CGP Community Stories

Glenn Harrison, November 12, 2012

Title

Glenn Harrison, November 12, 2012

Subject

Cooperstown, NY
Great Depression
Agriculture
Family
Mail
Community life
Dairy farming

Description

Mr. Glenn Harrison is a former resident and community leader of Mt. Vision, New York. Throughout his life, Harrison has been active in the agricultural industry, involved in the various aspects of farming, such as dairy, planting, and collective organization. Harrison’s family has held a long and strong presence in central New York, even serving as founding members of the community of Mt. Vision. Harrison also has served in several community roles and functions, representing farmers in The Grange, serving as a church deacon, and drawing mail for more than 15 years. Besides his community and agricultural contributions, Harrison has created a lasting family legacy through his children and grandchildren.

Harrison’s stories and recollections describe various aspects of his day-to-day experiences and activities while living in Otsego County. During the course of the interview, Harrison reflects upon growing up during the Great Depression, comparing experiences then to current situations today. Moreover, Harrison explains how living in a rural community impacted farming techniques and practices, as well as how this area witnessed the evaporation of small farms. Explaining the current financial situation of many local farms, Harrison provides insights into the farming industry and structure within Otsego County.

Creator

Kahla Woodling

Publisher

Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York- College at Oneonta

Date

2012-11-12

Rights

New York State Historical Association Library, Cooperstown, NY

Format

audio/mpeg
20.6mB
audio/mpeg
27.5mB
audio/mpeg
25.6mB
image/gif
1757x2125pixels

Language

en-US

Type

Sound
Image

Identifier

12-012

Coverage

Upstate New York
1920s-2012
Cooperstown, NY

Online Submission

No

Interviewer

Kahla Woodling

Interviewee

Glenn Harrison

Location

128 Phoenix Mills Cross Road
Cooperstown, NY

Transcription

GH= Glenn Harrison
KW= Kahla Woodling

[START OF TRACK 1, 0:00]

KW:
The date is November 12, 2012. This is Kahla Woodling interviewing Mr. Glenn Harrison for the Cooperstown Graduate Program’s Research and Fieldwork course recorded in Cooperstown, NY. Mr. Harrison, do you want to start by telling us where and when you were born?

GH:
At this point, at the beginning, my ancestors landed at Plymouth Rock, twenty years after the Pilgrims did. They cleared the land and wandered to Otsego County. First, he built a log cabin and soon that burned. Then, when that burned, he built a framed house that is still standing.

When the first generation began to come along, my oldest brother and the next in age were standing next to my bassinet and looking into it when he said to my oldest brother, after studying it awhile, “What is it a pig?” [Laughter].

The land was occupied and settled in 1792 when the first log cabin was built by Jacob Harrison, the one who came to Otsego County by ox cart. He built the first log cabin alone. After clearing some land, he returned to Connecticut to bring his wife, Pauley DeWhite, and settle. The farm has been under the Harrison ownership up until now when it is becoming residential. It was 400 acres of farm and ended up with 100 registered Guernsey cattle, poultry, and a sawmill. It was prized with about 60 acres of trees: hemlock, pine, and hardwood. The hardwood was sawed into railroad ties and loaded on to the D&H Railroad in Milford, NY by hand. And any future cuttings were cut and loaded on to a lift on the front of a Cornwall tractor and put in the box in that manner.

KW:
So, your family helped to provide lumber? You sold lumber?

GH:
We had that sawmill, and it was me, my two brothers, and my dad. So, when we got the sawmill it was right at a time when everything was sharp, and we had a real business for thirty years.

KW:
What was your job in the lumber mill?

GH:
My brother ran the carriage that you run the logs through. I took the edging off the sides of the board. I took them off and carried them over across the middle there and put them on another saw, which cut them into wood. People wanted to burn wood.

