a collection of poems by Judith Zottoli

Preface - The Big House


From 1952 to 1959, my family lived in the "Big House." My grandparents built their house at the end of the Point, and left our family of seven to spread out in the farmhouse. My father was a gentleman farmer. He practiced law in Boston during the week and came home on the weekends, leaving my Mom to see that the chores got done. We helped Pa pitch hay and pull tree stumps around the pond. We rode on the hay wagon and slept in the hay loft. We always got scared of what was in the hay in the dark and crept down to sleep in our beds. We learned to drive on the tractor.

Tony took care of the chickens, Steve tended the sheep, steer, and calf and Joan had a horse named Tallulah Bankhead, a retired racehorse, who she rode with her friend Sally Hollingshead. We used blankets made from our sheep's wool. My Mom put her foot down when Katy, our pet calf, was to become a mother. At one of our family council meetings, she announced she would not milk the cow!

Thanksgiving and Christmas with our grandparents in the Big House were wonderful. Daiquiris, hors d’oeuvres, turkey, giblet gravy, pie, plum pudding (with flames), Hide the Thimble, Up Jenkins, and Charades are just a few memories. Selected portions of Dickens' Christmas Carol were read at Christmas by Grampa. As teens, we squirmed a bit, as we would rather be with our friends.

In the winter, we skated on the pond. In the spring and fall, the woods rang with the sound of our voices playing Robinson Crusoe, sliding down the highest fir trees, and resting on Moss Hill. Our grandfather took us on nature walks and taught us how to sail. In the summer, our cousins came from all over the country. We swam from the boathouse, rowed and sailed all over the bay, played baseball in the field with our neighborhood friends, and worked for our grandparents to earn extra money.

Our neighbors were very important in our lives. We rode to school with them and played with them. The Korgens always had a New Year’s Eve party for the adults. We had a two or three party telephone line, so one had to be careful what he said about his neighbors. We took music lessons from Mrs. Chard. Mrs. Clark taught us grammar in High School. My grandfather was the neighborhood doctor. Hugh Hollingshead was the neighborhood carpenter. Grampa took almost everyone on the Point sailing. In later years, the Mayos had Point picnics to which everyone on the Point was invited.

As years have gone by, and land has been sold, there are more houses and neighbors. I wanted to share with you some of the joy and good spirit of the Point. I hope you make memories as wonderful as my family has made. There is a beauty, a peace, and a spiritualism that abounds in the woods of Prince's Point.