George Smith’s column about Louise Rich was as usual excellent and well worth a read (“We can’t take to the woods anymore,” Aug. 15). It brought back memories.

I lived on a farm in Riverside, a part of Vassalboro, for about six years. One was close to animals and grass in those days. Innocence describes that presophisticated time. We had no sheets on beds. Houses were not insulated and windows not tight. Snow would be on bedroom floors after a storm. But you put your head under the quilts and slept comfortably.

Our outhouse was in the barn stable. It was surprisingly warm from the heat of the cows and horse when you’d open the door — they surely yelled, “Close the door,” when we entered.

We took baths, just as Rich wrote. But if there were many, the water had to do for all. Clothes were washed in those washtubs, as Rich mentioned, scrubbed on scrubboards and wrung out using hand-operated wringers and then hung out to dry on lines outdoors.

Wells were our refrigerator in the summer and pantries in winter. We made our own bread. Yeast was a big seller. Not even stores sold sliced bread.

Well enough, I wanted to tell George Smith that I have enjoyed his columns down the years. Maybe when he gets to wherever he’s going, it’ll be a reprise of rural Maine. Maybe they’ll be a town meeting in the local grange hall when Smith arrives, and he can add his voice to the proceedings.


We pay a high price for skyscrapers and cyber stuff, so hopefully they won’t be there. Dirt roads without poles are my idea of heaven, not streets paved with gold.

All the best, George. I won’t ever be where your going, but your friends will be, and so will my wife. Say hi to her for me. You’ll like her.

Victor Lister


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