Hilltown Voices: Plainfield’s most senior resident turns 105

For the Gazette
Friday, November 17, 2017

PLAINFIELD — Born on Nov. 15, 1912, Kathryn Metcalfe recently celebrated her 105th birthday with family and friends at her home on Route 116, where she lives with her daughter, Susan LaRock.

“We had a party for her on Saturday with just the family,” LaRock said. “Then, on her birthday, the minister stopped by and friends came over with cards and flowers throughout the day.”

According LaRock, Metcalfe is now bed-bound and was not feeling up to an interview. However, she says her mom remains alert, cheerful and enjoys taking her own meals.

Born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, Metcalfe is a graduate of the College of Wooster in Ohio, as well as Parsons Art and Design School in New York City. She also spent two years in Paris to study art.

She first came to Plainfield in 1924, when her parents bought a cabin on Windsor Pond. In 1947 they purchased the farmhouse where Metcalfe and her daughter now live.

In 1938, she married Tristan Metcalfe. The couple lived in New York City where she where she spent 25 years working at the Yonkers Public Library.

Metcalfe remained active and independent well into her 90s, drawing, painting, attending the Plainfield Church weekly, and doing her own shopping.

She was well-known in town for her artistic stenciling of serving trays.

According to LaRock, longevity is in the family genes. She said that her maternal grandmother, Bess Dilger, lived to be 102, and her aunt, Mae Meikle, lived to be 106.

Metcalfe has lived with her daughter since 2000, when LaRock moved back to Plainfield from California.

When she turned 100 years old in 2012, 30 townspeople showed up for an outdoor celebration at their home, where she was also presented with a large card that had been made available at the Shaw Memorial Library for residents to sign in recognition of 100 years.

“I think she enjoyed the party and seeing people on her birthday,” LaRock said, of her mom’s recent festivities. “She is basically a very happy person.”

According to her family, Metcalfe’s favorite TV personality is Channel 22 weatherman Brian Lapis, because, as she says, “he is the only one I can hear!”

Anyone wondering about her secret to longevity could well guess that the main ingredient might be keeping a bright and optimistic outlook on life. Metcalfe, however, is convinced that it is more likely “eating ice cream.”

Seed Saving Network

CUMMINGTON — The 6th Annual Hilltown Seed Exchange will take place on Saturday, from 1-4 p.m. at the Cummington Community House.

This is a great opportunity to learn how to save your own garden seeds, get answers to your seed-saving questions, and exchange seeds that you’ve saved with your friends and neighbors.

This year’s event will feature a presentation by Amy Pulley of the Wing and a Prayer Pollinator Nursery in Cummington.

Pulley is currently working to restore pollinator habitats throughout the area and is actively helping people learn how to support pollinators by planting more pollinator friendly plants and saving their seeds.

Pulley’s talk will begin at 1 p.m. The seed exchange will follow at 1:30 p.m.

Participants will have time to browse and help themselves to the dozens of homegrown varieties of tomatoes, beans, kale, wildflowers and many other crops.

Information will be available regarding ongoing seed saving projects, recommended reading, and the ways in which to get involved in the Hilltown Seed Saving Network.

People can come as early as noon to drop off seeds they intend to share. The Seed Saving Networks asks that seeds that be labeled with variety name, source, and year or date saved.

Participants do not have to bring seed to come to this event. All levels of experience, including those who have never saved seed before, are welcome to attend.

The suggested donation for this event is a sliding scale of $5 to $10.

For more information, visit hilltownseeds.wordpress.com.

Grange Craft Fair

WILLIAMSBURG — On Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Williamsburg Grange will hold its holiday crafts fair.

Many homemade crafts will be available for purchase, including jewelry, wooden bowls, knitted items, rag dolls and wooden snowmen.

There will also be lunch items, baked goods and a raffle.

Proceeds will benefit the Friends Helping Friends and the American Cancer Society.

Ideas for this column on life in the Hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at fryan.gazette@gmail.com.