Field Road is not far from the Connecticut River. The river was in a ruinous state when I lived near it, which did not keep me from going there. Kids are mesmerized by animal decay, and the DDT contaminated fish, washed up on the shore, certainly qualified as mesmerizing.
The road to the river ran from Field Road, between Tomasone’s and Mr. and Mrs. Duncan’s. Their son went to Yale; I was too young, then, to know what the big deal was. We weren’t supposed to venture anywhere near the river without an adult but, of course, we did. The old dirt road was wonderful of itself. Great, leafy, green trees branched overhead creating a sheltering ceiling of dappled cool on hot summer days.
We were a ragtag band of cousins and neighbors; Fulbrooks, Tomasones, Kozaryns, Marinos, and Nevicos, usually accompanied by the Tomasone’s faithful dog Hansie, a Weimaraner, who got one of his eyes poked out by a tree branch. As I recall, Big Nick Tomasone calmly took Hansie to the vet to be treated and have his eye stitched closed. I think he cried afterward. It was a terrible accident and Nicky and Bobby were brokenhearted over Hansie’s injury.
A path ran from our house to a small garage behind Uncle Eddie’s house. The garage was another place we weren’t supposed to be. It was full of irresistible, rusty, old junk, wafting an intoxicating, moldy aroma. Our mothers consulted one another about tetanus shots and cautioned us regarding wild, rabid animals. Next to Uncle Eddie’s house was my cousin Carol’s, then Tomasone’s house.
There were litters of newborn puppies that we searched out, even after we were told not to because their mothers wouldn’t feed them if we handled them. We loved the puppies. Our mothers spent considerable time bottle feeding and cleaning up after us, and our animals.
The mothers were always in the background ready with a band-aid or Kool-Aid. They sat in lawn chairs visiting and, I’m sure, questioning their changing world. Field Road was a haven of familial security. The memories I have are vibrantly colorful, mostly happy, ones.
The happy, hodge-podge of Polish and Italian men and children was governed by capable women. We had friends, aunts, cousins, and Nans, along with the wise and ancient GrammaMartin (spoken quickly, pronounced as one REVERENT word) on Field Road.