When this next generation got married and had families of their own, they bought neighboring farms and worked to produce milk with cows. After their own milk was delivered to the railroad in boxcars. Nowadays, they take it in tanks, but then I had to put it in ten-gallon cans and take your horses and go to town. When you got there, it had to be cooled, so the railroad had to furnish ice cubes, chunks of ice. And you put the milk in there and pack it with these ice cubes. Of course, the milk had a tendency to be warm and would warm the cans up and melt the ice, and it was a constant raining down under the cars, the water running.

The farms were bought after another generation went by. The younger generation bought up neighboring farms, and they would produce milk. That is how they got their size and continual production. Milk was delivered to railroad cars and the tracks and the ten-gallon milk cans with horses and light wagon. The railroad had cars with plenty of ice cakes placed around the cans to cool the milk. The milked cooled for the transport while the ice ran off onto the railroad tracks. This milk on the train was on its way to New York City from Mt. Vision.

Back in the 20s and 30s, most people went to church on Sunday with the horses and wagons and sleighs. The church had sheds for the horses to protect them from the weather while activities were going on. The sleigh or sleds that the horses pulled had carried what was called salt songs on the floor and seats that were formed in the home and for people to sit on so people would not freeze their feet and keep them comfortable.

The only refrigerators that people had at that time came from ice off the frozen lakes or ponds that was cut with big hand saws from the pond or lake to put in sheds with horses. And stacked under sawdust to preserve the ice for when the hot weather would come. The stack had to be taken away in order to harvest your ice.

KW:
You were talking about the church. What was your involvement in the Methodist church in Mt. Vision?

GH:
Well, I joined when I was ten years old- that was the beginning [laughter]. I was pretty much active in any activities that they had. They used to put on harvest suppers, the women did. And that road was packed full. I won’t try to tell you for how long, but they would come and park up at the post office and clear down the other way. People looked forward to it. Now they have suppers around, and we kind of look forward to them. But our church is down in attendance now, so we don’t have the help that we used to have. I kind of put the brakes on that but there are a lot of them around. We see them advertised in the paper, and we try to attend these other peoples’ suppers.

KW:
Why do you think the church attendance is down?

GH:
I guess it’s too many other activities [laughter]. [Inaudible].

KW:
I also understand that your family resided in Mt. Vision for a long time like you described. Can you tell me about their involvement in the founding of Mt. Vision? I believe it was called Jacksonville prior.

GH:
It surely should have been something I left out in there. To start with, Mt. Vision had a milk plant, three stores, and two barber shops, and I guess that’s what the routine was there. The two barbers- that’s where people hung out, sit there and visit. I remember going to this one fella; he always cut hair pretty cheap. I went in there one night at 7:00, and I got out at 11:00. There was that many people waiting to get their hair cut. They had a woodworking shop. There used to be a water wheel to get the power for the village, and it had a dam and the water would fall over the dam and run this water wheel. If a guy went right at it, he could fill a book.

KW:
Do you think the community has changed a lot from what you remember as a child into what it is today?

GH:
As I said, they had three churches. One of them is closed, and the Methodist is still open, and now they have a Bible Baptist, which doesn’t have very many.

KW:
How do you think the industry has changed?

GH:
Well, actually, if you are going to talk about Mt. Vision, there practically is no industry.

KW:
Now?

GH:
Now.

KW:
Okay. Why do you think that is?

GH:
Well, everything is done on a larger scale, and when they do anything, it is always with big machinery, coming in from outside of town. Everything that we had is outdated.

KW:
Could you tell me a little bit about the other organizations that you have been involved with? You said about the church. Are there any other organizations that you were involved with? The Grange, maybe?

GH:
We had a Grange Hall. That was quite important in those days. They always had activities that included other communities in the county for instance. They would go to Gilbertsville every so often. Our Grange would go over there to put on the program and so forth. Of course, the Morris Fair was a big thing then.

KW:
Morris?

GH:
Morris Fair.

KW:
Morris Fair.

GH:
Cooperstown had a fair. The Grange always put on programs at the fair. Cooperstown’s closed. Morris Fair is going quite well yet. I guess that kind of covers that.

