The family home, the Daniel and Charity Leete House, built in 1766. This photo was taken on July 4th, 1976. This is the house my mother and Hoohoo grew up in, having been in their family since the 1860s. We were only the third family to own it until 1985 when it was sold after Hoohoo's husband, my father's brother, committed suicide and secretly, and illegally, sold it out from under us. More on that later. Much later. Probably in my obituary, lol.
I just love this photo! The house is nestled on a hill, and had beautiful, mature plantings and gardens all around it. Hoohoo had it freshly painted dark brown in honor of the Bicentennial, and it never looked better. Notice the 13-star flag, the same one I hang on my porch every 4th of July. My mother and I never really got over the loss of this house. I always thought I would continue the family ownership. It was really difficult to come up with a new life plan after it was sold. I probably would never have gotten the job in Manhattan had things gone differently, and who knows how that would have changed my life. But things happen for a reason, although I am still not exactly sure what that reason is.
The house looks completely different today. All of the trees have been cut down, all of the original windows and doors have been replaced with a different style, the siding is new, the roof is new, and it has been painted bright white. To say it now sticks out of its hilly landscape like a sore thumb, instead of fitting in so elegantly as it does here, would be an understatement. It has been sold twice since my uncle unloaded it for next to nothing. The first 'new' person's last name that lived there was Casey. It was unbelievably ironic, and cruel, for my parents and I to drive by the old homestead and see Casey on the mailbox.
N O T E : Ten bonus points to anyone that recognized the purpose the black 'ring' around the ancient tree in front of the house. In the early '70s, Gypsy Moth caterpillars invaded Connecticut and devastated the native trees. You could sit outside at night and actually hear them munching the leaves. They were EVERYWHERE! The year after the first infestation, a tar-like goop was sold everywhere around here. You painted it in a ring around the trunks of trees and the caterpillars couldn't climb up any further. You had to go out and scrape them off every few days and then burn them in a coffee can with a bit of gasoline or kerosene. They haven't really been back since. I wonder if anyone knows why their numbers exploded so much in the first place? The end of DDT or something?