Audrey Mae SpencerSpencer Historical CemeteryHenry Straight / William Spencer Family Cemetery
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Posts Tagged MaryJane Vaughn Spencer

29 January 2003

Heather: What is the difference in the amount of snow today versus when you were a child on the farm over 80 years ago.

William J.B. Spencer and Audrey Mae Spencer

Audrey: The weather is really changing. Winters were much worse then. As a little child, I always walked to the barn and the snow was up to my waist. The snow was up to the windows, all winter, the snow kept getting bigger and bigger. I would wait for spring and the green grass. Haven’t seen one of those storms since I grew up. There used to be banging outside, wind blowing snow into the house, big waves of snow come slamming at the house. Can’t ever remember snow going over the door. We always got out to shovel. Now (2003) there is just enough snow to cover the ground.

My mother’s bedroom went out to a deck of wood platform. There were a couple of steps. House settled there. Front went out to the road. My mother’s room faced the barn. There was a rock fence… The path to the barn was quite a ways, fifteen to twenty feet from the house. We had around ten cows. My brother, Eddy (John Edward Spencer), hitched up a horse and took a can of milk to a man in Crompton. This man, Mr. Louis, sold milk.

Audrey’ s father, William J.B. Spencer

Every summer a family came to Daisy Farm from Auburn or Providence. The family had two or three teens and that family came daily and bought a quart of milk. I’ve lived and seen everything change. I know it! Everything changed in my time. Oh, I got a whole batch of books that Crystal gave me!

19 February 2003

Heather: Hello, Mother, I hear you have a lot of snow in New England!

MaryJane Vaughn Spencer and William J.B. Spencer at their home at 742 Washington Street, Coventry, Rhode Island

John Edward Spencer

Audrey: Yes, this is the first snow like this since I was a little child. It’s the first bad snow storm since I’ve grown up. The snow is twelve inches high next to the wall, but the streets are all right. Ernie shoveled by the door and Buddy went out and got stuck—he hopped and wiggled a little. (Laughter)

When we lived on the farm, we had to shovel a path to the outhouse. When we moved to Anthony (742 Washington St. in Coventry), we had a bathroom in the house! I was twelve years old and I moved from the country to the town! The Anthony house had one acre of land, I think. We had a garage, a barn, a hen yard and little building and shops. Spencer was a baby then and I can remember uncle Ed come down and took a bath and steam would come out of the bathroom.

Mother, she never would run down anybody. Mother was a very peaceful person. She, unfortunately, let everybody run all over her. She was a quiet woman, never opened her mouth. She liked to be called MaryJane, not Mary or Jane. She was a sweet, gentle person who was friends with all ladies around, even Annie Mertz and Lizzie.

Now Father was quiet but stern. Nobody got away with anything. He led a quiet life. He joined the Sons of Veterans and was busy doing things with Freddie Arnold. I never heard him holler at anybody. He had a nice quiet life. Once a week he played cards. He would milk the cow every day and a Mr. Smith came daily to get a quart of milk. They would talk for about an hour.

As for me, when I was a child, I would sit there and draw from the funnies in the newspaper. I drew Lillie the toiler*. She was so pretty.

Audrey: When are you coming out here again?

(Heather: I plan to be in R.I., for your birthday, March 19th.)

* (Crystal’s explanation of Tillie the Toiler: Tilly the Toiler is the name of the lady that Mom designed outfits for. She  found Tilly in a magazine or newspaper.  It may have been an advertisement for ladies clothes or a cartoon. I’m not aware of any paper or magazine around in 1924 to validate where Tilly the Toiler came from.)

20 July 2003

Heather: Good, I’ll call every Saturday morning as I do not work on Saturdays and we can talk until your hand gets tired. I used to enjoy hearing Grampa(William J.B. Spencer) talk about the olden days. Tell me something about your childhood.

MaryJane Vaughn Spencer

Audrey: My mother (MaryJane [née Vaughn] Spencer) always drank tea. We always had tea. There was a white dish with a handle always sitting on top of the stove with the tea. It was not a teapot. It always had tea in it, however. I never knew what coffee was until I was married. Dad’s folks drank coffee. I liked coffee. I thought it was good.

Mother had an old wooden box that played the records—the round plate record. She would put the needle on the record. The handle had a needle on the edge. Mother played the song “Yama Yama Man” and it scared me to death. I was a quiet kid. I never talked with anybody, not even to Aunt Mandy.

26 November 2003

Heather: I have not been able to get you for the last two Saturdays. I even tried Sunday. So now I will call you at 8:30 AM sharp (EST) and if you have not finished breakfast I will call you back in 5-10 minutes. Once you leave your room for the day, it is hard to track you down.

