Julius Firmin

    I grew up in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. We lived in the center of town, right across from the hotel.
    The hotel barn was right across from where we lived, and I was over there a lot when I was a kid.
    There was an Irishman named Pat Shea who kept the work horses there. His father was the hired
    man at the hotel. He was a nice old Irishman.

    Once I went down to Gardner with Pat. He had bought a pair of horses with extra large necks, and he
    didn’t have any good collars that would fit them. There was a guy in Gardner who used to work for
    Godfrey Harness Company. He made a brand new pair of collars for the horses.  He came up to
    Fitzwilliam twice. We went down and got him and brought him back up. He measured and made
    them. He said to Pat, “When that ticking gets worn, don’t just put a sweat pad in. I’ll make some with
    new ticking and new straw. He had some special straw that was extra long and stiff. He did beautiful
    harness work.

    We had a Shetland pony at that time. I was about ten. The pony’s harness was kind of worn. The
    reins were real bad. They were coming unsewn. When we were down there one time I asked if he
    could make me some new reins. He said, “Next time you come down, bring me one rein so I’ll know
    what length to make.” He went down into the cellar of the building. There were a lot of pieces of
    leather rolled up here. He picked out two pieces and sewed them together to get the right length.
    Quite interesting to see how he went about it. He had a cutter with a handle on it. He laid it out and
    tacked it down on a table. He marked it with a chalk. It took him about an hour to make a new pair of
    reins. It looked good and then he made a new harness for the pony. Free! He gave it to me! He said,
    “I haven’t seen many young boys that are interested in things like this, so I wanted to make you a new
    harness,” and he did. He passed away about six months after that. He had a heart attack. He was
    making new pulling tugs. About five layers of leather. What they called in New England at that time a
    Godfrey harness. They had a short tug. There were a lot of harness things many people wouldn’t
    have any idea about.

    When I was in junior high school I had a pinto. We’d drive him to school sometimes, and sometimes
    we went home to dinner. When we got back after dinner one time, the principal, Mr. Proprozio, said,
    “You boys are five minutes late.”

    During the dinner hour he’d have the clock turned back five minutes. We complained about it to Mr.
    Johnson, the superintendent. He was a real old man and he had a secretary who would go with him
    a lot of times if he had any writing to do. He couldn’t write anymore because he was so shaky. He
    didn’t drive anymore either. She did the driving. We told him that turning the clock back was why we
    had so many tardy marks at noontime. Mr. Johnson came by one day, about eleven-thirty and
    inspected the schoolhouse. He had a little brown bag with him. He sat down at a desk and ate his
    lunch. While he was eating, the little Italian teacher climbed up on a chair and changed the clock. We
    had told Mr. Johnson that if he stayed there during the noon hour he’s see him do that. Most people
    could have reached the clock, but he wasn’t very tall so he had to use a chair.

    Mr. Proprozio said, “You wouldn’t have been late if you hadn’t put all those straps on the horse.”
    When he was giving us hell about that, my neighbor, Priscilla Wilkins, sat down beside me. She was
    quite a vocal girl; always had something to say. She was eight months older than me. I knew her real
    well. We had pictures of Priscilla and me and my sister in the baby carriage when we were small.
    Priscilla said, “You really shouldn’t be talking about things that you have no idea about, Mr. Proprozio.
    You don’t’ take a harness apart.” We told him that the horse was harnessed and in the stall and it
    didn’t take a long time. About three seconds, and out of the barn we go.

    The principal said, “That’ll be a half an hour for speaking out like that”

    Downstairs in the schoolhouse we had a manual training room. The furnace was in that end of the
    schoolhouse. The building wasn’t built right. The furnace should have been in the north end. Jerry
    and I were appointed to take care of the stove a lot of the time. We had a lot of problems with it. My
    friends, Jerry and Frederick and I went home to dinner. Frederick was absent one day and when he
    went back he brought an excuse. Mr. Proprozio read the excuse and asked why he had to stay home
    to watch the dog. “What kind of a dog do you have, Frederick?” he asked.

    Frederick said, “The dumbest damn dog you ever saw.”

    Mr. Proprozio said, “You’ll stay after school for a half hour for talking that way.”

    Priscilla said, “Aaaamen!”

    When I was in the eighth grade, we were hired by Fred Wilkins, Priscilla’s father, to cut brush on every
    road in town. He had a riding stable, a riding school and a girls’ camp. We cut the lower limbs so
    people wouldn’t get brushed by them. My brother stood up in the buggy with a strap around him so he
    wouldn’t lose his balance. It took us three days to do it all.

    Frederick came over to our house one day in the summer and asked my mother if he could stay
    overnight. My mother said, “Frederick, your mother would have me arrested if I let you do that, without
    her permission, and I know she won’t do that.” My brother David had a tent set up out by the garden
    and he and Frederick slept in the tent that night. The next morning I was sitting in the kitchen and the
    telephone rang. My mother was frying eggs. She said, “See who that is, Julius, at quarter of seven in
    the morning.”

    I answered the phone, and it was Frederick’s mother. She asked if I could see Frederick. I said, “No, I
    can’t see him.” I couldn’t see him from where I was sitting. He and David were sitting on a stone step
    outside, but the refrigerator was in the way and I couldn’t see around it. Then she said, “Well,
    Frederick didn’t come home last night.”

    I said, “He didn’t???” I knew he didn’t. Then she told me that she had called the police and they were
    looking for him. Just about that time I saw the town cop drive up in his old Ford car with Frederick with
    him. He brought him in the back door. By now Frederick’s mother was talking to my mother, and
    while they were still talking, I saw Frederick come out the dining room window. The front door was
    locked. Frederick went down the street and David and I followed him. He got a ride as soon as he got
    to the corner, and he went up to his sister’s. I never saw him in Fitzwilliam again. I saw him once later
    and we had coffee at a restaurant. He was driving truck for a grain company. The waitress (I knew her
    from 4-H) came up to us and said, “You and Frederick are going to have to pay for another cup of
    coffee. You’ve been here for an hour now. We limit customers.”

    I said, “Yeah, but you’re not that busy.”

    She said, “No, were not, but that’s the rule the boss says.” Then she said, “Okay, stay.” So I talked
    with Frederick for quite a while. Later on I saw his sister, Viola, up to Dublin one day.

    When I was in eighth grade, my father and I went to Boston one day. We went to Sears. He bought a
    Thrifty Farmer that you could hook up to a Ford to convert it from a car to a tractor. You could use it
    with other cars, but most people used Fords. It was shipped up to us a couple of days later. You took
    the back wheels off of the car and some brackets came with it. There was a sprocket that went on to
    the back axle. It had teeth on it or something like that. The gears would gear it right down so that it
    would go very slowly. In high gear it would go maybe eight miles an hour or something like that. Of
    course you couldn’t run it in high gear much, even in the fields. Going down the road you couldn’t run
    it very fast because the iron wheels kind of bumped. The town didn’t say much at first, but then they
    said I was chewing the edge of the tar road. One of the selectmen, Walton West, told the other two
    that I shouldn’t be driving up there. One of the others, Walter Stone, said they shouldn’t be telling me
    that I couldn’t use the tractor on the road.

