Sidney Lockwood Tynan

Sidney Lockwood Tynan

Born 1921

An Excerpt from Claire Johnson’s History Through Women She Has Known

Essay by Keith Crudgington

Sidney Tynan and her friend Zoe from her book, Country Letters 2001-2007. Courtesy of Claire Johnson.

An Excerpt from Claire Johnson’s History Through Women She Has Known

How lucky I am that one of my first friends in LC, remains one of my dearest friends still, and lives just within a mile of me now. Sidney and I met when she lived at the Corn Crib, on Warrens Pt. one of the years we lived at the Farmhouse. Our friendship continued as Sidney played soprano recorder in a recorder ensemble I organized called the Sakonnet Winds, performing at the Stone House, and the United Congregational Church one year. Our paths have continued to cross a number of times since then, and within the past 10 years we have resumed where we left off! Be it sharing stories of bird sightings of hummingbirds or swallows, monarch butterflies, or the first opening of the Chinese witch hazel, or an invitation to walk the famous back 40 on Sidney’s beautiful property on a given afternoon at 4pm, Sidney remains by far one of the most amazing and inspiring of wonderful friends. She has reached out to the hearts of so many with her “Letters to the Editor” every month, touching upon a vast array of topics from hummingbird nectar, monarchs, gypsy moths, the summer solstice, and the lovely late fall Joe Pye Weed that colors her afternoons in hues of purple. And even on an afternoon in the midst of the dreaded Covid Stay at Home nightmare, she remains cheerful, optimistic, and ready to share knitting stories, or long-ago stories of her father sending off fireworks one distant summer day, because the dreaded Polio epidemic kept her family at bay from neighbors… social distancing even back then.

How I have treasured her hand made post cards, and invitations for her long-standing Finishers Club, even though I rarely have been able to attend too many. One of my most memorable recent times was Sidney’s Summer Solstice celebration, last June 21, when she invited me, Lydia Greene, and Mary O’Neil over for afternoon strawberry rhubarb pie, made from scratch at Lee’s Starfish bakery. Such a celebration included of course her sweet little Hinkley- a cavalier King Charles Terrier, and a lovely walk enjoying her gardens and her “back 40”. In my most recent conversation with Sidney, I asked her about her wonderfully remarkable long life, and she said to do things you like slowly, and always take time for a nap.  What better advice from someone who has enjoyed and shared her love of life and nature with us all so endearingly? Thank you dear Sidney! I am so honored to continue to share the return of Herbie (hummingbird) every April and all the very magical wonderful moments of life with you!

Sidney Tynan clipping from the Sakonnet Times. Courtesy of Claire Johnson.

Claire Johnson

April 22, 2020

Sidney Lockwood Tynan. Courtesy of Keith Crudgington.

Essay by Keith Crudgington

Born Caroline Sidney Lockwood Tynan in Boston in 1921, Sidney grew up roaming the still wild spaces of Boxford/Topsfield, MA[1].  Her parents valued education and the natural world, and at one point the family menagerie included a two skunks, a pet raccoon and a pet otter.[2] She received an excellent and progressive education at the Beaver Schools, Miss Winsor’s, and Bryn Mawr.  By the time she settled in Little Compton in the late seventies, she had raised four children, helped found a progressive school in Maryland (the still thriving Harford Country Day), trained to help students with dyslexia, and traveled widely including stints living in India and Malta.  Once in Little Compton, she worked as a teacher’s aid at the Josephine Wilbur School and founded the Little Compton Art Association which brought visiting artists to provide art classes to children and adults.  When the Mill Pond Shops at Tiverton Four Corners were being developed, Sidney started a bookstore, Books from Four Corners, selling paperback fiction, non-fiction, and out of print local history.  

In 1986, she bought four acres on Tompkins Lane.  Always a gardener, and from a line of gardening aristocracy on her mother’s side, she designed and built a house and garden to suit herself.[3]  Careful observations of this garden became the source for her monthly letters to The Sakonnet Times recording a lifetime’s attention and sensitivity to growing and living things. She has been involved in many areas of Little Compton life including the Sogannate Garden Club and as head of the Little Compton Tree Committee.  In 2006 she donated a two acre easement on her property to the Sakonnet Preservation Association, ensuring that the land, near other conservation land and the Watson reservoir, remained a habitat for migratory birds and “as beautiful as it is today.”[4]  At age 98 she has two pieces of advice: always tell people when they do a good job, and always have an animal. 

Keith Crudgington

June 2020

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[1]The trails she and her family blazed on their property are still in use as the Lockwood Forest, a part of Boxford Open Trails Association/Boxford Open Land Trust.  https://www.btabolt.org/lockwood-forest.

[2]Sidney’s father bought an otter from the famous otter specialist Emil Liers who latter wrote about his work in Emil Liers, An Otter’s Story(New York,Viking Press, 1953). https://www.winonadailynews.com/news/local/throwback-thursday-emil-liers-doing-what-he-otter/article_d757a74d-7da0-5b06-8fec-aa7997f6fc6d.html

[3]Her mother’s family plantation in South Carolina, Belvidere, had famed gardens and her cousin was renowned Charleston gardener Emily Whaley.  See “Belvidere Plantation, Lake Marion, Orangeburg County”South Carolina Plantations, https://south-carolina-plantations.com/orangeburg/belvidere.html, and Anne Sinkler Whaley LeClerq, A Grand Tour of Gardens:  Traveling in Beauty through Western Europe and the United States(University of South Carolina Press, 2012).

[4]Jana Porter, “Leaving Only Her Footprints,” Little Compton Landscapes: Newsletter of the Sakonnet Preservation Association(June, 2006):  3. http://sakonnetpreservation.org/spa/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/2006-SPA-Newsletter-Summer.pdf