Second Higginbotham gam

June 15, 2002

Speakers:

A: Augusto ("Augie") Ramos (born 1933)

H: Helene Roach Blair (born 1939)

F: Frances Karttunen (born 1942)

Also present: Bette Spriggs, Sharon Liburd, Jean Duarte

Cameraman Bob Thompson arrived after the gam was underway.


F: Good morning. Today is Saturday, June 15, 2002, and present this morning at the second gam about Mrs. Florence Higginbotham are:

[Each says own name.]

Sharon Liburd
Augie Ramos
Jean Duarte
Bette Spriggs
Helene Roach Blair

And I am Frances Karttunen, who will record and transcribe our gam today. So here we are. At our last gam we received this material put together by Angeleen Campra, who was Mrs. Higginbotham's daughter-in-law. And I have been digging around in archives a bit, confirming some things and not finding out too much about others. I learned that Florence Higginbotham was born in the spring-either April or May 13, it's not clear which-1894. And she died in Tauton, Massachusetts in 1972. Her parents were Landon Clay and Alice Stewart. Her husband was Robert D. Higginbotham, whom she met in 'Sconset. Mrs. Higginbotham died in Taunton on January 8, 1972, at the age of 77, and she had been ill for some time with diabetes and had had amputations. And by that time, I think, she was not going out much but was seeing people she knew in her home. But there had been an earlier time when she had been very much out and about in the community. She's buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery, and it's easy to find her headstone. It's a very attractive one.

We know she had brothers and sisters. She had a brother named Harrison Stewart who took Alices Stewart's name and not Landon Clay's name. He lived to be 86, and when he died in Crewe, Virginia, Mrs. Higginbotham was listed as his only surviving sibling. But she apparently had an older sister named Cornelia Rowe who lived in Crewe, Virginia, too.

What we know about Robert D. Higginbotham is that in 1919 he was a steward in the U.S. Navy, and that's probably why Mrs. Higginbotham's grave has an American Legion Auxiliary marker.

So let's see. What else do we know? Mrs. Higginbotham wasn't living in 'Sconset at the time of the 1920 federal census, but she was there in the 30s with her son, who was enrolled at that time in the 'Sconset School. By 1938 they were living on York Street, and William attended Cyrus Peirce School before he left Nantucket to attend Palmer Memorial Academy in Sedalia, North Carolina. So these are things that we know, and Angeleen has listed more interesting things from her memories of her mother-in-law. So here we are.

Augie, you were telling me about cutting her grass.

A: I did that for a while. I mowed the grass at her house and at the African Meeting House. And I'd go to the store for her if she needed something. I used to walk to work in those days from West York Lane, so I got to see a lot of her as I went back and forth up the hill. But I don't remember too much about what I did besides cut the grass. But my daughter Toni said she remembers the cookies. She [Mrs. Higginbotham] used to make cookies, and she [Toni] can remember the cookies although she was very young at the time, and she wasn't quite sure what Mrs. Higginbotham looked like. But she remembered the cookies, which I guess most kids could do that easily. Rookie [Augie's son], he didn't know nothing serious about her. he didn't travel with me that many times over to talk with her. But he used to help me cut the grass when I was cutting grass there.

F: Well, you remember her after she had her legs amputated.

A: Yes, when she was in a wheelchair. But she still was getting around. Frank-Big Frank we used to call him-Big Frank, he lived with her for a while, and he more or less took care of the house, while she did all the…[inaudible]

F: That was Frank Correia?

A: Yes, yeah. His real name was Dione. We used to call him Pig Stabber because he used to butcher all the pigs. Every year he used to butcher pigs, and he was a butcher. he used to butcher them. But I don't have that much…[inaudible]

F: He wasn't well himself towards…

A: Towards the end? No, I don't quite remember. There was a time where I was away, and I'm not sure. But at the Church [the African Meeting House] I remember working with Mr. Chase. Remember Beano Chase? I forget his first name. Irving maybe?

H: I'm not sure. probably.

A: He used to store washing machines and refrigerators in there.

H: Yeah, that's right.

A: [inaudible] little truck, take them from the steamboat and put them in there until it was time for delivery for the electric light company.

F: In the Meeting House?

A: Yeah. It was all open. There was no pews in there. And now and then I'd go by there and he'd be unloading them things by himself. He… And his wife used to sit with him in the truck all the time. He didn't leave her alone at home. He had to take her with him. [inaudible] to do…something wrong with her. But that's as much as I can remember. It's going back a long ways.

