Thursday, April 17, 2014

E.S. Cotter ~ 1907

     Elda and Selda (yes, she was named after her mother with a slight addition of the letter S) Cotter lived in Conway, New Hampshire in a small cottage near Lake Conway in the White Mountain region. Elda and Selda were the writing duo under the pseudonym of E.S. Cotter.   
     Elda was living near Boston, Massachusetts when she became a young widow and Selda was only three years old. Her imagination filled in the blanks where her education was lacking and took to penning letters, documents and correspondences for businesses and government offices being able to do the work in her home while raising Selda on her own. Every afternoon when Selda returned home from school the pair would walk over to Mystic Lake to feed the waterfowl and watch for migrating birds resting on their way south in the winter or north in the springtime. Elda carried her journal with her to write down imagined short stories about their feathered friends and Selda would tote her watercolors and paint the creatures with a delft hand and a broad spectrum of color.
     As the years went by and their collection of stories and paintings grew they put together a series of small children books about the migrating birds they observed. Elda wrote the stories and Selda illustrated them with her watercolor paintings. They approached the Boston offices of Fredrick Warne and Co. with their portfolio of finished stories. Their meetings started with a junior editor and soon made its way up the chain of command to the publisher himself. The publishing house and the mother-daughter duo agreed on a contract and E.S. Cotter became an author of children literary tomes.
     Their main character was Grayson Goose and his wife Lily Pond. One story was about a wily fox trying to steal the couple’s nesting eggs. Another story introduced the families friends: Terrance Tern, a yearly visitor to the Goose family; Albert Albatross, the roamer and traveler who always had an adventurous story to share with the family; and the Swifts, a family of hummingbirds who tarried a while near the Goose family during their nesting period. When one of Grayson’s goslings gets lost, he gets into a little bit of trouble with a farmer wanting a fresh goose dinner, that story was a whole book unto itself. One story was about their yearly trek south and what the family of geese saw from the air and the ponds they’d stop at for a rest and visit with old friends.
     Elda and Selda’s books were a huge success and sat on the bookstore shelves along side Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit stories, E. Nesbit and the Railway children series and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. With enough money saved from their success Elda and Selda decided to move to a quieter, more picturesque location and found a quaint cottage on the banks of Conway Lake, took up residency and continued their story writing and painting. The first thing they did after moving in was to hire a local carpenter to build an addition to the cottage. They designed a large room with windows on three sides, a place for an ample desk for Elda’s writing and daydreaming and an area for Selda’s painting table, pots of brushes and her array of watercolor paints. Elda said it was the best money she ever spent. She could look out the window and watch the lake for arriving waterfowl, envision new stories and just enjoy the surrounding scenery. Selda loved the natural light and with each passing season, she’d experience a new palette to try and capture on paper.
     They still took long walks around their quiet lake, often visited their neighbors or had them in for a pot of tea and just kept writing, painting and producing the children stories about Grayson Goose and his family that soon became classics. 

Photo credit: from the collection of Attic Whispers

Monday, April 14, 2014

The 1918 Home Tour of Quincy Falls (#4 of15)

