Roomers & Boarders

School was out and the influx would soon come.  Our large, circa 1842 colonial farmhouse would be totally rearranged.  The families came in many different combinations.

There was the single rich older lady whose son drove her out each spring to see the room she would get, and also “make the arrangements.” Money was paid up-front, and Mama used it to get ready for all the rest.

We boys liked this time because there were new kids with whom to play.  Our chores often suffered, but all the mamas were happy because it got the children out of the house. 

Yes, there were families—many of them.  They wanted to get the children out to the farm.  Jersey was a shorter trip than going to The Mountains (Catskills), so it was filled early and full all season.

All the bedrooms were rearranged.  The twins and Fishl all slept in one bed in the small bedroom.  Even Mama and Papa’s big bedroom was rented (to the rich old lady).

The kitchen was where Mama fed the boarders and us boys and papa—later.  The large screened-in summer kitchen, added on around the 1920’s, was where the roomers cooked and the back room where they ate.  The summer kitchen and back room were unheated and thus not used the rest of the year.

Mama sold the roomers; fresh eggs, milk, cream, butter, pot cheese, kosher chickens, and ducks.  Papa drove the roomers in once a week to do their shopping, or would take their orders.

Most of the time, the men would carpool and come out for the weekends or stay on their one-week vacations.  This was a very special time because the living room became the time Papa would play pinochle with the men.

It was a time when the women or we children would not dare make noise or bother them.  Every once in a while, there would be some loud laughter or an argument when a partner overbid and the other would be upset when they could not make the bid.

Papa’s rules of the house paid extra for a double pinochle (both Jack of Diamonds and Queen of Spades) and double if trump was spades.

We all felt a little sad when they left by Labor Day.