    At Christmas the two churches in town, Congregational and Baptist, each had their own Christmas
    celebration, and there was another Christmas thing in the town hall. When I was in the eighth grade I
    had that pinto driving horse I mentioned a while ago. The teacher said, “I want you to go down to Mr.
    Bemis’s pasture tomorrow and get a Christmas tree.” We knew there weren’t any good ones down
    there, but we went and came back just before dinner with one of the scrawniest Christmas trees you’d
    ever see. That’s all there was there. No balsams or spruces. There were cedars, but cedars didn’t
    look much like a Christmas tree. We came back just before dinner with the scrawniest looking one we
    could find. The teacher says, “Do you know where you can get a good one?”

    We said, yes, we knew. We’d have to get the horse and ask Mr. Lynch if it was alright to cut one on his
    land.

    Lynch was a big old Irishman. Nice old guy. He said we could. We looked all over on a pasture out on
    the Jaffrey road, about two miles out of town. We found a big balsam. Jerry was a good chopper so he
    chopped it down. It came down on some other trees, so it didn’t land very hard. Then we got the horse
    we had on the buckboard because it was down in the woods quite a little way.  We dragged it out and
    put it on the buckboard. It was about 3:30 when we got back to school. Mr. Proprozio said, “What in the
    world took you so long? All you had to do was go find a tree and cut it down.”

    I said, “Mr. Proprozio, did you ever try to get a Christmas tree that was a perfect shaped Christmas
    tree? He said he hadn’t but he’d seen a lot of perfect Christmas trees. I said, “Like a lot of other
    things, you’ve got to know what you’re doing. You can’t just go out and cut the first one you come to.”
    We had to cut about four feet off of it and take the screen off the window to get it into the schoolhouse.
    It wasn’t easy to get it in. It was getting dark by the time we finished.

    Mr. Proprozio asked how we were going to get home. I said, We’ll go right home the back way.” He
    said, Well, I don’t know that you should take the wagon with you. Maybe you should just leave the
    horse.”

    I said, “Mr. Proprozio, you don’t know anything about horses and wagons and such, so just stop
    talking about it. We know what to do.”

    The next day was the last day of school before Christmas so we had to take the tree out before school
    got over. We took it down to the Baptist Church, and they had to cut about half of it off. The next evening
    it went to the Congregational Church, and the next afternoon it went to the town hall for the Girl Scouts
    and so forth. It was a very used Christmas tree. It was a very nice tree. It was about thirty feet tall when
    we cut it. It stuck up above the others.

    My father worked at the store for years. He was delivering groceries over to Jaffrey one day. When he
    came back he said he’d seen a guy backed in with a truck with Massachusetts number plates on it
    where’ we’d cut the tree. He thought that was kind of odd, so he backed up and looked. He only saw
    one man out there, so he went over to see Bill Lynch. He asked Bill if he’d sold some Christmas trees
    over there. He asked if the gate was down. It was a barbed wire gate. My father told him, yes, it was
    down.

    They went over and asked the man about what he was doing. He said that he’d paid someone for the
    trees. Bill said, “Well, you’re in big trouble, because I’m Bill Lynch and I own this land and these
    trees.” The guy had them all tied on to his truck, ready to leave. So he left. He wouldn’t give his name.
    My father took the number plate number down. So he and Bill went down to Winchendon, down in
    Massachusetts. They went into the police station and told them about the trees.

    The chief asked Bill what he wanted them to do. Bill said he wanted him arrested. The chief said, “I’ll
    call Worcester.” That’s where the guy was from. About fifteen minutes later they got a call back from
    Worcester.

    They said, “We’ve got him here at the station, unhappy as hell and very uncomfortable. What do you
    want us to do with the Christmas trees?”

    Bill asked, “Is there a church down there that would live to have them to sell?”

    He said, “I think we can find one, and they’ll send you a thank you note. We’re glad you decided to
    prosecute. This guy’s got a long list of trouble he’s been in.” Bill asked if they could give him a good
    kick. They said they couldn’t tell him they could do that. Bill told them that once when he had been
    arrested for being drunk he’d been kicked about four times.

    I went over to Jaffrey where a guy had some things for sale. He had a second hand John Deere tractor
    that had a plow, a wheel harrow, a wood saw, and a cultivator. The tractor had cost $640 new. Just for
    the tractor. I paid $600 for the tractor and everything with it. The cultivator hadn’t been used. It hadn’t
    even been put together. The harrow and plow had plowed a garden. The saw had just sawed a cord of
    wood. Might as well say it was brand new. It was.

    I got hurt on a John Deere they were demonstrating in Fitzwilliam. There was a big spring on it. The
    guy said to back up a little bit and I could plow a rock right out. I backed up and let the plow down. The
    lever didn’t stay in the cogs. It slipped out and hit me. They had to get me off the tractor. They had hard
    work to get my hands off the steering wheel. My father thought it had killed me. I was in the hospital up
    to Keene about fifteen days, I guess. I had a real bad concussion.

    The old doctor we had in Fitzwilliam told my mother he didn’t think there was any need of them
    keeping me in the hospital, but the newer one thought that I might have a blood clot that could hit my
    heart. He kept me in the hospital for quite a while, and they checked my blood pressure every half hour
    for the first four days, so I didn’t get any sleep. It was very pleasant having my blood pressure checked
    by the student nurses. Three of them I’d known before, from 4-H. I’d met a lot of kids from other towns
    in Cheshire County through 4-H. After we got out of high school, we had a senior 4-H club. We’d meet
    once a month, at different places. Sometimes we’d have a dance, and sometimes we’d have a
    supper.

    I had the hotel farm to use for three and a half years. The barn was kind of bad. The floor was going to
    cave in. I hadn’t been making a lot of money, and I was getting discouraged. Every other day I went
    with milk to a dairy in Swansea, but I wasn’t making much. I decided I’d sell out and I got a job working
    on a farm over in Amherst. The owner was Mr. Currier and he had a son, Richard, who was about
    three years older than me. Richard was running the farm.

    Mr. Currier couldn’t do anything with one hand, except hold a flashlight that went anywhere but where
    you wanted to look. He was a superintendent of schools. He was a nice enough guy, but we didn’t hit
    it off and he didn’t like it when I didn’t agree with him. One thing was when he had cows that had
    aborted, he wouldn’t take the pieces out and bury them. He just let them go down in the manure and
    they’d get spread around on the farm. He didn’t like it when I told him about it. Another thing he did that
    I didn’t like was that he’d use an ice pick to punch holes in the milk strainer. Most of his cows had
    mastitis. The milk was stringy and you weren’t supposed to sell it. Of course it didn’t strain good that
    way. The milk inspector that came around could have put him out of business. Other places, he’d shut
    them off if he found something wrong. But he said, “Mr. Currier is an awful nice man, so I don’t want to
    make a hardship for him.”

