This page will be for those stories the old folks used to tell us when we were kids about the people who had gone before us. I also want to include the things we remember. I want to record them now before they are gone. There were many stories that Warren remembered I am sure and now they are lost forever. I want to get the others written down now while my generation is still mostly here. I will start with my memories and I am asking everyone in the family to send me their memories so I can include those. And when I can I will include the memories and stories that my mother wrote down for me and the ones she collected from the last generation. So lets sit and talk.
My big brother
I think my oldest memory was a story told to me many times as a child and it happened before I was born but it was about me. When my mother was expecting me, my brother Warren was just two years old. Auntie’s brother came to visit her and the whole family went over to her house to visit with him. Warren was a big hit with Uncle Molton and they spent quite a lot of time together. Warren loved Uncle Molton’s dog. They talked about many things and in the course of talking Uncle Molton ask Warren which he wanted a little brother or a little sister. Warren was very emphatic, he wanted a brother. Uncle Molton laughter and said since Warren liked his dog so much they could make a deal. If his mother had a little girl they would swap the dog for the baby. Warren was all for that so they shook hands. They told my mother about the deal and everyone had a good laugh.
A couple of months later I was born. A girl, Warren was ready to make the deal so he went to Auntie’s house and told her to write to Uncle Molton and have him bring the dog down so they could swap. Ten days later when my mother brought me home from the hospital everyone came to visit and to see the new baby. When Auntie came Warren asked if Uncle Molton was coming with the dog. Auntie broke the bad news to him that the dog had died. Warren thought about it for a while and decided he didn’t want to trade his new sister for the dead dog. This was a decision he would think about for many years afterwards. Every time we got into a fight or he got mad at me he would say, “I wish I had taken the dead dog, I would be better off.” Everyone else thought it was funny but I never did. ******************************************
I guess I was a hard child to handle. I can remember throwing a “fit” as they called it. I can remember laying on the floor kicking my feet and screaming. I guess they thought I was out of control as they told me the only way my parents could stop me was to throw a glass of water in my face. I couldn’t have always been out of control since I can remember laying on the floor in the living room where my mother had put me to “throw my fit” and I would just lay there kicking the door with the heels of my shoes. Do you remember those old shoes and the nice big black marks they made where ever they hit? I do. I guess I remember them the most because so many people told me about them. When I was growing up I would get such comments as, “What did your mother ever do to deserve a child like you?” Or “Your mother was a saint to put up with you.” Years later when I went back to Harrisville, my home town, I was in the store one day and Mr Louma came up to me and said, “You turned out alright didn’t you?” I assured him I had and he said, “Maybe there is hope for my daughter then.” I sure made a lasting impression on most of the people in my small town. Even my sister told me one day the reason I went away to high school was because Mom couldn’t stand me. I know better, I went away to school because my brother had and what ever he did I wanted to do.
When I was about 45 my mother and I were visiting one day and she turned to me and asked, “Why did you act the way you did as a child?” I didn’t remember what I was thinking about back then but I did remember as a kid one thing that bothered me so I told her, ” I always felt that you loved Warren because he was the oldest and a boy, and you loved Shirley because she was the baby. But you never loved me.” Without skipping a beat she looked at me and said, “You never gave us any reason to love you.” I guess she was correct but really I never felt unloved, I always knew my parents were there for me no matter what I did.
