Audrey Mae SpencerSpencer Historical CemeteryHenry Straight / William Spencer Family Cemetery
Vaughn Historical CemeterySpencers of East Greenwich, RI
Life Long Love of Learning
12 June 2002

Heather: What are some of the poems that you love?

Audrey: Lady of the Lake by Sir Walter Scott. I could recite that poem for seven minutes. “The stag at eve had drunk his fill, Where danced the moon on Monan’s rill,…” Also, I love Robert Burns’ Tam 0′ Shanter “When chapman billies leave the street, And drouthy neebors neebors meet,…”. I love Keats’ poems also. Sappho was a great poet who lived on an island and used a canoe to get around. Sappho could say more with fewer words than anyone else! I think Emily Dickinson came next.

4 July 2002

Heather: Your life span has been full of change. What was it like?

Audrey Mae Spencer

Audrey Mae MacDonald

Audrey: I lived through everything that happened in the 20th Century—from horse and buggy to the moon. I was born 1912, living through an era of change.

10 July 2002

Heather: What are you reading?

Audrey: I love Emily Dickinson’s poems  “…a route of effervescence on a revolving wheel” is a humming bird never stopping… I didn’t have anyone to discuss this (poetry) with. I always explained everything I liked to Edna Tarbox and I thought afterward, “Was she bored to tears?”.

10 July 2002

Heather: Did you miss anything in life?

Audrey: I always felt so bad I never had a black friend.

17 July 2002

Heather: What are you reading these days?

Audrey: I love Emily Dickinson’s work. Some of her poems are so beautiful, so easy (to read). I love her work. Her life is very interesting—a little odd, two or three steps from crazy.  (Laughter)

17 July 2002

Heather: When did you do all this reading of poetry? Was it when you were young?

Audrey: No, it was when all the children left home. That’s when I began to read Emily Dickinson and other poets. The greatest poet of all was Sappho. She lived on an island, wore little or no clothes, went off in a canoe… Emily Dickinson was the closest to her in poetry writing. Crossing the Bar by Tennyson, the English poet, is on life and dying (crossing and dying) using words like “creator” “pilot”.  When I die, I want all my children, grandchildren to read and/or recite that poem together at my grave site next to Dad.


Audrey’s last request to her children and kin: “plant small flowers when you visit my grave site”.

17 July 2002

Heather: How would you see your life?

Audrey Mae MacDonald


Audrey: I just lived—never above or below. We had a good life when we look back at it. It wasn’t perfect, but yet it was all right. Let me get over to that thing (the tabletop catalog rack)* and thank you, but I forget to tell you, but you know I’m appreciative.

*Heather compiled hundreds of pages of  her mother’s art work, her writings, her ancestry, her life stories etc.

24 July 2002

Heather: How are you feeling?

Audrey: Gotten kind of old. My arms and hand ache, but I sleep pretty good. I can still read. I love Emily Dickinson’s work. Aunt Alice (Alice Firby Rhodes), she didn’t like Emily Dickinson’s work; she thought there was too much death and sadness in her writing.

21 August 2002

Heather: Hi Mother. I’m back in California so now we are returning to our telephone conversations. Tell me. How would you describe your life?

Audrey Mae MacDonald

Audrey: Most of my life my head was just above the water, not under it or above it. You don’t stew, stew and stew and stay healthy! I’m feeling good now. Don’t feel bad at all! Everything is green and quiet as I look out my window.

Martin is happy. He drops in every once in a while.

I heard that we need to read a book at least three or four times before you can really understand it. I’m reading Pride and Prejudice now.

4 September 2002

Heather: Well, what have you been doing this week?

Audrey: We had a big holiday. Croquet ball and throwing ball! It was a busy day. Now I’m tired. I feel like lying down. I feel kind of lazy. It’s raining here. It’s not cold. I guess I’ll read. I read different books at the same time. Wherever  I’m sitting I have a book and I pick it up and read. Anne of Green Gables is the book that is here by me now.

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