Jeanne Morse Bauman
An Essay by Susan Wilkie
This is the story of a woman’s life in Adamsville, my friend Jeanne Bauman…. formally known as Jeanne Pruchhnik Morse. She moved to RI from Massachusetts arriving in Adamsville in 1961. She was a young, beautiful, optimistic girl who had married Davidson Morse Sr., son of Helen and Ken Morse from Westport Harbor and Boston. Jeanne‘s parents were both descendants from Poland and Dad’s side from Austria and her Mom’s side French Canadian Indians. Starting out as a young bride and mother of three, her babies were Cheryl, Deborah, and Davidson Jr., she quickly learned how to tend to their needs. Jeanne and her husband decided to purchase property from Borden Tripp and start a business for their family. Jeanne had high hopes and was eager to create a lovely life for her Morse family. The property was Abraham Manchester’s Store, built 1812, and they purchased the house next door and the barn behind it, now known as The Barn restaurant. She had always wanted a family of 12 and so loved children and she was eager to create a beautiful life for her family. She and her husband ran and managed the store they owned and their customers came from Little Compton, Tiverton, and Westport. She enjoyed managing the store for close to 10 years. During that decade she had three more children, Heidi, Bonnie, and Gretchen.
Jeanne recalls stocking groceries every night with her dear friend Beverly Wordell. Jeff Shurtleff would open the store. Jeanne and Beverly had a great time talking and laughing and enjoying each other‘s company while they worked. Beverly’s son Robert Wordell became part of the family and celebrated birthdays with the Morse children. The two women became close and and formed a special bond as coworkers and mothers and are still friends to this day. Early on,Jeanne knew that she loved people and enjoyed being the hostess. She loved playing the piano and speaking French with her children, neighbors and friends. She enjoyed throwing parties and hosting gatherings for friends and families at the Adamsville house. She recalls having clam boils and all kinds of holiday parties and gatherings on a regular basis. She said she might have a party last all night, playing games like charades, card games, board games….. until the wee hours. Her sister Judy would visit with her 3 kids from Connecticut. One morning the milkman was making his daily delivery as Jeanne was washing the remains of the day from her kitchen floor at 5am. He commented on what an early riser she was to get up and clean her kitchen so early. She laughed to herself thinking, ”I haven’t even gone to bed yet. I’ve been entertaining people all night!!!!!!! ”. She was known around town as a mom and known for hosting and entertaining as many as 35 people for Thanksgiving. She recalls with a giggle having as many as 27 house guests stay overnight. She said there were bodies everywhere! Her motto was always, and still is, “the more the merrier.” She would be making breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone and never a complaint, always a smile. She was more than happy to provide for others.
The children in Adamsville would come from all over to visit Jeanne and get off the #5 bus right in front of her house to take a pony ride on their family pony Brownie. She loved giving pony rides and seeing the kids happy and enjoying themselves-that brought a lot of joy to Jeanne. She remembers the children laughing and having fun…. some of the families that she recalls that were regulars were ……Wordell, Guay, Sheehan, McKinnon, Oliveria, Cook, West, and Cory.
Having the responsibilities of raising six children, being a wife, managing Manchester’s store, Jeanne somehow found the time to become a Girl Scout leader. She was so thrilled to help the Girl Scouts raise money that she had all of the cookies delivered to her house and would distribute them as needed. She recalls having a house chock full of Girl Scout cookies piled right up to the ceiling. Taking the children to go crabbing in the Westport River was always a fun event. She would give her 6 kids chicken on a string to catch the crabs. They always came home with a few.
Another fond memory is of her dear friend, the lovely Elsa Cory, with whom shared a special adoration for flowers- African violets in particular, and nature. Some of her friends called Jeanne a ray of sunshine, and rightly so. I can say from my experience Jeanne lights up a room, her laugh and sweet words….make all our friends feel loved and cared for. She is a strong, kind soul with a generous heart and is selfless to a fault. She is always eager to please her guests. She loves to laugh and have fun, play scrabble, travel the world, and have some fun adventures. She always wants to try something new and always has a positive happy attitude.
She recalls offering to do some babysitting for her friends, the Deanner family of Virginia. They were going away for a week and Jeanne offered to take on their five children. She decided to take the children to a Disney movie to watch the “Jungle Book.” On the way into the movie theatre in Fall River she had everyone hold hands ……all the Morse children and Robert Wordell and Deanners….which was a total of 12. She recalled a stranger asking curiously, ”are those all your children?” and Jeanne replied, “ Yes they are”…..the stranger replied…..”my, they are very well behaved” ….Jeanne just smiled and proudly headed into the theatre with her dozen children.
Jeanne was a member of the Truesdale Hospital Board of Trustees, and a member of the Old Stone Church. She was a devoted Sunday school teacher and member of the Baptist Women of Rhode Island Executive Board. Under her Cub Scout leadership she was instrumental in winning the first blue ribbon for Little Compton for her display of saving the seaside ecology event at the Rhode Island state fair. On many occasions she would volunteer to take African violets from the Cory hot house and deliver to needy patients at Truesdale Hospital. She loved helping others and making them smile. Jeanne trusted her children and would always allow them to walk to Gray’s Cash Store run by Leonard Waite and Gracie Simmons store. Sometimes they would ride their bikes to Wilbur School. She wanted her children to be strong and independent and courageous.
Jeanne has an incredible positive attitude and loving, giving spirit of kindness and generosity. She would have as many as 25 kids at her house on a regular basis, caring for, feeding and treating them just like they were her own. Jeanne even took on a Brazilian exchange student for a couple of months during the holidays. Elainy a very sophisticated med student came to share Jeanne’s home with her family since Jeanne wanted to give them the cultural experience of a foreign exchange student living with them and learning about the Brazilian culture. She made her feel welcome and assisted her to get a tour to do rounds with a doctor at Truesdale Hospital. Elainy was on cloud nine. Jeanne offered Elainy to spend Christmas Eve with the von Trapp family, and they attended midnight mass and had a Viennese Christmas Eve and presented Elainy with an autographed album of the Sound of Music….. She was overjoyed! Elainy called Jeanne her “ second Mom“ since she felt so loved, and was having so much fun she chose to forgo her trip to Washington, D.C. Jeanne’s selfless, kind, giving way has continued on to this day.
Jeanne later moved with her family to Westport Harbor and spent many years at Elephant Rock Beach Club. Her kids became involved at the Acoaxet Club where she made hundreds of friends and entertained until the wee hours. She then moved to Naples, Florida and finally got her wish to have the large family she wanted so long ago…..with 6 children, 8 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren….that makes 16! She now resides in Georgia where she will be planning her next party for her friends in May.
An Excerpt from an Oral History Interview with Connie Buben
We were told that if you lived within a mile of the post office you had to get a post office box, which we did have. So in the springtime it was nice to put the babies in the carriage. You would meet some other young mothers with their children, and I met Jeanne [Morse.] At the time her in-laws bought Manchester’s. Her husband ran the store for a while. We used to get together up at her house because she had about four children at the time and she used to like us to come out and have coffee and have the little toddlers play together for a little while. So that was nice socialization.
Based on an oral history interview with Connie Buben.
First published in “Remembering Adamsville” by the Little Compton Historical Society, 2013.
An Excerpt from an Oral History Interview with Elsa Cory
I was very friendly with Jeanne Morse. Jeanne 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.
Based on an oral history interview with Elsa Cory.
First published in “Remembering Adamsville” by the Little Compton Historical Society, 2013.