505 Windham Crest Avenue • Quincy Falls, New Hampshire ~ The Clarkson Home

The Clarkson Home Visit Information: Welcome to the Clarkson’s home. This four- bedroom home is nestled on a half-acre lot with fruit trees and evergreens showcasing the country farmhouse planned home. The distinctive attribute to the home’s design is the third floor bull-porch that is carried down to the second floor’s front tri-window display. The dining room’s bay window faces the north side of the home and displays Mrs. Clarkson’s collection of African violet plantings. Please note the imported Italian crystal glass chandelier in this room, also. This home was built in 1911 when Mr. and Mrs. Clarkson moved to our fair town from Buffalo, New York.
    This Quincy Falls Home Visit tour is fairly new to me. I visit so many of our town’s homes with my husband that I rarely needed to take the tour in past years. When Mrs. Hudson, next- door to our home, was selling off some of her property, Keith and I bought this parcel and built our home. I wanted something more opulent built; Keith wanted something that would be a good resale (guess we’re not settling down in this home for long). Keith is one of the town’s land agents; his office is on Main Street across from the courthouse. Without any children (so far), I like to help Keith in the office, travel with him to view the homes for sale/lease and keep his record keeping on the up and up. We attended the newly founded National Association of Real Estate Board Conference in New York City last year and joined the organization that entitles Keith to label himself a Realtor. He traverses the land/home ownership triangle from seller to buyer to recorded documents and has been doing this for quite a while. His father is a land speculator in Buffalo, New York, so I guess this profession is in Keith’s blood.
     I like to tinker with room designs and created our home to transform my ideas from paper to actual living space. I’ve been called in for consultation with some of our wealthiest town citizens. It’s just a small hobby of mine, until the children start arriving. Keith and I like to entertain and invite his clients -- current and perspective alike. Every year we host an annual home picnic, asking our clients to join us in celebrating home ownership. Although, the leasing side of Keith’s real estate business is a boom, too.
     I take pride in helping with this side of his business, showing clients homes, finding new homes to list for lease and finalizing the connection between landlord and tenant. We’re the only family in Quincy Falls to own two automobiles -- in our business we need two if we want to be on top of things and available at a moment’s notice. There has been many a time when Keith and I have crossed paths showing two different clients the same home. I remember when the O’Hare farm was on the market to lease and we had four families varying for the rights of tenantship. We had to put each family in separate rooms negotiating the best price, contract conditions and occupancy for our client the O’Hares. I must have served a couple gallons of coffee and dozens of pastries from the baker’s next to the office that day. There are two houses on the property and we were able to place two fine families on the land with farming rights being split three ways to everyone’s satisfaction.
     I foresee in the future women becoming more and more involved as land agents or Realtors. We have a sense of what the client is looking for: a home that is appealing yet very efficient, location of the property to schools and shopping, and the esthetic value of a home that a owner will be proud of.
     I don’t like to reveal secrets, but I just heard from Mrs. Fluke as she viewed our home, that Calamity Jane is coming to town. What a treat for all of us. I suppose she’ll be with the circus that travels in these parts with huge elephants that could fill room with their girth.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Celebrating Ninety ~ 1926

Celebrating Ninety
(Interview Notes for The Daily Item article, Lynne Massachusetts)
By Annie Barnes

     Annie: I imagine you’ve seen it all in your ninety years.
Mrs. Ward: and then some, girly.
     Annie: Are you excited to be celebrating your ninetieth birthday in a few days?
Mrs. Ward: I’m just as excited to still be alive to do so.
     Annie: I understand you were originally from Georgia and moved to Lynne after the War Between the States when your husband died. Mrs. Ward: I’m Yankee born and will die a Yankee. I was born in Lynne when it was just a forest, a few cabins and lots of fishermen. My father was a fisherman and so were my brothers.
     Annie: So, was Mr. Ward from Georgia?
Mrs. Ward: Yes, he was born a rebel and died a rebel right there on the field. I went with my father on a trip to Georgia, something to do with his fishing and selling them south. That’s were I met Johnny (he was a fisherman on St. Simons Island), fell instantly in love and we married before the trip was over. Heard later Mother gave Father a tongue lashing for leaving me in Georgia. She was good like that. We’s were only married nine years, had us two boys (that’s them in the picture you took), Johnny died from a stray Confederate bullet as they retreated off the island in ‘62. I took my boys home with me, back to Lynne. Had family here. Mother gave me a tongue lashing when we landed on the doorstep.
     Annie: Did you see much of the war going on around you?
Mrs. Ward: I saw it all and don’t like to think on it, it was terrible, just terrible. When the Yankees entered our little sea village I lost my southern accent in a jiffy like. One of the Yankee gentlemen escorted me and my boys all the way north.
     Annie: That secret has never been known in these parts, I believe.
Mrs. Ward: Not a secret, just not well known, until now. That there other picture of me was taken just after the war. I think I’m wearing the same collar in both pictures – don’t that beat all. One of the Troup family’s gals made those delicate collars and sold them (probably without her master knowing). I hope she continued her handy-work after she was freed.
     Annie: When you think about all the changes over the last ninety years, what stands out in your mind?
Mrs. Ward: People. Oh, they’s still basically the same. But now it’s hurry here and hurry there and they got those noisy automobiles speeding them everywhere. It’s made more folks greedy, disrespectful and unappreciated of what’s around them. Folks use to take the day to visit, making an outing of it. Manners were expected or you got a knock across the head, now these youngins’ do as they please without a seconds notice or a please and thank you. Not all youngins’ mind you. I was at the five and ten the other day and a group of youngsters came running around the corner and nearly knocked me over – they didn’t stop to see if they’d caused any damage or exchange any meaningful sympathy at my distress. Mary Lou came out of the store and helped me on my way. She’s one of the nicer youngsters – she’s been raised right.
     Annie: What do you account for your longevity, having a ninetieth birthday is very special?
Mrs. Ward: I think it’s just what you’re born with. My folks lived to well into their eighties and my grandparents, too. Do you know we’ve been in these parts for over two hundred years? Maybe it’s just the Lynne water we’ve all drunk. I’ve lived a good life, got me two fine boys (although don’t think much on their wives – oh, don’t print that dear), I likes my pot of tea in the morning and a good corncob pipe to end the day – yes? 

