Becker, Maver The way it was 2007

From Helderberg Hilltowns of Albany County, NY

The Way It Was

Written by Maver Becker, 2007

Maver Becker

My father, Omer Becker, was born Aug. 27, 1887 to Louis and Sarah Becker. They lived on West Mt. by Becker Pond on Beaver Rd., about a mile from the old West Mountain Methodist Church. 3 weeks after his birth, a cyclone went over West Mt. His family went down cellar by the west wall and covered the baby up with blankets. A lot of dust and dirt fell on them. The house was turned around on the foundation but the family was unharmed. Right after that they moved to High Point Rd.

My mother, Ada Becker, was born May 27, 1899 to Peter and Maggie Shultes. They lived on the hairpin turn on the West Mt. Rd., now the Schanz farm. My parents were married in Nov. of 1917.

Children: Francis 1919, Norma 1923, Alton 1931, died 7 months later, twins, Maver and Mavis 1933, Marvin 1940. They were 21 years having their family.

I remember using kerosene lamps before electricity came thru about 1940. When old enough, us twins had to get wood in for the furnace down cellar and the wood stove in the kitchen. In winter, we would cut ice and pack it in sawdust, to be used in the summer for cooling the milk. Milk was sold in 10 gal. cans. Ice was also used for the icebox down cellar. In 1944 or 45, we got a Haverly electric milk cooler.

When we were 10 or 12, we were playing ball and the ball went thru the kitchen window. Dad and Mother had company and they yelled at us, told us to go get the horses to the pasture. I ran to the horse stable and slid on the wet floor and went right under the horses, scaring them. They stomped up and down scaring me. I managed to get up and out and then fainted on a manure pile. Mavis ran to the house to get Dad and Mother to come and see if I was hurt.

Dad use to take the horses and wagon to Albany, to the farmers market on Hudson Ave., with meat and eggs from our farm. He would get up at 3 in the morning to load the wagon and be in town when the market opened. In the winter, Dad would take the horses and bobsled to Altamont, down the old Altamont hill on Rte. 146. The roads were not plowed in those days like they are today. He told stories about the drifts being so high; that on the way down, he could look over the backs of the horses and on the way up he could look between their legs. He would often have large barrels of flour and sugar, which made quite a heavy load for the horses to pull up the hill. The horses wore special shoes in the winter, ones with several long cleats, to enable them to keep their footing on the snow and ice.

When I was about 14 or 15, we did not have our own manure spreader on the farm. In the spring there would be quite a large pile to spread on the fields. That year I went down and borrowed Everett Schoonmakers, early in the morning. Once I got it home, I used our old F12 tractor with steel wheels, to spread 19 loads before dark.

On Switzskill Rd. Co. Route 1, beginning in 1933, twins Maver and Mavis were born, Jean and Janet Wright, Peter and Susan Polukort, the Haas twins, (boys) and Jaime and Robie Chauvot, 5 sets of twins within 41/2 miles in about 32 years. My Father always said, “It must have been something in the water!”