Interview with Ralph Look (1902-1987)

Interview with Ralph Look

June 4, 1979
by H. Stanton "Hun" Lair

Transcribed by C. Baer, 1995.

Note: This transcript awaits further revision. The names of some of the people and places have been spelled phonetically, until the correct spelling can be learned.

Comments? Questions? Corrections? Suggestions? Please contact the compiler.
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June Fourth, nineteen seventy-nine. A visit with Ralph Look. Okay, Ralph, where were you born?

Well, right here in Tisbury.

And when was that?

1910. February Fourth.

What is your father's name?

Ralph A. Look.

And you're Junior?

I'm a junior.

And where was he born?

He was born in Tisbury. 1887. He would've been ninety-two years old if he was living.

And what was your mother's name?

Georgene Dexter Look.

And was she born in Vineyard Haven?

She was born in Vineyard Haven.

There were quite a few of those sisters, weren't there?

Yes, there were seven altogether.

Can you remember them all?

Sure. I can't get 'em right, now. I'll start with Aunt Lottie, she was the oldest. Reynolds.

Oh yes, I'd forgotten about her.

And then we come down to Aunt Lizzie. Elizabeth Luce. And then, Aunt - oh, dear - Lily, which is Josephine's mother. And then... Am I missing one here? Then the twins - my mother, Georgene Dexter Hillman, or Look - you want their married name, I suppose - and Ethel Pratt, they were twins. I've left out one. Oh! Aunt Lottie. Lottie Brownell. So that's seven, see? I've got 'em all in there I guess. They were born over at the Neck, where Nelson Coon lives, that's the old homestead.

Over at Ceder Neck?


The girls' names were all Hillman, right, their maiden name?

That's right. Their maiden name was Hillman.

Have you always lived on Martha's Vineyard?

Well, no, I've been away a good deal.

Like where, for instance?

Well, I lived in Maine quite a bit, and I've lived in Iowa. I've spent quite a bit of time out in Iowa, Newton, Iowa? Fred Maytag, the Maytag machine? And he had a big factory there, and then his brother, Bill Maytag, had a 200 head of cows for cheeses, nicest factories you'd wanna look at. I said to him, "Where do all these cheeses go? I never see Maytag cheeses out in New England!" and he says "Go to Europe, where the money is!" (Laughs.)

What kind of work did you do, Ralph?

You mean, as a boy?

Well, what was the first job you ever had, for instance?

I was a painter, would've been my first job. I painted blinds for about two years before I even attempted to go to work. I mean by that, the trade - you had to serve an apprenticeship.

Who did you work for?

George Walker.

Oh, did you?

I worked for George for maybe ten years, off and on. Maybe longer'n that, I'm not certain, but in that vicinity of time. I was painting in my living room. My mother had left home and I had nothing to do and he came down. I was doing a door and he said "Ralph, would you want a job?" I says, "Tickled to death." Fifty cents an hour. So, he said "I can put you painting blinds for a little bit." I says "I don't care what it is, a dollar's a dollar," so I went to work for him. And later on I worked for George Churchill. And then I went into business for myself - it only panned out a year because I had to have a kidney out and I didn't want to mess with paint so that was the last thing I wanted to dabble in. So I stopped that. That would've been my third job, I guess. Yeah, I wasn't married then. That was still in the twenties. And then when I was married I went into the fish business, on Union street, where that French restaurant is, as you know.

I remember that, yeah.

Sure. And that was just a summer business. And then in the wintertime I managed the packing house in Florida for about every season for four seasons.

Oh, did you?

Oh, sure. I started out in that packing house as a grater, see. And this man, he was Mayor Holmstead, took a liking to me and he said "Ralph, I'm going to Georgia."

You were packing tomatoes, right?

Yep. "I'm going to Georgia for about a month and I'd like to have you take this place over." I says,"Well, I don't think so. I know all these boys, and discipline has got to be and I don't know." He says, "I'll talk to every one of 'em. They seem to like you. I'm sure you'll get along alright." Well, do you know? I managed that place on and came out right on top. They were all good to me, every one of 'em. I never said a word, they did their work, and that's all I wanted.

Very good.

From there, that was during the time I had the fish business, see, it was just a seasonal affair. Then I moved on to Florida in January and I bought scallops after the season was over and then I opened up again for scalloping, went scalloping, and bought at the same time, see? I made some money. Do you know the last year I was in business I grossed twenty thousand dollars in the fish business? That was a lot of money, in those days. For three months, Hon? I went from 165 pounds down to 121, but the telephone was ringing in the house as well at night even. I sold fish at night! Squid, I mean by that, bait, anything. I never refused anybody anything. because I was a summer store - I had to, you know?

And what did you do after that?

From there I went to Parma Scott's in New Bedford.

That's a boat yard?

No, I didn't either, pardon me! I went to a fillet house over there, with fish, see? And I worked there about nine months, and then I went on to fish cutting. They accepted me and I took it and I worked there about a year. We lived in Fairhaven, 139 Green Street, right across from the old Eleanor Roosevelt house. Had a nice apartment there, Bill and I, and Doug was born...

Oh, was he?

Then, he was a year old 1940... He was born in 1940, well it was 1941 that I worked that job. And from there I went to Parma Scott's ship yard. The war was on, so I thought I better do something so I worked on boats there as a first class painter, and a man by the name of Mr. Threshy was the manager there - or superintendent, for Mr. Scott. And he came to me after the job was over and he said "Ralph, would you like to paint Mr. Scott's house inside for the winter months?" And I said "I'd be tickled to death to. I don't want to give up and go home right now." So I spent one winter in his house.

Very good.

And after that, I wrote to Bill Colby and asked him for a job on these barges. Billy Dugan Bill, see? So I came down here, and I lasted one week. That damn creosote, see? Geez, it took me - I'm light, see? I couldn't see out of my eyes! So, then, I went to work for the town for a year, Pete Cole and I. I couldn't find a job, and I was married, I needed the money. So I heard about this opening at the airport, as a janitor, so I went up there. I saw Carey Luce, and a few more. Mr. Litchfield was then the manager, see? He didn't want me. But, there was enough people signed the little book to put me in there. And I says, "I'll make this man like me if it's the last thing I do!"

You were up there quite a while, weren't you?

Yeah, I was up there twenty years. I just worked like a dog, see? I wouldn't let him say that I was... never let him catch me layin' down. I was gonna make him like me, and he did like me, see? I kept that place immaculate, every bit of the way. And he ran it as a private airport. It shouldn't never have been, but he was the best damn manager they ever had up there. It's too bad that he didn't open it up to everyone, see? But that was his fault, right there, he should've. He had that plastic place, and he had quite a bit of money involved in and around the airport, and he just ran it as a private, you know, affair, which as I say he shouldn't have done. So that end came to a place. [?] So every weekend for fifteen years, see, I managed that airport, every weekend, I was on the radio constantly, had the whole say of it, he didn't have a damn thing to do. He was drawin' twelve thousand dollars a year and I was drawin' six, see? But he was went canoeing on the weekend. I'm just saying! I'm telling you the truth! The state cops would call me in the middle of the night if an airplane went down somewhere, I had every bit of it, he had nothing to do with it, see? Every bit of it. I had...I've had... I, I, I! I've had forty planes on the duty runway at one time right in the vicinity, coming in, hotline going for Nantucket...

I remember I heard you on the radio once, when I was up there. You were talking on it.

