In the Misty Moonlight


Judy, deer and cousin Tony 2

By Judy Berman

An old, dusty, red tin box, tucked into a corner of the closet, holds a treasure-trove of memories.

Like a time machine, it transports me. The contents, however, might mystify today’s teenagers.

Black round discs with a huge hole in the middle. I smile as I pluck one of the 45s from the stack. The song takes me back to an unforgettable trip to visit my Aunt Martha’s family in Pennsylvania.

Some of my recollections are as foggy as the misty moonlight that hung low in the night sky.

But one thing remains certain. I had a wonderful time.

My aunt lived in Three Square Hollow. Just the name conjures a remote, woodsy place filled with mystery and adventure, and neighbors a distance away.

My Mom told me that I always referred to Aunt Martha as my fabulously wealthy aunt. The reason? I think it had something to do with a spring on her property.

If I close my eyes, I can see it still. In the woods, water tripping over polished stones. I swear that water tasted better than soda pop. That description always cracked Mom up. But it was true.

Aunt Martha wasn’t well-to-do in terms of money stashed away in some bank or hoarded in a secret hiding place.

She was rich beyond measure in kindness, generosity and just plain good fun.

Judy and Aunt Martha2 - Aug. 1993

Her home was nestled in a wonderful place to romp and roam.

Years earlier, when my family visited, a fawn stumbled into their lives. It was abandoned. While I was there, I fed it and the tiny critter squirmed as I held it. Quite a thrill. I never knew what to expect there.

What was not surprising is there were children everywhere. Hardly a surprise. Aunt Martha had 11 children. Some of them were grown and on their own. The ones at home were determined to show me a good time.

One night, we hopped into a car. My cousin, Danny, egged me on to take the wheel. That was pretty courageous on his part, as I didn’t have a driver’s license.

Not a chance of any traffic stops, though. There wasn’t a police car within miles. We had a ball.

When I arrived, I was almost a stranger to them. We rarely saw each other as my family had moved to another state when I was nearly eight. Yet I got a warm welcome and I felt right at home.

Mountains - mists

The night before I was to return home, they really surprised me.

They threw a party for me. It might have included a bonfire, marshmallows and a cookout. I don’t remember.

What I will never forget is this song, “In the Misty Moonlight,” that played that night, and how special my aunt and cousins all made me feel.

Like visiting royalty.


Is there a song that reminds you of a special place or time? Is there a time when others surprised you by doing something special for you?


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Music Video: In the Misty Moonlight by Jerry Wallace 

1. Main Photo: Me holding a fawn and my cousin Tony Barnhart at our Aunt Martha’s.

2. Photo: Me and Aunt Martha – Three Square Hollow, Pennsylvania – 1993

3. Photo: Mountains – mists, Environmental Protection Agency – Date: May 1973

  1. Oh, oh how sweet those days were and how lucky you were to have a wealthy family, Judy! One that means more than being royalty, although you were treated as such, more than money could buy, rich in love, adventures and warmth. The fawn photograph, the red tin box, those black objects like Frisbees made flat with the circle in the middle, ….loved this magical place called, Three Square Hollow, in the woods of Pennsylvania. For me, my memories of a favorite place are located on Squam Hill, Rockport Massachusetts. A place my Great Grandfather, (who I did not get a chance to meet or know) John chose to build a stone house. We call this “John’s Rock.” I had chances to meet distant 2nd and 3rd cousins, but my days with my Aunt Marie and working in the Tuck Pharmacy, selling Tuck’s candy… those were my ‘well spring’ of joyful memories!

    1. You mentioned some interesting places, yourself, Robin. Squam Hill and John’s Rock. Love it. I loved your “well spring of joyful memories!” It’s intriguing what little things remind us of big moments in our lives. 😉

  2. And exploring islets and inlets along Cape Ann, the Motif # 1, a red lobster ‘barn’ at the end of a pier appears in a lot of calendars of New England. My Dad would set up an easel and paint, I was allowed to stay out until 11 p.m. my 16th summer…. Sorry, you got me going, Judy!

    1. Robin … I know how that memory machine can kick in. Thanks for sharing yours. Staying up past 11 was huge in my day. Even when I was grown – 21 – and had a job, I was expected to be in bed by 1 p.m. I might point out now that I lived about 30-plus miles from the big city and that commute usually meant I was heading for home when the place just got jumping. 😉

      1. Oh, that is so true about big cities, Judy! They do seem to stay ‘awake’ much longer than the smaller towns do! I have Ohio Wesleyan University students in the parking lot carousing sometimes late at night, along with the ones who live here and do their laundry at odd hours of the night. (My apartment is across the hallway from the laundry room!) I like the way you called our thoughts of the past, “our memory machines!”