    Then in September I sold my cows and machinery at auction. Richard and I built a new henhouse.
    One hundred and eight feet long, two stories, twenty-four feet wide. He and I did all the carpenter work
    on it. We started in the fall. We didn’t get the roof on it until cold weather came. Mr. Currier and Richard
    and I didn’t agree on a lot of things. Mr. Currier said we were using too many nails. He said we didn’t
    need three nails in each board. One would be enough. Richard and I didn’t agree and that made him
    kind of mad. He said if we’d done it like he told us, we’d have gotten the paper on the roof before cold
    weather. I wasn’t there when the paper went on. I was sick with a cold. The roof wrinkled awful. I got
    done the first of April. I had been thinking of getting done some before that.

    Mr. Currier came home at noontime one day, and he called this guy up. He told him that there were
    Polish people over in Merrimac who had cows to sell. I listened. I didn’t know where this place was,
    but I got the guy’s name. I had a girlfriend, Barbara, who lived right near there. Her father knew where
    the Polish farmer lived. We went over there. Barbara and I. This Polish lady said, “What do you two
    want?”

    I said, “I understand you have some cows to sell.”

    She said, “Yes, we do. Come in the barn.” Her husband had just finished milking. They were nice
    looking cows. The barn was immaculate. I talked with him a little bit and told him what I wanted, and
    he said, “I don’t think you got the money.” I told him that I did. I had the money in the bank. He asked
    when I would come and pay for them. Probably another ten days, I told him.

    He said, “You don’t have a deposit?”

    I said, “No, I don’t.”

    He said, “Who can I ask about you?”

    “Well,” I said, “I don’t think you should ask the guy I’ve been working for, but do you know Mr. Clark that
    runs the garage in Amherst?”

    “My boys know him,” he said.

    “You ask him," I said. I’d had some work done on my pickup there. I bought the cows.

    I intended to take them over to Fitzwilliam. I was going to have to shore the barn floor up a bit with
    some extra posts. Then I asked Barbara’s father if he knew any farms I could rent. He said he thought
    I could rent one down the street about a quarter of a mile. So I went down to see the lady. She was
    divorced and she was pregnant. She said she’d be glad to rent it to me. At first I was going to board
    there, but then she decided that a boarder would be too much work for her, so I boarded up to Barbara’
    s folks.

    I bought twelve cows. I was shipping every day about two forty-quart jugs of milk. I needed a place to
    cut hay. There wasn’t enough pasture there. I plowed up a field where there had been corn a few
    years before, and planted corn. There was a pasture where I put an electric fence down the middle.
    There was plenty of grass there. Plenty. I’d put the cows on one side for a week, and then put them on
    the other side. That way they’d have fresh grass to eat. They’d really put the milk out.

    I had one cow that was dry right after I got her. She was a big white Holstein. She probably weighed
    1200. She had two calves down by the river. They couldn’t walk. They had been cramped up in her, I
    guess. Their legs were crooked. A guy bought them and butchered them right off. He wasn’t going to
    try to get them to walk. He just butchered them right off. That was a nice farm. There weren’t any
    stones on that side of the road where I had it plowed. That was in Amherst, right next to the Souhegan
    River.

    Some guys from Fitzwilliam came over to see me one day. The corn was about a foot high. I told them
    there was about eight acres of corn. They didn’t think there was that much. I told them that I had
    measured it. One asked where the cows were. They were down, closer to the river. There were two
    different drops where it went down to the river. It dropped off quite a little down there. We walked down
    there. We were about two-thirds of the way down, when one guy looked back and said, “Where did the
    barn go?”

    I said, “The barn’s right up there, but you can’t see it from here, can you?” After he got down there and
    couldn’t see the barn, he knew how much land there was there.

    My brother, David, and I were haying one day, over on the old Spaulding farm in Jaffrey. It was probably
    1941 or ’42. We had almost all the hay on the truck. We got three good big loads out of there. Too guys
    come down there and set up a little tripod with a little box on it. I said, “What are you doing, Mr.
    Haskell?”

    He said, “We’re following some bees. They were up in Troy on our farm this morning, but we’ve
    followed them down here. Chub Haskell we called him. He had One-arm Mitchell with him. Mitchell
    had only one arm. I don’t know how he lost the other. He was probably about thirty and Chub must
    have been in his seventies. Chub had been a horse jockey, but a lot of people didn’t have horses by
    then, so that wasn’t a very good business anymore. He had an arrangement with a guy down in
    Massachusetts. Some of them were in pretty bad shape, but Chub was good at fixing them up and
    fattening them up so they looked pretty good. He knew the horse business pretty well.

    So anyway, he had this tripod he’d set up with a little honey in the box. The box had a couple of
    compartments and a window on the top. The bees would go in and he’d leave them there for a little
    while. Then he’d open it at the other end so they’d fly out. He’d time how long it would be until they got
    back, and that way he could tell how far they had gone. There’s quite a lot to it. He said he thought they’
    d gone about a mile and a half. That wasn’t far from a big pond. He said he thought they’d gone to the
    other side of the pond.

    They were there for a couple of hours, and we got the hay loaded and left. Then I saw him down at
    Fitzwilliam a month or two after that. He said he needed my help, and I asked what he wanted. He
    said they’d found the bee tree, but his truck, an International, ’33 or ’34, ran pretty close to the ground.
    They’d been logging up there, but he couldn’t drive his truck up there. It was a big tree with a lot of
    honey, he said, but we’d have to wait for cold weather to get any.

    When the cold weather came, he came down to the hotel farm one day and said, “Do you have
    anything special to do tomorrow?”

    “No, I don’t think so.”

    He said, “Well, I think we can get some honey out. You come down there with your Model A pickup. We’
    ll make two or three trips.” He had four brand new washtubs in the back of his pickup that he put into
    the Model A. They just about filled the body up. The tree, a maple, was three or four feet in diameter.
    Most of the limbs had rotted off of it, and there were holes where they had been. It was just a big
    stump sticking up. We’d had to walk quite a ways to get there, and it was at the edge of the pond, but
    the water was frozen. Otherwise it would have been hard to get in there.

    We shoveled the tubs full of honey. There was a lot of dirt in it. A lot. A lot of honeycomb, too. You could
    look into the tree with a flashlight and it was hollow almost all the way down to the roots. Probably the
    top was about eight or ten feet, and it was pretty near full. Chub said it must have been there about
    fifteen or twenty years.

    I drove out with the four tubs. He had six more. He had pallets he could put on top of the tubs so he
    could set them on top of the other. I think he got about ten or twelve washtubs full of honey that day. It
    was awful dirty. It was about half woodchips and dirt, but it was sweet. You could get a piece of comb
    and eat it. It was beautiful honey. He’d use a centrifugal thing that would spin it around to clean it up.
    He gave me some. It wasn’t completely clean, but not bad either. Some chips and honeycomb still in
    it. He said he’d run it through the machine two or three times. He thought the honey had been too cold
    when he did it, and that’s why it didn’t get everything out.

    He had a market for it, even though it was dirty. I don’t know how much he got for it, but he was selling
    it. We never did go back. Before spring come, Chub passed away. I don’t know if anyone got the rest.
    One-arm Mitchell wouldn’t have enough ambition to go after it.

