night the police caught some boys in the
act. The lawyer repre-senting the miscreants telephoned me to see how
strongly I felt about the transgression. Well, — if a prominent citizen
like my father did that sort of thing, what could I say?
Ours was a remote section of town. Going north on Highland Street
the nearest house, except for our farmhouse, was about a quarter of a
mile away. It belonged to General Paine, and was used only in the
spring and fall until the John Paine family winterized it and
moved there in 1916.
When I was old enough to go to school I became increasingly
conscious of the remoteness of our place, especially with no
neighborhood children my age to play with. Perhaps this was driven
home hardest one winter afternoon, when I was walking away from Winsor's
skating pond with Helen Paine, who later became my wife. I pointed at a
large house and asked, "Whose is that big house
with the red roof?"
"The Blake's, silly," was her scornful reply. "You live so far
away from things you don't know anyone."
This remark hurt and when, a few years later, I learned that
she and her family were moving into her grandfather's house a
single thought crossed my mind — "I wonder how she's going to like it —
living so far away from everything."
Going south on Highland Street there was better than a mile
of uninhabited country, except for the Nolte's camp, a long way
off the road and used only in summer. This section, notwithstand-ing a
sinister aspect which I shall describe later, offered a variety
of scenery and was ideal for anyone who wanted to take a walk
in the quiet of the country. From the high pastureland at the
crest of the hill you could see Mt. Wachusett, Mt. Monadnock,