Part of a series of interviews between Julia Ferrari and Jane Noyes
Noyes: All set?
Ferrari: All ready. So today is April 18th 2014.
Noyes: That’s right
Ferrari: It was our wedding anniversary
Noyes: Oh my Gosh. What year?
Noyes: Well, I can barely count back that far. Bet you know exactly. What’s that in years?
Ferrari: Oh thirty-two years
Noyes: Thirty-two! Wow!
Noyes: You probably remember that day very well
Ferrari: Yes, we had just had a snowstorm like a few days before. Not unlike this weather right now but that day it was warm, cool but warm enough that you could go outside without a coat. And yes, we got married in Connecticut.
Noyes: Oh you did?
Ferrari: Yes, because my family was in New Jersey and Dan’s family was in Rhode Island. We thought about getting married in Boston but we kind of wanted something outside in the country a little bit and we didn’t really want to get married at a church either.
Ferrari: So, we had some friends of my mom’s that had a farm that we had the wedding at, in Connecticut.
Noyes: Well, that sounds good. That was a good idea.
Ferrari: Yes, I think it was called Rose Hill Farm. Kind of nice…
Noyes: That’s nice. What town?
Ferrari: Oh boy, I think it might have been Coventry,
Noyes: Oh yes, somewhere down there. How many people came?
Ferrari: Oh, I would say maybe forty or so. Forty to forty-five, something like that. I don’t remember exactly.
Noyes: Family and some other people, it doesn’t take much to hit the numbers add up
Ferrari: Yes, family and some friends. We had the service in like a little living room area, which had an anti-room, a second room that people were able to stand in two rooms and it was interesting because my mom came up. That year the eighteenth was after Easter and she found at a florist shop, I would say, dozens and dozens of hyacinths which they hadn’t sold for Easter.
Noyes: Exactly. They do it for quick sales.
Ferrari: Yes, she bought them all
Ferrari: I love hyacinths, they were potted. So she brought all those and I remember going to Coventry, staying over there for the night and having a whole dresser full of hyacinths in the room. The whole room just smelled angelic!
Noyes: Oh, I know! It’s such a great smell, isn’t it?
Noyes: That’s great.
Ferrari: And then, Dan was still in Boston and he came down with his friends, Harry and Rebecca. I remember, I think it might have been the weekend when they changed the time too because they used to change the time later, back then.
Noyes: Yes, they did.
Ferrari: And I think it was that weekend. I think Harry and Dan had woken up and they weren’t aware of the time and I think Rebecca called them and said, “Hey you guys, you better hit the road!”
Noyes: Get moving!
Ferrari: Get moving. They said, “Oh really?” I think it’s either that or their alarms had stopped or something funny happened.
Noyes: Oh right. And then of course, like you said the time had changed, you could be thrown off. But they made it down in time?
Ferrari: Yes, I don’t know if their time had changed or now I remember their alarm clocks hadn’t gone off. What an excuse right? Anyway, they made it. I didn’t know. I was none the wiser.
Noyes: Yes but you get to hear those stories later
Ferrari: Yes! I had a bagpiper for the music, just because I really liked bag pipe music. After the ceremony, he stepped into the hallway and led out this one loud note and it was like “Whoa!” and everybody just jumped out of their skins! We all filed outside and he played there. It was kind of this amazing jolt.
Noyes: Oh, wow
Ferrari: Of change like. It was nice
Ferrari: I’d gone to this lecture in Boston and there had been something about, I think it was either, I can’t remember if it was part of the song of songs, it was something, that was semi-biblical but it was this poem about eating figs and olives and things like that and I said “Ahh, that’s what I want to have for my wedding — Figs and olives.”
Noyes: Oh! So you did?
Ferrari: We did. We had lots of those kind of things.
Noyes: Yes. And then, over the years, did you celebrate in some particular way, or at all?
Ferrari: Yes, we did. We didn’t have a giant celebration, we would just sort of have a quiet celebration, the two of us would just go out to dinner or something.
Ferrari: But it was very interesting. I think we went for our honeymoon right after in Connecticut also. A place called the Victorian Inn, I think it was. We spent the weekend there and then we came back up to New Hampshire, here, to this place which we had just bought and we started painting. That was our honeymoon!
Noyes: So did you actually moved in up here, were you
Ferrari: No we hadn’t
Noyes: But had you bought the place, or found I mean
Ferrari: Yes, I think in February it was, that we bought the place because we’d looked at it and thought about it and thought about it. So then, so I guess we just sort of worked out and, I can’t remember if we moved all our stuff, we must have moved our shop at least actually.
Noyes: Oh did you need to have somebody actually help with the moving of it
Noyes: Because that wasn’t something you could just put at the back of your car
Ferrari: No, we had, it took us seven days to move. We thought about hiring riggers to move it all for us but it was so exorbitant. It was really expensive. We did it ourselves.
Noyes: I don’t really know what it would need but it must have been a big deal. How did you do it?
Ferrari: It was. Well, we rented trucks and Dan had seen riggers moving machinery because when you go buy printing machine and especially, if you go to an auction, you often see people picking stuff up, professional rigors. So he paid good attention and in Boston what we did was we went to a place that sold moving equipment, rigging equipment and they sold us some of their used equipment. We bought a new some new things too like a J-bar and all these rollers. Basically, you get in and you pry the thing up and you stick wood under one side, like blocks of wood, four-by-fours, and then you inch it up, by inch or two-inch-thick pieces, two-by-four pieces. So we did that, we just sort of inched everything up and then put eight-by-eights underneath them and bolted them down. Then we would put them on rollers, lift them up and put a roller under the front, lift the back and put a roller and just start rolling the thing. Pretty much like the way the pyramids were made. It’s very simple moving technology that you employ. It’s slow but you don’t have to lift anything, it’s all moving with rollers.
