Let’s do the time warp again! (With Mama Bolger)

I’m doing this thing.

This is definitely a rough draft pending consultation with Papa about his side of things.

Name: Rose Red Darby Bennet
Birthplace: Bryn Mawr, PA
Current home: Bennet Farms, Honey Brook, PA
Occupation: Homemaker and Sustainable Farming blogger
Personal Life: Rose Red was born to Quaker parents along with her twin sister Snow White.  Their parents, William and Eugenia Darby, were both professors at Bryn Mawr, William in English and Folklore, Eugenia in anthropology.  Summers were taken up traveling along on Mrs. Prof. Darby’s fieldwork, and both sisters attended an experimental progressive school.  Snow Darby went on to major in women’s studies at Bryn Mawr while Rose Darby went instead to Swarthmore as a double history and political science major, then stayed to complete her education certificate.

Rose moved to Honey Brook fresh out of college with the determination to start a Montessori-style school for rural children with her cousins David and Rhys.  They were successful, and while the small one-room operation never turned much of a profit, there was enough between tuition and barter goods for them to live comfortably.  She met and married Alden Bennet, a local dairy farmer and artisan cheesemaker, and continued to teach with her four young children in tow.

In retirement, she found herself rather in need of a mission, and when the Pletchers, a large local family, lost their parents and what was left of the family’s farm, the Bennets found room in their rambling farmhouse for all 11 of them.  The oldest, Verna, is away now at the University of Pennsylvania on a prestigious mathematics scholarship, but the next few seem more likely to stay to expand the Bennet’s modest local business into a supplier for the Philadelphia fine dining industry and a hosting location for a summer program exposing urban children to sustainable living.  Rose supports them wholeheartedly in this.

Now, more commonly called “Mama” than “Rose”, she often takes her brood on educational trips to other farms and national parks using an old schoolbus she and “Papa” bought at auction.  This summer, the family has been saving for an excursion to Tidewater Virginia so that they can celebrate July 4th in Williamsburg.  The sewing-inclined members of the family are working feverishly away on costumes.  She seems to manage her herd of children with endless energy and effortless calm, to the unending amusement of her grown daughters.  Her son, who died as a teenager in a boating accident, is memorialized in their first artisan cheese-wheel “Bertie’s Sunrise Cheddar.”


Books – There are few she doesn’t like and many she raves over.  The common rooms of the farmhouse are covered in bookshelves to the extent that nobody remembers what color the walls are.  Every child has his or her own shelf and must sign books out from the downstairs ‘library’.  Mama keeps a spreadsheet of who has what on her computer, and several local children also use her lending library.  Her connections back with the Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore Quaker communities often send used books by the crateful for her to add to the stacks.  Generally she favors practical books on organic farming and home improvement, but for pleasure she’s often found reading biographies to the youngest of her children.  Mother Earth News is always stacked up by her hearth chair.

Television – The Bennets don’t have one, not now, not ever.  Each child has a computer, but use is heavily monitored and limited to a few hours after dinner.  Recently, the Bennets’ older children pooled the money to get an oversized monitor so that everyone could look things up together and discuss articles without crowding around a tiny screen.

Music – They make their own and play a lot of folk.  Mama has been coaching Papa and the children into a four-part chorus, which she directs from the old upright piano.  This month they’re working through Mendelssohn’s Elijah oratorio.  Papa plays Elijah.  The youngest, Merry Margaret, is very excited to have the soprano solo and will occasionally break into it three movements early.

Celebrities – She doesn’t do pop culture in any form, but she does have a fondness for biographies of radical thinkers and reformers.  Right now, she’s reading a life of Clara Barton a chapter every evening as the girls cook supper.

Sports – If her children are playing it, she’s in favor.  Generally they play more traditional playground games (Red Rover, Ring around the Rosie, Duck duck goose, etc.) than team sports; Mama has a constitutional aversion to sports that foster conflict and competition.

Worldview: Mama is a Quaker and a pacifist whose home is perpetually open to the meetings of various progressive groups.  Occasionally she hosts some not-so-progressive groups so long as she doesn’t find their approach hostile or offensive, and on one notable occasion some local Amish neighbors used the Bolger greatroom for a hymn sing.  The children are always invited to come, so long as they behave themselves, but never forced to do so.  She attends Meetings whenever she can, and often they happen in her house, having as it does one of the largest parlors in the county.

Home: Mama and Papa live in a huge farmhouse built in the 1740s by Ephraim Bennet, Papa’s ancestor.  While it was originally built as a general farm, it moved to dairy-only around 1913 or so.  They own only Jersey cows and supply oxen to small family farms all over the Eastern seaboard.  The twin boys Nat and Pat are now responsible for harness-training the young oxen.

Holidays:  Mama doesn’t believe in religious holidays for herself, but she does enjoy taking trips to expose the children to the way other communities celebrate their own traditions.  This Christmas was spent visiting Greek Orthodox friends from college, and this Passover will be with her friend the rabbi in Brooklyn.

Clothing: She proudly wears things her students have made her, from sweaters and dresses to storebought items.  If she’s picked it for herself, it’s always something simple, flattering, and comfortable, often jumper dresses and turtleneck sweaters, or slacks with more turtlenecks.  She avoids buying anything made by manufacturers, preferring instead to support local tailors and designers so far as she can.  Clothing her large family has made this stance rather challenging, and so she’s bent her rules a little to allow shopping at the Salvation Army, much to some of the girls’ relief.  She spends a great deal of time educating her children about the abuses in the garment industry, but doesn’t lecture them when they save up to buy things that she personally doesn’t approve of.

Goals: She’s at a stage in her life where goals aren’t so much a part of her world; indeed, they haven’t been for a while.  She lives very much in the moment, being a great fan of mindfulness and meditation, and seems content if the family finances are solid and she’s providing a nurturing environment for her family.  The last time she had a goal was back as a full-time teacher, and then it was only to establish a school that would carry on after her. Which she did about a decade ago; Honey Brook Montessori is now in a building entirely paid off and has succeeded in getting State funding as a charter school.  It now serves as many, if not more, students than the more distant traditional public school.

Anything you missed?: That should do it.


About celeveren

If you're here, you know why.
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