KW:
Could you explain to me what the Grange did in your community? What was their role?

GH:
It started because I think they were overcharging the farmers to use the railroad. So the Grange came in there and tried to make laws that would prevent them from overcharging. I guess it worked for a while. In other words, if you want to send your milk on a train, they took advantage of the farmer by charging them too much. This was to help fight that move that they were doing to get their pockets full of money [laughter]. But that’s all past now.

KW:
Is the Grange still active in Mt. Vision anymore?

GH:
No. I was the master, and they kept getting less and less and less. The Grange Hall was showing signs of deterioration. So, the State Grange came in and said that it was not safe and that you either have to fix it up or close it down. They had some meetings about that, and they decided it would be better to close it down. So they closed, and now it is an apartment house.

KW:
The building?

GH:
Yeah. Three apartments.

KW:
What are the farms like today in Mt. Vision?

GH:
The farms? Almost every house on [Route] 205, for instance, was connected to a farm at some point. They either milked cows or sold eggs. We just figured that is what they were doing. That is how they were making their living. Now you go down 205 from Lawrence to Mt. Vision, you have some of the farms that are divided up so a single man can operate them. They’ll have maybe 50 cows, or they used to have 25. They are struggling along. This year I know of two farms that have closed down. It squeezes them out so they can’t quite handle it, I guess. I don’t think there are any full size farms, more than a half dozen full size farms, between Laurens and Hartwick. Some of the big farms have come in and put up tight stalls and can take a lot of cows, but all of a sudden they closed down. Too much overhead, I guess.

KW:
So the farms in this area were mostly dairy?

GH:
Yeah.

KW:
Besides dairy and lumber, what other farm activities was your family involved in?

GH:
Well, my dad had maybe thirty sheep. That was always a problem because I’ve seen him go out of the house more than once with a gun. The dog was chasing his sheep. One night, he had about thirty sheep and a cellar under his barn. He heard dogs barking. But he thought the dog was chasing rabbits or something down in the swamp. When he got up the next morning, what he thought was in the swamp was in his cellar in his barn and the dog chasing the sheep under there and muffled it so he could hardly hear them. Out of twenty-five sheep, there was only one left. The dog had killed them all under the barn. He had to have a special fence. [Unclear] wire they called it. He was always working at his fences. But the humor in this, if there is any humor to it… [Interruption in recording].

[START OF TRACK 2, 0:00]

KW:
What are some of the chores that you had to do on the farm?

GH:
Well, at one point, I had to go after the cows every night and morning. So, I would go where the cows are and round them up and bring them back to the barn to be milked. It gave me a lot of good exercise.

KW:

So, you had to herd the cows in to be milked?

GH:
Yeah. Get them into the barn. I knew that was my job every day. Then they would milk them and turn them out again. Had to do the same thing in the morning, round them up. I always said that working on the farm, to me, was like play. I enjoyed it, the outdoor life.

Well, another thing I had to do- we burned wood in three stoves in the house. I had to keep the woodpile in my mother’s kitchen; it was not a modern kitchen. I had to pile the wood up and keep the wood there so my mother could keep the fires burning.

KW:
Were there any other chores that you had to do besides those two?

GH:
Well, we always had to go to the woods… [Interruption with nursing home attendant].
KW:
So, you were saying you had to go into the woods?

GH:
Most everybody burned wood. The wood box had to be kept full. If you enjoyed burning wood, you had to have it dry. Get far enough ahead so it seasoned. I don’t know what I can add to that.

KW:
Could you tell me about some of the things that your father did on the farm?

GH:
My father? He lived to about 86. He always [chored] in the barn, right up until I knew he wasn’t feeling good. But there were always chores in the barn itself that grandpa would do and my son would do. They worked together at it, which made it good for both of them. Right up to almost the end.

