Beebe, Charles E. - Recollections

From Helderberg Hilltowns of Albany County, NY

Knox Native 93, Recalls Old Days
By Charles E. Beebe

I was born Oct. 28, 1889 in the Town of Knox and grew up on a farm off Route 156 where the upper Altamont Reservoir is located now.

My schooling took place in the one-room schoolhouse where Frederick Wagoner now lives, above the George Walk farm atop Altamont hill. My father, a trustee of Knox School District 4, built the present edifice after the former schoolhouse burned down. Cost: $500.

Miss Schoonmaker was my first teacher. One of my duties was school janitor. Math has always been a favorite study, but they all were. Later on, one of the students brought an arithmetic problem to another teacher, but she couldn't solve it. She never liked me after I had worked the answer.

Back then one teacher taught all grades, all subjects – different from today's educational systems. But we really did learn a lot. At home, we had a big St. Bernard dog who liked to run the dog-powered separator, built on a much smaller scale than the horsepowered Mod. This was used to separate the milk and cream.

Daytime, I could do anything with the dog. But he would never allow me around him when night came. What a watchdog he was! My father, Edgar Beebe (some folks may remember him), made a special harness and sled to hitch the dog to so I would ride anywhere with him on the farm during winter.
How fortunate I was to have a godly mother whose influence left a lifelong imprint on my life. She was well-known in the community as Mother Beebe after my marriage. There was a church beside today's Highland Farms place where we attended during my growing-up years at home. Now it's been gone many years. The pastor played violin, which was an incentive for me to learn to also play one. Consequently this led to mother playing the organ and I, violin duets. We sometimes went to the West Township church to play also.

There were delicious homemade ice cream socials at Knox. I contacted Ina Lendrum, who was working at Irving Lainhart's in Altamont, to ask if she'd like to attend one. She liked the idea. Those were the days of the horse and buggy and it was my good fortune to drive an unusually fine horse.

It was about two years later that we were united in marriage on Oct. 29,1913, God Himself had ordained this marriage. The following March we moved to Mountain View Farm [66 Beebe Road, Knox, NY] on Beebe Road outside Knox hamlet, and have called it home ever since.

It's easy to recall those huge snowbanks where my wife and daughter, Blanche, could walk beside the tall telephone poles of those days - and touch their tops. No snowplows were available yet, those early days. We'd hitch the team of horses to the big bobsleds and ride over the ploughed fields. Even so, many times it was necessary to shovel a road to get to our destinations.

By now our family was attending the two Knox churches in the hamlet. One week the minister would preach to the combined congregations in the Methodist church on the left side of the highway. The following week, we'd go to the present Reformed church for services. My mother was organist for all services.

If it was a Methodist minister living in the Methodist parsonage, they'd alternate and have a Reformed church minister when the next vacancy arose.

Rural electricity had just come to the area and we had a dedication service in the Methodist church. It was a January - lots of snow on the roofs. Then one night Aus Saddlemire's lantern tipped over in his barn. The straw ignited and his barn quickly burned.

The fire leaped the driveway in between and the Methodist church also burned to the ground. The direction of the wind changed, sparing that whole part of the hamlet from going up in smoke.

The devastation, however, brought both church congregations into a united Reformed church membership. Rev. Norman Vander Hart was the new minister at that time.

Many changes have taken place in my lifetime. Mud roads ran past our house but eventually the state turned them into macadam surfaces. Automobiles replaced horses.

I still remember how during rainy seasons the car wheels got into one of those deep, deep ruts, it'd jiggle your insides. Further, you couldn't get out of them, usually. A new Model T Ford cost the whole sum of $360. Farm machinery has underwent changes as well, from the simplified types of my day to greater complexity and far greater cost.

My favorite hobby was the enjoyment from 5,500 glads planted each year. Orders were local as well as to the Schoharie florist, Mr. Mix.

A busy Saturday egg route provided part of the farm income needed. Kept around 500 hens for over 55 years, all kinds of weather.

Vacations on a farm are very limited, but time was used to attend the different fairs, especially at Altamont. It was a privilege to have Rhode Island Reds receive grand champion of the entire show many times. Entry was also made at the State Fair in Syracuse where awards were also received. Grand champion honors were also received at the Peekskill downstate; silver loving cups have come as well.

Farm life is not easy. But it does have rare rewarding pleasures as one labors in the daily routines.

Today it is our privilege to be affiliated with the Quaker Street Bible Church on Route 7. Many happy thoughts therefrom.

My wife passed away April 1, 1978 after we had celebrated almost 66 years together. In I960, daughter Blanche retired from school teaching downstate to be home with us now.

Credit goes to my godly mother who had instilled within me a strong faith in God, who kept our family through times of prosperity and through those devastating years of depression following the Crash of 1929.

What a Christian heritage! "To God be the glory" -always.

Source: Used with written permission from the Altamont Enterprise , Thursday, November 6, 1982