Lillian A. Davoll

Lillian A. Davoll

1888 – 1969

A bottle of sea glass and shells the author collected with her grandmother, Lillian A. Davoll.

My grandmother, Lillian A. Davoll was born in Tiverton, R.I. on February 4, 1888.  I don’t know anything about her childhood but I’ve always wondered about it, and especially now that I’m older and have grown kids of my own.  I wish I could have told them more about her.   She was so wonderful to me when I was a young child.  She passed away in 1969 when I was just ten years old and I still miss that woman with all my heart, but her memory always makes me smile.

The first memories I have of my grandmother are of her cooking meals and inviting me to join her and Grampy for dinner.  I lived right in her back yard then so I got many dinner invitations.  I wish I had been a little older at that time because my grandmother made everything from scratch.   She baked bread and cookies and the best blueberry pie on the planet.  She would send me and my father out to pick blueberries for her.  The woods around her house were full of wild blueberry bushes and it wouldn’t take long to fill up a coffee can with wild blueberries for one of her pies.  I can remember her letting me help make the pies.  She told me all her secrets for making the best crust and filling.  I only wish I could remember them now.  She would take the leftover scraps of crust and would roll them out into an oval shape and then would spread butter over it.  She gave me a can with holes in the top that was filled with cinnamon sugar and I would cover the pastry with a heavy dusting of the mixture.  Then we rolled them up and cut the roll into about one inch pieces.  After a little while in the oven we had the best homemade cinnamon rolls ever created.  At least that’s what they were for me.

Another memory I have is of her flower gardens.  She had beautiful fresh cut flowers in her house from mid- April to early November.  She loved lilacs and had several lilac bushes around her home.  The smell of lilacs was almost intoxicating, even for this little kid at the time.  It was like ringing a smell bell and once you smelled it, it was time for all the fun outdoorsy stuff.  Grampy had a vegetable garden that he worked very hard on all summer long and it showed toward the middle of fall when her root cellar (a corner of her basement that was walled off from the rest and had shelves from about her knee to the ceiling) began to fill up with all the vegetables and pickles she canned herself.  You would never find a store bought can of anything if she could make it herself.

Speaking of making things herself, she would find time in between all the gardening and cooking to sew too.  She was so talented at sewing.  She made me the most beautiful smocked front dresses and cute little aprons to wear while I helped her cook and bake.  They always matched the aprons she wore too.  There were lots of other things she made too.  She would sew these little circles together, and then string them together to make the cutest little clowns. She also loved to do embroidery also.  All my pillowcases had embroidered puppies and kitties on them and sometimes flowers too.  I used to watch her sew for hours because I was so fascinated by her sewing machine.  When she got to the point where she could no longer sew, she gave me the sewing machine and I still have it stored away in the attic somewhere.

My favorite memories though are of her taking me to Sakonnet Point.  She showed me this rocky mound just off of one of the lanes near Lloyd’s Beach and said this is where I used to live, and she would point out the stone steps that went up the rocks to the top of the mound.  There was no house there then because the hurricanes of the 50’s had done away with it, but I thought she meant that she lived in the rocks! She told me stories about watching big waves crash on the beach and around the lighthouse.  There were several times that a boat or a skiff would get away from its skipper and my grandmother and grandfather would go down to the beach to rescue them.  After the hurricanes damaged the house beyond repair, they moved to their house on Long Highway.  The picture shown is the Macauley House that my grandparents lived in before they moved to Long Highway.  I always wondered what it would be like to live in such a house with the view it must have had…. sunrise and sunset, the islands and the Sakonnet Lighthouse to boot. When I used to look at this picture all I saw were those views in my head.  It wasn’t until a few years ago when a friend of mine asked me why they had a cannon in the yard that I even noticed it.  Now I smile when I see it and wonder the same thing.  Why did they have a cannon at all, never mind in the yard!

Grammy, as I called her, would always take me beachcombing while at Sakonnet.  The beach along the edge of the harbor’s cove was the best place for that.  We would bring home buckets full of the broken glass with its edges worn smooth by the motion of the ocean and the sand of the shore.  While out on the boat with my dad one time, we pulled up this bottle from the Sakonnet River near the Sakonnet River Bridge.  My grammy and I spent a whole summer filling the bottle with bits and pieces of seaglass and little shells.  I teasure that – I still have it to this day, over fifty years later.

Grammy passed away at the age of 91 when I was just ten years old.  She was a loving, caring grandmother who will always hold a special place in my memories and in my heart.  To think that she was doing all those things with me while, for the most part in her 70’s.  I couldn’t do that now and I’m only 60.  I didn’t mention that when my grandfather was still alive they would drive across country and summer in California.  It would take them over a week because they stopped and did lots of tourist like things on the way.  She was one tough cookie for sure.  She could bend over and touch the floor flat palmed, not just with her finger tips- FLAT PALMS on the FLOOR! She was an amazing woman and I’ll always love her and think about her. 

Editor’s note:  Lillian A. Wilkie Davoll was born in Tiverton, R.I. on February 4, 1888, the seventh child of Benjamin F. and Rose (Knowlton) Wilkie. She married George A. Davoll Jr., the son of George A. and Cornelia (daughter of Humphrey and Hannah Hill of Westport) in Manhattan, New York on September 14, 1908. Lillian passed away in Fall River, Mass. in 1969 and is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery, Tiverton, R.I.


The Davolls lived in this home prior to moving to Long Highway. Courtesy of Jeanne Davoll Flowers.

Jeanne Davoll Flowers, Granddaughter

March 2020

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