When my mother would get tired of my actions she would say, “I hope when you grow up you have a child just like you, then you will understand what I go through.” It never happened, I had four wonderful children, none of them were “willful” as they called me. All four were smart, very selfcontrolled and loving children but I understand Warren had a daughter like me. They say a child gets their personality from their aunts and uncles and if so I will say again how sorry I am but that is another thing I could not control. I also have had a couple grand children that got my willfulness. I hope that same stubbonness takes them to their hearts desire as it has me. Now comes the next generation and one more little girl just as stubbon, luckily she has a mother that knows how to handle her and a father as loving and guiding as mine so I know she will do just fine. When I was very young my mother took me to Dr Paul in Troy, NH. He said when he looked at me he saw such fear in my eyes, it was like looking into the eyes of a young deer that was cornered. I don’t remember being afraid of Dr Paul, I really liked him the best of any doctor I ever had but I think the fear was some unspoken fear he saw. I see the same thing sometimes in Gina’s eyes when she see me unexpectly, she puts her hand up and crys “no”. I am not sure if she thinks I will take her away from her mother, or if she thinks I am there to baby sit her and she wants her parents to stay with her or just what it is but I back off and pretend she is not there and later she comes to me and we enjoy time together. Maybe she has that same unspoken fear that I had and that can account for that mischief she gets into. At least she knows how to control her impulses better in a school setting as she gets along great at the babysitters and the other children which I never did. ******************
The things I remember most are the things I did wrong and I guess that is because they had consequences and took days or weeks to get over them. But looking back now I can remember more happy things than sad. I remember playing with my friends in the summer at the ice house (beach near my house) and swimming in the canal near the vestry. We lived in the water when we were young. I loved skating on the ice in front of my house all winter and sliding at school and down Church Hill. I was always on the move, I was never bored as a child and was always trying something new. There was a high ledge in front of the store and it had a willowy sapling tree that grew right beside it. We used to jump and catch the tree and it would bend down to the ground where we would jump off before it sprang back up again. It was scary at first but after a few jumps you got used to it. It was a long way down, I knew because I went over it when I first learned to ride a bike. I thought I had killed myself but I made it, the bike didn’t do quite as well but we got it fixed.
There was a brook that connected the canal at the upper mill with the lower mill and it had a big water pipe in it. We used to walk down the pipe and then jump into the brook onto big flat rocks. It took a lot of courage the first time to jump but once you got used to it you did it every day when there was nothing else to do. If you look at the rocks in front of the small building which was the powerhouse you can see the large black pipe, that is the one we walked and jumped from on to the rocks. It looked much bigger then.
I did a lot of walking in the woods and loved that. I would get a friend to go with me as I was afraid to go off in the woods alone. We would start at one end of the town, up at Payson’s farm, enter the woods there and pick our way through the woods until we hit the lower lake. We could go the full length of the town in the woods and never see the town. Again the first time I did it I was scared to death I would miss the lake and wind up in Dublin but I never did.
I liked riding my bike when I got a little older, maybe 10 or 12. We would start out in town, go the Chesham, out to the highway, right was Keene and left was Dublin. We went left around Dublin Lake, into Dublin and then it was a long ride down hill all the way to Harrisville. It must have been two miles all down hill and so much fun to just fly down the road. The kids can’t do that today, too many cars on the road. We could do that back in the early 40’s and never meet a car.
We played hopscotch during the day and hid and seek at night. I loved playing paper dolls with Patty Winn. We had the whole Town Hall to set up our dolls and we had lots of dolls. We each had a Sears Roebuck Catalog to make dolls and furnish houses with the pictures. You find a picture you like and that becomes your doll. Then you find clothing for them by finding other pictures that are facing in the same directions and cut those out with tabs to hold the dresses on with. We furnished a bench for each room of our make-believe houses and spent hours there playing. We went to band concerts on all the holidays at Winn’s field and on the Church lawn on Sunday’s in the summer. My mother made fudge and we kids sold it at the concerts. *****
My first paying jobs were all baby sitting. I was never very good at it because you had to stay calm when you work with babies or small kids and I was never a calm person. Jeannie Clark and I went to interview with a woman about a summer job taking care of her little girl. Jeannie sat and played with the little girl and I started picking up the house and washing the dishes. Of course she got the job but I didn’t care, I was afraid of staying alone with kids. I did baby sit for my mother’s friends and when I was in the seventh grade I baby sat for a family of six children while their mother worked. The mother went to work at 3 and the father didn’t get home until 7 so I took care of the kids from 3 to 7. On Saturdays I took care of the kids from 3 to 11 for the mother’s whole shift at the mill, the father worked out-of-town on the weekends. I had this job for several months. The kids were good kids and easy to take care of. They loved any attention you could give them and they loved it when I cleaned the house up since it was such a mess no one could live in it. The clothes were all in one big bed room up stairs so each morning when the kids got up they went up stairs and dug through the clothes and found something that fit. The clothes were all donated to the family cause they were so poor, dirty outfits were just tossed in a pile in the corner. I spent lots of time washing clothes and ironing them. The girls all liked that as they got to wear a dress they liked more than once. I finally lost this job one Saturday, when I didn’t come home at 11 after the mother’s shift my father got worried and came to get me. He didn’t like my walking home alone that late at night. When he got there the kids were all asleep and the mother still was not home. He look around the house and was wild about the conditions in the house, When he found out any house work that was done was my doing he got even madder. Then sometime after midnight the mother come home in a car with a man who was not her husband. My father hit the ceiling and told her to find someone else to clean up her mess, his daughter was not going to be taken advantage of any more. I was quite relieved as it was too much for a seventh grader. I don’t remember how much I got paid but it wasn’t very much, I think it was $1.oo a day with $2.00 on Saturdays. ****
Harrisville was a small town. In the summers the population more than doubled with all the wealthy summer people who owned “cottage” on the many lakes in the area. So you could always get a summer job working for one of them. Winters were very slow and quiet and very few jobs were available then. I went to a boarding school for high school, Sanborn Seminary. It was not a Seminary or connected to any church, just privately endowed. There were 12 girls in the dormatory and an equal number of boys in a dormatory off campus. The majority of students come from the towns around.