    I went back there a couple of years later, after I got out of the army. There were still bees there, but you
    couldn’t walk out there because the swamp had thawed out. The water was at least a foot deep most
    of the way, and in some places probably a lot deeper, but I saw bees coming in and out of it. About a
    half mile further there had been an apple orchard. Probably ten or fifteen acres. Brush had grown up in
    it and it wasn’t being used. There were still a lot of apple blossoms every year. These bees were
    different that the others around. They were bigger and they were uglier.

    I was drafted around the second or third week in July. I took the cows over to Dick Weston. His farm
    was just up the street. He had a lot of corn planted, too. They had a pair of horses. They didn’t have a
    tractor.  I let them use my tractor after I was drafted, and then I went and got it and brought it back
    home.

    I didn’t get along well in the Army. I went in near the first of August and I came home around the
    middle of December. They had a guy who would walk along when we were marching, and he had a
    broomstick a couple of feet long, with a thong on the end of it so you could hold on to it easy. He’d hit
    me on the helmet liner with it and say, “You’re out of step!” There were a lot of very short Rhode Island
    guys in that outfit who’d take very short steps. It was hard for me to stay in step with them. I went up
    and complained to the captain. The captain called him right up while I was standing there and gave
    him hell about it. He says, “You don’t hit anybody!”

    That morning we started out again and he hit me! I said, “If you hit me again, I’m gonna kick ya!”

    He said, “You wouldn’t dare touch me. And no talking in ranks.” He lifted his stick up – I could see it
    out of the corner of my eye. He was going to hit me again. I had my rifle slung over my shoulder. We’d
    had training a day or two before about close combat. We’d been told, if you had to hit someone with
    the butt of the rifle, hit him right in the belly button as hard as you could. I was a pretty rugged guy when
    I was 21. I’d been doing a lot of farm work and stuff. I hit him with the butt and he went, “Aaaghhh!”

    One of the guys said, “You’re in trouble, Julius.”

    I said, “Ya, probably I’ll go to Fort Leavenworth.”

    When we got up to the next rest area, the major went by in his jeep. He stopped. The guy I’d hit was
    sitting in the passenger seat. One of the other guys said, “Well’ at least you didn’t kill him.”

    The major said, “Did you guys have a fight?”

    I said, “Yes, we did. The captain told him yesterday not to hit me again. He hit me once and he was
    going to hit me a second time, when I got him.”

    “What do you mean, you got him?”

    I said, “You ask him where I hit him.”

    He opened his shirt and you could see it, all red. “That’s where. He knocked me out.” The major said,
    “That’ll teach ya to go around hitting people.”

    I thought, “This is going to be bad.” He walked around beside me the rest of that day. He never said
    anything to me. He had a look in his eyes like he’d like to do something. After that day, I never see him
    again.

    They took me to a guy named Major August. He was a psychiatrist. He took me in his office and
    questioned me for an hour or so. He said, “What kind of work have you been doing?”

    I said, “I’m a dairy farmer.”

    He asked, “How much experience have you had?” I said I had a farm I used in Fitzwilliam for three
    years. I didn’t have many cows to start with, but I got up to seven, I think, the last I was there.

    He said, “Did you ever make any money?” I said, “Not really, just got by. Then I had a farm over in
    Amherst. I rented a farm over there.”

    He said, “They should have kept you on a farm.” I didn’t do any more training.

    There was a sergeant, Sergeant Carroll, with us who had been in World War I. He got drunk one
    weekend. We carried him up to where he had a bed in the supply room. We tied him so he couldn’t
    possibly get out. We went round and round the whole bunk with a rope. We ended it with the rope
    under the bunk where he couldn’t see it to get untied. Before morning he had the shits. Monday
    morning he was wild. He said, “If I ever find out who it was that tied me up in there, I’ll find something
    that they won’t like to do. It’s taken me two hours to get that cleaned up in there.”

    One guy had lipped off a lot to Sergeant Carroll. Pappy Carroll, he was called. Pappy said, “Okay, after
    supper I’ve got something for you to do. I’m going to have you dig a six by six. I’ll take you to the supply
    room. There are five or six spades in there. You can pick the one you think you’d like to use. The one
    you select, you’ll use until you get the six by six done. So be careful what you select.” He picked out a
    long handled one. Carroll said, “You don’t want a long handled one in a six by six. You want a short
    handled one.”

    So he shoveled it out. The sergeant sat in a chair near him with a six-pack of the 2% beer the Army
    sold. The hole was done by about ten-thirty. We hadn’t all gone to bed. We wanted to see how he had
    done. He had it all nice and square. The sergeant had a six-foot ruler. He measured it. It was six by
    six, and six deep. He says, “Okay, that’s a good hole. I’m gonna take a picture of it and I want you to
    stand down there.” So he took a picture.

    He said, “Wipe that smile off your face and cover it up with dirt.”

    So we all went to bed. The next morning at six o’clock he’s out there shoveling. What do you suppose
    Carroll had him do? Dig it back up and see if that smile was still at the bottom of the hole. The hole
    was about eight feet square then, because the banks caved in a lot. It was all sand. No rocks in it at
    all. All fine sand. It was at Camp Blanding, Florida. No rocks there at all. Sergeant Carroll said a
    couple of days later, “That smile looked different when he got it dug out again. He won’t be sassing
    me again, I don’t think.”

    I didn’t go back into farming when I got out of the Army. I didn’t have any money. I had been going with
    a girl, Gertrude Cass, before I went in, and we go married in February. I was looking for a job and I’d
    been up to a machine shop in Keene. My father was working there then. He’d run a grinder. That was
    a dirty job, runnin’ that thing. I watched him doing it. You didn’t have to do much precision on that. A
    magnet held all these pieces on. The whole thing would go around in circles. A big grinding wheel
    grinding them as they’d go around. I thought some about it and the guy up to the machine shop said
    okay this was the middle of the week – he said, “Come in next Monday morning at seven o’clock." I
    thought about it some more and decided that job wasn’t for me.

    I worked hauling lumber in New Hampshire for thirty-three years for Arthur D. Bailey.

    I came down to Middleboro, Massachusetts in 1970. I was hauling lumber to Carver. The old man that
    I had worked for in New Hampshire had passed away. The guy who was settling the estate owned
    Sharon Box and his father owned part of it. They had some guys who had hauled lumber, but they
    were mostly dump trailer haulers and they didn’t like hauling lumber, really. I came down and took it
    over. I hauled one load on Monday, two on Tuesday, one on Wednesday, two on Thursday and another
    one on Friday. Occasionally I’d load up on Friday afternoon and be out at Hazardville, Connecticut with
    it on Saturday. Seven trips a week, sometimes. I’d be taking it from the lumber mill in Carver to a reel
    shop in Hazardville. They made wooden reels for wire and other things.

    Before that I’d been hauling from a mill in New Hampshire where they made shook. That’s short
    pieces of board all cut up to the right length. They had a rack body truck. I’d have it down by seven in
    the morning which is when they needed it. Most of them were three inches thick, but not all of them.
    They had a big table there in Hazardville they’d put them on. They’d nail them together and they had a
    band saw that trimmed them.