F: Well, I found in the papers that Mrs. Higginbotham bought the Meeting House and the taxes she paid on it, but I'm not at all clear about how it was she bought it, because it wasn't part of the original purchase of the house. Do you have any idea?

A: No, I don't.

H: I remember that she bought it, but I don't remember the details. I just remember my mom saying that she had bought it and that it made sense and then…But of course we were always trying to get into the Meeting House because it was mysterious. I mean, it was like, what was all that about? But we could never get into it. And I know she saw us, but she was always very kind to us as children, I remember that. My brothers would play ball. and they had a fairly large yard, and there was a lot behind it…The balls would land on her porch, windows right there. But they would politely go over and ask if they could retrieve the balls, and she'd [say] "sure," and there was never any…She was just a very kindly woman.

F: How far back do you remember her?

H: Let's see. Late '40s, early '50s?

F: [to Augie] What years were you cutting grass for her? 40s? 50s?

A: Oh no. I came here in '51.

F: '51. Oh.

A: I want to say I was cutting grass maybe after '61. I didn't even start cutting grass until '61. I had the grass being cut in '60, but in '61 I did it. '61, '62. I did it for about ten years.

F: And Frank was there then?

A: Yes, and then after Frank…

H: I remember Frank tending… He took care of the garden he had.

A: And after Frank came Antone Barboza, Tony Barboza.

F: Oh yeah?

A: After Frank.

F: Well, Mrs. Higginbotham seems to have had a lot of lady friends, because there are letters that they've taken up to Boston now. And there's so many women that she worked with, and when she was in the hospital and then for a while in the Island Home, all those ladies wrote to her faithfully. Did you see people visiting?

A: No.

H: Yes, I did. Women. Yup, I do remember that. And then…She was just…I was always…She was very mysterious to me. She was very exotic looking. I was just reading the pieces, I mean the daughter-in-law's material, and it just refreshed my memory in terms of the jewelry and the gold head scarves. And I mean she held herself so erect and so dignified. Didn't see her that often, but I mean she was always such a lady of great dignity.

F: Do you remember her from before she was in a wheelchair?

H: Yes. That's…Most my memories are before the wheelchair, I remember my mother had, you know, visited her, because we were right across the street, York Street. And she was just uncomfortable thinking in terms of that woman [in a wheelchair]. But she knew people came in too and were very attentive. Mrs. Barrett…My mother wasn't much of a cook, but Mrs. Barrett was, and she brought meals there on a very regular basis. Next-door neighbor.

Bette: David said last time that he took meals over. Didn't he say that?

F: He would take meals while his mother was cooking for the rest of the family.

Sharon: You were saying there were a lot of women that went to visit her. The last meeting we had, someone had mentioned the possibility of her reading tea leaves or…It was David.

H: I never attended that, but I did hear that as well. Oh absolutely. No question about it. That's [part of] the whole aura of her being so exotic and so mysterious. I was fascinated. But I was also very timid in turn. Well now, of course, you have regrets that you didn't have a more interpersonal relationship with her, you know, as neighbors. And she was… There was an aloofness to her. But as I said. as a neighbor and a neighborhood child, I mean, she was kind to us. I mean, it wasn't, you know…If you went into the yard. She was nice when we were being mischievous.

F: She had been born in Virginia, but by 1920 she was working in Boston, and I don't think she went back much. Do you remember, Augie, if she had a southern accent?

A: No.

F: No?

H: No.

A: It wasn't southern.

H: No, no. I wouldn't be able to tell you definitely. To me it sounded, of course, it sounded…I thought the lady must be educated, so very educated. I just…That's the way she struck me, her whole demeanor and the way she talked.

F: Now you don't remember, of course, Mrs. Underwood [sic for Underhill] who lived with her. But did your mother ever talk about…

[voices talking off-microphone]

H: The name rings a bell.

Bette: Mrs. Underwood or Underhill?

F: I'm sorry. Underhill. I just committed the same [error as] Eileen last time, when she was here, [and] confused the Underwoods and the Underhills. And I just did it too. But do you remember? You don't…

H: Who was…?

F: Well, the cottages out in 'Sconset had belonged to a couple. He died and left them to his wife, and she employed Florence Higginbotham.

H: OK

F: So then, later on, they lived together on York Street. But that was before your time, I can assure you. But I thought maybe your mother had…

H: Well, my mother was a domestic, so I know there was that kind of…What and how much she talked with Mrs. Higginbotham about that I don't know. I mean, I know that they did converse across the fence, you know. And I do remember those rare occasions seeing them, but I never…

F: So the Barretts lived next door, and you lived across the street.

