Sunday, March 09, 2008

60s Flashback

I've been in a rather reflective mood since I found out John died, but I'm still not really ready to write about him yet. However, my sister got me going on this other train of thought when she sent me this video of Hearthstone Castle. The video isn't that great and I found better information as I researched it, but it's worth posting because it's narrated by the Sandy Moy, the wife of Henry Moy, who is a guy I went to grammar school with. Oddly, I was just thinking about Henry the other day for a different and unrelated reason. Spooky.

Anyway, Hearthstone Castle is of particular interest to me because it belonged to the family of my first serious boyfriend, Charlie "Doc" Parks. Although the castle was "in the family" I don't believe I ever set foot in it and I was trying to figure out why I know pratically every inch of that property like the back of my hand, but didn't remember the castle itself. In googling around, I discovered it's because it ended up in the hands of the other side of the family, the Jennings. I was never clear on why, but the Jennings and the Parks didn't mix much.

So I never got to go inside the castle, and I never saw any ghosts but I am sorry to see how far it has deteriorated. It appears there was a time when it would have been easier to restore.

On the other hand the rest of the property was our private playground in the early 60s. We spent a lot of time at the pond, skating and building huge bonfires where we would smoke pot and get silly. And I have fond memories of spending time in what we called The Big House. It was like being inside a living game of Clue. I remember the first time I saw the conservatory. The picture doesn't do it justice. In those days it was filled with huge trees and elegant furniture.

Still, I didn't spend a whole lot of time there. I never quite sorted out why the Parks ended up on the poorer side of the family while the Jennings ended up with the big houses. I spent the bulk of my many hours on the property in the carriage house that you can barely see to the left of the mansion in this photo. Doc's sister lived there and as servants quarters go, it was still an elegant residence on its own.

I held a gun in my hand for the first and only time in that garage. Doc and Bob, his brother-in-law, were big on guns. Every year they would go out on the back acreage during hunting season and not kill a deer. Oh, they always had a story about how they flushed the buck right into the arms of a competing hunter, but I always suspected they really didn't have the heart to actually shoot a deer. They just liked going out on the hunt.

Still, I think they paid rent to be there. Doc's family for some reason ended up with the dairy farm. They ran it and we used to go every day at 4:00pm to feed the calves. I used to love that. The barn always stank of a curious combination of rotting manure and the sourish smell of calve milk but those little cows were so cute. And watching the milking process was always impressive. Lots of noise and stainless steel and the cows were herded onto a ramp that was over our heads. They would be stamping and mooing impatiently wanting to get back out into the pasture. They had a big herd. If memory serves, for a time, they sold milk under their own label.

Everybody expected Doc and I would get married. We didn't. I don't think my mother ever really forgave me for leaving him. But that's a long story for another day.


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