  3. When I was around 8 my aunt and uncle bought a farm. It was about 45 minutes away but we would visit often and it was a great place for kids. They had chickens and sheep and fields to run in. Unlike your aunt, they didn’t have children so we were treated special when we came. My aunt always had wonderful baked goods. Her home was a very old musty-smelling farm house that they never really modernized. It was like something out of the 1800s which made it more special. There was a stream that ran under it and you could drink the clear cold water. They are gone now but I still have the memories.

    1. Sounds like some wonderful places to go exploring, Kate. I loved ‘visiting’ the country. Can’t say I was a big fan once my folks moved to the country. I did love to roam in the country though. That crystal clear, cold water sounds so inviting. 😉

  4. Three Square Hollow. Aunt Martha. And, of course, the song which brings it all back to you. What a beautiful recollection and touching reminder of how important all the little things in life are, especially kindness. Aunt Martha was a blessing, wasn’t she? Lovely, Judy, just lovely.

      1. How wonderful, too, that you have a photograph of it.

        comment from earthrider to merrildsmith:
        I wish I had more photos from that time period, Merril. Especially of my relatives. We have the group photos, but very few individual unposed photos. But I am happy that I have this one of the fawn as it does remind me of a very special time.

  5. what a wonderful post, judy. i love the picture of you holding the fawn. what a magical, lovely place that must have been and what an amazing aunt. i can see why these memories have lingered with you forever.

  6. Beautiful memories and a wonderful read.
    Being welcomed by relatives even ones you’ve been away from for years is really special. And I love how music can transport us back in time.

  7. Judy, what a delightful post. You’re lucky to have such vibrant memories of those early years.

    Whenever my family got into the car and took a small trip we would sing. The song I most remember from those car trips is my aunt singing, “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie.” Anyone remember that one? “Be sure it’s true, when you say, ‘I love you; it’s a sin to tell a lie. Millions of hearts have been broken just because these words were spoken…I love you, yes I do, I love you. If you break my heart I’ll die. So be sure it”s true when you ay I love you, it’s a sin to tell a lie.”

    1. Ronnie … “In the Misty Moonlight” seemed to be in heavy rotation – as they say in radio DJ lingo – in 1964. Dean Martin sang the most popular version of it, but the 45 I have and the song I remember is by Jerry Wallace.

      I do remember “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie.” So true. Great words to remember. 😉

  8. This is tender, vivid and touching post, Judy. You could write a children’s story around “The Fawn At Three Square Hollow” and share a wealth of memories about the wonderful people in your life.
    Okay, I WILL NOT play In the Misty Moonlight again…no, I will not…well, maybe just once…

    1. Thank you, as always, for your thoughtful and sweet comments, Marilyn. If I wrote the children’s book you suggested, it would have to be purely fiction. I remember so little about that time. But, hmmmm …

      I admire your strength in resisting Jerry Wallace as he croons “In the Misty Moonlight.” I can tell, however, that you’re weakening. 😉

  9. What a lovely evocative post Judy – I can “see” Three Square Hollow! Your writing, especially the water tripping over polished stones is so poetic!
    The song that transports me back to childhood is “It’s a Wonderful World” – which my Dad used to sing when we were all together in the car, usually on our way to a holiday destination.

    1. I love that song, Jenny. What a wonderful childhood connection. When Louis Armstrong sings “It’s a Wonderful World,” I just break out in a huge smile. 😉

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

  10. What a wonderful story Judy! 🙂 I really enjoy hearing these childhood memories. I miss hearing my parents and my grandmother talk of their childhood, so it’s good to hear stories I’ve never heard before, they’re a comforting read!

    I think your aunt was a fabulously wealthy lady – I can only dream about a spring like that. I drink a lot of bottled water as I don’t feel very well consuming the tap water where I live – city water is never good. I’ve tried filtering and it doesn’t solve the problem, steaming food is okay though, so I guess it’s probably a chemical I have a problem with (chemicals don’t rise in steam). I’d love to have a spring like that in my back garden!

    And holding a little fawn too, how lovely! Are you sure your aunt wasn’t actually Snow White?!!! 😉

    Driving without a licence sounds a lot of fun too, good to hear it turned out okay! Did you ever tell anyone afterwards?

    I’ve got a nice little collection of black round disks too, but nothing to play them on at the moment! 😦 I’ve not heard of ‘In The Misty Moonlight’ before, although his voice sounds familiar, I love those old songs. I have entire evenings when I listen to old songs sometimes. I can quite easily feel like I’m visiting a time I’ve never known – music is a wonderful illusion of memory or otherwise!