Hun, I'd go to work at eight in the morning in that office on a weekend and just like that it was four-thirty - I was ready to go home. I was so damn busy I never had a minute. I used to eat my sandwich standing up. You don't think I was glad to get out of there and retire? I guess I was!

After that you retired, right?

I retired in seventy-two.

OK, now you lived in Vineyard Haven a long time. Can you tell us the stores that were occupied in your day on Main Street?

Well, Brickman's was then a man by the name of Grandpa Hunter, and he bought a little boy that was about eight years old a policeman... or he gave me a policeman's suit, which I was very proud of. How could I forget him?

Grandpa Hunter? I don't...

Hunter. Virginia Hunter was his daughter. Tebby Tilton married Virginia Hunter. They were from Delaware.

I remember Virginia Hunter.

Grandpa Hunter was a fine man, not because he gave me the suit, but he liked people and he was a very pleasant man.

Didn't they live down the Neck somewhere?

Pardon me?

Didn't they live down on Hatch Road or somewhere down the Neck?

I can't remember where they lived, but I remember him in the store.

OK, then that was where Brickman's....

But you can go back a little to the morgue there, Hinckley and Renear...

Yeah, start with that one, Hinckley and Renear.

Start with that one, Hinckley and Renear?

And the fountain of course, the old fountain was out there.

That's right, yep, and then we go on to Brickmans, which was Hunter, Grandpa Hunter, George Hunter. And the next was, as I remember it, was the bake shop. Souza was his name, from New Bedford. It was taken over by quite a few people.

That's where Mark Lender is now, the silversmith.

That's right, that's right, that's the place. The next one was Jardin - had a fruit store - where David Goulart is now. Boys are right here, Jardin boys, Doug knows 'em well. Mrs. Jardin, she'd a Coutino now. And then the next one was Dr. Davis, in the Come and See shop.

You missed one - the barber shop - what about the barber shop?

Well, I can go back to... Do you want it before it was the barber shop, or?

No, well I mean you can start with Dave Goulart, or...

Yeah, which was Jardin, the next one was the barber shop.

Yeah. Who ran it then?

What's his name there, he always dressed right up...


Charlie Bell.

Charlie Bell, Hotel Plaza.(Laughs.)

Right, he had an auburn car. Always wore spats. Hell of a fine man, though, if you knew him. He was a nice man, smoked a cigar. I liked him. He was... Aren't we all odd sometimes? I guess so.

...with a derby hat.

Right. Nice dresser. Right up to the minute. There wasn't any grass growin' under him. He was smart, in a sense.

The next area was a blank walk where the mini mall is...

The next one was blank, had a little orchard in there, at one time, when I was a kid. Now we go to Dr. Davis, see...

What do you remember about Dr. Davis?

Well Wallace Lindsay, see, and I were out riding on a bicycle, and Wallace had me on the handlebars - I was a little younger than he. And we fell off and the peddle went right into his leg and gouged a hole about that big around. You could the veins right inside the calf of his leg, see? We went right into Dr. Davis' office, as I remember - it was quite awhile ago. I think he used iodine. He poured that in there and that kid cried - oh my mercy - and in turn he bandaged it up in a good way so that Wallace could go out and just step on it lightly. Did a good job! Do you know that boy had a scar, but for a man that hadn't had too much experience that way, Dr. Davis was an old man then!

Do you remember his automobile? Do you remember his car?

Just about. Just... I can't remember the make but I can see him in it.

I tell about it on my tape, there...

What kind of a car was it?

A model T. He had a special steering wheel, made for...

He was a big man...

...he had a big stomach...

...oh way out, big tummy on him.

Okay. N

ow we go from there to Walker's Paint Shop. That was the old Baptist church at one time... (Laughing)

Yeah, at one time.

...but I don't recall that. And then we go to George Daily's Drug Store.

What about Dr. Mayhew?

Dr. Mayhew, you're right! And what was his nurse's name? Oh, dear.

Miss Mary...

Mary Lewis! Then we can go to George Daily's drug store.

George Daily, then?

It was when I was a kid. Then, Grandpa Downs, To... not Todd Chase but Frank Chase.

Frank? Frank Downs.

No, Frank Chase. Worked for Grandpa Downs.

Oh, Frank Chase, yeah! That's right.

Sure, well, he played a Stradivarius. He was a violinist. He was a very smart man!

I know he played in the town band, too. Played clarinet, I think.

And his wife was a very... well, she was an actress. She had hair right to the floor.

I know, I remember.

Very attractive woman. And Grandpa Downs, I can see him in there now, sittin' there with that harness. It was pretty good stuff. And then it was Roger Ramadon, in the same block.

What was he doin', radio work?

Radio. Freed Diseman. I worked for him. We were up island once... Roger was smart. Very capable mechanically and otherwise. He had a good head. And we had a problem, see, we couldn't get the voice through good. So h said "you wanna see something, Ralph." I says "What's that, Roger?" He says "take that antenna right off the roof." We took it off the roof, you know what we did with it? We buried it. And the nicest tone, nicest voices you ever heard, just as clear as a bell, beautiful. The man knew his business!

Yes, he was smart.

He was smart! And the next one was Billy Andrews' father.

A. S. Andrews.

Yep, right. But gettin' back to Roger again, see, That Freed Disemen was on the biggest liners in the world. 'Twas a lovely set. And Roger sold, disposed of a good many, here. He really did.

That was before the First National went in there, right?

Yes. That First National Billy Andrews had built, and rented it to the First National. They never would buy. Which is now the book store.

Now we're gonna cross Center Street.

Yes, now we're gonna cross, and Charlie Vincent with his gas operation, there. Peanuts.

Are you gonna cross Center Street in a heavy rainstorm?

Have I?

Are you going to? With a wooden bridge across the...

Oh sure! It's all there. Talk about the wooden bridge, let me tell you about my market - I how to wear boots! And on a Friday, if it was busy, I never had an individual ever enter that store, it was always a delivery. --------------interruption---------------------- ...peanuts.

Okay, we're on the air.

With his little gas operation there.

That was Henry Cleveland.

Then we go from there to Howes' clothing. Which was Frank Swift, later on. Mr. Howes, Theodore's father, worked in there. I just remember him, I think.

Now that's part of Vineyard Dry Goods, now.

Yes, now, yes. But that entryway that goes up was still there when I was a... And the apartments upstairs, see. Then the dry goods, right?

Yeah.. And what was next?

...DeSorcy built that. Then Ernest Tilton was right there, see.

You remember that one?

Oh, sure. Hardware. Very well. Ernest L. Tilton, he was a nice man, I liked him. I been in the store a number of times. I was a kid right there, see? I've got a little cup, made in Japan, of his, says "Ernest L. Tilton" on it, and it shows Vineyard Haven right on it, see? He had it made in Japan and sent to him. So I spoke to Mrs. Tilton about it. L. Tilton's wife, see? She says, "You're right, I have one at home." I said to her "Wasn't your mother-in-law Mrs. Frank Tilton, born in Saint Johns, New Brunswick?" "That's right. How'd you know that?" she said. (Laughs.)

Okay, what was the next one?

The next one from there was L. E. Briggs.

Wasn't there a dry goods store in there somewhere?

Yes! Leda! Leda Tilton. Yes, see, I was jumpin' the gun, there.

And L. E. Briggs?