After my first year of high school I got a job with a family on the lower lake. I was to take care of a little boy. This was a day job, I could ride my bike to their cottage. The parents worked in Boston and were up only on week ends. The grandparents lived there all summer and their grandson lived with them. I was to entertain the little boy, he was about 5 or 6 as I recall. It was uneventful except for one day as we were playing he got thirsty and wanted a drink of water. That should not have caused trouble except I have always been pretty much a dreamer. Now the drinking water did not come from the tap as mine at home did because it was piped right out of the lake and the Boston people thought that was awful, they had gallon jugs of drinking water in the mud room off the kitchen. It sat on a long table and on this same table sat several jugs of kerosene. We went to the mud room and I poured him a glass of “water”. My mind was a million miles away. He raised the glass to his lips and said, “This water tastes awful!” “It’s only because it is stale. You can’t keep water in jugs and expect it to taste cool and fresh.” I took the glass from him and tried to show him the water was fine but when I put it to my mouth I could smell that it was kerosene not water. I dumped the kerosene into the sink and rinsed out the glass. Then it hit me. If he drank any of that it would be poison, I had to tell someone who could help. I thought of my father first thing but he was too far away and I could imagine the little boy dieing before he could get there so I called the the grandfather who was in the yard reading. He came and talked to the boy and decided he could not have drunk much kerosene so gave him some bread to eat and told me to sit with him a while and watch him to be sure he didn’t get sick. I was scared to death. I learned a good lesson, I saved my dreaming for times when I was not working. They learned a good lesson too and no longer kept the water jugs and kerosene jugs together on the same table. *****
The summer after my second year in high school, I got a job for a woman in Nelson. She was from Boston, she and her husband lived up on Tolman’s pond. He was a lawyer and worked in Boston all week and come up to Nelson only on the weekend. He wanted a companion for his wife as their cottage was in the woods with very few neighbors. I got the job as mother’s companion. The houses on Tolman’s pond were the first condo type places. Mr. Tolman had the old family land grant, there was the family farm, a nice pond, and lots of wooded area. He leased land to city people who wanted a place for vacations or to get out of the city. They would build a house on the piece of land and own it was long as they lived, when they died or decided they no longer wanted to live there it would revert back to Mr. Tolman, land and house would be his. When he first thought up this scheme everyone told him he wouldn’t get any buyers cause no one would be so stupid as to build a nice house on his land only to give him the house after a few years, but they were wrong, he had several nice places. I lived with Mrs. Williams. They were wonderful people, just the two of them, they had no children. The house was beautiful, much nicer than the house my family lived in. All done in knotty pine and all the modern conviences. I had a small apartement of my own in the garage. I had a beautiful bed room and a little sitting room. I ate with Mr and Mrs Williams and spent all my time with Mrs Williams except when she went for a nap or at night when she went to bed. My only duties were to be with her, help when she asked me to, and say “God Bless you” when she she sneezed. I learned that so well I still say it when ever I hear a person sneeze, even when I am shopping, that surprises most people. I got to go with her to the Tolman’s Tea each Wednesday and brush elbows with all the rich people in the Colony. I learned alot that summer.****
The next summer Mrs. Williams was ill so never came back to Nelson and I got a job as mother’s helper with a family on Silver Lake. I don’t remember their names. There were three different sets of parents at this house. The ones who hired me were the parents, older with three grown daughters. My duties here were to pick up the house when it needed it, help cook the meals and just be there to visit with the wife. They were wonderful people. The daughters were very different. They each were to have the cottage for a weeks vacation.