Photo credit: from the collection of Attic Whispers & Eva Brewer's CD collcetion  


Monday, April 7, 2014

The 1918 Home Visit Tour of Quincy Falls (#3 of 15)

504 Windham Crest Avenue • Quincy Falls,  New Hampshire ~ The Tucker Home

The Tucker Home Visit Information: Mr. and Mrs. Tucker’s home was built in 1868 and the carriage house sits on the original town’s blacksmith lot. The home is considered a Victorian farmhouse and in this case, rightly so. The Tucker’s home was one of the first homes built on Windham Crest Avenue at a time when the avenue was just called Northeast and was indeed farm land. Many fine features adorn this home with a central enclosed porch and a front 3-sided covered porch causing a very cooling effect throughout the home. There are five bedrooms upstairs and three additional sleeping spaces over the carriage house attached to the home via the central porch. Please don’t miss taking a stroll through Mrs. Tucker’s flower gardens, truly a wonderland of color and blooms. This home has been a gentleman’s boarding house since 1911 and the private bedrooms will be closed off to today’s visit.
     Quincy (he likes to claim the town was named for him -- don’t believe a word of it, it wasn’t) and I raised our five boys in this house and when Stella Hudson opened her boarding house for ladies across the street, we decided to join the ranks of hoteliers and open our own boarding house for gentlemen. Two of our own boys were still living at home at the time and we gave them the bedroom suites over the carriage house. It didn’t take much persuasion; it has a back staircase that I’m sure they took advantage of away from mom and pop’s eye. They’re good boys and I wasn’t worried, although Quincy said it was a good step toward their independence while giving each of them a wink.
     I have Marabelle (a local gal) come in five days a week to lend me a hand in the house for our gentlemen lodgers. There are four men residing in our main house and two in the carriage house. I save the other bedroom in the carriage house for traveling gentlemen and have regular lodger’s coming through town (I charge a little extra for that room). I serve a farmer’s breakfast each morning and there is always a pot of coffee warming on the backburner of the stove and a slice of pie whenever my boarders are in need of extra refreshments. We have a large dining room that amply fits our boarding brood and I fill the table with delectable dishes every evening for the 7:00pm dinner. I love to cook and appreciate the appetite a man brings to the table. Quincy enjoys the lively conversations that start at the dining room table and usually continues through to the front parlor long after dinner is finished.
    Our boarders vary from students from Mark’s Business School, single men wanting the comfort of their childhood home and Mr. Hood, our permanent resident who lost his wife five years ago and asked to move in. Quincy and Mr. Hood get on like a house of fire and can give me pause with an aching head when they put their minds to it. Just last week they decided to install a bocce ball court (if that’s what you call it). They spent days digging up our lawn around my flower gardens, measuring spaces and tapping down the soil with a makeshift roller. I must admit it was very appealing until the rains came and transformed the court into a mud pit. They are now hauling wheelbarrows of sand (from where, I know not) to the court space in hopes of improving the playing field. I leave them to it; it keeps them out of my house and busy. Of course, they haven’t thought to where they’ll obtain the equipment to play the game nor do I think they know how to play the game. My guess is they’ll invite Mr. Giuseppe Moretti over for a glass of lemonade on the front porch and hope he spots their endeavor, with instructions to follow. Those two are schemers with more ideas then is in our twenty volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica collection holds. (We took the volumes in trade for lodging from one of our traveling salesmen.)
     With today’s Quincy Falls Home Vists, I will get a special treat of dinner at the hotel’s dinning room. After being on my feet all day, escorting the visiting folk through our house, I will welcome a quiet sit-down and a meal prepared by someone other than me. Thank you very much.
     Martha was just here and shared with me that she over heard Midge Cooper and Stella Hudson discussing someone’s salary cut. We wondered if it was Jane or Susanna’s finances that are in jeopardy? Such a calamity.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Arianna and Brianna Carson ~ 1924

