Audrey Mae SpencerSpencer Historical CemeteryHenry Straight / William Spencer Family Cemetery
Vaughn Historical CemeterySpencers of East Greenwich, RI

Posts Tagged Grandma

3 April 2004

Heather: How and where would you go when you left the farm as a child?

Mary Jane Vaughn Spencer and daughter Edith Anna

Audrey: Grandma (MaryJane Vaughn Spencer) would go out to the field and call “Come, Prince” and Prince would come right away. Grandma would put the harness on the horse and hitch him to the wagon. Grandma and I would ride to Arctic, where the Bedard sisters owned a store. Grandma would always have long talks with the Bedard sisters as they must have been good friends.

Grandma was very brave. When we would hear all the cows bellowing out in the barn, she would light the lantern for me to carry, and Grandma would take her cudgel, a big stick as she called it and go out to the barn. The dog, Ned, always went with us. There was never anyone there. It was just a cow stepping on another cow that caused the ruckus.

A tramp or beggar could come along and go into the barn and sleep in the hay. Each beggar had his own nick (mark) on the gate, so the farmer would know who was in there. They would go along unless the farmer needed help and then the farmer would hire him.

If hired, Grandma cooked three meals a day for the hired hands. Grandma was always there for anyone that needed (help). If people were on the farm, they could eat at Grandma’s. Grandma was sharp enough to know who deserved a meal. It was only those men who were workers who deserved a meal. Grandma was so sweet and gentle, but yet so strong and brave! She’d light the lantern. Ned was barking. She was strong and brave!

(There was a student that graduated [1960 from J. F. Deering High School] with Heather whose last name was Bedard.  Mother and I met his brother at Alpine Nursing Home when the brother was visiting his parent at Alpine. Mother told him that she knew the Bedard sisters in Arctic when she was a child.  Bedard said that there used to be a street in Arctic that was called Bedard, but they did not know how that name originated and he did not know anything about the Bedard sisters who mother had met.  The street most likely was named after the Bedard sisters (family) that owned the store in Arctic.)
24 April 2004

Heather: How are you liking your room at Alpine?

Audrey: I have the corner room here at Alpine and it is the best room here. (Alpine Staff) couldn’t be any better. Vivian (Audrey’s roommate), she is great. Vivian reminds me of Grandma.


1 May 2004

Heather: What did you call grandma?

Mary Jane Vaughn Spencer sketched by Audrey Mae Spencer

Audrey: I think I called her mom. Or, I think I would have called her mama. If I said mother, she would have looked at me as if I were crazy. I do not know if anyone was calling her mother. I know my own mother when she spoke of her mother and father always said mother said this or father said that.

Grandma’s father always wore high boots. They (the Vaughns) had land. They were rich in land, but not in money. They had nothing but land. Grandpa Vaughn chopped wood and planted corn. Grandma and Grandpa Vaughn had five daughters and two sons. The daughters were MaryJane, Martha, Susan, Rachel and Margaret.

Martha married Harry Kirby and they had two sons, Harry Jr. and Ray. Harry, Jr., the first son worked on the trolley as did his father, Harry Sr. I gave Vaughn the middle name of Ray after Martha’s second son who was a big strong man who was always making everyone laugh (with his jokes and quick wit) just like his father, Harry, Sr.

One of the other sisters had to go be a housekeeper for a poor man who lived alone. None of them starved to death, but they were only rich in land.

8 May 2004

Heather: How did Grandma (MaryJane Vaughn Spencer) do all the washing as those overalls must have gotten really dirty?

Audrey: After a while, Grandma got a wooden washing machine. Then Grandma got a tin washing machine right away (as soon as they were for sale). (She would) carry pails of water and fill it (washing machine) with hot water. She had to push and pull. Then she got an electric one where she didn’t have to push and pull.

8 May 2004

Heather: How did Grandma [MaryJane (née Vaughn Spencer] prepare the meals, especially in the cold winters or the hot summers when there was no electricity on the farm?


MaryJane Vaughn Spencer

Audrey: We Yankees, we never ate anything bad. We had vegetables from the land. We had plain food from the ground.

