Grandpa Elmer Irwin

Reminiscences of Grandpa Elmer Irwin

by Wesley J. Vesey

Provided by his daughter, Dawn (Vesey) Puliafico of Ashland, Massachusetts

Grandpa, of course, was a farmer. One of his main avocations was selling butter, door to door, in Toledo. He went by wagon to deliver butter to his customers. My mother used to tell how she and her sisters would often go down to the road, below the farm, at night time, to listen for his wagon. They were always glad when he came out of the darkness to be home again.
My mother, with her sibs, had to walk three miles to school every day. Sometimes they were allowed to take a horse and cart. One winter day, Grandpa disallowed them from taking the horse, because,”It is too cold for horses!” So that was another walking day.
He was a great gardener and kept a very large one behind the big farmhouse. We always benefited from it when we went to visit, in the gardening season.
Grandpa had a tool shed near the barn. He sat in there between jobs. When he had bad teeth, so the story goes, he took pliers and pulled anyrotten ones out. He was a tough guy!
One of my memories of the farm is of threshing time. I always liked that time. The threshing machine went from farm to farm and you could hear it creaking down the road coming to the farm. Farmers(neighbors) would gather to help and I used to enjoy watching them thrust the grain sheaves in the threshing machine and watch the grain being sacked and the chaff being blown into the loft. It was a big day, always, on the farm. The women in the house had to feed all the threshers.
One time, someone put salt, by mistake, instead of sugar, in the pies. One rather simple-minded thresher ate his pie down without demur, while the others watched him with interest. Each one of them had tasted their pie, then pushed it aside. But this fellow ate his down and when they asked him how he liked the pie, he said: “It was a little salty, but good!”
I can still see my Grandfather churning in the big kitchen.It was an hours-long job, entailing much help from my Grandmother. I watched them separate the cream from the milk and eventually make butter. Hard, long work!
Grandpa came into the kitchen one day and wanted to show us kids something. Out of his overall pockets he pulled bloody sparrows, maybe about six of them. He had been to the chicken coop and caught the sparrows, struggling to get out the windows, with his bare hands.His pockets were a mess!
When cats began to get too numerous on the farm, Grandpa would put them in a gunny sack and drown them in the horse trough! I never saw this, but I heard about it a number of times.
I remember him best sitting by the old wood stove, in the kitchen, occasionally putting new wood in the end of the stove to keep up the heat. He had a rocker there and could look out the window over his farm.
When I visited the farm, with my cousins we would sometimes get in the grain bins. Grandpa didn’t like this, but we did it anyway. The grain lay so deep in the bins that we could literally swim in it, moving arms and legs, as if we were swimming in water.
Grandpa, because of hard work all of his life, stayed in remarkable shape, even into old age. When he was in his 80s he could hold a broomstick in both hands, lower it a ways, then jump over it with both feet.
I saw him on his deathbed. The room was just off the living room in the big farmhouse. One thing he said to me was: “I’ll soon be running downGunn Road again!”(the road just outside the house). He didn’t last much longer, however.