I do not know if you want to put this down, but my mother got so that she had what they called hardening of the arteries. Your mind gets bad. Finally, we did not want her in the house alone so we hired a lady to come and stay with her. My mother was not to touch a stove that was one of the things in her head that didn’t register. This one day, the phone rang, and my brother called me and said that your mother had gotten burned. Well, I lived a mile down the road. So, I went right up. Apparently, as nearly as I could figure, she did go to the stove to cook something. She always liked to cook with the burner good and hot. She might have gotten the grease boiling, and it popped out and caught her clothes on fire. So, she ended up in Albany three or four days before she passed away. That was how she ended up. But she didn’t have to suffer long.

KW:
This happened when you were an adult?

GH:
Yeah. I had already moved out of there. Like I said, she did not have to suffer long, which was good in a way.

KW:
Could you tell me more about your mother? Do you remember what types of things she did on the farm?

GH:
Well, when she was a younger girl, she was a schoolteacher. When she died, one of her former pupils came up to me and said that your mother was a good teacher, and she never had any discipline problems [laughter]. I felt like saying I can understand [laughter].

KW:
Was that unusual for a mother or wife to work outside of the farm while you were growing up?

GH:
No. There seemed to be a division there more than there is nowadays. Now, a woman works outside the farm, most all of them do around my area. Back then my mother always raised her garden. When it got big enough, she would can and can and can. And if she wanted some meat, my dad would kill a cow and take it into her kitchen and lay down some planks. From the stove to the counter, from the stove to the table and so forth, and he would have a whole cow in her kitchen [laughter]. And she would can and take care of that. Her father ran a slaughterhouse.

KW:
Her father?

GH:
Her father. She thought she knew it all. And she did. She took care of it. But I always wondered if the meat was always as pure as we thought it was. Laying around the kitchen for a week maybe [laughter]. Nowadays, we wouldn’t think of it. It didn’t kill me [laughter].

KW:
How many brothers and sisters did you have growing up?

GH:
I had two brothers and no sisters.

KW:
Were they all farmers?

GH:
Let’s see. I don’t think any of my brothers married a farm girl. They stayed in the farm and did what my mother used to do, I guess. I had one brother who married a farm girl. They ran a pretty good operation. I married a farm girl. But she worked in a dress factory in Oneonta.

KW:
What was your wife’s name?

GH:
Wilma Cornell. She was from Connecticut. So we made three or four trips to Connecticut every year to reacquaint with her relatives. And she had one branch of her family that lived in Missouri. So we made trips there every year. Then, some of that branch moved to Mississippi. Her mother, my mother-in-law, at one point, she heard they heard they were moving from Missouri to Mississippi, and she wanted to see them before they left. So we got up at four o’clock in the morning, and I drove all day. I remember the first sights I had of the West. I followed this car on one of those big highways. There were two taillights, and I followed the taillights all day. They didn’t seem to move [laughter]. But I finally gave around up nine or ten o’clock. We found a truck stop and stayed over.

KW:
Was that the first time you had traveled that far west?

GH:
I guess I had been out there before. Then we went down to Texas and crossed over to Mississippi where her other relatives lived. Then we came up the Blue Ridge Mountain Park into Washington. I actually went on my honeymoon in Washington. When we got up to Washington, she wanted to see where the Kennedys were buried. My daughter was driving, and I thought she was doing all right. She was going right through the city. All of a sudden, she crossed the Potomac. She was on the wrong side of the Potomac River; we could see that. “Dad, what do I do now?” I said, “you follow the car ahead of you” [laughter].

KW:
How many children did you have?

GH:
Three.

KW:
Can you tell me a little bit about your children?

GH:
Let’s see. I will tell you another dreadful story. Don grew up here and his other grandfather grew up here with a barn that he started. So, he had cows he had to milk. So we built a barn that would hold a hundred cows. Everything we could for a few years. All of a sudden, their tits began to get scabs on them. We had veterinaries there from as far away as Albany to try to figure that out. You take the scabs off, they get infection, you have to treat it with antibiotics, and then that renders your cows worthless. You couldn’t sell them for anything. But, eventually, he gave up and had an auction, got what we could out of them. It was quite a blow to have a whole herd get that.

