Journeying Home Again

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I hadn’t journeyed home to Patagonia in awhile, but this trip was a celebration I would not miss – the three-year reunion of Paton supporters who had been instrumental in “saving” Paton’s Birder Haven. The weekend also marked Tucson Audubon’s Capital Campaign Kick-off to fund improvements to the house. While there, I had the great honor of sharing from my book, Journey Home: How a Simple Act of Kindness Led to the Creation of a Living Legacy” — the story about my parents, Wally & Marion Paton and the creation of their world-renowned birdwatching backyard.

Entering the yard, so familiar, yet different now, I was immediately struck by all the improvements completed by Tucson Audubon Society since my last visit two years ago. My first stop – the Paton Legacy Sign erected in the front yard. What a thrill to see my parents honored for creating this birding mecca that still attracts thousands of visitors each year from all parts of the globe. While reading the sign, a couple from British Columbia approached — their first visit to Paton’s. “Where do we pay?” was their first question to me. “There is no entrance fee,” I replied — a tradition my parents established decades ago and continues today. The “sugar fund,” originally an old coffee can hung on the fence,  now a spiffy donation box, remains strictly voluntary.

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Paton Legacy Sign, Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds, April 2017

After three glorious days during which Paton supporters were treated to some fabulous spring migration birding, tours of the property by various Tucson Audubon staff involved in improvement projects, talks by hummingbird expert, Sheri Williamson, of Southern Arizona Birding Observatory (SABO) and Jesus Garcia, Director of the Kino Heritage Fruit Tree Project at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, it was time to say goodbye once again.

As I wandered the property on that last day, I spent a few moments in the yard reflecting at some special spots. My Dad’s pecan tree still thrives in the back yard, bigger and more robust than ever, still producing a good amount of pecans each year. I sat a good while on my parents’ memorial bench and reflected on the beauty and peacefulness of this place — the land they had nurtured for decades, still loved and nurtured. The bench had been positioned near to the site of my Dad’s former orchard in the front yard. Plans to re-establish an orchard here are underway. Jonathan Horst, Restoration Ecologist, is heading up that project.

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Wally Paton’s pecan tree, still thriving

I stopped to remember my Mom’s rose garden in the front yard, ready to pop with bloom — her passion. I sat on a bench in the Richard Grand Memorial Meadow with Carol and Paul Lamberger, long-time Paton supporters. We sat for a good while at this peaceful spot overlooking the newly created pond — all possible because of the kindness and generosity of Marcia Grand and the hard work of Tucson Audubon staff and volunteers.

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Marion Paton’s Rose Garden in the background ready to bloom

Then a very special moment happened. As I was getting in the car to leave,  Carol Lamberger inquired if the rose bushes in the front yard were my mothers. “Yes,” I answered, “she loved roses. We would always gift one or several at Mother’s Day.” Carol smiled and then promised to take special care of them for me. And in that moment I was reminded of the special magic that surrounds Patons — it seems to bring out the very best in people — it always did and continues to do so. It is the underlying essence of the place and that spirit of kindness and generosity that my parents exemplified that will continue in perpetuity. In addition, of course, to remaining one of the top birding sites in the world.

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Sitting in the Richard Grand Memorial Meadow (former Paton horse paddock) with the Lambergers

Watch a short video of how Paton’s began: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5L_dheYoQBQ

 

 

I Got “Geeked” Today

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Bonnie Paton Moon holding a copy of her new book, Journey Home

Journey Home – How a Simple Act of Kindness Led to the Creation of a Living Legacy, the story behind the creation of her parents’ birding mecca, Paton’s Birder Haven in Patagonia, AZ

Available now  at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Journey-Home-Simple-Kindness-Creation/dp/0997831405

Available directly from the author: https://www.createspace.com/6425627

The word “geek” derived from English dialect, which means “fool” or “freak,” took on new meaning when it returned to popularity in the mid-1990’s during the dot.com bubble of 1995-2000. The definition has changed over time and today there is no definitive meaning. I kind of like the meaning that the Urban Dictionary uses to describe “geeking” — “overly excited about a single thing” or the Merriam-Webster definition of “Geek” – “a person who is very interested in a particular field or activity.” There are many different categories of geeks from science geeks, math geeks, computer geeks and now — after the latest campaign at the Westport Public Library, in Westport, CT — even “hummingbird geeks.”

When our local library first announced in their monthly newsletter that they were embarking on a campaign to promote the Library with a series of “geek” photos I filed it away in the back of my mind and forgot about it.  As the weeks passed, I noticed more and more pictures being posted on the Library website of people with items that they “geek”. All kinds of subjects appeared on the Library website “geek” page. Patrons were geeked with their favorite animal – many dogs of different breeds, and cats, Earthplace was geeked with their resident owl, grandparents  geeked their grandkids, siblings and lovers geeked each other, sports enthusiasts showed up with skis, tennis rackets, soccer balls. Even some notable patrons like David Pogue, former New York Times Technology Writer and Tech Correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning showed up to “geek” technology and music.  Pogue who has filmed four specials for Nova and currently writes his “TechnoFiles” column for Scientific American also geeks music.