The eldest had a little boy. I stayed with them and help care for the little boy, taking him swimming and playing with him while the parents read or just vactioned. The second daughter had no children so most of the time I just stayed out of their way so they could vacation without having to do much house work. The youngest daughter got married that summer. She came up to the lake to get ready for her wedding. She had spent summers there on Silver Lake since she was a child and wanted to be married in Keene instead of Boston so all the preperations for the wedding had to be made from the cottage. I became an important part of getting things ready, I became very close to the family during this time. When the wedding came I was asked to take the guest book and be sure everyone signed it. I got to meet everyone and was never introduced as a hired hand. Everyone thought I was a member of the family until we went back to the lake and I started serving snacks to the guests, then the second daughter told some of the friends I just worked for her mother. That caused some problems as her parents were very mad at her for being a snob but I didn’t mind and it was smoothed over. After that summer the parents wanted me to come to Boston and live with them and go to college there. They wanted to pay me for being a mother’s companion and pay for my college education but my father was not about to sell his daughter to anyone. He had lived all his life with the rich summer people in Harrisville and did not want to take anything from them. I didn’t care one way or the other, I had already planned to go to Keene Teacher’s College and really the only thing I wanted to do was find a husband. In those days it was felt if you didn’t find a husband before you graduated from high school it was too late all the best men were taken.******
The summer after I graduated I work in the mill for my father. He was the boss weaver. He was in charge of the spooling room and the weaving room. I worked as his secretary and did some odd spinning, spooling and other odd jobs. I had spent a lot of time with my father in the mill since I was a wee tot, I was a true “mill rat”. Often when people came to tour the mill I would take them around to each room and tell them how the wool was made into cloth. I could start them in the picker house and explain the different processes until the cloth was sent out to the customer. The only area I had to tell them about but could not go in was the dye house. Because of the chemicals and large vats there my father would not let me go in so we just went down the stairs and peeked in. It was that summer I met my future husband.
I had been away at school for four years and home only summers so I was out of touch with the crowd. I wasn’t invited to parties cause no one knew me anymore. I had many friends at school but they all lived far away and in the summer they were all spread out across the country. I had to entertain myself and that was fine with me. I would be in college in September. I had learned to play golf at school so I spent many afternoons hitting golf ball and practicing putting. One day Jeannie Clark came over and asked if I would go on a double date with her. Her boyfriend was coming to pick her up but he didn’t have a car and the boy who had the car didn’t have a date as he was home on leave from the navy and was out of touch with the local girls. I told her that I would go with her that night if she would play golf with me that afternoon. She agreed and we hit a few balls around then she left to get ready for her date.
When the boys arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see my date was a good-looking sailor in uniform which was even better than I had hoped. The first problem we were faced with was where to go. Jeannie and Bruce had not decided what they wanted to do so left it up to me. We could either go to passion pit or a dance. I was in a pickle, I could not dance. I had two left feet and no sence of rhythm. I had no idea what “passion pit” was but knew it could not be worse than spending the whole evening at a dance stepping on his feet so I chose passion pit. As most everyone else knew that was the drive in movies. There was a good movie and I had a good-looking date, what more could I want? Being a first date things never got out of hand and I really enjoyed myself. When I got home I went in to see my mother, she was in bed sick so I like to check in with her to let her know I was home and safe. She asked me how my date went and I told her it went fine and that this was the man I was going to marry. She near died right there. She wanted to know who he was, I told her I didn’t know – Dorm somebody or other. Of course he wasn’t Dorm, the name was Norm and mother would get to know him quite well in the next couple months.
He came back to see me two days later and we exchange names and address. He was to ship out the next week for a six week cruise to Cuba and wanted my picture to take with him. I gave him one of my high school pictures. That was in July. In Aug. he came again and we went out on a date, and a week later he was home on leave again and we had a date before he left for a four month cruise to the Mederterainian. September saw me back in school at Keene State College. I wrote to Norman several times and only received one post card from Iceland saying there was a girl behind every tree. Of course he forgot to memtion there were no trees in Iceland. I went on with college and enjoyed a whole new social life. I found an old high school friend there who had just broken up with the girl he had gone steady with for four years of high school. I was still interested in Norman but had not heard from him so was not interested in getting involved with anyone new and Carl had been very hurt by his break-up so did not want to get invovled with anyone yet both of us wanted to join in the whole college scene and to do this you needed a date. It seemed like the perfect solution to both our problems, we would be a couple and go to all the functions together as a couple with no strings or commitments of either part. I was enjoying college and by the end of Oct. I was getting letters from Norman. I told Carl about him but never mentioned Carl to Norman as Carl and I were just friends. Norman got home in December and wrote he was coming home on leave. I told Carl and found things were not as easy as I though. Carl and I had been doing so many things together everyone thought we were a couple and even Carl and I had gotten a lot closer than we had intended. I was very confused so when the day came for Norman to arrive I planned to meet him at the train station is Keene and told Carl I would know when I saw Norman again if I wanted to be with Carl or Norman. He wasn’t happy but agreed that was how we had promised things would be and he would abide by the agreement.
