My Grandfather
(Susan Barber Drummond)

Even though my grampa Barber died when I was very young, I still have many beautiful memories of him. And, of course, my grandmother. My older sister informed me at an early age that grampa was her's and gramma was mine. I still loved my grampa as much; I just never said anything to her, my sister. Grampa always wore his denim farmer pants * and when it was colder, his jacket. Every time he came to visit at our house on North Road, we knew we could search each and every pocket for bubble gum. I always just thought of his pants and jacket as the bubblegums. Gloria, the eldest, always seemed to find the most bubblegum because she was older and the quickest. To date, I have never seen anyone chew more bubblegum and make the biggest bubbles. How she ever fit that many pieces into her mouth -- well, I just never new. Of course, there was one time that I remember that her bubble popped and stuck to more hair on her head than she wished. But, getting back to grampa. Wherever he was, children always seemed to congregate. He would sit down even on the front steps, and children would just appear and get as close as they could to him. I was one of them for sure. Grampa never learned to drive a car; that was strictly left to Grandmother. *(car revs; her steering) Grampa for all who knew him was a horse-and-buggy or horse-and-wagon or horse-and-sleigh man. Whenever he visited, he arrived with his horse unless, of course, he came with Grandmother which was occasional. Of course, we climbed aboard and wanted our ride. We would have, as all the children would, gone anywhere with Grampa, probably even off a cliff. We just wanted to be with him. I also loved when he plowed his fields up back of the old barn on the hill. He used his Belgium *type)) horse, and I especially loved being sat upon the horses harness to hold onto the two brass horns. Occasionally he would put on the Christmas bells and that sound is still dear to my heart. And, whenever I do hear horse bells, I always go back to my Grampa Barber memories. Meanwhile, Grampa would put on his leather strap that connected him to the horse, and off we would plow. I still remember the smell of the beautiful Connecticut -- Harwinton -- earth. Another Grampa smell. Horses and earth. He did smoke but not too close to us, but the scent of tobacco on him, although very faint, was Grampa again. Dan Easton, Mrs. Dennett's grandson, loved my grampa and spent probably as much time with him as he could. Dan went onto Animal Husbandry and married his Nancy that actually did get off her horse long enough to have their one and only miracle son, Josh. Dan always said he learned his love of animals and horses from grampa. I did know that there were several people that would seek out grampa when they had an ailing animal. They would usually bring the animals to him, but on occasion they would come and pick him up and bring him to their animal. I remember going on an animal healing visit a couple of times. However, I was often around for the healings at grampa and gramma's house. Grampa's touch was always healing if not also magical. He also had an incredible black salve that he made up himself that he slapped on everything from sores and cuts to hooves. And, the animals always healed up. As I said before, grampa was magical, a magnet and magnanimous magnet for children as well as animals. His farm has cows and chickens and dogs and cats and kittens and birds. He often has crows that he raised from babies who lost their mothers and fathers. I still remember one favorite in particular that he named "Ike". Ike did some outstanding things that Gloria probably remembers more than I. However, it was one sad day when Ike was found in the horses water bucket; he drowned getting a drink of water -- something he did all the time. But, still remember the Ike, and therefore I still have an idean of Eisenhower's presidensey. Then there were the mile cows. We would often watch and sometimes try to milk a cow ourselves, but I just never could get the jist of it, but that was also probably because I was so small, and to this day -- I still have little hands and they are not particularly strong. Sometimes when we would appear in the doorway of the barn with grampa milking, he was squirt us with the milk. I could not even manage to do that. But, it was funny. I still also remember him bring the bucket of milk to the farmhouse where he would separate the cream from the milk. It was so rich and thick and creamy, this is not a bad thought for someone who just detested the taste of milk. Still do. But, my family was raised on grampa's raw milk. When grampa died, my heroine Millicent Rood who lived down the road from our house about another mile-and-a-half -- took over by delivering raw milk to our house for as long as I can remember. Yet, whatever gave us we would eat or drink it, because he was just magical. We would probably have eaten worms mixed with dirt if he gave it to us. We just loved our grampa. Probably one of my best visual memories was the back of grampa's neck. It was like a road map with all the crinkles. I just loved looking at his neck. I am now a line drawer artist, and it was the back of gramps's neck that enticed my intrigue in the first place and at such a young age. The big chair at the right of the entry doorway was a place I would sit so I could look at the painting on the wall to the right of the chair I sat in. Years later I discovered that painting in father's garage and it was scratched and the frame was broken. I bartered for that picture with broken glass, brought it to an Old Lyme frame and restoration shop, and they fixed the painting and frame and replaced the glass. I did bring it back and made the gentleman owner replace the new matting with the old, original matt. It was beautiful. And, what was interesting was that for all the days and weeks and months and years that I sat and gazed upon this painting, I never new until I had it restored that it was a painting of an artist with his easel. All that you could see of the easel was the side of it; just a tall rectangle. It was then that I discovered the paint brushes he held in his hand. Grampa, meanwhile, has twinkly eyes, blue, and he never seemed to miss much. Grandma was Quaker and did not drink, and Grampa was a farmer who hid his jugs of apple cider wine. Years after he died someone would occasionally come across one of grampa's jugs hidden behind a tree or often by or in the brook. I never smelled the aged cider on him and rarely did I smell or detect smoke. Grampa smelled of the out-of-doors and the barn. I still love those smells; they remind me of my special grampa Barber. I also remember grampa rolling his own cigarettes. Years later I had forgotten and was reminded