H: Across the street.

F: And Augie, where were you living when you were going by there every day? Were you on York Street too?

A: West York Lane.

F: Up the hill.

A: Up the hill. Yeah. I lived there, I moved there in '51, and then I-let's see-'57 we were…We moved out, back, and we went back in '57 until '67. And those early years I delivered ice and coal to her. But I don't remember too much except getting coffee from her. That's way back.

H: I remember the cookies too.

F: You do?

H: Yeah. I don't remember what kind they were, but I remember, I was shocked. She came over with cookies. And we were just prowling around, trying to break into the [Meeting House].

[laughter]

H: Getting into that building that just fascinated us.

F: Did she go on making cookies even after she was in the wheelchair?

H: I don't know.

A: Yeah. She was in the wheelchair making cookies, because Toni was born in '58, and she kind of remembers, you know…

F: The cookies.

A: Yeah. She remembers the cookies.

H: So it was in the early '50s then that I would have gotten cookies.


A: …Then she'd be on her porch. I don't know how many, how long…

H: Oh yeah. She sat out on the…Yeah.

A: Because after a while, then I did end up with a car, so it was when I was going back the second time, I had a car. So I drove by there but not down, just coming up there [turning from Five Corners to go up to West York Lane, but not down York Street]. Well, now and then she'd be in a wheelchair, and I'd go down and visit with her. She'd call me when the…to take the kids [Toni and Rookie] down and visit. And it would be like the [tar] paper was loose on the roof, and see what I find to help to nail it down. She had a good reason to call all the time. Or run an errand for her. But she seemed to get along all right with Frank and Tony. Now when Frank came along, I didn't have to cut the grass anymore. He did it. And Tony did it after him. They both…Tony did a grass-cutting thing [business] cutting different people's grass around town, he and Manuel. Remember him? Manual Barboza.

H: No.

A: He did the grass down the Ayers Guest House and did the rose garden.

H: Oh.

A: So he cut [the grass] there [27 York Street] now and then.

Bette: There's beautiful, interesting things in the yard, like bamboo and all the things I don't even know the names of. Was it like that when you cut the grass?

A: The bamboo? Yeah. The bamboo was always a nuisance to get rid of.

[laughter, some conversation off-microphone]
Bette: It's pretty.

A: It's pretty, but it takes over.

[off-microphone agreement: Yeah, it does.]

A: We had a little thing for that.

Bette: Did she always have a pretty garden?

A: Not a putting green, but it was kept cut.

F: So do you remember her artificial legs?

A: Hmm, not really.

F: Because David was saying that she had them, but she chose not to use them. And so they were always in her room, leaning against a wall.

A: No, I don't remember that part.

H: I just remember that prior to the amputation, as a young[er woman]. that she walked. She must have been doing it for exercise. I don't remember how far she would walk up and down York Street. And I'd say to my mother, "What's that lady doing? Why is she walking that way?" "She has a health problem." She [Helene's mother] never told me what it was. But it was good for her [Mrs. Higginbotham] to get her blood circulation [sic for circulating]. To me this was a grand-looking lady with scarves and…like something out of The Arabian Nights.

F: She maintained these clothes right to the point where you didn't see her much any more?

H: Right. Most definitely.

F: In the spirit [of the 60s], huh?

H: I know. It's really…

A: I don't remember dressing…

H: Not as exotically as that.

A: Bandannas

H: Bandannas, yeah.

A: The head wrap.

H: Explicitly.

[pause in the conversation]

F: When you were…You went to Cyrus Peirce School, did you?

H: Yes.

F: I did for one year.

H: I was a Southie.

F: But when kids came from the 'Sconset School, that was the point where everybody would go up to Academy Hill [School], and…

H: 7th grade.

F: 'Sconset, when William…

H: Now 'Sconset, when they went, they went to Academy Hill. They were bussed to there.

F: Because when Bill [Higginbotham] left 'Sconset School, he went to Cyrus Peirce, but I think that's because they [the Higginbothams and Mrs. Underhill] moved to York Street.

H: Yes.

F: And not because that's what 'Sconset School kids did.

H: Right. Geographic.

F: So nobody really knows anything about Robert D. Higginbotham.

