North Haven Summers


An Oral History

by Eleanor Richardson

Sample from Chapter 10

The Fourth Generation  1950-1960

I slowly came into consciousness. The wallpaper was dotted with tiny flowers climbing up to a high ceiling. The door was ajar, held exactly 18 inches open by a long, custom-made hook. A small window at the foot of the bed showed a patch of blue sky, dark green spruces, and darker blue water below them. Then I remembered. We were in North Haven! It was 1952 and I was five.

Grandma and Grandpa were asleep in the front room beside my little one, and Great-Grandma was in the next front room down the hall. My brothers were in the maids’ wing further on – Herby, nine years old and already learning to drive the launch, and George, seven months old, with a nurse. My parents were staying by themselves up in the Little house, although why they should want to be away from the excitement of the Big House I couldn’t imagine. We would not be allowed to go find them until after breakfast.  In such a household, how could one help but believe in eternal life, in permanence, in security. 

Attracted by the cry of the gulls, I climbed out of bed and went to the window, which looked sideways down the Thoroughfare toward the village. Over to my right, in the brilliant path of the morning sun, I had to squint to see Lester Greenlaw, Grandma’s boatman, standing up in the Red Puffer, the tiny launch. He was silhouetted in the light with his arms raised to heaven, and the birds were all flying to him, diving into the water, bleek-bleeking their call. What kind  of god-of-the-birds had I discovered?

I took off my pajamas and hung them up, then pulled on shorts, a striped jersey, socks, and sat on the rag rug to tie my new red Keds. By the time I started down the front stairs, Lester was lighting up the fire in the little woodstove in the front hall. The air smelled pleasantly of baking metal. He nodded Good Morning but I was too awestruck to reply. Great-Grandma was in the living room. When I told her about Lester and the gulls, she laughed.

“Oh, that was Lester taking out the garbage,” she said.

Bathing Pool

Bathing Pool


Brown's Shop

Brown's Shop