Green Valley :: Gun It!
For a while, Lee Rickets and I played mom and pop to the 10 Abbey Farm kids. I was diligent, if incompetent. At 22, I was just getting the hang of being a woman. I was more like a distracted big sister than a mother, only a handful of years older than the kids in my care and half the time far less worldly.
The children, for example, felt obliged to coach me to curse correctly. It was, after all, the end of the Sixties and I still had trouble saying "far-fucking-out." Their coaching and cheering on usually happened while we were driving -- maybe to North Branch to pick up something at the General Store, maybe to nowhere -- just escaping from our earthy farm duties.
I was barely used to driving Lee's Chevy wagon with the stick shift. In the hilly Catskills, this finally caught up with me.
For some reason, a carload of kids and I went to Fremont Center -- not far, basically down a dirt road on the back of our hill, hang a left. The problem came on our return. I made the mistake of pausing at the bottom of the hill. I let the clutch out and the car slipped back, blocking the paved road. Clutch? Brake? Gas? The car slipped back a little more -- wheels now at the edge of a dropoff. My newfound cussing skills came in handy.
The wiser kids in the car yelled instructions to me: "Gun it! Gun it!" But I lost confidence. I was visualizing the car tumbling over the embankment. A cooler head would have at least told the children to evacuate themselves from the car. But no, sweating and cussing was all I could manage.
Luckily, I was blocking what little country road traffic there was. The next car along was forced to stop and deal with us. The kids and I abandoned ship and let our drafted rescuer get behind the wheel. The guy hadn't driven a stick shift in years, but without hesitation he gunned it and pulled the car out of jeopardy. We were saved.
Life lesson learned: when releasing the clutch threatens to send you backward, step on the gas!
Green Valley School was a residential program for troubled kids and a sixties-style commune for its staff. I arrived at Green Valley School in Orange City Florida in February 1971. Around May, Lee Ricketts and I drove 10 kids north to the Catskills to start our own little farm adjacent to GVS' Buck Brook Farm. I left the Green Valley family, with my future husband, in August of 1972.