Grandma had a can of milk that hung down the well. The can had a cover and a handle and hung down the well. The milk was nice and cold as it hung in the well. Grandma would reach down and pull it (milk container) up. She would reach it and put (pour) milk in her pitcher. Then, she would put the pitcher of cold milk on the table (as we sat down to the table). We had cold milk.

We would hang the ham on a hook in the cellar. As you go down the cellar, about two steps down, you could reach over to the top shelf for butter. Everybody put milk in the well in a can with a lid and handle, and put everything else in the cellar.

It wasn’t easy with the snow. We had the cows in the barn. They would run out and get right back in.

Mother would pay me a penny to take a swallow of milk. Mother would peel a raw potato and dip it in vinegar. The vinegar was in a saucer. I loved vinegar and raw potato. Nobody else liked it, but me. Mother had a hard time to get me to eat anything good. I was a skinny little thing. Every winter I was in bed. I had all those childhood diseases. I would lie in bed and look out the window and wait for the green grass and I’d know it was spring.

School was a mile from my house and when I went there, I had to walk. I think the name of the School was Middle Road School. I would walk through the field. Edith went to a different place in Washington. Ed went to school, but when he went to Anthony, he was happy to get out of that school and go to work.

(Looking out the window at Alpine Nursing Home) here is a nice yellow bird. Here’s two, they are so pretty. Grandma always shook the tablecloth out the window for the birds. Birds would come for the crumbs.

6 June 2004

Heather: Who took care of the other kids when you were in the hospital?

27 June 2004

Heather: Didn’t Rachel come to live with Grandma? I remember her.

Audrey: Yes,  until she moved back to the city where she died. (Anna Jane’s family was growing and she needed more space in Gramma’s house.) Rachel was the youngest daughter and she was serious and everything had to be just right. She sold silk stockings (at the Outlet, a department store in Providence) so everything was proper in her space. There were long stockings and garters and long stockings with seams down the back. She married Walter, a comical man who was so funny and smart. He had something to say about everything. He died long before she did.

27 June 2004

Heather: Did Grandma recite nursery rhymes when you were little?

Audrey: Grandma told nursery stories to me. She sang a song, one-half a story and one-half a song. Grandma would fall asleep, but I was first.

Aunt Jeannie was a second mother. Vaughn went over there as it was a second home. Vaughn didn’t like Aunt Di at all. She took his toys and put them on top of the ice box, where Vaughn couldn’t get them. Addy hollered at her to not take Vaughn’s toys.

Aunt Di had lived in a mansion. When Di’s husband died, she couldn’t live there alone. She was miserable to everyone. Aunt Jeannie was older than she, so aunt Jeannie had to boss her around.

Aunt Di kept out of Dick’s way. He hollered at her. If Dick would get a hold of Di, he would shake her. Addy kept out of Dick’s way. Addy was named out of a book that Aunt Jeannie was reading.

Dick blamed his mother, Aunt Jeannie, for letting the doctors do an operation on him. The doctor said Dick would be cured, but in the end all Dick could do is walk with crutches. (He had polio as a child.) He could drive his car. Here he was an old bachelor and he never harmed any of us. He always said we girls were his legs. He was a wonderful old bachelor. He was always reading. Addy didn’t care to read. Addy didn’t even have a car. Dick would back his truck to the grocery store and they (grocery store help) would put the food in the back of his truck. Addy would bring food into house.

3 July 2004

Heather: What did your mother liked to be called?

Audrey: Mae. Grandma just liked it. MaryJane (no space between Mary and Jane) was shortened to Mae. Everybody called her Mae. Grandma’s mother was Edith Spencer who married Charles Vaughn.

15 August 2004

Heather: When you were on the farm and Grandma cooked three meals a day for the help, where did they eat?

Audrey: I carried out the food to the help. They would sit on a rock, I guess. It must have been a big pan with a handle that I carried out. There were only two or three men at the most. I was under ten years old. I must have made two or three trips if there was more than one.

These people with no folks, they knew our house had a nice mark on it. The mark was on the edge of the barn, I think. Coming the road, the mark was very showy (visible). My mother always made good meals and they all knew it. They had good meals while on the farm and grandma would pack them sandwiches to take them along. Grandpa would give them money when they stayed for a long while. They would get some money from Grandpa. He would pay them when they left.