Fran & Pete Miller Interview:
This is file # 106. Today’s date is September 8, 2015. I am on Mt. Riga. I am interviewing Frances Sawtelle Miller and her husband Peter miller at her home Wentworth. She is going to give her family background. Then she and her husband are going to tell me all sorts of wonderful things about Mt. Riga, the mountain, the house, and their winter on the mountain as well as a few ghost stories about Grandma Thurston. We’ll start with the genealogical information.
JM:What is your name?
FM:Frances Sawtelle Miller
FM:March 22, 1939
JM:Your birth place?
FM:Bronxville, New York.
JM:Your parents’ names.
FM:My father’s name was Charles Worthington Sawtelle, and my mother’s name was Edna Stiles Sawtelle.
JM:Was she a local Stiles from Salisbury?
FM:I think she was from Connecticut.
FM:I have two brothers. I have an older brother by 2 years born in 1937 Robert Monroe Sawtelle. I have a twin brother Chester Worthington Sawtelle.
JM:What is your educational background after high school?
FM:I attended Marietta College majoring in the sciences and received a BA in Biology and went on to graduate school at Duke University School of Medicine for a Physical Therapy certificate.
JM:I am going to ask you about your connection to the mountain. How did your people actually come here to the mountain?
FM:My father attended Union college and was a roommate with Lambert Borden. Locally he had the lease from the Mt. Riga Corporation at the time. My father would come up and visit with the Bordens; he would spend holidays and whatnot up here. When the war came, my mother and father had us kids going to camp over at Camp Sloane (See file 44/55 John Hedbavny) in Lakeville, Ct. They went over to visit Mrs. Borden who was then Mrs. Scott because Mr. Borden had died.
JM:Was this the Borden of Borden Milk.2.
FM:Yes, this is the Borden of Borden Milk. My father asked Mrs. Scott just how were things up on the mountain, how was the house, the Wentworth cottage. She said that it was fine, but her children were not really interested it living there or using it. She wonderfully asked if dad would like to sublease it from her. So mom and dad did sublease it in 1947-48 as near as I can recollect. It was after the war; it might have been 1947, but maybe it was 1947 when we were in Camp Sloane and then we started coming up here as children in 1948. Then my father as an officer in the reserves was called back into the Korean action in the Korean War. We were away for 2 years; I would have been a young teenager at that point. After that scrimmage we returned to White Plains, NY where we still had our same house and all. We started coming up to the mountain on a regular basis. Mom would stay up here with the three of us kids and dad would come up on weekends. It is a little piece of heaven as we kids grew up and have loved it ever since.
JM:How much property is there approximately?
FM:I think it is 2 acres. It goes from the road, the main road coming up the mountain over to a stone wall that is further back in the bushes, if you will, then from the lake up to at least the water tower.
JM:I now know what the water tower is. (It is a separate structure that looks like the bottom half of a Dutch windmill. This structure is attached by a porch to the old ice house with a second story built on top.) Do you know how Wentworth got its name?
FM:I believe that the last family that lived there during the iron industry was the Wentworths. When all the people who worked in the iron industry went down off the mountain or their taxes were paid by the members of the Mt. Riga Corporation or whatever, this place was then left to corporation.
JM:It was built according to sign outside in what year?
FM:To the best of our knowledge it was 1758: it was originally a store. It is purported to have sold the first silk dress in the United States. (It may not have been a store. there was a cellar hole nearer to the lake that could have been the store Ed.) How true that is anyone’s guess. It was a store during what I call the original town of Salisbury being up here because there was the school house and there were people living up here; many of them who worked in the iron industry, or charcoal men or colliers who worked the charcoal pits, lime stone people or any of the miners that had to do with the furnace.
JM;But they never had a church up here.
FM:I don’t believe they ever had a church up here.
JM:In the original school house, the big one, they used to use it in the summertime on Sunday afternoons. Somebody would come up from down in the valley and preach to get a little religious instruction. Your parents actually leased the property about 1952?
FM:Yes, by that time we were leasing directly from the corporation.3.
JM: Was it leasing the building or the building and the land?
FM:The building and the land as far as leasing goes. It was about sometime in 1952 or 1953 that the Mt. Riga Corporation asked my parents if they would be willing to buy the buildings as they were. They were not able to buy the land; they were keeping all the land in their own hands.