     I remember when that photo was taken, that’s the day Bri and I decided to switch our name bracelets and be the other twin without anyone being the wiser. Mother always dressed us alike: for play, for holidays and eventually for school. When we started high school, we both put our foot down and said, “ENOUGH!” but we were always raiding each other’s closets for something different to wear. Our hairstyles were the same, too. But I had a cowlick on the left and Bri’s was on the right, our only difference. I hated taking the teaspoon of cod liver oil Mother insisted we swallow every morning when we were younger, Bri took mine for me while Mother’s back was turned. We both thought being nicknamed Anna would be fun and demanded everyone call us Anna alike for a time. It was great fun confusing the adults; we were never confused. Bri and I could finish each other’s sentences and often didn’t even need to talk to voice an idea; we just knew what it was. Bri liked the color purple, I did too -- but only because Bri did. We both had blue eyes, blond hair, were five foot eight inches tall and never gained an ounce over one hundred and twenty-two pounds. We were both left handed -- although Mother tried her darndest to ‘correct’ that inflection.  
     Bri went off to a northwestern college to study child development; she became a teacher. I went off to a southeastern college to study boys; I got married. We’d be together for the holidays and summer vacations, but we started seeing a difference between us. She read books and took notes. I read books for its cover. Bri liked to make lists and quietly go shopping for gifts at Christmas. I secretly opened my presents and then rewrapped them to go back under the tree. Bri was a soprano in the church choir and sang with that select group, I was an alto mixing in with the crowd. I loved to go bowling, shoot hoops with the guys and wear hockey skates. Bri liked to knit, bake cakes and read to our great-aunt with failing eyesight. Bri stopped wearing purple and wore red, my favorite color. I liked to call people on the telephone to stay in touch, Bri wrote long letters. Bri settled in a small, rural town with her husband and liked it. My sweetie and I rented a flat in the center of the big city and loved it. Bri voted for Coolidge, I supported Davis.
     We shared a birthday, Bri and I. And on our twenty-eighth birthday, we each gave birth to our own set of twins, boys all around. 

Photo credit: from the Eva Brewer CD collection

Monday, March 31, 2014

The 1918 Home Tour of Quincy Falls (#2 of 15)