Phil, Norman, Carol, Shirley
When Norman arrived it only took one look and I knew where my heart was. I stopped seeing Carl, and at Christmas break Norman and I were engaged. We planned for a wedding in February. We picked the 17th as that was the day he would be back from his next cruise to Cuba. He could get enough leave to be home in time to get the last minute plans done, be married in St Peter’s Church in Peterborough and have a short honeymoon in New York City. I had to make all the plans for the wedding as he would be at sea. I got the church, the bridesmaid, the license with his father, and the wedding invitiations. The day I picked up the invitations at the printers I received a telegraph from Norman that he would not be able to make the wedding on the 17th as he was in the hospital with a ruptured appendix. He would call me as soon as he found out when he would be discharged from the hospital. Everything was on hold for a while and when his call finally came we had just two days to get the church booked again and to call the relatives to tell them the new date was Feb.28, 1951. Normans leave was shorter than he had planned so we were married the day after he got home so we could have a few days for a honeymoon.
honeymoon in New York City
Everything went smoothly once he got home and we haven’t had many rocky days in the 60 years since that day. ******
My cousins and I played crochet on Auntie’s lawn. I enjoyed playing with Mary Lou, Elinor Kay, and Angie May but they didn’t always want to play with me. They had a strong sense of right and wrong. They knew what they should do and what they shouldn’t. My sense of right and wrong was sometimes rather fuzzy and right become what I wanted to do next. Once in a while I could talk them into trying something different. I remember one summer afternoon I saw my father throw same old paint cans on to the dump. While I was playing with my cousins I suggested we make tomahawks and use that paint to decorate them. They thought maybe that was alright even if Carol was the one to think it up. Usually if I thought it up they knew it was trouble. Anyways we spent the after noon making tomahawks and painting them. As you can imagine four little girls and five or six buckets of paint lead to a disaster. By late afternoon the tomahawks were all painted and so were we. We went to my house and my mother threw us out. She told us not to come back until we were cleaned up. I have no idea where she expected us to go. We had gone to the lake and none of the paint would come off of us or our clothes. So we went to the girls house, Aunt Angie was always there to help any kid in town when they were in need. She took one look at us and asked whose idea that was. Of course we told the truth, she took us in and cleaned us up, then she told me to go home and not to come back for two weeks. They were grounded and I was not allowed to play with them for at least two weeks.
When I was about 9 or 10 my father and mother took my Aunt Beverly’s bike and reconditioned it for my birthday. My father spent the first day teaching me how to ride so when he went to work the next day he gave me orders to stay on my street to practice. I was not to go “over street”(the center of town) as he didn’t want me to
“over street” Center of town
get hurt because I didn’t know how to ride my bike very well yet. I spent all morning practicing my riding and thought I had gotten very good at it. I decided my father wouldn’t mind if I just rode it overstreet to show my friends how well I could ride now. So, off I went looking for some friends. I found a couple of my friends just as they were ready to ride to Chesham to do some errand, I don’t even remember what it was they had to do but since I had gone this far and hadn’t run into any trouble, what harm would it do to go a few miles more?