JM:Tell me about the buildings on this property. You have some interesting names for them too.
FM:Yes, there is the main camp is Wentworth Cottage. There were 2 other buildings which we call the Philippino cabins, the brown cabin and the guest cabin. Between those two there was a porch and they were connected on the lake side of the property. Then beyond that there is another cabin; there were 2 cabins that were joined by a porch, but only one of those exists today. We had to take one down because it was rotting. We also have what we call the water tower which is a tower that was fully enclosed in a windmill shape. There was a water tank up on top. The interesting thing about that is that we would pump water from the lake with (Pete chips in) a Fairbanks Morse engine and pump, a single cylinder that would pump water. It had a flywheel that was unbelievably heavy, but my father was able to spin that every four or five days. We would pump water up to the top of the tank. One of our children’s chores to go up and measure just how much water was in the tank so that meant scaling the side of the water tower to stick a large stick to measure the water to see if we needed to pump and also to be sure how full it was, but that could overflow too.
JM:You said something about the Philippino cabins. Why were they called that?
FM:It was my understanding that the Bordens at one time went to the Philippines and were enamored with the structure of the cabins that they had there in the Philippines. When they came home, they built them here on the mountain. They are wonderful cabins because they have large eaves and underneath the eaves there is open screening to allow the breezes to come in but not the rain.
JM:It is something that would be done in a tropical environment rather that this kind of an environment which is not necessarily tropical except for today!
FM:And we are not here in the wintertime.
JM:While you were here in the summertime how did you cook? What kind of facilities did you have for cooking? Was it a wood stove or a gas stove or propane or what?
FM:Well when we initially came up there was a wood stove in Wentworth in the kitchen. Very shortly after that, I can’t remember the time there was a gas stove put in and the use of propane gas. Mom still preferred cooking on the wood stove and for heat certainly in the spring and the fall. Mom was a great cook. She managed that wood stove like a pro.
JM:How about lighting?
FM:Lighting was by kerosene lights primarily; however we did have two propane lamps in the kitchen for additional lighting.
PM:We put those in; your mother didn’t have those.
JM:You put in the propane?
PM:We put the propane in for the lighting.
FM:OK then it was just kerosene lighting.
PM:Just kerosene lighting that is when you could get decent kerosene, not like today.
JM:Now you told me about the water tank and pumping it from the lake up to the tank, then how did you get it to the cabin? Did you have lines or did you have to pump it with pails and bring it in?
FM:No, it was a gravity flow system; we had running pipes into the kitchen and into our bathroom which was wonderful because this camp was blessed with a flush toilet.
JM:Tell me about the flush toilet!
FM:As I was growing up and 8 or 9 years old right from the get-go it was nice to have a flush toilet in the house. There was also a bath tub and I do remember having had a bath or two in the tub which was a claw foot bath tub. Yeah so we had running water, we always had running water. In the spring and in the fall when we had to shut the water system down, we would then carry pails of water.
JM:You had running cold water; you didn’t have hot and cold running water?
FM:No we didn’t.
JM:How did your mother heat water?
FM:We had two large kettles. We would fill those and boil the water and do what we had to do with it.
FM:Ah Dr. Clark.
JM:Tell me about Dr. Clark and your foot. This is an interesting and a little gory story.
FM:It was after the war and dad had brought back pup tents for me and my two brothers. We wanted to put them up and sleep in them overnight out in the yard. So we all did that, but I wanted to have mine one I could sit up in. I was making sides for my pup tent which was just 2×2 forks and a bar across it. Then the sides were by sticks, trees and stuff that I would cut down. I was splitting the tree parts and the axe bounced off the wood block and landed on my foot.
PM:She was barefooted at the time.5.
JM:Well of course she was bare footed.
