Monday, November 16, 2009

Nellie Hatt and Her Sons

Nellie Hatt and her sons Ned, left, and Carl on farm at Baileyville, Me., where all were born. If crops are bad, Ned said, “We make do, then. We don’t ask nobody’s help.”

The above caption and photo ran on page 37 of The New York Times, July 2, 1974. It has haunted me ever since. It was taken by Arthur Grace, for a story called “Maine Farmers See Aid in Beef,” by Alden Whitman. The dateline was a town called “Meddybemps, Maine.”

“… away from the coast, on the narrow back roads, are many gray sway-backed, abandoned or unused farms, their stone fences crumbling or their fields inexorably reverting to brush.” And there lived Nellie Hatt and her two sons, one-legged Ned and Carl. I remembered seeing people in Maine just like them during summer camp. Maine was the Mississippi of the North, but without the music or the Negroes. I attempted to write a short story about Nell and her sons, but never could. Fifteen years later, I showed the clipping to my wife, Peggy. For my next birthday, she presented me an original mounted print from the Times photographer, Arthur Grace, which has since hung on my wall. Grace told her he thought I was crazy. But I thought you’d have to be insane not to want a print.


© 2009 Josh Alan Friedman
photo
© 1974, 2009 Arthur Grace

14 comments:

  1. That's a gorgeous photo and what a gift!

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  2. How could one not appreciate the rustic beauty and tragic grace of the subjects (no pun intended)

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  3. That is my great great grandmother.

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  4. Anne P--can you shed some light on the family?

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  5. This is my family (grandmother). I can't believe you have this hanging in your home!

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  6. Will someone from the Hatt Family above please give us some history about Nellie, Ned and Carl.

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  7. I never met Nellie, she died about a year before I was born, I believe. In 1983. I think it was Carl who actually died the week I was born. My mother spent her summers up there with her. She is the "Anonymous" listed above. I can ask her to send you more information.

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  8. Can you please give me some information about the posting of that picture? I need to know the date and photographer that should have been underneath the photo in the newspaper. I don't know if you have the article, but I need to find out what issue it was - actually, as much as possible about it. I can't seem to find it anywhere else online and I only have the picture.

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  9. I'm sorry - I just reread your article and found the information I needed. very sorry.

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  10. I'm related to the Hatts as well- I'm happy you have this photo though, I love it.

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  11. My Grandfather tells the best stories about them. I'll share the link with him and some other family members and maybe they can share a bit :)

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  12. My maiden name is Brownlee, and I must be related to Anne P., because we're related to the Hats also. I'll have to ask my dad the specific relationship, but he used to spend time on the Hat plantation also. My dad is from Calais and most of his family was originally from Baileyville.

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  13. What a powerful photo!

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  14. Nellie is my great grandmother..i remember going to her house..she would make use a cup of hot chocolate (cooking cocoa) and give use some large round waffer crackers

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