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This Month’s Cover:

Digital Artwork

by Southwoods

DIRECT MAILED to 13,500 homes & businesses

in the towns of Southwick, Westfield, Feeding Hills, Tolland,

Granville and Northern Connecticut (West Suffield, Granby and beyond).

Serving Massachusetts and Connecticut

Publisher: Carole Caron

Editor: Lyssa Peters

Layout/Design Artists:

Martin Lee, Cole Ludorf

Advertising Consultant: Carole Caron

Spring By Sue Dutch ....................................................... 3

Pigs are for Experts pt 1 By James Putnam ............ 4

April 1950 By Clifton J. (Jerry) Noble Sr .......................8

Happy Easter By Jeff King............................................10

Sunnyside Ranch pt 1 By Ross Haseltine ....................14

An Unforgettable Journey pt 2 By Lyssa Peters ..........16

Opossum By Walter Fertig ........................................... 20

The Reuben By Cheryl Machietto .............................. 21

Childhood Memories By Bernadette Gentry ............... 22

Bulletin Board ............................................................ 22

Classifieds ..................................................................23



By Sue Dutch

When the warmth of spring arrives

The dormant world again revives.

The sky and clouds provide the rain

That fill the lakes and streams again.

Rain grants the falls its thunderous spray

That carves through all that’s in its way.

Rain swells the rivers as they course

Back to the sea, life’s vital source.

As sun begins to warm the earth

It starts the process of rebirth.

Buds appear on trees and flowers

Unfolding in the daylight hours.

Warm moist soil will stimulate

Last season’s seeds to germinate.

Which plant will grow has been decreed

By Nature’s blueprint in each seed.

The flowers’ scents and vibrant hues

The butterflies and bees will use

To find the nectar that they need

While pollinating as they feed.

Migrating birds fly north then rest

Before they mate and build a nest.

Once eggs are laid first one will brood

While its partner hunts for food.

Jumping fish splash in the lake

Till clouds of roe the females make.

Then males will spawn and nests protect

And all intruders they’ll deflect.

Mammals birth their offspring live

And suckle them so they will thrive.

Then teach them skills they’ll need to hone

For survival when they’re grown.

This process of rejuvenation

Isn’t just some aberration.

It happens once each solar year

Within Earth’s fragile biosphere.


By James Putnam (1920-1996)

This article was written by our Dad back around 1963. It’s a true story about a runaway pig on our Southwick farm. Dad loved the story and hoped to have it published. Instead, the typewritten manuscript, with pen and ink corrections disappeared among various family “stuff” to be re-discovered when Steve and I cleaned out our Ma’s house a few years back.

The setting is the Putnam Farm, now Blossoming Acres. The Steere Farm is what is now Vining Hill Equestrian Center. The South Lot refers to a 3-acre field on the south side of Pearl Brook, adjacent to the Steere Farm. (Lenita Bober still grows wonderful veggies there.) “Connie Coward’s pig over at the crossroad” was at the old Van Mater place where CVS is now located.

The following is presented with minor changes, including a couple of clarifying words in brackets. ~Jim Putnam II

My main business is eggs. Maybe I should stick ‘exclusively to my chickens, but I don’t. Farm management experts these days dwell on the virtues of specialized farming, especially here in Western Massachusetts. But I grow some vegetables and a few pigs. In the good old days, my herd of three might have been dignified with the term “complementary enterprise” since

it uses broken eggs and unsalable vegetables from the main enterprises. We don’t sell any pork, but with six farm-style appetites to satisfy, the pigs seem like a profitable project. Besides, I love to watch ‘em grow.

But things were different last summer--I’ve had some second thoughts about pigs. Probably a hog specialist wouldn’t have all my problems, but as I said earlier, my main business is eggs.

My troubles started the very day we went for the young pigs at Fritz Haas’ place across the road. Fritz wasn’t home and neither were all the pigs. The young pigs had nudged a hole through the fence and some were in and some were out. The boys and I proceeded to catch the pigs wherever we could corner one.

