Valentine’s Day, For Me, Has Never Been the Same–Since 1972!

As you see from my featured image, I am taking a little different spin with this blog posting today. Normally, I feature a vintage postcard; however, my featured image today is of a vintage, or likely antique Valentine’s Day greeting card that actually opens up. There is no publishing company listed and no lyric written on the interior of the card. This particular card seemed to be a good fit for me in writing this piece today.

There was no prior thought, on my part, given to writing this blog story today. It was unplanned, very last minute. So, a few of the record-type items that I possess will not be included even though I wish they were. The hope would be to expand on some of the family information in future blog pieces.

Personal Memories

As my grandfather has been brought to my mind on every Valentine’s Day, without fail, I thought perhaps maybe this time I should share a little of his story.

On that Valentine’s Day, in 1972, I was in ninth grade, 14 years old, when my paternal Grampy took his last breath. How is it that so many years ago can seem like it was yesterday? So clearly, I remember being at the hospital that evening, it brings to mind the dreary darkness of that winter night.

Just a couple of doors down the hospital hallway, my best friend’s mother was a patient at the same time as Grampy and her family was in to visit with her at the same time. Both families were very close, they lived next door to us. We lost her mom the following year after her difficult battle with MS.

A couple of years prior, my grandfather had to undergo major surgery after receiving a cancer diagnosis. At the time, I was not aware of too many particulars, only that I had the knowledge that they removed a huge amount of his intestines. What an awful thing to do through. Back then, they really did not have chemo type treatments, so a long-term outlook was pretty bleak.

In the picture above, Grampy is sitting in the middle with my dad in the red shirt and Uncle Richard in the tie. The picture top right is of my grandparents and my dad as a baby. The picture bottom right is Grampy helping my dad and my brother Mark as they were making the clam bake, which became a bit of an annual tradition on Labor Day weekend.

My paternal grandparents lived in the apartment upstairs from ours until I was about eleven years old. I can remember my grandmother being extremely upset one evening when we returned from our weekend at the cottage, in Charlestown. In today’s lingo, she was basically “freaking out”. Apparently, my grandfather was passing blood in his urine, bad enough to cause such alarm.

The details of him going to the hospital during that initial phase of his health decline, is a blur. However, I do remember when he had the surgery and going to visit at the hospital. He was on plenty of medication so he was out of it most of the time upon our visits.

Some time after that major surgery, my grandparents moved into Senior housing, on West Shore Road, in Warwick. I think that I was in sixth grade at that time. I can remember staying overnight on the couch a few times and Grampy having to go through quite the morning process in the bathroom since he had one of those “bags”. My mind cannot quite remember but I believe he may have had a couple of additional stays at the hospital between the major surgery and February of 1972.

My life, as a child, had been very intertwined with my paternal grandfather. He used to play the string game: cat’s cradle with me on a regular basis. He taught us how to properly play domino’s. Many hours were spent with my reading chapter books to him that I brought home from the school library. Grampy had one of those old time wire baskets, with the long handle, that was used often for popping corn over the flame of the propane gas stove.

Grampy loved to garden. Whenever I see marigolds I think of him as he always seemed to make sure to plant those. He used to have a great vegetable garden with huge tomato plants, that our ducks would flatten in quick order upon our return from the summer cottage the day after Labor Day. Those vegetables had been planted in the duck pen, making use of their fertilizer.

Being old-fashioned, Grampy always used the hand-push mower to cut the grass. He would sharpen the blades to keep it in good working order.

Frequently, there were “Sunday drives” taken with my family and my paternal grandparents, especially after my dad bought the station wagon with the third seat in the back. In early Spring, Grampy would have us stopping to collect “brakes” which was some type of young fern plant growing in swampy areas. He enjoyed cooking and eating them, as well as, the young leaves of the dandelion plants he used to have us harvesting from yards. I found their taste to be a bit too bitter.

Grampy was a pipe smoker, of the tobacco variety and the cherry blended type seemed to be his favorite. That cherry tobacco had a memorable aroma that I can recognize to this day as I still run across it once in a while.

For many years, I remember my grandfather working as a Guard for Pontiac Mill, in Warwick, when the Fruit of the Loom Company was operating there. I can remember they had a huge billboard out by the road.

The picture below shows the family at Christmas 1965 in our apartment on the first floor. Grammy is shown on left toward the front and Grampy next to her in the tie.

Commonly, Grampy wore a fedora hat. As his father before him, he stood on the taller side and had those lanky legs that seem to be a family trait. My grandfather’s pride and joy was his DeSota car that was used as his primary vehicle right up until they moved into the Senior housing. He kept that car washed and waxed–I can still picture him constantly polishing the shiny black surface and the nifty visor that hung along the windshield. There was a running family joke that if Grampy was polishing his car, “watch out” because it meant surely rain would soon follow.

My paternal grandparents went along on many of our family vacation trips that usually included some camping and maybe some vintage cabins. We visited New Hampshire several times, the Lake George area of New York and a very memorable trip to Pennsylvania one summer that I will write about in the future.

The picture on the left above was taken in 1969 on one of our adventures. The picture on the right was taken at my adoptive maternal grandparents house, by the little fish pool in the garden backyard area. My Grampy is the one in the middle with the suit, the little boy I believe is my dad’s brother Richard. My mom is standing on the end and her adoptive parents on the opposite side.

Grampy’s father was a Carpenter, by trade, and a lot of that knowledge was passed down. He helped my dad in building the little cottage in Charlestown and I remember, firsthand, when they put together the addition. He made sure everything was done “just so”.

Personally, I tend to be quite the “worry wart” and this trait was also common to Grampy. He could also yell up a storm. My poor grandmother had to tolerate an earful on a regular basis and truth be told, I do believe she found a fair amount of peace upon his passing.

So, you can see how that Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1972, was a turning point for our family. For me, it has never been the same.

Genealogy Background

The following information will provide some of Grampy’s family background. Previously, I have touched upon some of his genealogy and I do hope to explore additional family members in future writings. It is still a work in progress and I have recently had some interesting findings.

My grandfather, James Burton Lindall was born on Sept. 1, 1898, in Coventry, RI and died on Feb. 14, 1972. Several years ago, when I applied to the State of RI to get a copy of my grandfather’s birth certificate, the only thing they could come up with showed his name as Clarence. I have seen people list him as Clarence in their tree’s. I don’t know what the story is about that, whether his parents changed their mind or what but he was never known as Clarence and all his official information was listed as James B. Lindall. He was married to my grandmother, Alice Holden who was born on Dec. 28, 1901, in RI and died on Dec. 6, 1985.

Grampy’s parents were William Olney Lindall, born July 3, 1854 and died Dec. 25, 1939. William was married to Elnora Marie Bennett, born 1866 and died 1916 (I do not seem to have her exact dates handy).

In the picture above, Grampy’s father Wiliam is on the right in the dark suit, Grampy is standing in the middle and his sister Claude is sitting. The picture on the right is Grampy’s mother Elnora.

Grampy had three siblings, two survived. In the pictures shown below, the top left corner shows Grampy standing in the middle with Aunt Hazel in the light colored dress and Aunt Claude is in the pink colored dress. The picture shown on the right is Aunt Claude in her younger days. The picture on the bottom left corner is Grampy with Aunt Claude.

His sister Claudia E. Lindall (1896-1995) was married to Gustaf Frederick Irons (1896-1958). They had two sons, William and James. They are in the picture shown below.

His sister Hazel I. Lindall (1905-1990) was married to Vernon Magnuson (1900-1971). They had two children, Eleanor and Robert. Shown below is Aunt Hazel with her daughter Eleanor.

His third sister Jesse May, died as an infant of bronchial pneumonia (again, I don’t have her dates handy).

