There were so many flower beds around the Villa at that time and they were all planted with different kinds of flowers. Sister Basil would purchase 50 pounds of burley tobacco from which we made a tobacco tea for the aphids on the roses and we also made our own fertilizer from barnyard waste.
The second summer that I was there I white washed the glass on the roof of the Greenhouse to prevent the sun from burning the plants on hot summer days. Joe Bryer, Dorothy Bryer’s father, had made a ladder out of flat boards. That way both he and I could lay the ladder on the metal strips that held the glass in place. Sister Basil would mix up the white wash which consisted of lime and water. Then I would get on the ladder, lie down and paint the glass.
I remember Sister taking me up to the barn while the farm help were putting up hay. At that time John Komar was operating the hay fork called a “grapple fork” that would lift the loose hay off of the wagon and they used a horse to pull the rope to lift a huge bundle of hay to the ceiling of the barn and when it got there it would hit the track and it would have the momentum to travel to the other end of the barn. All John had to do was to pull the rope and the hay would fall out of the fork into the loft and the men in the loft would spread it out. I got to ride the horse. I was familiar with that since I had done that at home. But there was another reason Sister took me to the barn. They knew that I wasn’t afraid of heights so they wanted me to climb the ladder at the end of the barn where the hay fork stopped to make sure that the stop was secured so the fork would not fall off of the end of the track.
As I got older I started to work in the vegetable gardens and do other odd jobs. I also remember helping to gather the seaweed from the lake with Frank Bryer. That is when I learned to drive the panel truck. By that time I was 13 or 14 years of age. At that time Sister would gather the seaweed from the lake, let it compost and use it as a starter fertilizer to start plants. Frank Bryer had a roll of woven wire on the bow of the boat with a rope attached to it along with the other end of the rope tied to the rear bumper of the truck. As he would row backwards with the boat he would unroll the wire and let it fall to the bottom of the lake. Then he would motion for me to pull forward with the truck and out came the woven wire full of seaweed. As I pulled forward with the truck he would yell when it was time for me to stop. The wire would be lying across both sidewalks and the driveway. Then I would have to pick all of the seaweed off of the wire, put it in the truck and take it up behind the Cave and unload it there where it would compost. The truck that I used was a panel truck with the panel cut off just behind the front seat. It had “St. E’s” printed on the side of the door. It was Sister Basil that oversaw everything that I was involved in doing.
I remember the gentleman everyone called “Little Steve” would cultivate the gardens with one horse and a handheld one-horse cultivator. He was always talking to the horse. He would say “steady now,” and “watch those plants.”
~Frank Romeo, Director of Land Management Emeritus