            501 Windham Crest Avenue • Quincy Falls, New Hampshire: The Hudson House

Hudson House Visit Information: Built in 1872 by Quincy Falls’ founding family, the Merrimacks, architecture by John Adams. This stately home is a Georgian Colonial that leans toward the Federal or Adams structural design. It is an 8 over 8 featuring five bedrooms up and one down. A pair of in-pocket walnut engraved doors divides the front parlor and dining room. The dining room suite is from Mrs. Hudson’s grandmother’s home in Boston (circa 1842 Chippendale). There is a sleeping porch on both floors. You’ll notice the hint of something red in each room’s decor, being a favorite color of Mrs. Hudson. This home has been a ladies boarding house since 1910. Protecting the privacy of the current boarders, the second floor will not be open for inspection today.
     When Mr. Hudson passed on in 1910, I decided I wasn’t giving up my home and move in with one of our children. They did ask and I did decline. Our thriving town was in need of a ladies boarding house that catered to young ladies attending Mark’s Business School and the Quincy Falls Normal School. Both within short walks from my front door. Oh, there are other ladies boardinghouse, but non such as mine and I take pride in offering a fine establishment. I charge $9.00 a week (paid to me monthly) and that includes a breakfast served from 7:00am to 8:30am and an evening meal served promptly at 7:00pm. My sleeping quarters are on the first floor, right next to the front door. I have five bedrooms up and if two young ladies wish to share a room, that’s fine with me and I charge $6.00 each a week. The bedrooms are simply furnished with a single bed, clothes press, dresser and mirror, writing desk and a comfortable, upholstered Chippendale wingback chair facing the room’s fireplace. I have two water closets upstairs and a general laundry room towards the rear of the house for my lodger’s use. I do not allow gentlemen callers on the second floor, but welcome the callers to adjourn to the front parlor. I’m usually in the parlor most nights with my knitting or reading a book. My home’s doors are locked at 10:00pm every night and I require the ladies attend Sunday services and serve our Sabbath meal at 1:00pm. A tight ship, you might think -- and you’d be right. But, it has worked well for me and my girls and I have only had to ask one girl to leave. I found her shimmying up the back oak tree after mid-night and sneaking into my home after hours. That did not set a good example to the rest of my girls and I booted her out.
     With the money Mr. Hudson left me, and my lodger’s fees, I’m able to be self-sufficient and keep my home. Mr. Hudson and I came to Quincy Falls from Boston when Mr. Hudson received a position at The Abel Herrin Company and we raised our four children here. When Mr. Hudson passed in 1910 and our children took up their own residency, the house was too quiet and needed a new influx of young people. Right now I have six ladies residing in my home, four singles and one double (two sisters). The sisters are both attending Quincy Falls Normal School and will be here for another three years. Two ladies are at Mark’s Business School for two years. And I have two ladies (Jane and Susanna) that have been with me for five years. Jane and Susanna both attended Marks and were employed in town after graduation and stayed on.
     My ladies are usually away from home for the first time and I’ve soothed many a homesick girl, written letters to their parents assuring them of their child’s progress and have become a surrogate mother to most. I have a waiting list of lodgers and would love to include more into my home, but I won’t at the expense of being over-crowded or over-worked. Hudson House has a fine reputation and I intend to keep it that way for a long time.
     Midge, from down the block, has just asked me for my dill pickle potato salad recipe when she stopped to tour my kitchen. It is an old family recipe that I serve quite frequently at every picnic or summer evening meal. I made sure to remind her to cut the celery into small portions and to add a little of the pickle juice.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spinster Clothworth ~ 1908