As the Library “Geek” campaign continued, the proof of my book Journey Home arrived on my doorstep — the story about my parents, Wally and Marion Paton, who over the course of several decades created a world-renowned birding “mecca” in their back yard. I had spent the prior 2 1/2 years in efforts to preserve and protect their tiny 1-acre parcel of birding paradise in Patagonia, Arizona which became known as Paton’s Birder Haven and is now called Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds. Visited by thousands each year from all corners of the world, it all started because of a rare and unusual hummingbird species, the Violet-crowned Hummingbird. These flying jewels showed up at my parents’ feeders creating quite a stir in the birding world. Such a stir that well-known wildlife photographer, Arthur Morris from NYC came knocking at my parents’ door one day in 1992 with his camera equipment wanting to take some photos. He took lots of photos and when he returned to New York, Mr. Morris wrote an article entitled “Hummingbird Hosts” which appeared in Bird Watcher’s Digest. That encounter and the decision that it sparked in my parents’ minds would change the course of their lives and the lives of thousands of birders and wildlife enthusiasts forever.

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Arthur Morris’ article entitled “Hummingbird Hosts” appeared in the May/June 1992 Issue (cover above)

What better subject for me to “Geek” than hummingbirds along with my newly completed book, Journey Home – How a Simple Act of Kindness Led to the Creation of a Living Legacy. So I made a note in my weekly calendar to go to the next “Geek” photo session to have my picture taken with the single thing that I am overly excited about these days.  Five hundred and nine library patrons were “Geeked” — I was proud to be among them and to share my parents’ story.

Read more about what’s going on at Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds: http://tucsonaudubon.org/go-birding/tucson-audubons-paton-center-for-hummingbirds/

The Garfield House, 332 Goodman’s Hill Road, Sudbury, Massachusetts 1867-present

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My mother’s handwritten note on back of postcard showing her place of birth at 332 Goodman’s Hill Road

This postcard, depicting my mother’s childhood home, was most likely made sometime between 1915-1930. Three distinctive characteristics help determine its age – the divided back, the white border, and the real photo. In 1907, the United States Post Office issued Order #539 allowing postcards to have a separate space on the back  for both correspondence and the address. It became known as the “divided back period.” The white border on the front is indicative of the period between 1915 and 1930  known as the “white border period.” To save money on printing costs, manufacturers would leave a white border around the image. Throughout the “divided back” and “white border” period something called the “real photo” postcard became hugely popular. “Real Photo” postcards were first produced using the Kodak “postcard camera.” The camera used post card size film. Developed photos were then mounted on postcard backs.

Why a postcard with the image of my mother’s house was produced, I don’t know. Perhaps a local event like a parade or other celebration was the reason. Considering the popularity of  postcards during this period it could be that my grandparents, Sherrold and Jessie Garfield, had a photo postcard made for personal reasons. I found the postcard while going through my mother’s things after she had passed in 2009. By then the postcard was nearly 100 years old. The “Garfield House” as it is known today, has undergone many renovations throughout its long history. An excerpt from one of the house and barn tours of historic homes in Sudbury reads as follows:

 “The original owner of this home, John W. Garfield, Sr.  [my great, great grandfather] ran the general store in the center of town with his son-in-law, William Parmenter in the late 1800’s.  Their store stood on the site of the current Veterans Park for many years, and the second floor served as a schoolhouse.  For a short time, the schoolmaster was James A. Garfield, a distant cousin to John, who later became President of the United States.  The store was sold in the 1920’s to Henry Ford, who moved the building to his property in Marlborough; it still stands today, as the Wayside Country Store on the Boston Post Road, not far from the Wayside Inn.”- Quote from Farm & Barn Tour, Sudbury Historical Society – 2005

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Garfield General Store – left with horse and sleigh in front – downtown Sudbury, MA

 Sherrold Garfield sold the house in the early 1950’s. My mother, Marion Garfield Paton and her family would be the last generation of Garfields to live there. During the last few years several of the new owners have contacted me to share their special memories of living in this historic and charming farmhouse.

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My mom (Marion Garfield Paton) in middle surrounded by Bess and Bill Garfield was the last generation of Garfields to live at 332 Goodman’s Hill Road, Sudbury, MA – circa 1925

“Thank you so much for these pictures! The one of our house with the “little house” in the front took my breath away. I’ve suspected that there was once a small house in front of ours, here first, and that it may be the one across the street, based on maps and old images I’ve seen. Proof! The photo itself is just amazing, with the horses and buggy, the ladies in their long dresses, the baby trees. Wish I still had that barn too. The photo shows a one-story room with a chimney on the right side of the big house. I wonder if that was the kitchen? Long gone and replaced by a two story addition, the chimney is also gone. Would love to know when all that happened.” – Leah Carey, former owner of the Garfield House – 2015

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The Garfield Compound at 332 Goodman’s Hill Road – mid-1800’s

In this photo, my mother’s childhood home sits behind the little house that was moved across the street.  The barn and several other out buildings were also removed leaving just my mother’s birth home on the property.

Thank you so much for sharing these photos… It is so fun to live in a house that has so much history! How incredible that your parents were married here! It really is a special house. I truly love everything about it. I would love to hear more history that you have on the house and your family. It’s known as the Garfield House.”– Cindy Geis, current owner of the Garfield House – 2019

Most recently, I received an email from someone who had rented the house decades ago. He shared some of his special memories:

“I lived at this house in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I loved living there. The half attic had some things that I assume were from the store [Garfield General Store] – ice cream maker and wooden barrels – never used.”