Our direct Lindall line goes back to the first James Lindall, his exact arrival year is unknown but he was said to reside in Duxbury, Mass. by 1640. In 1645, he was a merchant in Bridgewater, Mass., and migrated to the Salem area at some point.

Recently, I discovered that the mother of William O. Lindall (Hannah Weaver Jordan) was descended from Clement Weaver from her mother’s side.

Clement Weaver came over from England to Boston by 1640 and then settled in Weymouth, Mass. by 1643. By about 1650, he migrated to the Newport-Portsmouth area of Rhode Island.


In closing, I have given just a limited amount of my grandfather’s genealogy above. If you would like to read about some of the Lindall history that I have written about previously, then you may go to my “home page” and click the tab labeled “Lindall”. There is a lot more to explore. My hope would be to share some brighter stories in the future and hoping that my personal connection of my grandfather’s memory to this Valentine’s Day is not too grim.

Until next time…

One Postcard Saturdays: “Old” City Hall, Central Falls, RI

If you were to ride by it today, the building shown in my featured postcard of the (old) City Hall, Central Falls, RI, would be very hard to recognize. Located at 26 Summit Street, this previous City Hall building has undergone “unsympathetic modifications and additions” since the picture taken as shown on the postcard.

After doing a street-view search, I compared the present day online picture to the one on the postcard. The only remaining feature, that I could notice, are the old-style posts located at the front entrance. The building shown next to it, in the postcard, seems no longer standing and in its place is a garage attached to this former City Hall.

At only one-square-mile, Central Falls, Rhode Island, is known for being the smallest and most densely populated City in the country and resides within the smallest state. In the early days of this City, extensive roots were planted from which their textile industry grew.

Historical Points

The Village of Central Falls was named in 1824 during a celebration being held at that time to dedicate a mill and a bridge. This village area is located along the Blackstone River which provided power for those early industries which included the first chocolate mill in the US. Central Falls saw great growth in the textile industry drawing immigrants from Ireland, Scotland and Canada.

Central Falls Village was governed as part of Smithfield until the town was divided in 1871, then the village became part of Lincoln. On March 18, 1895, the government of the City of Central Falls was finally organized.

My featured “One Postcard Saturdays” image is of what began as the Lincoln Town Hall, it was built in 1873 with expansion in 1890. The decision to locate Lincoln’s Town Hall on Summit Street in Central Falls was a reflection of the village’s civic and economic prominence. The town hall was built by Lincoln to house the offices of the newly founded town in 1873. Once Central Falls became established with its own government in 1895, the Summit Street building served as the Central Falls City Hall until 1928. During the years that followed, the building served as a city trade school and later as a furniture store.

According to a report filed by the RI Historical Preservation Commission, in 1978, the structure of this building has historical significance. The report explained, “it is a wooden structure, two-and-a-half-story, gable-end, with classical details including quoined corners (projected wood blocks defining the building corners), a modillion (ornate bracket) cornice and paired, pedimented windows over the entrance”.

After viewing such a drastic change as seen in the present day image of this building, online, and then comparing it to some of those structural details from the report above, I find myself realizing the significance of actually having this particular postcard image.

Postcard Sender, Message and Receiver

The postcard itself was postmarked in 1909, from Providence, RI and was sent to Miss Bertha James (Gra Gra), in Riverpoint, RI. It was written in pencil and is a little hard to read.

I have not been able to quite make out the name of the sender, but it looks like the first two letters are Ga.. The sender appears to likely be a boyfriend to Gra Gra, she would have been 18 yrs old at the time. I think it would have been another year, or so, later before she met Pop Pop.

The handwritten message on the postcard reads:

Dear Bertha, I found a few minutes during working hours to write you a few lines. Hope you are well and got home all right Sunday evening. Answer don’t forget. Yours with love, Ga…

Postcard Publisher

This postcard was printed in Germany and was published by the A. C. Bosselman & Co., of New York, NY.

If you would like to learn more about the history of the Central Falls Village, you might read further by accessing the resources, I used, as listed below.

Until next time…

Reference Sources

City of Central Falls;; Accessed 15 January 2022.

Statewide Historical Preservation Report by the RI Historical Preservation Commission, January 1978;; Accessed 15 January 2022.

Tribute to my brother Mark

This tribute piece has been a long time in the making — 21 years to be exact.

Today is the day!

My eldest brother, Mark Wm. Lindall, was eight years older than myself. Born in the fall of ’49, he was a born “talker”.

Mark Wm. Lindall

His life’s work depended on his gift of gab and his quality of diction. It was quite devastating when he needed surgery to remove a cancerous tumor on his tongue. It was a while before he was able to speak after the surgery and he had to go through speech therapy which helped a lot. In the meantime, he used to write out his messages on a large yellow tablet, I still have most of them. His life was cut way too short on August 12, 2000, at the age of 50, the chemo treatments were not successful in his case.

Like most siblings, during our growing years, his teasing could be relentless at times. Mark was always a kid at heart but with our age difference, we had more association with each other as adults than we did as children. There were a few exceptions, like animals and family vacations, to name a couple.

My brother was in 4-H Club and he raised rabbits and ducks as part of that. In addition, he raised pollywogs as they grew into bull frogs. At one time, I can remember there being 14 rabbits and 4 ducks. One of the ducks was a male Mallard, named Perry that was unable to live in the wild.

Even though the rabbits and ducks “belonged” to Mark, I was their keeper for as far back as I can remember. It was my responsibility to feed them, every day, and keep the cages clean. I wrote some background about the animals in previous blog pieces, I will list those links at the end of this piece. The picture on the left below is Gra Gra with Mark.

I found a few pictures from some of the real old family vacations. I had remembered, just barely, that we had visited Niagara Falls and I remember we saw some buffalo in that area.

We commonly went camping and it was an old Army tent in our younger years. I think the picture here below was taken in the Lake George area.

I can remember visiting the old Catskill Game Farm in New York state a few times over the years and I think that is the location of these below pictures with the animals. If not, they are from northern New England somewhere.

In the Summer of ’67, we took a two-week family vacation traveling throughout Pennsylvania. At that time, my dad was working at Leesona and he typically had the last week in July and first week in August off for vacation. He had bought a nice blue 1964 Olds ’88 station wagon, not long before the trip. He also bought a new, much larger, tent and storage container that would sit on the roof racks.

Along for the Pa. trip were my paternal grandparents, so that meant there were seven people total in that car for two weeks. I had to ride in the back-end, cushioned with plenty of “stuff” around me. At some point, I will do a story on this trip–as it is worthy–and I have Grammy’s journal notes from the trip, as well.

In preparing for writing this piece, strangely enough, I actually located a postcard that my brother Mark sent to Gra Gra while we were on the Pennsylvania trip. I have featured the back side of the postcard, this time, because it is the written message that is most important to this posting. The front side of the card shows a picture of IKE, the 34th President.

The postcard was distributed by L.E. Smith Wholesale Distributors, Gettysburg, Pa. and was a published “Plastichrome” by Colourpicture Publishers, Inc., Boston 30, Mass., U.S.A. It has typed: “Greetings from historic Gettysburg” Home of General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

This card was postmarked, August 9,1967, from Wellsboro, Pa., while we were on that family vacation and at that time, Mark was 17 years old, going on 18.

The message is in my brother’s own handwriting and says:

Dear Indian Grandma,
At the present time I am located in Wellsboro, PA. This evening I just walked into the local radio establishment and made friends “emediately”. They asked if I had a reservation, (not really) I said I skipped the reservation. –Mark

As you can tell from my brother’s message, he was not a very good speller. But, he was very much into radio. His experience began by reporting his high school sports on the local Country & Western station WYNG, in Warwick. Under the watchful eyes of Dave Stackhouse, my brother soaked in the technical side of radio, learning the engineering it took to actually make the broadcast happen.