Yes, and George Fred Tilton was standing out there. Now I was a boy, see? This is good. And Paul Bangs, he had a harness in one hand and his watch in the other, and Paul says, "What are you thinking about, George, in particular?" "Well," he says,"I'll tell you, Paul. I'm thinking of taking my harness into L. E. Briggs and my watch down to Chad." (Laughs.) He was a man, George Frank Winslow, that took care of the Weir Estate. He was quite a drinker. He had a Model T. I was coming out of my house, and he was coming down Main Street. He drove right in there, broke the plate glass in L. E. Briggs' place of business. All of us were out there, Paul Bangs, every one of us. I was just a kid, see? I didn't know he was drunk, I didn't know what drinkin' meant, hardly. I remember the incident, see? I remember George Frank Winslow. He took care of the Weir estate for years, lived on the West Chop Road. The old West Chop Road where the... well, Rosalie?

Oh, Lighthouse Road.

Lighthouse Road, sure. Used to take you down to the old barn at West Chop. Many a horse I've ridden through there at midnight! Moonlight. And from there... where were we, at L. E. Briggs? The Cape and Vineyard. The telephone office, first. I seen some great goings on there, boy. That little alley way through there? I was a kid, you know? I don't talk. Then, the Post Office.

You remember Ed Lord's shoe store?

Yes! Oh, sure. He was a selectman in nineteen thirty... and I'll tell you, another selectman that worked for him, Brad Clough.

Yep, that's true. Brad ran the store, there.


Okay, now we cross Church Street.

Cross Church Street? When I was a boy that was the Barnacle Club. There was a man by the name of...

Goody Fisher!

Yes, Goody Fisher. That's one. He was a nice old man, I liked him very much. Had a cane, used to walk downtown every day.

I remember he had an alligator in there, or something.

That's right, that's right! Big one. Hey, they had quite a few over the years, there. Another one was Cleveland. Jennie Cleveland's father, Warren Cleveland. He was another club member. They were all nice people. I remember an instance... (Laughs) I was sayin' to myself, I was tellin' my wife: hope I never get that old, but I was doin' some paper hanging for Miss Cleveland, see?


Yep. And she invited me in to lunch to eat with him. I had my lunch pail, so I sat down with Warren, Mr. Cleveland, Jennie, and what's the other boy's name there?

The boy that lived there? I don't remember, now.

Her boyfriend, there...

I can't remember his name.

His father was the head of, the jeweler there, L. E. Briggs. Kenny Wilson! Right. Alright. I sat there and all of a sudden I looked up and here was Mr. Cleveland spreading a yellow cake on his bread. I said, "What's goin' on there?" Well come to find out he thought it was butter. Isn't that somethin'? Terrible. Yet on the other hand it didn't bother him any. You know. And from there I'm gonna go to, well, Colansky is in there.

Yeah. He was on the end. Walter Norton, remember him?

Walter Norton, right. You're back now. I remember him, sure. Don't talk to me about ice cream cones and... good, too! Hey, that damn stuff would stick on your tongue - that was real cream! And Walter Norton was very particular. He kept a mighty fine place. It was clean. He was meticulous, he really was. And then...

Then W. P. Bodfish's... Will Bodfish's house which is about...

Yeah, well that's next, but Will Bodfish was in there with a grocery store, too.

Yeah, but that house is about the way it used to be, right today.

Yeah, hasn't changed too much.

Then what comes next?

What? From Will Bodfish?

Telegraph office? Do you remember that?

Yes. Sure. I worked there. I typed out the... oh dear, what's his name there? Maeda Luce worked there at the time I was in there.

Oh, did she?

Sure. Remember her?

Sure! She lived on Center Street.

Right! They had a house where Doody Wilkis is now, Doody Stone. She went to New York, finally.

I never knew what happened to her...

Penny, there was a Penny...

Yeah, that's right...

He was in there.

He married Penny's daughter.

Yeah, that's right.

That wasn't his name. What the heck was it?

Anyway... and then of course the Reno family.

What about the bake shop? You remember that? S.B.S. Bakery?

Oh sure, sure. Mrs. Swift worked there, for a man in Edgartown. What's his...

Yeah, Averill.

Averill, yep. For years. And then Reno's, and then Alice Manter, see.

That was Manter's shoe store.

Right! This town right now has quite a little money left that Alice Manter left to the town for children. Sure! Quite an item in the town report about it. Should be!

Yes, right! And now we cross the other side of the street...

Yeah, we'll come back...

Come back starting with the bank, see.

Where the bank is? John E. White was president of the bank in those days. Carey Luce was treasurer, I guess.

Or cashier, or something. He may have been cashier.

Yeah, cashier, I guess. He graduated from Rod and Staff.

Oh did he? I didn't know that.

And then, of course, the livery stable.

Renear's. Renear's stable.

I can see those... I called 'em Cadillacs, I don't know.

They were Benny Baptist's Cadillacs. He had them run from there.

How about Shiner, Billy Shiner, he was in there. He used to drive a Packard. Well he went up to the old - where the Pilers used to be there, in back of where Bob Crony had that house there? You remember where he board there, 'cross from where Mrs. Mann lives now? They've got a garage there now. So he went up there. This is a good story, see?

This was the undertaker's parlor, in those days. Right?

Right. So he had this box somebody had laid out in there, see? So John Conroy was in there, and he know Billy was coming, and he had some chairs they were unloading, see? Billy Shiner had a great habit of talking to himself. And John Conroy's pretty witty, see. So he come in there, it was dark, he says, "Where will I pile all these chairs?" John lifted his head out of the casket and he says "Put 'em over there." (Laughs.) Shiner went out of there like lightning! (Laughs.) That's a true story! Billy Shiner was...

Billy Davis.

We use to call... his name was Davis. Yeah, Davis, yes, they called him Shiner.

He lived in a house down that lane they used to call the House of the Forty Panes. Remember that?

Yeah, let's get back to Walker again now, I'm reminiscing, see? They were over his place. Billy Shiner lived over the shop, see? And Ben Turner and a man down here, worked for Colonel....

Yeah, Henry Coleman...

Henry Coleman, right!

Now we're over Walker's paint shop

Right, they lived there for years, see? But now we're where?

We're at Renear's Stable.

Yes, and then there was a man by the name of Joe...

Joe the Barber!

Joe the Barber. What was his last name?

Souza was it? I don't know. No...

No... he lives up there where Kingsbury lives now.

Yeah. They called him Joe the Barber, I remember that.

And then, of course, Lane's block. Dr. Lane.

Lane's block, in those days...

I could tell you a number of things about him and I heard him talking.

Yeah, I'd like to hear about him. Stories...

Well, there's one in particular. Every morning that I was out there as a boy, he'd get up, come out, and there was a rail there, see? And he'd stand up there, and if it was a sunny he'd look at the sun. And he'd sneeze, and he'd sneeze. Finally he'd say to himself - I heard him more'n once - "Ten dollars - worth every damn bit of it!" (Laughs.)

(Laughs.) You know any more Dr. Lane stories?

Sure. Well, he had a fire. He was up on the roof trying his best to put it out. And they come up there - the fire department - and he looked at them and he said "I don't want you here. Just get right out!" "What do you mean, you don't want us?" "Well," he says,"ten firemen, fifty carpenters, I just don't need you!" (Laughs.)

(Laughs.) Where was this, Lane's block, the fire was on?

