Memories of a Hampton Long Gone

The following is a letter sent to me by Pearl Scarpino in 1999.  She was responding to a question I had about the farm where my Mom and her siblings grew up.  My grandfather, William Austin Pearl, and my grandma, Mabel Waite Pearl, purchased the home in the first decade of the 20th Century. It was situated near the bottom of Hammond Hill Rd and had a good view of Little River, the valley and North Cemetery.  I had asked Pearl if she knew from whom they bought the homestead?  Names placed in parenthesis are additions made by me to clarify the identity of that person ……..  Dot Vander Meulen.

Pearl Scarpino wrote, “Your question piqued my curiosity so I went up to the town hall and looked in the land records.  I found that in 1906 a deed was recorded to Uncle Will for the farm.  His original purchase was for about 2 acres of land with a dwelling house thereon.  The deed was signed by Frank Pearl as Administrator of the estate of Charles Pearl.  For this land with house your grandfather paid $500.00!  There are several purchases of land listed for the next couple of decades at least, but I was just interested in the original purchase.  It would have taken quite a bit of time to research every one of those deeds.

“When I was small my mother (Mary Almeda Pearl Emmons) and us children spent quite a bit of time on that farm.  One of my very earliest memories was when I was not quite 3 years old and I heard a baby crying in the night.  In the morning I asked my mother if Uncle Arthur (Arthur Eugene Pearl) had been here with his baby during the night.  Little Arthur (Bennett) Pearl had been born about 3 weeks previously.  She told me that no, but that during the night Dr. Marsh had brought me a baby brother (Austin Edwin Emmons).  Austin and Arthur were so near the same age that they spent a lot of their growing up years together.  Your grandmother, my Aunt Mabel, had helped with the delivery and took care of my mother afterward.  (Mabel Waite Pearl was a midwife and delivered many babies in Hampton.)

“When I was 6 years old I spent several weeks there.  Grandpa Pearl (Austin Eugene Pearl) was terminally ill and my mother stayed up at his house with Aunt Evelyn (Pearl Estabrooks) and Aunt Flora (Pearl) and the three of them provided round-the-clock care he needed.  I went to the Center School for those weeks with Bill (William Waite Pearl).  He was in the 6th grade and I was in the 3rd.  There was only one other student in the third grade, and it was a boy.  Since there was only one set of third grade books, I would have to sit with him!!  So I chose to take my lessons with the second grade all the time I attended the Center School.

“One of the things I remember fondly about Aunt Mabel was that she always gave Bill and me hot cocoa to take to school with our lunch.  Also, she made the very best rice pudding in the world.

“In those days Hammond Hill Road was a dirt road and there were a number of ‘thank you maams’ on the road.  These were spots in the road that were leveled off so that horses could take a rest as they toiled up the hill pulling the wagons.  Sometimes we would take a sled to school and what a wonderful ride it was down the hill coming home!

“I remember someone climbing up the tallest pine tree up at Uncle Reuben’s, but I am not sure if it was when your mother (Dorothy Pearl ) did it or possibly Idamay (Pearl) who also would have tried it, particularly if your mother had already done it.  I remember whoever it was that time calling down they could see Uncle Will’s house in the valley.  Have you talked with Idamay?  Next to your mother she was the tomboy of the family.  She and Bill were always putting on circus acts, with emphasis on acrobatics, and I am sure she could give you some stories,  I was devastated when your mother showed me her engagement ring and told me she was getting married and moving away.  After all, she was teaching me how to do hand stands and cartwheels, and who else could teach me that stuff?

“During the various times I stayed on the farm I also helped with the morning ritual of cleaning out the chamber pots.  These were usually quite beautiful and often were part of a set which included a washbowl, pitcher and the pot.  A typical set would be made of white china, with a gold rim, and probably roses painted on the side.

You mention that the farm was one of the last places in Hampton to be electrified.  I vividly remember the gas lamps that were there when I was small.  Outside the house there was a supply of what I think was carbide  Adding water produced a gas which was piped into the house.  In the various rooms were small pipes running up the wall and they would terminate at a lamp.  Voila–modern lighting, at least very modern for those times. ”

“Love,  Pearl”

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