     Virginia Clothworth was an only child and the responsibility of caring for her aging parents rested solely on her shoulders. She was a good daughter, but her time was not her own and she never married. Oh, Miss Clothworth had been asked (a few times) for her hand in marriage. Alas, the time was never right; she had her parent’s constant demands on her time and the suitors never returned. Once her parents passed on she lived alone in the large, stone Tudor on the corner of the neighborhood block in the town she grew up in.
     Virginia kept busy in her gardens, working her needlepoint projects and reading (mostly poetry). She knew all the families living on her street, watching them come and go, raising their own families and she kept an eye on the neighborhood from her sitting room window. Virginia sat in her comfortable rocker behind the window’s sheer curtains and watched, observed and noticed everything that went on in her surrounding community.
     For years, Virginia paid attention to the Webbers across the street and their offspring. The toddlers learning to navigate up the brick steps, the boys playing kick-ball in the street and Mr. Webber coming home at all hours of the night. She watched the wedding of Mae Webber safely behind the folds of her draperies. Virginia sent Mae a needlepoint pillow as a wedding gift (although she was not invited to the celebration). The young couple on the south side of the Webber’s home was the Majors. Virginia thought they were appropriately named -- drama at every turn, day and night. They didn’t have any children, and Virginia thought that may have been one of their problems. Mrs. Major’s mother comes to visit far too often and Virginia felt it only added to the drama already in the household. To the north of the Webber’s home was Mr. Poole’s place of residence. He is an accountant and lives with his elderly mother. Mr. Poole tips his hat to Virginia when passing on the street or walking home from work when passing Virginia’s dwelling. Virginia shyly waves back and then buries her head in the book resting on her knees.
     Virginia has seen families’ come and go. The Wilson’s lasted ten years in the house next to Virginia’s. They simply outgrew the house and moved a few blocks to the north. The Baldacci’s lived behind Virginia for eight or nine years, but returned home to Italy to care for their aging parents. Virginia completely understood their need move on. The Battaglino’s took up the residence and Mrs. Battaglino and Virginia have been exchanging garden produce for a few summers over the back fence. The Battaglino’s grow a lot of tomatoes and herbs.
     There is one house on the block that seems to host more than its share of homeowners. Virginia has noted that the ownership changes hands every two years or so. It’s a nice three-story clapboard structure with four bedrooms, a brick fireplace in the parlor, built-ins in the dining room and a large kitchen to the rear facing the backyard. Virginia took to peeking in the windows when it was empty and between families. It seems to be the attic that has new homeowners baffled with unusual sounds filtering down to the lower levels. The attic has been searched and researched to no avail. Except to many claiming an aspiration living on the premises (without permission). Virginia loves that story and helps spread the tale around.
     Virginia lives a quiet life by herself, has interests that keep her busy and is considering adopting a kitten or two for company.

Photo credit: from the collection of Attic Whispers

Monday, March 24, 2014

The 1918 Home Visit Tour of Quincy Falls (#1 of 15)

     My name is Lynette Moore and I’ve resided in Quincy Falls all my life, I’m the granddaughter of Judge Moore and at my grandmother’s suggestion, I am the chairwoman for this year’s ‘Quincy Falls Community Home Visits’. I was bamboozled into this position, but I shall say that I’ve bamboozled my grandparents at times, so I can’t complain and will welcome you to one of our town’s oldest residential streets; Windham Crest Avenue. We’ll be touring the homes and visiting with the residents on this broadway, during Quincy Falls Annual Home Visits. It was the brainchild of my grandmother to help raise charitable funds for the hospital a few years back and has become a yearly event in our district. For one Standing Liberty (25¢) left at the front door of the home you are visiting, you may take a guided tour of the home, meet the lady of the house and take refreshments, if offered. This year we are visiting Windham Crest Avenue, a tree lined street with a variety of homes: post and beam, brick (from our local brick works), Victorian styling, Colonial homes, Cape Cod designs and Georgian architecture. But, not to get ahead of my self I’ll tell you a little bit about our fair town.
     Quincy Falls is in the southwestern section of New Hampshire and was originally settled by pioneers finding a large track of land that lies in a valley along the Ashuelot River and shadowed by the Monadnock Mountains. The river provided a flush spot for mills locating up and down the waterway: woolen mills, woodworking, sawmills, paper mills and brick works. Our town sits on an ancient lakebed where fertile farmland leads to our current population of over ten thousands souls.
     The center of town starts at the Courthouse Park with the main thoroughfares running true north, south, east and west; makes for finding an address very efficient. For over a hundred years enterprises have sprung up as the needs arise from our community. We have a fine hospital (thank-you, Grandmother), County Courthouse (thank-you, Grandfather), The Quincy Falls Normal School (a teacher’s college), The Sentinel (our newspaper), Mark’s Business School, The Ashuelot Performance Center, The South Main Street Theater and the average trade practices. We have two photographer studios offering mechanical art, portraits and sepia work. The Able Herrin Company supplies printed cloth products to the larger cities and has a ladies millinery on its premises. Of course, Miss Cassandra’s Fashion House carries a fine line of current a’ la mode, as well (it’s located on North Main). We have a chapter of The Daughters of the American Revolution (our host for the home visit tour) and many charitable ladies societies along with a variety of gentlemen organizations. We have a fine city library, multiple hotels and eating establishments, a baseball team, The Quincy Racetrack and the Y.M.C.A. With our 3500-foot mountain to our east, we enjoy walkouts on its hillsides and winter sports. The Ashuelot River provides sandy shorelines and walkways for leisurely strolls and boating excursions. Quincy Falls was once called ‘The Falls’ and there is a story worth hearing from the recorded documents of Eli Forbes taken during a town meeting in 1801.        
     Quincy Falls went through a tirade of community suggestions when the founding fathers decided to change the town’s name from ‘The Falls’ to something more suitable. This small burg was becoming a popular point for immigrants, colonists and newcomers to settle and call home.
     1801: The town’s meetinghouse was filled with concerned neighbors, groups of families, new settlers, old merchants and their brothers. Names put forward were: Bradford from folk coming from Bradford, England. George Washington, for the obvious reasons, New Dublin from the Irish settlers and New Inverness being shouted from the Scottish families. When someone stood up and advocated for Passamaquoddy (an Indian name meaning along the edge) the town’s naming committee said, “Halt!” The board placed five names for the citizen’s consideration: Fairfield, Camden, Windsor, York (old or new) and Quincy Falls. When a merchant in the audience pointed out that the first four names were already being used in New Hampshire, Quincy Falls won by a narrow margin (the Irish contingency held fast to New Dublin).
     So, without further adieu, I welcome you to join us in visiting some of the fine homes on Windham Crest Avenue and meeting some of our Quincy Falls citizens.       

