Virginia Bullock Watt
1920 – 2018
Perhaps it was because she was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1920, that Thanksgiving was such a special holiday for Ginny Watt. The turkey would start roasting in the early morning, the potatoes would warm in the crock pot and the stuffing, which, no matter how much of it she made, ne’er a scrap of it was to be found the next day. And no “kids’ table” at the Watt feast. Nuh, uh. She insisted that all the family sit at the “grown ups” table at the family dinner where, from all accounts, elbow room was a highly desired but non-existent commodity.
Born in 1920 in Scarborough, Maine, Virginia was the younger daughter and youngest child of Richard and Alice (Gray) Bullock. Her father was a gameskeeper who moved his family from Little Compton briefly to Maine after taking a job at the Scarboro Game Farm. When she was just a baby, Ginny relocated with the family back to the homestead in Little Compton where her father worked at the Quicksand Pond Gun Club where he had worked for many years in his youth.
Though her father died when Ginny was only 8, she gladly accepted the offer of one of the patrons of the Gun Club, a lawyer from Boston, to send her and her sister, Priscilla, on for post-secondary education.
So, upon graduation from high school in 1938 from the newly- constructed Josephine Wilbur School, she left Little Compton to attend the Wilfred Academy Hairdressing School in Boston.
There she met and fell in love with Alexander Watt, who worked in the Quincy Shipyard.
Blinstrub’s Village, a renowned nightclub in Southie (South Boston) was a favorite spot for dancing for Ginny and Alex. They were married in June, 1941 and had their first child, Richard Andrew the following year. Ginny and Alex bought their first house in Braintree, MA before Alex joined the Navy two years later and was stationed in San Francisco.
Before Alex shipped out to the Pacific theatre to serve on the USS Talladega and to see first-hand experience at Iwo Jima, Ginny packed up her young son and took the train across the country to see her husband before he shipped out.
After the war, Ginny and Alex returned to their house in Braintree MA and raised their four children. Alex put his mechanic skills to good use where he and a partner bought Al and Cliff’s Sunoco Gas Station in Dorchester, MA.
Unfortunately Alex died suddenly in 1973 and the very young age of 55.
Ginny had to figure out the next steps. Which she did.
She decided to return to Little Compton, knowing it was the best place to raise her young son. She built a house across the street from the family homestead on Willow Avenue. Family surrounded her. Her two siblings: a brother, Francis Bullock and her sister, Priscilla (Bullock) Dow lived in town.
With her three older children grown and on their own, Ginny settled on Willow Avenue with her young son, Randall, and faced her future with her typical grit and optimism. She wore many hats in her lifetime. More than most of us would wear in many lifetimes. She worked as school bus driver and devoted herself to activities in town and at the United Congregational Church, which was the focal point of much of her energy. For many years she served as sexton of the church, taking great pleasure in managing weddings, some for the very same kids she had driven around on the school bus. No bride ever had to worry about details of the ceremony when Ginny was in charge!
There was rarely a church dinner, a Grange Pot Luck, or a community Fall Fest dinner without Ginny at its center. Ginny was a great neutralizer. She knew everybody in town, who “their people” were, who their kids and grandkids were and would regale dinner guests with tales of their children’s antics from the time when she drove the school bus around Little Compton some decades prior.
She was always busy. She loved crocheting and quilting, raising African Violets and orchids. But never were her organizational skills more in demand than at the annual Church Fair. Specifically, reigning supreme over the White Elephant table. If you have never been to the Church Fair, you can take it from me that it is known far and wide and people stand three and four deep at every inch of the White Elephant table to snap up a bargain. It’s a massive yard sale, on steroids. Every year, even when she was well into her 90’s, she would pore over the “collectibles” for months prior to the July event, studying and pricing the wares to be sold. The day of the event, she’d be there at 6:30 a.m. hauling boxes of stuff, sorting and setting up the display. Then, noon would arrive and the “50% off” gong would strike and the surge of bargain hunters only increased. One would be exhausted just watching her.
Once the Fair was over, Ginny would turn her attention to another favorite activity: the Thrift Shop, where she’d sort and price more bargains. All for the benefit of her church.
Ginny was always active, interested, open, curious about the world around her. She was very proud of her Little Compton heritage as she and her siblings were direct descendants of Elizabeth Pabodie (daughter of Mayflower travelers, John and Priscilla Alden) who is buried in the Commons Burial Ground on the Little Compton Common. She traveled some, with friends, but mostly she was happy with her family around her, her friends, her church and her community. She led a live of faith and of service to others.
At Ginny’s funeral, her pastor, Rev. Rebecca Floyd Marshall said it best. “Whatever needed to be done, Ginny was ON IT.”
Virginia Watt ~ Beloved mother, friend, and community volunteer.
By Kathleen O’Halloran based on interviews with the Watt family