My Dad sent me a copy of the January, 1999 Rehoboth Reporter because an article about the Kinne family farm is in it. I scanned it in along with the pictures included below and on flickr. I should get permission before transcribing and confirm my suspicion that the author is the son of my grandparents’ close friends Artie & Ellie, but I’m throwing caution to the wind once again.
Grandpa again, this time with his calf, May 1938. I think he was very interested in his work, like his father and grandfather, to the point where he wrote about his calf & cow stats in a letter my Grandma sent my Dad while he was in Vietnam.
The fields. Poking around on Google maps at street level (Blanding Road and Summer St, Reboboth, MA; I’d link but I’m lazy), it looks like there are still big power line towers in the area, not that it helps me tell you where this picture was taken from.
I’m not quite sure what to say about this. Ben & Betty must have been dating at this point. I think she’s sitting on a horse carriage/trap that my grandfather drove around the farm when he was a wee lad (I should have scanned in pictures to support this), but I could be wrong.
He looks ticklish. And this counts because it gives me a chance to tell the manure story. Dad wanted to grow and get big so he could do big boy things (presumably) and so his grandfather and the farmhands (more likely the farmhands) told him that cow paddies were good for growing plants AND little boys. He used to stand in them in bare feet until someone set him straight. I can totally see the little boy in this picture believing that, kicking off his shoes & stripping off his socks to go stand in manure to help him grow.
This is actually at the farm in West Woodstock (now LDT, ltd). I included it because it shows one reason Dad chose the Marines over the farm (anything but the farm): he and cows did not jive well at all, though he was in Future Farmers of America in high school.
Frank DeMattos, The Rehoboth Reporter, January 1999, Volume 11, No. 1
Blogger’s Note: There are pictures in the newsletter not included here. It’s worth looking at the original on flickr in the original format – page 1, page 2, page 3. I suspect the young man on the pony in the picture on page 3 might be my grandfather, Ben Jr.
Today if you drive down Blanding Road to where it intersects with Summer Street you’ll see an area of Brambles, young trees struggling to grow in sandy soil and a weathered storage shed which unfortunately blocks the view of Sun Valley Country Club. Where men now chase after little white balls, cows once grazed in verdant green pastures. This was the site of the Kinne dairy farm. It was a beautiful scene as one drove down Blanding Road; the barn being built so close to the road loomed up and almost overpowered the viewer with its four massive silos. As one approached further a magnificent dairy farm immaculately maintained came into view. A row of maroon milk trucks stood like silent sentries awaiting inspection, gleaming in the afternoon sun. The trucks were washed every day to be ready for the next morning’s milk delivery, and washed they had better be for no detail of the farm management escaped the owner’s attention.
John Tyler Kinne started his dairy business in what is now the Mt. Pleasant district of North Providence in the 1920s. This once rural area of farms and open land was quickly becoming urbanized. Times were good and the city of Providence was growing. Second generation Italians and Irish were leaving Federal Hill and the inner city and building single family homes with neat lawns and clipped shrubbery in this lovely residential suburb, a far cry from the crowded neighborhoods of three-decker tenements in which they had been brought up.
Kinne soon realized he would have to find a new location for his business. He decided on a property in Rehoboth that had been owned by Thomas Reynolds, himself an astute dairyman. Uncle Tom as he was known ran a fairly large farm for those days (early nineteen hundreds). His hired men loved on the property in a dormitory-like environment as commuting was not feasible. Providence seemed a lot further away then and none of the men had cars; although the trolley did run regularly between Providence and Taunton, they did not always have the fare to take it.
Editor’s Note: Read the Memoirs of Anna Hass Morgan to get a clearer picture of Rehoboth at the turn of the century.
Tom’s sister Lavinia Grant did the cooking for the men. She filled them with delicious Yankee meals of baked beans, Johnnycakes and strawberry cobbler to name a few of the delectable[s] she served. Lavinia’s cooking certainly must have helped augment the meager salary of seven dollars a month for a seven-day workweek; however it did not include room and board.
John Kinne now had the land he needed to expand his business and this he did. A feisty man he worked along side his men and he did this until the day he died on his tractor on the farm he loved.
After John Tyler’s death in 1939, his son Benjamin (Ben) took over the running of the farm. He improved on his father’s already successful business, putting an addition on the barn, if one could call it that, for it was larger than the original. He pasteurized and homogenized the milk right on the premises. A mechanic was hired full time to repair the trucks and other farm equipment.
Ben named his farm Locust Grove Stock Farm. The name was imprinted on the trucks and company milk bottles. The bottles had an outline drawing of the farm in orange and blue. Visibly stated on the trucks was the claim that the milk was Grade A Golden Guernsey but as a matter of fact most of the herd was made up of Holsteins and Ayshires. There probably were a few Guernsey cattle mixed in; Guernsey’s gave very rich milk but not in as great a quantity as the Holsteins.
Ben was a quiet man but the help soon learned to interpret his silences. If every truck was not immaculately cleaned for the next morning’s delivery, a stare was enough to alert his help that he was not entirely pleased. No aspect of the business was without his close scrutiny. No much got by Ben Kinne.
He was a proud man, not arrogant but justifiably proud of his farm and the business he had developed. The farmhouse was across the street from the barns. A large rambling house, it was the scene of many parties especially in its outdoor screen house. Both this and the barns were kept in pristine condition. Hired men not only mowed the lawn around the house but in front of the barns also. Fortunately the farmhouse is still very well maintained by Thomas Blythe its present owner. In the 1950s Ben built a house for him and his wife Eva on an adjacent property and left the running of the farm to his son (also named Benjamin) and son-in-law. His daughter and husband lived in the big house, Ben Jr. a little further up Blanding Road in a house originally built for hired men. It is hard to believe, however, that Ben bowed out entirely. The business continued to grow and prosper until one horrible night in July 1953 when this beautiful establishment was destroyed in a disastrous fire. After the calamity efforts were made to restore the business but it was never to achieve its former glory – too much had been lost. An open barn was experimented with but was not successful in New England’s harsh climate. Eventually the farmland was sold to the Asquino family who built the present day Sun Valley Golf Club. Ben Jr. moved to Vermont and bought a large farm near White River Junction. Gertrude the daughter and her husband moved to Seattle, Washington. Ben Sr. who never really recovered from the great loss stayed in the new house on Blanding Road. He passed away in 1959. They buried him in the Rehoboth Village Cemetery next to his father John Tyler. His stone reads “Benjamin Kinne 1896-1959” but people who knew him well knew that 1959 was the date they buried him for he really died six years earlier on a terrible night in July of 1953.
Calgon! Take me away! (well, back to the beginning of this post)