Anne McLynch Sylvia

Anne McLynch Sylvia

1904 – 2004

Anne Sylvia with the Boston Post Cane given to Little Compton’s oldest resident, 2003. Courtesy of the family.

Anne May McLynch was born in Fall River, MA on April 21, 1904 to  Mary McAndrew McLynch and Patrick McLynch. Mary McAndrew was born on October 12, 1879 in the United Kingdom. Patrick McLynch was born in Wales around 1878 and immigrated to Fall River in 1890. Her parents were married on February 17th, 1903 in Fall River, Massachusetts. Anne was the eldest of four children.

Anne and her family spent much of her early years in Brooklyn, New York and Fall River, Massachusetts. Growing up, Anne enjoyed school, however, when her father passed away, she was only able to complete the 8th grade before going to work in the cotton mills in Fall River to help support her family. During her time working in the mills, she was responsible for the threading process. Anne often shared the story of how her mom would bake potatoes for her to wrap and hold in her hands to stay warm while walking to the mill from her home and then she would have the potatoes to eat at lunch. Anne remembered fondly that on Friday night her mom would bring home the groceries and always a small bag of candies for the children.

Myles Cameron lived with his parents Fredrick and Lillia Sylvia in Adamsville near what is now the package store. At that time, the family owned and operated a meat market in what is now the real estate building across from the Mill Pond. Fredrick and his son Myles would make meat deliveries all around town using their meat cart. Myles’s children recall him saying that while he was working as a butcher delivering meat, he would give soup bones away for free to the most needy families.

Anne had friends that she visited with in Tiverton and it was through them that she met her future husband Myles. Anne is quoted in the Sakonnet Times remembering, “My friend Nina, who ran Sutherland’s Restaurant, talked about him all the time. She thought he was wonderful.” Anne finally met Myles after a hayride to a dance at Johnny White’s house on Crandall Road. She continued, “I didn’t like him at all when I met him. I thought he was short. Good looking, but short.” However, after several double dates with Nina to Crescent Park the couple eventually fell in love.

When they decided to be married the couple chose April because the flowers would be in bloom. Anne told the story that she was traveling to Little Compton to be married on her birthday, April 21st, but there was a problem with the train and she arrived the next day and was married on April 22nd, 1926 at St. Anthony’s church in Portsmouth. Mike and Ethel Rogers stood up for them as they were very good friends.

Anne and Myles had four children Thomas A Sylvia, Jeanne McInnis, Judith Gagliardi, and Carolyn Faria. The young couple lived in Adamsville at first with Myles’s family while he continued to work at the meat market. Eventually the couple moved into their own home and worked hard to support their young family. Anne often worked three to four jobs which was unusual given the norm for women at that time. In order to ensure that there was a parent home at all times, Anne would work in the day while Myles worked at a commissioned officer’s club in Newport in the evenings.

In the early 1930’s Anne and Myles opened a restaurant called Anne’s Cove. Because it was opened during prohibition, Anne recalled to the Sakonnet Times, “My husband and the landlord used to make home brew for themselves, and then they started selling it. We used to serve clam boils to the people that would come in for a drink. Then we opened a seven booth restaurant.” Anne explained, “We had a liquor license. Then Mike Rogers, who was the best man at our wedding and owned what became the Fo’c’s’le, wanted a liquor license, but we had it. He wanted us to transfer it and my husband went for it. This was the early 30s. It was called Anne’s Fo’c’s’le. We got a big business going.”

Anne and Myles went to work with Mike and Ethel Rogers at the Fo’c’s’le on Sakonnet Point. Their restaurant functioned like a community center with a bowling alley and movies. “It served as a clambake house and boats would come in from Providence and Newport.” The two families ran the business together for a number of years until Anne and Myles grew tired of the large business and decided they wanted their small restaurant back. Together they reopened their own restaurant, Anne’s Cove, located just south of where the Yacht Club is now.

However, the Sylvia’s still needed a liquor license and so Mr. Thayer, who had a little trailer for a general store on Sakonnet point with a liquor license sold his license to Mr. Rogers for the Fo’c’s’le and the Sylvia’s got theirs back. Anne worked as both the cook and the server, often running back and forth between cooking the clam boils and chicken dishes and serving the customers. Anne remembered, “We had a crowd. They all loved the food. It got so big I had to hire a waitress. My husband helped. He tended bar and he would help me with the dishes and pots and pans. We worked very hard.” In 1938, diners could enjoy a full lobster dinner including appetizers and desserts for just $1.35.