My brother Mark on the right, Dave Stackhouse on the left

It was not long before my brother and a close friend began a local station in Charlestown, operating during the summer months for a few years. Mark also worked, on Sundays, for a few years at WSUB, in Groton and later worked for them selling commercial spots.

The other part of my brother’s message on the postcard refers to Gra Gra as our “Indian Grandma”, something Mark was extremely proud of. He intertwined his life with the Native culture and traditions of the Narragansett Tribe.

He and I used to walk the mile in, along the gravel road, to attend the church on the grounds over the course of several summers.

Mark was a big believer in education. He attended and graduated from Rhode Island Junior College (now CCRI) back in the days when they only had the Providence Campus. He went by bus every day. Luckily, we lived on a bus line. He continued his education, earning a Bachelor degree from Roger Williams University, in Bristol. A few years later, he earned a Master’s of Education from URI.

He has helped many young people along the way, whether it be advising on their schooling options or working with groups like the Boy Scouts. My dad had been a scout leader for several years and Mark did a lot of work with the troop, as well.

My brother never married. I think his heart was completely broken once and he never quite filled that hole. He had a couple of girl friends later on but I remember he had a serious girl friend when I was still pretty young. I believe her name was Faith and I remember she came down to the cottage and went swimming with us at the beach. Her family was leaving for Panama, so she had no choice but to leave with them.

In his younger days, Mark used to walk for miles and he had a very distinctive walk, with wide swinging arms. I had a rather strange feeling, just recently, when I spotted a young man with almost an exact duplicate of my brother’s walk.

My brother loved to fish, mostly in fresh water. He also went ice fishing in the winter months.

If I could express anything from the lessons of the final months of my brother’s life it would be these two things:

First, keep up with your dental visits, I had not been aware before my brother’s illness that it is actually your dentist that will discover issues with your mouth, such as a tumor, and you want to catch any issues as soon as possible. My brother had not been to the dentist for a long time due to no insurance so when his tumor was discovered the cancer had already progressed too far.

Second, this one comes from my brother’s final days when he expressed such regret for not getting to visit the places on his so-called “bucket list”. Don’t put off seeing places or doing things you really want to do.

On a closing note: Over these past twenty-one years, since my brother Mark has been gone, I have done my best to experience a few adventures, both big and small.

Until next time…

Related blogs:

Born 100 Years Ago: Mom

Thanks Mom for the Effort!

Radio Star Bess Johnson: Fan Letter

For the first fifteen years of my life, until we moved, I was able to admire a certain 8″x10″ framed photograph on a daily basis.  This photo was of radio actress Bess Johnson and it always sat on my mother’s sewing machine, which resided in the corner nook of our dining space. The picture of Bess, shown below, is not the same one referred to above, which I still possess but could not locate it in time for this posting.

Radio Actress Bess Johnson

This blog piece will be the first part of a three-part series focused on Bess Johnson. I will begin the series with some background on the friendship that developed between Bess and my family. The second piece will provide more details about her own family history background and the final piece will focus on her career highlights. Unfortunately, I cannot pinpoint exactly when the other two pieces will be written, but I will try my best to complete them in the very near future.

Bess was born in Keyser, West Virginia, in 1901, and grew up in Elkins, West Virginia. She died in 1975, in New York City. She had attended drama school in New York. Her radio work began in 1930 and she became known as the “Queen of Daytime Radio” on serial soap opera’s such as the Hilltop House and Lady Esther. In my third part of this series, I will explore her career in greater detail.

Bess was married in 1923 to Dr. Solomon Perry. They had a daughter, Jane Orr Perry. They were divorced in 1936. Bess was granted custody of their daughter Jane and she waived alimony, stating she earned more than her husband.

Bess with daughter Jane

Though not blood related, in our home she was fondly known as Aunt Bess. Through the years, I had been told that she was my eldest brother’s Godmother. To the best of my determination, it was about 1932 when my grandmother “Gra Gra” had sent a fan letter and it began a warm friendship between she and Bess. The letter had been sent to Bess via the National Broadcasting Company in New York City. In the letter, Gra Gra had expressed concern of why Bess had not been making her daily appearances on the Hilltop House program–for which she was known at the time. Bess had been confined by illness in her apartment when the letter reached her.

To learn more background about Gra Gra, you might like to read my previous post: Intro to Gra Gra & Volunteering at Kent Hospital.

Bess Johnson and Bertha Watts

Around 1940, Bess invited Gra Gra to be her guest in New York, which she immediately accepted. My grandmother was not a traveler, only doing so on a couple of occasions–this weekend visit to New York being one of them. Many times, as we sat at the breakfast table during my weekend visits, I would hear Gra Gra tell the story about her visit to see Bess and the lasting friendship that developed.

Bess with daughter Jane, sitting is Pop Pop and Gra Gra standing behind him

On June 24, 1940, my grandparents (T. Wm. and Bertha Watts) celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. At the time, they were still living in the Carr-LeValley homestead on Fairview Avenue, in the Phenix section of West Warwick, RI. According to a later newspaper article, Bess had been among those who attended the celebration. The picture shown above I believe was from a different occasion at a later date. To read more about the Carr-LeValley homestead, please see my previous post: LeValley Homestead, Fairview Ave and Moore’s Motor Service Postcard.

The Carr-LeValley homestead in 1939, Fairview Avenue

My grandparents moved from Fairview Avenue shortly after they celebrated that anniversary and lived for a short time on Maple Avenue before purchasing their home on South Street.

In 1941, while residing on Maple Avenue, Pop Pop got a surprise phone call on his birthday which would have been February 20th. At the other end of the line he heard a birthday-greeting song that Bess had recorded for him via a special disc. At first, he thought someone was playing a joke on him.

Headline from a local newspaper article telling the story of Pop Pop getting a birthday greeting from Bess Johnson

Over the years, Bess and Gra Gra continued corresponding and I have found some of the postcards that Bess had sent while traveling. For each of the three pieces I write in this Bess Johnson series, I will feature a different postcard received.

In March of 1941, Bess sent this featured postcard to Gra Gra when she traveled to Indian River Ranch, in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. This linen postcard was published by Curteich, Chicago, it is a “C.T. Art Colortone” and was distributed by Doubleday & Co., Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The handwritten message reads: “Dear Bert, Will try to write a letter soon. Its lovely here. Jane and I are having a grand time. Its been so nice and warm. We came by train and were sore all the way. Give my best to the family. Bess.”

Later in 1941, my grandparents purchased their home on South Street, in West Warwick, where they would live out the rest of their years–pictured below, before there was a garage addition.

Bess would come to visit them at the South Street home at least twice that I have found documented, possibly more. When daughter Jane was gearing up to graduate from school in Norton, Mass., they spent several days. My mom, Marian, was noted to have accompanied them while attending a play presentation “Twelfth Night” at the school in which Jane appeared in the role of “Sir Toby”.

Headline from a local newspaper article outlining their visit from 1942

Here are some pictures taken during that visit, showing the large backyard garden and goldfish pool. Gra Gra and Jane are looking at the pool and Bess is relaxing in a chair for one photo while picking flowers in the other.


Below are pictures taken during a later visit, about 1952, showing my eldest brother, Mark, with the two poodles that belonged to Bess.


My mom, Marian and Jane (with the flower in her hair) are pictured below.

More pictures will be shared in the next two postings. Please be on the lookout for my second-part in this Bess Johnson series, when I explore a bit of her family history.

Until next time…


Turkey Day Memories

I am thankful for the memories!

I am grateful that at this stage of my life I still have the ability to actually recall the memories–something that I do not take for granted.

My intention for this Thanksgiving blog was simply to find a greeting postcard that would have some interesting background that I could highlight in a brief posting. My focus changed after finding my featured postcard. It had a picture I really liked but the background surrounding the card is lacking in substance.

I do not know the publisher of this embossed postcard, I only know that it was printed in Saxony.