    They made some giant ones out there for a while, that were going to a big mine in Kentucky. The reels
    were eleven feet in diameter. They went up to Boston to get the belting. They were for conveyors in the
    mines. They’d go a half a mile each. They had pictures of them in Hazardville. There were two guys
    and all they did all day was grease the rolls with grease guns. There was a walkway underneath the
    conveyors. It must have been dangerous. They were wearing hard hats. I suppose stuff could fall off
    the conveyor. I saw some of those reels coming out of Boston on a special low bed. Real low
    clearance on them. One day I saw one stuck under a bridge in Millbury, right on the Mass Pike.
    Evidently he didn’t have a low enough low-bed. They were unloading them and loading them onto
    another low-bed right there. That tied the pike up pretty bad.

    When I’d go to Hazardville, I’d go up the pike to Ludlow. After I’d get off, there was a low bridge on
    Route 20. A railroad bridge. The state decided that under that bridge it always filled up with water, so
    they had the bright idea that they were going to change the clearance. It had been marked eleven feet.
    They changed it to ten feet and six inches. I couldn’t go through. I got there one morning and I had to
    back up. A cop says, “How high are you?”

    I said, “I’m not sure. I haven’t measured it.”

    He says, “Well, I’m going to have to measure it.” He said he’d be right back; he didn’t have a tape. I
    didn’t tell him I had one. I didn’t have a tape. I had a six-foot folding ruler. It was broken years before so
    it was really five and a half foot. Worked pretty good in New Hampshire. They thought it was six foot. So
    I was stopped over by Hillsboro one night by Roger Hilton, a state cop. He was a little short guy, about
    five two. He says, “I think you’re over height.”

    I said, “No, Roger, I don’t think so.” He said, “I can tell by the looks of it.” I said, “You’re about five feet
    two, and I’m almost six foot, so it looks a lot bigger to you than it does to me.” He didn’t like that.

    I’d had a little trouble with Roger before that. It had rained, big thundershower one afternoon, so I’d
    come home with a big load of logs on, hadn’t delivered them. Sunday morning I decided to deliver
    them. It was all foggy. I went over to the paper mill in Bennington. They burned all their excess paper
    there. Sometimes they’d burn it all week long. It was all smoky down there, besides all foggy. All of a
    sudden, wham, somebody ran right into the front of me. So I jumped right out and it was Roger Hilton.

    He said, “What are you doing on my side of the road?”

    I said, “Roger, you’d better get out and look. I’m right up against the right-hand fence, and I guess that’
    s my side of the road.” He had a Mercury cruiser and it was losing water bad. I asked, “Roger, do I
    have to make an accident report?”

    “You’d damned well better not.”

    I said, “What are you going to do?

    “I’m going to call for a wrecker and another car, and don’t you dare make out a report on this.” So I
    always had that on him. He was driving on the wrong side of the road and didn’t know where he was
    going.

    Roger almost got killed once. It was at a story and a half house. The eaves trough over the door had
    rotted and come down. It had been raining for several days and he wanted to get it fixed. So he’s up on
    a ladder drilling a hole with an electric drill to put up a new eaves trough. He got shocked. He was on
    the ground. When the medics came by, they thought he was dead. Nearly was. His head and hands
    all turned black. He must have got one hell of a shock.

    Dan Lynch had a farm. He raised oxen and had Durham cows. He had a wagon loaded with apples
    going to the cider mill. His son and his wife were on the wagon when it went down the hill and got
    smashed. The apples went all over the place and they didn’t get any cider that year. It was during
    Prohibition and he was selling cider. A lot of guys were in the illegal hard cider business. They ran the
    press off an automobile engine. The crates they put the apples into were about the size of a barrel and
    they had slats all around them. They had a grinder they put them in first. I think they did that by hand.

    I hauled cider apples into the mill in Greenville, New Hampshire when I had the Mack. They had
    probably twenty-five, thirty guys hauling apples in there. I hauled them from Lake Champlain. I hauled
    local apples, too. They had some short trailers, maybe thirty foot long. The ones from Vermont were in
    tubs they loaded onto the flatbed trailer with forklifts. Some were thirteen bushel tubs and some were
    seventeen.

    The next town down had a marble quarry and a big scale. A state cop had followed me quite a ways.
    When I got there he waved me in. He said, “It’s going to cost you something this time, fella.”

    I said, “I don’t think so.” He weighed me. I could go 68,000 with that forty foot trailer. I was about 400
    pounds over. He told me not to be bringing loads like that through again, but he didn’t do anything.
    Only 400 pounds over, the judge would have thrown the case out. He told me he’d caught a guy a little
    before that who was 6000 pounds over.

    At the cider mill you’d unhitch the trailer. They had a hydraulic piston on the back of an old truck and if
    you were hauling in bulk they’d tip it up to unload. The ones I was bringing in were in tubs, so they
    unloaded with a forklift.

    I picked up a load in Bristol, New Hampshire one Saturday afternoon. I could carry sixty-six tubs, but it
    was getting dark and hard to see, so we only put on fifty-five. The next morning Mr. Bailey said, “You’re
    getting kind of greedy, Julius.”

    I said, “I am? I didn’t think I was.” I went into the scale house, and I weighed 70,000, just the trailer,
    without the tractor. I know when I come out of Concord, New Hampshire it’s uphill on the turnpike and I
    had to get in second gear. It didn’t even look like it was uphill.

    I went up there three days after Christmas and got some more. They had a big warehouse there that
    they could store a lot of apples in. He told me that somebody had stolen his skimobile. He had a big
    one. He had a German shepherd dog that you didn’t want to trust at all. When anybody came to the
    house, he put him down cellar. The dog raised hell all the time he was down there. When they came
    home Christmas Eve, the dog was raising hell. Worst he’d ever seen him. They’d been gone for about
    four hours, so figured maybe he was just getting lonesome.

    The next morning he found that the skimobile was gone. They’d broken the glass on the overhead
    door. There must have been at least four of them. They didn’t start it. They pushed it up over the hill
    and down to Route 3. It was a $6000 skimobile. It was a big one. He could do a lot of work with it. He
    said if he’d let the dog out when he first got home and those guys were still up there, there would have
    been a couple of dead ones. The state police had had the dog before, but they got rid of him because
    he was so ugly, and they couldn’t control him. Somewhere up in the White Mountains some guys had
    broken into a place and the dog got one of them and took his arm off.

    In another town there had been some breaks in houses where nobody was living. Summer house.
    Somebody alerted the sheriff about it. The sheriff went up there the next night with four or five guys. A
    truck drove up and guys started taking furniture out of the house and putting it in the truck. After they got
    a few pieces of furniture into the truck, the sheriff called to them, “Okay, you guys are under arrest.
    Come out with your hands up!”

    One guy ran off into the woods. The sheriff told the others, “That dog is hungry, and he likes arms.”
    The guy had a sheepskin coat on. When they found him, the dog had him down and had the arm of
    the coat off. The guy’s arm was pretty well chewed. When they took him to the hospital the doctor said
    he didn’t know if he could save the arm. There wasn’t much flesh left on it.