“The half attic was above the utility/laundry room behind the kitchen wall where the oven is. The barrels looked almost new, wooden with metal straps. The ice cream maker parts also looked unused, 1 tin container that would have gone into a bucket of ice, one metal crank with a wood handle and two metal tops for the tin containers. The tops were cast iron with a gear on each one that matched the gear on the crank handle. The tops had embossed patent numbers on them, one had the patent date of 1891, the other 1889.” – Dave Maroni, former renter of 332 Goodman’s Hill Road – November 2019

The “store” that Dave refers to is the Garfield General Store. The ice cream equipment would have been in that attic for almost 100 years by the time Dave discovered it.

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The Wayside Country Store circa 1930  after Ford moved it to Marlborough as part of his plan to build an historic village around the Wayside Inn.

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Wayside Country Store, formerly the Garfield General Store as it looks today, Marlborough, MA

I contacted Cindy to see if she knew anything about a “half attic.” She didn’t, but immediately went on a search throughout the house to see if there might be a hidden space, that she had no knowledge of, where historic treasures might still be stored.  She did not find the half attic.

“I’m sure the things that were in the half attic have long gone as that’s where Bill Roys added a bedroom in probably ’82-83.”– Dave Maroni

I have not given up on finding those long lost treasures once stored away in the “half attic” at 332 Goodman’s Hill Road. I hope the person who found them knew of their significance and donated them to the Sudbury Historical Society or the Wayside Inn. Perhaps they ended up in an antique shop or  tossed away. But who knows maybe they are among the many treasures still housed at the Wayside Country Store.

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Wayside Country Store – Ice Cream stand was later converted into a candy store

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“Garfield House” as it looks today

 

 

 

 

Connecting with my Past at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, New York

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Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York, New York

In 1911, when world-renowned architect Ralph Adams Cram replaced Christopher LaFarge in the design of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC, my grandfather, Sherrold Garfield, was just 17 years old. For over 40 years my grandfather and Ralph Cram lived within a few miles of each other in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Although Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson, had offices in both Boston and New York City,  Cram longed for a home in the country.   In 1900 he and his wife moved to the quiet, rural town of Sudbury into a 22-room mansion called Whitehall. He lived here until his death in 1942.  My grandfather was born in Sudbury in 1894 and except for his military service during WWI, he would spend his entire life there,  much of that time at the Garfield family home at 332 Goodman’s Hill Road. Exactly when  my grandfather came to know Mr. Cram is not known, but I do know that upon my grandfathers discharge from the service he would  move back into his family home, marry and  search for work to support his growing family.  Jobs  were not plentiful immediately following the War, but fortunately, Mr. Cram, who traveled frequently, was looking for someone to care take his property when he was away. A significant and life changing relationship developed between the two that would ultimately encourage my grandfather to pursue his passion in building and a life-long career as a “master carpenter.”

  One of the projects that my grandfather worked on for Cram was a small chapel that Cram designed and built from 1912-1914 on his property in Sudbury. St. Elizabeth Chapel was named for both his wife and daughter, Elizabeth.   Cram believed in using local materials and local craftsman whenever possible. My grandfather and other local artisans, were among those chosen to work on the small chapel in Sudbury.

“My grandfather, Raymond L. McPhail was also hired to help build the stone chapel for Mr. Cram. I have found a few photos of him at the worksite dating back to 1912-14. He was a stone mason by trade but went on to build at least 15 large homes in Wellesley, Chestnut Hill, etc. He also worked on a couple of church construction projects for Mr. Cram. Sounds like our grandfather’s worked together.”  – E-mail to Bonnie Paton Moon from William J. McPhail – September 2019

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Construction of St. Elizabeth Chapel, Sudbury, MA – Stone from the surrounding fields was used and local craftsmen were hired for the project – 1912-1914

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St. Elizabeth Chapel, Sudbury MA – 2018

During the 1920’s, Cram’s career continued to prosper and in December of 1926 he appeared on the cover of Time magazine. During his prolific career he designed hundreds of churches, academic buildings and libraries, among them the Princeton University Chapel, the Chapel for the United States Military Academy at West Point, Rice University Campus, and Philips Exeter Academy Chapel.   Without doubt his most notable achievement, however,  was the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City – another project my grandfather worked on for Mr. Cram.  My mother talked often about staying at the Cram estate growing up when Cram and his wife traveled.   And she also talked about her Dad working on the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

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Ralph Adams Cram – 1926

Despite having lived just outside New York City for over 30 years, I had never visited St. John the Divine , but this past December would change that.

 Sitting on over 11 acres of land, the Cathedral and its surrounding park  takes up an entire city block. Today it seems out of place among the modern buildings that surround it. Once farmland, Morningside Heights in the Bronx has become a bustling city landscape crowded with restaurants, businesses and apartment buildings. Here in the midst of city sprawl sits an oasis which draws thousands of visitors each year. Not only a place of worship, the Cathedral is also a cultural center hosting concerts, exhibitions, and lectures throughout the year.  Since 1980 it has been known as “the Green Cathedral”  promoting ecology, the environment and world peace.

The interior of St. John the Divine is even more stunning than the exterior. Outlining the Nave (considered Cram’s grandest achievement) eight massive granite columns rise 124 feet from the floor. They were brought to New York from a quarry in Maine by floating them down the river, rolling them across the city and hoisting them into place.  Just above the entrance is  the Great Rose Window. Forty feet in diameter it is the third largest in the world and holds over 10,000 pieces of glass.

