Your article about the Campbell Barn (Sept. 21, “Campbell Barn in Augusta gets new lease on life”) was most informative.

I grew up on lower Eastern Avenue, and an old farm path ran from my backyard through the woods to the grounds of the State Hospital.

When I was in kindergarten at Farrington Grammar School, my class walked up Hospital Street on a field trip to the Campbell Barn. Among sights that day, I vividly remember Mr. Littlefield, the farm manager, running his finger along a cow’s neck as she brought her cud back up. It’s a moment in life I recall forever: the earnest farmer and my awe this miracle of nature.

Patients worked fields by hand and horse across Hospital Street all the way east to Cony Road. This property also encompassed the August East Little League playing field. After a game, it was great fun for us to jump on the tail of a hay wagon for a ride without the driver knowing we were there.

I had many friends, the children of staff and doctors, who lived on the hospital grounds. We often played in the Campbell Barn loft, building forts out of bales of hay. Behind the barn there was a water spigot, with a tin cup hanging by chain from the handle. Games of hide-and-seek built great thirst, and we all drank from the common cup without any thought to hygiene.

The farm produced milk, eggs and vegetables. From my child’s perspective, I thought the farm was the most outstanding aspect of the hospital. The farm seemed to give both dignity and purpose to the patients under care.

Augusta in those years was a great place in which to grow up. The State Hospital, like the Little League Field, was just another place in the neighborhood. There was always a pick-up baseball game, while just beyond the fence, patients worked with draft horses, mowing hay fields with a scythe. I was a child, and I didn’t give their circumstances a thought. These people were just my neighbors.

I am glad to know the barn is still very much appreciated by the state. It is good this wonderful building has modern purpose.

On behalf of Mrs. Bell’s 1958 Farrington Grammar School kindergarten class, I want to thank Mr. Littlefield for being so nice to us. We all had a great time in Campbell Barn, a field trip we will remember for a very long time.

Harvey Lipman of Ashland, Mass., grew up in Augusta.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: