Local author talks about farm life

| 29 Sep 2011 | 03:27

    Vernon — The Vernon Township Historical Society will present Farming on Wawayanda Mountain, with guest speaker Alfred E. Houghtaling Jr., on Sunday, July 12, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Vernon Senior Citizens Center on Church Street. Houghtaling, 84, the author of seven fiction and nonfiction books, lived for 40 years on his family farm on Wawayanda Mountain, land that is known today as Wawayanda State Park. He will speak about more than 100 years of farming there. He will have on display his collection of photography of the farm and the township at the turn of the century and later years. Houghtaling, who now lives in White Sulphur Springs, recalls traveling on the mountain when the roads were very narrow and barely passable. “We were forced to travel the crooked road through the woods that led to the old double pond called Wawayanda Lake,” he said. He recalls the old iron forge at the lake that was used in the 1800s. “We would climb to the top of it and use it as a make-believe fort,” he said. His stories include the family lumber business, rabbit hunting on the mountain, a gold mine, and a ghost story or two. “The mountain has held and still holds many secrets,” he said of Wawayanda, Iron Mountain and Barrett Mountain Roads. His grandfather, Monroe Houghtaling, was well-known in the community and political affairs and was chairman of the Vernon Township Committee, on which he served for 27 years. He was also a member of the Vernon Board of Education for 18 years and a member and vestryman of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Vernon. Houghtaling will also talk about the one-room schoolhouse on the mountain that educated children from Cherry Ridge, Barrett Mountain, Wanda Lake, Highland Lakes, and Wawayanda Mountain. He asked, “How many people today can say they went to school in a 1929 Model A Ford?” Houghtaling recalls that during the spring thaw they did not get to school for weeks. His son, Ed Houghtaling, will also speak about his experiences growing up on the farm The presentation will include the Houghtaling, Fancher, and Ely farms, as well as life in Vernon during the 1930s. Refreshments will include Alfred Houghtaling’s homemade fruitcakes and jellies. The event is free. For information call 973-764-8554.