    I saw a bee tree once when I was walking with my youngest daughter up by Crotched Mountain
    Hospital. When the bees came out, it looked like a black tube of them all flying together. They must
    have been going quite a long ways to get honey. There was a blueberry patch up there, but no apple
    orchard that I know of.

    When Arthur Bailery died, it took me a whole year to clean up all the odds and ends of lumber that was
    around. I didn’t go to check until the snow had melted and I could go around with a four-wheel drive
    pickup truck. It took me a day. There was some lumber left in half a dozen places and quite a lot in two
    places.

    I had to make an estimate, and they told me to be very careful. I didn’t overestimate or the lawyers
    would have been wondering what had happened to it. Some of the piles were hard to estimate. They
    might be piled up narrow at the bottom and stick out at the top, or over a rock or a brush pile, so I had
    to take all of this into consideration. A lot of it went up to Hill Box that made the reels that went down to
    Hazardville. They didn’t make the reels; they just made shook. I was kind of leery about that. I didn’t
    know how that would come out. I didn’t truck most of that. I trucked most of the other.

    I was quite interested to see how I’d come out when I got it all done, so I asked Willard Rhodes how I
    come out. He said, “You did a good job, Julius. You hauled about 100,000 feet more than you
    estimated, so we’re all right that way. If what you’d estimated had been the other way around, the
    lawyers would all have been worrying about it. When we met the lawyers, one asked if the guy had
    been educated to do that. Willard told him, no, but that I’d been hauling for thirty years, and I’d know
    how much was on a load, so it come out pretty good.

    I had a little problem. This Cavanaugh Lumber Company had also been buying from a lumber broker.
    So Willard in Weare or Deering, I don’t know which, it was near the town line, had an order that I’d
    done for him of inch and a half oak to go to a basket shop in Peterborough and a place up in Maine
    that made lawn swings with two seats in them. Gliders they called them. They made a lot them. They
    only wanted oak. Cavanaugh was bent out of shape pretty bad over this. He thought he was going to
    get to be administrator and have charge of the lumber, but he didn’t. They come up and put a pocket
    card on the piles, but he drove them on with three-penny nails on the sides of the piles. Well, that got
    him pretty mad. I called him up and told him I wanted him to take the tags off. I told him he damned
    well better take the nails out because nobody wanted to run nails through their planer. He came up
    with a saw and had to cut about an inch and a half on each one. I wrote to him and told him I thought
    that was going to cut down on the measure of that. He got pretty upset about it.

    There was a road in Troy that went back to Jaffrey and then Fitzwilliam. It was pretty narrow. I couldn’t
    mow anything with the tractor. There wasn’t room for the cutter bar to go by the trees. I went up there
    anyway to see if there was anything I could mow. There was a place where they loaded cows when
    they put them into a pasture. I turned around there. I just got turned around when I met a state trooper.
    He said, “I hope you haven’t spoiled the tracks I wanted to make a plaster cast of them."

    I said, “I don’t know if I did or not.” I backed up.

    He asked where he’d have to go to get turned around. I told him where he could turn, and then I asked
    how he’d make the plaster cast. He said, “I’ll show ya.”

    I backed up and he turned around and got the trunk of his car open. He had plaster and a bucket of
    water. He told me that three cows had been stolen. Registered Guernseys. Nice ones. They’d been
    up to the summer pasture. The pasture come up to the road there. There were Montgomery Ward
    knobby tires on this one ton truck. Dual wheels on it. Somebody had seen that truck the day before
    and evidently looked the situation over. They didn’t sell the cows. They butchered them right off. They
    got them, anyway, but it was quite a while.

    Sam Chickering had a big auction place over at Chester, Vermont. These guys had stolen some cattle
    from him, and they had nerve enough to bring them back in the fall and run them through his auction.
    Old Sam didn’t have any legs anymore. He’d had both legs taken off. But he was still pretty sharp just
    the same. They run them through and he bid them in. So then they came around after the auction to
    get their money. New Hampshire state police and Vermont deputy sheriff were right there. They had
    stolen these cows from Chickering in New Hampshire; up in Claremont, somewhere that spring, and
    they’d been in that pasture all summer long. Old Chickering still recognized them. One was black, but
    had funny marks on the head. The plaster cast convicted them. There were three knobs on the inside
    tire that had got broke off somehow. The cop told me that went he was in Vermont he saw a truck with
    dual wheels and he took a look at the tires. They confiscated the truck and they made a plaster cast of
    the tire marks and took that into court. The judge looked at it and said, “Where’d you get this second
    one?” The cop told him over at the auction barn in Chester. The judge said, “They don’t look the same.”

    The cop said, “Well, they’ve been driving the truck all summer and have worn them down a bit, but they’
    re still missing three knobs.”

    The cop was a crack shot. There was a gravel bed behind the Mobil station in Fitzwilliam and he used
    to come down there and do a little practice shooting. We’d put quart Mobil oil cans up there and tell
    him what letter we wanted him to hit. He’d put it in the letter we told him. There was a kid named
    Frankie who was a couple of years younger that I was, who was kind of wild. He had a Buick
    Roadmaster. They’d been after him all the time and had him into court once or twice. He lost his
    license once. They chased him one time up in Bowkerville. Hi just floored it. There are a lot of houses
    up there. Once you get past them you come to a four corners. After that there aren’t any more houses
    for a couple of miles. That’s where Frankie went out. Three shots. One for each rear tire and one for
    the gas tank. Frankie said, “Each time I went over a little hump, bang!” So he got Frankie in the back of
    the cruiser with the handcuffs on him.

    Paul Page, a guy who owned a sawmill, wanted to get the mill moved to a new place before mud
    season. It was two or three miles away. There were two or three feet of snow on the ground. I forget
    the name of the guy plowing. They were doing that on a Sunday. When it got bulldozed out, Paul
    walked back and got his car. He couldn’t find the dog anywhere. When he got back, the guy said,
    “Paul, I heard your dog crying, but I haven’t seen him anywhere.” They looked all around and they
    bulldozed up in back of the house where they were going to put the mill in the woods there. There was
    a well that didn’t have a cover on it there. The dog was in the well. He was down about twelve feet.
    There was a lot of water down deeper. He was crying like heck. He was in bad shape down there.

    They didn’t have a ladder, of course, with them. Paul had a couple of sets of car tire chains. He put
    them together and backed his car right up near the well. He climbed down into the well by putting his
    feet on the cross-chains. He got a rope on the dog. When he got him out onto the ground, the dog was
    pretty exhausted. He didn’t usually want to lie down, but the first thing he wanted to do was to get into
    Paul’s car and lie down. He was shivering something terrible, he was so cold. Evidently he’d been in
    the water part of the way when he was down in there.

    There were a lot of big rocks around the foundation of that house. The house didn’t burn down. There
    was a lot of plaster in the cellar hole. Evidently they tore that house down, otherwise the plaster
    wouldn’t have been all white and still there. There must have been a quarry somewhere. We never
    saw one around there. There were a lot of rocks that were twelve, fourteen feet long, two feet high, and
    maybe a foot thick, out in the back. There were more foundations and it looked like they must have had
    an icehouse up there. It was probably forty feet square with foundation stones all around it. Paul
    looked all around but he never found where they cut the stone. It would have been a difficult place to
    get them in there. There were big, steep hills anyway you went.

