Susan Peckham

Susan Peckham

Born 1925

An Adamsville Love Story

[Maggie Bodington] came to my house, and we were talking about the house. She told me there were two brothers that used to live there, and that house was the house that one brother was in, but it’s the other brother that this story is about. This was about Alton Wilcox, and Alton, she said, was sweet on this girl. He saw her quite a bit, and finally asked her to marry him. She said, “No. You don’t have any money. You don’t have a house, and you have no way of making a living. I cannot marry you.” So he took that and went home. Then he took off and went to Chicago. There he made, it must be a fortune that he made, and he came back. He bought a lot of land, and he built a house, the typical old-fashioned house, a Cape Cod with two windows on either side and a door in the middle. He built a barn and got animals. Then he was all set, and he went back to her, found her, and she was pleased to see him, but distant, but he persisted. He told her of all the things he had, and would she now marry him. She said, “No! I’m already married.”

Now Alton continued to live on John Dyer Road, and he never married. He made his living and people knew him, in the [1940s] anyway, for the geese that he raised. They’d have them for holidays. Fred Simmons’ store [would deliver to him] and [Fred] would go around to the older people, to anybody, really, and he would take their lists of all the groceries they wanted, because cars weren’t that available, and he would then deliver them on another day. So in the forties, the fellow who was doing that was Fred Simmons’s son [Hap Simmons], and he told my father that, “You know, [Alton is] still giving out that old money.” So he must have made a fortune out there!

When [Alton] died, the house was sold. [Eventually] the house burned down and soon after, the barn burned down too. Now I wonder, under what stair, under what brick, where in the barn, where was the rest of the money!

Editor’s Note: Susan will be happy to know that at least some of Alton’s money finally made it to the bank. According to Tom Deschene, Alton was once robbed.  After the robbery Hap Simmons convinced Alton to go to the bank, change his large old fashioned bills into current currency and deposit some of it in the bank.

Scrub in the 1940s

I would go to my grandmother’s house [70 Cold Brook] and go down to the village, because all the kids—we were kids then—played at the ball field, everybody went to the ball field, everybody played scrub. I mean, the whole village, all the young kids came there, and we’d start off with maybe four people playing, then you’d get to five, and it’d just go up and up and up People would leave. People would come. Everybody played at the ball field.

Scrub is a softball game. The first person is the catcher, next person is the pitcher, and the next person, there might be a first baseman, and that’s it. So you were the batter. There was no team. You just said you were the batter, and you had to earn that position, and you became the batter. The pitcher pitched the ball, and if you hit it where it belonged, in the confines of the normal baseball game, you ran to first base and you ran home, and you tried to get back home again. Now you got these people out there, the catcher has to now step up, and you’ve got to beat all this. So if you hit it far enough or in a place where nobody was, you pretty much had it. Now if one of those people out in the field caught a fly ball, they became the batter, and you had to go into the field. If you struck out, you went out into the field, and the pitcher moved to be catcher, and the catcher got to be up. Everyone would just rotate around. We did that before school when I lived over here. We played that everywhere.

We played boys and girls. It didn’t matter what gender you were, you just played. I can remember one time we were at the Wardens, and they built this ramp. And you know what a ramp does, you’ve got to increase it, increase it, increase it, and we kept going over, and going over on the bicycles.

Quick Visit to Dr. King

Down at the creek one of the Almy girls, who has since deceased, went in swimming there and she cut herself. I mean, she was bleeding. I went with her to Dr. King’s office, because you could do that then. There was no waiting, like there is today. He stitched her up, and he had a phone so he called the parents and got them to come over and get her. So there was no supervision or anything. Everybody just knew what was right and knew what was wrong.

Dr. Warden’s House

The house had an outhouse in it. When you went to the bathroom in that house, you went into the outhouse, which was naturally on the outside of that building, but it was attached to the inside. You just opened the door and went. That was interesting. [That was] probably, the later forties.

No Skating at Night

You’d go skating at the pond and you didn’t go at night. Girls didn’t go at night, anyways. I don’t know if the boys did. But they’d play hockey, and they’d have to shovel it sometimes to keep it clear. When you got cold, you could go into Cook’s store and warm up, because he had a little pot-bellied stove in the little room that was once the post office. He kept that going, that’s how he heated the store. He used to look out and sort of watch what was going on.

Based on an oral history interview with Susan Peckham.

First published in “Remembering Adamsville” by the Little Compton Historical Society, 2013.

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