This postcard was sent to Grandma Julia in 1909, in Plainville, Mass. The sender was “The Three Graces”, postmarked from Providence, RI. I have not yet been able to determine the exact identity of the three Graces. However, a while back I started trying to put the pieces together and if memory serves me correctly there is a connection somehow with her sisters. For more background on Grandma Julia, please see a previous posting such as: Intro to Grandma Julia and the Bitgood’s Pine Knoll Laboratory.

Since I had so little background to share about this postcard, my thoughts began to focus on some of my own Thanksgiving memories–those from younger years. And so it goes that the remainder of this writing will highlight a few of those memories and spotlight my grandfather’s sister, we called Auntie, and her son David. In addition, I will close with an honorable mention of my brother Mark, whose birthday would have hit on Thanksgiving this year, November 28th.

Auntie and David in the mid-1960’s

During my youngest childhood years, my mom was always the hostess for the family Thanksgiving Dinner, as well as, for Christmas. It was a tight squeeze in our apartment for the average of 14, or so, family members attending. Out would come the folding metal table, that I still possess to this day, being set up alongside our normal table. There was an archway between the living room and dining area and this extended seating area would encompass both spaces.

My mom would cook a huge turkey, always 20-something pounds. I can still remember going with her to the local turkey farm to get a fresh turkey. I seem to remember the entrance to that farm being on the south side of Route 117 past Quaker Lane heading into the West Warwick area–I could be wrong, of course, but it was in that general area.

As I grew a little older, my dad decided that all the work my mom had to put into the Thanksgiving Dinner was getting to be too much. He suggested we start a new tradition of going out to eat for the Thanksgiving dinner, still with a gathering of the same family members–and so a new tradition began and continued for several years. Of course, over those next few years we gained a member or two and we also suffered a few losses.

For a few years, we held our “new tradition” Turkey Day gathering at the Showboat, in Coventry, on Lake Tiogue. This local favorite landmark was shaped like a large boat. It began in the 1940’s, prior to World War II and was tragically destroyed by fire on January 16, 1976. Of the select few places we went for these Thanksgiving Day feasts, this one location remains my favorite memory.

According to my memory, the Showboat dinner began with great soup that was set out on the table in a large tureen–I can still picture that in my mind. Each family received their own whole turkey at the table and all the trimmings were served family style. Any leftovers were brought home and we had no clean up to worry about.

Holiday dinner at Meadowbrook Inn

Other than the Showboat, we went a few times to the Meadowbrook Inn, in Charlestown, where both my brothers had worked at one time. We went to the Carriage Inn, in North Kingstown, at least once, maybe twice. The last of this dining-out tradition that I can remember was probably the very early 1980’s, at a place in South Kingstown that is long-since gone–it has changed hands several times since then.

The holidays always bring fond memories of Auntie and her son “Uncle David”. I tend to think of them both during this time more so than any other time of the year. She had one of the kindest souls that I have ever known.

My mom and David, probably about 1932.

I always looked forward to Auntie coming over to attend those early dinners, held at our apartment. We lived in the Greenwood section of Warwick, right on busy Route 5, Greenwich Avenue. She lived across the street from us in a little rental cottage during my younger years. Later on, her landlord, Mr. Palumbo, tore that place down to build a large apartment building. He was able to move her down the road a piece, to another place he owned. Her new apartment had been a barn that was renovated into living space for two single-level apartments. So, she did have one neighbor, it may have been a couple or just one younger man–can’t quite remember for sure. However, I can remember the man volunteered for the Big Brother organization and sometimes he had his young sidekick with him.

As the holidays approached, I always felt great anticipation for the arrival of my mom’s Cousin David from New York City–where he resided for many years. Us kids used to call him “Uncle” David because there was a large gap in age and it was not seen as proper for us to call an adult by their first name–even a cousin, I guess.

Auntie was born Annie Irene Watts on June 15, 1897, in England. She died in 1971, on a day that I will never forget–even though the actual date is not fresh at hand. She was in the hospital at that time. I can remember we were at the cottage in Charlestown and our close family friend, Mrs. Michaels, came over to deliver the message to my mom from the hospital–we had no phone there. It was like the world stopped for me that day.

Annie Irene Watts

Auntie was the youngest daughter of Jonas (died 1923) and Mary Jane (Pepper) Watts (died 1921)–they were married in 1880. They lived in Nottingham, England. Auntie was half-sister to Emma (from a different father), and full sister to Alice, Thomas William (my grandfather), and George Watts. She moved to the USA sometime after 1910 but prior to 1923 and remained here the rest of her life.

Photo taken about 1923 so Auntie was living here in the US by that time. Siblings standing in the back, Auntie and Pop Pop (Annie Irene and Thomas William Watts) And Gra Gra holding my mom’s hand.

When I was very young I can remember when Auntie was blind, I don’t know when it first happened. I remember she had surgery that allowed her to see from one eye but she lost the other, which was replaced with a glass eye. She always lived close by to us and spoiled us very much–especially my middle brother Keith and myself. My oldest brother, Mark, seemed more favored by my grandmother since he was the first born so I think that had something to do with Auntie giving us younger two a little more attention. It was later on that I would have a closer relationship with my grandmother.

Picture taken in 1950, Auntie, Pop Pop and Gra Gra, sitting on the black rattan couch. I loved that piece of furniture!

Since Auntie did not drive, my mom usually took her shopping on Saturday mornings, then my brother Keith and I would visit her. We watched cartoons followed by the other Saturday shows on her little TV.

Auntie with my brothers, probably about 1956, at her cottage.

When we had time off from school, Auntie would often take us on a bus ride to downtown Providence, or East Greenwich–back in the days when it was a pleasant thing to do. At that time Westminster Mall was closed off to traffic. Our first stop, downtown, was always at the Woolworth’s store–I can still see their lunch counter in my mind. One day, I had forgotten my shoulder-strapped hand bag at one of the counter stools and felt my heart race when I realized it. Luckily, when I ran back it was still there.

Our trips downtown always included shopping but I can remember Auntie having eye specialist appointments, as well. Before heading to the return bus stop, we commonly ate lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant. We also bought popcorn to feed the pigeons while waiting for the bus.

The below pictures include Auntie’s brother Uncle George, with two of them taken in 1964 when he came over for a visit.

The pictures are not the best, a little blurry, the one that shows him sitting outside on the lounger chair was taken at Auntie’s little rental cottage, when she lived across the street from us. The photo with the boats was taken at Galilee, Narragansett, RI, during his visit in 1964.

It was probably within the next couple of years that Auntie moved from the little cottage to the place further down the road. Sometime after she moved, I can remember that she had an operation on her leg that replaced a vein with a plastic version.

Auntie worked at Leviton Mfg., in Warwick, for many years as an inspector–of some kind. I can remember helping her by stamping green slips that went into the items she inspected.

This picture was taken in June 1969. Auntie is in the light-colored coat, my brother Mark is almost 20 years old here, standing on the left end. Gra Gra is in the blue dress and my mom is on the right end. Photo was taken in the gardens outside Gra Gra’s house, in West Warwick, RI.

About 1969, or so, Auntie went to live in a newly-built senior housing place, West Shore Terrace, in Warwick–the same place as my paternal grandparents. So, she was a little further away from us over those last couple of years, too far for us to walk–for the first time.

Auntie had never married. She became a single parent with a son born in 1930, David Bruce Watts. He died in 2010, after suffering with dementia issues.

David attended and graduated from St. Andrew’s School, in Barrington. He served in the Navy for a while. I do have his service records but they are not handy for me as I write this piece. David settled in New York City and worked for a large advertising company. I can remember him bringing us “Leg’s Eggs” when he came home for the holidays.

Every time he was visiting here in RI, he would go out running every day. I can remember running along a time or two when we were down at the beach cottage. He used to tell us stories about his routine of running in Central Park, near where he lived in NYC. He also spoke about dreams of moving back to RI and opening a Judo school. He was a Judo instructor in NYC for many years, I do have some of his papers and awards for that, as well.

