Camara Sisters

Gerry Leis and Mary Lou Lemieux

Growing up on Glen Farm was idyllic for an adventurous girl named Geraldine Camara.  Gerry and her sister Mary Lou shared stories of their childhood with Elmhurst students many years ago.   The students interviewed the Camara sisters on the porch of the Leonard Brown House.  They lived at that house (and others on the farm) because their father, Manuel Camara,  was a long term worker on the farm.  His story is another one that deserves to be told in a separate blog.

Stories about Gerry – in the words of the student interviewers.

Gerry was born at the Brown House on a very cold January day. She was so tiny they had to keep her warm, so the nurse put her on the oven door.

The fields around the house were filled with cows – Angus, Guernseys and later Charolais.  The girls had to walk up Linden Lane to get to the school bus and the cows followed them all the way.

Gerry was always getting into trouble.  She used to climb into the hayloft of the barns and she even tried to ride the cows.

There were seven wooden bridges over the paths around the stream that ran from the mill pond to the river.  One day Gerry used the wood from one of the bridges to make a raft.  Then there were only six bridges.

The Glen families were careful to let the Taylor family have their privacy.  They were the owners after all.  When Gerry picked daffodils from Mrs. Taylor’s garden, her mother was very upset with her.

Glen Farm has beautiful stone walls.  Mrs. Taylor’s second husband didn’t like to see the children sitting on the walls.  he paid them a quarter not to sit on the walls.  He had a fancy car and when the girls saw the car coming, they sat right on the walls so he would give them more quarters.

Gerry made the sheep barn into her own clubhouse.

It could get cold at the Brown House, so the workers would “bank the house.”  That meant they would put a wood frame around the outside of the basement and fill the frame with leaves to help keep the heat in.  Geri would walk on the frames even though she wasn’t suppose to do that!

The Camara sisters, Gerry Leis and Mary Lou Lemieux, have both passed away, but we cherish the stories they told us and continue to share them with other generations of Portsmouth school children.

The Brown House has memories for many families.  It was one of three homes Nan Howell Waters called home on the farm.  Nan was on the farm because her father, Arthur Howell, worked on the farm.  He started out as a mechanic, moved to bookkeeper for dairy cattle and then to superintendent of the farm. His office was in the Cow Barn and he worked up until he died at 76 years old. He worked close to 50 years on the farm.


Nan Howell Waters

Nan came to Glen farm when she was a baby.  When Nan lived at the Brown House it was divided to hold two families.  Her family lived downstairs and the Camara family lived upstairs.  On their floor was a bath room,  two bedrooms, kitchen (with a wash tub and pantry),  dining room and a large living room.  It was heated with a big coal stove in the basement.  The basement was good sized and each family had partitioned areas.  The children like to play store in the basement.  With the four Camara girls and Nan and her brother, there was always someone to join in play.

Glen Farm was a self contained community.  They had electricity and telephone service.  There was a switchboard operator on the farm and they had a phone in the hall with each family having a different number of rings to signal calls for them.

Outside the yard was set off from the field by a stone wall.  There were kitchen gardens – each family had one.  Each family had a garage.  There was a chicken shed for each family, so they had fresh eggs.  Milk, meat and other vegetables came from the farm itself.