Noyes: But then it had to go where, in, on, I mean, I don’t know how large it was. So, where did it go, on to a flatbed or
Ferrari: Well, we had reserved a big flatbed which was perfect for what we needed it for. Usually, you bolt things down and what happened was, there was a big construction job going on in Boston and we went to pick it up the day we were supposed to but they said, “Oh well, the construction company hasn’t returned it yet.” I was like, “Oh no!” So they gave us this box truck, which was a real lemon!
Ferrari: We started taking and filling in machinery. I think it was a little less expensive but still, the first day we used it, we brought everything here. I think we had something stashed in other people’s barns so there was something in Vermont we had to go get. I remember my dad and Dan and another friend of Dan’s went there. I think my mom and I stayed here and did something but the story was when they got back, they were driving this little box truck up the hill. After they had picked up some of the equipment and I think there was a binding press in there too besides some castors. So they’re coming back and trying to go up a hill and Dan said he had his foot all the way to the floor and it wasn’t just
Noyes: It couldn’t do it?
Ferrari: It wasn’t going up the hill, yes
Noyes: It was too much.
Ferrari: Yes. So they had to go back around and go around the hills.
Noyes: So a place where they were less inclined to go up, to get there.
Ferrari: Yes. And Dan told me that my dad said, “Oh just pull over here and we’ll throw that binding press out.” And I said, “What!”
Noyes: Not a problem. Yes.
Ferrari: I’m trying to remember if we moved all the equipment, machinery, in before we got married or if it was after. Boy! I can’t remember.
Noyes: They were both big events!
Ferrari: Yes, I think it might have been after because I know we had to paint the place where we were living in. It was sort of this little apartment space above a bigger industrial space and I know when we went there, we first saw it, it was painted pea green. We went in and it was this little, tiny space. So the first thing we did when we started moving in, we painted it white. But I think we painted it and then moved stuff in so I think that we got married and then we endeavored to move everything. I think that’s what happened.
Ferrari: Unless we moved the shop first and then moved the housewares. That might have been what happened too but I don’t know how I’ll figure that out but I’d have to think about that. My mother and father helped Dan and I moved. It was me and Dan, my mom and dad in terms of the shop and Dan’s dad. So, everybody was working for about a week after we’d got married, moving stuff. So I think it was after we got married.
Noyes: Are your parents both alive?
Ferrari: My mom is.
Noyes: Your mom is.
Ferrari: My dad died in 2004.
Noyes: Oh, okay. So if he’s not around to ask, would your mother even remember?
Ferrari: Yes, maybe I’ll have to ask her. She probably would. She’s still pretty sharp.\
Noyes: Yes, maybe she’d have a sense of that.
Ferrari: Yes, that’s a good idea.
Noyes: Or even just talking with her. Maybe it would help prompt your memory because she’s in it or something
Ferrari: Yes. I know she stayed in my apartment with me and helped me clean up like when you leave an apartment, mopping and all that stuff.
Noyes: Yes, right. So that would be, you mean, once everything was out of there…the cleaning?
Ferrari: Yes. But I don’t recall exactly whether that was before we got married or not.
Noyes: Right. That’s interesting.
Ferrari: I think it would have been after but I don’t know. It could have been that I moved some stuff and then Dan moved his stuff later.
Ferrari: And then we moved the press after too.
Noyes: Well there was a lot to be moved. The order in which it got moved is not
Ferrari: Yes, it’s not.
Noyes: And a wedding in the middle of it all.
Ferrari: Yes. That’s right.
Ferrari: I remember my parents coming. I remember Dan and I looking at the shop because it was Dan’s print shop essentially and I was working there of course but Dan had set it up before he knew me. It was in seven Sherman’s street in Boston which was on that Charlestown-Summerville border, sort of north of Boston. I remember when we were in there, trying to pack things away and it was like we were moving all these little things, moving them over, across the room to little boxes and nothing was budging. My mom and dad came up and my mom especially, she’s like, “okay!” and stuff starts, suddenly there’s crystallization of everything, suddenly breaking apart. Everything starts moving and being put in boxes because we just had a hard time doing it for some reason. It was just like how do we start to dismantle all this stuff and of course, my mother having no relation to it at all started to. Just tearing at it!
Noyes: So, how long had you been in that spot in Boston? How long had you been together in there?
Ferrari: Well, I met Dan, I think it was ‘78.
Noyes: Okay, so four years before you were married.
Ferrari: Or actually, it might have been the fall of ‘77, October of ‘77. I worked there through the winter and into the spring and I’ve probably told you this before but Dan and I, we weren’t really attracted to each other, didn’t really overly like each other.
Noyes: Yes, you mentioned that but you did the job. You just continued with it which others would have found too dull or boring or something and would move on.
Ferrari: Yes, but I was interested in the craft and everything and then in April, Dan shaved his beard and it was like, I suddenly saw his face and I was attracted to him. I was wearing, I think I’ve told you this too, I was wearing layers and layers of long John’s and sweaters and two pair of pants. It was just really cold in that shop. When the spring came in April, I think that would have been April of ‘78.
Noyes: Right because you said October ‘77
Noyes: Yes, so spring time of…yes.
