CGP Community Stories

Mr. Fred Havens, Mrs. Fred Havens (formerly Linda Pitts), and Mrs. Helen Mar North Pitts, October 5, 1973


Mr. Fred Havens, Mrs. Fred Havens (formerly Linda Pitts), and Mrs. Helen Mar North Pitts, October 5, 1973


Hop pickers
Otsego County
Middlefield, NY
Hop dances


Excerpt from a 1973 interview of Mr. Fred Havens, Mrs. Fred Havens (formerly Linda Pitts), and Mrs. Helen Mar North Pitts, by Michael Maloy. Clip created for Spring 2017 Cooperstown Graduate Program Exhibition "Hop City Pickers" at the Fenimore Art Museum Research Library.

Photo Credit:
Harvesting Hops, ca. 1880-1889, Arthur J. Telfer, glass plate negative, H: 5 x W: 7 in. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, Gift of Arthur Telfer, Smith and Telfer Photographic Collection, 5-02,097.


Michael Maloy


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


October 5,1973


Cooperstown Graduate Association










Otsego County


Michael Maloy


Mr. Fred Havens, Mrs. Fred Havens (formerly Linda Pitts), Mrs. Helen Mar North Pitts


Middlefield, NY


MM: When hops went out, did that change Middlefield a lot?

HP: Yes, very much.

LH: A great deal.

MM: In what way did it change?

HP: Well, because hops were not so hard to raise. We had a hop yard on the farm, two of them, one above the road and one below. So when it was in the springtime I thought it would be great fun to go with mother and tie hops. We had to go down and start them around the pole, you know, in the spring to get them to start up the pole. So I said, “I’m going to go with you now, mother, and help you tie hops.” “Okay,” she said. So we went, and I tied up one whole row up through, she went way ahead of me on another row, of course. Then it was time for us to go to the house for dinner because we lived in one side of the house, they in the other. And when she went back after dinner--I didn’t go, I didn’t care much about tying hops--I said I guess I won’t go down. And I’d tied mine all the wrong way. She had to take them all down and wind them over again. She was always complaining about tying hops. Course I’d never lived on a farm I didn’t know anything about hops. Beans go one way and hops go another. It’s funny, isn’t it, what nature will do [laughing].

LH: [Speaking at the same time as her mother] Hops go one way up the pole, the opposite way from beans. She had tied them all this way. Hops grow west to east and beans east to west. It did make a difference on the economics of the town, you see, because so many came in, migrant workers from cities all over came in year after year to pick hops and so forth. And so I believe that that…[interrupted by mother] I believe that that is economically--well and then too people were able to buy more. You see at the stores when they were able to sell their hops they really went to town. And then, too they had a great deal of fun. They had big parties and all when the hop pickers were here.

HP: Hop dances. Father Pitts used to play violin for hop dances.

JH: And when they were picking hops and found the loop where the hop had grown around and made a loop, then the one who found it was the prettiest girl.

MM: At the dance.

LH: No, in the hop yard. Oh yes. And he’d chase her around the hop boxes.

MM: Were you a little girl when they were still growing hops?

JH: Yes, I was.

MM: There were still active hops growing and you remember that, too.

JH: Mmmhmm.

HP: She was a year old when we moved down here. Her grandma was a big favorite, so was everyone’s grandma I guess, so she used to go up there a lot.

MM: I’m a little confused because you said your father built the hotel, or part of the hotel--

LH: The large part.

MM: But he also raised hops.

LH: No, that’s her husband’s people.

HP: My husband’s people, when I was married I went on the farm. That’s why I didn’t know anything about the hops, I did the hops the wrong way .

MM: When hops were being grown here, there were other things that the farmers did? They didn’t just grow hops?

LH: Oh my goodness, no. They had to grow all their grains, you see, because they took them into the gristmill and had them ground. They didn’t have trucks that came over and brought feed in those days, they had to feed all their oxen, their cattle and everything, and take all their milk in cans to the factory here, where they made cheese.

HP: Then they took the whey from the cheese back to feed their pigs.

LH: To slop their hogs.

Original Format

Cassette tape






Michael Maloy, “Mr. Fred Havens, Mrs. Fred Havens (formerly Linda Pitts), and Mrs. Helen Mar North Pitts, October 5, 1973,” CGP Community Stories, accessed March 21, 2019,