Another time he was over Dr. Worth, you remember him on Circuit Avenue. He had a Model T, and this man was standing on the mud guard there, standing right up with his laurels right on there, you know, kinda lazy like. Dr. Lane had that damn thing wide open, both spark and gas. He turned her over, and when he did she started to roll and jump and knocked him down, see? Dr. Lane looked right at him and he says "You stand there like a damn hitching post - what do you expect?" (Laughs.) Then they tell the story - I don't know - about him coming off of the boat with his new Model T - it was his first experience with it - and came up the road, and he passed the house. Mrs. Lane was on the porch, Sarah. And she hollered to him, "Why aren't you stopping?" He said, "Sarah, I will see you just as soon as I can find the emergency brake." (Laughs.)

You know, he was the first Ford dealer on the Island, here.

Is that so?

He got the agency so he could buy his new car. He only bought about two, I guess...

He's a very smart man...

Pete Renear told me this. Before Pete's grandfather got it.

And from the third floor of that Lane's block, right to the Union Street - Wharf Street I called it as a kid - he had a runway for all his kitties. Came right from the third floor. Cats! Right down out, right through the petition and out. They all knew how to get out of there. He never had to worry about 'em, see. He did just about as he pleased. And the next place was Issokson's. But Issokson's still had Dr. Lane in there with pigs, hens, everything imaginable. Animals of all kinds. The town couldn't do anything about it.

Where were they, on the corner, or...?

You know that iron rail fence was? Right in there. I had a gig many of times. Stink? God, don't talk! He could care less. He was gonna have his little farm right side of it. (Laughs.) And he was a big taxpayer.

Sure. Okay, we got to Issokson's, now what was next?

Well, that man used to make my clothes.


Yes. I was that old. And a good tailor, too. A damn good tailor. And you could see him sitting on the stool in there now, or on the bench, sewing away. I liked him, Ikky.

Somebody told me that he did a lot of sail repairing, too.

Yes, he did. He did a lot of it.

Somebody told me if he didn't have room enough he put it right out on Main Street and sew 'em there..

Is that so? I don't recall that. But he had a... he was a seamstress. He was good. Made me a blue suit once. I'll never forget it - fit to a tee. And then, of course, Mrs. Tuckerman. Mr. and Mrs. Tuckerman. Now as a kid, I was treated pretty nice, I'll tell you. They were good to me. I used to go there with a corned beef dinner, don't talk! Every Christmas there was toys for Ralph, see, until I got a little older and then she had books for me. I wouldn't ask for a better person, see? And Mr. Tuckerman, if I wanted some advice, after we bought this house over here where we are now, on heat, or anything, he'd just give it to me. See? He was a good tinsmith, too. Damn good man. He worked at General Dynamics.

Yes - during the war.

Right. I worked there in '32.

Remember that little shop his wife had on one end there?

Sure. That's where I used to get my toys!

Ten cents store, like?

Sure. And of course the next place was SBS. Now there was a... before SBS I don't recall, but there was an Bodfish and Coll... would that be right?

Yeah, I think so.

Well I always heard that, I don't know. And then we go to the theater, the Capawock, which has always been there when I was a boy. Albert and I were sitting in there, in that theater...

Who was this?

Albert, my brother, and I. Back in 1925, maybe. And Albert look at me and he says, "I'm sick." And I says, "So am I. I don't feel good. I don't know what it's all about." Got home, my mother said, "We've had an earthquake." The dishes were all off her pantry - it really rattled! Well we were kids, we didn't realize it, see? That's the first and only time I ever knew of it. I don't think we've ever had one since, but we did have a...

I remember that...

...tornado come through here.

I was playing basketball that night of the earthquake. I didn't know anything about it until I got home.

The old Exemor?

No - when we had that earthquake? I didn't know anything about it until I got home. They told me they'd had it.

Everybody was sick in that theater. Everybody. Wasn't only us.

Do you remember Ben Turner when he used to shine shoes.

Oh, of course he did, under that Linden Tree? I had mine shined there a few times! He was a nice man, I liked Ben.

Yeah, he was a nice fella...

Damn nice man, see?

Sure. Now, one other thing. I wonder if you remember this. A diner, that was right along parallel with that old...


One of the old trolley cars?

You bet! And then later, Slocum had it.

Oh, [?] Slocum, right. He ran it.

He had a funnel, I don't want this broadcast!

Oh, all right. I'll shut it off.

He had a funnel... ---------------(Interrupted)------------------------------------------- ..and then. of course, the Livery Stable.

Was that Norton and Bradley?

How far back to you go on that?

Charlie Norton. Then it was Norton and Bradley afterward.

Yep. That's right. I go there, and I remember Charlie Norton well.

And before that was Leonard Norton...

That's right, but I don't recall that, do you? Of course, I had relatives, Bradleys, see, that had the horses from Randolph, Mass - the Blue Hills of Milton - was a relative of mine. Then he had, later on in life, he hired another man - I'm tryin' to think of...

Tucker. His name was Tucker.

Tucker! Sure, sure, see? But I rode twenty years there out of that place as a kid. Every summer, delivering horses to West Chop or wherever, see. Great experience. I'd love to ride right now, I'd get on a horse tomorrow, I love 'em! I was up there at five o'clock in the morning, clean out the horse shit... see? And George Cleveland, my grandmother's brother, worked there for him a long time.

George Cleveland?

Cleveland. Aldrich Cleveland? You must have remembered Aldrich, as a telephone boy. Lived over in Mattapoisset - that was his son. And Dorothy - she lived in New York, married to Leon Gale. That was his first wife.

Oh yeah, yeah. They lived up on Look Street, there.

Sure, right. Yep. God, we're goin' back!

I'd forgotten about George, that's right.

Then of course you go over to the Charlie Norton place, the apartments there. And upstairs was a - oh, my Grandmother Look was very friendly with him. They were eventually moved down to West Chop. He was a short man, rather thick set, and she was not too big a lady - oh what was her...Daggett! Daggett.

I don't remember them.

I remember 'em well. And they lived down there for quite some time, then they moved down here to West Chop. How will I express it? You know where the Goethall house is?


Back this way about a hundred yards on the left was a nice home there, a small home, and they bought that and lived there summers and finally winterized it or whatever, and they both died, naturally... And then of course in 1913 Mr. Brickman and his wife were in that little place where Moses is now, or was. Is, I guess. And then there was a man around here from Oak Bluffs and he had a grocery store in there where the Redman's Hall was, upstairs.

He had a grocery store? I don't remember that.

Oh, I do. I'm trying to think of the name of it. You remember Clem Cleveland?

Yeah, sure.

He was on wheels. He had a grocery store on wheels. He was back of Brickmans.

He had the next barn. He ran a livery stable in the old Mansion House barn.

That so? Well I don't recall where his barn was, but I can see that yellow cab now, full of goodies, see? Soaps, and whatever.

I knew he sold something but I couldn't remember what...

Sure. I'm trying to think of the name of it. ------Interruption------------- ...Isn't that somethin'. I just can't recall at the moment. Clem... Clem... oh, dear. It's right on the tip of my tongue. I can see that sign now!

Well, maybe you'll remember it.

Yeah. And then, where were we? We were at the Mansion House barn. And that was, as I remember it, Jesse Oliver and Donny Palmer had that, and Dodge, and Howard Chadwick was the salesman.

I'd forgotten about that, too.

You remember it?


Can you remember back of it?

Yeah! I can remember they had a place over on the Beach Road.

Yeah, sure! That's right. Where Bob, uh...

Corner Service...

Right. But who was before them on the Mansion House Barn?

Clem Cleveland, far as I know.

Yeah. Geez I can see that wagon, I'd like to tell you.