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“The Green Cathedral” promotes ecology, the environment and world peace

Among the many concerts held at  the Cathedral throughout the year, one is Paul Winter’s Concert for the Winter Solstice. What a stunning venue for this celebration which marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. And Paul Winter’s “earth music” fits the celebration perfectly. Sitting in the Nave surrounded by spiritual music, ones attention cannot help but be drawn upward to the magnificent vaulted ceiling. At one point during the concert  bolts of “lightning” flash across it, “thunder” roars, and then inch by inch “sunlight” radiates down the Nave representing the increasing light of the days to come. I  imagine my grandfather working here, decades ago. How exciting it must have been to be a part of building this magnificent Cathedral.

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Preparing for the Winter Solstice Concert at the Cathedral of St John the Divine, December 2019

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Celebrating the coming of spring,  light slowly spreads throughout the entire cathedral – December 2019

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The Great Rose Window – the third largest  in the world contains over 10,000 pieces of glass

Garfield Family History – Tracing my mother’s early roots in America (Marion Garfield Paton)

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Founding Father’s Monument in Watertown, Massachusetts – Edward Garfield is listed as a founding father

“It actually looks like we have relatives who were among the first settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts – which I didn’t know any of the three times I lived there!” – Kelly Paton Fitzgerald

Even before Boston became a town, there was Watertown.  In 1630, a group of emigrants from England landed here on the banks of the Charles River  and started a new life. One of those founding fathers, Edward Garfield (1583- 1672) was the 1st of my Garfield relatives to arrive in the “New World.” His name, along with 115 other men are inscribed on the Founding Father’s Monument. Each played a significant role in the early years in Watertown’s history.

Edward Garfield was born in Hillmorton, Warwickshire,  England in 1583 to parents Thomas and Agnes Garfield. He left for the new world in 1630 aboard The Arbella along with fellow passengers Governor Winthrop (1st Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony) and Sir Richard Saltonstall (image depicted on the statue). According to the Watertown records Edward held the position of selectman in the years 1638, 1655 and 1661 and was chosen as Constable in 1661. It was a time of struggle with Native Americans and neighboring communities.  “Conflict occurred over a wide variety of issues: land allocation, administrative accountability, religious orthodoxy and exclusivity, generational and gender differences, livestock and fencing, haves and have-nots.”- Divided We Stand, Watertown, Massachusetts 1630-1680, by Roger Thompson

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Edward Garfield listed 6th from the bottom – Watertown Founder’s Monument

 

When I received my niece’s email about finding Edward in Watertown, I googled the Watertown Founder’s Monument and came across some interesting sites. One called “Garfield Family History” contains historical information about all the many branches of the Garfield family, including Edward.

There is also a site called the “Garfield History Newsletter” which contains new information regarding any of the Garfield family trees. This month (October 2019) includes a review of the above mentioned book by Roger Thompson.

“The Garfield Connection: While this book does not give any real new or useful information directly on our Garfield heritage, it does give us a great insight into how our first two generations, Edward and his children, would have lived along side their neighbors. The few mentions of the family appear from Joan Buckminster Garfield (Edward’s third wife), Joseph Garfield and his wife Sarah Gale.  Definitely a must read for history and genealogy lovers.”

Another site allows membership into “The Garfield Society” – assuming you can prove that you are a direct descendant of Edward Garfield. An official certificate is then issued which shows the ship that carried Edward to America (The Arbella) in 1630 and the Garfield Family Crest.

Now we can also confirm that we are related to President James A. Garfield.

“Just another little tidbit for you family  history buffs.  I was finally able to trace the connection between us and President James A. Garfield!  He was my 4th cousin 3x removed.  His great, great, grandfather Thomas Garfield was brothers with my 5th (your 4th) great grandfather, Elisha Garfield.  Cool, right?  So their father (also Thomas Garfield) was both of our direct ancestors. I’ve got this line traced all the way back to England and to colonial America.” – Kelly Paton Fitzgerald

Yes!  “Cool” indeed.

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Certificate of Membership into the Edward Garfield Society

In Search of John W. Garfield, Jr.

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Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Sleepy Hollow in Concord, Massachusetts is considered one the most beautiful cemeteries in the United States. Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was buried here, some 27 years after its completion, was instrumental in ensuring its beauty.  A member of the Concord Cemetery Committee he collaborated with landscape architects Cleveland and Copeland throughout the project until the Dedication in 1855.  A public garden for decades before becoming a cemetery, the goal was to retain the natural beauty of the landscape by incorporating headstones among winding paths, existing trees and wild plants. It was important to Emerson and the architects that the space benefit the living as well as honor those who had passed on. It succeeds in doing both.

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Winding paths cut through the park-like setting

Author’s Ridge, as it is aptly named, is a section of Sleepy Hollow. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Louisa May Alcott are all buried here. Thousands of visitors come here each year, many leaving behind various writing instruments, some gently pushed into the soil in a symbolic gesture to connect spiritually – hoping perhaps to find inspiration. Others leave feathers, stones or pine cones, even library cards and handwritten notes.

