Thursday, July 15, 2010
The Muller homestead is up in the Catskill Mountains of New York state. Take the Thruway to Kingston, then drive up Rte 28 to Boiceville,. Turn onto 28A, drive in to Watson Hollow to Moonhaw, to Drybrook (or Druykill as it is properly named), and then to Hillside. As you can see by all the road names we is in the boonies.
Great place to grow up though. That is until you were a teenager and especially if you were a girl. Once guys found out where I lived, they asked me to meet them somewhere. When Jim came to pick me up on our first official date, he ran out of gas way up in Allaben trying to find a gas station that was open! I had to go rescue him with gas from our lawn mower. Is that the start of a great love story or what?!?
My parents moved to this home before I was born. They had five kids of their own and lived with two other couples (I can't remember if the others had kids or not). All three families move up to the country to build houses. Those houses still stand today in the Town of Ulster, Lake Katrine and Halcyon Park.
The home was a large farmhouse with two porches and three barns. After a while, my father bought out the others and they moved on. So it was just the Mullers when I came along. My maternal grandmother had moved in with the family at some point, but she died shortly before I was born. They had added on a bedroom and bath off the kitchen for her when she came.
The house was warm and cozy with solid pine paneling in the living room and low ceilings. Originally there were four bedrooms upstairs, but later walls were removed to make two larger rooms. I was the sixth of what would be seven children total. So the extra bedroom downstairs, not to mention second bath came in handy. The back porch was a coal porch and was eventually taken down. But we had a lovely porch along the entire front of the house and a stream running along the one side of the house.
I loved growing up there. We could climb the hill outside our house and feel literally on top of the world. We could swim or skate in the stream. We had trees to climb up into or when they fell over by a storm, forts to hide inside of. We would use our imaginations to create horses or houses or ships in the huge rocks down by the stream. We also had a massive rock in the back yard that was split and allowed us to play on it or in it. There were ponds with polliwogs, fields of deer, and raccoons, possums, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks and mice. In addition to that our family raised a bull, goats, chickens, and later sheep. We never had a dog, as Dad said they would chase the deer away. I did get a cat when I was in my teens.
At night we would sit on the porch listening to the peepers (frogs in the ponds) or later in the summer, the katydids, crickets and cicadas. Some nights we watched meteor showers or satellites flying through the air. The nights up there were as black a coal or pitch black as we used to say. We always had the stream to cool and calm us on those hot summer nights. People who visited always thought it was raining outside because of the stream.
It was a great place to raise kids. My mother used to say she always wanted to live in a a place where she could yell as loud as she wanted and not be heard by the neighbors. The only neighbors were "summer people" and were not around most of the time.
It was small town life at its best. You could go visit anyone and doors were always unlocked. Cars were in the driveway with the keys in them. I remember going to one elderly man's house to visit him just to have him bring me a ladle of ice cold water from his well where he pumped it by hand. My brothers and sisters and my husband (truth be told) all attended one room school houses for their primary schooling.
We never had organized sports, or were driven to games when we were kids. We would just walk down the road, kids would gather and soon everyone - girls and boys - would be playing baseball, or swimming at Red Rocks or Flat Rock or go sledding at Asam's hill. It seems so old-fashioned and such long time ago. but it really wasn't. It was a different way of life than most experience today and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Feel free to click on the title to go to the website to see the house and surrounding area.