When I was young, David had a Japanese girl friend, she had come home with him to RI for Christmas several times. I remember she was a dancer in the Martha Graham dancers. She was just beautiful and I was quite fascinated with her. One time, she even wore her traditional Japanese Kimono for us and explained it all.

David never married, though, and had no children.

After Auntie died, we gave David the Concertina that had belonged to her and he found someone in NYC to give him lessons and he would play for us when he came to visit. I think he even purchased a new one at some point and played in a little band. Just for fun, I think.

He disconnected with the rest of us left in RI after my grandmother died, so sometime around 1983. It became a very difficult issue for me and something I still don’t understand what his reason was for doing so. I also wondered if I did something or said something. At some point, he talked with my middle brother to discuss his health issue which was not discussed with me. Personally, I never heard directly from him again.

It was much later that I learned of David’s dementia issues. When I learned of the facility where he was living, I sent him a letter but I don’t have any idea if he was able to comprehend it or not. I tried to find him when we visited NYC a short few years before he died but we were not successful. He had been moved from that facility to a different one and the staff would not release any information to me about his new location. The only question they would answer was when I asked if he was still alive, they said yes. For all the good that did me, because I was never able to find him. I do know now that he had been moved to a place New Jersey, which was the location of his death–sadly, something I learned about much after the fact. At least I know I tried, but it would have been nice to see him one more time.

On a side note, my oldest brother, Mark, was born on November 28, 1949. He died of cancer in 2000. His birthday often fell on Thanksgiving Day.

One of my favorites pictures of Mark as a baby was taken at Thanksgiving, in 1950, when he was one year old. They gave him a turkey leg to chomp on.

My brother Mark, Thanksgiving in 1950.

Another picture taken on Thanksgiving in 1950 is multi-generational. Mark is sitting with Grandma (Henrich) James, she is Gra Gra’s step-mom. Looking at the picture, sitting on the left end is our maternal grandmother, Gra Gra–Bertha L. (James) Watts. On the right end is paternal grandmother, Grammy–Alice (Holden) Lindall. Our mom, Marian, is sitting in the back.

To learn more about the Henrich family connection, please see post: What’s in a Name, Lena Henrich?

To learn more about Gra Gra, please see post: Intro to Gra Gra & Volunteering at Kent Hospital

I am, indeed, thankful for the memories!!

Until next time…



A 50th Anniversary Celebration: Hiram & Hannah Lindall

In the year 1846, on the date of November 9th, my paternal great great grandparents were married. In 1896, Hiram and Hannah (Jordan) Lindall celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with their children and grandchildren. The event was notated in more than one newspaper article, including the one shown below.


Hiram, pictured below left, was a farmer and house carpenter and was still quite active into his elderly years. He was a hard worker and known to take the early morning train from Coventry to Providence and return at night. Hannah, pictured below right, was admired for her beauty and it was said that her daughters inherited that same quality.

Hannah Jordan Lindall

Hiram Lindall












There was a poem printed in one of the newspaper articles in tribute to them:


“Now here’s a health to the jolly pair,
I avow, we all admire ’em;
We wish that all the boys had fare,
Of sand like uncle Hiram.

He says with 50 years gone by,
His wife should have the banner;
In love and toil and constancy,
There’s nothing the matter with Hannah.”

Over the years, I have spent a lot of research time on my paternal Lindall family branch but am really just starting to dig deeper into the Jordan connection. Below is a reunion photo of the Jordan Homestead in 1900.

About a week ago, I revisited the Hopkins Hollow Cemetery (CY012) which I had first visited several years ago. This historical cemetery is located in the Greene section of Coventry, RI, and it is where some my Jordan ancestors are buried.

Hannah’s father was John Jordan (1800c-1883) and her mother was Mercy (Weaver) Jordan (1800c-1893). According to John’s gravestone he died at Aged 83 years 8 months & 8 days and words carved say “Shall we meet beyond the river, I am safe within the harbor.” John was the son of Edmund Jordan.

The gravestone of Mercy (Weaver) Jordan, states she died Aged 93 years, 1 month, & 22 days with words carved that say “There is rest for the weary.” Mercy was the daughter of John Weaver (1769-1853) and Ruth (Wilbur) Weaver.

During my recent cemetery visit, I noticed gravestones next to John and Mercy for several daughters, as follows, with age at death:

Caroline, Aged 1 year
Sally, Aged 11 years
Sarah Jane, Aged 16 years
Mary, Aged 1 month
Ruth, Aged 3 years

Hiram Lindall and Hannah Jordan were married by Elder Thomas Tillinghast, at Maple Root Church, in Coventry, on a dark and rainy day.

Home located at 2 Wood St., in Washington Village, Coventry, RI. It is thought to be the home of Hiram and Hannah. She is the lady in the center.

Hannah was born on April 23, 1827 and was 8 months younger than Hiram.

Hiram Lindall

Born on August 4, 1826, Hiram was the son of Abel Lindall (1784-1828) and Mary (Potter) Lindall (1797-1875) of Coventry, RI.

Abel’s ancestors were among some of the earliest settlers of Salem, Mass., and I may focus on that line in future postings. Mary was the daughter of George Potter (1761-1837) and Phebe (Pitcher) Potter (1764-1834).

Phebe was the daughter of John Pitcher (1728-1822) and Mary (Carr) Pitcher (1736-1832).

Abel died when Hiram was 15 months old. Hiram had lived in Coventry most of his life and also in Warwick, moving to the Washington Village area of Coventry in 1875 to settle in a permanent home. Hiram died in 1918 and had out-lived his wife Hannah who died on January 11, 1904. They are buried in Knotty Oak Cemetery.

My great grandfather, William O. Lindall (1854-1939), was the fourth of nine children from the marriage of Hiram and Hannah. William was married to Elnora (Bennett) Lindall (1866-1916). She was the daughter of Jeremiah Bennett and Emily (Waterman) Bennett. In future blog writings, I plan to explore Jeremiah and Emily Bennett in further details.

Below is a tin photo of William, (under the arrow) and the other photo is of Elnora.

The children of William and Elnora Lindall are as follows:

* Claudia Lindall (1896-1995) married Gustaf Frederick Irons (1896-1958)

* James Burton Lindall (1898-1972) married Alice Holden (1901-1985)

*Jessie May Lindall died in infancy

* Hazel Lindall (1905-1990) married Vernon Magnuson (1900-1971)

My grandfather James and his sister Claudia

My grandfather’s sister Hazel in 1923












My grandfather with his sisters during the 1960s, in Galilee, Narragansett, RI. Looking at the photo, Aunt Hazel is on the left and Aunt Claude is on the right.

Aunt Claude (Lindall) Irons, with my grandfather James and great grandfather William Lindall

My grandparents were James and Alice (Holden) Lindall. She was the daughter of John Holden (1866-1942) and Elizabeth (Wilde) Holden (1865-before 1942). They had two sons, Earl (my father) and Richard. See my blog about my dad’s WWII service, My Dad: A Soldier of World War II.

My grandparents, James and Alice (Holden) Lindall in 1929.

My dad, Earl F. Lindall, at age 8, in May 1929.

Below you will find a list, in birth order, of the children born to Hiram and Hannah Lindall and their spouses. Some of this information was taken from a genealogy of the Hiram Lindall family that was compiled by Ethel Lindell Band, in 1940. Ethel was a daughter of John Alonzo Lindell. You might notice that some family members use an “e” to spell it as Lindell rather than using an “a”; however, all members are related just the same.