Then, he went to college. Went to college in Delhi for two years. They gave him money to go to college if he would take a correspondence course. He took that. Then, he started working at Oneonta. At that job, he worked with people that aren’t right mentally. Now he is an advisor at Binghamton General.

KW:
A hospital?

GH:
A hospital. Then, they gave him another job to go with it, just a ten-minute walk to the other hospital. So he has a good job. Then, they built a new psych unit in Oneonta, after he moved, after he had been transferred. On his way home, he stops there few minutes as an adviser. So he has a good thing going right now.

KW:
Which son is this?

GH:
Advising, treating mentally ill people. He will say to me, “You think you are sick, you should see the people I doctor” [laughter].

KW:
What is your son’s name, the one who does this?

GH:
Don. He has a daughter who thinks she is going to be a doctor.

KW:
What about your daughter? Can you tell me a little bit about her?

GH:
She had a job with social services for many years. Finally, she retired right near the manor. Not this manor- yeah it is this manor [laughter], halfway to Milford. She did that, and then she decided she had done it long enough so she resigned, retired, and went to Oneonta. She wanted a part time job. They gave her a three-day a week job for more money than she was getting working full time [laughter]. She got that and that is what she is doing now. She can take off any time she wants to without checking out. And she comes back after two days. My other son works for the state, north of Cooperstown. He likes his job too. He is a groundskeeper for that area, and he works out of Oneonta. He works for a groundskeeper for like a theater, but it covers a lot of territory. Jay does. So, that’s my three children.

KW:
Can you tell me a little about your wife, what she was like?

GH:
My wife was from I guess you would say a poor family. She lived back on a stub end road off the main highway. She was a hard worker. She worked several years at a dress factory. So, I found me a wife that I thought I could afford [laughter].

KW:
You said she was from Connecticut. How did you meet?

GH:
Well, her folks bought a farm right next to ours years ago. When I was after the cows, driving them down, she would get in my way [laughter]. That made going after cows a little pleasanter. She was great in the church working like that. She was right there on the front lines. If they needed somebody on a committee, they could always get her. She liked that kind of work. She developed sugar, and her sugar got worse. She was taking five needles a day, insulin.

KW:
She had diabetes. How did she help on the farm? What did she do on the farm when you were married?

GH:
When we were married, she was working at the dress factory at that time. So she kept working. Stayed right in the dress factory until we got married.

KW:
What did she do at the dress factory?

GH:
She sewed on buttons. She got a commission for the number of buttons she sewed on. Kept her busy.

KW:
And she kept doing that while you were married?

GH:
Yeah, she did that after we were married for a while.

KW:
Did she can things like your mother did?

GH:
Yeah, she always got involved in that.

KW:
Talking about your farm and things, what kind of farm did you have? That you operated?

GH:
I said I never was a farmer- I was a farmer’s helper. I had a big garden and equipment to work it with. Now, everything is sold off. I can’t even plant a pea anymore. Nothing to work with [laughter]. So that’s where that has gone. And all our workers except me are gone. How are you going to work a farm without a man?

KW:
What did you like most about working on a farm?

GH:
I guess I liked the freedom that I could take a day off when I wanted to and go and come.

KW:
What did you like least about working on a farm?

GH:
Well, I will tell you another story. My dad, must be his father, was far sighted enough that he kept planting apple trees; he had an orchard. Everything went along good; I never cared about raking hay around apple trees [laughter]. They were in the way. They put me on a rake with one horse, and I did it. All of a sudden, in 1935, we had an awful cold winter. It froze those trees so hard it popped them open. I think he had 15 trees. The frost popped them open and killed all but one. Just like our sheep. The next winter they were dead. He got the town to swing in there with their Linn tractor and threw a chain around them and pulled them out.

KW:
So these were your father’s trees. How do you think farming techniques have changed since maybe your father to you to even today?