FM:I looked at it when it happened. I walked into where my mother was sitting at breakfast with my 2 brothers. They were gawking and mother said, “For goodness sake stop gawking and go get something to bandage your foot.” The 2 brothers scattered and got stuff to bandage my foot. Then mom wrapped it up nice and tightly and took me up to Dr. Clark. He lived in another cabin. He was a New York physician who had retired. He was staying up at the Clark camp, one of the camps on the lake, lower lake. It was owned by his sons, or indirectly his wife’s son’ daughter, one of the Bartletts at the Bartlett camp. He took a good look at it, opened it up. One of remembrances that I have is because mom was so concerned that here I was sitting in the car, I got to Dr. Clark’s and I said to mom, ”Mom I don’t want to cry, but I have to!” With that I dissolved in tears because of pain in my foot, but Dr. Clark was very gentle and very comforting. He took a look at it and said that somehow it had missed the nerves and somehow it had missed the bones and yes, it is bleeding like crazy but that is all the damage that there is.
JM:You were so fortunate!
FM:I was very fortunate. So he poured some alcohol on it; that made me start more crying. I am not sure but that was pretty painful and then I had to go up every day. He had to open this gaping wound which was about 2 inches, extending out into one of the toes. He would have to open it up, pour in more alcohol, and bandage it up tightly. Of course I was out of swimming for a number of weeks, almost the whole summer. There were not too many alternatives when you are living on the mountain. You just go see Dr. Clark. Thank goodness for him.
JM:He knew what to do and he was good about it. I am going to go back just a bit to Wentworth. Please tell me about the loom room and a couple of stories about Grandma Thurston as a ghost.
FM;Wentworth does have a ghost; she is called Grandma Thurston. The story is that came down to me was that Grandma Thurston actually lived in a house just above ours; there is a cellar hole where she lived. When that house burned down or was destroyed, Grandma Thurston came and lived in Wentworth House. As near as I can tell she ran the loom and that is why that room was called the loom room. At some point in time after she passed on, there were stories of her ghost being present. One of the stories as I remember most of all was that there were some ghost hunters that had come up the mountain, knowing or having heard that our place had a ghost.
PM:Those were the Warrens.
FM:Thank you that is the name. That is my husband talking in the background, Peter Miller.
JM:It wasn’t the ghost of Grandma Thurston.
FM;The Warrens were ghost hunters. They had come up unbeknownst to mom and dad or without invitation. They explained who they were and Mom and Dad invited them in. They were sitting around
having drinks- cocktails which was par for the course around here. They got talking; Mr. Warren and my father came out to the kitchen to refresh the beverages, Mr. Warren was carrying the tray of goodies from the kitchen back into the living room when the loom room door slowly just opened completely and unbeknownst to anybody. He just dropped the tray of glasses, broken glass everywhere and slipped liquid, grabbed his wife; they didn’t want to be in our house any longer. They left!
FM: That is the end of that story.
JM:Are there more?
FM:Yes, there are more. I know that when Pete’s sister was here and she had a pup, a dog. Whenever she is here at about 2 or 2:30 in the morning, the dog gets very anxious and upset, scratches at the floor and obviously it could be that he wants to go out, but he doesn’t have this behavior at any other time. It is just interesting that from one year to the next it was always about 2:30 in the morning. What prompted that, yes maybe at one time there was a raccoon or something under the porch, who knows, but this pup did it every time. (The loom room is now used as a bedroom Ed.)
JM:You are attributing that to Grandma Thurston.
JM:If you have a ghost you might as well use her.
FM:I have another story. This is a very weird story. Our daughter Katherine invited a couple of folks up for a weekend when she was in college. She went to the University of Connecticut. The two gentlemen were staying here in the main house upstairs. One of them was in that state of waking and sleeping in the morning felt a presence, felt the presence on him, and felt this presence of whatever it was going inside him. He was scared to death. He left. When we found him in the morning, he was sitting outside white as a sheet. We asked him what was wrong, he told us this story. He said, “I am never going back in your house again.” For whatever that’s worth, that sounded like quite a good story. It must have been Grandma Thurston. She may not have liked him, who knows. Maybe she loved him!
PM:That was Memorial Day weekend.
FM: That was Memorial Day weekend and we always go up routinely on Memorial Day to the 7 gum salute up at the graveyard because that is the Revolutionary War…
JM:Tell me about it, please.
FM:There are a number of people up there who were in the Civil War and the Revolutionary War and other wars, all the wars. The people in town in Salisbury have Danny Brazee and his group of
veterans going up and firing off a 7 gun salute. This is routine and happens every Memorial Day. My family has always tried to go up. My father having been in the service we respect that.
JM:It is very appropriate to do that.