No, Clem West.

Clem West. He had a daughter that married Daily, oh, George Daily's youngest brother. Hilt. There was George and Hilt, and they lived in Fairhaven. They worked Browns as a pharmacist. Hell of a nice guy. What was his name? She was so pretty, she was a nice looking woman. Clem Cleveland's daughter. Of course there's more'n one, but this one...I knew her real well, I can't think of first name, even.

I remember her too, but I can't either.

There was George, and Hilt... This fella was the youngest. Well anyway he was a very likable man. And his wife, too - nice person.

Well, you made the rounds of Main Street.

Well, I guess so. And then across the way from the Mansion House was the old - where the telephone building used to be, or is now. I never thought that would ever go so fast - that went out of there like lightnin'. Seems to me it was put in there, then gone, you know? What was his name - he had the big fence along there, the white fence?

The name was Foster.

Right, right, that's his name, sure. Big white house there, filigree, pretty home...

And that building was moved across the street, along side of the Mansion House.

Yes, sure, right. It was the Mansion House. I've slept in that building, more than once. George Daily and I. The family had it, see? An annex, sort of, to the Mansion House. But they made it their home, George Daily and his wife, see? And of course I was very friendly with George, so I used to sleep there... Foster.

Maybe you can clear up something on Union Street for me, now. You lived there for a good many years, of course. Let's go down Union Street on the left hand side, going down toward the wharf.

Of course that restaurant, that diner there. George Sears had it later on. Then there was Fisher Brothers. Ed McClaggon used to work for them.

Before you come to Fisher Brothers, on the...

Place before that? Sure, was the Express Office, first. Had a pool room in there.

Yeah. Clarence Ward ran it.

That's right. The Leximor was right over the back of it.

Now that building - where was it before then?

Geez, Hun, you're goin' beyond me. But, Josiah Mayhew and his family...[tape ends] ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Side Two.

You don't remember a plumbing shop there, George Armsby, on Union Street.

You know, I knew quite a bit about him but I never did remember...

Later it was Willis Hancock, and it was right in that same building. Then comes....

That was a smart man, George Armsby. I tell you why, Hun, see. This is my opinion- I never knew the man, but I've heard. And I know this much. ______, where Father Buckley lives right now, bought the house, ____'s mother and father. I was going by there one night, it might have been below zero or more, wind blowin' from the northwest, oh was it cold. And he wasn't a young man, so I said "I'm gonna poke in and say hello to him. I wonder if he's alright." He had some window wide open. I walked in and he said to me, "Ralph, come right in." I says, "You alright?" He says "Comfortable as a kitten." He says, "Take your shoes off, and your socks, barefoot, if you want to. You'll be comfortable." God I was never in a better house in my life. Snug? He said "You know who did the plumbing here, don't you? Man by the name of George Armsby. Well those radiators were a little bit bigger than normally but that's a good fault in the winter. They were a little bigger. He also wired the house where Trebby lives now. He came here as an electrician, but he couldn't find any work, so he went plumbin'.

He had a lot to do with the...

He lived right down at West Chop, on the right.

Now Herb Norton's wife was his daughter.

Heppy Tough.

Was is daughter.


See, now where were we? Going down Union Street. Going down to Fisher Brothers, right?

Yes, and George Cleveland worked for Albert O. Fisher. And Edna Claggin was the office girl.

Oh, was she? I'd forgotten about that.

Then, you had the old fish place, there. John Conroy had a fish market back in the twenties.

That's where Frank Cleveland used to tank codfish, upstairs.

That's right. That's right, definitely. I remember it. You remember those cars Albert Fisher had? Great big wheels.

I got pictures of it. International Harvesters.

That's right, that's what they were. Queer looking things, but I guess they did the job. And of course it was a double-decker later. And do you know Mr. Edwards, see, Mr. Tower's father-in-law. I might have been nineteen years old, or... No, eighteen. Seventeen or eighteen years old. He came to me and he said, "Ralph," he said, "would you like to belong to the Boston Seamans' Friends Society?" I says "Sure, be glad to." He gave me a button, I got it home now. So I was talking to Mrs. Towers, Aubie Towers wife one day not long ago. I dropped in there to look around. And she says, "You might be the third one who's got one." I thought it was pretty good.

Now who was on the wharf in your day.

Sure, Art Swift, working for SBS, had a fish market.

Yeah, but I mean who was in charge of the wharf?

Joan Smith. God, I guess so. "Get out of there! Th' Hell are you doin'?"

(Laughs) He didn't like kids I don't think.

But his bark was worse than his bite. I remember the Admiral real well.

Yeah. Iceberg Smith.

Yeah, Iceburg, sure. And you know - it's rather a coincidence - Brooks sent us out on a job. I worked for him fifteen years. Guess that, yeah. And went up on Lake Street, back end of town. This fella come out, started talking to us. Says "You know who I am?" I says, "No, I have no idea." Says, "My name is Smith. Ed Smith is my father." God, I'd like to die, he look just like him. Couldn't miss! I like that family, I liked Mrs. Smith - I knew her as a boy. 'Course, my great-grandfather lived right over top of it, see?

Well, they lived right next door to you...

Right, sure, 1785 House.

Now it's the 1785 House, of course.

Now, yeah. But Hattie Goldburg lived there when I was kid.

That's true, yeah. And also Flora Jordan.

Yes, but I was a little older, then.

Here's something else. See if you remember this. A miniature golf course on the corner there. Remember that?

Yeah, sure.

You remember who ran it?

No I don't off hand, but I remember it.

I think it was Bart Mayhew.

Bart Mayhew was the manager of it?

I think so. He ran it for...

I guess you're right, I think you're right. Yeah.

Isn't that... I don't mean... Bart, uh, Bart, yeah, Bart Mayhew. Didn't he used to run the stage?

Sure. Had that six-wheeler. Remember? Hancock built that for him, that six-wheeler. Bart Mayhew. Remember that six-wheeler he had?

Yeah. Who built it you say?

(Laughing.) Geez, I 'm laughing! I'm coming down from up-island and - Oh dear, it's gone from me, but - Up Island. Who drove for him? For so long. (Laughs.) He's dead now.


Sure! Walter Flanders' brother. What was his name? God, isn't that awful?


Oscar Flanders! (Laughs.) He was coming down, one of the wheels went off. (Laughing.) I says, "That's like Oscar Flanders," honest to God, everything was slap-happy, see? There was nothing solid with him, he could give a damn! He didn't care! But, happy-go-lucky. He just says "That's another wheel off." (Laughs.)

Okay, now we go on to your house - Ralph Look house.

Yeah, well that was Frayties, see? That was bought in nineteen... my father bought it in 1911 or 12. I might have been two years old. They were Portuguese people, and he bought it from them. I don't ever recall them, naturally.

And the next one was the little building that Carter built which eventually was a police station, before that was a fish market, right?

Your father had that as a fish market.

My father had it, yeah. Then later on you had it.

Then George Sears had it. Tilton. Ernest, not Ernest but... the drug store man, Herbert Tilton, set him up in business there. George Sears. Then, I took it over. And then, my house, and then as I say, Ed Smith house. And then from there on down the road, there was a man where the trolley cars stopped, that end

Saint Croix Oliver?

See him now. Sold cigars, cigarettes. Provisions. Little salty, there was some solicity there. Sailors used to come in and buy, same as Dr. Lane, you know?

He was on the corner of Water Street and Union Street.