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Leaving a pencil at the grave of Henry David Thoreau

Normally I wouldn’t choose to spend a family vacation day hanging out in a cemetery. But I’d been hearing a lot about this place from other family members and I was on a mission. In our attempts to find our great grandfather’s burial place our family has made some interesting discoveries. “And don’t forget about Concord,” Aunt Bess often repeated when we would speak of family history.  At the time, her comment didn’t mean much to me. I only knew of my Garfield relatives being buried in Sudbury where most of them had lived. I filed away her advice and forgot about it.  It wasn’t until years later, while I was writing a book about my parents, that I became interested in our family history. A lot of what has been uncovered since is thanks to my niece, Kelly, who has become our family’s ancestry sleuth.

I recently learned that some of my relatives are buried among the literary giants at Sleepy Hollow, just a short walk from the famous Author’s Ridge. Sleepy Hollow is a huge place. Encompassing some 119 acres, it is easy to get lost here. Trip Advisor (which rates Sleepy Hollow at a 4.7) advises getting a map before visiting. If you do get lost, no worries, it is as described – a beautiful park. And there are many other graves here to provide hours of interest.  Among those buried here: the first woman to be issued a driver’s license; the composer of the Christmas song “The Little Drummer Boy”; the first manufacturer of pencils in the United States; the inventor of the Concord grape; Dr. Seuss; and famed sculptor Daniel Chester French, responsible for the first Minute Man Statue in Concord and the monumental statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial.

As one might expect in a town like Concord there are many soldiers buried here. And then there are just ordinary folk like members of my family – the Garfield’s. John W. Garfield, Sr.; his two wives; and a daughter who died at age 5 years and 11 months; Enoch and Frank R. Garfield and each of their 2 wives – they are all buried  here. Many other Garfield headstones dot the knoll.

Noticeably absent from our family plot is John W. Garfield Jr., my great grandfather. Why is he not buried here with the rest of the family members; or his wife, Martha Ella Sanford, mother of my Grampy Garfield, grandmother to my mom, Marion Garfield Paton, and her two siblings, Bess and Bill Garfield.   Was he for some reason ostracized from the rest of the family? He would die fairly young, at age 55. John’s wife was just 42 when he passed.  According to the town records, Martha  would remain in Sudbury for the next 15-20 years. Then we discovered her again having moved to Wakefield.

She is in the Sudbury directory in 1920, 1926, and 1930. After that, it is unclear to me where she went. I found one possible lead with a widowed Martha Garfield living in Wakefield, MA as a “servant” in 1935/40. The birth year for this Martha was right, but I hadn’t found any definitive clues to confirm it was really her or not. Until JUST NOW when I was able to dig a little more into the man for whom Martha was a “servant”- someone named Albert Cummings. He was also widowed and upon further searching I came to realize that they actually got married and she is buried with him up in Wakefield. She outlived the new guy by several (9) years as well and died at the ripe old age of 88 in 1961.” Kelly Paton Fitzgerald

According to Kelly, when you enter John W. Garfield in “Find a Grave” only John Sr. comes up as being buried at Sleepy Hollow. But just a few weeks ago Kelly uncovered  a copy of John Jr.’s death certificate which clearly states that he is buried in Concord –  exactly where that might be  remains a mystery, but there is no physical indication that he is here among those in the Garfield plot at Sleepy Hollow.

The mystery hunt for John Jr. continues!” Kelly

 

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Gravesite of John W. Garfield Sr. and his two wives. There is no indication that John Jr.is buried here

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John W. Garfield Jr. my grandfather, Sherrold, in the center, Martha Ella Sanford Garfield on right holding Sherrold’s brother, Babe

 

 

Wally Paton and the Space Program

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“ Did you ever watch a rocket launch and observe that rocket as it’s taking off? It gets up, clears the tower, and then does a quarter of a turn. We make the unit that does that quarter of a turn, and that same unit was used in the Lem vehicle for the descent onto the moon. And again it was used as a homing device when the Lem capsule left the moon to home in on the mother ship orbiting the moon.  It was very satisfying to be part of that. You look up and you see one of them things glow and you know that you had your hands on some of the stuff that’s in there. At least with me, it gives me kind of a funny feeling to know that I actually worked on some of the stuff that goes in there.” ─Wally Paton (Excerpt from Journey Home by Bonnie Paton Moon)

My dad worked for Microwave Development Labs, and later a subsidiary called Fabraze Corporation, for 32 years.  MDL was known for its innovative microwave solutions and for designing and manufacturing parts for the NASA Apollo Moon Program in the 1960’s and other guided missile components.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of man landing on the Moon, I am reminded of my Dad’s pride in playing a small part in that amazing feat.  Even watching it today, I shake my head  in disbelief at the many nerve wracking moments – rockets self-destructing on the launch pad or shortly after –  astronauts calmly overcoming what seem like impossible hurtles and finally making their way back to Earth.

After the launch of Sputnik in 1957 my family took a personal interest in the space program. At Dad’s prompting, we often ventured outside after dinner to watch the tiny orb float through the evening sky. I don’t know if it was because Dad’s job was in the aerospace industry or because my brother was a science nerd, but during the years following the Sputnik launch, the Paton family developed our own “space” program. We crafted and launched hundreds of our own handmade matchstick rockets in the backyard. Made simply by rolling a piece of aluminum foil into a hollow tube, stuff with match heads and ignite. You could send those little missiles quite a distance, once you’ve perfected the technique. Not unlike NASA, however, there were always those unexpected explosions or total duds on the launch pad or rockets veering off course to unknown places.