It took a lot longer than I had planned on and I was late getting home for supper. When I rode into the drive my father was there to greet me. “I told you not to go off our street, right?” He wasn’t smiling so I knew I was in trouble. I did many things when I was little but lying was not one of them. I told him, “yes” and then told him where I had gone. He didn’t say a thing, he just took my bike and me by the hand. He put the bike up on a hook in the shed and took me to the house for supper. “As soon as you finish supper go to bed. No bike riding for a month.” I understood that command and didn’t get to use my bike for a month. ***************
As a child my mother told me I was ” all shit or all sugar”. I never knew why until I grew up and had to manage my days myself. In high school I went away to school and lived in dormitory with 12 other girls and 4 teacher. Some days I was so happy and other days I was so sad I would go off by my self at night and cry for hours. I would hide upstairs in the attic until one of the teacher found me. I could not tell her why I was crying because I didn’t know. Then learned to keep these sad times to myself and just stay away from people on those days. Later when I was married and had a family we moved to a beautiful new house and should be happy every day. Some days I was so happy I’d sing “It’s a big wide wonderful world we live in.” When my husband would ask why I was so happy I couldn’t tell him. I wasn’t doing anything special or expecting any thing to happen. I was just so excited and happy about life I guess. Other days I would wake up so mad and depressed I could “bite nails”. I would be so mad if you had handed me a railroad spike I could have bitten the head of it. I would warn my husband on those day, “just don’t speak to me today unless you want a fight.” About that time I learned that the B vitamines could control you mood swings so I tried them. I no long have the highs and lows I used to get. I still get very up when things are going right and quite low when things go wrong but I can pin my feelings on things that are happening – no more unexplained mood swings, thank God. ********
Norman and I were married Feb.28, 1951. He was still in the navy so when he wasn’t at sea I went with him to the navy towns. We had a six week stay in Philadelphia, PA, and two six week stays in Norfolk, VA. Philly was my first city living. We got a one room flat on the third floor of an apartment building in South Philly. This was my first time to be in a large city. It was Easter week end, I had a new hat and wore it proudly down the side walks. I said “Hello” to everyone that went past me. They looked at me as if I were crazy and very few of them spoke to me. When I asked Norman about it he told me in city you don’t speak to strangers. I didn’t understand. How could you ever get to know people if you didn’t speak to them, but it was hard to say Hi to everyone and I didn’t want to show any favoritisms. So that was my first lesson, you don’t try to say hello to everyone in the city. We arrived in Philly on Saturday and Norman had to report to the ship on Sunday so when he went to the ship I had to go out and find a place to eat by myself. There was a small place just across the street and down about a half a block so that is where I went to eat. It had a bar and about six booths. I got all dressed up with my new hat and best dress and had supper there. The next morning I went back again for breakfast and at noon I went there for lunch. When I went in and said Hi to everyone the bar tender came over to my booth and said he was the owner of the place and he thought it was nice that I came there to eat but that I really should find a better place to eat as his place was just a bar and no place for a lady to go alone. Second lesson learned, in a rough section of town you don’t go out alone and you need to know the places you go to. Norman took me to the store and I got food that I could cook in our little kitchen so I didn’t have to go out when he was not home.
Then on Wednesday there was a knock at the door. Of course I went and opened the door to find a workman there. He said he had come to fix the roof over the porch and the only way to get there was out my front room widow. I invited him in with no question. He said, “Where have you come from?” I told him about my home town and he said I had better learn about the city and fast. Last year a man had broken in the front door down stairs and raped the young girl in the back apartment. He said this was a rough section of town and I should never let someone into the apartment without asking who was there first. I said O.K. Then he went back out into the hall and made me shut the door. He knocked and I opened the door. He yelled at me, “Didn’t you hear what I told you? Now try it again and this time ask who is there.” Again he went out into the hall and when he knocked, left the door closed and called “Who is there?” He told me his name and I opened the door and let him in. Again he yelled at me, “You have no idea who I am do you? From now on don’t open the door unless you know the person.” But I know who you are!” I told him. We went through this drill three or four more times until I got it right, I had to ask who was there, what he wanted and did he have identifacation as to who he was and that he was sent by the landlord. Lesson number three was finally learned. He taught me many things about the city in the next couple days as he worked on the roof.
The only other lesson I learned in Philly was about the fire department. One day a fire truck came blasting down our street and stopped right infront of our building. The firemen rolled out the hose and dissappeared under the roof of the porch, by this time I could see the smoke rolling out from under the porch. I paniced. I was sure the bottom floor was on fire and no one knew I was on the third floor. I had been caught in a burning house once a few years earlier and I was scared. I went down to the first floor very carefully but saw no flames. By the time I got outside I found the firemen had pulled the hoses down the alley to the rooming house across the alley from us. In NH a fire that close would have meant that every house would bave been emptied. Here they just asked us to stay in our apartments and stay out of the way. There is alot of difference between a small town, vollenteer fire department and a paid large city department.