    Down further from there was a big meadow. The next year they moved the mill down the back side of
    that meadow. There’d been a dam down there where the brook went right next to the road. There were
    stone posts that had grooves cut in ‘em to put planks in to dam it up. After Paul had moved the mill,
    the beavers got more active there. The lumber was almost flooded. Not quite but almost. There was
    water around in the lower places there. So I asked the game warden what to do. He told me to make a
    trough and put wire in the bottom of it instead of a board. The beavers probably won’t plug that up. The
    beavers were smarter than he thought they were. They filled that thing completely full of brush. Brush
    and moss and weeds and stuff, so water wasn’t running through it at all.

    I’d waited a week before I went back ‘cause I was going to haul that lumber out that winter. I had an
    International three-quarter ton pickup. I had a chain and a rope with me. A big rope. It was quite a ways
    from where the dam was that I could back up, but I backed up and hooked onto it with the rope. There
    was about three feet of water back of the thing. The hill there was pretty steep, and it was all covered
    with stones about as big as eggs. I was afraid I might break an (axle???) Get to spinnin’ on ‘em and
    break an ??? So I went around another way and went home.

    I went up into Deering and there’s a road you go cross-lots from there into Francistown. There was a
    dog sitting by the side of the road on a jacket. So I stopped and talked to him and I gave him a
    sandwich. I’d been out with the truck that morning and had my dinner pail with me. He ate the
    sandwich but he wouldn’t let me touch him. He had a collar on and I could see someone’s name
    stamped in, but he wouldn’t let me near him. I went by about a week later with the truck, and he was
    still there. They hadn’t come and got him. But two weeks later when I went by, he was gone, and the
    jacket was gone. Somebody’d been coon hunting up there and he got lost down in the woods. The
    story always said if your dog got lost you’d leave your jacket there and he’d stay with your jacket until
    you come and got him. I talked to two or three or three other guys who’d been up by there and he
    wouldn’t let them touch him either. He was a one-man dog, but evidently somebody come and got
    him. There were a lot of raccoons up in there. We saw a lot of them. Down in the lumber yard there
    were a lot. They had a home under a couple of lumber piles. I saw a whole litter of them in there.

    I was loading my trailer up down where the swamp and the lumber was, in the town of Deering. Some
    men come up there. He says, “How ya doing?”

    I says, “I’m doing pretty good.”

    He said, “We’re going to have to get after the estate. They haven’t paid their taxes.”

    I says, “Now, wait a minute.” This guys’ name was Bettencourt. He was a selectman in Deering. He’d
    been to Yale College, but he’d flunked. But he still thought he was a lawyer. The guy who was settling
    the estate had shown me the bills he had and the receipt for paying the taxes. Most of this lumber
    hadn’t been in that field on the first of April when the taxes were put on. It dried during the summer and
    I’d hauled a lot of it out before the first of January when the taxes were put on, so it wasn’t taxable.

    Anything that was around when the assessors came around about the first of April they had to pay a
    tax on it. But anything that was sawn after the first of April and we trucked out before the next first of
    April, the town didn’t get any tax. They had filed, and intent to cut I guess you’d call it for two or three
    million on that lot, over three or four years. Bettincourt said there’d be a tax on that lumber. The only
    thing they could tax was the value of the standing lumber. They didn’t know anything about that and
    they were too bashful to walk up into the woods and look. They didn’t know that lumber was there.
    They hadn’t seen it. The law’s quite plain about that. They had to cruise the lot; they couldn’t just drive
    by. A lot of people who work for the town wouldn’t have any idea how much lumber was there. They
    just see trees.

    A guy who was a selectman in Fitzwilliam told me how you’re supposed to do it. You pace off a couple
    of acres. Then you go through with a pad and you count the number of trees in different sections. If you’
    re going to be real accurate, you take a pair of calipers with you and you measure the trees at breast
    height. Then you estimate the heights of them and write that all down. That would be a very accurate
    way to do it that way. They just looked. I asked Mr. Bailey how he did it. He said he just paced it off and
    looked at it.

    Hemlock trees have a tendency to have a bend in the bottom of the butt about six or eight feet up. Mr.
    Bailey had looked at one lot that had a lot of hemlock on it. The guy told him they were all nice, straight
    trees. Mr. Bailey said, “Alright, I want you to show me a dozen straight hemlocks. He started around
    and then said, “Well, there ain’t any, are there?”

    During World War I there was a big, big demand for lumber. Arthur Bailey had eight or ten sawmills.
    Up the other side of Concord the Shakers had a big pine lot, there hadn’t been anything done on it for
    a hundred years. They decided to sell some of it. In New Hampshire they changed the law. If you had
    a lot that was mature, they were going to tax it more than they did when it was just called a lumber lot.
    Several people bid on it. New England Box wanted it pretty bad. Arthur Bailey outbid ‘em.

    My brother-in-law worked for Lester Lowell when he was nineteen or twenty. He said they didn’t get
    any narrow planks. Every day they got planks that were twenty-four to thirty inches wide. They had a big
    steam mill in there with a top-saw. With a top-saw they’d take a slab off of one side and then they’d
    turn it. They’d take slabs off of two other sides. With a steam mill with plenty of power they could saw a
    lot of lumber off pretty fast. Bucky said that when they were cutting a big log like that, he and Les
    couldn’t load them on the truck as fast as they came off the carriage.

    They had a new sawyer come in one morning. He said, “Look, I guess you’re going to have to get a
    different sticking truck today.” They were going to haul out a mile. They had truck that wasn’t very good.
    It was a Model A Ford and they had taken one piston out of it because it was broken. They were
    running it on three cylinders. They knew they were pretty near done on that lot and then they’d buy
    another truck.

    They got quite a lot of birch that day. Les takes some birch bark off and starts a little fire to warm his
    hands. He says to another guy, not the sawyer, “I wish that new guy could get as much done as he
    says he can, because I’m getting kind of cold here standing around waiting for him.” That night when
    they walked out of there, they had to walk about a mile. When he see where they’d been stickin’ the
    lumber, he didn’t know what to say. He didn’t think they could stick that out and haul it that far. They
    never see him again.

    One time a guy accused Page of cheating him when he was measuring the logs. They had a
    considerable argument. This guy says he’s going to paste Page. Page was probably about thirty-two
    then. He wasn’t a very big guy, but he was fast. The guy told Paul he was going to take him up and
    bury him in the sawdust pile. Paul says, “I’ll make it easy for you. I’ll come right over there so you can.”
    Of course there was a whole gang watching. The guy never did get his hat. Paul picked him up, he
    was a pretty good sized man, too, by his collar and the seat of his pants, and stuffed him right in the
    sawdust pile.