H: No. What year was he born? '20? Did I see '20, '21? [Speaking not of R.D. Higginbotham, but of his son William]

F: Do we have a date for him? He [R.D. Higginbotham] was working in 'Sconset, apparently, and…

[off-microphone conversation: "21, is that right?"]

F: He [R. D. Higginbotham] was 21 years old when they married, which was in 1919.

H: Oh, I'm sorry. You were talking about [R. D. Higginbotham, not William].

F: They were married in 1919 when he was 21 years old. He was a little younger than she was.

H: Yeah, OK. I'm sorry. I was thinking in terms of the son. I don't remember him.

F: I think he was born in '22. '21, '22?

H: Yeah, that's the one I was referring to.

F: Bill. Now do you…?

H: I don't have any memory of [him].

F: Not even visits?

H: No.

F: But Augie, you were there. You'd see him come home now and then on a visit?

A: Yes. He'd be wearing that…like a knit, knit…I don't know what they call them…right on top of his native [sic for natural? Afro?]. He'd putter around the yard. You'd see him out puttering around the yard. But that's been a long time since. I would guess that was late '60s or early 70s.

F: When he was in school here, he played trumpet with a lot of guys in the high school, but that was way back. Yeah.

H: He would have been a contemporary of my husband's, Bud Blair.

F: Frannie Pease said they played trumpet together, but Bill was much better than him.

[laughter]

F: So by the time you remember, Bill was not here.

H: No, I just remember that he lived in California, which was where I wanted to be, so…

[more laughter]

F: One of his kids came back and stayed part of a summer, but Mrs. Higginbotham's health was so weak that it was difficult for her to have a teenager. But she was willing, which was pretty nice of her.

[To Augie] Well, you would go into the house. Do you…? Apparently, a lot of the china which had been out in the cottages in 'Sconset moved into town to the York Street house, and there was some still packed away last time Angeleen was here. Right?

Bette: Right.

F: Do you remember a lot of china in the house?

A: [inaudible]

Bette: There still is.

F: I came across an old photo at the NHA this past week of the interior of that cottage called The China Closet in 'Sconset around 1898, 1900, and it's just sheer china. You can see why she [Angeleen Campra] says somewhere in here that they had lived in the China Closet, Mrs. Higginbotham and her son, but they moved to The Double Decker Cottage, because they were worried about the little boy with all the china. And when you see this picture, you can see why, because there was china on every surface. And I guess that when they moved to York Street, they packed it up in boxes and brought it. And a lot of it stayed in boxes.

Do you remember books in the house?

A: No.

F: What was it like inside?

A: It was like most of the old homes on Nantucket. They weren't… None of them were bright. They weren't built to be bright, you know. They had electricity, but those houses were built in a time when you used a candle or the little kerosene lamp. The electric lights never seemed to be in the right place. And the color, I forget the color paint, but it wasn't bright paint like you see here. A dark tan, maybe? I'm not sure what it was now. I've forgotten now, because it's been so long. It was not a very well-lit house, like houses today.

H: Low ceilings, Augie?

A: Not very high.

H: [In] our house the ceilings were low, and I vaguely remember, I was only in her house twice. That I do remember.

Bette: The ceilings ARE low.

H: I remember them as…

Bette: Low. The Higginbotham's house's…

H: They ARE low? OK. Yeah.

A: Built for short people.

F: Well, she added the porch on. There are pictures of the house when they had it, before the porch went on. And I think for awhile the porch was where people spent their Sundays.

H: Socializing.

F: Socializing outside on the porch, and the inside was for, I guess, keeping warm and out of bad weather.

A: Weren't most porches add-ons? A lot of times you see houses, old houses, none of them have porches. And today they have 'em. Maybe that's what it was, an add-on. Maybe they even ran out of money or time or something.

F: Yeah. Well, we have at least one picture of the house before the porch and lots of pictures after the porch. And…memories.

H: I don't remember it without the porch.

F: No, I think it was…

Sharon: Can you remember any specific things that were in the home? David was talking about images, a statue or something that she had. That was the one thing she had that he remembered.

H: No, I was more focussed on her and her cookies.

[laughter]

'Cause that's why we were invited in.

F: So she was bright and exotic in the midst of gloom.

H: I was fascinated by her.

F: It's sort of funny to think of this dark atmosphere with her…

H: I remember sitting on my porch waiting for her to come out.

[laughter]

F: Did she?

H: Yup. Almost like she knew.

Bette: Sounds as if, from what we've gleaned over these conversations, that David was the only one who really got inside the house for any length of time that gave him time to observe things. And that's because he was bringing the meals, but if he waited for her to finish, I don't know. But it sounds like he was the only one who was inside.

