by Tom Clasby

Sullivan's Corner by Thomas Clasby
Thomas Clasby’s book is available at Conley’s Drug Store in Ipswich and Jabberwocky Bookshop in Newburyport

During a few years just after a war that closed out one era and opened up another, as new ways displaced old ones, a small outmoded farm north of Boston came to its end. Such ends happened across New England countless times in those days. What makes this instance unusual are two of the central figures. Two sisters, who took over their father’s very typical family farm in 1916, were also teachers and principals in the Ipswich schools — with careers there that, by the end, came to almost a century of service between them.

Through eight decades, the Sullivan farm in Ipswich, Massachusetts, practiced traditional small-scale mixed husbandry. By the middle years of the twentieth century though, that system and this farm had both outlasted their time. In those final years the lingering vestiges of a largely un-mechanized, almost pre-modern way of life, fell away scarcely noticed. This is a tale of several lives that finished with the farm. They were lives of small rewards, and occasional hardship, but they were full lives — sustained by a mix of resourcefulness and acceptance. And they were lives that revered the land they occupied.

As Things Were: The Backdrop 

1832 Ipswich map Topsfield Road and Mill Road
Sullivan’s corner was at the intersection of Topsfield and Mill Roads in Ipswich

The road from Ipswich to Topsfield runs by Sullivan’s Corner going roughly east-west, about five miles from the railroad tracks at the edge of downtown Ipswich, till it meets the Newburyport Turnpike—U.S. Route 1—in the neighboring town. Along the way, in the margin between upland and areas of former meadow, it traces the lower contours of a row of drumlin hills made of ice-laid glacial till……..Download Post One to continue.

Who was there

Nellie Smith taught at Ipswich Public Schools
Nellie Smith (center) with Burley School teachers Anna Friend (left) and Ruth Brown c 1944.

A wire rack beside the front door of the newer house held two quart bottles of milk. The Hood man had taken back two empties and continued on his route. And the milk, beginning to freeze in the pre-dawn cold, was starting to push up paper caps that showed it to be Pasteurized, Homogenized, and Grade A. An aging refrigerator in the older house across the way contained a pitcher of milk that was actually fresher…….Download Post One to continue.

To be continued!

Text and illustrations Copyright © 2018 by Thomas Clasby. All rights reserved