The farrowing house [birthing place for pigs] seemed like a likely spot except that the old sow was in there with a couple of the youngsters. She wasn’t at all cordial. I edged up to the doorway carefully avoiding the juicy wallow directly in front of it. Suddenly the old sow lunged out the doorway. You guessed it—I wound up in the mud hole. The boys tried to be polite, but they almost choked laughing. To confuse matters still further, Madam Sow leaped over the fence, but we caught our three piglets and contrived to get their mother back in where she belonged.

Returning home, I backed the truck up to our pen and we unloaded the three little pigs to their new home. One of them had a nasty gash on his foreleg, apparently ripped by the barbed wire during the previous fracas. I sent Steve to get water and disinfectant to clean the wound. Meanwhile, I sneaked back to the house, entered by the side porch and dropped off my

Fran and Jim Sr. (Athor) Probably late 1970s, in front of Farm sign


muddy clothes, and went upstairs for clean ones.

When I came down, I found visitors in the dooryard, Art and Walt Dziengelewski who run an adjoining dairy farm, along with their brother-in-law, Charlie Gogulski. John, my oldest son, was filling them in on my mud bath. Just then Steve came around the barn. “Hey, Dad,” he said, “the pigs are gone” At least it turned out to be a good time for visitors. All of us proceeded to look for tracks, or better yet, pigs. We found plenty of tracks but no pigs and after a while, the dragnet came apart and the neighbors went home.

By now my wife Fran, needed more sweet corn for the retail trade, so I proceeded to pick some. I gradually became aware of grunting and sniffing not too far off. I called to Steve who was in the South Lot. In a half-hour of hard running, we were able to catch two of the fugitives. The third one eluded us completely and disappeared. Of course, this was the one with the cut.

The next performance was timed for the supper hour. George Steere phoned to report that our pig was out near the spring in his hay lot. Steve, Jimmy, and I hustled over there.

The pig wasn’t to be seen by this time, so I proceeded to crash through the swale below the spring. It was a good tactic and the pig emerged into the hayfield near where Steve was waiting. Steve is fifteen and long-legged. The pig was running lame, and Steve was clearly gaining on him, until he came to the fence that is. By the time Steve could get across the obstacle, the pig had gained the cover of some woods. We went back to a cold supper., The pig business looked dismal.

During the next two weeks, the stray traveled a half-mile beat from my early corn piece to the Steere Farm. Occasionally she’d make a side trip to visit Connie Coward’s pig over at the crossroad. George tried baiting him with cornmeal laced with whiskey. Either she didn’t find it or was fussy about his brand of whiskeys. The feed truck driver suggested using one of the littermates as a decoy. This almost worked, but the pig’s running was improving faster than ours.

Part II in next issue of Southwoods.




By Clifton (Jerry) Noble, Sr.

My journal tells so much about life in our country schoolhouse with-out electricity or running water as well as about current events that it’s hard to know what to omit. My widowed moth-er, Minnie E. Noble, whom I had nick-named “Hester,” and I owned a new, two-door, black Plymouth. It was more streamlined than most 1949 Chrysler products. I worked with a Massachusetts Department of Public Works survey party.

Anyway, here goes.

April 4, 1950, Tuesday Spring has come. The town scraper is smoothing rough spots that were mud holes in Carrington Road.

Saturday I cut down the last big poplar tree on our 2 ½ acre lot across Herrick Road. Sunday I piled firewood, burned brush and cleaned the backhouse. Also took a walk in shorts. Late afternoon I took Hester to visit her brother, Ralph Emerson on Mort Vining Road in Southwick. Aunt Georgia’s sister, Mabel,

was visiting from Warehouse Point.

Next week the Emersons plan to leave by car for another trip to California. Uncle Ralph got a new 35 mm camera for Christ-mas and has been experimenting with it.

