I Was Home
We moved to Adamsville in February of ’67. When I moved into the house that we first lived in, I said it was as though anchors had fallen off of me, that I was home. That property has been my home ever since then.
When I moved here, I did not know how to drive, and I walked. I walked all over. The [school] bus wouldn’t come up that street. You had to go right into Adamsville. So, I would walk my boys down, and the Sheehan kids. We’d all walk down to get the school bus. I’d go and get them in the afternoon, bring them back. If I wanted to go to the market and needed more than what Simmons’ had, I would walk to Lee’s. I did that a few times. It’s three miles, but I was a New Yorker. New Yorkers walked.
I was called “The Walker.” “Oh yeah, you’re the walker!” I knew Ed Cook. I knew a lot of the people who were up and down the street because I walked, and they all knew who I was. They’d come out, and I’d have conversations. I knew virtually everybody on the street.
I was twenty-seven, I think, when I just decided I really had to learn how to drive. We had a stick shift, and it wasn’t until I could get it into second gear that I then told my husband he could take me out and show me how to drive. But I drove all around the fields. I would park between garbage cans. I learned how to drive.
[The people in the village have] always been good neighbors. Friendly people, not hop-skip-and-jump for joy people. They’re not that kind of people. But good solid people, which I think we don’t have enough of those quality. There just aren’t enough good, kind people, and there seem to be quite a few of them here. I also think that there were a lot of hidden sorrows, which also intrigued me. If you looked at the different houses, they all looked like happy, lovely houses. If you looked at really who was inside and what was going on, you could see that there was also a lot of pain. But they were still good people, that kind of quality kind of people.
Grace Simmons was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. Friendly? It would take a while to get her to be friendly. But once you were part of her feelings, however, you were there. She took care of a lot of people in town. There was an old man, Irving Manchester, who lived up Old Harbor Road. There were two brothers, if I’m not mistaken, but Irving was the surviving brother. They were basically like old hermits. You would see Irving coming into the village with a big sack on his back, and he would stop at different places, and he would rest. He would spend quite a long time resting down here, I think just looking at whatever was going on. But he’d go to Grace’s and he’d get his supplies for the week, and then he’d walk back. He didn’t come in this one time, and she paid for him to be taken care of in the hospital. I mean, she was that kind of a person. So, in terms of friendliness she could be a stony character, but that didn’t mean that she wasn’t a loving person. I thought she had a very dry sense of humor. She really knew people. In fact, when we had Karla, our daughter, Grace was one of the names that I thought of naming her.
The Fork in the Road
How many streets do you know of that start with a chicken monument then go on to a fork in the road? I mean, come on! Is that a class act? Let me see Little Compton challenge that one! Apparently, anyone who lives in the Harbor has always used the fork in the road as directions. The first time I saw it, I thought, “Oh God, it’s beautiful! Who did this?” Oh, it took a long time to find out who did it, but it’s a stroke of genius.
You Got Nothing
I applied for a [Fresh Air Fund] child to spend the summers with us. The second year, we got this little kid who was so cocky. He came in and he looked around and he said, “What do you do here?” I said, “Well, we go to the beach quite a bit. Do you like to go to the beach?” He said, “I go to Coney.” I said, “Really?” He said, “How far are you from Coney?” I said, “Quite a ways. It’d be an all-day drive.” He said, “Where’s the elevated from here?” I said, “We don’t have an elevated. We have to use a car.” He said, “You know, that takes a lot of money.” I said, “But that’s the only way we can do it.” And he said, “That is still going to cost a lot of money. You’re going to have to think about this. You’ve got your head on straight.” He said, “Where do you go shopping?” I said, “Well, I have to drive to the market.” He said, “You can’t walk?” I said, “I have walked to that market, but, no, I usually just drive.” And he said, “Do you have a Spanish store nearby?” “No.” He said, “You know what you’ve got?” I said, “What?” He said, “You’ve got nothing.” I thought, ‘I love you, I love you. You think this is nothing? You’re hired, you can stay here as long as you want.’ No matter what we did, we couldn’t impress him, but I got a letter of thanks from his mother. He was a great little kid.
The Less the World Knows
Actually, I don’t want the world to know about Adamsville because I think the less the world knows about Adamsville, the more Adamsville will stay like itself. Little Compton has this thing, a peninsula thinking. Most places that are only one way in and one way out, it becomes isolated. In some ways that’s a good thing and in other ways it’s a bad thing. Because in your isolation, you think that’s the only way it can be, when in fact it’s not. That’s why it’s so important for our children to go to high school someplace else. That’s why it’s so important for them to go out to find out why this is good. This is not the best place to raise teenagers, by a long shot. But it is certainly a wonderful place to live, and I don’t mean here in Adamsville, I mean in this whole area.
Based on an oral history interview with Karla Moran.
First published in “Remembering Adamsville” by the Little Compton Historical Society, 2013.