Ferrari: Yes, I think we just sort of noticed each other and went to a jazz concert together. And just started going out together.
Noyes: That was it?
Ferrari: Yes. So that was good and then four years later when the building was for sale in Sherman’s street. One of the things that happened to prompt a move was that building became for sale. So people were, you know a little bit antsy and because people would come in all the time and look at the spaces and businessmen. There was only one elevator in the building. So Dan and I said, well, maybe we should think about moving some of this equipment out of here because we’d have to move it eventually. Of course, the building never sold apparently. We started looking in spaces outside of the city, near the city. It took us a while and friends of Dan’s, we were visiting them they said, “Hey, there’s this place nearby, somebody we know should buy” We went and looked at that. The first time I saw it, I didn’t like it very much, it was very barren-looking because I think it was maybe February and there was no green. It kind of looked like an abandoned brick building and it was actually.
Noyes: It’s just what it was, right?
Ferrari: Yes, apparently, abandoned for twenty years.
Noyes: I have seen the picture on the internet
Noyes: Yes, and it looks dark, kind of alone from that photo. Is there much around, out of the view of the camera there. How far is it from other buildings?
Ferrari: It’s in a village.
Noyes: It is! I didn’t get that sense from the photo at all.
Ferrari: Yes, it’s in a village. There is a building to the right of it, about twenty feet away. To the west side there’s not another building right away because it’s just this, little, empty garden spot. I had always kind of had a hankering for a farmhouse.
Noyes: Oh yes, you mentioned that. This was no farmhouse.
Ferrari: No, but the second time I saw it I said, “Okay, yeah I can see that. That looks good.”
Noyes: What had it been used for before? Was it a house or was it something else?
Ferrari: It was housing for the woollen mill.
Noyes: Oh, okay!
Ferrari: Yes, there was a woollen mill across the street.
Noyes: Was it just a bunch of small rooms?
Ferrari: Oh, well it was a row house with four tenements. Two story tenements. So there are four doors on the front. I don’t know if you can quite see that in that picture but
Noyes: Don’t remember that part
Ferrari: Yes, you might just have seen the windows and the first door. It’s this very straight-faced, brick building with arches on the doors, kind of nice but when we found it the interior had no longer four interior spaces it was gutted on the bottom floor and turned into a spooling mill.
Ferrari: And had been gutted on part of the upper floor too. It was just these big, blank, open spaces, which was kind of just what we were looking for. Upstairs, it had the same floor space but it was wide open, but it was a little office space for the spooling mill. So we moved into that office space and made it into an apartment. There were no sinks upstairs. We had to put in our own kitchen sink and we had to put in our own bathroom.
Noyes: Yes, up in there. Well, was there anything downstairs?
Ferrari: There were two bathrooms, men and women.
Noyes: Oh sure, from what had remained, just how it had been before?
Ferrari: Yes. Other than that just wide open floor space.
Noyes: Yes, which was, as you said, what you really needed. Must have been kind of hard looking at it and thinking it was also going to be your home.
Ferrari: Well, I could see past some of it and when I stepped out, the upstairs, I don’t think it had been used for anything. They had just shut it off. The little office space was used, but then there was the space, maybe they used it for storing boxes. The upstairs had this open space too. It was all open. I remember looking at that and thinking “Wow, this could be an artist loft, living space.” Second time around I saw it and it looked very cool.
Noyes: So, it was all part of the same woollen mill across the street, right?
Noyes: It had originally been their housing but then they turned it into the spooling. Do you remember the name of that, the mill?
Ferrari: The Sheridan Mill. Yes, it was the Sheridan.
Noyes: Okay. And then had the whole thing closed down twenty years prior to your having lost the place?
Noyes: Sometime in the fifties it shut down.
Ferrari: Yes. I think in the forties. It was originally, one of the things it did was make blankets for the civil war.
Noyes: Oh my God. What a history that place has!
Ferrari: I know it sold in 1906, I believe it was. The whole village sold because the whole village was owned by mill owners.
Noyes: Oh really?
Ferrari: We’d seen an old flyer detailing all the buildings. They all individually went up for sale in 1906. I think that was probably the beginning of the end because I think at that point the mill was divesting themselves of the place. I think it might have been a mill for a while after that and then by the 1940’s it was completely empty and gone in terms of the mill across the street. In fact, PS&H, the electric company bought it and because of the woollen mill, I mean because of the dam rather.
Noyes: You’re right. Yes.
Ferrari: And they broke the dam.
Ferrari: Because they didn’t want anybody. They wanted to be in the monopoly. They didn’t want anybody making power the old way. Apparently they did that a lot. They would buy the land and dams and break the dams. So they did that and they tore down the mill too, at some point in time. So the mill is no longer across the street.
Noyes: Jeez. The whole place is just, you know, has quite a history.
Ferrari: But all the rest of the village is still here.
Noyes: So what did the rest of the village, was it just, well whatever a place would need?
Ferrari: Yes, there’s a place, Catty Corner across from here, there was another building like this. Only it was a boarding house, another brick building, and then there was the one directly to the East, is a little country store or was a little country store. It used to be the company store.
Ferrari: In fact, when we moved here, the elderly gentleman that lived there in his 90s was the family that bought it in 1906 and they lived there ever since and ran it as a country store. And then, so mostly the rest of it was housing for the mill. Then there’s also in town, across the river, is the mill owner’s house. It’s a beautiful house called the Sheridan’s house, still there. Our historical society owns it now.
