Sometime before the Christmas of 1966, we moved to Waterport, New York. I know this because my sister was born in Albion on December 29th that year. Albion is midway between Buffalo and Rochester and only 15 minutes from Waterport. Waterport itself is a small farming community on the Oak Orchard River about seven miles south of Lake Ontario in Central New York. We lived in a big white farmhouse with a large enclosed front porch. I have no idea if we paid rent or not. It’s quite possible that the house was provided rent-free since my father worked Archibald’s farm. We lived there for 5 years.
I remember that the farm included crops of cherry and apple trees as well as fields for growing corn and other vegetables. During cherry season, my sister and I would consume vast quantities of unwashed fruit. Mom said she’d try to make us stop – but we never listened. As a result, we’d get The Diarrhea. I can’t say the same for eating green beans. Across the dirt driveway from the farmhouse were vegetable fields. After the harvest, I’d pick up bits and pieces of leftover beans fragments and gobble them up. At the time I thought they were delicious. Today I hate them. I’ve often wondered whether my distaste for fresh green beans stems from eating them off the ground or because the local food bank only gave away canned beans.
I also remember Pearl and Paula. These two girls lived across the bean field and were older than my sister and I. They were probably 7 or 8 years old. I’m not sure whether they were babysitters or simply friends of the family. Either way, I remember playing with them and having a crush on one of them. The second thing I remember is the bee sting. My half-brother Charles had started school and was expected to return home, as always, late one summer afternoon. Mom told me to wait at the house but I didn’t listen. I ran down the dirt driveway and past the enormous beehive that plastered the side of the house. I must have made them angry. Out of the blue I was stung – right under my left eye. I remember that it hurt and made my face all big and puffy. I cried. A lot.