I have researched the history of my house and have identified over 20 owners, and am still counting. Surely none are quite as memorable as Genevieve Hutchinson who started spending summers on the mountain top in 1925, and ended her time there when she died in 1974. She and her husband Fred owned the old house across the street, and then in 1938, they bought our house too. She touched the lives of many, and even 39 years after her death, I’ve run into dozens of people who enthusiastically talk about her. A few days ago, a friend of the Hutchinson family, Susan Petura, found me on the internet. Susan’s father was best friends with Charles, Genevieve’s son who died in World War II at Normandy. Generations later, the families are still connected. Susan and I have been sharing back and forth about her recollections of life on top of the mountain, where as many as 20 people at a time visited. Here are some of Sue’s memories.
“She [Genevieve] used to have a pump organ in the big back room, and she always had me pumping out the old hymns – it was a gathering place, lots of room for a feast.
That room off her tiny kitchen had the woodstove and was toasty warm. I remember when it was quite cold in those upstairs bedrooms – complete with feather beds, down comforters and chamber pots. We always ended up sleeping “on the ropes” as the feathers tended to get pushed to the sides! Even in the summer we would rush to get dressed and hurry down to warm ourselves at the stove.”
“There were tall weeds at the edge of the lawn but there was a mowed path around to the back of the house [across the street]. Back there was a 2-seater outhouse without a door – it just faced the open field. A wooden hand hung out the side of the outhouse – you would put it out to let people know the little house was occupied. Along with the can of lime, there was special toilet paper called “The Rears and Sawbuck Catalogue!” You would often hear crazy singing out of the outhouse!”
“The room with the woodstove was filled with framed photos and framed pictures of her watercolors. I still have 2 flower pictures and a couple scenes that she just routinely did. I believe she was self-taught but just had an incredible eye for beauty and color. There were always fresh bouquets of wildflowers on the tables.”
“There were a lot of brilliant people who came to the house, but Aunt Jennie was not one for letting people get too “into themselves.” There was just a great equality across even the generations.”