Pingrey Hill Again

Not long after we moved into the Pingrey house, Peg re-established her shop and soon was busy doing repair work. She also made most of her own string instruments here in Andover. As in Tyngsboro, through her work she became acquainted with a wide range of people who were her customers. One difference from Tyngsboro was that here there was much less market for moderately expensive violins, but she bought old second-hand ones and fixed them up and sold them.

It was while living in Andover that she gave several lectures on how violins are made, and even taught two Elder Hostel courses on the subject at the university.

We had already established the practice of going down to Fiddler's Grove, North Carolina during the annual country music festival at that famous place. There, Robin had achieved master fiddler status after having won the competition for Fiddler of the Festival in three different years. Since 1986, Robin has performed on a violin custom-made for her by Peg.

Soon, the festival producers asked Peg to give a fiddle workshop each year. Peg did so a number of years until we had to give up going down there, no longer being physically able to make the trip in our motor home, as always, or by any other means. In these workshops, she did not give the full treatment on how violins were constructed, but rather showed the fiddle owners how to take care of their fiddles (not so easy, as any good fiddle owner knows) and how to make minor repairs and adjustments.

I bought a motorcycle and within a month fell with it in a rough pasture and broke my leg. Peg wanted me to give up the motorcycle, which I had really been enjoying. As a result we compromised that I would content myself with a smaller motor bike if she would also get one and we could ride through the country roads and access lanes together. We used them for two summers until Peg's knees got so bad with arthritis that we agreed to give them up. We had used the motor bikes principally at noontime, when we would ride together out to one of a half dozen different places with a wonderful view and eat our sandwich lunch enjoying the scenery. We then continued the practice, but this time together in a golf cart rather than on separate motor bikes. These were some of the happiest occasions of our life.

The nearby village of Wellsville had a large balloon rally each summer, with perhaps as many as forty or fifty balloons. One early evening we were watching the balloonists fill their hot air balloons and take off with them. Unbeknownst to Peg and me, Robin sneaked off and put down seventy-five dollars for a many-mile ride in one of the balloons for Peg. Would Peg do it? She already had some trouble walking, and in any case it was something of a trial for someone her age. To our pleasant surprise, she acquiesced. I still remember the difficulty she had getting into the balloon basket, but she plumped herself on the edge and swung her feet over. Soon, they were up and away, and we followed the balloon's path with our car. Just as though by magic, the balloon took a course which flew directly over our house. We were there where they landed on a hillside several miles beyond, and the pilot got out the traditional bottle of champagne which we all enjoyed. Peg spoke enthusiastically about the experience. Knowing the terrain, she was able to keep the balloonist informed as to where they were and would soon be. What impressed her most, though, was the silence, as the balloon cruised through the air. She had enjoyed it thoroughly, this sixty-eight year old woman.

Picking up the thread of Peg's story after we moved to the Pingrey House, Peg spent most of her daylight hours in her shop and in summertime in her garden. She didn't go out much -- chiefly only to Quaker meeting on Sunday, because her arthritis bothered her and it was increasingly hard for her to get around. But it was a happy and fulfilling time for her for several years, despite a number of operations she had to have. She came down with ovarian cancer, and that meant hospitalization in Buffalo and afterward many check-up trips back to Buffalo. Fortunately, it was all successful, and there has been no return of the cancer. Incidentally, some time much earlier, Peg had had to have her thyroid glands removed and ever since had to take thyroxin regularly. Also, in these years, both knees went kaput with arthritis and she had the knee joints replaced, both at once -- rather unusual, for they usually space them out, but Peg decided she might as well have them both at once and get it over with. She also had an outpatient carpal tunnel operation, but it was the other operations that meant several days' hospitalization each. She survived them all fairly well, but her arthritis was a constant source of discomfort and some degree of physical handicap, and she developed osteoporosis.

To repeat, these were happy days for Peg, despite the occasional operations.

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