F: He also admired her enormously.

Bette: Well, it sounds like everybody [did].

H: And [David was] much less shy than I, too, David was.

[laughter]

Sharon: That's right. He got in. He was getting all the information.

H: You bet!

F: Helene, what year did you graduate from school?

H: I graduated in '57. And you were '60?

F: '60. Yeah. It's funny, the year I was at Cyrus Peirce I walked past York Street and past the Meeting House daily going to my grandmother's after school, and I never met Mattie Pina, and I never met Florence Higginbotham. Now I look back at it, and I say, what a missed opportunity!

H: Right! That's true!

F: How could I walk by every day?

Sharon: Where was your grandmother's?

F: Well, my grandmother lived on Centre Street, but instead of going…We were living in Surfside. Instead of going back to Surfside right after school, I would walk all the way to Centre Street and then go home later. My aunt would take me back at the end of the afternoon. So every day I walked by. I had no idea what interesting people I was walking right by.

H: A wealth of history.

F: Did you, by the way, know Mattie?

H: I didn't KNOW, but I knew of [her].

F: One of the things I found up in the Museum [of Afro-American History] is a note about Florence Higginbotham AND Mattie and what they got paid for doing some stuff. And there they were on the same piece of paper.

Bill joined the Catholic Church, but I gather Florence didn't, although she did have religious statuary in her home. You never saw her at church?

A: Never.

H: No.

Sharon: Well, maybe they [statue, etc.] were HIS.

F: Well, maybe. David seems to remember…Well, she gave a statue away, so she thought it was hers to give.

H: Why did she give it away?

[laughter]

Bette: He was gone, so it didn't matter. Apparently they weren't together very long, according to this [referring not to Mrs. Higginbotham and her son Bill but to her and her husband R. D. Higginbotham].

F: Oh, her husband?

Bette: She and her husband.

F: No, not at all.

Bette: And it says the son never knew the father.

F: I found in Boston among the papers a lot of postcards that he sent. He left in the Navy, and they go along, and everything is very fine. And they just stop, like that! And when she filed for a divorce, her date of desertion is very soon after that last postcard. It doesn't look like anything's coming, and then he's gone. That's the way of the Navy, I guess. It just takes you far away. But she was a very capable woman, and she raised her son, and she worked, and it seems like she accumulated capital, because she had the money to buy the Meeting House.

H: She probably didn't have much to spend it on in Nantucket anyway at that time, probably.

F: But during the Depression it was hard to come by any.

H: Yeah, that's true.

F: And she was raising a son whom she sent to private school in high school. So she was a hard worker, very thrifty, and knew how to accumulate her money. She had already been working and saving money in Boston banks. Sometimes she's spend the winters on the mainland, and [she] kept those bank accounts rolling right along.

A: And she maybe rented more than one room. Frank paid rent, and maybe Tony paid rent. And she may have done some ironing or washing of clothes.

F: I think some of the ladies who wrote to her had lived in her house during the summer season when they were working. They didn't all live with families.

H: …some awareness, I think, when I gathered, Frances, that that was the case. That in the summer there were people who did domestic work. And as I said, my mother did too, so there's…I know she talked about it. She didn't share any of that information with me, unfortunately.

A: Housing wasn't much different then as now. It was difficult to get housing. More so if you were black. They didn't go into hotels and say, here I am. You had to find a black person with a room to live [in]. Go find a job, they HAD a place for you. Up in the attic somewhere. They would have rented rooms. There were people who rented rooms way back.

F: Were the people who stayed at 27 York, were they all people of color? Or did she have a mixed clientele?

A: I don't remember any white people around there. No, as I recall.

[It's documented elsewhere that she rented to some white people.]

H: Neither do I. I think it was…Because that was Nantucket in those days. In terms of many of your domestic help. And as I said…my parents and other people from Newfoundland, that's where my mother was from. And [she] also did domestic work. It was very busy in the summertime.

F: Arline [Bartlett] made the point that what counted at the 'Sconset Casino, if you went to the movies [there], was whether you did domestic work or not. It hadn't got anything to do with color. It had to do with [class]. If you did domestic work, you sat upstairs.

H: Oh yeah!

A: You don't see no colored downstairs today, I can tell you that.

F: What's that?

A: No colored downstairs. [Voice drops to a whisper] …a pony and dog show…

F: No, it hasn't changed much, but…

H: Societal structure.