GH:
Like I said, we had a complete line of machinery, and I didn’t realize how important that is to accomplish things. When it came time to sell the cows off, my son’s cows, he had a complete line of machinery. So, we ended up with nothing to work with. Then, of course, my dad died, and my brother died, and it sort of changed your way of operation.

KW:
How did it change?

GH:
You had less help all of the time.

KW:
Did you have any other jobs outside of the farm?

GH:
To start with, I will start back a little. I was working with my brother. This one day, I came to the barn, and I picked up a shovel by the one end. Now, I had scraped off the platform before I started milking. I had that shovel in my hand, and I noticed I couldn’t lift it up. It was hanging down. Turned out I had ruptured a disk in my neck. The doctor said it would take three months to get that back. So, during those three months, I was sitting in a doorway and had traction around my neck. I had to sit up four times a day, 15 minutes at a time, exercising my neck. I got caught up on a lot of television. When that was over almost, my brother-in-law was there at the house that day. We had some quite tall trees across from my house. He liked to go over and see them and wanted to take a walk. Well, I did but maybe I shouldn’t have. It would jar with every step, jabbed my neck. But we went over and back, and I said to him, “It will never come back in three months.” The next day it was okay, and I started building the barn for my son [laughter].

KW:
The very next day?

GH:
Well, making plans. So, we built the barn for him. He put a hundred Holstein cows [in there]. But that was that story.

KW:
What other jobs did you have in the community?

GH:
While I was building that barn, there was a guy drawing mail, and he wanted to take a vacation. He wanted me to draw mail so he could take a vacation. I said not until I get the roof on this barn I wouldn’t even think of it [laughter]. So, he stopped in several times, and finally, he came one day and set down in our [inaudible] driveway quite low and sat looking up at me. He saw me drive the last nail into that roof.

[START OF TRACK 3, 0:00]

GH:
“There,” he said. “Now you can draw the mail while I take a vacation.” So I drew mail for ten days. “Now, I want you to draw mail full time.” That is how I got started drawing mail for ten years. Lucky I did. I wouldn’t have much retirement without it.

KW:
Did you have to take any type of government test to be able to do that?

GH:
I had to take a civil service test. So I went to Binghamton. And I had a nephew who thought he wanted to take the test, so he rode down with me. He was telling me how easy the test was and all. I said it wasn’t a hard test. So I got 80, and he got 75 [laughter]. But somebody advised me wrong. They said, don’t hurry through it. Check it over when you get half done. Well, I checked it over, but the last few questions I had to guess at. If I hadn’t checked it over, I would have been done. But I guessed right I guess.

KW:
Which job did you enjoy more, farming or being a mailman?

GH:
Well, let’s see, even then for several years, I was a substitute. So I had both jobs. I don’t know. I didn’t have much of a social life when I was drawing mail. I never saw anybody. You put the mail in the box and go on. No, it was nice.

KW:
At the beginning you were telling me about your family coming over on the Mayflower. What else can you tell me about your ancestors?

GH:
Well, they came from Ireland. I don’t know if it was around the time of the potato famine or what. They never heard of it. In fact, I keep thinking of that. There are 300 million people in this country. It wouldn’t be impossible for us to have another famine.

KW:
Without farmers?

GH:
Yeah. It takes a lot of food to feed all those people.

KW:
How do you think that the fact there are these large farms and not so many smaller farms, how do you think that impacts farming in the United States now?

GH:
Well, like I tell people, I never could farm it now. I wouldn’t know where to start. I guess you have to be pretty big. I have a neighbor that has always done pretty good at farming. He bought himself a piece of machinery a couple of years ago. He was overwhelmed by what he had to pay for it.

KW:
So it’s an expensive job to have, just to get the equipment.

GH:
Right.

KW:
How do you think small farms will be able to continue competing with the large farms?

GH:
Well, we have had three medium sized farms within three miles of me quit this year. They are going to get sick of being crushed under such a heavy load of finance, I think.