  1. George Abel Lindall (1847-1932)
    married Louise Webster (1847-1932)
  2. Mary C. Lindall (1849-1932)
    married James B. Mathewson
    married Samuel Butler
  3. John Alonzo Lindell (1851-1937)
    married Julia E. Thompson (1855-1922)
  4. William Olney Lindall (1854-1939)
    married Elnora Maria Bennett (1866-1916)
  5. Phoebe Jane Lindall (1856-1932)
    married William B. Nichols (died 1933)
  6. Ellen Francis Lindall (1859-1911)
    married Bradford F. Harrington (1860-1935)
  7. Sarah Elizabeth Lindall (1861-1936)
    married Walter Thurston (1867-1921)
  8. Annie Margie Lindall (1863-1890)
    married Orville Harrington (1863-1890)
  9. Henry Irving Lindall (1867-1940)
    married Lina Marlow (died 1940)

This photo was taken between 1920-1932. My great grandfather William on the left in the derby hat, his brother George on the right and George’s wife Louise (or Louisa).

I have a huge photo from the Hiram Lindall Family Reunion that took place on August 7, 1937, as shown below. The photo is so long that I had to scan it in two pieces and then try to reconnect it into one. The two older gentlemen in the center wearing vests over white shirts, (sitting on each side of my splice line) are brothers William (my great grandfather) and Henry. My grandparents are in the photo, as well. On the back of the picture I do have many names listed but I am not going to list them all at this time, perhaps in a future posting.

Hiram Lindall Family Reunion, Aug. 7, 1937

My featured image is a postcard with a copyright of 1905 by J. Murray Jordan (1861-1909). He was a Philadelphia photographer who went on to publish and print postcards and he founded the World Post Card Co., in 1903.

In my search for an appropriate postcard to feature along with this story of Hiram and Hannah (Jordan) Lindall, I found it pretty ironic that I came across one published by a Mr. Jordan. I have no idea if there was any actual relation there, it would require further research to make that actual determination.

However, I did learn a few quick points of interest about J. Murray Jordan. He was born in 1861 in Sacramento, Calf., to John M. Jordan who had left rural Penn., years earlier. John had headed out to California in search of gold, he had died by the time J. Murray Jordan was 8 years old. After his father’s death, J. Murray was raised by a maternal Uncle John Duffield, in Princeton, NJ.

Until next time…

One Postcard Saturdays! Hurricane Of 1938 – New London

Growing up in Rhode Island, I heard various pointed comments, from various family members, about the ’38 Hurricane on a semi-regular basis. What I learned along the way instilled in me a great respect for the power of that Atlantic Ocean–a force not to be taken lightly.

Recently, while looking through some of my grandmother’s old pictures, I came across a set of postcards focused on the Great New England Hurricane of 1938. They each show a different black and white photo from the Int. News Service and were printed by Tichnor Bros. Inc., of Boston, Mass.

Today, I have chosen to show one of the cards from this set for my new Serial posting “One Postcard Saturdays”.

This hurricane hit the coasts of Long Island, New York and Southern Connecticut just over eighty years ago, on the 21st of September, in 1938; it caused destruction throughout the rest of coastal New England, as well.  At the time the storm hit, my mom was staying at the Springfield Fair (now called the Big E), in Massachusetts; having gone up to the fair with her 4-H group, they were staying in dorm-style units. My mom would have been 18 years old at the time.

There were close family friends, and although not actually related, we called them Aunt Jean and Uncle Bill (Carpenter)–my middle name of Jean was named after her. They lost their original summer home during the hurricane; it had been located at Sand Hill Cove, Narragansett, RI. My mom often spoke with fond memories of childhood time spent at their cottage (prior to the storm). I heard stories of how bad the damage was in that area and how homes were swept off their foundations–only very few survived. Some time later, the couple built a new ranch-style cottage at Anawan Cliffs, in Narragansett, where I can remember visiting on several occasions.

My parents bought a small piece of land in the Charlestown Beach area, about one mile from the ocean, in the late 1940’s. They built a small two-room cottage by hand with help from my grandfather and other family members. They always said they purposely picked land far enough from the ocean in hopes to keep it safe should another hurricane hit that coastal area. It always made me wonder why there has been so much re-building on the beach since such devastation was caused by the ’38 Hurricane–it is a high risk decision for sure.

My mom often spoke about storm surge and tidal waves that come along with hurricanes and she told how the tidal wave from the ’38 Hurricane was said to be about 50 feet, which would seem unbelievable. However, when I did a little research for this blog posting, I did indeed see a fact listed on the National Weather Service website that showed the peak wave height for this hurricane was recorded at 50 feet, occurring at Gloucester, Mass.

Some additional facts listed on the National Weather Service site include:

  • The maximum recorded sustained wind was 121 mph at Blue Hill Observatory, in Mass.
  • The maximum recorded wind gust was 186 mph at the same location.
  • The storm surge peaked at 17 feet above normal high tide.
  • There were 700 Deaths
  • The storm left approximately 63,000 people homeless with approximately 8900 homes or buildings destroyed.
  • There were approximately 3300 boats lost or destroyed.
  • The economic cost was estimated at $620 million in 1938 dollars.
  • The hurricane made landfall near Bellport, NY as a Category 3.
  • There was a second landfall made in Connecticut between Bridgeport and New Haven, also as a Category 3.
  • New London, Conn., saw a record storm tide of 10.58′ MLLW (Mean Lower Low Water)
  • Bridges, utilities and railroads were wiped out and there was catastrophic damage to fishing fleets.

My featured postcard today shows a picture of many shattered boats and wreckage at New London, Connecticut.

This card is unused, so there is no postmark and no message. However, there is printed information, from the publisher, on the reverse side of the card, as follows:

September 21, 1938, will long be remembered as
the date of the Big Hurricane which swept New
England–in all history something never before
known to this part of the country.
The loss of lives was appalling; property damage
mounted to hundreds of millions of dollars and
the homeless counted to hundreds of thousands.
The tremendous fury of the wind left behind
destruction, destitution and utter ruin.

In the coming weeks, I may share a few more of the postcards from this ’38 Hurricane set and I also have some newspaper clippings tucked away that may lead to a longer piece–at some point.

Until next time…

One Postcard Saturdays: Naval Station, Newport

Today, I am starting a new series called “One Postcard Saturdays!“. My plan is to share with you special weekly postings, on Saturdays, highlighting just one postcard. These Saturday posts will be quite brief in comparison to my usual lengthy ones–which will continue as time allows.

This series of postcards will span multi-generations and may cover any number of subjects, places or holidays–in no particular order. I will try to list any known information such as the postmark (if readable), the publisher, the sender, the receiver, as well as, any message on the card.

I am starting the series with a 1942, World War II era, linen postcard. This card was sent to my dad, an aircraft mechanic during the war. You can learn more about his military service from my blog posting: My Dad: A Soldier of World War II

The sender of this card was Fred Martin AMM 3/c (Aviation Machinist’s Mate, Third Class) Co- 1014 Newport Training St., in Newport, RI and it was postmarked on November 24, 1942, from Newport, RI.

Fred’s message to my dad reads: Hi Earl, This is really the first time I have had to write. It’s a great life in the Navy, last night I went swimming in a pool and roller skating and tonight I’m going to a movie. Write you later, Fred

The card had first been addressed to Pvt. Earl Lindall, in Atlantic City but the address was crossed out and changed to Airplane Mechanic School, Goldsboro, N.C. My dad had been in Atlantic City prior to being transferred. There is a purple stamp on the back from the Army Directory Service, who perhaps had made the address correction update.

The front side of this linen postcard shows “Bag Inspection” at the U.S. Naval Training Station, Newport, RI.

The postcard was published by the U.S. Naval Training Station, Ship’s Service Dept., Newport, RI

Until next time…

Happy New Year Greeting Postcards

As the calendar begins 2019, I share with you today a few greeting postcards from at least 100 years ago. These particular cards were sent for Happy New Year wishes to Aunt Etta (Henrietta James Hooper), you may learn more about her from my previous blog posting: Intro to Aunt Etta And Her Great Adventures.