A: Domestic culture.

H: I felt discriminated going to South School [Cyrus Peirce School].

A: Yeah.

H: Considered the less well-to-do or whatever.

F: I felt really glad the year I went to South School. I was very worried about having the fifth-grade teacher at Academy Hill.

H: Oh!

[laughter]

F: And [at Cyrus Peirce School] I had Nellie Sylvia, who was really sweet to me.

H: She was a love, yeah. Nice lady.

F: That got me out of a tough spot. And I really liked going there.

H: Kippy Ingram. Oh, we had some great teachers!

F: Eileen and Arline were remembering with great pleasure the theatricals that they would have on stage at Cyrus Peirce.

H: Oh yes.

F: And Bill Higginbotham was in at least one. We've got a program and a review of one that he was in, that Ellen Ramsdell directed. I think by the time I was in the fifth grade, I don't recall that they were doing those anymore. Do you remember those?

H: How long they went on? I'm not sure.

F: Do you actually remember any productions on the stage there?

H: Vaguely.

F: I'm pretty sure they didn't do them when I was there.

H: No.

F: Well, we had this lovely central room with the stage, and that was pretty nice. It just seems to me that it was more used for gym.

H: Yes, when we were inside.

F: I bet when that building was built, it was considered a very modern, new kind of school building. You know, with the schoolrooms arranged around a big center space. The Academy Hill [School] had never been built to have an assembly hall.

H: No, it wasn't that kind of building.

Sharon: There was a South Street School?

F: There was an Orange Street School before our time.

H: Oh yeah.

F: That was replaced by the Cyrus Peirce [School], that was the South School. And the Academy Hill [School] was the North School. And where anybody ever got the idea that one was superior to the other is very strange to me.

Sharon: Well, there is always that type of thing in history.

F: Because physically, the Cyrus Peirce School was a nicer place.

H: Yes!! But we were poorer at our end of town.

A: "Those people."

H: We were tough.

[laughter]

Supposedly. Main Street was the…[long pause]…the borderline. You crossed over the other side, and watch out!

[laughter]

F: That's so strange. What if you wanted to go to the drugstores on the north side of Main Street?

[laughter]

Bette: Was there a train then? Was there a train on Nantucket?

H: At that time?

Bette: At that time.

H: No.

F: Not after World War I. It was gone.

Bette: I had no idea. I was just curious about…

H: No.

Bette: The other side of the tracks.

[laughter]

F: THIS was the other side of Main Street, I guess.

H: The best thing that happened was under C. Herbert Taylor, as superintendent, when he broke that structure down so that ALL, all children attended the Academy Hill [School].

F: When did THAT happened?

H: Let's see. I returned here to teach in '68. I was substituting. And I think it had happened just prior to that. It made a big difference.

F: And what did they use the Cyrus Peirce School for?

H: For the junior high [school].

F: Oh!

H: So instead of having junior high as part of the Academy Hill complex, they made the Academy Hill [school] ALL one.

F: By that time the 'Sconset School wasn't in existence any more.

H: No, not to my knowledge. No.

F: You would imagine that some people might resist the idea of consolidating the schools, because they liked the idea of having small schools close to home, but…

H: I don't know. Yeah, they might have.

F: But your feeling is that it was much better for everyone.

H: Absolutely! The integration in terms of the people who lived on the north end [of the town], and that was a reality. You felt very intimidated if you lived on the south side, so to speak. Socially, economically. It was definitely feelings of inferiority. My mother was always very adamant about NOT…You know, she infused in us that we were just as good as anybody else. HUH! But anyway.

F: There could be, in a sense…Main Street was a dividing line, except that you get all those fancy houses on Orange Street and for a way back on Fair Street.

H: Well, they didn't count, because they were summer residents.

F: What about the people on Fair Street and Pine Street though? They were…Or even Pleasant Street, like Arline and Franklin Bartlett.

H: Yeah.

F: Or the Sjölunds. Did the Sjölund girls go to the South School? Because I don't remember them until we were in junior high.

H: Let's think. I know Anne Marie and Eunice. I think [they went to] South School. I think [so], but I'm not sure about that.

F: All the lines that we sort of draw in our heads don't really, when you get right down to individual cases…There are all kinds of exceptions to it.

H: Yeah, that's true.

A: It goes by neighborhoods. The ethnic groups in a certain area.

