"My Parent's Airbnb in the 1900's"
You probably think that Airbnb is a new idea. Well, let me tell you what came before it... Back in the 1960s in our corner of the world in New England, it was very common for folks to have a room for rent. Sometimes it was just for a night, but often there were boarders who would stay for a long time in a stranger's home. My parents always had a room for rent, and often had boarders who stayed for months, even years...
Three boarders that stayed at my parents' home come immediately to mind, and I want to tell you just a bit about them.
Jean Danforth (Goodfield) stayed at our house on and off for years. I was very young at the time. She was a teacher somewhere in the northwest hills of Connecticut, but her hometown was in Bath Maine. She would rent a room from my parents for the better part of the school year, taking trips back to Maine from time to time. Even when she wasn't there, her room was untouched and off-limits to anyone in the family. Every time she came back from Maine she would stop at the very best chocolate shop in-between Maine and Connecticut. The name of the "shop" was Hebert's Candy Mansion. That's worthy of another story. Let's just say that it was the very best chocolate I've ever had in my life. Period.
Jerry West was a forest ranger who rented a room from my parents for at least a summer. Maybe longer. I remember him being exceptionally kind. He was very quiet, but always pleasant. He would talk to me after he came home from work telling me about the work they had done in the Mowhawk State Forest that day. He brought me coloring books about Smokey Bear. He always wore an olive green ranger's uniform. I remember him fondly.
One of the BIG EVENTS in the small town of Goshen Connecticut was the annual GOSHEN FAIR which ran the three-day Labor Day Weekend in early September. This was the weekend that we looked forward to all year. (and this deserves another story someday as well). On that weekend, we rented out FOUR BEDROOMS of my parent's six-bedroom house to people who had concession booths at the fair. They came every year, like clockwork. We had no idea how many people actually stayed with us on a given night. They would arrive very late on Friday night after being at the fairgrounds setting up their booths. They stayed friday, saturday and sunday nights every year that I can remember.
Dad would leave the front door unlocked that weekend as "the fair people" would have open access to the house. We knew when they had left in the morning when we'd hear the front door close and see their trucks drave away that had been parked on our front lawn. The trucks were ancient and enormous. Their trucks carried all their equipment and supplies for the weekend.
One of the families ran the roasted peanut and candied apple stand. I remember the peanuts being roasted in some contraption that was always generating enough steam that a whistle on the top of the stand was always blowing.
The other family ran a "lunch counter" that served hot dogs, hamburgers, and Italian Sausage grinders. Their lunch counter had small round swivel seats that you could use as you ate your lunch. The stand itself was white with blue lettering. The seats were bright red. It was grand.
I have no idea how much my dad charged for the rooms, but I know he loved Labor Day Weekend! Since it was all cash, as were the booths at the fair, I'm assuming that there weren't a lot of taxes paid by anyone.
I remember my dad walking the fair, and we would stop at the booths that were owned by our boarders. There was always a brown paper bag of peanuts given to me as the whistle blew, and the hamburgers at the lunch counter were wonderful.
I'd pay anything to go back and taste the tastes and smell the smells of the fair back in the 1960s. Although the fair is still held these days, it just isn't the same.
I hope this story took you back to something wonderful in your childhood. Those were magical times.
Till Next Week!