My featured postcard is re-shown below, both the front and reverse sides. The publisher is unknown and I cannot seem to locate any artist signature. The picture on the front, in my opinion, is quite intriguing–from dogs operating a flying machine and their shaking out bags of gold coins to the scene below of a train just exiting from a mountain tunnel. The greeting on the front is very simple, “A Happy New Year”.

This card, shown above, was sent to Mrs. W. Hooper, (Aunt Etta) in Franklin, Mass., and it looks like the sender’s name is Mary Markam. It was postmarked from Providence, RI, in 1913. The handwritten message says: “Wish you a Happy New Year. Hoping to see you soon.”

The next postcard, shown below, is artist signed by Frances Brundage (1854-1937). In a previous blog posting, I outlined some history of this artist, take a look: Halloween Postcard by Artist Frances Brundage.

This Brundage card was printed in Germany, published by the Sam Gabriel Co., it was part of their “New Year” Series, Artistic Postcard No. 1301. The greeting on the front says: “A Happy New Year”. The message side is simply signed: “From Frances”. I do assume that the sender of the card was from a friend of Aunt Etta’s named Frances, not from the artist herself. The card has no postmark, address or message information so I am just showing the front side.

The next postcard shows a snowman watching children playing in the snow. It has a verse on the front: “New Year Greetings. Of all kindly Wishes…old and new, A Happy Heart…is what I wish for you.”

This card was published by International Art Publishing Co. (1895-1915) and was printed in Germany, it has a number–Series 4672.

The sender of the card was Mary Louise Connor. It was postmarked from Franklin, Mass., on December 31, 1915. At the time, Aunt Etta was living in Franklin.

The handwritten message reads: “Am very sorry to hear of your illness, and hope that the New Year will find you much improved”.

So it would appear that Aunt Etta had some illness toward the end of 1915.


The next postcard was postmarked on January 1st, 1918, from Worcester, Mass. The sender was Mr. & Mrs. Clarke and the handwritten message reads: “With best wishes for A Happy New Year”.

Aunt Etta was living in Franklin, Mass., at the time.

This card was made in the U.S.A., but the publisher is unknown and I do not see an artist signature.

The lower left corner of the front side is marked as NY-103.

The verse on the front of the card reads: “May New Year chimes ring in for thee, Health, Wealth and Prosperity”.


At the end of 1918, Aunt Etta was living in Plainville, Mass., and the next postcard, shown below, was sent to her in care of Bernice Hatch. It was postmarked December 30, 1918, from Providence, RI.

The front side shows a steam train and seemingly the train station, with snowy weather. The verse reads: “New Year Greetings. A short toot-toot, from the engine flute, With a clang from the bell, so clear, And the train’s away with this to say: I wish you A Happy New Year”. The card is numbered on the front, N.Y. 130, was made in the U.S.A., but the publisher is unknown.

The handwritten message, on the reverse side of this card, actually lists a return address which is rare to find: “8 Western St., Prov., RI. Dear Friend, Just a word to greet you and wish you well, from an old friend, Rose”. As time allows, in future days, if I do some further research with Census records or City Directories I should be able to determine the last name of Rose.

My final New Year postcard, shown below, was published by John Winsch, the design was copyrighted in 1912. The greeting on the front side reads: “Best New Year Wishes”.

The card was postmarked on December 31, 1912, from Providence, RI and was sent to Aunt Etta in Franklin, Mass. The sender is listed as “The Three Graces” which I have yet to correctly identify but believe it to be cousin relations to Etta. In the message, the sender refers to “Myrtie” who I do not recognize but it may be a helpful clue in further research.

The handwritten message says: “Honey, did you receive the package I sent you for Christmas? How are you all. Thought you were coming in soon. Received Myrtie’s betrothal cards yesterday–suppose you have yours by this time. Best Wishes for a Happy New Year. with our love to all, from The Three Graces.”

That is a wrap for today!

With sincere wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year to all!

Until next time…


Uncle Lionel: Fort Greble, RI; Vet of WWI

Some of my fondest memories of Uncle Lionel are centered around his visits, when I was a young child, to the small summer cottage my parents owned in Charlestown, Rhode Island–about a mile from the water. They had built the two-room cottage themselves, around the 1950 mark, with family members pitching in to help. Every year, with the exception of one, my whole summer was spent at the cottage location and it was always a special day when Uncle Lionel and Aunt Elizabeth would drive down for a visit. Generally, they would bring Gra Gra down with them, too. If you would like to learn a bit more about Gra Gra, please see my previous post: Intro to Gra Gra & Volunteering at Kent Hospital

Uncle Lionel and Aunt Elizabeth, in 1962, visiting with us at the cottage in Charlestown.

Lionel Henry James was born on September 7th, 1892, in Providence, RI. He was brother to Bertha (Gra Gra) and Howard Allen James (1894-1963).

Their parents were George L. P. James and Martha Ella (Carr) James Cady. Their younger siblings, Vincent and Lester, were born of George’s second wife Susan Henrich. Although I still have research to do on the Henrich family, you could read a little more about them from my previous post: What’s in a Name, Lena Henrich?

My thoughts have been focused a lot on Uncle Lionel in recent weeks, with all the talk about the first World War ending 100 years ago and my remembering having knowledge of his military service, during that era. Fortunately, I found a couple of the postcards that he wrote during the war–I know there are others.

The featured postcard, shown again below of both the front and back side, was sent by Uncle Lionel and postmarked July 20, 1915 from Fort Greble, R.I. The card was sent to his sister Mrs. William Watts (Gra Gra), in Riverpoint, R.I.

Postcard from Fort Greble in 1915, showing the 14th Co. Barrack on lower left and the 109th Co. Barrack on the lower right. The fort hospital is the top photo.

Looking first at his message, I was able to learn a few details of his service. At the time of his writing, in 1915, he was of the rank Quartermaster Sergeant, serving in the 11th Co., C.A.C., R.I. N.J., stationed at Fort Greble, R.I. According to Wikipedia, the C.A.C. stands for the U.S. Army, Coast Artillery Corps which served coastal, harbor defense from 1901 to 1950.

The publisher of this postcard was Bobbe Litho Co., from New York City.

Fort Greble was on Dutch Island, which is located mid-way from Saunderstown (on the mainland) to Jamestown (Conanicut Island), and is part of the town of Jamestown, Rhode Island. According to Preservation RI, the island contains approximately 110-acres. The island was acquired by the federal government during the Civil War to serve as a coastal defense site.

In 1872-73, a barracks for government workers was built. On that featured postcard is shown pictures of two barrack buildings and a hospital.

During 1897-98, Battery Hale was constructed in honor of Captain Nathan Hale, of the Revolutionary War era. The battery had positions for three 10-inch guns with disappearing carriages.

The postcard, shown above, shows one of the 10″ guns from Fort Greble. This card was sent by Uncle Howard, it was postmarked on July 20, 1915 from Fort Greble, and was sent to Mr. & Mrs. T. W. Watts (Gra Gra and Pop Pop), in Riverpoint, R.I.

From this postcard, I was able to learn that Uncle Howard served during the first World War at Fort Greble, along with Uncle Lionel. The handwritten message from Howard reads: Dear Brother and Sister, Having a fine time, hope to see you Friday. Howard xxxxx.

Fort Greble operated from 1898 to 1947 and was named in honor of 1st Lt. John Trout Greble, 2nd Artillery–who was killed in the Civil War.

During the early 1900s, Battery Hale served in protection of the western entrance to Narragansett Bay, along with Fort Getty, in Jamestown and Fort Kearny, in Saunderstown (now the site of URI school of oceanography)–Narragansett Bay Harbor Defense System.