H: One memory I also have too is that neighborhoods, up at Five Corners, [we'd play] Relieve-O, kick-the-can. And that was ALL of us that participated in those games. And then also I remember very vaguely Mrs. Higginbotham just watching us, and she obviously enjoyed that we were having fun. And I remember hiding in her yard, whatever game we were playing, hide-and-seek or whatever, and she'd just pretend that she didn't know I was there so the others couldn't find me, so I'd always win!

[laughter]

F: So did you play kick-the-can and stuff right out in the intersection?

H: Oh absolutely. Oh yeah.

A: Sledding.

H: All the way down the hill. All the way down to…

A: We used to go [all the way] down to Souza's Market on Union Street.

H: Mmmm! We'd slide from the top of Mill Hill all the way down to the bottom of Union Street, and if you could really push it, get to Washington [Street]. Honest to God! It's amazing the kind of snow that we had. And we'd go…I don't know how we lighted it, because we went, we'd go out at 9:30 at night.

A: It was great.

F: And you didn't have to worry about cars coming through on Orange Street?

H: No, absolutely not, Not a problem.

A: You'd hope a car would come back so you could hook a ride going up.

H: Yeah! That's true. I'd forgotten.

A: It was a long walk back.

F: Who else was living near there? There was Annie Gebo up the hill, right?

H: Edith Perry.

F: Edith Perry, that's right. All the Perrys.

H: The Duartes. The Correias.

F: The Lemas.

H: The Lemas were on the corner.

A: Mabel.

H: Mabel.

A: Mabel came back here around '60. Mabel Frank?

H: Yeah.

A: She came back here after '60, I think.

F: Where had she been?

A: She worked somewhere on the mainland, I'm not sure where.

Sharon: Alice Gebo.

F: Oh, I said Annie. It's Alice?

Sharon: Alice Gebo.

[The woman F was referring to was really Annie Gebo.]

A: Oh, Alice Gebo, she used to… Mrs. Gebo. And Mabel Frank.

H: What about Gene Martin's family? My father was a big buddy of Gene Martin's. [A Martin family lived at 2 Atlantic Aveneue.] I just know he went quahogging or clamming. I don't know [with?] which Perry. But anyway.

A: Well, your dad had hound dogs, so he might have been hunting with Frank or Snooky.

H: That's right. My father always went hunting with him. Oh yeah!

Sharon: Hunting for…?

A: Rabbits.

F: Did Lincoln Porte live on Atlantic [Avenue]?

H: Oh yeah, that's right. Lincoln Porte.

A: He was before my time. He'd gone by the time I got here.

H: I don't remember him very well.

A: Oh, I DO remember him! He was in the post office. Yeah.

H: Of course!

A: I was thinking of Lincoln Pananies [Panacy?].

Sharon: Lincoln who?

A: Yeah. Mrs. Porte's nephew. The house is still there, but the field is gone. Where you used to live. But you don't live there no more.

H: No.

F: This is 5 Atlantic Avenue, or where?

H: Yup. Yes, 5 Atlantic Avenue. But the numbers have gotten all confused.

[laughter]

A: It's the third house on the right. Down at the corner.

H: You remember Dr. Potter. And…

A: Yeah.

H: The dentist.

A: Down near the end. We used to babysit for them.

Sharon: That's Judith Ramshare's [spelling?] parents, Augie. Judy.

F: Now tell me about the Potters' daughters, because I swear I remember they had a daughter named Elva, but when I was talking with someone the other day, they said no, no, that isn't right.

H: I can't remember how I got friendly with her [Judy Potter]. It's like I remember Pete Rose's daughter.

Bette: Do you remember Mrs. Potter?

H: No. Pete Rose. Do you remember Pete Rose over on…?

A: Pete Rose on…

H: Peter Rose, he was like…the sexton at the [Catholic] church. Wait. I mean Mike Rose. I'm sorry.

A: Peter was his cousin.

H: Mike Rose's daughter and Dr. Potter's daughter. I don't know how the three of us hooked up, but I remember we used to play together. Because the Potter house was up on the hill there. It was very lovely.

Sharon: [Referring to Judy Potter Ramshare] She's the one that was in California? She hasn't been here for a long time.

A: There's no reason for her [to come]. She sold the house and everything.

F: The NHA [Nantucket Historical Association] has a couple or three boxes of Potter family papers that I guess were found here and moved into the NHA collections. [The papers are the property of the Museum of Afro-American History but are archived in the vault of the NHA.]