Yesterday was Hester’s 63rd birthday. (I am 24.) She rode to Westfield with me and got some pretty blue cloth to make a summer dress, some ribbon and a small steak. (Oddly, I can’t eat meat.)

Two Saturdays ago Scanlon Kane brought me another two-foot diameter tile, two feet long, which I put on top of those already placed in the ten-foot-deep well I dug last summer.

The installation of the Rt. Rev. Christopher J. Weldon as Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield has been big news for the last two weeks.

The amendment to ban aid to Britain until Ireland was united was proposed by someone named Fogarty. The measure was overwhelmingly defeated.

The Navy and Air Force are being accused of responsibil-ity for “flying saucers.” They deny having any phenomenal new aircraft of revolutionary design.

April 8, 1950, Saturday After showers the first part of the week the wind switched to north, and I was sorry my sheep-skin was packed away. Both Westfield and Connecticut Rivers have been near flood stage. Great flocks of robins are here and I’ve seen two hawks.

Little Charles and friends met me on the approach to the river bridge in Russell. He had pussy willows for me to take to Hester which he had picked from a bush near the railroad sta-tion. I cut some wood in Mr. Peckham’s gravel pit and dragged it home in five trips with the car.

Water in my well has gone down till it is only seven feet deep again. Today I put soil back in the hatchway I dug behind our schoolhouse till no ground water shows.

April 9, 1950 Easter Sunday Last night’s light snow has vanished quickly.

Friday afternoon we went to Westfield to get the car lubri-




cated and look up genealogical material. The library was closed till 3 o’clock so I went to Emerson’s watch repair shop to see my cousin Lester. However, I found that Mr. Abbott had let Hester in, so she was in the library refer-ence room when I arrived.

Last night we visited the Beckets in West Springfield. Alan B. told me an odd incident in writ-ing. A New York acquaintance of his sent a story to Colliers. It came back in eleven days. The wily au-thor had put a dot of glue between pages 22 and 23 at his climax. It was still stuck. He sent the story back to Colliers, and in five days received their minimum check for $850. Alan had talked with a reader for one of the magazines. The man boasted that, after a big night, he would sweep the day’s manuscripts off his desk and go the to projection room to rest up. Mr. Becket lit into him about the ethics of doing the job you are paid for.

Evelyn Becket gave us information about Peckham’s red barn in Russell. Once it was the station when the railroad ran on the west side of the river. The road to the Russell dump runs along the abandoned embankment. When the railroad moved across the river a poor family moved into the building. Evelyn was working at the paper mill office and shared a three-room flat on the third floor of the inn at the end of Main Street with a young teacher who professed herself an atheist. She helped with church activities except Sunday School. One Christmas she told Evy it made her ache to see children from that rail-road station come to school with other joyous youngsters and know that Christmas would mean nothing to them. Despite the fact that she had to make her own living beside sending money home, this teacher purchased toys and gifts. Evy decided to see what she could do and got four felts from the mill from which they were able to make blankets. The father worked at the mill but didn’t earn much.

Last night, as we came up from Russell, a train passed go-ing west. It had two engines, a diesel ahead and steam behind. Being night I could see the stream of sparks from the stack of the coal-burning locomotive. No wonder in dry seasons there’s danger of setting the woods afire.

Yesterday a took a walk. On a sunny slope, with olive-oil-coated skin I was getting a good tan. Above on the hill was the barn. Adventure called. I reached the back of the barn out of sight of the road. A window gaped. With hands on sill I pulled up and swung in. This part had a cement floor. Stanchions for

cows were in this basement whose door opens at the top of the meadow. A stairway connects with the upper floor where hay was kept. Its great door opens toward the empty house. Leav-ing the barn the thirst for thrill led me down an old path to the bluff overlooking the railroad and high-way across the river. This was my first time barefoot this year. My feet got pretty dirty so I took a cou-ple plunges in the icy water of the brook’s upper pool. Next Saturday the 15th, the fishing season opens so I’m glad to get my walk before the fishermen come.

