I Grew up on a Farm in Virginia – No. 3

The Richmonds Come to the Farm

At the end of No 2. You may recall that my grandmother, Susie, married W.R. Shackleford, and that is how we came to be on the farm at Moyseneck.

W.R. died in 1940 as a result of a logging accident, and Susie inherited the farm. My parents made the decision (Susie probably had a strong influence here) to move to the farm. It is simply a child’s perception, but I have the impression that this would not have been my mother’s first choice. I suspect that Susie made an offer (a house on the farm) that they could not refuse.

My parents did whatever they could to generate income. As I was becoming more aware, I know that there was a large chicken house about fifty yards behind the house. My parents gathered eggs, cleaned and graded them, and sold them to a grocery store in Williamsburg.

Mother was interested in colonial Williamsburg history, and she was a good seamstress. So she decided to dress standard nine-inch dolls in colonial clothes and sell them to the souvenir shops in Williamsburg. Apparently, she had some success at this. She had ordered a huge box of naked dolls to dress and eventually, they were all gone. In a recent online search, I found one of her “Moyseneck” dolls that had been resold through an online auction—that doll had been sold in Williamsburg some 60 years ago. (Mother also dressed dolls in cheerleader outfits. My girl classmates always hoped I drew their names for the Christmas gift drawing. They knew they would get one of Lois’ dolls!)

Moyseneck Doll

Doll dressed by Lois Richmond in the early 1950s and sold in a Williamsburg store. The tag reads “A Moyseneck Doll, Dressed in the manner of 18th Century Williamsburg – Ball Gown.” She sold many such dolls in the early 1950s.

Embarrassing Photos
Lois loved to take photos. She had an Argus C-3 35mm film camera with which she produced some memorable, in some cases, embarrassing, photos. There are many photos from around the farm and of my father working the farm, trapping, fishing, and tending animals on the farm. She provided a very good photographic record of the time of their early years together.

And the embarrassing photos, ah yes, well…. You see, at about the age of three, I had the run of the yard around the house. The house was set on the edge of a small clearing. All roads and the “driveway” (the bare area in the front yard) were dirt, and there were several sizeable puddles in the front yard—they seemed like veritable lakes to a small three-year old.

As I mentioned, Lois was quite good on the sewing machine, and she made me several really cool stuffed animals, one of which was a horse. The horse had no legs, but rather had a large cushion body just the right size for me to straddle and sit on. Its neck and head sat up in front of me just like the real thing. I think she used sawdust to fill it (there were large several sawdust piles on the farm from earlier logging operations).

I am not sure how, but I managed to get the horse out of the house (I am sure Lois would have turned me around if she had seen what I was doing). And there was that puddle. It was a warm summer day and I pushed the horse into the puddle and launched my next adventure—and Lois got even—I still have the photos to prove it. I think the horse was “retired” after that event, but, I did not need that horse for future “bare back” puddle adventures, and my mother captured those on film, too!

Jeff horse puddle-1

It was amazing how quickly my mother could find and set the camera and take a photo. This is one of the less, but still, embarrassing photos she took of my adventures with mud puddles!

On one occasion, I found a box and pushed it into the largest puddle I could find, found a stick for a paddle, and set off on some other adventure (I had an active imagination). Again, my mother showed up with a camera to capture “the young Columbus launching his ship.”

Finally, on another warm and sunny day, there were several inviting puddles. With no horse or box available, I decided to just go for a swim. I did not see any need to get my clothes wet and dirty in the puddle, so I stripped down, as my father would say, “bare-assed-naked.” You guessed it, my mother showed up with the camera. (Yeah, I have those photos too; locked up!)

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