Noyes: Oh, they do? Okay. It’s a pretty remarkable story. So in a way, you having moved in is hardly the same business but you kept it in its industrial use.
Ferrari: Yes, we did.
Noyes: And yet, you were an artist and not on that other level of practicality in a sense.
Ferrari: Right. When we first moved here, I think Dan
said, his very first encounter, he said
“We’re printers we do printing” and we maybe even showed them something. People had this concept that we printed greeting cards, which we didn’t, but we never actually corrected that.
Noyes: They didn’t really necessarily have a clue what it meant that you were printing. Did they think they could come to you and bring their printing business?
Ferrari: Well, way, way back I think somebody at the high school asked us if we could print some tickets for them. Yes, and we did. I think we did
Noyes: Oh no! You did? Oh my God. Do you have any of those left?
Ferrari: Oh, probably somewhere.
Noyes: I mean, that’s part of your own history.
Ferrari: Yes, in the archives, I bet you.
Noyes: Oh my! That’s great. I mean boy, talk about from the mundane to the you know. That’s torturous that you did that for them and then they just really didn’t have any other idea of what you were doing.
Ferrari: In fact, I think to this day no one has a clue what went on in this building because we liked being anonymous. One of the reasons we liked being in Boston was you know, you’re anonymous.
Noyes: Yes, in the city it’s a little easier to be but out in the small town
Ferrari: Yes, so we never ever said oh yes, we print fine books. We never told. Practically, I think don’t think we told anybody that we just knew. No one still knows.
Noyes: No one asked?
Ferrari: No, no. they just thought we did printing greeting cards and I think people still don’t know.
Noyes: So they had this notion, somehow that you’re printed greeting cards.
Ferrari: Yes. That satisfied everybody and we didn’t make anybody the wiser. We just said, okay. I do remember at one point some neighbour came over, really early on and was talking to Dan and I happened to say, “Well I’m going into my studio” because we had these little bedroom studios where we’d do out art. The guy looked at me and went, “Studio?” like ha ha ha, like really sort of acting like I was being very pompous. I don’t know, that’s what I call it! Like what? What are you talking about?
Noyes: Oh man! It’s so funny.
Ferrari: What’s wrong with a studio!
Noyes: Studio, people didn’t really
Ferrari: You didn’t get it?
Noyes: That’s not a word that I heard anybody ever use when I was starting up. It was so unusual.
Ferrari: Yes. Right.
Noyes: And yes, that’s wild. Oh that’s just so good. So there’s no way that your business says what it is at all because of course you don’t care about having a sign on the street.
Ferrari: No, we had a sign. I actually have a picture, of Dan and me in front of me on the table from between 82 and 85 somewhere. It might have been like the first year or two. And our sign was about a two inch by two inch sign pasted in the middle of the door.
Noyes: For the delivery people?
Ferrari: Yes or just like our very anonymous little sign that said printed letter press and it had all these little printer’s ornaments around it and there was sort of a little square and this beautiful typed Golgonooza Letter Foundry and Press.
Ferrari: Yes, I can see it in the picture actually. I think I have to make another one because the picture in front of me actually, we used to have a different entrance because there were four doors. There were two different doors that were usable and there was one door that had a little, short loading dock and that was our front door for a while. That door actually when we first moved in had a big sort of plywood sliding door on it which we replaced. So anyway, we had to put this other little sign on the other door eventually. So yes, it did go through some transformations and I can see in that picture it says thirty, which this used to be 30 Main Street.
Noyes: Oh! But it’s not that anymore?
Ferrari: It’s not. Yes. They, when they nine
Noyes: Oh I know, 9/11
Ferrari: Yes. Actually maybe even before that when the post office started numbering everything.
Ferrari: I think it was before 9/11, actually. I think it was in the 90s
Noyes: You know what I’m thinking of? Our mailing addresses changed over the years too. When they put in probably by computer and stuff.
Ferrari: Yes, maybe
Noyes: Being able to locate people. So what is the current address?
Ferrari: It’s 25 Main Street.
Noyes: Well, that’s not much of a change.
Ferrari: Not much. It’s just the opposite side of the street because what happened was the post master, who was kind of this wacky guy, he decided that he didn’t see any numbers so he was going to number the streets because he didn’t bother to notice that there were numbers. Couple houses did have numbers and he did it in reverse because I guess there was a standard that you went from east to west or from west to east. So he did it that way and then of course thirty became on the other side of the street and I went to the town hall and complained.
Noyes: What did they say?
Ferrari: They said, well you can use both. So for years and years and years Dan and I refused to write only 25. We would write 25 dash 30 Main Street.
Noyes: Right, so you’re writing 25 or 30.
Noyes: Take your bet!
Ferrari: Right! Then it started getting confusing for people although. Occasionally it still shows up on some of our packages and stuff
Noyes: Oh like that? Yes.
Ferrari: But it started getting confusing for the UPS guys because technically it’s the opposite side of the street
Noyes: Right. Just one side, it’s often the case
Ferrari: So I think we had to eventually give up our 30 and transform to 25. And of course, numbers were significant to us. Not that we were really overly interested in numerology but number. We had box 111 which was a three and then we had 30 Main Street so it was
Noyes: Yes, you didn’t want to have to lose because somebody else came up with this bright idea that it should be what it should be, with random consideration where in your head it had a meaning to you and you had to let it go.
Ferrari: Right, and I said to them ours was thirty for a hundred years. Why were they changing things?