    Sawdust piles could be dangerous. Down in Loudon Lumber in Milford (NH) they had a big sawdust
    shed where they’d blow all the sawdust in. The pile might be twenty feet high or better. They’d back the
    trucks up and shovel the sawdust off the top and into the truck. A guy backed his truck up once and the
    sawdust was blowing into the truck, kinda. He didn’t come out. A couple of other guys come for loads.
    They didn’t see him anywhere. Didn’t know where he was. He was in the truck, covered with about four
    feet of sawdust. He smothered.

    I’d taken a load of lumber down to Amesbury for Arthur Bailey once. It was snowing real bad in New
    Hampshire, but not too much when I got down there. Coming back, I went around the edge of
    Lawrence and back that way. I had to get gas, but most of the stations in New Hampshire didn’t have
    electricity so they weren’t pumping gas. I was getting pretty low when I finally found a place. There was
    a kid there with a bicycle. He said, “How much do you want?”

    I said, “I’ve got a fifty gallon tank. I want fifty gallons.”

    He says, “That’s an awful lot of pedaling for fifty gallons. A dollars worth is all I like to pedal at once.”
    He had the back tire off and had it set up there and was pedaling it to make the gas pump run.

    The station owner said, “I’m paying you by the hour. I want you to pump that much gas."

    The kid said, “That’s a lot of pumping.”

    The owner said, “Yeah, but when you’re out with your bicycle you ride around all day and don’t think a
    bit about it, so you might as well pedal here.”

    I was in Bettencourt’s house seeing about getting the road plowed. He said the town wouldn’t plow it. I
    wasn’t going to drive up there if it wasn’t plowed. Especially with the trailer. I had a tractor-trailer that
    year. Bettencourt said they were going to collect that money. I said, “I’d put money on it. The Bailey
    estate don’t owe the town of Deering anything.”

    Oh, yes, they do, and we’re going to collect it.”

    He got up and opened the door and said, “Julius, I’d like you to leave.”

    I said, “Alright, I’ll leave.”

    “We’ll be in contact with the Bailey estate, and we’re going to collect those taxes.”

    “Mr. Bettencourt, I’m quite sure you’re not going to collect anything because they don’t owe anything.”

    I called the guy who was settling the estate and he asked how I made out getting the road plowed. I
    said, “No problem at all.” I went over to see a guy over at Hillsboro who had a grader who worked for
    the state. He did a lot of extra work, too. He told me he was going to be over there to work for the state
    and said he’d run the grader right up to the top of the hill for me. A couple of times he sanded the road,
    too.

    So I come out with a load of lumber. I’d always stop at the top of the hill and blow my air horn for a
    couple of minutes in case anybody was coming because you couldn’t meet anybody on that road.
    Single-track road. I had a real big air horn on the middle of the top of the cab. I had a Mack then. Sure
    enough about three-quarters of the way down I met this guy with a big Chrysler. A big one. They kept
    right on comin’ when they saw me. They never slacked off at all. I thought I was going to run into them,
    for sure. I stopped. They started backing up and they got stuck in a snowbank. I couldn’t get by ‘em. No
    way. They all filed out. One was Carl Cavanaugh. The Kavenaughs had had a big horse business in
    Manchester when horses were around, and then they got into the lumber business. He said, “Can you
    pull us out.”

    I said, “I doubt I can pull anything while I’m backed up the hill.” So I put my chains on and pulled it
    about two foot. That’s as far as I could pull it. They finally horsed it around, shoveled all the snow out. I
    didn’t know what would be under the snow. A big rock or what there would be. So I sat  there in the  
    tractor and ate my dinner while they were shoveling. They finally got it out of there. If Carl hadn’t been
    standing there with his hands on the car, I could have tipped it over just as slick as could be. As soon
    as I started pulling on it, it leaned, but I didn’t really want to kill somebody.

    The guy working for Carl claimed that lumber was supposed to be for him and go to Winchester Box in
    New Hampshire, but Willard wanted it hauled down to Sharon. Willard’s writing the checks, so I didn’t
    have much choice, did I?

    That night I was talking to Willard again. He said, “Julius, it’s a very good thing I’m down here in
    Sharon, Mass Cavanaugh and the other guy are up there in Deering. I’m afraid there might have been
    some bloodshed.”

    When Memorial Day come, I’d moved down here (Massachusetts) by then. I’d been down here a year.
    We went to the Memorial Day thing in South Lyndeborough. Sure enough, that guy, the lawyer in
    Deering, was the speaker. I said to my wife, “I’m going back into the hall and shake hands with
    somebody.”

    She grabbed hold of me. “You’re not going in there and make a lot of trouble. I’m not going to let you in
    there. You’re not going in the town hall.” I’m up about two steps and she gets ahold of me and says to
    another lady who’s a friend of hers, “Grab Julius’s other arm. I’m not letting him in there.” So I didn’t
    get to see him. Old Bettencourt. When I got down here I was telling Willard about it. Bettencourt didn’t
    get any money. It had all been paid.

                                                             Memories Menu                    HOME   

    Julius with four of his children on
    his 90th birthday - August 2012.

    As you who are regulars reading this site know, it's about
    the history of Hopedale, Massachusetts. This page is an
    exception. I get into Atria-Draper Place, an assisted living
    facility in the former Draper Corporation Main Office quite
    often. Over the past year I've frequently spoken with Julius
    Firmin, who has been a resident there for six or seven
    years. I thought his stories of growing up in Fitzwilliam,
    New Hampshire, dairy farming, truck driving, etc, were
    interesting, so over the past month I've recorded some of
    them and here they are.

                                                 Julius H. Firmin

    Born August 17, 1922 in Fitzwilliam, NH; shared the same name of his grandfather, who served in the
    NH State Legislature

    Predeceased by: his wife of 57 years, Gertrude (Cass); and by a sister and 2 brothers

    Father: Horace B. Firmin (born Fitzwilliam, NH)
    Mother: Letitia (Mitchell) Firmin (born Bridgewater, MA)

    Resided in Marlborough, MA
    Julius lived on West Street in Carver for 35 years, where he raised chickens and sold fresh eggs. He
    liked to have at least one barn cat around the place to keep the mouse population down. Before
    moving to Carver to work as a truck driver for North Carver Pine, Julius lived for 19 years in
    Lyndeborough, NH, and before that in and around Fitzwilliam and Hancock. He always liked Mack
    trucks, saying that his “bulldog” could pass almost any other truck if it wanted to.

    Julius was renowned for his story-telling. He had many favorite stories which family members could
    probably recite from the memory of repeated tellings. No matter the topic—Julius had an appropriate
    story from his past to fit. He also had a sharp sense of humor and loved a good joke.

    Survived by:
    A sister – Charlotte Hall of Craftsbury Common, VT
    A brother – Dan Firmin of Troy, NH
    2 sons – Alvin and Karen Firmin of New Hampton, NH;  Brian and JoAnn Firmin of Wilton, NH;
    3 daughters – Deborah Henderson of Millis, MA; Janet and Joseph LeBarnes of Parker Dam, CA;
    Carol and Leslie Magoon of Penacook, NH
    11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren
    In lieu of flowers, please donate in Julius’s memory to a charity of your choice.