Jerry stared down at me, his soft brown eyes letting me know that he was friendly.
Tom, who was almost as big as Jerry, lifted his head and peered at me across his long expanse of muzzle, a haughty look in his eye. He hadn’t made his mind up yet.
They were two of the biggest horses I had ever seen, and they operated all of the equipment on Uncle Eric Hare’s dairy farm in Amherst, N.H. There wasn’t a tractor in sight.
It was the mid-1940s and the first summer that my brother, Jay (age 12); sister, Susan (age 3); and I (age 16) had experienced real country living.
Jay and I had spent part of a couple of vacations at a summer camp in the Catskills, but it was not the same. Here we had chores to do, one of which was to see to Tom’s and Jerry’s daily grooming.
Early the first week, Eric sent me to back Jerry out of his stall. I was about halfway in when Jerry inhaled a big gulp of air, his stomach expanded and there I was — mashed against the stable wall.
“Uncle Eric,” I yelled. “Jerry won’t let me get by!”
“Just punch him in his stomach, and he’ll move,” Eric yelled back.
“You’re kidding,” I thought, but I followed orders. Jerry exhaled and let me by, probably enjoying a good laugh at my expense.
You are probably wondering how a Brooklyn boy is related to a dairy farmer in New Hampshire. I don’t yet know the entire story, but what I have learned is that cousin Deborah Hare’s grandmother, a free African American woman living in Massachusetts, purchased the New Hampshire farm. She married and grandson Eric eventually took over the family farm and was operating it with the help of his aging father and a hired man.