FM:We found this fellow outside and he was still white. He came up with us, but he was still a little shaken.
PM:This was almost too real as far as he was concerned.
JM:And totally unexpected.
PM:Right. We had talked about Grandma Thurston being here as a resident ghost. Everyone said yeah, right.
FM:She was a friendly ghost. Our approach is that she is friendly, she wouldn’t hurt anybody.
PM:She is not belligerent.
FM:When we open the door every spring we always say, “Hi Grandma, we’re back!” It is sort of a family thing. It is all part of it.
JM:I am going to ask a little bit about sports. I want to ask about baseball first.
FM:Baseball is a childhood memory. There was always a softball game going on the mountain in August. It was between the Mountain Lions and the Lilies of the Valley. How this got established, I do not know, but it was something that everybody attended. Of course we hooted and hollered for the Mountain Lions.
JM:The Lilies of the Valley would be people from Salisbury that would come up. Were these men or boys or?
FM:For me at the age I was they were all male. Their ages I couldn’t tell you maybe late teens or twenties? I think they were mostly men; Jim Dresser’s father played, my father played.
JM:Did you play tennis?
FM:Yes I was a tennis player; I never won the trophy.
JM:Is there a tradition that goes with the tournament?
FM:Are you talking about if there’s a winner, do they get something special?
JM:No, I was given to understand from Sara Warner-Phillips that the tradition was that whoever was officiating at the last tournament wore a funny hat.
FM:That’s true. That gentleman is Jimmy Dresser. Every year he had a different hat on and he has been doing that for last 25 years minimum. In fact this year he used the hat that he had worn once before which was a great big tennis ball probably about 18 inches in diameter that you could let the air out some. Then you would cap it on his head. He got that from Fran Sawtelle Miller. I thought it would be a perfect tennis hat.
JM:Oh you are a clever lady. We are leading up to what I think is one of the most incredible experiences you and your beloved husband in 1999-2000 spent the winter up here. That is what we’re going to talk about. Tell me about your preparation.
FM:The most important part of the preparation was to get my better half to agree to this crazy idea, but as a child I had always hated leaving the mountain, going off to school at the end of August. I vowed that someday I was going to spend a whole year up here where I don’t have to go down off. I had carried on with my life, I became a physical therapist, owned my own business and all of that and suddenly that came to an end thanks to age. Thus I had time to think, and think about the real important things in life and it came to me one night. You wanted to spend a year on the mountain. I laughed at that and said, YES! So within a day or two, I mulled it over. I went to my husband ; I said, “Hon, what do you think the possibility would be for our staying a whole year on the mountain?” meaning Mt. Riga of course.
JM:Is there any other?
FM:No he didn’t see how that could be done. I let it drop at that. I had planted the seed and that is all my intension was initially. About 6 months later Pete came to me and said, “Hon, do you remember that thought you had about staying the winter on the mountain?” “Yes indeed”, I said. He said, “Well I think we can do it!” I said, “Really?” From there it was all preparation and uphill with that wonderful, wonderful adventure.
JM:Tell me specifically about wood.
FM:Well we would certainly need to be heating by fire, wood stoves. We had 2 of them. We had a Jotul (A Norwegian/ Swiss fire box which keeps the fire going longer than the standard wood stove does) in the water tower which is where we were going to stay. That was double insulated. We got another one for what we call the ice house which was a connected building. It was double walled. It used to be filled with sawdust between the walls during season when they stored ice from the lake. It was double walled construction with the sawdust in between. For our plan for wood we calculated that we would need about 7 cord of wood. Pete and I decided that we could gather that ourselves; we combed the mountain for standing dead trees which we cut into 4 foot lengths which fit in the back of the pickup truck. We would bring loads and loads of those back and then Pete would put them up on the sawhorses and I would take the chainsaw and we would cut them into…
PM:16 inch and 18inch depending upon which stove
FM:Then those that we needed to split, we split or the children would split.9.
JM:Did you have a wood splitter. You weren’t using a maul?
FM:I was going to get to that. We didn’t get that until the end of September or October. Yes, we used a maul in the beginning. We were splitting. Rob our son also was splitting wood. Fortunately and many thanks to Jim Dresser, he asked if we would like to use his wood splitter, to borrow his wood splitter. That made the job a lot happier. Still it was Pete and I that did all the gathering and all the splitting, at least 98% of it. We did all of the axe work.
