Trip to the Judkins Grist Mill- Kingston

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Trip to the Judkins Grist Mill- Kingston

Postby curt » Sun Aug 08, 2010 11:01 pm

My great grandfather John H. Judkins, 1848-1918, grew up on the family farm in Kingston, where they operated a grist mill on the Little River. Don Clark, a retired school teacher, wrote of his childhood experience visiting the mill.

Our family sold the farm and mill in 1943.

Donald H. Clark wrote:Frank was a white horse. I don't know what breed, just all white, no patches of any other color. Uncle Warren would hitch Frank to an open wagon to get groceries at Bakie Store or to do errands around town. Kingston was not a very big town so he could also make visits to friends occasionally throughout the week. He had retired as a shoe salesman traveling by train all over New England, but after the stock market crash (around 1930) he didn't sell any more shoes. So why not retire?
One morning when I was about six or seven years old, I ran next door to Aunt Mary and Uncle Warren's house (now 1686 House Restaurant in this year 2000).
"Donald, how would you like to take a wagon ride to Judkins Grist Mill?" asked my Great Uncle.
"Sure," I replied.
Out to the barn we went, and Frank was already banging the floor, knowing something must be up. What a barn this was—large, white, two and one half stories high with stairs going up to both floors. These were called scaffolds. Hay and other supplies could be stored here. There were large doors on each end of the barn with plenty of floor space in between. Stalls were on the sides, with one used as a grain room. Oh, yes, people in those days kept a few hens so the hen pen was built on one side of the barn. What a lot of fun playing in this barn, and if anyone were a lover of barns, this would be tops.
Uncle Warren said, "I'll get Frank and you get the harness. This was pretty heavy, so I had to drag it to the middle of the floor where Frank was hitched. Then Frank had to be hitched to the wagon.
Uncle Warren had saved up about a half-bushel of shelled corn, ready to go to the mill. Shelling corn was simple but slow work in those days. You would pick up a dried ear of corn, put both hands on the ear (cob), and twist it back and forth, and the individual kernels of corn would drop down into a basket.
We jumped up to the seat after throwing the basket in back of the wagon, and off we went to the mill about three miles down on Little River Road.
After many clip-clops, we approached the mill and could see the rushing water from Little River coming out of the mill's spillway. What a picturesque building, and so functional with the big water wheel turning the large, upper round stone over the lower stone. Kernels of yellow corn would be dropped down between the stones, and cornmeal would come out to the edge and be collected. The building still stands today (year 2000) with no water wheels, but waiting for restoration.
It seems Frank knew to turn into Mr. Indians' driveway and up to the mill. Uncle Warren and Mr. Judkins had the usual chit-chat—nothing exciting except Mr. Judkins saw a large moose beside the river early in the morning. Mr. Judkins told Uncle Warren to come back in about three days and he would have the corn meal ready.
On the way back, we had a scary experience I'll never forget. It may not seem scary, but it was scary for a six year old.
Uncle Warren stopped the horse beside the dirt road, wrapped the reins around the whip post, and said, "I'm going to pick some pussy willows for Aunt Mary."
I stayed on the wagon seat. He jumped down from the wagon, stepped into some underbrush, and snapped some twigs loud enough to really spook Frank. Off Frank ran and proceeded to gallop. Poor Uncle Warren didn't have a chance to catch up and grab the wagon. He was constantly yelling, "Don't touch the reins! Don't touch the reins!" He was fearing that Frank might rear up all the more and tip the wagon over.
What was I going to do? Nothing. I just sat there and off we went. Frank knew the way home probably better than I did (about 3 miles). After a while, he settled down into a trot. Thank God there were no stoplights in those days and only a few cars on the road. As we passed Bakie Store, three gentlemen were sitting on the bench out in front of the store. They were telling stories, and, boy, did they have another one to tell.
"Will you look at that! See that little kid on the wagon all alone and no one driving the horse." Another said,”No hands.” Third one said, “I wonder if his mother knows where he is.”
Frank kept trotting past the store, then past the town hall, then along by Kingston Plains to Scotland Road. He turned the corner and headed for k & t s , the barn, hitting the hub of the wheel on the building. That was the only problem we had getting home, and was I glad to be back! Frank just stood by the big doors as I jumped down and ran home to my mother.
Ma exclaimed, "Where is Uncle Warren?"
Well, poor Uncle Warren was just walking in as we got back to the barn. Of course he couldn't run the whole distance, so he was out of breath and completely exhausted. He always said this episode took 10 years off his life, and he did have a heart attack later.
by Donald H. Clark

Curt Springer
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