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Match rocket built with aluminum foil and match heads

When my brother was in high school he built a good size, professional looking aluminum rocket for his science fair project. Sleek and shiny it had all the right stuff for flight, or so we thought. My dad helped craft it, complete with a nose cone and fins. The intention was, of course, to launch it after the science fair was over. A site for launch was carefully chosen in our field across the street from our house. Ample space was needed for the unknown flight path, and big boulders and trees were needed to hide in case of a mishap.

It was exciting watching my dad and brother carry their creation up the road for launch, others of us following behind in anticipation. I don’t really remember if the launch was a success or even if the rocket got off the launch pad – I think it must have flown a little distance before crashing to the ground. But like NASA, we were not discouraged. The building and the thrill of the anticipated launch were more than worth the final outcome – at least for me.

For us and a number of neighborhood kids, the Paton’s “space” program provided hours of fun and many great memories. A couple of years ago I received an email from a childhood friend about his experience with the Paton family “space” program.

“Do you remember a young red head who used to come over to Ward Rd to hang out with your brothers? I have many wonderful memories of your family.

“Several days ago I was looking at the Southboro Historical Society website when I noticed a post about 5 Ward Rd. I saw your name and I knew it was you. Yes, the McCarthy’s moved to the West end of town in 1957 to the house on the hill at 14 Ward Rd. In 1962 we moved to 10 Bigalow Rd. I have so many memories of my childhood in that little neighborhood. I remember the barn on your property before your father had it taken down. I remember the collie dog you had. I remember when your sister was born. Most of all, I remember I could go find someone to hang out with at either the Wilson’s or the Paton’s. If I went to the Wilson’s it was sports, sports, sports. If I went to the Paton’s there was always something I enjoyed doing. I remember Red teaching me how to make rockets out of aluminum foil and match heads. I remember Sonny and I learning our first chords on guitars, so somehow I am not surprised to read about the Birder Haven from a family that was always involved in science and the arts.” – Southborough, MA childhood friend

In the early 1970’s, Fabraze decided to open a plant across the border in Sonora, Mexico. It necessitated a move to Arizona. My parents were in their late 40’s and not particularly anxious to move more than half way across the country and leave their beloved New England. But, it would be the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in their lives, culminating in the creation of their world famous backyard becoming their legacy called Paton’s Birder Haven and today known as Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds.

“But Dr. Riblet and Fabraze Corporation were building dreams of their own and they wanted my dad to be part of them. As labor costs in the States continued to rise, Dr. Riblet decided to open yet another plant across the border from Nogales, Arizona, in Sonora, Mexico. Again he asked Dad to head up the operations. He was charged with setting up this plant from the ground up— finding a building, purchasing equipment, and hiring and teaching the workers how to do the various jobs involved in the lost wax process. In 1974, they packed up the Blazer for the last time and made the trip across the country with my sister, Jackie, who was ten at the time. Dad’s right-hand man in setting up the new foundry was a Mexican citizen named Hector. Hector became a regular visitor to our home even before the move to Arizona. Hector spent months at our house learning the trade from Dad. In his off hours, Hector liked to cook and enjoyed teaching Mom the art of Mexican cooking. Hector made specialties never tasted before, cutting up tomatoes, onions and chilies in tiny pieces, making beans that were very different from Mom’s traditional homemade Boston baked ones; and it seemed like he added lime juice to everything. My parents were intrigued with this new culture. There were more dreams to come and perhaps the best was yet to be. It must have been a difficult decision, moving across the country at their age, leaving their “dream house” and their cottage in Maine for what, at the time, seemed like the road less traveled. But that decision did indeed make a difference not only in their lives, but in the lives of thousands.” (Excerpt from Journey Home: How a Simple Act of Kindness Led to the Creation of a Living Legacy by Bonnie Paton Moon)

Wally & Marion Farewell to Fabraze (5)

Wally & Marion Paton saying farewell to colleagues at Fabraze in New Hampshire as they head to Arizona. My Dad was very proud of his work with the space program.

GARDENING WITH DAD

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When my dad was a teenager he got a job at Gray’s Garden Center and Nursery in Wells, Maine. It was a quick bike ride from  his home at the Bald Hill Granite Quarry. By this time he’d had years of experience in gardening.  Having grown up during the Depression, he learned that a family’s vegetable garden could make a huge difference in the quality of life.

 “We lived in Maine. The Depression was very, very bad in that area, but we lived pretty good. This quarry was on an old farm and there was quite a bit – perhaps 40 or 50 acres of open field. We had a big garden – we raised all our own vegetables. We planted about an acre to an acre and a half.” – Wally Paton

Gray’s was a small family run business. They grew flowers, shrubs, and vegetables. Here Dad would learn about propagation, soil composition, and landscaping.  It would become a life-long passion.

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Wally Paton worked at Grays Garden Center & Nursery while in high school

Dad’s second job, following his discharge from the Air Force at the end of World War II, was at Wyman’s Nursery in Framingham, Massachusetts – a short distance from where he and Mom lived on Marion Street in Natick.  Just 22 years old, he had enlisted in pilot training school right out of high school so his work experience was limited. He thought about becoming a commercial airline pilot but, with the birth of their first child, Mom wasn’t crazy about that idea. He would soon find work, however, in an area that he knew something about – gardening. It was the beginning of a housing boom and a population explosion as the soldiers returned home and settled down in houses purchased with the help of the GI bill. My parents were no exception.

