Moving to Adamsville – 1965
[My husband Harold] actually answered an ad in the paper that Mr. Hammett had put in the newspaper for a generator for sale. When he got there, there was a “For Sale” sign on the house and that was it. As far as he was concerned, he did not need to look farther. He bought the house. My father-in-law was upset that we were moving here. He asked what do you want to do in the “Valley of Sin?”
It was five acres straight back to the apple orchard and there were still a few apple trees there. He then bought three acres to the right from Mrs. Davis and put greenhouses back there. We were able to close our rental greenhouses in New Bedford and some in Portsmouth and had the whole African violet business out back.
We were wholesale, but if someone came in to look around and buy a few plants, he would allow that. There were a few ladies from Tiverton who knew him from years before and knew he had violets. So, they would come down. He wouldn’t turn you away.
They can be [temperamental], but some people have marvelous luck with them. He did a good job with growing them. They were beautiful. He got to the point where he was selling a quarter million a year. In the greenhouse, there were all stages from the leaf to the finished plant. But, it was demanding and tolled on his health.
The boys had to work in the greenhouse. Karen too. They had to. They got paid and most of it went to their college fund. It was a family business. We did have several people working in the greenhouse. The summer that Rodman was fifteen or sixteen and Keith was thirteen or fourteen, my husband built a couple of greenhouses and they helped.
You Just Knew Everyone
I was very friendly with Jean Morse. Jean and Dave Morse. She had young children too, and I had children. She lived across from the ball field. We would keep an eye on each other’s children. Beverly Wordell. You just knew everyone. You would walk up to the post office and talk to people. When you have young children, it is easier to get to meet people. If the children did something they shouldn’t, or even something nice, the neighbors would tell you. Kids did not get away with much
The Odd Fellows Hall was empty when we first moved here and the Cyrs were in Tiverton. They bought the Odd Fellows Hall, remodeled it, and it became Stone Bridge Dishes. That used to be my outing. I would put one of the kids in the stroller and that would be my destination. I would look at all the dishes. It was packed with stuff. It was a fun thing to do. Once in a while, when you felt rich, you bought a soup bowl or a cup or something. They did have things that were a little expensive, and out of my realm as a young mother, but they had some things you could pick up for a couple of dollars. The boys weren’t that interested. I like to have a destination when I go out. So that was the excitement for the day.
Growing up in the Village
It was great, especially for the boys. After school, if they didn’t have chores in the greenhouse, they put their play clothes on and up to the ball field. They would go up to the ball field and play baseball and football. That’s where the kids congregated. There were plenty of kids. You never lacked for a playmate. There were the McKinnons, and the Leachs would come up. Right there you had a team. The Morses and Corys. Carla Kneeland would go up. You didn’t worry that something dreadful would happen to them. Five and six-years-old, got on their bike and went up to the field. You knew that someone would call if something happened. It was a wonderful village to have kids grow up in.
You’re lucky to see one or two kids up in the village today. I love to see ball teams play. Kids using the ball field. It was the heart of the village. It was used. There were always kids on the wall waiting for others. The wonderful thing was you didn’t have to worry about them. I don’t envy parents today. It was a great place to grow up in the sixties and seventies. It was a good school system.
When Rodman and Keith were six, my husband showed them how to catch crabs. They would catch five or six good-sized and put them in their wagon and sell them to people like the Brownells and Mrs. Athington. You wouldn’t want to eat the crabs today as the river is polluted.
I remember there was a hurricane in the eighties and Bert Chretien came to all the houses and asked people to get out. This place never got water even in the ’38 hurricane, so we stayed. The houses are high enough. My husband had the greenhouses, so he wouldn’t go. No, not in our situation. I know they were concerned with the water going up and flooding the fields. We lost thirteen trees.
Blizzard of ’78
We were stuck here, but we had to get to the greenhouse. In fact, two days after the storm, my husband had to deliver one hundred cases to Springfield. He couldn’t get there the usual way, north on 146. He went over the bridges through Jamestown and Connecticut. So he stayed near the coast and then went north to Springfield. Even in Adamsville, there was no school for a week.
The big thing was Abraham Manchester’s. It was a landmark, historic spot, and gathering spot. It was good to see it on that curve. When we first moved here, Dave Morse had just closed it. He used to operate Manchester’s as a grocery store. The barn was there, but wasn’t a restaurant.
I came home from Central Village when it burned, and it was ablaze. John Kneeland was taking pictures in the Curran’s yard. My husband did not want to see it burn and would not go up to see it. It was part of the village.
The houses don’t have children. I like to see a mix…old, in the middle and young children. Times do change. Many only come on the weekend and others only occupy in the summer. Others are vacant.
Us and Them
[Adamsville was] looked down upon, probably more by the summer people. Years ago if you went to something over there, like at the school, someone would ask where you were from. When I said “Adamsville,” they would turn away. There was definitely an “us and them.”
Based on an oral history interview with Elsa Cory.
First published in “Remembering Adamsville” by the Little Compton Historical Society, 2013.