Around the time that I figured out that my parents might be Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny, I also concluded that Pete must be God. My parents were not great church goers or church members and we didn't get a lot of instruction on the "God" issue at home. My father would go to church on Palm Sunday so as not to appear in church only on Easter. My mother had been ex-communicated from the Catholic church because she married my father - who was a Protestant. Because of the fact that she had been kicked out of a church that she had attended dutifully since she was an infant - just because she happened to fall in love with a man who wasn't Catholic - she became disillusioned about religion and never really resumed a genuine interest in the subject. If she went to church it was probably only so that she could be around other people and because it provided an opportunity to dress up.
Our church was an amazing church with an equally amazing preacher, Reverend Edmonds, who was a Professor at the Yale Divinity School. Even that - or the fact that all of his other family members were regular church goers - didn't entice my father to regularly attend church. My sister and I would be dropped off in front of Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church (formerly Temple Church - sometimes known as the Amistad Church) for Sunday school. Then we would be picked up. Occasionally we would go to church with the aunts, or Uncle Booster, or with my dad (on Palm Sunday and Easter).
I believed everything my father told me unless I could actually see for myself that he was wrong. He never mentioned God.
My mom, despite her lapsed Catholicism, would insist that we say our prayers (thanking God for the food that he had provided) every night before eating supper. My father would normally go along with the program but every now and again he would offer that it was actually he and Pete who had put the food on the table. I continue to have "faith" issues. I still don't know who God is and just hope that there is one.
Pete and his second wife, Margaret Weaver Hodgson, lived in a cobblestone mansion on eighty one acres of land in Madison, Connecticut (See photo above). The property was called "The Hill"*. We spent a great deal of our childhood on the Hill. When Pete and Margaret were out of the country we would sometimes spend up to a week there. It was an idyllic, peaceful and storybook setting.
Pete and Margaret never locked their doors. They figured that if anyone really wanted anything that they owned that they would find a way to get in. Even when they left for long trips in Europe they would leave the doors open and the keys in their cars. When we would arrive at the house we would just walk through the pool side doors and settle in. Pete drove a Mercedes roadster. It was either grey, or brown, I can't remember which, with blood red interior. The dash was real wood. I still remember seeing Pete from time to time driving near Yale with the top down on the Mercedes and a pipe hanging from his mouth. When I was around 8 or 9 I would go into the garage and just sit in the Mercedes for long periods of time. I liked the way it smelled. Margaret drove a VW bug. They also had a tractor which I would sometimes back out of and into the driveway when I was a young teen. It was the first time I ever drove a standard shift.
The property had a tennis court, a pool, a side of the house where you had breakfast and another side where you had lunch and dinner. My favorite room, the living room, was like a small cathedral. It had french style glass panes all around and it was two to three stories high. It seemed as big as a basketball court. Pete was a music buff and there were what seemed like a million albums lined all around the perimeter of the room. When we were there we heard mostly classical and jazz. But music was always bouncing off of the walls. I can't really remember ever watching T.V. although there was a t.v. in "our" room upstairs. There was mostly music, food, cocktails for the adults (7 & 7 was my dad's drink), books to read by the pool, and conversation.
The two (or possibly three) car garage was topped by an apartment. The best thing about the garage was the freezer which was always well stocked with ice cream.
Pete owned a four seat, prop plane. Once he took dad, Pat, and me up and we flew over the Hill. Margaret and my mother were standing below waving.
When I called the Madison Historical Society in early January 2011, they indicated that Pete's property was called Legend Hill. I had never heard that name before. For us it was always simply "The Hill". Others have called the house the Silly Putty mansion. I had never heard it called that either.
Pete and Margaret's home has now become the Legend Hill Condominiums in Madison, Connecticut. It may have an historic home designation. "Our " bedroom was on the second floor, pool side, closest to the garage, over the kitchen and pool side door.
* Now Legend Hill Condominiums in Madison, Connecticut