April 17, 1950, Monday After sawing wood yesterday afternoon I went up the hill. It was too dull lying in the sun so I walked along the mountain and back over the ledges. Low spots had patches of snow but fallen pine needles were warm to my feet.

April 23, 1950, Sunday Hester has been to Springfield Li-brary twice last week looking up ancestors. She traced Emerson and Kimball lines all the way back to settlers in Ipswich. Mass. Thursday I copied Montgomery history from Copeland at the West Springfield Library.

Wednesday afternoon I got more tan walking north out the old logging road till I came to the upper reaches of Rivard’s evergreen grove. At first I thought the sound was wind in the hemlocks. Underbrush thinned and ground dropped away to a deep narrow gorge. At the bottom, splashing over boulders in delightful waterfalls, was a vigorous brook I never knew was there. It doesn’t show on my contour map, but it must be the one which, down in the meadows, turns Mr. Rivards’ water wheel.

Saturday I helped Mr. Peckham load the last of his logs on the truck. He gave me some logs for firewood and agreed to bring more slabs. With what I carried this morning I have about a half cord of wood piled

The end of April will mark the end of our first year living in the schoolhouse.


wept. They cried. They loaded their valuables into wagons and began evacuating the villages.

But then finally the fog began to lift, and the signals began again.

Only then did the entire message come through


That was the entire message. England defeated the enemy! In the darkness of Good Friday, it looked like Jesus had failed. Dead. Done. Defeated. His lifeless corpse hung heavy on the cross, a black sky, filled with jagged lightning, pressed down on Him. Satan thought he won. I’m sure he wagged his pointed little tail in glee. The message was loud and clear


But early on Sunday morning, when the golden sun rose in a pink and purple sunrise, the great stone that blocked the tomb of Jesus exploded outward. And Jesus stepped out of the grave! Victorious. Triumphant. Exalted. Now the entire message had come through


Jesus defeated our greatest enemy: Death. Death could not hold down Jesus. And death cannot hold you down. Death could not defeat Jesus. And death cannot defeat you.

The Bible says, “O Grave, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?” In other words, “Hey, Grave, Jesus just stole your victory your power over us! Hey, Grave, where is your victory? You’re just an ugly old hole in the ground that can’t hold us. Hey, Death, where is your sting?”

Two kids were in the back seat of the car, driving down the highway. Suddenly, a bee flew in the window and started buzzing around the inside of the car. The big brother knew his little sister was allergic to bee stings and could die if she was stung.

So, guess what he did? Big Brother reached out and grabbed that bee in his fist. Of course, the bee stung him. But his little sister was safe.

The sting hurt like crazy. But it hurt the bee even worse. Because when a bee stings, its stinger comes out and it dies. Big

Happy Easter!

Back when the Battle of Waterloo was fought, there was no Fox News; there was no CNN. They had to get all their news by sending signals from church steeple to church steeple, flashing out a message with mirrors.

When the day of the great battle arrived, everybody was on pins and needles. The fate of England hung in the balance. Would England defeat Napoleon? Could England defeat Napoleon. Would England even survive the day?

Slowly, the news started to trickle in, flashed from steeple to steeple, from village to village. The message began


England defeated? Oh, no! That’s terrible! Just then, a fog blew in off the sea. Now, they couldn’t get any more news! The message of defeat spread like wildfire. People panicked. They


Brother willingly took the sting for his little sister.

Jesus is your Big Brother. And Jesus took the sting of death for you. He reached out His hands on the cross and, as they pounded in the nails, His fists closed like Big Brother closing his fist over that stinging bee.

Let me tell you something: Jesus did that because He loves you. He loves you like a big brother. He loves you like a best friend. And He wants you to make it home to heaven. He wants you to say, “O Grave, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting? Death, you can’t get me!”

One day you will hear that Pastor Jeff has died. It will be all over social media but don’t believe it. I’ll be more alive than ever. Because the moment I close my eyes for the last time in this world, I will open my eyes to see the light of another world.

