Betty Athington Hathaway
Adamsville was Filled with Boys – 1940s
Adamsville was filled with boys. Marion Carter, Eleanor Gray, Grace McKivergan, and myself, we were the only girls. But we visited back and forth and I never felt isolated. You made friends in Little Compton School, and it was far away.
We rode bicycle. We played around the river. The river was a great source of entertainment. You could always catch crabs down there. It was mud bottom. On a desperate day when it was hot, some of us would go swimming in the river, but most of the time there was some mummy that had a car, and we could get to South Shore or to Westport Harbor. We used to swim down at the Charlton Wharf which was open to the public back then.
In the wintertime High Hill on Old Harbor Road was a wonderful hill for sledding. Some of the big boys would stop the cars, wouldn’t let them go up the hill. All of us kids would come down on our sleds and then the big boys would let the people go. The roads didn’t get sanded and graveled. Once we got a good snow, it would be that way for a few days.
The Better Side of Town
We always thought [Adamsville] was the better part of town. That was controversial with Little Compton friends. We had a lot there that was pretty important to the community. We didn’t have a doctor in Little Compton. Everyone had to come over to Doctor King in Adamsville, or Doctor Warden. The meat market, although Wilbur’s Store did have a meat market. We had three stores: Gray’s Store, and Manchester’s was a general store and Simmons’ Store. Simmons’ Store was specialized. Their ice-cream was very important. I bought my rabbit food at Manchester’s store. They had the grain for any kind of animal that you had. They had some clothing. They had boots. So you really could get much of what you needed in Adamsville.
My father was on the Council for like forty years. There was always someone from Adamsville on the Town Council. They had an afternoon meeting and I don’t remember him ever coming home with any kind of problem. Very simple. I think the biggest problem they had was the dump, and back then the dump was up off Old Stone Church Road.
Waiting at Manchester’s
Every morning every kid in Adamsville, and there would probably be 14, 15, 16 of us, we would meet at Manchester’s Store and, cold mornings, we would all go inside…slush. Now that was when Bordie Tripp was running it as a general store. I talked to Anne Tripp about this. I said, “Your dad never ever once complained about anybody bringing in dirt,” and we must have made a mess when you got all these kids coming in with their boots on in the spring—and the boys! But he just acted like he was pleased to see us in the mornings. He would say “good morning” to each one of us as we came in. If it was springtime, we’d stay outside because there was a big porch on the front of Manchester’s Store. We never spent money never, never. That was just where the school bus picked us all up, and then the bus turned around and went back to Little Compton.
There was a building [near Gray’s Store.] John Hart filled that place with corn for the corn meal at the grist mill. We used to go and husk corn, and you got thirty-five cents for a bushel of corn. So we would all go in the fall and it was a social event. Back then thirty-five cents was seven candy bars. It was just fun, and everybody would be there. You got word that the corn was harvested and ready to be husked, and you were so excited.
Visiting Every House
It seemed like we always had fundraisers at school. I think I’ve been in every old house in Adamsville. We would sell tickets to school dances even though you know the person wasn’t coming to the school dance. It was a donation. Tickets were like fifty cents. That was how we got our trip to New York. After graduation, every class went to New York City. Every month we had a school dance, and you’d go up and down the road to each house and sell. It was a very gentle, very gentle lifestyle back then.
I went to Boston and I went into nursing school, and boy, did I miss the village. I did not unpack for two weeks because I wasn’t sure that I could be wasting my time by unpacking.
Climbing Through the Window
I got married in the Congregational Church because I refused to climb in the back window in a wedding gown. I went to Stone Church my whole life. Went to Sunday school there. Actually, I taught Sunday school there when I was senior in high school. Loved that church. But I cannot, on my wedding day, I cannot climb in that window. So Dr. Nelson who was the minister at Stone Church came to Congregational Church and did our service. Of course you don’t have to do that now because they got the other [entrance.]
Dr. von Trapp vs. The Cozy Cab Company
The Cozy Cab bus came from Fall River. I think it came down in the morning and went back at night. I can remember Doctor von Trapp getting into trouble because he would pick up the people who were going to Fall River because he was going to St. Anne’s every morning, too. Finally the Cozy Cab people said “Look, you can’t do this. It isn’t working. You have to stop picking people up.” It was thirty-five cents. So he was saving everybody thirty-five cents by picking them up and taking them into Fall Fiver.
The Whitridge house is the big house down a laneway past Stone Church going into Tiverton. My father used to paint up there. Mrs. Whitridge had a black man who stayed with her all summer at that house, and he would drive her down. They had one of those big old woodies, and he’d be in the front driving and it was quite a sight to see. She’d be sitting in the back, magnificently dressed, and they’d pull up to Manchester’s Store, and she did her shopping in the summertime there. We used to just stop what we were doing to watch this because he would get out, and he’d hold her hand, and she’d get out of the back, and we were like, “Wow!” He would have a beautiful white shirt, black hat…was kind of southern looking. I don’t know where Mrs. Whitridge was from, but it made us stop what we were doing and pay attention.
Based on an oral history interview with Betty Athington Hathaway.
First published in “Remembering Adamsville” by the Little Compton Historical Society, 2013.