Noyes: Oh I know. I know.
Ferrari: But they didn’t
Noyes: Yes, didn’t see it that way.
Ferrari: Once it was done, they weren’t going to change it, it’s unfortunate
Noyes: No, I think they call it progress
Ferrari: Yes, so probably for history it will forever be confounded because it was 30 and then we wrote 25-30 and then it became 25. So imagine if people ever try to figure out where it is
Ferrari: Hopefully, they will like get it.
Noyes: That’s just part of the whole, I don’t know, kind of wonderful story tale. You know the little details. And so here’s the stupid question, did trick-or-treaters come to your house?
Ferrari: Not very often. I think.
Noyes: But you considered, I mean you must have known your neighbours.
Ferrari: Well, when we first moved here, most of the whole village was people over eighty and a lot of empty buildings.
Noyes: From the day of the mill and this was home for them and then you just weren’t going to move them.
Ferrari: Yes. That’s right. It was still that. Then, so we got to know them and when they started dying, we kind of didn’t always know who the new people were right away. But there weren’t very many trick-or-treaters to begin with
Noyes: Because there weren’t many kids.
Ferrari: Yes, because it’s a pretty small village and since we had a business on the first floor and we lived on the second floor, it was hard. I think first October or so, the first few Halloweens, I remember getting it all together and then nobody coming. It was just disappointing.
Noyes: We live in our own neighbourhood and that’s how it was for us too. We had no idea whether we should expect people or not. There was a funny, old, whistled guy from down the road with his teenage nephew or something. They would come by for a year or two and knock on the door and then I guess our kids grew up and we went into town so I’d leave a bowl out onto the steps. I never knew how much to leave and I’d come back sometimes and count and you know maybe put some squishy bars in. There’s twelve you’d come back and think “Oh somebody came because it’s ten!” And then nobody came because I’d come back and then none had been taken.
Noyes: It’s just sort of sad. So, over time people did move in. Is that because there were certainly buildings available because people were just dying and moving out I guess?
Noyes: So it was affordable, I presume.
Ferrari: Yes, it was. That’s why we moved here.
Noyes: So, did it become people not unlike yourself?
Ferrari: No. not really.
Ferrari: We kind of were reclusive and we probably should have told all our friends to move here because it was cheap and gotten that to happen but we actually moved here because of Dan’s college friends and then they moved back to Boston.
Noyes: Oh, okay.
Ferrari: So that was rough.
Noyes: Why because they couldn’t take the real nature?
Ferrari: Yes, yes.
Noyes: Or really? They really wanted to get back to the city?
Ferrari: One of them did. One of them had grown up in Chicago. She didn’t like bugs.
Noyes: Oh, jeez. It always comes down to bugs, doesn’t it?
Noyes: Well, the city has got its own kind of bugs.
Ferrari: It does. That’s true.
Noyes: So, was it a kind of lonely existence?
Ferrari: Well, we used to go do things in Brattleboro and Keene.
Noyes: Yes, because they’re both pretty nearby and there was a fair amount going on.
Ferrari: I think we found people that were interesting and alternative in those places because you know in the country it’s just that people are a little further sometimes, afield to look for everybody. I think we liked both places, actually we liked Brattleboro a lot. It’s not very far from here to Brattleboro. It’s just a little over fifteen minutes to drive, without any stoplights. Twenty, if you’re driving slow maybe. But, yes, we would meet people. I remember one time we were driving back from Swansea, New Hampshire and we used to stay up late you know and there would be no cars on the roads and we’d be like the only car driving at midnight. Dan would say, if you go into town, they rolled up the streets like at 7pm or 8pm, which has changed now. A lot of that has changed. People are, you know a lot more vibrant and people stay out late. The whole thing has changed but when we first moved here, well there’s a race track in Hinsdale. There was one. When we first moved here, there would be very little traffic on this road. But at 11 o’clock, there’d be this little like whoosh whoosh.
Noyes: Oh, it was everybody leaving the track?
Ferrari: Yes, a bunch of cars all in a row and we’d hear that. Then there would be nothing. No cars whatsoever all night. Just nothing. Amazing.
Noyes: I know and the track closed quite some while ago now, didn’t it?
Ferrari: Yes. I think at least five years ago. Something like that.
Noyes: Yes. I guess I used to be very aware of that and then I was less aware. It’s certainly because it closed and it’s a good thing it did.
Ferrari: Yes. I think for a while they had little surreys, ponies and little wagons.
Noyes: They did?
Ferrari: Yes, they did.
Noyes: Wow. I grew up in this village. We had a track nearby and it was tottered.
Noyes: It had little surreys but it wasn’t dogs.
Ferrari: Yes, I think the dogs might have been also at the same time
Noyes: Oh really?
Ferrari: Or later. I don’t know. I never went there. Dan went there once
Noyes: What’s that?
Ferrari: I never went there
Noyes: But Dan did?
Ferrari: Dan went there once. Some college friends came up and Harry was still living here and they said, “Oh let’s go to the race track!” Dan’s story was that he had this one friend who was like deciding how he was going to bet. They were just like spending twenty bucks or so. I don’t really know, I wasn’t there but they decided on the dog that like relieved himself. They’re like okay I’m voting on that one because he’s lighter and Dan said “Okay I’m going to bet on that one” And then that one won. So I think Dan won like twenty bucks.
Noyes: Oh, jeez! Enough of that. You don’t want to get hooked on that.
Ferrari: Yes, right. I think it was probably enough to pay for their beer.
