Patricia McKinnon Goulart
Moving to Adamsville
Dad got a new job with the Tiverton school system. I remember they found the house in Adamsville. When they came home and were describing it, I think we were all, as kids, just so excited to have a built-in swimming pool in our backyard, a ball field across the street. Who could ask for anything more as a kid?
Working at Simmons’ Store
I worked there in my high school years as basically a cashier. Jimmy Morton made his own homemade ice cream and I would scoop ice cream, dish out sundaes and cabinets and ice cream cones. It was the best ice cream. Chocolate chip ice cream would be the real milk chocolate morsels, never crunched up. It would be the whole morsel in the chocolate chip. The butterscotch ice cream was the same way, the whole butterscotch chip. There was cantaloupe ice cream. There was peanut butter and jelly. That was real peanut butter and real jelly, and whenever I had to make a cone of that, the jelly—it was grape jelly—would just run right down my arm. There was mocha and that was a big seller. Blueberry, from real blueberries.
Simmons’ Store was known for Adamsville cheese. It was a big wheel. If you’re looking at the counter it would have been right to the right. Right next to where we sold the cigarettes. It was a very famous cheese, and it was definitely good. You know in the warmer months it did have definite oil that would seep from the cheese. It was on a cutting wheel so you would get to know the thickness of how to cut it, with the different sizes, then you would weigh it on their old scale. There was a cat. People often talk about the cat lying on the cheese. I don’t quite remember that, but maybe he was.
We would put the cigarettes in their place and we would use that cigarette carton. We would rip it up a certain way and it would just be a long narrow piece of cardboard and that’s where we would add up all the different items, no cash register. And I tell you that’s where I got to know my numbers very quickly, doing it that way.
[Grace] was very on top of things. She probably was in her eighties. She had a rocking chair that she would love to sit in when it wasn’t busy and just greet people. She was a very nice woman, I have to say and she was very good to me. I also worked with Eleanor Hennessey for a little while and she was a wonderful woman. But Grace was good. I know her patience ran low with all the kids that would come in.
Jimmy was Grace’s nephew. He had a nice piece of property in Westport, and he probably was in his forties when I was working with him and I was a high school student. He was quite a character, Jimmy.
As a kid you remember wanting just to get in and get what you needed and get out, but he would always play games giving the change back. He would hold the change up and then he would move it to a certain side and as a kid you just wanted to get the change and get out. He sometimes would hold your arm and slip it down the sleeve, and so it would go up your arm, and it would drive you crazy. I’ll never forget my brothers, I think they were over there buying toilet paper, and he said to one of them, “Oh, is Pat cleaning up her act?”
I remember the big thing was the newspapers that you would have to write the customer’s name on them and you would keep them in the back on Sunday mornings.
Simmons’ Store would have their breads and muffins and doughnuts delivered early to the store and the delivery man would just keep them right out on the porch before the store opened up. Brandy our St. Bernard, we could occasionally see him coming through the ball field with a loaf of bread in his mouth. We tried to keep him from doing it. It happened a few times, but sure enough Grace caught on that it was our dog stealing bread, so she would have to talk to us.
One night my brothers came into Simmons Store and I remember a smell. It was like bad eggs. Grace was working, and Eleanor Hennessey was working, and I was working, and we were all kind of running around trying to figure out where that smell was coming from. It was so strong. I remember going into the ice cream room, and I could see my brothers behind a shelf of bread. I could see them laughing so hard that their shoulders were going up and down. They were tearing; they were laughing so hard. Somehow I found out what they did. They had let a stink bomb go in the store and I was mortified. I was so concerned that Grace and Eleanor were going to find out it was my brothers that did it. Well after my shift was done I was still so upset I told my father what my brothers did, and he got so mad at them that he was telling them the next day they were going to have to go back to the store and apologize. They told me, years later, that I saved them because I was so embarrassed that I didn’t want [Grace and Eleanor] to know it was my brothers so I said, “No Dad, please don’t send them back.” They never knew what caused that smell.
Spite Tower Sleepovers
Colleen [Guay] grew up in that house so her family owned the tower. At one point in my childhood her brother Peter Guay was an artist, and that was his studio. I think we had to be very careful going in when his artwork was going on. But I do remember going in occasionally and having sleepovers in there and it was just the neatest building. I remember the second floor more than anything and I think it’s because we would have sleepovers there. It would be basically a square bottom and you’d go up the stairs and the same square, but just a little bit smaller, and the third floor would be even smaller. And it was cold, even in the summer it seemed a little bit cool and damp.
Based on an oral history interview with Patricia McKinnon Goulart.
First published in “Remembering Adamsville” by the Little Compton Historical Society, 2013.