It was wintertime in Greenville, Maine and it was pretty cold. We did not mind it in those days because we were kids and there was very good sliding on Berseley Hill, now known as East Road. My sisters and I had enjoyed a good day on our store- bought ‘Flexible Flyer’ (marketed as the sled that steers- and it did!) and our ‘High Fronter’ toboggan built by my Uncle Stan.
We were all pretty tired and hungry and we headed home. Ma had bean swagan cooking on the back of her six cover cook stove and cornbread muffins baked in a cast iron pan and fresh from the oven. After eating my favorite meal, I was ready to head upstairs to bed.
I slept in the front room of the third floor looking toward Squaw Mountain. It was cold up there as it faced north and when the winds howled and blew I could feel it even in my bed. We had snow on the floor of the bedrooms; often we had to walk through a small snowdrift to get to the beds.
Since I slept alone my ten year old imagination sometimes got the best of me and I had a few plans for emergency situations. Behind a closet in my room was a small crawl space where I was going to go if the Russians came. But on this night, tired and full, I was thinking only of sleep.
My bed was covered with many layers of wool Hudson Bay blankets and a comforter and only my face was out – and even that – only enough to breathe. Sometimes the blankets were so heavy my shoulders would be lame in the morning.
The ‘thunder mug’ (properly called chamber pot, but we were far from proper) under the bed would freeze during the night and in the morning we would have to take it down by the fire to thaw it before we could dump it out.
I had a window to the west that I opened in the summertime. I would put something under it to prop it open for a little fresh air. I don’t know what the temp was that night but probably well below zero; we had all the fresh, cold air we needed and then some. I snuggled down in my bed, shivering at first but finally warming up under the weight of all those blankets.
I was about to drift off to sleep when I heard this scary organ music come up, like ooooOOOOOoooo! My first thought was that it must be the angels coming after me! My sister Lambie had seen an angel on the power pole out beside the road on the way home from school the day before. I had forgotten about that until this moment. And now here comes this beautiful organ music, all kinds of different chords. I’m lying in bed scared to death. I didn’t dare move.
The music died down for a while and I almost fell asleep. Then it came again even louder… ooOOOOOOooo and with more chords! I huddled under the blankets and tried to ignore it but it was too loud and scary. My heart beat like a trip hammer. Again it stopped and started once more, this time beginning with a large crescendo OOOOOOooooo……
Finally I couldn’t stand it any longer. I ripped out of bed and turned on the light. I went to the window to tell those angels I was not ready to go yet! Bravely, I pulled back the curtain and there propping the window open was a 10 inch harmonica. It was a very large and beautiful harmonica and the winter wind blowing through it had been making all that music. I sagged with relief. I took that harmonica out, closed the window, climbed in bed, snuggled under the comforting weight of the blankets and enjoyed the sleep of an exhausted and relieved ten year old who had just narrowly escaped being carried off by the angels.
– Excerpt from Walden Farm Road Tales -by Gramps and I