Noyes: Exactly. Their evening out.
Ferrari: And their evening out, yes.
Noyes: Wow. That’s quite amazing and it’s very interesting to think how nobody knew what you were doing.
Ferrari: No, yes. Well, no one knows now either, Jane.
Noyes: No one knows now!
Ferrari: I don’t think anybody knows now either. My friend Harriett knows because she’s one of my political buddies and all of our book friends know but most of our book friends don’t live here.
Noyes: That’s what I was going to say, they don’t live here. But where does your friend live?
Ferrari: She lives in Winchester, sort of up on Route 10.
Noyes: Oh alright! She knows because she’s a friend of yours.
Noyes: But then people, well I guess I don’t know what I’m asking. People are aware of your work but that doesn’t mean they know where you work or even necessarily where you live.
Ferrari: Right. Yes. And local people I don’t think really know that still we make books here. I mean that show was up in Brattleboro but I doubt anybody from here ever went there.
Noyes: I guess you’re right unless you took the time to tell them they ought to go to your show.
Ferrari: Yes. I think I told a few people, like I told some people in my grief support group and people from Brattleboro nd those people did go but if I think about there’s some people across the street, I don’t think they went. I think I may have sent an email note out to everybody that it was happening back when it happened. Another family across the street I don’t think they really quite know either. It’s kind of interesting there’s a lot tasks of New England-ers here in this particular little town, like everybody just keeps to themselves. It’s just different. I don’t know. Few of the houses are renters. People come and go.
Noyes: You feel especially they don’t have much attachment to the town
Ferrari: Right. Exactly
Noyes: How about the lady from the Historical society?
Ferrari: Do they know what we do?
Ferrari: They probably know that we do some sort of printing and design but probably not really know that we do fine books, I doubt it
Noyes: I mean, do you just want to keep it that way?
Ferrari: I guess in a way, in terms of local stuff. I just probably like the anonymity. I think that’s true. I really do.
Noyes: You’ve got a long history of it
Ferrari: Yes. I don’t mind mostly like people anywhere else knowing but just like here. I’m here and don’t pay much attention to me, that’s all. That’s how my attitude is
Noyes: You didn’t become that quirky old lady who lives in that big, old house, that big, old place
Ferrari: Well, somebody said that to me after Dan died. They said, wow I can’t believe you’re in that place all by yourself. It hadn’t bothered me at all but suddenly like whoa, you know after they said that to me I was like oh, my God. You know what I mean? It was like a shock to me.
Noyes: Well, yes.
Ferrari: I don’t think about it that way because it was always just the right amount of space for two people. I don’t sort of qualify it and think it’s a lot of space for one. I don’t sort of think about it that way.
Noyes: Well, but it sounds like most of the space is for your work anyways. It’s not exactly your living space.
Ferrari: Well, yes. It’s a press.
Noyes: And of course people for the most part I presume have probably never been in.
Ferrari: No, not much. People haven’t been in.
Noyes: So they wouldn’t really have a clue. So they think, well I don’t know what they think. I don’t know why I’m so curious about it. It’s just kind of wonderful. You couldn’t get away with that for the most part today.
Noyes: You were, sounds like an anomaly or something. Is it?
Ferrari: Yes. I think that was something we just enjoyed and it hasn’t changed. So, it’s fine by me.
Noyes: Fine by you.
Noyes: You know what? I’m going to come and see your place someday.
Ferrari: You should.
Noyes: I’d love to. Oh, it’s so great. Wait I don’t have a clue what time it is.
Ferrari: I can look. Let’s see. I got a watch in my pocket here. It’s just about four I think.
Noyes: Oh, is it?
Ferrari: I think so. That hour went fast.
Noyes: Yes, it did. I know. Well, we were going to talk about the early days but then early days could mean a lot of things.
Ferrari: Well, we started on that path a little by talking about moving here. So, I’m going to talk to my mom and ask her when we moved, before or after when we got married and again, today is my wedding anniversary.
Noyes: Well, that was a very good place to start.
Noyes: But I’m also thinking I mean you did have the four years. Four years, yes? In Boston?
Noyes: And of course those days had started before you even knew around the seams.
Noyes: And when did Dan get committed to all this and get his equipment and stuff?
Ferrari: Well, Dan went to Clark University.
Noyes: Oh he did? In Worcester?
Ferrari: Yes. He was studying English Literature and one of his professors in poetry had some really crazy, wacky class where they would go out, looking for poetry, you know away from the classroom. Apparently, it was kind of a rogue class and some of the students rebelled and they decided they were going to stay in the classroom and some of the students decided they were going to leave and go out with the young teacher. Dan was one of those people that went and hung out with the young teacher. The young teacher’s name was Stuart and he and Dan eventually started the Four Zoas Press together where Dan was one of the editors. It was a commune really, in western Massachusetts.
Noyes: Where in western Mass?
Ferrari: It was in Hardwick, Mass.
Noyes: Oh, I don’t even know if I’ve even heard of Hardwick, Mass.
Ferrari: That’s near Ware
Noyes: Oh near Ware
Ferrari: Yes, down near the Quabbin.
Noyes: Oh interesting
Ferrari: So they had a little letter press shop. They went and bought some little newspaper shop and set up some cases of type and a printing press.