          Anne and Myles lost the restaurant during the ‘38 hurricane shortly after they had finished paying for it. The hurricane devastated the Sakonnet point including Anne’s previous restaurant, the Fo’c’s’le, fish markets and various stores. Sadly, Anne’s Cove was washed out to sea. The following year they were able to rebuild and reopen, however, in the 1940s a second hurricane came and “took the whole thing away and left a big hole. After the second big one, my husband said, “That’s enough.” The menu above was the final menu served at Anne’s Cove restaurant. Carolyn Faria recalls that her parents did not speak about it much as the memory was far too painful.

Sakonnet Point after the 1938 Hurricane. Courtesy of the family.

          In the years that followed, Anne worked as a pastry chef for 16 years at Luke’s Lodge on Crandall Road. Unfortunately, the Lodge eventually burned down. She went on to become a pastry chef at the Sakonnet Golf Club for 19 years, leaving in the 1960s. Anne recalled to Sakonnet times, “We had a big, big iron stove in the Golf Club. There were eight to ten burners on it, and a gas stove attached to it. They’d bring the gas in tanks and we’d plug it in. After I left the Sakonnet Golf Club, I went back. They said they couldn’t replace me. We’d do restaurant style cooking, and I’d make some of my own dishes, too. We had big electric mixers for dough, and meat cutters. Thursdays we had roast beef night.”

          Anne was a wonderful cook and her family was blessed with delicious meals. She prioritized a big Sunday dinner each week with her family. Anne shared her skills with others as well as she often went out to private homes in Little Compton and cooked for them.

          Myles died just before their 50th anniversary in 1976, “I loved him dearly,” Anne told the Sakonnet Times, “He was a very good husband and a very, very good daddy. We were married 49 years, and he said, “we made it. Now we’ll make it to the 50th,’ but on Mother’s Day we were talking in the living room and he just went.” After his passing, Anne continued to live in her home on West Main Road and enjoyed her time with her friends and family. It was only when Anne reached her 90s that she moved up the street to live with Carolyn and Gabe Faria.

During their marriage they did not have much money to travel except on one special occasion to Florida in 1952 to visit the fountain of youth. However, after Myles’s death, Anne traveled often going to Montreal with the Little Compton Seniors for two years in a row for New Year’s and twice to Hawaii with volunteers she met working at the Portsmouth Senior Center. She traveled with her children to Alaska and Florida.

          Anne was an active member of St. Catherine’s altar rosary society. She helped with the bazaar that they held in the yard near the library. There were games for the children and dessert tables and bingo was a big hit! On Memorial Day, the church would serve hot homemade chowder, hot dogs, and soda to whoever wanted it after the parade. There was also a big table of homemade desserts. Anne also spent time at the Brownell Rose Gardens where she worked on floral propagation.

Anne loved Little Compton and was active in town on the Republician town committee and also served on the School Board for quite a few years. She served at a controversial time when the School Board was deciding to close the high school. At the time the town was unable to afford the special teachers needed to maintain the necessary standards.  Ultimately, her vote, after much consideration, was to close. Her youngest daughter, Carolyn Faria’s class was one of the last to graduate from J. F. Wilbur High School in 1963.

Anne’s dedication in the kitchen continued even in her later years. She belonged to the Portsmouth and Little Compton senior center. When the Portsmouth senior center served meals to their members, Anne would often say,  “I am going over to help serve lunch to the old folks.” Humorously, Anne, at that time, was well into her 80s and probably one of the oldest people there. She was always so positive and joyful, you would never know it!

Anne Sylvia cooking in her older years. Courtesy of the family.

On April 6, 2003, Anne was awarded the Boston Post Cane from the Little Compton Town Council President Donald Gomez. According to the Sakonnet Times, Mr. Gomez declared the day “Anne M. Sylvia Day”. She was the 26th recipient of the honor in its 94 year history. She was so happy to have that honor.

Anne passed away on February 7, 2004, just two months short of 100, after a life well spent in her beautiful town of Little Compton. She was quoted in the Sakonnet Times back in the 1950s saying, “I think that Little Compton is wonderful. I have lived here since I was married in 1926, coming from New York City. We have four children, two of them still attending Josephine Wilbur School, which is the greatest… I just like this town and the people in it very much.” During her final interview with the Sakonnet Times in 2003, Anne reflected on her long, beautiful life saying, “I had a lot of good times, but a lot of hard times too. I wouldn’t want to live my life over again but I am glad to live to 99.” She left many wonderful memories to those who loved her in Little Compton and around the world.

Carolyn Sylvia Faria, Daughter, and Katy Chace, Great-granddaughter

April 28, 2020

 

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