The Frye Brothers

At the end of summer our mothers bought sweetcorn from the Frye brothers – two old bachelor farmers living at the edge of our neighborhood. It was probably their farm that had been sold years before to developers who built the houses we lived in. The farmhouse of the Frye brothers was surrounded by tall shade trees at the end of a long, dirt driveway.  They had built a small farm stand by the road where, in season, fresh sweetcorn was piled on a shelf next to a tin can. The farm stand was self-service and because the Frye brothers’ corn was so delicious it often sold out. When this happened, our mothers learned to send us on our bikes to ask if we could pick more. Dicky and I were happy to go. The bike ride took us farther from home than usual and the old men had become our friends. As we rode our bikes up the dirt driveway to the house, one brother – the stout one - waved to us while the other brother – who was tall and thin - quickly darted into a back shed. While both of them were friendly, the tall, thin Frye brother was wary like a barn cat. When we visited, it was the stout brother who talked. He always invited us to sit on a wooden settee in the side yard that was kind of like a swing because it could rock back and forth.  Dicky and I sat on one side and faced the stout Frye brother on the other. Chewing tobacco stained his teeth and shirt but his broad smile made it so we didn’t care. Slowly we rocked while the stout brother told us amazing stories. They were about the old days and the more we listened, the wilder they became. He told us stories about Indians and about riding their special horses. He talked about building log cabins and about early settlers, like Hawkeye and Chingachgook.  At some point during these tales, the tall, thin brother would approach with his arm extended, offering –wordlessly - a tin of chocolate. Dicky and I helped ourselves and thanked him but he never spoke and always left - glancing over his shoulder at us before closing the shed door behind him. Even though he never spoke or smiled, we knew he liked us because he always opened the shed door to wave goodbye when we left.

      We brought the bag of Frye brothers’ sweetcorn home. Dicky’s mother asked about our visit. When we told her about the stout Frye brother fighting in the Revolutionary War she laughed. She told us it wasn’t possible because the Revolutionary War happened before he was born. But I didn’t believe her. I didn’t know one war from another because all of them were long ago. Besides, the stout Frye brother looked plenty old and how could he know so much about it all if he hadn’t been there?