KW:
How would organizations like the Grange still be helpful?

GH:
I think every town used to have a Grange. There’s only three left. There is one in Cooperstown, one in Gilbertsville, one in Westville, and that is just about it. They all saw they’re being crushed. Those three are quite active in entertaining people. But as far as helping the farmers, they can’t do much I don’t believe.

KW:
How do you think the Grange is political today?

GH:
Not so much, I don’t think. There again, gradually, their members die off, and they can’t get replacements. They are not as effective as they were at one time.

KW:
While you were farming, were there opportunities from the government to assist with the farming?

GH:
Well, we had certain programs that would help and things. I don’t think it was very effective. But they tried to be helpful.

KW:
Why don’t you think it was effective?

GH:
Well, I don’t know. It might have been coming along about the time of the Depression. I guess I wasn’t involved too much at that time. They had certain things like buying fertilizer for a farm. Maybe it was too little too late.

KW:
What do you mean?

GH:
The help came a little too late.

KW:
During the Depression or even now?

GH:
Now and after the Depression.

KW:
Can you tell me anything about growing up during the Depression?

GH:
Yeah, I’ll tell you something [laugher]. My dad lived on a farm. His brother lived on a farm right next door. Actually his farm and the people on his farm were just like brothers and sisters to me. Then I had another one about two miles away. He had one son. Whenever those three men got together, they always had this one statement: “You just gotta make do [laughter]. We just gotta make do.” So, I guess it must have been discouraging to him, especially when you see the pictures of people standing in line in New York City waiting to get a mouth full potatoes.

KW:
Would you have seen images like that here in Central New York? Soup lines and things like that?

GH:
Well, if a guy was on a farm, he could pretty well raise his own vegetables. It wasn’t like those pictures in New York were they were standing in line waiting. Now like this flood deal they got down there. It must be awful to have children like that crying because they are hungry, and you can’t get anything to feed them.

KW:
Growing up on the farm, did your family eat most of the food that you grew or did you sell it?

GH:
Well, one of my projects was that I raised, let’s say, about a thousand barred rock pullets. I raised them to five pounds. Then, I called up a guy in New York, and he came with his truck, and we would load them on. He would take them to New York and sell them. I did not eat all those chickens [laughter]. We ate what we could, anything left over, well, with chickens you keep them and let them lay eggs. No, we didn’t do much truck farming.

KW:
Truck farming?

GH:
Truck farming. Like raising tomato and putting them out by the road. Like that. You know, on the farm there is a guy digging right now. He, his wife, and three children left church early one Sunday morning. They went to Cooperstown to get groceries. Before they got home, somebody ran an intersection and ran right into the side of them. They have one son in a wheelchair. They are always going to Boston or someplace to have another operation. They said they think he’s gaining, pretty slow. But his eyes are shut, and he smiles. They had a nice boy, and they have to nurse him along every mile.

KW:
How was it difficult living in a rural area maybe not with so much medical access?

GH:
Well, in a way, we are kind of lucky. We have Cooperstown. We used to always go to Fox, and I can’t think of what happened, but we started going to Bassett. We get good help. They’ve kept me alive all these years.

KW:
When you were growing up, was there a large hospital anywhere near? When you were younger?

GH:
Was there a hospital? There was one in Oneonta called Fox. That is where my folks always went. My dad had a prostate operation. Cooperstown had just started doing that. He could go there or else go to Albany or Boston. I guess he didn’t like to travel. So, he took Cooperstown, and about that time, they were doing most of the operations around here.

KW:
When your mother had you and your siblings, were they all home births or did she go to the hospital?

GH:
When we were born? We were born in the home.

KW:
What about your wife?

GH:
She was born in the home.

KW:
And your children?

GH:
They were born at Fox. My son had a son, and he was born, I can’t tell where he was born, but it cost $30,000. He was cesarean. I told someone the other day I think he should have shopped around. I had three children, and it cost me $900 [laughter].

KW:
Can you tell me a little bit about your grandchildren?