Ferrari: And would have poets come and help set their book. Then Dan or whomever would print it or have the poets work printing it too but I think the poets set it and then the press would print it. So many people would come and there was this whole poetry scene. They would have events there and poetry readings. I guess in the winters Dan used to stay there one winter and everybody in the winter went away because it was a cold farmhouse, you know not insulated. Dan stayed there because he didn’t have anywhere else to stay. Apparently it was really cold. He’d wake up with ice in his beard and his cats sleeping on his chest. I think he was all alone and he decided that he had to leave at some point and he went to Boston and set up, basically the Four Zoas west. I guess, it would have been Four Zoas east because it was in Boston.
Noyes: But he took the name and then he was by himself?
Ferrari: Yes, he was by himself. He set up a little shop in this place 7 Sherman Street in Charlestown in Boston, on the edge of Charlestown. I think he was printing, to make money, doing some work at a regular commercial shop and also probably learning how to print professionally by doing that.
Ferrari: At one point he started looking for apprentices probably because he was alone and he wanted to have people coming, just some have some comradery because that’s just what the press in Ware and Hardwick was like. You know it had plenty of people. So, it was energized by that. That’s when he put the ad in the paper looking for apprentices and I saw that ad and eventually showed up.
Noyes: Okay, very interesting. But he was really brand new to the whole, all of the art.
Ferrari: He’d been doing it for a while at the press. He did it for a few years I think.
Noyes: Yes, but still. I mean it was really from this teacher’s part
Ferrari: Yes, he came in as a poet.
Noyes: He didn’t really know anything about this other thing. But this guy, this teacher must have known enough.
Ferrari: Well, I think Stuart didn’t know anything about letter print either but I think they both decided that they wanted to have a press. So the easiest thing to do was to go buy, you know there were a lot of things that were for sale at that point and they probably knew Jim Cooney, who was part of Morning Star press, which was kind of a famous press and that was not far away.
Noyes: It wasn’t.
Ferrari: That was in Wheatleigh. That was the press Jim Cooney worked with. Let’s see, who is the person that was connected to Anaïs Nin, man writer?
Noyes: Oh I’ll remember. But right now I can’t know who it was.
Ferrari: Right. Famous man.
Noyes: Yes, I was going to say that. I remember when I finally learned it surprised me.
Ferrari: Yes. I think that writer was worked there with Jim Cooney who was from New York city and had moved out and was also into poetry. Yes, I can’t remember but he’s the person who wrote Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
Noyes: Oh, D.H. Lawrence?
Ferrari: I think, its D.H. Lawrence that I’m thinking about. Anyway, so those guys knew each other and would go down and visit this person with a letter press. Stuart and Dan then decided they were going to have a press too and you know go out and buy this little newspaper shop that was shutting down because they were shutting down here and there. Every little town had one.
Ferrari: And so they bought their equipment. I think they probably started teaching themselves. Dan was the one doing letter press. I don’t think Stuart did much. He just continued to stay a poet. I think he might have done a little bit but I think Stuart’s thing was he wanted to be the head honcho of getting the other poets in and doing that whole thing. However, Dan really took to the craft.
Noyes: Yes, he did. But he was really teaching himself, was self-taught.
Ferrari: Yes, I think he was. He might have learnt a little bit from Jim Cooney. So, if you look at the early books, they were pretty roughly printed but he just had a nature where he liked to perfect his skills and he did. He would just sort of look at books. He looked at books a lot. He would look at finely printed books and read about the craft and just sort of got more and more interested in it and deeper and deeper into becoming a fine printer, not just a printer of poetry.
Noyes: Right. Or a printer of gift cards.
Ferrari: Right! I don’t think we ever printed any gift cards
Noyes: I don’t think you did, either. I’m just imagining people’s vision; they’re thinking that you’re printing out owner cards.
Ferrari: Yes, really. If you ever think about reality. This whole reality that existed in people’s minds was this one whole thing and then there’s this totally undercover thing that’s going on. That’s totally the opposite. Not the opposite, but something totally hidden actually.
Noyes: Yes, God. I don’t know what it is. I just find it intriguing, really of people like were they afraid of you? Did they think you were doing some business of something other going on were they just like don’t ask them?
Ferrari: Well, it’s funny when we first moved here, the press was Four Zoas in Boston. Then when myself and Mark Olson joined, after we had apprenticed for a while Dan said “Well I think you guys should be full members, I think we should call this Four Zoas night house.”
Noyes: Four Zoas what?
Ferrari: Four Zoas night house because we used to work at night. I remember coming here and Dan telling somebody we were Four Zoas night house. And they were like, looking at us cross-eyed, “Night house? Hmm what’s that?”
Noyes: Really, it’s just quite an amazing story, it really is. I know it was our goal was to talk about the early days.
Ferrari: Yes, we’re going to have to continue from there.
Noyes: I was going to say I don’t think we’re really done with that.
Noyes: So, let’s do this again next week!
Ferrari: Okay, sounds great! I will talk to my mom, sort of get that cemented in my brain because it’s interesting that one of the things when someone dies is that before, I could always just look to Dan and ask “Before or after?” and he’d know it down, you know what I mean? Anything I forgot he would remember and vice versa. In a way that’s why I want to write some of these things down.
Noyes: I know because then you just, you don’t have others who can verify this.
Ferrari: I don’t have a backup, not really
Noyes: There’s certainly many parts over the years.
Ferrari: That’s right! There was so much that went on boy, that was deep and rich.
Noyes: Well, good then. It sounds like there’s a lot to say.
Ferrari: Yes. I have to pull it up and try to remember stuff.
Noyes: Well, of course know what they say about memory anyway that it’s all inaccurate but still, I know I feel absolutely certain of certain things and then I have to kind of understand too. In a way, does it matter?
