Monday, February 11, 2013

JJS History Month: Day 11

From around 1942(7), to up until just very recently, my family had run a farm in Belmont, Ma called, appropriately, Sergi Farm. My great grandfather Joseph Sergi was the first to rent the land that would become Sergi Farm but the entire property is owned by The Ogilby Family, who've been connected to the property since the 1600s.

My memories of the farm are mixed. I can remember being 4 or 5 and being asked if I wanted to go to the farm. Of course I said hell yeah, but that was only because in my head I was picturing cows, horses, pigs, all the cool things that farms had on TV. But the only animals on Sergi Farm was an old dog and a flock of crows. Instead of cows and pigs, there were fields of corn, lettuce, carrots, beets, and a dozen other things. The farm itself was split by a little road that was lined with fields on both sides, save for where the main building sprawled; a long rectangle of storage and supply sheds on one end, a place to park the main tractor on the other, and the vegetable stand in the middle. That was the heart of the daily operations of the farm, the vegetable stand. It was a smallish room surrounded by stalls that were packed with produce come June and had an old fashion cash register sitting on a splintered counter. In the middle was a wood burning stove that burned in the cold parts of Spring.

Now, all this was great to experience and to look upon but when your five years old and its 90 degrees out, you want to be out with your friends riding your bike or swimming in the neighbors pool. But if you were related to a Sergi and you stepped foot on Sergi Farm, no matter how old you were, if you could breathe and walk, you were workin. True story.

Corn was my nightmare. Row after row of ripping the ears off the stalks and chucking them into wooden baskets while the sun fried ya. Then lugging the immensely heavy basket back to the road to where  a truck waited. Once you dumped the picked corn, you  went back with your empty basket and filled it again. Mind-numbing, backbreaking, and torturous, and to be honest I hated it.

And the worst part might have been the lack of working toilets. Your business was done in the field. Number 1 wasn't bad, but number 2 you had to dig a hole, then squat, all the while hoping that the hordes of yellow jackets that were always buzzing around didn't pick that moment to dive in to attack you.

Concerning the farm in my preteen years, it was always usually a volunteer thing. Why I said yes all those times Ill never know, because each time I would find myself back in the cornfield, sweating, tired, pissed off, kicking myself in the ass then swearing that I would never return to the farm again. But then I would forget how bad it was and inevitably hop into my grandfathers van to head back to the farm for another day of torture.

But it wasn't all bad. Spending days at the farm was the only real chance I ever got to spend time with The Old Guard of my family, my grandfathers brothers, my Great Uncles. These were old school Italian dudes who didn't tolerate weakness. Each one seemed carved from stone; hard guys that have seen there share of life. And they'd always been full of stories. In later years I was given a few bucks for workin, but the real payment was listening to them tell stories. Even as a kid and a punk teen I would stop my bitchin and complaining to listen to them talk. There were nine of them back then, including my grandfather but now there's only 2.

I haven't stepped foot in Sergi Farm in almost 20 years. Like I said, mixed memories of the place, but now i wont ever get to step foot on the farm even if I wanted to, ever again. With most of The Old Guard dead and the rest getting too old to run it, the operations of Sergi Farm was taken over by neighboring farmers about a year ago. None of The New Guard were willing to continue the legacy and its friggin sad really. But that's life. I miss the Old Guard and as much as it sucked, I miss Sergi Farm as well.

Thankfully, I can use my magical talent as a writer to immortalize both The Old Guard and the farm. And I did just that; stay tuned because you'll know what I mean within the next year or two and hey, there may even by a trivia question or two and a chance to win some $$$. Ya never know.

Also, it might be worth Googleing Sergi Farm if you're interested. There isn't much about it online but what there is can be pretty interesting.

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