that Connecticut grows some of the best tobacco. Grampa grew his own as he rolled his own. And, grampa would let us kids crawl all over him. He always had a horse for Gloria, my older sister. He said you never allow a child to ride or learn to ride on a pony because pony can be stubborn as well a mean. He would let Gloria ride all over his property because he always knew the horse would always come to the barn to eat his dinner. I often was literally plopted on the horse with Gloria, and off we would go. I remember one time Gloria decided to climb aboard the horse in the barn corral via the fence posts. Well, she did not make the top of the horse, and fell which would have been already, except the horse did manage to accidentally step on her toe. I knew it hurt because I could feel her pain, but she did to never utter a word to anyone because she would get in trouble. And, I did not utter one word. Whatever Gloria told me to do, I did. Period. No buts, or anything. There was one time when grampa allowed Dan Easton to drive the bails of hay from the barn to I-do-not-know-where-we-were-going-to. It seemed like half the town was there -- the Poole's, the Barber's et finitim, and grampa. And, we kids were all on top of the hay bales. Well, Dan turned sooner than he needed to and one wagon wheel when over the rock ledge up to the hay barn, and it turned over. We kids were all over the place with hay all over the place. I remember a couple of people digging for us kids out from under the hay. There was crying and screeches and by the time Grampa finished with all of us with the help of Dan, we were all laughing and laughing. We just all thought this was great fun with our capsized wagon. The horses and we were all fine. I have absolutely no recollection of getting dirty because of the dirt and mud. Just a great day with grampa at the barn. I also remember grampa's apple trees. I did hear of not one but at least two horses that were by or under the apple tree and were struck by lightning. I also hear about one horse that was tied to an apple tree that was strangled to death by trying to reach for the unreachable apple. However, as I write this now, I know that grampa almost never tied a horse up. They did what he wanted them do, and he even rarely had to speak to them or tell them what to do. They instinctively did his bidding. I was also told that grampa could tame any horse without whipping or talking to it. Grampa may never have been an Indian/native, but his spirit surely was. Many years later when I was reading a children's book about George Catlin to six children I was giving art lessons to did I discover that we Barber's are also related to the Catlin family. George Catlin's pastoral and native Indian paintings are in museums today. George's dad was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. George was born and raised in Pennsylvania. As I write this in Alaska, I was pleasantly surprised at discovering a couple of Catlin paintings in the Anchorage Museum. Within a couple of years, I just added the Catlin name to my name which is now: Susan Agema Catlin Barber Drummond. So, there! And, meanwhile, around Easter time when grampa would arrive, I would see a hat veil, the in item in those days, hanging out of one of his pockets, and I just knew that was for me. My pocket! Gloria always went for the bubblegum because she was always breaking her own bubble records. But the hat. I knew it was from Gramma. And, it was meant for me. When it was time for picture-taking, in those days a photographer came to the house to take family portraits, I would not allow my picture without my hat and veil. Picture time was just always a very traumatic order for me, and somehow my hat and veil helped me cooperate just a little bit better, because I have so many memories of being dug out of our bathroom after the glass top of mother's coffee table was removed so Gloria, Hank, and I could have our pictures taken. I remember our newer addition of baby Althea. My very first jealousy was over my little sister Althea who was not only photogenic, she still is to this day, but very theatrical and outgoing rather than reserved and very, very shy. I still remember the special and separate photograph that was taken of just Thea with her hair curled by mother and her curling iron over the gas stove with a fur head band, short hair curled under with bangs also. I was somehow jealous over something I fought and did not enjoy, although I know Thea knew how to get everyone's attention. Sounds like just a very bent nose. I must have soooooo spoiled in my own way. Gloria held her power by not speaking for a longer time than usual. She was the eldest and the powerful one. I was chatty cathy and still am albeit I did manage to find a husband that can out-talk me! Hank was just the special and first-born son which no one could touch. Then Thea came along and usurped all attention but still within the boundaries of Gloria, somehow. Charlotte came along several years later, or the interim; I was 10 when she was born, and I was the only one that "knew" she was going to be a girl when everyone else said the birthchild would be a boy. That was because everyone wanted a boy. I just knew better, and in advance. Well, she came out a girl, and I always considered her "my baby", and did all I could and all my best to help care for her and raise her. Hummm. Daniel came along next, and was the adored finally new arrival second special no-can-do-wrong son, with Nancee the next and last who was completely independent and always had to do-it-herself child of any and all capabilities. And, when I was in my senior year at college in Vermont, my youngest sister Nancee was in Kindergarten, which I finally taught in Salem/Lyme, Connecticut, in 1969 through the '70's. Getting back to Grampa, he was the biggest influence of anyone for my sister Gloria. It was years and years later, I think at Mother's 90th birthday, that I finally realized how native and Indian Gloria is -- just like Grand Dad. But, of course. Gloria wore overalls just like Grampa did, and would not wear a dress for several years. And, I remember going to Grampa's funeral in 1953. Funeral and dead did not mean a thing to me. Well, I do remember going to see Grampa in the big long box. He was there in the box, but I somehow knew he was there any more. When we came home, Gloria raced up the stairway and threw her crying self onto her bed. I remember going over to her and rubbing her back while she cried, and saying that she will always have Grampa, because Grampa is her's. I was distressed not so much about Grampa's death, but the reaction Gloria had because of it. I had to take care of my sister. I also think I mentioned that I would share Gramma with her because she needed us both.