That's right. And then of course the Bethel. The Helen May...

Okay, now we go on Water Street, going south, after the Saint Croix Oliver store, what was next?

Coal Yard.

Benny Croal?

Sure. The next was Frank Tilton.

Wasn't there another coal yard in there? Clarence Cleveland, remember him?

Yep... Clarence Cleveland had an office there, and a small coalyard. Very small. There's a man that used to come up from there that worked for him, and had a white horse. He was an uncle, or relative, of Mrs. Mann, Florence Mann. Florence Dean. What was his name? You know him.

Wasn't Brad Manchester?

Brad Manchester. That's right.

He worked for Clarence Cleveland?

He worked for Clarence Cleveland.

I'd forgotten that, too. When I remember Brad, he worked for the town, I used to remember him cutting this granite curbing.

Well he used to cart coal. When I was a kid I can recall. Then of course, Frank Tilton.

Tilton Lumber, yeah.

And then the duck pond. That's where I learned to skate. Crumel's Pond.

(Laughing.) Actually a mudhole there, yeah.

Then of course Dukes County.

Who ran it then?

Frank Look - wait a minute - and Manual Campbell was his helper, was his salesman. And Jesse Oliver. Sel Oliver, his son. The mechanics were DeBettencourt...


Right. Let's not forget Baptist...

Frank, Frank Baptist.

Frank. Roger Amadon.

Yep. Herb Mayhew was there for awhile.

That's right. Damn good mechanic, too.

Of course Bob West was there, but he did mostly marine work.

He was boat. And I guess we cleaned that up alright, near enough.

You remember the people who had it before Manter had it?


Yep. The Grand Locklear Aldrich. (Laughs.)

Right. She was a lovely person, I have pictures of her. They divorced. and Donald Aldrich picked up some sort of a bug - I don't know what it was - he died.

They were quite friendly with your mother-in-law, Millicent's mother.

Pardon me?

The Aldriches were quite friendly with...

Oh yes! They were very close. I have pictures of them at home. They were very close, And finally, I guess that after they left Dukes County they went out to California or something. So I gather, I don't know.

Okay, come back on the other side now. What was on the corner, where the bike shop is?

The only one I remember is Betsy Gifford.

Yeah, but there was nothing on the corner now. Then you come to Betsey Gifford...

No, nothing there at all. The house back of it...

Yeah, that the Seth Daggett House, it's the Makery now.

But over where, across the street where the Post office is, there was a house, a colored lady lived there, and whatchacallit had a fish market - John Pachico set a fish market in there later, after that house was moved.

Her name was Mrs. White.

White, you're right.

Mike Florence tore it down, when he built that area, yeah.

Yes. And then you come along to a field in there. Frank Tilton had cows out there. Raisin.

Where you going now? Which way?

I'm going back towards... I'm going north.

Okay, we come to Betsey Gifford. Then what was next?

The cow pasture, that I can remember. I don't remember anything where the A+P is.

Don't remember a little building in there that Ben Crummel used to live in? Young Ben?

I guess, in back, sure. Sure I do. I'd forgotten that, see? It's there. You're right. I can see it now, plain as day. I'd forgotten it, see? I'm slippin' by fast. (Laughs.)

Now we come to the houses set way back, up on the hill, like Captain Crummel House.

Well the old Great House was in there, see?

By the police station.

Philippino, and a few more of them used to live in there, before they bought.

And then the Roth House, remember that?

Oh, sure. I guess I do. I was right there, next door. Looked right out my window. I had dinner with a girl today that lived in that house. May Maciel. About that time.

Her father lived there - Tom Tilton lived there at one time. Then the old barn down by Union Street, remember that? Practically falling over?

Yeah, right. Pretty well dilapidated.

One corner of it was the village lockup...

Yeah. Nothing else that I know of, Hun. Do you remember anything? Of course the trolley cars came in there and stopped. That was dead end.

Then comes the grain store, of course.

Yeah, well that was there.

And who was running it then?

SBS. Who the manager was, I've forgotten.

Ed Dayhill?

I don't think so.

Was Curtis Athearn working there?

Well, they both were there, but there was somebody before Ed Dayhill.

Was there?

Ed Dayhill ran that for years. He ran as his own store. (Laughs.) They always said that Curtis never... Curtis took the orders. I think that Ed Dayhill kind of put it on him a little bit, and made him work a little hard, but...

Curtis was a pretty rugged guy though...

Oh Jesus I guess he was. Don't talk. That was half his trouble! Those bags, those hundred pound bags? And he wore a beard to protect him from the, all that grain, dust. There's a name for it... I liked Curtis. I liked Ed Dayhill, but he was very peculiar. He had a way about him sometimes, I didn't know whether he liked me or not. I could give a damn, but...

It seems to me William Roach was tied in there somewhere or another.

I think you're right.

You know from West Tisbury? William Roach? Before my day, though. Well, okay.

I guess we've cleaned house, haven't we? I guess we've kind of cleaned house.

Yeah, we did on that, but two more to go, if you have time. You have more time? Can you stay?

I guess I was thinking about dinner. I better go.

If you could stay another few minutes...

Lorette Daggett house, remember it?

Where was that?

That was where Ellis Manter was on where Dr. Merchant house, right? Right down to the Chris house. It was right there, where the Chris house...

Oh yeah. That's right. They tore it down and...

Daggett. How I know was that Charlie and Emma, see, Dunbar, moved in there. That was their first home after their marriage in 1923 or 4, because the church burned down in '22.

Well she was Ellis Manter's aunt, I believe. Loretta Daggett was his aunt.

Yes she was, that's right. (Laughs.) Charlie used to saw wood there. Wood stove. I remember, course I was older then, it seems like the other day. --------------------------Interruption--------------------------------

This tape was interrupted by a telephone call, but it will resume in a minute or so. Please be patient.

---------------------------Interruption------------------------------- Well, I think that the food was better, I really do. I'm not exaggerating a bit. I can go back to the thirties, just the thirties and it was better. Mother, my, she left home in '29, but previous to that, see, '28...

This was before the chain stores?

Yes. We trade with SBS. Constantly.

The butter came in a firkin, and he cut it up, and the cheese...

Tub butter. Kennedy's, used to be. I can't find that now. Peanut butter had the... oh, dear, it was in another firkin, dark, wasn't it nice? Don't talk. Puttin a slab of white paper. Wrapped up, brought home? That was real, there was nothing in there. These things today are all prepared for to be kept.

Now what about the old pickle barrel. You remember that?


Two cents a pickle, great big pickle?

Steaks were cut to order. Sirloin. Anything, standing rib. Paul Bangs would... Oh, say. You paid, but you had something really good. Monarch Foods. Of the best.

You always had indoor plumbing, or did you have a outhouse in your old days?

We had at home, indoor.

Always had indoor?

I always recall it. But this house that I'm living in now, I had an outdoor...

Yeah I remember.

You remember that. And Henry Ottowal saved his until lately. And of course Ted West had hers, still there.

What about electricity?

Well, I'll tell you. John B. Luce, my uncle by marriage, wired our house - this is the one I'm now living in - for twenty-two dollars, and had a three-way. That house, today, I won't go into details, but that house today, if it were wired the way he wired it, it wouldn't be half as good. It was all knob and tube. Twenty-two dollars. That house would cost in a neighborhood of five to six hundred dollars to wire it today. I have the bill right home.

I'll tell you something else. Your brother wired our house, next door.

I know. I remember!

Yeah, he did it, I don't know what it cost...