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Being a Woman in1892

     Leola Kelly had kept a notebook or a journal for most of her life. When paper was hard to come by, Leola took to writing across the pages of books sheltered on a small shelf in her room she shared with her six siblings. She had questions that needed answers and being a woman, she rarely agreed with the menfolk in her family and sought the solutions through her writing. Her words were private, kept only to herself; but she gained knowledge and insight beyond her years and gender. Unlike Browning, she didn’t express herself in seeking out love, but took Alice and Phoebe Cary as role models and mentors in her quest to understand her position in life as a woman in 1892.
     One poem she wrote was just after landing on the shores of America from her homeland of Ireland.
     Tis’ the rubbing of the ship’s timber I remember most,
     A sound so ingrained, so loud, so strong.
     Feeling the echo of those we left behind,
     Be it morning, noon or night, absence at a cost
     On a distant shore we once whispered as home.
     Leola worked days in the clothing mills, lost in thought while preforming the mundane tasks at a sewing machine, imagining a life where her betters were not all men. She wrote her unvoiced impressions and ideas on the pages of her daybook. Leola wrote of her observations of people she met; mealy-mouthed women without an original thought, men puffing themselves up larger than their statue to look menacing and important. She noticed if someone looked her in the eye while conversing or bent a head to the side in submission, not wanting or able to listen. Leola found solace in secretly joining the woman’s movement -- even when it was going nowhere. She attended lectures and programs given by women, sitting in the back of the room as not wanting to be noticed and keeping to herself.
     Then one day on her way to work jostled by other workers heading to a meaningless job, that they, too, may be inquisitive, imagine a better life for themselves and were secret in their quest for answers or solutions. Leola stopped on the sidewalk letting the masses flow around her. She decided right then and there to be a loud, strong and an unforgettable voice and open her books of writings to the world and be heard. She began writing to the issue that if we are all silently wishing for a change, there would be no change. It took tenacious courage and unshakeable belief to get standards to be altered, adjusted and accepted. Leola submitted her articles and was read in women’s periodicals and broadsheets. She became a speaker at large gatherings at women’s engagements and spoke one-on-one in women meetings where others were impressed by her words. She spoke out, was listened to and slowly saw that heads were turned, not away from her but to her. Her message was being heard, embraced and voiced. Loud and clear. She encouraged other women to speak out, join arms and make a difference in the world for women.         

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