, have expensive pets – cats and dogs – wide TV sets, motorcycles or four-wheel toys and … they leak money from every pore.

Some, who mortgage the homes they inherited from their parents, lose them to the banks when they get sick or lose their jobs. Only piles of plastic yard toys and a couple of boat trailers are left to remind us that a good neighbor once lived there.

Inexpensive trade schools might turn things around in less than a generation. Very few people who can fix sink traps, or lobster 50 miles offshore, are living in tents. Most of these clever people are even able to help their children get through college.

The humble Farmer can be visited at: www.thehumblefarmer.com

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