Adirondack Daily Enterprise January 21, 1959
THIS 'N' THAT
Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wonderous works declare… Psalms 75:1.
The steady cold of the week of January 4 was surely been something to write home about."
On Monday when I started for Saranac Lake at 11:45 a.m. my thermometer registered 22 degrees below zero. I started the pick-up and let it warm up in the garage while I did a few last things in the house. Even then it didn't sound as if much of the car got warm (and of course, it didn't), for it creaked and groaned and snapped as I backed out of the garage into the road. I really wouldn't have been surprised if some of the metal had broken with the severe cold. I could just feel the stiffness all through the car. It made me think of an old man whose joints are so crippled with rheumatism that he can hardly move. As I drove along I was thankful for one thing, — that the cold kept the road from being as slippery as it would otherwise have been. But I wasn't warm. I was half-way to Saranac Lake before the heater managed to overcome the cold enough so that I was anywhere near comfortable.
When I returned to the car after nearly two hours of errands, the motor was cold again. You'd almost think it hadn't been driven for a week. As I drove along toward home I was sympathizing with myself for having to be out on such a very cold day; and then my thoughts went back to other trips to Saranac Lake, made more than thirty years ago. And I said to myself, "If I could have gone to Saranac Lake then as comfortable as I have today, I would have considered the trip so luxurious that I'd have thought it nothing".
Soon after we bought this place, thirty-six years ago next May, we started raising chickens with the thought of selling to the individual buyer. And this we did for several years, taking the orders over the 'phone on Thursday, killing, dressing and wrapping on Friday, and delivering on Saturday. We worked up a good trade until we had about all the business we could handle without hiring help.
We soon included potatoes and eggs in our door-to-door deliveries, and the surplus of those we could usually dispose of at some of the grocery stores, even though we might have to trade them for 100-pound sacks of flour or of sugar. (Some who read this may think we might just as well have kept the potatoes, but not so: — potatoes will only keep a few months while sugar and flour, properly stored, will keep almost indefinitely. We baked our own bread in those days and had a larger family, so it took a number of sacks of flour to do us through the year, — and several sacks of sugar for family use, and for all the canning which we did.)
We also bottled cream by the pint, or half-pint, and milk in one-quart bottles to three or four of the stores. When we had a surplus of skimmed milk I made delicious cottage cheese mixed with real cream for which we had a ready market at the A. and P. store on Upper Broadway, of which the late Ford Towner was then manager.
We delivered on Tuesday and Saturday, but hadn't much call for chickens except on the week ends,
In those days our roads were not plowed, therefore there was no automobile travel after snow came. Snow fences hadn't yet come into use around here, and after the first big snow and blow this road, then known as "Cate Mountain Lane", or just "The Lane", (but now known as the Tyler Road) was so drifted that it was impossible to travel it. Consequently, travel zig-zagged here and there through fields and swamps, along the line of least resistance, so long as that line eventually led to where the traveller wanted to go. It finally worked out that our winter road turned off to the east, not far south of our house, and went across Cass's fields, and came out onto the main roads at Paul Cass's house.
Through the warm months we used a car for delivery, and the most of the time I made the trips, because Albert (my husband) was busy at work on the farm or working away or was sick. Sometimes in winter we both went for we used a horse and cutter, unless we had so many potatoes that we had to use the heavy farm sleds, and someone had to stay with the horse and rig while the other made the delivery or did the errand.
The trip took all day; — more than two hours to travel each way if the roads were good; our deliveries took us into many parts of Saranac Lake, so it was late noon when we put the horse, or horses, into the livery stable on Woodruff Street where they were fed and rested before the return trip. (Ed LaBounty had a stable there, and I think the other name was McPherson.
To pack up the cutter with our supplies in a way to take the least space and keep them from freezing was a problem, but we never had any loss in that way.
Because we had to start early in the morning before most other travelers were abroad, we sometimes had to break our own road. ; I remember one morning when we were about two miles from Vermontville the road was drifted so hard and deep that it wasn't passable. The road superintendent had five or six men there shoveling, and we had to wait until the road was cleared enough so we could go through.
The trip that particular day came to my mind last Monday made with a teen-age cousin of Albert's as helper. That morning Albert and I were both so sick with bad colds that we should have been in bed, but the deliveries had to be made and one of us had to go. He appeared to me to be worse than I thought I was, so I insisted on going. (I still think he was worse than I, or he never would have given in and stayed at home while I went.)
John got the horse around and hitched up, and Albert did the loading and packing among warmed blankets. But we were the ones who were cold. A warm robe over the seat, the seat hung down into the floor to protect us from any cold from the back. As always at such times we had a lighted lantern turned up about half-way, sitting on the floor between us. When the robes were tucked in over and around us, we could usually stand quite a lot of cold. But that morning our lantern-heater didn't have much effect on the cold.
John couldn't keep warm riding and he walked a lot. When we went through Bloomingdale the thermometers there registered 30 below zero. The cutter complained about as badly as the truck did last Monday, and the runners squeaked and creaked because of the friction with the cold snowy road.
Delivery and errands seemed to go especially slow and it was cold all day, — still 30 below when we came back through Bloomingdale. I suppose it had been a little warmer through mid-day, but it was nearly dark then, and black-dark when we got home.
John walked a great deal of the distance both ways, but I rode and drove all the way, though he took charge of the horse while I did the errands in town. I beat John home for he walked across from Cass's, and when he came into the house he was actually crying, he was suffering so with the cold, and I felt like joining him. Albert put the horse in, and unloaded the cutter while we tried to get warm enough to think about supper. It seemed as if we never would. — but we did. And, wonder of wonders, my cold seemed none the worse for the freezing trip that day.