During the first World War, Fort Greble housed 14 companies of RI National Guardsmen, in a circa 1900 enlisted mens’ barracks near the northeastern end of the island. The batteries of Fort Greble were disarmed between 1917 and 1943 and use of the fort facility was ended in 1947. In 1958, Dutch Island was given to the state for conservation use.

This is a real photo postcard during the first World War and Uncle Lionel is second from the right side of the card. It appears he was the only one looking directly at the camera while the picture was taken.

During my research, for this blog posting, I was able to locate the World War I Draft Registration card records for both Lionel and Howard. In addition, I was able to find one for their cousin Clifford Foster James, born Aug, 29, 1885. He was the son of William and Mabel (Dollof) James–they lived for many years in Hyde Park, Mass. William was brother to George L. P. James, the father of Lionel and Howard.

Below are two pictures; one is of Clifford in 1937 and the other includes Clifford standing on the far right, with his Uncle Martin and his dad William (I believe William is the one standing in the middle).

Clifford Foster James

According to Clifford’s WWI Draft Registration from 1917, his nearest relative was Mabel Alice James, with address listed as: 52 Cleveland St, in Hyde Park. His occupation was listed as a painter for Farnum & Nelson, 1822 Aboretum, in Roslindale, Mass.

The date of the WWI Draft Registration for Lionel was June 5, 1917. It listed previous military service as six years and rank as QM Serg. (Quartermaster Sergeant). His address at that time was listed as: 52 Cleveland Street, Hyde Park, Boston, Mass. This was the same address as was listed on Clifford’s record, which would lead me to believe that Uncle Lionel was living with his Uncle William and Aunt Mabel during that time in 1917. His occupation was listed as wood finisher for John T. Robinson & Co, in Hyde Park. This company manufactured fine paper box and card cutting machinery.

In future blog stories, I hope to explore the family of William and Mabel James a bit further and this Hyde Park area, which is located on the outskirts of Boston. In the meantime, below are shown three unposted postcards of places located in Hyde Park. They were published by Herbert W. Rhodes of Norwood, Mass. They would date to 1907 or earlier, since they each have undivided backs. These cards were part of Aunt Etta’s collection, learn more about her in my previous post: Intro to Aunt Etta And Her Great Adventures.

This is an old postcard showing the Public Library at Hyde Park, Mass.

High School, Hyde Park, Mass.

Y.M.C.A. Building, Hyde Park, Mass.

I was able to find Uncle Howard’s WWI Draft Registration, dated June 5, 1917 and his address was listed as: 141 Lynnfield St., in Peabody, Mass. He was 22 years old and his occupation was listed as Shipping Clerk for Densten Hair Co., in Peabody, Mass., located off of Lynnfield Street. At that time, he was married to his first wife, Alfreda (Tedford) James. The card lists his Military service Rank as: 1st Class Gunner Sergeant, Coast Artillery, for one year, in Rhode Island. There is a question on the card saying: Has person lost arm, leg, hand, foot or both eyes, or is he otherwise disabled? The answer said: First finger, left hand, disfigured. This injury is something I never knew or heard about and I have to wonder if he received the injury during his service at Fort Greble.

Unfortunately, I am unable to locate a photo of Uncle Howard at this time. I am sure that I must have one in the large volume of pictures that have passed down to me but it will have to wait until a future story.

Since Uncle Howard died in 1963, I did not have the pleasure of knowing him as well as Uncle Lionel. I can remember his first wife, Aunt Freda, visiting on several occasions to Gra Gra’s house while I was there on a weekend or school vacation week. I do remember that she drove down from Massachusetts, so I believe she remained living in the Peabody area after they divorced.

According to Gra Gra’s family bible records, Uncle Howard married a second time to Mary E. Dempsey, in January of 1924. I do remember Aunt Mary fairly well and she lived nearby. Since the primary focus of this blog post is on Uncle Lionel, I will save Howard’s family details for a future post.

In November of 1917, Uncle Lionel married Mary Elizabeth Whitney, they had ten children–two of whom are still living and are in their late 80’s.

I found record of Uncle Lionel’s World War II Old Man’s Draft Registration, which was dated April 27, 1942. This registration was required for men born on or after April 28, 1877 and on or before Feb. 16, 1897. On this 1942 record, his address was listed as: 239 Bayview Avenue, in Cranston, RI. His employer was listed as Oscar Leach, Leach England Works, Charles Street, in Providence, RI.

In later years, Uncle Lionel and Aunt Elizabeth moved to West Warwick and lived for a time in a multi-family home on Youngs Avenue, which was the next street over from Gra’s Gra’s house on South Street.

Music was, and still is, an important element in the James family. My great-grandfather, George L. P. James, was a banjo player–known for playing throughout the Pawtuxet Valley area during the early 1900’s. According to a handwritten record by George, he states that his grandfather, William James, was said to have given music lessons, in Providence.

Gra Gra played the piano, the ukulele and the Hawaiian Guitar. I remember that Uncle Lionel played the banjo but I am not sure if he played any other instruments. I do believe all of his son’s played instruments: drums, banjo, guitar, piano and at one time they had a band.

Below are two pictures of the apartment where Uncle Lionel and Aunt Elizabeth lived during the early 1960’s, it was located on Youngs Ave., in West Warwick, R.I.

Photo from 1962, Gra Gra at the piano and Uncle Lionel watching from the couch, taken at his Youngs Avenue apartment.

Another photo of Uncle Lionel at the Youngs Avenue apartment.

My grandmother relied on her brother Lionel when she needed help with “handy” things and I guess that would include snow-shoveling. Apparently, there was a big snowstorm during 1963 and I found three pictures of Uncle Lionel in the snow.

Uncle Lionel, in 1963, in the snow with his car. It looks like he is parked outside Gra Gra’s on South Street at the bend which would mean the house in the background would be up on Greene Street.

Uncle Lionel on the steps of Gra Gra’s house on South Street.

Uncle Lionel and his snow shovel making a path in Gra Gra’s backyard on South Street, in West Warwick, RI.

During 1964, the town constructed their first elderly residence facility, the West Warwick Manor, and Uncle Lionel and Aunt Elizabeth were part of the first residents to live there. In 1967, they celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary and there was a big party (I think it was a surprise) for them in the recreation hall of the manor. It was a great time and there was a honky-tonk band which kept everyone on their feet, including me–dancing and dancing along with my cousin Kim. It is one of my greatest memories.

Around that timeframe, Uncle Lionel was beginning to have some serious health issues and I can remember he was in and out of the hospital a few times. One of the things I loved most about him was his great sense of humor. Although his failing health was no joke he would try to make light of it by telling stories of the hospital nurses giving him the nickname “Old Ironsides”.

His body rebounded on several occasions, even though fighting a tough battle. However, his fight ended on January 19th, 1969. I can still remember that I had to bring a note into school for permission to be released early in order to attend his visiting hours. I was in sixth grade, at the time, and we were in Science lesson when I had to leave for the day. I do not remember going to the actual funeral, only the visiting hours, so I think my mom did not have me attend it.

Aunt Elizabeth was then alone to finish her journey in life, until I believe 1971. I am not positive on the year and I made an effort to find that information to be sure. I did find an entry in the family Bible of February 13th but there was no year listed. I remember her as having a huge heart. She treated everyone in a kind manner and seemed to have boundless energy. I can remember many events at church with her always being there–lending a helping hand.

Below is a picture of Aunt Elizabeth taken at Gra Gra’s house (I recognize the chair) and it may be one of the last pictures of her.

It was my intention to complete this posting sooner, closer to Veteran’s Day, but clearly that did not happen. I wish that I had thought about the first World War family connection sooner in order to allow for me to complete it in time. However, it is always nice to learn a little more about family history and how it ties into local locations. I really did not know much about Fort Greble prior to conducting some research for putting this piece together.

With the clues provided by the family postcards it really helps to serve as a base to learning more about history–events, places and people.

Until next time…