03-22 Wally and baby Red

2 Marion Street, Natick, Massachusetts

Wyman’s Nursery in Framingham, Massachusetts was no small operation. They had been around for decades and owned hundreds of acres just off Route 9. In the 1950’s they sold off a small portion of their vast acreage for the building of the first mall in America called Shopper’s World – one of my favorite hang outs as a teenager.

Wyman’s was well-known for the extensive stock they carried. A catalog from 1919 shows hundreds of different species of trees and shrubs listed alphabetically. The book includes directions to their nursery from all points in New England – there was even a train stop at Wyman’s. It would be here that Dad would gain extensive knowledge about trees, shrubs, flowers and landscaping. Richard M. Wyman, the owner was also an educator for the Massachusetts College of Agriculture. He would write several  books and catalogs over the decades, among them Beautiful Home Surroundings and Landscaping and Gardening: A Book of Landscaping Suggestions, Planting and After-care. Wyman’s was the perfect place for Dad to hone his skills in all things gardening.

 I remember as a young child my dad driving me and my brothers to Wyman’s – a field trip of sorts. This was after his career had taken a different path. He would go on to work as a machinist and later a manager for Microwave Development Labs in Natick which made parts for the aerospace industry. But on this day, while walking around Wyman’s,  as Dad pointed out the various trees and shrubs, I couldn’t help but feel his passion – even if, at the time, I didn’t quite get the intrigue.

After Natick, my parents moved to our farm in Southborough, Massachusetts where we lived for the next 18 years.  Here with 16 acres surrounding a farmhouse and a barn, Dad would have an opportunity to begin testing his own skills as a vegetable gardener.  He would experiment with soil PH and various additives until he developed the right mix and he produced remarkable results. We lived off that garden in the summer and, with canning and freezing, most of the rest of the year as well.

Following Wyman’s he spent the rest of his career working in an office, but that love of the land – that passion for nurturing the soil – never left him and continued to play a significant part in his life throughout his 78 years. In later years, that passion, and my mother’s passion for flowers,  would be the catalyst in transforming their Patagonia, Arizona yard into a green oasis attracting birds and then birders from all over the world to the mecca which became known as Paton’s Birder Haven. Now known as Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds, it would become their legacy.

Throughout his life, whenever the opportunity arose, Dad would share his knowledge with his children and grandchildren or just about anyone who expressed an interest.

When my husband and I bought our first house, one of our priorities was to plant a vegetable garden.  The thought of growing my own fresh vegetables on my very own land was exciting. That first spring, we planted 6 fruit trees (apples, peach, pear – 2 of each) and we started digging up the back yard for planting vegetables. My dad, who we knew was an expert in all things garden, offered advice. He even mailed us some asparagus crowns from his own garden in Arizona. The package arrived  with a handwritten note, one of only a few letters I ever received from him. Gardening was a way to connect with him – that and talking about the Boston Red Sox. I learned this early on and I used it many times to strike up conversations with him. In high school and college I worked for him during the summer at Fabraze Corp. Fabraze had recently opened a plant in Nashua, New Hampshire. My parents were still living in Southborough, awaiting the move to their new house in Londonderry, so the commute was long. On our way to work, Dad would always stop at Dick’s Spa in downtown Southborough to pick up the Boston Globe. Immediately he would turn to the sports pages. Then he would hand the paper over to me and I would do the same. I often read to him about the highlights of last night’s game. I knew talking about sports would hold his attention. Gardening had the same effect.

09-8 Mom and Dad with Red Sox hat

Wally & Marion Paton in front of Mom’s rose garden – Dad with his Red Sox cap

I don’t remember our  garden at our first home being a huge success. We had a lot of tall trees surrounding our property and sun was not abundant. But really at that point it was more about the doing and the connection with Dad that made the whole project so special for me.

My niece, Emily, who grew up in Patagonia, Arizona, just down the road from my parents recalls lessons she learned from my dad in her own vegetable garden planted in their yard.

“I had hand tilled a 10×10 plot on the side of the grain room closest to the road for my first garden. If I remember correctly, I was seriously impressed and inspired when I saw a picture of grandpa’s garden. So mine, of course, needed to be in the same place as his! I later expanded that section, tilled up the entire section where their chicken coop once was and added a new 6x6ish plot right in the middle of the yard for corn. Grandma watered it all for me religiously on days I didn’t go over. Her favorite was corn. I think I may have grown the corn only one or two years, but the ears were small and almost every single ear got a worm. Grandma laughed and said she didn’t mind sharing.

By the last year I grew 3 varieties of tomatoes, yellow beans, green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumber, bell peppers, 2 or 3 kinds of hot peppers, radishes. Grandpa always reminded me to plant veggies of different varieties far away from one another so they didn’t cross pollinate. He also instructed me on how to build mounds for squash and rows for corn. One year the grasshoppers ate every last leaf off of my beans, but didn’t touch the actual green beans. I was amazed the plants survived! I think I tried melon and pumpkins that year too.

Thanks to them I LOVE the idea of living off of our own land and being 100% familiar with the food I eat, including raising and hunting your own meat. To this day I try to only buy meat and veggies from farmers that I’ve met, whenever possible. I’ve had a garden more years than not since my time in Patagonia. And I even started a mini community garden with some coworkers in college.

