GROWING UP IN HARWINTON
ON HARMONY HILL ROAD
By
Frances (DRAKE) LAWRENCE


Born in 1933 at the Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, I soon joined my siblings in the Drake homestead on Harmony Hill Road, Harwinton. My earliest memory is of riding in the back seat of my sister Phyllis' boyfriend's car up Harmony Hill Road. I stood looking out the back window and the dirt road stretched back to the main road. I was about 3-1/2 or 4 years old. I also remember the hurricane of 1938. I was on the second floor looking out the window watching our catalpa tree in the front yard bend nearly to the ground from the wind.
Besides my mother and father, our family consisted of my oldest brother Elmer who was 21 years older than I, sisters Phyllis and Edna, and brothers Floyd and Gordon who was 7 years older than I. They are all deceased except for Floyd (age 85) and myself.
Harwinton was a wonderful town in which to live in the 1930's, 1940's, and 1950's. A small farming community in the Northwest Hills of Connecticut with one-room schoolhouses; a beautiful white clapboard Congregational Church on Center Hill; an old Town Hall-Community House where the town's Catholics held Church and bingo until they were able to build their own sanctuary; a small triangle of a town green; and a beautiful, though small, town library. Back then the library's resources were only books and magazines and a museum in the basement that contained the grave of Theodore Alfred Hungerford, its benefactor.
The Drake home on Harmony Hill was across the street and a little north of the town's librarian's home. Laura (Chamberlain) Reynolds was a girlhood friend of my mother–Laura Ida (Cables) Drake. She took me under her wing and introduced me to the library and the wonder of the books it contained in the Children's Department. Even though our 1700's saltbox home contained many books, I credit Mrs. Reynolds for my love of reading.
Mrs. Reynolds' and her husband Robert's home was called "The Academy" as it was originally an actual Academy situated on the East corner of Harmony Hill Road and the main road. Laura and Rob, as he was called, were the parents of two sons: Spencer and Warren. Warren was killed in World War II in France and his body was brought home and buried in the East Cemetery.
I also lived about one-half mile from one of only two gas station-grocery store businesses in town, and the owner's daughter Ruth is
still one of my best friends. My memories of Thiemann's store are still vivid. Anna Thiemann made the best ice cream. It was a delicious treat on hot, sultry summer days. Many were the times I'd walk over the meadows (through rows and rows of young fir trees) or ride my bicycle to the store just to buy an ice cream cone. My favorite flavors were rum raisin and orange pineapple. There was also a self-serve soda machine just outside the store where my favorite was Orange Crush. It really had a zing to it in those days. You would drop your dime, or was it a nickle?, in the slot, open the cover, slide your selected bottle

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