Sawyer Hall is our Heath Post Office, Police Office, and Town Library with Town Offices for the Selectbord, Administrator, Tax Collector, Assessors, etc. upstairs, but for for many years a good portion of Sawyer Hall was used by the Grange for suppers, and even for dramatic productions. I remember when we moved here in 1979 the Library was closed because the building was being renovated. Someone gave me a tour of the large open upstairs where a small raised platform acted as a stage was set in the ‘bay windows,’ and a Glenbrook wood burning parlor stove was placed on another wall.
I could picture Grange suppers serving all kinds of wonderful home grown and home cooked meals, but I couldn’t imagine what kind of plays were were put on UNTIL one of Heath’s Great Ladies gave me a box of plays and books of recitations. The plays were mimeographed and given a green paper cover. One marked Very Good is Holloway’s Hired Hand – a play in one act by Earlene Day Benson of Groton, NY. It won First Prize in the New York State Plays Project in 1952 and was distributed for .35 a copy through the American Agriculturist Magazine.
As a community event the Friends of Library once put on a reading of this play which got a lot of laughs. Harry Holloway is a farmer whose hired hand has just quit, Laura is his wife, Jim is the ex-hired hand and Jerry is the new hired hand. Lovesickness is the cause of the hired hand’s leaving, but before the curtain falls the new hand Jerry, is revealed to be none other than a ‘college girl’ and the object of Jim’s affections who wanted experience on a farm. It all ends happily, of course, because the point of these plays was to encourage farmers.
The Grange was disbanded in Heath as in so many rural towns because the number of farms dwindled so. But out in Corvallis, Oregon, as perhaps in other places, the Grange is enjoying a resurgence as new young farmers meet over delicious Grange dinners for advice, information and encouragement from the old timers. How do I know this? I read all about it in the New York Times yesterday, New Food Culture A Young Generation of Farmers Emerges. A new generation of enthusiastic foodies can take credit for helping revive The Grange.