Noyes: Not really. Except that if your mother has some memory that you shared with her and she with you, it could prompt other memories for you.
Ferrari: Yes, exactly.
Noyes: You know, if she says “Oh no, I know this exists” and then something else comes forth that you haven’t thought of.
Ferrari: That’s right. She may describe something.
Noyes: And all of that’s worth it because it just continues to build the story.
Noyes: Yes. And it doesn’t matter if the whole thing is fact. It’s all true.
Ferrari: And I have pretty good memory if I can get sparked to remember stuff. Yes, so it was interesting to have this idea of this very anonymous, sort of secretive place here.
Noyes: I know
Ferrari: Two people doing their craft
Noyes: But have you thought, some of those old folks who are long gone now were like, what do you think is going on down there?
Noyes: But did you really believe the story? Did people whisper? I don’t know why but like what do you think?
Ferrari: Well, there’s an elderly woman down the street. I’d say she’s not extremely elderly but she’s pretty getting up there in years. We wave and we talk and stuff like that. Again, tacit New Englanders they’ve never really had us to their house and we’ve never
Noyes: Had them over?
Ferrari: Yes, but you know the one time they watched over our place in the past but it would be interesting to ask her, what did you think of Julia and Dan? Tell me about Julia and Dan. You should see if she’d ever consent to be interviewed by you.
Noyes: Oh that would be…
Ferrari: What did you think of them?
Noyes: And then she would have a sense of what others thought too.
Ferrari: Probably. And her husband just died.
Ferrari: This year and her son just died last year. So the building across the street had four people in it and now it has one.
Noyes: Just her.
Ferrari: Yes, because the daughter in-law moved out.
Noyes: Oh, my God. How old do you think she is?
Ferrari: I would say she’s probably in her 70’s, maybe.
Noyes: But she’s been there this whole time that you
Ferrari: Yes, they were here before we moved.
Noyes: Oh my God!
Ferrari: It would be very interesting to get on tape her impression of us.
Noyes: It really would. Maybe we could make that happen.
Noyes: Oh that would be terrific!
Ferrari: She’d probably say things like “Oh yes, they were very nice!”
Noyes: “Weren’t much trouble.”
Ferrari: “I don’t know what they did.”
Noyes: “They didn’t let us in but they made cards.” So the next question, did you ever buy one? Why not! Were you interested enough to know what they looked like? Oh, well who knows! I’ll come and ask her.
Ferrari: It was perfect for us in that sense. We could fit right into that niche of taciturn New Englanders spirit. When we first moved in here actually, no one really wanted to look at us very much. We would wave at people, because we were new people, and we’d wave and smile and eventually people started waving and smiling at us. That’s how we communicated with people.
Noyes: Oh, that how you’d be completely familiar by face but might not have ever even known names.
Noyes: That nice young woman who lives down the street, don’t know her name. Doesn’t matter. Oh my God! People didn’t bring it; the welcome wagon didn’t come when you moved in to town?
Ferrari: Oh no. No. I think in some way it was a little impoverish town because see when the mill went down, you know just like in Claremont or in some town of Massachusetts and that’s how we were able to move here because we were able to afford the building.
Ferrari: But, yes, it was this very quiet taciturn New England town.
Noyes: It was the hangers on, that last generation. I mean others who were able to earn a living and needing to, had to leave and these were the ones that were just too old to leave.
Ferrari: Yes, it’s true.
Noyes: To me, that’s really amazing. It’s a common field but somehow my vision of it now, just from talking to you, could write a novel.
Ferrari: Yes. Well, there were a lot of Polish workers had come over from Poland to work in the mill.
Ferrari: And there was a little church up the road. It was a Polish catholic church. I stepped inside of it once and it was this beautiful, European looking church — beautiful pinks and blues.
Noyes: Is it still there?
Ferrari: Not there, unfortunately. They tore it down because there was a catholic church from the 60’s in Winchester. When we first moved here, one of the older men in town would walk all the way through the village with flowers and put flowers on the altar every day.
Noyes: Every day?
Ferrari: Every day in this church. Every day. And it pretty much stayed open and these older people were the people that were going to it and frequenting it and taking care of it but when that generation died, it kind of closed and stayed closed for a long time. It had this beautiful statue of Saint Michael’s slaying the dragon out front. Same old man who’d walk down the street everyday bringing flowers to the church, he said, “I was born in your building.”
Noyes: Oh, really?
Ferrari: So, he was born here. Yes.
Noyes: Oh my God! You have this amazing link with this town in a sense you don’t know and it doesn’t know you, oddly and yet it’s sort of intimate. Oh, it’s just a great story, I want to write a book!
Ferrari: It’s true. It could write a novel about that early stuff. Dan, being a poet, he would go up to the post office, he was a wreck hunter too, he would talk to people and he would get all these ideas for his poetry by talking to these old timers and you know quirky people or whatever. One time someone pulled up apparently, I think we were out for a walk and somebody pulled up and said, “Do you know where lost road is?” We were like “Whoa, we don’t think we do.”
Ferrari: Where is lost road? That made it into one of Dan’s poems.
Noyes: That’s a good one.
Ferrari: Well, have a good Easter!
Noyes: We’ve reminded each other that it’s tomorrow, yes.
Noyes: Well, good. Let’s talk next Friday!
Noyes: Okay. Have a good week
Ferrari: Thank you, Jane.
Ferrari: Bye bye now.