The Bonnie Brae Farm Memory Experience
Welcome to Bonnie Brae Farm for Boys, as it was decades ago.
Join us in a memory excursion by the Bonnie Brae Alumni
Association which believes that this journey is a worthy venture
for alumni, others who lived here, and their friends.
How many times have you been down the lane in the picture
above? How long ago? Each of us who lived at Bonnie Brae
recalls vividly the first day we saw this majestic lane, often
with kids like us on either side in some form of game or sporting
activity. For some, this first sighting was a welcome change;
for others a dreaded encounter. Yet, we each share that moment
of turning off Valley Road and experiencing the Bonnie Brae Lane
for the first time. It was the start of an episode that would
change our lives forever.
The Lane is most beautiful perhaps each Fall when the leaves
change into bright colors and swirl to the ground hurried by the
sharp brisk winds that so often sweep across the fields where we
played capture the flag behind the cottages, or football in the
huge field on the left. Click on the picture above (443 KB) to
sharpen your memory about those times---perhaps when you had to
walk home after missing the Bonnie Brae bus. At the top of the
lane is the main circle with Osborne Cottage on the right and
across the road from Osborne on the left was the Dining Hall, now
a movie theater. Back then, each morning and evening, or three
times a day on weekends and in the Summer, the cottages would
empty as we headed to the Dining Hall for meals that were as
predictable as the seasons.
The Dining Hall brings forth strong memories, much of it
sensory, of clanking sounds from the kitchen, of Grace from the
dining room, of grease from scrubbing huge pots and pans. But
most of all the smells and tastes associated with being served
and eating your fill of fried chicken and mashed potatoes, fresh
corn on the cob, spaghetti, succotash, meatloaf, lima beans, ham,
and powdered donuts on Sunday mornings. Evening desserts
included peach cobbler, fruit cocktail, butterscotch pudding, and
cake on special occasions. And who can forget Frank, the cook,
or Mrs. Shepherd, usually yelling at someone, or the first taste
of power as Head Waiter. It all happened here.
"Friends are the Family that you choose for
Among the many enduring Bonnie
Brae hallmarks are the friendships that were developed and never
forgotten. How often over these long years have you stopped for
a moment or two to reflect about some old friends, and then
wondered what ever became of them?
Osborne Cottage is where many of us started. The two-story
Tudor brick buildings were heated by coal in the early 1950s, and
in Winter the coal ashes were spread on the ice and snow covered
roads. In retrospect, each cottage was kept incredibly clean,
both inside and out. Every morning, 365 days a year, each boy
had a chore to complete, after making his bed and before
breakfast, such as dusting, or cleaning the bathroom. On
weekends a more thorough half day cleaning included washing
windows or waxing and buffing floors. These chores instilled an
enduring work ethic and a shared responsibility.