JM:That is a lot of splitting and a lot of wood. (One cord of wood is 4 feet high, 4 feet deep and 8 feet long Ed.)
FM:They say that when you heat with wood, you are heating yourself twice. That is the biggest farce I ever heard. We were handling this wood many more times.
JM:You gather it, you haul it, you split it and you stack it.
FM:You get heated about 4 times.
JM:Where did you store the wood?
FM:We stored the wood; we had a cupboard in the ice house. We made a door from an upside down refrigerator door which would be insulated and put in a sort of a little wood shed off that to store the wood. !3. It was insulated so we would not lose a lot of heat during the winter and we had easy access right off the living room.
PM:Most of the time that wood shed that hung off the building had access from the outside so you could go to your stock pile and take out loads and fill the cupboard from the outside so if it was really bad you did not have to go outside to get wood to fire the stoves.
JM:That is really planning ahead.
PM:Yeah it was.
JM:But anything lasting for 6 months would take a tremendous amount of planning because “Oh gee, I forgot” whatever and you couldn’t run to the store to get it. You really had to do a lot of planning and thinking. I am a list person. Did you make lists and cross check?
FM:Not really I don’t think we really had lists; we knew we had to have wood; we knew we have to have food; we knew we had to have water; so each of those projects were their own thing. What we did for water this is also very interesting, and we got a plastic garbage can and a new one which took 33 gallons of water. We put that on the 2nd story of the water tower and drained it…
PM:We put a pipe on the bottom of the tank and a line across to the sink, so we had running water. When you wanted to wash your hands, you had running water. You did not have to dip out of a bucket or container.
FM:This was just a perfect solution for our having water in the water tower to use. We would have to heat water for coffee, wash our hands, bathe and so forth in the middle of the winter. You could not go jump in the lake.
JM:Well, you could, but you would bounce.
FM:To have that line plumb was just a wonderful invention, but we still had to go and keep that big 33 gallon tank full so we would every day have to go to the lake and go to where we had an opening cut in the ice and get our 2 pails of water that we would have to bring up to the water tower and up the stairs and dump it into the garbage tank.
JM:What was the size of the pails? Were they 5 gallon or 3 gallon?
PM:They were about 3 I think.
FM:We had a yoke that we got from Alice Combes; we borrowed it from her. That went across our shoulders. It was great year round, but when the snow came we needed to have our snowshoes. Our daughter had given us a pair of snow shoes which she used in Alaska.
JM;Are those the snowshoes that are on the wall?
FM:No, these were plastic form fitting. But we had to stay on top of the snow because you are carrying 2 buckets of water and that was forcing you into the snow. We had to use our snowshoes to get the water.
PM:Tell her about the hole in the lake.
FM:The hole in the lake is also very interesting; we thought of many different ways of how to do this. One of the ways was to have a ball, one of those hoppy jump balls that had a handle on it and keep that in the hole to keep the ice open. We thought it would bounce up and down as the winds came and that would keep the ice hole open. That was plan #1 that failed miserably as soon as 2 days of freezing weather came. Our next plan was Pete put together a frame with black tar paper on it; it was 5 by 12.
PM:2 by 4 it was less than 12 feet.
FM:It was 2 by 5 feet. That black tar paper was put over the hole to keep the ice from freezing. It would absorb some sun rays to keep it open for us. But in the middle of winter and it being as cold as it was, every time we went down there, we had to open it further. It froze over and we had to then keep that open.
PM:The ice in the hole was only thin, on either side of an 18 inch deep ice hole.
FM:The snow would blow down the lake and fill up the hole so you would have to dig that hole out about every day or every time we went down for water. We would chop out the ice and get our buckets in there and continue. It was really an amazing thing. For drinking water we did have the artesian well
that is down at the cross roads on Mt. Riga. It was just down the road but we would have to walk in the snow to get down there too.
JM:How about food?
FM:Food is interesting but it is funny that I don’t remember more about that. One of our sad experiences was we had heard that keeping carrots and potatoes in a large garbage can filled with sand. So we got a large aluminum can and we kept that over in the main house for sure that it would not freeze solid over there. There was more room as we did not have room at the water tower. So we would come over here to get our veggies.