And so will you. You will see the light of a world so breathtakingly beautiful so stunning you cannot even imagine it this side of eternity! You will feel a love deeper than anything you’ve ever felt. You will feel a peace so profound. And you will see people you love.

“Oh, look there!” you will say. “There! There’s my mom! And there’s grandpa standing right next to her he looks so young! And isn’t that my old high school friend from years ago?”

And you will see that the Gates of Glory are wide open for

you. My friend, the applause will be deafening as you walk through those gates.

You say, “But Jeff, what if I don’t make it? How can I be sure I’m going to heaven? Can I be sure? Is there a way?”

Yes ... Yes! Jesus said, “I am the way. Yes, I am the way, the truth, and the life.” And Jesus said, “I will come back and take you to be with Me.” That’s all you need to know.

On that day, when death breathes down your back, and reaches its icy fingers towards you, you just turn and say, “Not today, Death.” Just smile and say, “You can’t hold me down, Death. Because Jesus defeated you.”

Jesus defeated our greatest enemy: Death. Death could not hold down Jesus. And death cannot hold you down.




Robert B. Crane, of the Cane Bros. paper mill in Westfield, starts buying up land in the Hillside District of Southwick at end of 1896. The land borders Mouse Hill at New Road.

He continues his buying spree well into 1897; paying $250.00 for 24 more acres and 42-rods, according to a deed dated March 8th.

Crane accumu-lates hundreds of acres. Wasting no time, he contracts George W. Smith, a stone mason in Westfield, to excavate and lay the foundation for a large barn to be built at his newly named Sunnyside Ranch. Smith starts the project around the week of March 22nd.

In addition to crops, Crane’s enormous, state of the art ranch specializes in sheep and other high-grade stock. The farm is known for producing superior products. Even with the pass-ing of its visionary founder, Sunnyside’s reputation for quality remains which is shown when its lambs, unequalled for their excellence, are the feature item at W. O. Sheldon’s State Street market in Springfield, in 1910.

Over the years, Sunnyside attracts a number of potential

buyers. It is said that prolific golf course designer Geoffrey Cornish, then a lawn specialist at the University of Massachu-setts, wanted to build a course on Sunnyside in the early 1940s. Other interested par-ties included Daniel Willard, president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, who arriv-ing by train in his private car in 1915, was looking to buy a $25,000.00 farm in New England for his son. But after seeing the sheer size of Sun-nyside, he passed on the opportunity.

In the beginning, it was common for folks passing by the ranch to help themselves to the fruits of the land; for example, taking an apple or two. But as you will read, someone found out the hard way that the practice came to an end when the property changed hands.

Different owners had different ideas for the farm and the property as a whole.

Philip K. Hall started developing skiing at his Sunnyside farm before World War II. It is said that Sunnyside’s tow rope is still in use at Ski Sundown in Connecticut. This may or may not be true. But what is known is that Ski Sundown opened as Satan’s Ridge Ski Area in 1963 with a Hall T-bar (manufactured by the Hall Ski-Lift Co. in N.Y.). Ski Sundown also has an area called “Sunnyside.”

To understand the rich history on the origins of Sunnyside

The Southwick Time Machine presents:


By Ross Haseltine


Ranch, we have to take a step back and look at the life of the visionary who created it.

1868: In buying the Horton mill in Westfield, brothers J. Arthur Crane and Robert B. Crane establish Crane Bros. which becomes an award-winning paper and belt manufacturer.

1870: The brothers make a fortune producing their now famous high grade led-ger and record paper along with “Japanese Linen.” De-mand is so high, they buy and renovate a second mill upstream.

1893: Robert Crane buys a large piece of property in Westfield. Rumors swirl that he plans to build a $100,000.00 home to rival that of his brother’s fine estate.

