Dimmitt’s Farm

Dimmitt Butcher was a farmer. A nice man, a talented man, strong, dedicated and hard-working. He grew corn and tobacco, raised hogs and he drove an old red panel truck that my dog Brownie loved to chase. Dimmitt could build things, fix things and be kind to kids. His wife Gertie, though a bit on the skittish side, was inclined to bring cookies. She was very religious.

Dimmitt’s farmhouse was perhaps the most recognizable home in Fairfield, sitting atop a long lane. In some years, his hogs were a grand reminder that farming was going on there. In all years, putting tobacco in the barn was an event. He didn’t smoke. (Tobacco worms are interesting creatures.)

Butcher’s farm adjoined the Alden Naylor farm on the road leading out of Fairfield. On top of the hill outside of town, Dimmitt owned a little farm pond. We used to go fishing there. (Naylor’s farm, as an aside, drew some attention in about 1954 when a U.S. Air Force pilot, flying out of Wright Patterson AFB, was forced to crash-land on the farm. The plane broke through the fence, crossed the road, and bumped into Katie Naylor’s petunias on the front porch.)

I actually lived in the Butcher home a short while after I came home from college in 1969. Our house was being built in New Fairfield and we’d cannibalized the old one of its cabinets and bathroom fixtures. The Butchers had sold out and moved on and allowed us to stay in their big brick home until ours was finished.

It was the only time I came in contact with a ghost. The mind played strange tricks on us as the people moved out and the animals moved in. Or was it just a matter of the mind? Twelve distinct footsteps coming up the stairs. Thump, thump, thump, thump. I got up to see if somebody was coming up to use the bathroom.

Nobody.

Then I met the ghost. In an instant, it vanished.

The farm was nonfunctional by this time and was simply a haven for dozens of cats that had been abandoned. Wildlife ran amok. On Sundays, the cars would come and the occupants would dismantle anything they could find. We had no protection.

One day, a wildfire out of nowhere burned mercilessly through the town. Please attempt to understand that while no useful purpose would have been served for fighting the fire, the smoke burned our eyes.

We were probably the last family in Fairfield.

I do not know why.

From our back door, looking west across our garden. To the rear of the garden is an unpaved alley that led west across the street and up a slight incline toward the school. Out of the picture to the left was Herbert and Julia Jinks’ house. One day Mrs. Jinks set fire to her barn by accident. Oops. Brookville Fire Department got there after all the kids in school did a bucket brigade from our pump to keep it from spreading. The barn burned, all the same. (We were heroes!) The brownish house with the green roof was Ned Parker’s house. Across from that, the Whittemores lived. Out of view in this picture, to the right, was the Jim Miller house. The Millers moved into the house from the one next door to it after my grandparents, May and Martin Kunkel, moved to Liberty in the middle 50s. Grandpa and Grandma lived in the house many years, raising kids and chickens right on the property. I don’t recall who lived in most of the houses in this picture but all of them face Main Street. I believe Carl Bockover lived in the big white one with the green roof. Mr. and Mrs. Preston lived to the left of that.

Fairfield and the Butcher and Naylor farms