Saturday, April 28, 2012

In Memory of My Dad, Arthur Jackson Boice Feb. 25, 1911 to April 28, 1996

Mom and Dad's Wedding photo 1934
Arthur and Margueriete Boice 25th Anniversary  

In Memory of My Dad Feb. 25, 1911 to April 28, 1996

Tell the story of your family members before their story gets lost and forgotten or there is no longer anyone to tell it. That said, this is Part One of my Dad's life story.

Arthur Jackson Boice was born in New Lisbon, NY on the Perry Farm one note states. I always thought it was the Lull Farm, but they may both be the same place. I know where it is between New Lisbon and Morris, but that's about it. If anyone knows, please send me a note. His parents were Frank C. and Leona (Brooks) Boice. Frank was born at Tacoma in Delaware County and Leona was a descendent of the Brooks family in Morris.

His parents were married in January 1909 and had 4 children. Mary (and yes, she is the Mary Boice Gale of much of this blog's collection) was born December 1909, Hiram October 1911, Arthur February 1913, and Zeland was born June 1915. I'm not sure when they moved to the farm in Garrattsville, but that is the only place I remember visiting. I recall many visits there during my childhood. I learned to ride bicycle on that dirt road, and sleighing approximately a mile from the farm downhill on the dirt road nearly to the Norman Water's farm always keeping our ear out for any oncoming vehicles. And then walking back up. No lack of exercise for kids those days.

Dad helped his family with maple syrup time. We would go to the woods to gather the sap with a horse drawn sleigh containing a big tub. We went to each tapped tree and carried the sap back to the sleigh to empty it. After that, there were the many hours of boiling the sap down into syrup. I recall the sap house contained a large pan over an enclosed pit where wood was burned. That must have taken a huge amount of wood. Syrup over snow was one goody we got to eat as well as Grandma's maple sugar candy, and who could forget her maple syrup frosting on cakes.

Dad also helped his family during haying time. They forked up those big fork fulls of loose hay onto the hayrack drawn behind Grandpa's ever beautiful teams of horses. I also recall snakes occasionally dropping down out of those loads of hay and I have a terrible fear of snakes. After haying time came threshing time for the oat crop. The horses had to have oats. I remember that old thresher being run by some humungous very loud puffing engine with a long belt.

Grandpa grew a huge field of potatoes which they sold as a cash crop. Our family never lacked for potatoes for food. Only as an adult in my 20s did I realize all people didn't eat potato meals twice a day. I'm sure Dad helped plant the potatoes although I don't recall that. I do remember the fall digging and pick up time with burlap sacks all along the rows filled with potatoes. A lot of those went into their cellar for hours of sorting.

Another fall season time, I recall helping with a roundup of heifers that had been put out to pasture in the spring. They roamed through field and woods over a large acreage of land once known as the Bell farm. Remembering that experience on foot was as close to rounding up wild cattle as I care to get. I remember a great deal of running to head them to the home farm.

Needless to say, Grandma and any other women folks present, like Mom, were busy preparing a big family meal for very hungry farm workers. Their table was so large it took up most of the kitchen along with the wood cook stove. There was a pantry off the kitchen for storage of food and some of the preparation. They never had running water or electricity even up to 1950. There was a spring house near the house where some things were kept cool including the metal cans of milk from the cows as this was a working dairy farm also. The house is still there and lived in, but many of the out buildings are now gone including the cow barn. Other buildings I remember were the ice house full of saw dust to keep the ice for the house 'ice box' (previous to refrigerators), the horse barn, garage, granary, chicken house, the wood shed by the house, and later a milk house down by the barn, and need I mention the necessary two holer. Gads, that was cold in winter and stunk in summer.