1894: Robert Crane and other wealthy men open Woronoco Park in Westfield on June 27th; the Crane brothers enter their own horses to run the half-mile track that quickly becomes famous - as do the Crane’s winning horses. They raise the horses at their Wolf Pit Stock Farm also in Westfield.

1897: Although still a partner, Robert Crane takes a less ac-tive role in the daily activities of the mill as he shifts his fo-cus on the building what will become a state of the art farm on his newly acquired property in Southwick. He hires noted Westfield architect Augustus W. Holton to design his ranch. By December, he erects several fine buildings to the tune of $12,000.00.

1903: The Westfield Grange’s annual corn husking is held inside the big barn at Sunnyside Ranch on November 4th. Elec-tric light, powered by Robert Crane’s private generating plant, illuminates the festivities which includes lots of refreshments, music and dancing. The barn offers plenty of room as the event attracts 300 members of the Grange and their families who

husk more than 200 bushels of corn in less than an hour.

1904: With his head bleeding, a man walks into the police station in Westfield on Christmas Day. He tells officers that he was beaten by man who lives at Crane’s Sunnyside Ranch. Police issue an ar-rest warrant and court is scheduled for 27th.

1906: The Crane Bros. take over ownership of Woronoco Park’s track, pa-vilion and horse stables.

1909: Robert Bruce Crane (b. Jun. 10, 1845) un-expectedly dies on June 21st. As manager of his vast estate, his brother James allows for the mas-sive Sunnyside Ranch to continue normal operations.

1910: James Arthur Crane (b. Dec. 24, 1847) dies on July 2nd. With no interest in managing such a large farm themselves, James’ heirs decide to sell Sunnyside.

1911: Augustus Holton (b. Jun. 26, 1850) dies on February 14th.

1912: A pack of dogs kill more than 20-sheep and injure and maim 32 others at Sunnyside Ranch on the night of October 30th; the following day, a veterinarian surgeon is brought to the farm to relieve the suffering, with the badly injured sheep being put down.

See Part 2 in the May issue of Southwoods


By Lyssa Peters

Savannah too seemed normal. There were tourists on the sidewalks and crosswalks. I was met at the entrance of the fancy Marriott by a helpful staff. The lobby seemed rather deserted, but it was a weekday. I walked to a little pub on the river for supper and sat at the bar. The shrimp were delicious.

For my trip from Savannah to Bradenton, Florida, I let the maps program on my iPhone choose my route. It took me the scenic way. I drove though a rural part of Northern Florida and saw many horse farms and cows. I liked that. I was at Lucy and Nancy’s rented condo by late afternoon.

Though I was only in Florida for a four-day visit, during that time the world as I had known it changed. The coronavirus Covid 19 had arrived, people were becoming frightened, and steps were being taken to slow the spread. One thing I will never forget was visiting a grocery store near the condo. On my first morning I went there to pick up a few items. It was a busy place, with young people arriving for Spring Break and stocking up for the week’s vacation. Florida had not cancelled Spring Break and students from all over the country descended on beach towns all over the

state. I saw full carts of groceries leaving the store amidst the laughter of the happy students. As I headed home four days later, I stopped at the same store to get provisions for my cooler for my return trip to Massachusetts. I cannot describe the way the store had changed. Entire aisles were stripped. There were NO paper products. No tissues, no paper towels, no napkins and no toilet paper. There were no cleaning products like bleach or any kind of sanitizer. The frozen foods were gone, including meats. There were no packaged products like macaroni and cheese, and no pasta at all. Luckily for me, there was fresh food. I was able to by a bag of salad mix, cucumbers and tomatoes, plus hummus and other easy to eat prepared foods. And beer. There was beer.

I had a fun visit with my friends though restaurants and bars were closing. We listened to the news as everything around the country was closing including schools in Massachusetts. So strange and scary.

I let my maps program choose my route home. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself on beautiful back roads through Georgia and North Carolina. I suspect I was re-routed there as I-95 was crowded with travelers heading north. We all wanted