Put the service in, that was a sixty amp service.

But he did the job...

Sure, I remember.

Worked fine.

What do you think about - well, I guess we went into that - but supermarkets versus the old time groceries. We just talked about that I guess. What's that, Hun?

The supermarkets against the old time grocery stores, where you had to go in and give them your order, you know.

Well, competition is... I don't think for one minute that the products of the supermarkets are anywhere near as good as the old independent markets.

No, I don't either.

I don't think you can compare with them. You paid the price, but that's true with anything. Hun, you go and buy a - well what will I say, for instance? You go into Cronigs, right now, and you buy their best coffee, see, their best. You may pay four-fifty, five dollars, I'm just saying, but that's worth it. You know why? It only takes a tablespoonful to make three cups. You go and buy something cheaper, you're gonna use six tablespoonsful, so you're saving money, I don't think so. But Millicent's uncle was a connoisseur on coffee. He had a place on Atlantic Avenue. His name was Countway.

What was his name?

Countway. George Countway.

I don't remember him.

He married Millicent's aunt. Millicent's mother's sister. She was a beauty, she was a nice-looking woman. Anyway, we went down there. And I was a young fellow, just fresh married. Mill and I were just sitting there in the office, and he said "You know," he said, "young man, when you buy coffee, buy the best, and it's cheaper." "But," he said, "I tell you one thing - I shouldn't be, but I'll tell you one thing." And I says, "What's that, Mr. Countway?" He said, "You buy Red Circle, and Red Circle is everybody's coffee, and it's good." That was when the A&P had Red Circle. And still has it. He says, "You won't go wrong." And he's right. That's damn good coffee, right today. It's everybody's. It's a mixture of every... way up high in the mountains, it's there, see, it's good.

What was the first radio you ever had, Ralph?

Freed Disemans

Freed Disemans. About three knobs...

Sure. I used to sit with earphones on listening see if I... "Oh I got Missouri, St. Louis, last night, three o'clock in the morning!" You know!

But that was during the days when everyone was building those sets, too. Everyone had a little diagram, they were making...


Yeah, Atwatercamp. Tucky used to make them, you know. Alton Tuckerman used to make them... he made our first set for us.

Is that so? Earphones were lovely. They were and they are today. Very clear.

Remember when the World Series was on they used to go up to Tilton's Drug Store...

(Laughing.) Yeah, right...

...And we'd stay outside, and Hutchy had the earphones on, and he was telling everything that went on during the game. (Laughs.)

Geez, we're reminiscing alright...

What about TV? Remember your first TV?

Ed had a TV that I sold. Should never have done it, but I did. Twelve inch screen. A pheta.

About a ten inch screen?

Maybe nine inch. Very small, very small. And it's cast was sort of a light brown. It wasn't like we have today, naturally. But it was about that wide, and about so deep. Heavy, had wings on both sides. Monstrosity. Today, that'd never happen. Of course we've improved a good deal in some things if you want to shop are cheaper than they were years ago.

Yeah, I guess you're right.

You wanna look around, you can find things. Definitely.

Don't you think the thunderstorms were more severe in the old days?

Were. Yes. Yes.

They always claim that since they built the canal over there we don't get 'em as bad. And it seems to have something to do with it.

That's right. You know, a thunderstorm follows the tide. I've seen 'em go down the road here. And come back up like lightenin'. Which they were, you know? I remember an instance, I was in the fire department for about seventeen years, see, till I went to the airport. And I resigned because I was at the airport. I couldn't hear the whistle, I wouldn't know what was going on, and I thought "Let someone else do it." Anyway, I was getting older, too. But, I was standing - I was living in Trebby's house, we were - I was standing in the doorway and that was at the town hall that horn started to blow and I jumped into the truck over at the hall it was then I belonged to the Legion trucks there- not the Legion but the - what's the other one? Anyway, I jumped in and went right down to Luce, Byron Luce's place, been struck by lightening, see? I heard the crash, I though I was being hit myself, it was so close, see? And I thought maybe that horn was short circuited, I don't know. I went up there, they told me where it was I went down there. Boy, I'm telling you, don't talk about severe. I've been hit three times. I was down here the Berner Branchcomb house where Alan Gale own? Down near Bayside? Senator Norton, George Daily had a girl, and I had one, we were having dinner. Had two beers. I stepped out, got out of the table, pardoned myself, I walked toward the kitchen, I got into the entryway, and as I did it took the case and knocked it right flat down in front of me. I felt it see, but if I hadn't had those two beers I don't think I would be talking to you, I was relaxed, see? Got into the kitchen, here's the hole that big around, see? Just like a bullet went right through the glass in the kitchen window. Don't think I haven't got respect for it. No more than four or five years ago I wouldn't tell Sherry, or Doug either, I standing at my sink one morning early, and we had a blaster, see?

This is on Center Street?

This is on Center, right. It took the jet, knocked it right down on the whatchacallit, sparks were flying everywhere. I says "Boy!" I felt it, but it didn't get me. I was in it, don't worry, I just smell it, too! You never know what that stuff's gonna do.

No that's true, yeah.

You can get in the closet all you want and hide but you might get it right there. But I don't want to be under any big tree, that's kind of silly. Look at that affair over in Fairhaven, the man was killed not long ago. High school or something, he was the principal? Or he might have been a - oh dear, what was it? I think it was Fairhaven. No! It was Whitman, Whitman, Mass, where Charlie lives. That's where it was. There's two of 'em killed. Sure, just lately. You never know what it's going to do. Tell you another house that used to get struck quite frequently, where Bob Watchacallit lives now - Dr. Thompson House. Used to hit the chimney there every other thing.

Oh did it? The Look House up in Lambert's Cove...

Oh sure! You know why?

...that was always getting...

You know why that happened? Oh, sure. There's a brook goes right under that house, see? It's an attraction! They found it out. Lenny, there, they put lightening ____ up there, rods. Good measure, good measure. Take it to ground.

The snowstorms seem to be worse in the old days. There seems to be more snow...

Yes! I was just talking to a gentlemen today, I had dinner with him. I said to him, I said, "I think the winters are..." well I didn't want to be too smart, I just said, "I think that the winters are rough, but they're not as bad as they used to be because... or else, perhaps," I said, "these plows take it away so fast it doesn't look that way, see?" You never know, Hun.

And another thing. As we remember the snowstorms, we were a lot smaller, too.


We weren't as tall. You know, we were kids.

Yeah, that's right. And it looked higher to us. Then again I might add, he was talking about the atmosphere, and the conditions, see? The winters he thought were worse than they ever were. Well I don't agree with him. I think they come and go, see? You watch the birds, they'll give you a damn good idea what the winters gonna be, the animals. They're pretty smart, see?

You remember Dolf Manning?

Oh, sure.

They only used to plow the sidewalks, you know.

Old Togo, that's right.

...They never plowed the roads at all.

He had a horse, Togo. Bigger'n Fisher's. They had another one that tarry him away, and that's what killed him, poor Dolf.

He used to keep one up in Luther West's barn, there.

Right, right. I liked that man, Dolf Manning, was a nice man.

Yeah, he was.

I was gonna say, I've gone down Doane's Hill there, sliding, see? Right out to the breakwater, see?

You're talking about DAR - across from the DAR...

sure, you bet. Right across the way from Mrs. Doanes.

Yeah, it was Mrs. Doanes and it's...

Cherry DeLeese's son lives there now.

Cornelia Luce.

