At home with the Allens

Johnsburg Historical Society

Pictured are Harriet and George Allen with daughters Stella (left) and Gretchen (right).

Pictured are Harriet and George Allen with daughters Stella (left) and Gretchen (right). David Braley

“I Would Do Anything to Go to a Square Dance”

As a teenager Harriet’s favorite activity was square dancing. She was 16 when her mother finally consented to allow Harriet to attend her first square dance, at the Buckskin Valley Dude Ranch at Garnet Lake. “I would do anything to go to a square dance” and Harriet remembers having to clean the whole house and bake a cake before being allowed to go dancing. She had to be escorted by her brother Howard — not Harry, because Mom thought he was too wild.

Even after Harriet and George were engaged, Harriet would attend square dances without the groom-to-be. Reasoning that “George doesn’t need to know”, Harriet wore her new wedding shoes to a square dance weeks before the wedding.

The young couple who had met at church and had grown up together were married January 1, 1949 on a minus 30 degree day at Bakers Mills Wesleyan Church. The ceremony was simple, with two witnesses and followed by a reception at Harriet’s mother’s home.

When George was hired by National lead in 1951, the growing family moved to Upper Works where housing was provided for employees.

His first job there was at the cinder plant where coal was mixed into ore. A specific amount of water was added so that the cinder-filled bins and ore-filled bins would not flare up when set on fire. After burning for fifteen minutes, the cinder chunks were ready to be dumped into railroad cars which were sprayed with water to keep them cool. The cars would be weighed, then sent to the lower yard, and then sent south by train, some containing titanium and some containing iron.

After having worked at National Lead for twenty years, George reluctantly went on strike along with the rest of the work force of about 300. He never returned to work after the strike, but went to work at Barton Mines Hudson River garnet mining plant in North River, where he remained another 22 years.

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