By the time we went to Norfolk I was a seasoned traveler, or so I thought. For the most part our two stays there went smoothly. I had just two dumb acts there. One was another Easter Sunday. Norman had been out to sea for three days so another navy wife, Dottie stayed with me. We decided since we could not afford to buy new Easter hats we would have to make our own. We took our husbands white hats, put vails and flowers on them and made really cute Easter bonnets. We wore them proudly down the streets of Norfolk. When the ship came in we got a good talking to. In a navy town you don’t do things like that unless you espect to get pick up and of course we didn’t.
The other dumb move was one Saturday night when we went to a friends house for a party. Norman was having a good time and didn’t pay much attention to me. I asked to go home cause I was feeling useless and was tired. He just went on dancing and having a good time so I left and started walking home. I had learned my lesson about walking down the side walk at night in a navy town so I went through the back yards of the houses until I got to the corner and I had to come out to cross the street. Norman and a couple of the other guy were there looking for me. They were scared to death and scolded me in good shape. They said it was only because everyone was asleep that I didn’t get shot. People in that part of town don’t ask questions, if you are in their back yard, you are up to no good so they shoot and then ask question. Lesson learned. The biggest lesson I learned on these trips was that I never wanted to live in the city. I was a small town girl and wanted to stay that way.
In July of 1952 Norman got out of the navy and we moved back to NH and lived with my parents in Harrisville. I was pregant and Norman was out of work. My father gave him a job in the Harrisville woolen mill and I had my baby girl on November 2, 1952. We thought she would be a Halloween baby but it took 48 hours for her to make up her mind to come into the world and then she needed help. I didn’t know it at the time but the doctors decided the baby was dead so agreed they should not endanger my life so just pulled her out with high forceps. The only way I could discribe it after was like pulling out my tooth by going in the wrong end of me. She was born screeming. She had a large dent in her forhead and an egg shaped head. She had black hair and only weighed 6 pounds 1 ounce. When I went into the hospital they took me by the nursery to show me the babies and told me soon I would have one just like that. After she was born I couldn’t wait to go back to the nursery, I just knew she would shine like a star there as there had not been a pretty baby in the place and she was so perfect and so pretty. Of course when I could go to the nursery again I couldn’t find a single ugly baby in the room.
We lived with my parents until Norman got a job in Peterborough at the new New Hampshire Ball Bearing plant. It was a comparatively new business and a good change for him so we got an apartment in Hancock to be nearer his work. We stayed there for about a year and then heard about a house in Harrisville for $3500. We went to look at it and decided it was just what we wanted and could afford.
THE GOOD MARM
The Good Marm was Mary Ellen Gilmore. She was born in 1822. In 1843 she made a sampler which has been passed from eldest daught to eldest daughter for seven generation. It pasted from Mary Ellen Gilmore – to Mary Baker – to Grace Carver – to Doris Helen Brown – to Carol Thayer – to Katherine Petts – to Celina Bourbonniere. There was also a Christening Bowl that Mary Ellen’s mother had brought from England that has been passed on with the sampler. Many of the children have been baptized using this bowl. Now Celina needs a girl to pass this on to, otherwise we have a problem, who gets the items – her son, Alec? Her grand daughter if she has one? Or does it go to my eldest grand daughter? But we have lots of time to worry about that, Celina is young yet.
This story takes place somewhere around 1862. Her three daughters were grown but not yet all gone. Amanda, the oldest was married to Mr. Hutt and would become Cora Smith’s grandmother. Cora Smith is a woman I used to visit with in Troy as a girl. Rebecca had been gone from home most of the last year but was home for the Christmas holiday and causing mych excitement. Beccy was always fun to have around, she could keep the conversation moving and the usually calm household was in an uproar of laughter and fun. Aunt Beccy was conciders a bit wild for the times. Mary, my great grand mother, and Josephine were still young and at home. Mary Baker was not the eldest daughter, she was the third daughter so why she got the sampler and Christening Bowl first had never been explained to me. Maybe she was the only one interested in family things.
It was Christmas Eve and the whole family had gathered at the Baker farm to celebrate the holiday. Amanda was there with her children and with Aunt Beccy home again, there was much to talk about and lots of excitement. The day had been spent getting ready for Christmas Day, decorating the tree and the house, making all the goodies for Christmas dinner and trying to keep the kids out of the presents until Christmas morning.
After supper everyone collected in the parlor to sit and visit before retiring. The Good Marm sat apart in the kitchen in front of the large cast iron cook stove. She had one more pudding to finish before going to bed. When the others in the family came to the kitchen to say they were retiring for the night, they saw the cooking was all done and suggested the Good Marm retire also but she declined. She would be up soon, she said she just wanted to sit by the fire and count her blessing, “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be up soon.” They all went up to bed.