This would seem to be more a bio of my grandparents, but as you can see Dad was big on helping his parents so it was part of his life. And these visits were after he had handled 100 lb bags of feed all day at his job at feed stores in Edmeston. First at the Talbot feed store and later at GLF. He delivered feed for GLF by truck also. I remember sometimes going with him on his delivery routes around Edmeston, West Burlington, Burlington Flats and many of the side roads to farms.

In the 1940s during WWII both Dad and Mom worked at the Scintilla plant in Sidney and Dad drove the bus from Edmeston known as The Bouncing Betsy.

Later, he worked for the Town of Edmeston plowing roads in winter in particular, and summer work as well. Somewhere in there my parents owned a truck when I was 3 years old and drew lime out of Oriskany Falls, NY.  Both Mom and Dad did that and hauled cattle as well.

We lived in Edmeston right on East Street which is now just down the street from the NY Central Insurance Company. And would you believe, in that 3 story barn that now is leaning sadly toward Wharton Creek, we had 6 cows, sometimes a pig, chickens on the right side on the second floor, and the third floor was the hay loft.   Ahhhh, the fun we had up there building tunnels with baled hay.  Can you imagine the GLF feed truck was also stored directly in from the road on the second floor?

One funny story regarding that truck was Dad driving down through Edmeston one morning headed for the feedstore with a Banty rooster clinging to the rack of the truck. His night's roosting must have been interrupted.

The cows were either pastured across the road or in a pasture near the Robinson house across from the now NY Central Insurance Co. The lane along the Wharton Creek to get them to pasture and back was a muddy affair. I lived barefoot much of the summer in those days and loved it. However, I recall slogging through that mud barefoot to bring the cows in for milking. Yuk. And considering the steepness of the bank in back of our house leading down to the Wharton Creek, the cows must have been part mountain goat. I recall a jersey as well as a guernsey cow named Spotty. They all moved to New Berlin with us in 1951 when my parents bought our farm there.

Dad was a very hard working man as you can see. In the evenings, after a hard days's work in the feed store and doing the chores at home including milking the cows by hand before going to work and after work,  he often dug holes for the waterworks by hand and dug graves by hand at the Union Cemetery at Edmeston. This was before back hoes, of course. What a god send those are.

Somewhere in between work, he found time for his fishing hobby which also supplemented his family with a healthy fish diet. Down in back of our house was the Wharton Creek as I've mentioned and he made a stone cul de sac to catch eels. They are too much like snakes to appeal to me, but I probably ate them. He would go to Crystal Lake aka Turtle Lake and what else, bring home turtles to eat. Yes, that is good eating, but I never would kill one now to eat. And I dodge them in the road so they hopefully will make it across to live another day.

He would go to Schuyler Lake aka Canadarago Lake for suckers. Those are good eating too, but you better take it slow and pick out all those bones. Other places I remember waiting and waiting for him on fishing evenings were at Lumen's Pond near his parent's home in Garrattsville and Hoboken Pond near Pittsfield. Bullheads in particular came from the ponds. Both ponds are now filled in by nature. A stream still flows through Hoboken Pond and over what is left of the old dam. I have some photos of that which I will post along the line.

Most of all, he loved to trout fish and no trout that I've come across in recent years can compare to the taste of the brook trout Dad caught. The Butternut Creek in the Butternut Valley of his youth was one of his favorite streams. His type of trout fishing rarely included sitting on the bank waiting for the big one. We would drop him off upstream somewhere and meet him downstream. I hope I had a good book to read during those hours of waiting for him to show up with a basket of trout. I'm sure my 2 brothers and I slept many an evening in the backseat.

Another small stream in Edmeston just above Union Cemetery also was his fishing grounds. After moving to New Berlin, he fished the stream that flowed near our farm at Five Corners. When I helped write his bio for his funeral, I recall mentioning our bathtub was sometimes full of bullheads.

I will write more another time. He would have enjoyed hearing this as he was a great story teller. And just maybe he is looking over my shoulder nudging my memory as I write this. He died 16 years ago today at age 83. I love you Dad.

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