    1. The photos also trigger some of these memories, Suzy. I wish I had more of them from my growing up years.

      Mom told me that Aunt Martha loved my description of her as my “fabulously, wealthy aunt.” She certainly lived up to that in my books. That crystal clear ice-cold mountain water is just part of her riches.

      Aunt Martha had enough critters around that might have qualified her for the lead in the fairy tale “Snow White.” But, no, she was just a gentle, down-to-earth lady.

      You need to get a record player. Vinyl is coming back. Although I’m betting that most of mine are pretty scratched up from being played so much. 😉 Music takes me back as well. It also alters and uplifts my mood.

      1. I have a record player, but last time I went to use it, there was a motor noise running but no turning of the turn table. Through years of no use at all, it’s either dusty or rusty, I’m not sure which! I really can’t be that old, but I must be! 😀

  11. Aunt Martha with eleven children – now that woman knew how to live and you were one of her chilluns’ too! Your post reminds me of a quote by Maya Angelou which ends with the words “. . . but you’ll always remember how they made you FEEL.”

    The last time I was surprised? – A faculty member whom I thought was rather indifferent toward me wrote a song of appreciation at my “surprise” retirement party. Very touching. I like how you have the knack for pairing text and song in the most interesting way.

    1. Maya Angelou was absolutely correct. A variation of that saying … “you’ll always remember how they made you feel” is posted on one of our teacher’s doors. I really like it.

      That surprise was very sweet, and unexpected. There’s no doubt in mind why that faculty member honored you with a song. 😉

      Thanks, Marian. Coming from a fellow English teacher, your compliment really touches me. 😉

  12. What wonderful memories you have of special people and a special place in time. And isn’t it a lovely thing that we can feel wealthy beyond measure with only nature at our fingertips?

    1. Henry David Thoreau would probably be nodding vigorously in agreement with you, Dora. Having room to roam and a beautiful setting does my heart good. I’ve never forgotten the kindness those very special people showed me. 😉

  13. Judy this sounded like a magical place to me. We lived on a hobby farm and so many of our cousins from the city still remember visiting us and having so much fun visiting with my giant family. This story is precious and made me smile and remember my own time growing up on the land.

    1. Kath … Not to be “punny,” but the land and nature is good grounding for the soul. I always felt very comfortable walking in the woods or in the country – except when I was concerned about bears prowling nearby. 😉 I can understand why your cousins would have a great time visiting you in the country. Many fun opportunities.

  14. It’s no wonder you still cherish those memories of Three Square Hollow. As you said, the very name sounds as though it came straight out of a storybook. And I love that they made you feel like visiting royalty. We all need that, at least now and then.

    1. Three Square Hollow’s name is almost magical. Charles, my relatives made me feel richer than if they had put a diamond tiara on my head, It’s a feeling I wouldn’t mind re-experiencing … oh, every other month or so. 😉

  15. Aunt Martha has riches we all hope to have, “She was rich beyond measure in kindness, generosity and just plain good fun.” I truly appreciate stories that help us realize what our true treasures should be. Of embracing a simple life and going back to our roots, “Faith, family, friendship, community.” The world has changed so much. Technology crazily evolved that so many lost that human connectedness as well as finding value in the most simple of things. Going back to my folks last Summer made me see the many things I missed. Simple, pure, things that no matter how much I earn in America, I can never buy. Humbling and eye opener for me. Thanks for sharing this post. God bless to you and your family.

    1. Thank you for your comments, Island Traveler. Those wonderful touchstones of our lives – whether it was my Aunt Martha’s home in the mountains or your folks’ home in the Philippines – remind us what’s most important. I’ve read many touching stories on your blog about your family and know you do value the simple things as well. I’m happy that you had a great visit with your family last summer. God bless you and your family also. 😉

    1. Carl … I know what you mean. Over the years, we’ve moved quite a bit and I lost some photos. I wish I had more photos from my growing up years and later. That photo of my aunt, who was 81 at the time, was apparently the only one I took when we visited her that year. I could kick myself.

  16. You were royalty, visiting princess Judy from another state. How lovely, the photo of you, the fawn and your cousin from then. And from 1993, you and your Aunt. Lucky you, to have a song you can pin these memories to, my friend.

  17. In The Misty Moonlight… yes, that was also Larry The Wolfman’s favorite song, I believe. Singing it could be a real hair-raising experience for him… : )

    Absolutely loved this wonderful post, Judy. I could almost hear the fire crackling and the crickets doing 40-part harmony at your last-night party. And I’m sure I smelled marshmallows burning, too. You can’t put a price on wonderful memories like that. Thanks for sharing, you perennial Girl Of Summer, you!! : )

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