In the pictures I saw of grandpa’s garden, I remember seeing lots of leafy greens. He and Dick Volts told me to grow peanuts or potatoes to replenish the soil. I also occasionally added vermiculite to the soil before planting. Grandma insisted it would keep moisture in the soil. But I remember that soil being so nice and rich, once I tilled it and kept it watered. Especially/obviously where the chicken coop once was!” – Emily Covey Wojtowicz, granddaughter of Wally & Marion Paton

Over the years I became more of a flower gardener, like my mom, but this year I decided to join our  Community Garden and grow vegetables again.  My dad would be proud to see my neatly aligned rows of lettuce and kale and the mounds for squash and pumpkins, all thriving in full sun without the offending deer, chipmunks and groundhog competing for my bounty. I take great pride and think of my dad each time I reach for the hoe to clear the weeds from among my rows, a job my dad insisted on and I resisted as a kid. I now pass on the joys of working in the soil to my grand kids and they take pride in watching the fruits of our labor grow. Gardening is in our blood and there is no doubt where that came from.

“Even merely to be in a garden – is nothing less than a triumph of resistance against the merciless race of modern life…” – Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

Marion Garfield Paton’s Childhood Home – Sudbury, MA

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Marion Garfield Paton - Goodman Hill Rd. Sudbury, MA (2)

Marion Garfield’s birthplace – 332 Goodman’s Hill Road, Sudbury, MA

 

A couple weeks ago a message from a complete stranger arrived in my Inbox.

“Would love to connect with you. I now own 332 Goodman’s Hill Road, Marion’s childhood home. I’d love to hear more about your family and welcome you for a visit at any time!” – Cindy

When I told my brother George about the email, he responded:

What might be interesting about Gramps old house is that Mom and Dad were married there and their formal photo of the event was shot inside that house.”

For as long as I can remember, my parents’ wedding picture sat on their bedroom bureau. I never thought about where they had been married or where the picture was taken. I have never been inside the house at 332 Goodman’s Hill Road, where my mother was born and spent her childhood and was later married.   The only house I remember visiting was the one my grandfather built himself right next door to #332 – a small ranch that suited him when his children had grown and left home.

Known today as the Garfield House, 332 Goodman’s Hill Road was in the Garfield family for almost a century. The house was once part of a compound consisting of at least two houses and a barn. My great, great grandfather, John W. Garfield Sr. and my great grandfather, John W. Garfield, Jr. both lived there. My grandfather, Sherrold Garfield and my grandmother, Jessie Kilpatrick Garfield lived there and raised their three children, Bessie, Marion and Bill Garfield there.

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Garfield Compound. My mother’s childhood home stands behind the house in the foreground. My great grandfather is pictured in the wagon.

John W. Garfield Sr. owned the Garfield-Parmenter General Store which was originally located in downtown Sudbury. Henry Ford, of automobile fame,  purchased the store from the Garfields in 1929 and had it moved to Marlboro, MA not far from the Wayside Inn. Today it is known as the Wayside Country Store. In 1923, the year my Mom was born, Ford purchased the Wayside Inn. His plan was to restore the Inn and create an historical village – the first of its kind in the United States. From the years 1923-1945, Ford worked on his project which today consists of the Wayside Inn, a fully operational gristmill, the Martha-Mary Chapel and the Little Red School House (of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” fame). Henry Ford would be the last private owner of the property. It is now protected under the National Trust of Historic Preservation.

My great grandfather, John Garfield Jr. had a blacksmith and wheelwright shop in the Mill Village section of Sudbury. My grandfather, Sherrold, worked there as a child. Sherrold would later go on to become a skilled carpenter, helping to build many homes in Sudbury as the suburbs of Boston continued to spread further from the city center. As a child I heard many times about my grandfather working for Ralph Adams Cram, a famous architect who lived in Sudbury and was responsible for designing many churches including St. John the Divine in New York City. My mother often told the story of how her father helped build it.

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Wally & Marion Paton on their wedding day, August 13, 1944 – Sudbury, MA

 

I gathered some of this historical information together along with some photos and forwarded them  to Cindy. She responded:

Hi Bonnie!  Thank you so much for sharing these photos (and the ones from your previous email).  It is so fun to live in a house that has so much history!  I have gone to the town library archives and done a bit of digging around myself, but you have firsthand knowledge!  I will walk around the house and take some recent pictures for you to see.  You might also want to do a google search for 332 Goodman’s Hill Road.  Since it was just sold (to me), there are still pictures online from the realtor.  If you are out this way, it would be really fun to try to figure out exactly where in the house the picture above was taken.  I can’t yet figure that out. How incredible that your parents were married here!  It really is a special house.  I truly love everything about it.

 I would LOVE to hear any more history that you have on the house and your family.   It’s known as the Garfield house.

And truly… you have an open invitation any time!” – Cindy

I hope one day to re-visit 332 Goodman’s Hill Road. This time,  I’d love to see the inside of the house – perhaps find the exact spot where my parents stood almost 75 years ago, looking so young and full of hope.

01-27 Garfield's home 2016 - 332 Goodmans Hill Road, Sudbury MA

332 Goodman’s Hill Road, Sudbury, MA as it looks today