Meeting George Washington
When I awoke it was all quiet downstairs, I dressed quickly and hurried downstairs to see what my aunt was doing and again she was no where to be found. This time however I wasn’t alarmed, so I went into the kitchen. I heard low muffled voices coming from the back porch. When I went out and around I found my aunt and the farm hand helping to clean and fill the kerosene lamps. They were all lined up on a large workbench. Perhaps I can describe the smaller lamps.
First, there is an open bottom, which is engraved with a design and has a handle for carrying the lamp. This also holds the kerosene and wick. Next are the brass fixtures that connect to the wick with a little knob to turn it up and down so that it is bright or dim. “The wick is a very tightly woven cotton strip,” my aunt said, “and this is in the kerosene and comes up in the brass fixture, which is where you light it.” Then, there is a glass chimney, which is open at each end being a little larger where it fits over the brass fitting. “This chimney has to be washed. If the flame is too high it will have black smoke on it,” my aunt said. “Also,” she said, “the chimney keeps the flame from blowing out.” I asked what that had to do with cleaning the wick as she said last night. “I was coming to that,” she said. “When the wick burns it forms a carbon which dims the light and has to be removed.” “Oh, I see.” I was thinking this seemed like too much work to me. The electricity we had at home was so easy. Either you pulled a chain or you pushed a button for the light to come on.
During breakfast my aunt said she had two ladies coming this afternoon. She called them her patrons, so I was to have Henry, the farm hand, show me around the barn and answer my questions.
Later, when the ladies arrived, my aunt introduced me. They were all dressed very elegantly, with hats and gloves and beautiful dresses and shoes. My aunt said they were from the city. She took them into the big room across the big hall from the parlor. This was the room with all the beautiful furniture and things in it, that I was not to go into at any time. She told me to find Henry and visit with him this afternoon. He was in the barn working on some big leather strap. When I asked what he was doing he told me it was the harness for the horse and it had to be kept in repair or it could break. He asked what I would like to see. I was mostly interested in see “George Washington” the big goose. Yes, he had a name. He was the leader of the geese and I was curious to see him after my aunt had read to me and told me about the geese.
Henry asked, “Are you sure?” and I replied, “Yes! Oh yes, let’s go!” We walked down the hill a bit and there they were, a whole flock, really beautiful, all snow white with yellow beaks and bushy tails. Their feet were webbed just like in the books where I had seen pictures of them. I was so happy. I wanted to pet them but Henry said I should not touch them. The leader, George Washington, came up to see me. He was very proud and sure of himself and he quack quacked at me.
Henry said that wasn’t a good sign and I backed up a little. This was not a good thing because George Washington walked forward very aggressively and plucked at my hair. I ran with him at my heels trying to bite me, wings flying and flapping. He was very fast, and was as tall, or taller than me! I was really frightened but Henry chased him away waving his hat at him. I checked my hair and head but outside of being frightened, and loosing a few hairs, I was all right.
Henry suggested we go back to the barn and he would show me the cow and how to milk her, as it was almost time for him to milk the cow. That sounded like something I might like, and, as I hadn’t seen the cow I could see and per her. She was calmer than the goose, Henry said.
When we entered the barn you could smell the hay and other farm smells. It was very big and Henry pointed out a hayloft where hay was stacked. This, with grain, was fed to the horse and cow. There were flies and maybe a few bees all around us. The barn was very clean, as Henry had just swept it out.
We went into the milk room and he proceeded to wash his hands and got a pail down from the shelf and a small stool. We went down to the back where the stalls were and there was the cow. She was black and white, mixed, very big and a little frightening. But, she was very calm and chewing her cud. Henry said she has two stomachs and she brings her food back up from the first stomach and re-chews it again. This was funny to me, so I laughed. Henry, having placed the stool, sat down, then put the pail under her udder. That’s what he called where the milk was. He squeezed the nipple and then another nipple and milk squirted into the pail. In a very short time he had the pail almost filled. He asked if I wanted to try, but I thought maybe another time. So, I said, “No.” We took the milk up to the cooling room and he poured in into one of those large pans that were under the table. Everything was clean and spotless.
Aunt Sadie came looking for us. She and I went back into the house. Henry had more work to do, so he left. I thanked him for a nice afternoon. My aunt started getting supper ready just as my uncle Jim drove up.
I told my aunt and uncle all about my adventure with George Washington, which they thought, was very funny. But, they were glad I wasn’t hurt and it was a good learning experience to tell my friends when I went home.
I had hoped my aunt would talk about the ladies who had visited this afternoon, but she didn’t say anything. After cleaning up from supper, my uncle read the paper, and my aunt said it was time for bed. So, I climbed the stairs thinking of the day, feeling I might dream of George Washington running after me and really biting me. I hoped not as I climbed into bed.