Cornelia Luce, yeah. She changed her name...

Down that hill, yeah. That's a steep hill.

It was, yeah. There were no houses there, between there, right down out to the breakwater, see? I remember and incident of Herb Tilton going down ahead of me, and harbor was all frozen over. Somewhere or other he got out, off of the sled and he went right under the ice, and someone was aboard gave him -- what do you call it there, that you haul the rope in with, there's a name for it, on the boat. And he happened to grab it, and they pulled him out of there. If he hadn't of, he wouldn't be here today. Right under. Whether somebody'd been eeling or what, I don't know.

All be darned! Shee! Lucky, hmm? Yeah the harbor used to freeze up in the old days, I remember that.

Oh, sure, yeah. There were two or three days at a time they had to go up to Robinson's Hole to get to New Bedford.

I remember Dr. Marchant used to walk out on the ice to treat somebody on a vessel out there.

Oh, sure. I've skated from East Chop to West Chop, back when I was eight or nine years old. Cold! You don't see that today. And we had steam then - those boats couldn't go out through. That was an incident. That didn't happen every day. I've seen it 32 below zero, too! The day that Henry Cronig's house burned down at West Chop. It was 32 degrees below zero, might have been for two or three hours.

All be darned!

On this Island, that's the truth!

That's the house down near...

Right across from where Harry Walker lives. Well, whathisname lives there...

Near Grove Street.

Yeah, right. Well, Hun, I'm gonna leave you.

Okay, well thanks a lot, Ralph!

Well I don't know if I've given you any... Well between the two of us, we have come up with something, yeah.

We had some fun!

But you know I did a little bit of it.

Okay, well, we thank you...


This is a continuation of the tape. What... Ralph has to say ... remainder... Go ahead, Ralph.

Well, as I can remember, I was a boy perhaps eight years old, and during that time I had a lemonade stand under a horse chestnut tree. And my customers seemed to enjoy the lemonade and I had a man by the name of Crimson Rambler, always visited every morning about nine o'clock. He had a habit of coming there, and I enjoyed his company and I liked him very much. And he stopped coming - I couldn't just gather why. So, one day I was at John Conroy's fish market, and Mr. Conroy said, "Haven't you seen Crimson Rambler lately?" I said, "No. Can't understand it." "Well," he said, "I went by you there and I saw you reaching into the bowl pickin' out seeds and I told him what you were doing, and that's why he's not there!" (Laughs.) I thought that was pretty good. And you know Crimson Rambler took care of us with cigarettes, he always bought them for us. The Piedmont - you remember the Piedmont? Mecca.

Sure. I remember Crimson Rambler, too!

Sure, he was a saint. He was a smart man, really was.

Yeah. Mecca's a...

He loved children and he liked boys, always bought our cigarettes for us, you know?

Ben Turner always smoked Meccas.

Is that so? They were a Mexican cigarette - strong!

They were an old, old cigarette, ten in a box...

Yeah, right. And one other incident now, with him, as I remember. He always wore a sort of a long overcoat, brown, I can see him now in it. Not a derby, exactly, but a pretty nice-looking hat. ------------------Interruption----------------------

Okay, we have a mike plugged in, now, properly. (Laughs) I think. And Ralph is gonna tell us about Dr. Lane's runway he had for his cats. It came from out from the third floor.

Being a neighbor of Dr. Charles F. Lane, and as a boy I can recall that he had maybe in the vicinity of possibly five or six cats. And he had a runway from the third floor right out to the street, a petition on each floor for the cats to go in and out. And I can see 'em now, going in and out of that building.

Where did it terminate, or where was the end of it?

It started where, well down where this store is now across from the French restaurant, and then went right upstairs to the top floor. And no problem - none whatsoever.

Did he have a lot of cats?

He had five or six, as I recall. He was very fond of cats. And not only cats, but I guess I mentioned the other - he had hens, and quite a few things across the street.

He didn't have any pigs there, did he?

I can't recall, but he could've. I'm pretty sure he might have had them.

Anything else you can think of, that we might have forgotten?

Of Dr. Lane?

Or any...

I did mention his sneezing.


Yes, I did. "Ten dollars, worth every bit of it!"

Yeah... Was he driving a car when you knew him, or did he have a horse and wagon?

No, I don't recall the horse and wagon. He had the car in those days. He also had a good command of Union Street, I'll tell you, he really did. I might add that he did just about as he wanted to, he never asked the authorities for one thing.

I recall hearing him at the town meetings - he was always on his feet. He, and who were the others...

Charlie Brown was there - he was a lawyer, and he had, in my estimation, Charlie Brown was a good speaker.

Yes he was.

He had a good conception of the town in general.

Well, you can't think of anything else you want to put on this tape...

Dr. Lane...

Well, anything at all...

He used to empty waste right out in the street...

Did he?

Sure. Barrel after barrel, he'd dump them! From the hotel, you know? No one ever said anything. T'wasn't the nicest thing in the world, but we didn't have any contamination. (Laughs.)

You know, I've often wondered, years ago, in our harbor, hundreds of vessels out there. Hundreds of 'em. And what about the pollution?

I swam there as a boy...

...Nobody bothered about it!

I told Doug - I told Cherry, both of them - that I was there, and I used to dive off the top of the roof at the wharf as a boy. And I never had any... Towboats, galore! Galore. And boats, other boats, you know, as well. That harbor was just full of - if you want to say - waste. And we had a better beach, and a better facility, than we have now. There were three, uh, two bathhouses, the Leximor - underneath the Leximor building - and then they built one separately.

The one I was trying to remember the other day. There was the Nobnocket Club - the Nobnocket Club had bathhouses underneath, remember that?

Yeah, right?

What was the one next to it?

Well, yeah, but I can't tell you. That was in back of Mrs. Luce, you know? Emma Luce's mother? And Marion, and...

I'm trying to remember the name of the man that owned it, I...

I can't recall that. We used to sneak around you know, and look out underneath, and... (Laughs.)

I'll have to ask Carey about that.

It was somethin'!

There used to be an old catboat in front of the Nobnocket Club, on the beach, you remember that?

One of those girls - they didn't want to see us around. (Laughs.) We were raisin' the roof, you know? ---------------------[Interruption]----------------------------- I don't think of another think in regards to Dr. Lane, other than his beaver hat, and whatever. And George Sears he always said that he saw Dr. Lane's shadow after he had passed away. And as I remember - I may be wrong in this statement - that he asked for a wooden box, cause he didn't want anything but just a common burial. He was that type of a man.

I think he died in 1931, as I remember.

I can't recall that, but he was a man that was looked up to. Not only medicine, but in so many ways, he had a gift, he really did, for electricity, for telephone... He was a man with a lot of knowledge in so many ways. Even trades that, you know...

Yeah, he built that block, didn't he?

I don't know that, Hun, I...

That's what they tell me. He built that block himself.

But George Sears just - I don't believe it - but he just was imagining, you know? He lived there, he and his wife, and Marvin - Mervin - and the two girls. Didn't the youngest girl work for you?


Yes, I thought so.


Right. She became a nurse, an RN...

That's true.

...and lived away for a number of years after that time, I think.

Okay, well, that's all we can remember, then, in that area.


Okay, what was that you said about the dray you said Ralph?

He had a horse and team dray, they called it a dray, for his funeral. And that's what he wanted. Just a plain box, and that was it. ...And uh, I go along with him! (Laughs.) ----------------------------------End of tape.-------------------------------