Some time later that evening, no one knows just how much later, the Good Marm heard a noise at the back door. The wind was blowing and the snow had started to fall so at first she thought it was the wind, then she thought it was an animal at the back door. She was afraid it was an animal that had gotten hurt and night need some help. She couldn’t turn any animal away on Christmas Eve so she went to the door to investigate.
When she opened the back door she found a basket on the door step. She brought the basket into the house and put it in front of the fire, then she pulled the blanket back and found a small baby. It was a beautiful baby boy. She took the baby to her bedroom. She told Joseph to very quiet, the baby had had enough excitement for one day, the rest of the household could be told about the baby in the norming. For tonight the baby was hers and hers alone, she had fixed a bottle for the baby and was giving him something to eat. Joseph tried to convince her she had to try and find out where the baby had come from, whose was it. The Good Marm would hear none of it, she knew whee it came from – Heaven- she knew who had given the baby to her- God. She would love this baby and raise him as her own and God had better take care of anyone who tried to say he wasn’t hers. Joseph did not argue with her, he had alwys wanted a son and now he had one, who was he to argue with God. Thus Albert Baker came into a family with four sisters.
The next morning when the family woke, they found that Santa had come with presents for everyone including the Good Marm. Everyone agreed she had gotten the best present of all. Albert grew up loved and happy. Everyone knew of the story of that Christmas Eve present and have told the sotry for each generation to come. My mother told us the story every Christmas Eve and I told my children. I don’t know if anyone tells the story now or not but I think it is time to revive the tradition so this Christmas Eve when my children, grand children and great grand children gather around the tree, I will tell the story again before we open our presents.
Aunt Joe was the youngest daughter of the Good Marm. I don’t know if she ever married or not as I never met her until she waas ninety years old. She had one talent I always admired. I tried so hard to cultivate this talent and I never could.
Even as an old woman she could go into any house, sit and talk to the woman of the house as she did her work and within half a day know where everything belonged. She could remeber where every dish in that kitchen belonged. I can’e even remember where my own dishes are most of the time. ****
I met Aunt Joe when she was niney year old. She came from Nova Schota to Try, NH by bus to visit my Aunt Ruth. I was at my Aunt Ruth’s house when Aunt Joe arrived. Aunt Joe was telling us about the trip. She said when the arrived in town the bus driver got off first and said good bye to each person when they got off the bus. A woman about 75 years old got off the bus and the driver helped her but when Aunt Joe got off he never even tried to help her. She was indignate! But Aunt Joe never acted old nor did she act as if she needed any help. She probably would have put him in his place if he had tried to help her down. She was one fisty old lady and my idol. Look out world here I come, you can’t beat good genes! *****
Mom, this is just the most wonderful read! You write so well, and tell such a wonderful story, it is like a tale – except it is all true. Keep it up, because we all want to know more. What was your first paying job? What did you want to be when you were little? How did you meet Dad? (How come I don’t know these things already!)
Thank you Shanti, I am slowly learning how this blogging works and enjoying it very much. My first paying job was to baby sit for a family of five kids while their mother worked in the mill. I was only 12, it taught me alot. When I was little of course I wanted to be a movie star, then I as I got older I wanted to be a detective and then a teacher which I finally go to be. Norman and I met on a blind date. Norman was home on leave from the Navy and his friend Bruce had a date with my girl friend, he didn’t have a car so they set me up with Norman so he would drive. When they came they asked me what I wanted to do, go to a dance or to passion pit. I had no idea what passion pit was but I knew I could not dance so I picked passion pit, which turned out to be the drive in. When I got home from that date I told my mother this was the man I would marry. She near died as she had never even seen him and wanted to know his name at least. I told her I didn’t know it was Dorm something or other. That was in July and we were married in Feb. when he got home from a four month cruise to the Med. Crazy huh? Now we have been married for 61 years in Feb.
This is so much fun to read – I can’t believe in all these years you’ve never told me any of this. More… more… we want more! How was it for you in Harrisville? I think of you alot – a young mom with three active (and one monstrous) daughters… all by yourself. How did you stay sane? I don’t remember much TV… but I do remember music, and I remember you singing. And I remember flower gardens. I thought you always dressed so pretty.