After a lazy summer we decide to leave Belvidere because we see that the house can’t be heated during the winter and its already getting a little chilly. Also, we are worried about the long term prospects of squatting, what if the actual owners come around? Also, we are bored.
The group appoints me to find another house. Somehow I have developed a chameleon ability to look straight when necessary and speak like a professional, so I drive to town with a pocketful of dimes for the pay phone. Using the yellow pages, I call real estate agents at random, all over the state, say that my husband and I are looking for a house to rent. I am a teacher, I say. My sister may be staying with us part of the time, I say. I make it up as I go along.
I hit a home run with my call to an agent in Randolph. He has just the place for us, a client bought a farm with two houses and is moving up from New Jersey next month. She’d told him to rent out the second, smaller house just down the road. An old man lives in it but is moving around the corner to a trailer because the house is too much for him. It is painted red, has four bedrooms, and is furnished down to the wooden cutting board in the kitchen. I take it, sight unseen.
We feel instantly at home in Randolph, we are reborn there with central heat and an indoor bathroom, real beds, you don’t understand how nice civilization can be till you spend a summer in a quarry. The old fellow who used to own the house turns out to be a lascivious garrulous geezer who is fascinated by us and walks over to visit all the time, it is a red letter day for him when he manages a kiss. He loves to tell stories about when the railroad came and how it turned Randolph into the biggest village in the region, and about how the hurricane of ‘27 swept through and all the maple trees fell over on their sides like matchsticks and the dams broke and flooded the streets.
We drive down back roads and on Main Street, we are the fearless hippies from afar and people stare and smile and scowl and stare some more. A farmer down the road sells us a dozen elderly chickens, no good to him anymore but fine for us. Stephen brings home three goats and two geese, and a cat wanders in and stays.~
Our New Jersey landlords still haven’t moved in but the rental agent takes one look at all of us and goes white, his only hope is that the owner will be open-minded and won’t blame him too much.
Susie finally arrives at the end of September along with her friend Judy. I am tickled to see her again. Susie says she missed us during the months apart, but it had been harder to escape from her mother than she anticipated. Judy seems okay. She has a daughter but her mother took custody. When Judy tried to snatch her and run, she got caught and had to leave town fast. Chased by police and mad mothers both of them had shaken off the dust of Detroit and hitchhiked to Vermont, pronto.