GH:
My first grandchild was born right outside of Dallas, Texas. She was up to see me on my birthday. And he is a live wire. So they had no trouble keeping them entertained. Wish I could think of the name of the place. It almost seems like it was Copeland. Just north of Dallas [inaudible] on the map. If you read it on the map, it will read D-A-L that is all there is. Not room for the full name. Then, I got one granddaughter that was born, not where I live, she was living in that area when she was born. She is in North Carolina. She’s becoming a dentist’s nurse for dental work. I told you about the other one. She is going to be a doctor. There is a grandson in there. He started out going to college. He went to college a year, but he didn’t care for that, so he is a woodsman. I said, you are doing just what I did as a kid.

KW:
So working with lumber and things?

GH:
Yeah. He clears land for the state. Then there’s another grandson. When it came time for him to go to college, his sister went to BOCES in Milford. She puts up hair and got a good job. He took advice from somebody. Somebody told him to go to Edmeston. He went to Edmeston, and right in Edmeston, there was a print shop. They told him to go there, and you would have an education, and you won’t have to travel to Milford every day [laughter] so he did. He even runs the place for the guy sometimes. So he has a good job. Let’s see, there’s Jason; he’s the one in the print shop. And then there’s Jessica; she is the hair beautician. Then there’s Terrence; he’s the woodsman [laughter]. Then I have three more. They just moved from Ashville to Pittsburgh. Got there just in time for the storm. But they’re different. They’re westerners [laughter].

KW:
So, your family farm- you’re kind of the last farmer to…

GH:
Yeah, they are going to run out.

KW:
What will happen with the farmland? I believe that road is called Harrison Hill, the road you live on. What will happen to all the land?

GH:
Well, right now, I guess I mentioned in that letter it’s becoming residential. My nephew got it in a settlement in some way, and he’s selling off a building here and a building there.

KW:
So the land is all going for development. What do you think about that?

GH:
Well, it’s sad.

KW:
Why do you find it sad?

GH:
Because I worked so many years. Building up this land. Clearing the land. Even when I was coming up, we were still clearing land, and just something you have to adjust to, I guess.

KW:
So, you’re now here in the Otsego Manor, how are you adjusting to that?

GH:
Well, it takes a little adjusting. You have to learn how to live here. I bought a house in 1955. I thought to myself, I’ll fix this house up, and I’ll be secure for as long as I live. So, now that has to be sold or something.

KW:
Can you tell me how that makes you feel when you know your house and farm area…

GH:
Well it’s a big house, and there’s upkeep to it. My daughter says you want to get out of that upkeep. She was getting frustrated keeping track of my medicine. It was hard for her. I didn’t want to see her go through that. Here, they pass out your pills and you to take them. So, it’s easier on her. Of course, I had this disease in August. What do they call it? Urinal tract infection. It affected my mind. My family said you aren’t going to drive anymore. Here I am with a car, and I can’t drive it. It’s a disappointment. They said they would take me where I want to go. But you know it is an awful job. I am always waiting to go somewhere. So my daughter and her husband sold their house in Laurens, and the woman they sold to wanted a job taking people places. So she took me a couple of times. I guess she was a good driver. I can do that if I have to.

KW:
Well, we talked about a lot of different things. Are there any other topics or issues that you want to talk about or explain?

GH:
I am sure I could talk all afternoon [laughter]. But I would probably run out of steam.

KW:
Well, Mr. Harrison, thank you so much for talking with me and sharing your experiences about living on a farm and living here in Cooperstown and Mt. Vision, New York. So, thank you very much.

GH:
Well, it’s a pleasure to have somebody listen to me [laughter].

Duration

22:26- Pt 1
30:00- Pt 2
27:53- Pt 3

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbps
128 kbps
128 kbps

Files

Citation

Kahla Woodling, “Glenn Harrison, November 12, 2012,” CGP Community Stories, accessed April 23, 2018, http://cgpcommunitystories.org/items/show/121.