A: She [Judy Potter Ramshare] gave a lot of things away. They [the Potters] used to spend a lot of time in Japan. I still have pictures. I had everything stored in one of my trailers there, and they took what they wanted and left the rest of it. Some of that stuff is still there.

F: Oh yeah?

A: Slides that they took.

F: From Japan?

A: From Japan, yeah.

[inaudible conversation off-microphone]

Sharon: And she, right before she passed, she was in Japan. She had went back on vacation. She'd been wanting to go back for many years. She was taken with a seizure or a stroke or something while she was in Japan.

[Someone off-microphone: Mrs Potter?]

Sharon: Yeah. That was right before she passed.

Bette: Has anybody been in the [Higginbotham] house recently besides Fran? I was just wondering if the floor plan is the same as it was. But…

[off-microphone conversation]

H: That first room, and Mrs. Jones…

A: Nothing's changed.

H: No.

A: The most that's changed is they fixed the fence.

F: I think the sun room on the west side is pretty nice. You know, you say the interior of the house is dark, but the sunroom is awfully pleasant.

H: It is.

F: And I guess the wicker furniture would be out there in the sun room?

H: Oh yes.

F: Jean, do you remember her?

Jean Duarte: I do remember her as I walked down the street every day and then, you know, you'd speak and pass the time. And then she found out I was from North Carolina, and she told me she was from Virginia, and her son had gone to school in the South, in North Carolina.

[END OF SIDE A.]

[BEGINNING OF SIDE B.]

F: I don't know. Have we actually exhausted…?

A: You might check the dates that Frank [Correia] was there, the '40s, way later than the '40s. Unless there were two Franks.

F: Well, I'll tell you, I…No, I'm pretty sure [that there was only one Frank]. I've got a whole bunch of stuff that I've inventoried from what's in Boston and [they've] got tickets that Florence Higginbotham and Frank Correia had for going out to California to visit in the '50s.

H: Yeah.

F: And, actually, he went out with her to visit Bill and his family in the '50s.

H: 'Cause I called my brother when I knew that we were doing this gam, and he remembered Frank Correia taking care of the garden and doing repairs.

F: Did Frank have family in town, or was he on his own?

A: Maybe a grandfather here?

Bette: Oh, was that who you were talking about? What was his name? [Beginning to confuse Frank Correia with her husband, Frank Spriggs?]

A: Big Frank [Correia]. Big Frank. And maybe his grandfather's name was…I've forgotten now. But I assume he had some relationship there. I'm not sure what it was. Maybe he baptized somebody [was Frank's godfather] or maybe [was] from the same island.

Bette [off-microphone]: Mike Rose was Frank's [Frank Spriggs's?] godfather…call[ed him] Baby [Spriggs].

[something inaudible off-microphone]

A: Don't say that to him.

Bette: Some people do. Old friends? That's what you do.

[Note: Agemate Alvin "Toppy" Topham addresses Frank Spriggs as "Baby."]

A: I want to say Monack [spelling?] is what his grandfather's name was. I'm not sure.

F: Frank Correia's [grandfather]?

A: Does Monack sound…? The man who used to own the [inaudible], Frank's grandfather. What was his name? On Washington Street.

Bette: He lived on Washington Street, right?

F: But I was just thinking that Frank [Correia] was renting a room from Florence Higginbotham and living there and doing odd jobs. It sounds like he didn't have family.

A: I don't think he had any children here. But you know, a good many that came from the Cape Verde islands left families there, always thinking about going back. But they never got back.

F: Yeah. In one of her [Florence Higginbotham's] letters written in 1960 she says that, "Frank's been in bed for two weeks now, just weakness and run-down condition, Maybe in spring when the weather gets warmer, he'll be better. I hope so." That was in 1960, so I guess he was having kind of a hard time by then. But he was living there, and it looks like she was looking out for him and he was looking out for her. Good arrangement.

Well, do we have anything else to add to this? Have we run out?

H: I think we have exhausted…

F: I have to really express my gratitude [to you] for coming out on such a bad morning in terms of pelting-down rain. It was very good of everybody to come and get this on record. I'll transcribe it and…

A: Wish we had better memory, but…

H: Yeah.

Sharon: Now that we have a camera, we should probably identify [ourselves again].

F: Yeah, for the camera, let's go around again. I'm Fran Karttunen


[Others in turn]

Sharon Liburd
Augie Ramos
Jean Duarte
Bette Spriggs
Helene Roach Blair

Bette: And I would like to thank our cameraman Bob Thompson. Thank you.

[END OF RECORDING]