Gertrude Borden Magnuski

Gertrude Borden Magnuski

1924 – 2008

Excerpt from an Interview with Deborah Magnuski McCrave

Excerpt from an Interview with Rhonda Antonsen Magnuski

Excerpt from an Interview with John Magnuski

Gertrude Borden Magnuski outside of a cottage on their property, later destroyed in a fire. Courtesy of the Magnuski family.

Excerpt from an Interview with Deborah Magnuski McCrave

My mother was a singer. She had the most beautiful voice. She was the head soloist over at the Congregational Church for years and years, but we missed out on a lot of her singing at church because we didn’t go to the same church. On Sunday mornings she had to do a lot of preparation for her thing at church. Whenever we did hear her singing hymns it was mostly at home because she would practice. There were certain songs that were just so good. She had her own method of playing the piano, and she’d be singing away, and we’d just sit there mesmerized. She not only sang in church, she sang for weddings, funerals, any kind of an occasion.  Miss McMahon had a going away party, and she sang, and Mrs. Ross sang, and somebody else sang, too, but I swear my mother had the best voice of them all. A lot of times she’d sing old forties and fifties songs, and so we all learned all those songs. We’d take rides down around the Harbor, because we used to love to go down there, and the whole time we’d be driving down there, we’d be singing away.

My mother always dressed up nice, and so we’d watch her get dressed when she was going to church. She’d put her beads on, and she’d always have a special pin for that day. She always was a pin collector. She always looked beautiful to us and she’d go off and do her thing. My father and mother decided that since her job was to be the singer at the church, that she couldn’t be interrupted with a bunch of kids. So they decided that we should go to Stone Church because it was right next door to my grandmother’s house, and my father would be at my grandmother’s house doing farm things. If we needed help for any reason all we had to do was walk next door. My mother also wrote poetry. A lot of her poetry was family oriented. You knew who she wrote about, but if anybody else read it they wouldn’t know it was about her children. She really dearly loved her children. There were days, she’d be up in her room writing away, and we’d go up in her room, and we’d say “Ma, can you read us your poems?” She’d take out her book and we’d sit there for hours. She’d read all her poems, and we’d be, “That’s you she’s talking about.” She did give us a copy. She used to write, I don’t know if you call them sonnets but little short things. Right now, over at Acoaxet Chapel, because she used to love Acoaxet Chapel, there is a thing that she wrote, as far as I know it’s still there on the wall. It was about the little chapel on the side of the road.  Everybody loved it. The girls at the church made a song out of it.

Based on an oral history interview with Deborah Magnuski McCrave.

First published in “Remembering Adamsville” by the Little Compton Historical Society, 2013.

Gertrude Borden Magnuski with Henry Magnuski. Courtesy of the Magnuski family.

Excerpt from an Interview with Rhonda Antonsen Magnuski

Gertrude [Magnuski’s] mom passed, I think it was just a couple of weeks after she gave birth to Gert.  Howard, of course, wasn’t prepped to take care of a baby so she went to her mom’s mom which is Elizabeth from Adamsville, in the home that we’re in now. Back then they used to put the babies out on the lawn to air. And I guess there had been some contention between Howard and the grandmother. At one point he had remarried, and they wanted to take the baby back, but the grandmother wanted to keep her. All of the grandmother’s children passed, most of them very young. Gertrude’s mom was the one that lived the longest at thirty-one. So one day Gert was out airing and her father and her step-mother happened to be going by and they grabbed her. She didn’t see her grandmother until, I think she said, she was almost eight years old. Snatched her from the lawn. 

Based on an oral history interview with Rhonda Antonsen Magnuski.

First published in “Remembering Adamsville” by the Little Compton Historical Society, 2013.

Gertrude Borden Magnuski with John Magnuski. Courtesy of the Magnuski family.

Excerpt from an Interview with John Magnuski

[Uncle] Herbert Sanford [ran] Sanford’s Meat Market. I remember when I was a little kid, oh maybe four years old, I went in there with my mother. That meat market had sawdust on the floor, and we didn’t think nothing of it. I saw this display on the side that had all kinds of packages of gum.  Well, I put one in my pocket, a package of Chiclets. Mother got through, ordered her stuff and paid for it.  She didn’t know I had taken that gum. So on the way home “Momma, you want a piece of gum?” She said “Where did you get that from? You stole it. You didn’t have any money. You stole it.  We’re going back there right now. You go in there and tell Uncle Herbert that you’re sorry you stole the gum.” 

Based on an oral history interview with John Magnuski.

First published in “Remembering Adamsville” by the Little Compton Historical Society, 2013.

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