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A Look At Bedford's Past Through The Eyes Of Wilhelmine Kirby Waller

a picture of Dodge Brothers Automobile dealership on Depot Plaza, across from the Bedford Hills Train Station. Photo Credit: Contributed by Bedford Historical Society
Fireworks were a big part of the July 4 celebration in Bedford. Photo Credit: Contributed by Bedford Historical Society

BEDFORD, N.Y. -- Stroll back in time with Wilhelmine Kirby Waller as she recounts her childhood in Bedford so many years ago.

I have always been grateful that my childhood was spent before the days of organized play.... my childhood in Bedford seems quite perfect as I look back on it.

Our occupations and interests were largely seasonal.  In early January we picked out a clump of skunk cabbage to watch, measuring its growth meticulously every week through the medium of a notched stick and always tramped into the swamp after each heavy snow to see how it had fared.  And we collected frogs' eggs from Mrs. Sutton's pond, which we considered a vast body of water, as we kept a rowboat on it. This was at Succabone Corners, and the pond has since been obliterated by interstate 684. As far as we were concerned, spring ended on Decoration Day with the firemen's parade in Mount Kisco.  This a was a red-letter day, for all the men on our place belonged to the Bedford Village Fire Department and marched in the parade, resplendent in the same navy blue uniforms which we had seen brushed and hanging on the line the day before.  Ned O'Brien, a brother of Will O'Brien of O'Brien and Kinkel fame, drove the fire truck, and we would always contrive to ride on it either to or from the firehouse.

Summer seemed the shortest season of the year.  I had a garden which I tended carefully, for the vegetables which came up were sold to mother for exorbitant prices.  The eggs, which my chicks laidm were pedaled in the same high-handed fashion and collecting them each night never lost its interest, for I sold them by the egg and not by the dozen!  The soundness of the economy of these ventures was never discussed, and mother supplied the chicken feed as well as the garden seeds.  We had no swimming pool, and on hot days we cooled off by sitting in the house where the cakes of ice cut each winter from our pond were stored.  In doing so, we were always in the wrong, for the ice house door was never supposed to be opened, except by our farmer, Harry Mathews. For more recollections from Kirby Waller, click on the PDF to read her entire essay. Kirby Waller, regarded as the "Grand Dame of Bedford", died in 2004.

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