JM:You were living in the water tower.
FM:Yes, we were living in the water tower for this winter sojourn.
JM:Was there a reason?
FM:Yes, it was insulated and it was small so we didn’t have to heat a huge space. We went over to the tower on October 16, 1999. It had gotten so cold here in the main house so we could not keep it warm any longer just with a little fireplace. This potato and carrot thing we were sure that was going to be a great way to have those vegetables, but it turned out that they froze in the sand. It was the smelliest and most god-awful smell I think that either one of us have ever smelt. Now we had the sand which we had put in as we layers the carrots and potatoes; before you knew it you had a whole garbage can full of sand and it is frozen! Come spring getting it out of the house was unbelievable plus it stunk! That is the story about that food. We did have a case of tomato soup cans, we had a case of green beans, and I think we had chicken noodle soup too. Then in the refrigerator and we did have refrigeration because food would have frozen if we had had it outside, but we put it in the freezer/refrigerator. We had chops, hamburger, and chicken; we had things that we could pull out if we wanted. We had plenty of spaghetti. We had spaghetti sauce or I might have made my own. Do you remember more about our food?
PM:I don’t remember; it was one of those daily occurrences that are so automatic that it slips to the back of the mind and you just can’t bring it forward.
FM:We always had enough food.
FM:We did not go hungry.
JM:What about bread?
FM:Bread, I tried making that too, a couple of time I made some bread.
PM:I don’t remember that either.
FM:I might have put that in the freezer too.12.
PM:Yeah I know the kids made bread when they were growing up.
JM:Did you have anything that was perishable other than the carrots and potatoes?
FM:Until January we were still able to go up and down the mountain road. There was not that much snow; it was a moderate winter. We kept our cars down at the bottom of the hill at Danny Brazee’s. Then we had the all-terrain vehicle for our transportation so we could go up and down the mountain. So we could go every 10 days to get meat and supplies and also we got so we would take our garbage down using the ATV down to Pete’s pick-up truck and put the barrels in there and head over to the dump.
JM:So you weren’t actually snow bound until January.
FM:That is correct.
JM:You told me about WWW.com.
FM:Right because there was so much attention being put to the computer because of the Y2K problem, I sort of came up with a slogan for myself and Pete that was WWW.com which stood for water, wood and walk every day and communication. We sort of lived by that slogan throughout the winter. We were consciously or unconsciously aware of that was just the way the winter had to go.
JM:How did you communicate?
FM:We talked. I don’t think Pete ever asked me that it was my turn to go do the fire. I never told him at 4:00 in the morning to put wood on the fire. We each knew what needed to be done, and we just did it. We had no qualms.
JM:How about communicating with the outside world i.e. your children?
FM:Very seldom, but we did have a “bag phone” the forerunner of the cell phone. It had to be charged as it was run by batteries. I don’t know how we charged it. We didn’t use for anything but the kids if they wanted to get in touch with us could call on Sunday night between 7 and 8 PM our time, and we would stand by. Maybe that happened twice. Other communication was they wanted to come and be with us for Christmas and that was great. I said, “Wonderful! You can come and be with us for Christmas, but because we don’t know of any of the weather conditions, you are on your own to get here and to get back to Bradley airport.” Our daughter was coming in from Oregon and our son was coming in from New Mexico. That was their problem, but they came for Christmas. It was one of the best Christmases. We used stuff dried orange slices, lemon slices and lime slices. That is another whole story. We used popcorn and cranberries that we threaded on thread and that decorated the tree. It was just a very good time. All our Christmas present had to be handmade whether they were jars of jam or knitted object or Pete made things out of wood. It was just fun. We hung our stockings on the stairs that went to the loft, and there was a stocking for everybody. Santa Claus found us.
JM:Oh yes even if there wasn’t a chimney to come down.
FM:That was just a wonderful experience and the weather was good. We could go hiking, and stuff and be outdoors most of the time.
PM:We only had one scary incident. We were heating with wood and we had single wall stove pipes. Of course because of the smoke hitting the stovepipe which was outside, the creosote would build up on the inside of the pipe. I went out one time. Someone said you burn a hot fire and it is supposed to take care of it.
