About

An artist's view of West View Farm in 1938

by Ruth M. Rasey Simpson

As a young girl in the 1920's, Ruth Rasey Simpson was employed by Henry and Vina Harwood as the hired-girl at West View Farm. Now a noted Vermont author, here she shares with you a behind the scenes glimpse of what went into keeping the Farm's frequent visitors content and comfortable.

Dorset in the 1920's, West View was a highly regarded dairy farm, owned and operated by Henry J. Harwood, a descendant of the earliest Dorset settlers in the 1760's. His wife, Vina conducted a summer guest home in the spacious white farmhouse, set well back from the road, on the tree-shaded grounds. Guests were mainly professional people, some retired, from New York or New Jersey. Most stayed two weeks, some only one, during July and August. A few others made reservations during September and October. Weekly rates were about $25 per person.

Usually eight or ten women and/or men comprised the West View maximum. Some arrived and left in their own cars, dusty from the unpaved road that passed the house. Others came by railroad to Manchester Depot, six miles away, and were transported to the house by a taxi or by Henry, if his busy farm schedule permitted.

Accommodations consisted of four bedrooms and one bathroom on the second floor, plus one with a shared bath, opening off the lower front hall. The owners bedroom was directly behind this, opening from the sitting room. A room for the "hired girl" was at the head of the back stairs. Farm helpers lived in nearby homes of their own. Vina did all of the cooking, but she was assisted in the rest of the work by one "hired girl". This also included the daily washing of over 100 glass quart-size milk bottles and numerous half pint cream bottles in the set tubs of the laundry. Her wages were $7.00 a week, plus tips, which were usually about $8.00 weekly.