Vandemark's Folly eBook

John Herbert Quick
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 471 pages of information about Vandemark's Folly.
So I had to knuckle under.  Jacobus is in law my name just as much as Teunis, and both of them, I understand, used to be pretty common names among the Vandemarks, Brosses, Kuyckendalls, Westfalls and other Dutch families for generations.  It makes very little difference after all, for most of the neighbors call me Old Jake Vandemark, and some of the very oldest settlers still call me Cow Vandemark, because I came into the county driving three or four yoke of cows—­which make just as good draught cattle as oxen, being smarter but not so powerful.  This nickname is gall and wormwood to Gertrude, but I can’t quite hold with her whims on the subject of names.  She spells the old surname van der Marck—­a little v and a little d with an r run in, the first two syllables written like separate words, and then the big M for Mark with a c before the k.  But she will know better when she gets older and has more judgment.  Just now she is all worked up over the family history on which she began laboring when she went east to Vassar and joined the Daughters of the American Revolution.  She has tried to coax me to adopt “van der Marck” as my signature, but it would not jibe with the name of the township if I did; and anyhow it would seem like straining a little after style to change a name that has been a household word hereabouts since there were any households.  The neighbors would never understand it, anyhow; and would think I felt above them.  Nothing loses a man his standing among us farmers like putting on style.

I was born of Dutch parents in Ulster County, New York, on July 27, 1838.  It is the only anniversary I can keep track of, and the only reason why I remember it is because on that day, except when it came on a Sunday, I have sown my turnips ever since 1855.  Everybody knows the old rhyme: 

     “On the twenty-seventh of July
     Sow your turnips, wet or dry.”

And wet or dry, my parents in Ulster County, long, long ago, sowed their little red turnip on that date.

I often wonder what sort of dwelling it was, and whether the July heat was not pretty hard on my poor mother.  I think of this every birthday.  I guess a habit of mind has grown up which I shall never break off; the moment I begin sowing turnips I think of my mother bringing forth her only child in the heat of dog-days, and of the sweat of suffering on her forehead as she listened to my first cry.  She is more familiar to me, and really dearer in this imaginary scene than in almost any real memory I have of her.

I do not remember Ulster County at all.  My first memory of my mother is of a time when we lived in a little town the name and location of which I forget; but it was by a great river which must have been the Hudson I guess.  She had made me a little cap with a visor and I was very proud of it and of myself.  I picked up a lump of earth in the road and threw it over a stone fence, covered with vines that were red with autumn leaves—­woodbine or poison-ivy I suppose.  I felt very big, and ran on ahead of my mother until she called to me to stop for fear of my falling into the water.  We had come down to the big river.  I could hardly see the other side of it.  The whole scene now grows misty and dim; but I remember a boat coming to the shore, and out of it stepped John Rucker.

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Vandemark's Folly from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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