​The Girls of Granby

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Edited by Carol Laun
James Lee Loomis has been telling us about Granby boys. It is time to let the girls of Granby speak. Following is information and quotes from interviews I did in the 1970s and 80s. The girls are: Louise Cooley (1881-1983) Edna Spring (1887-1977) Annie Hayes (1888-1973) Lena Clark (1890-1984) Agnes Petersen (1891-1980) Helen Cotton (1892-1986) Helen Clark (1893-1986) and Emelia Dauner (1902-1995).
Edna Spring: “Thanksgiving we had a big dinner with all the relatives over. We always had chicken pie and roast pork, baked Indian pudding, cranberry sauce and pumpkin and mince pies. Once Aunt Cornelia made a huge chicken pie in her old brick fireplace oven, it was delicious. She used to make chicken pie with the bones, heart, gizzard etc. still in it. She said it made the crust flakier because the bones held the crust up.”
Agnes Petersen: “We usually had chicken and roast pork, but had turkey after Dad started raising them. Holidays were a time for the whole family to get together.”
Annie Hayes: “I didn’t have to do too much work around the house because of hired help. I had a few chores—one was cleaning the oil or kerosene lamps. You had to clean the dirty chimneys, fill the lamps and trim the wicks just so—they had to be even or the flame would not burn evenly.”
Lena Clark: “There were seven children in our family. We all had to work on the farm—help hay, pull weeds, pick potatoes.” The summer she was ten, Lena stayed at a Newgate Road farm doing housework for her board and clothes.
Helen Clark: “I was the youngest and didn’t have to work too much.”
Helen Cotton: “My brother and I helped pick apples and fruit and rake the hay when we were older. I used to go to the creamery and help wrap a few pounds of butter, just to say I did something.” (Her father was Superintendent of the Granby Creamery.)
Emelia Dauner:  “I worked on the family farm, sold milk from a horse and wagon and helped in my father’s cider mill. I didn’t like it because the cider dyed my hands. Business was especially good during Prohibition. Every farmer had to have a barrel of hard cider in the cellar or he couldn’t get any hired hands to work for him.”
Edna Spring: “We all used to help on the farm. I used to string tobacco. The men would pick it and let it wilt before stringing so it wouldn’t break.”
Agnes Petersen: “We used get five cents a hundred for picking potato bugs and if you lost count, you had to dump them out and start all over counting again. We used to raise a lot of carrots and could sell some of them to make a little money. I had to help around the house or mostly care for the little ones so mother could work. I learned to knit at age five or six. I remember knitting long stockings and I have been knitting ever since.”
Annie Hayes: “First Congregational Church had an annual picnic. We all piled into wagons and went to Southwick Ponds (Congomond Lakes), it was a big event.”
“I started subbing as an organist at First Church at 15. The first time I played, I pumped so hard that I pushed the bench back from the organ and ended up playing at arms length. After that, one of the tenors kept his foot against the bench leg when I played.”

Helen Cotton: “I remember a Christmas party we had at school once with a tree lit with candles and 25 children in the room. Now I realize what a danger it was, but then it was just a wondrous and beautiful sight. Christmas at our home was happy. We had few gifts, but perhaps appreciated them more. Books were always a choice gift. We always had a tree and would go back on the mountain to cut it.”
Edna Spring: “We never had a tree at home. There was a big tree at the Copper Hill Methodist Church for all the church families. On Christmas Eve we would go to church in the sled. First we had the entertainment with children reciting appropriate pieces. All the families brought their presents and hung them on the Christmas tree. There was no fancy wrapping paper in those days, so all the packages were wrapped in brown paper. They were the only decoration on the tree. All the families gathered around while the older men called off the names on the gifts. There was sort of a contest to see whose name was called the most times. We received sleds, skates, clothes, games and always an orange and a bag of candy.”
Helen Cotton: “It was Christmas Eve about 1898 when my family went to Granby’s Universalist Church to attend a Christmas service for children and parents. The church seemed filled with children who rendered Christmas stories, verses and songs. Following this, the children lingered around the Christmas tree to receive oranges while parents visited.”
Agnes Petersen: “We used to cut a tree from the woods and string popcorn to decorate it. I remember the time we worked so hard stringing the popcorn and the dog ate it. We would string cranberries too, they grew nearby in the swamp. We had candles in tin holders on the tree but we had a bucket of water handy and they only could be lit with Dad there watching.