FM:You were supposed to throw some chemicals onto the hot fire and it would take all the creosote out.
PM:So we threw the stuff in the fire which was roaring away, I went outside and the one over here on the tower, there was creosote dripping off the stove pipe with flames landing on dry shingles, wood shingles. I ran inside and got a fire extinguisher and put it out, but then we had to put in double walled smoke stack and that took a little bit of doing. In fact that happened on Thanksgiving, at Thanksgiving time. My sister was staying over after the holiday. She and I in the rain were putting up the double walled stove pipe.
JM:You had a good sister.
PM:Yes, she is a peach.
FM:Didn’t that happen right after I was a Sharon Hospital?
PM:No, I don’t think so that was before; it was earlier in the heating season. Then when I had put up one stove pipe, the drip edge on the roof, a flat roof would not let the stove pipe go up straight. So I got a Mexican speed wrench, otherwise known as a hammer, I beat that thing and the stove pipe went straight and has been like that ever since.
FM:Another interesting part was Pete was working part time; we were both retired but he was working with an organ company tuning organs in churches. As you come into Thanksgiving and Christmas that is the time to tune organs. I found myself up here most of the time from September through early December by myself during the week. Pete would come up on the weekends; I always had the fire going because it was getting pretty darn cold, and the creosote was burning on the top of the stove where it had dripped down, not knowing that it was on the stove top. On the outside was when we threw the chemicals to burn away the creosote and as a result I had been breathing in the fumes. I couldn’t keep a fire going without breathing in the creosote. That was really pretty miserable. That is sort of what prompted us to throw in this wonderful chemical to clean out all the creosote that almost burned the place down. Breathing was difficult.
JM:That was an incredible experience and I did meet your son. I asked him because you had set me up on this one, what he thought of it. He thought it was a wonderful idea and was so proud of the fact that you actually pulled it off. He hopes to do it too. Which I think is great.
FM:I think our daughter does as well. She is as tough as we are.14.
JM:You are an incredible couple. Before I close this, is there anything that either one of you would like to add to this interview that I haven’t covered? Or that you wish to add?
FM:I don’t think so. The sights and sounds that we saw you would never see unless you were here.
JM:You told me about you black squirrels.
FM:Yes, we had one or two black squirrels, but we would only see one at a time. They were the cutest little buttons, they would play in and out of the wood piles that we had on the porch. Pete and I got so we would put little peanuts out for them and hide them in the wood pile and we could watch the squirrels find them and eat them up on the wood. We watched through the large window. There is another incident which will be my last one at the moment. Spring came early in March one day and Pete and I had gone for a hike and also we had been able to get down the mountain so we had bought some pansies to put around to make everything look cheerful. We had pumped the water up to the tank, we had running water; we had both took our first baths or showers with running water. We were sitting having breakfast and all of a sudden poof! The water that we had pumped up to our water tank had exploded and we said, “Oh my gosh the pipes had frozen!” so we ran down to the lake to where the pump was, and had to relieve a big chunk of ice right out of the pipe. It had flowed right out of the pump pipe but we saved the pump. That was the end of having running water for another 3-4 weeks for it never got that warm again.
PM:That was interesting because on that very warm day we had taken our hike to Monument Mountain; it was hot, we had taken off our jackets, shirts it was so hot and we came back here. The next morning we woke up to about 6 inches of fresh snow. Of course we had to build a snowman.
FM: Ok go one with your story.
PM:I just felt that the women needed equal representation so it turned out to be a snow woman. We put stones for the nose and mouth, 2 mornings later all that was left was the stones. The snow was all gone.
FM:It was just wonderful to watch the changes in the scenery, the change in the atmosphere; the stars were and are incredible. To see the stars and the Heaven’s rotating through the whole season was one of my biggest joys. I just absolutely adored that. You could walk around at night up here; there were so many things that were joyful.
JM:What a good experience.
PM:Two things I would like to add. One thing to that experience we were always asked how much wild life did you see? We didn’t see any because there is no food up here for them. We could see tracks but that was it. The other thing we mentioned earlier about the cemetery was being able to recognize so many people buried there; it is a real sense of community.
JM;it would be; it is a continuation.15.
PM:A continuation, yes.
JM:Thank you both very much. I am delighted.
PM:You are welcome.