Audrey Mae MacDonald

Audrey: I have a very good life. I have friends. We are always talking.  We are all one big family here.  I would rather stay in the house and look out the window. Spencer pushes me around outside.  When I am outside, I need a scarf, just like Grandma*. She always said her neck was cold.  I have a pink scarf that I tie around my neck and make a bow.

*Grandma is MaryJane (née Vaughn) Spencer, Audrey’s  mother.
20 December 2003

H: What was your mother like?

Aunt Mandy, Aunt Rachael, MaryJane Vaughn Spencer and child Edith Anna

She always had a nose in a book. She more or less educated herself. We had an old fashioned locked desk where there were two or three shelves full of books. I remember the one room schoolhouses. They were like little boxes over the hill.

Aunt Mandy was a teacher. Bible was her lesson. Aunt Mandy was the ancestor that saved post cards. I have two handled baskets here with post cards. I was going to college when Aunt Mandy died. You go straight down toward East Greenwich and that was where Aunt Mandy’s house was. The house is gone now.

25 January 2004

Heather: What do you remember Grandma (MaryJane Vaughn Spencer) doing with her time during the war?

Audrey: She was in the McGregor Relief Corp. The women were always cooking and sewing and selling it to buy something for the soldiers. I was a good little kid. I always stayed out of sight, I guess. Douglas was like that as a child.

1 February 2004

Heather: I read John Johnson Spencer’s obituary and it said he was a prisoner of war at Andersonville, Georgia. Do you know anything about that?


John Johnson Spencer

Audrey: I only know that he was at Libby Prison and I am sure he was there. I never talked with my grandfather. He was an old man with a long gray beard. Ed (John Edward Spencer), my brother, would talk with him. I was quiet. I was busy with art, my own privacy. I don’t remember speaking with Aunt Mandy (Esther Amanda Briggs) and she lived with us. Grandma (MaryJane Vaughn Spencer) and aunt Mandy were great at cutting articles out of newspapers. They would cut out articles about kings and queens, etc. I remember a snuffbox —snuff up the nose was a habit. All rich people had a diamond snuffbox, which was just the thing. Aunt Mandy, she had dates in a bag.

(The obituary in the newspaper does not seem to be correct.  Georgia National Park at Andersonville has no record of a John Johnson Spencer at Andersonville confederate prison.   We know he was at Libby Prison and at Belle Isle prison in Richmond, Virginia. He was in the battles that were around Pennsylvania and Virginia.  Spencer family oral history has him going no further south and we find have no other records of him going further south.)
1 February 2004

Heather: What did Dad think about your mother?

Mary Jane Vaughn Spencer

Audrey: Milton said that my mother (MaryJane [née Vaughn] Spencer) is the best woman in all the world. He came every night. She was glad to see Milton. He played the guitar. She let him in every night. Grandma loved music. She and her sister, Rachel, were two little girls in blue and they sang in church.

14 February 2004

Heather: What was it like when you were a child on the farm?

William J.B. Spencer and Audrey Mae Spencer

Audrey: There was much more snow then. I could walk over the five-foot fence and not sink in as the snow was frozen. I could walk over the fence!!

We would get a snowstorm and I was always sick in bed with the croup. I would lie in bed and look out this nice big window by my bed. I’d keep watching for grass. Mother (MaryJane [née Vaughn] Spencer) would shake out the tablecloth on the snow. I would watch the birds come picking up crumbs that were dropped on the snow.

When I was a child, a sled as wide as the street was hitched to a couple of big horses. This sled swept the road of the snow. We used to have five feet snow storms! The people would be out plowing the road the minute the snow started until the snow stopped. Without plowing the roads, the snow on the road would have frozen and no one could even get out of their yard. Everybody got up and plowed their own driveway and then the road. If they wanted to get anywhere, they had to help plow the road.

The mailman came with horse and wagon. The buggy had a little top to keep you from getting wet or you could open it to get the sun (like a doll carriage-canvas to open it up or fold it over back). The mailman came by every day when I was little. My job was to go to the mailbox and get the mail. I was small and didn’t know enough to read.

I played with little stones by the house. I made a little fence and made a stove with stones. I would stand there and pack the stones and play for hours with the stones. I was always out in the yard, but I never went near the road.

The road was for the mailman and mail wagon.

Clara Tarbox would go by. They went down to the Village (Arctic) every day to get groceries or something.

Mother and I went down to Arctic every week to get groceries. Arctic used to be a nice place. Then a lot of hoodlums hung out in Arctic. You had to look out for yourself in your wagon. Mother would say “You stay right close to me now”.

Mother would go catch a horse, hitch the horse to the wagon and drive to Arctic. That was quite a job to go out in the yard and call “Prince”. Prince would come right away. Prince was afraid of hay loads. We tried to keep him away from hay loads. He was the only horse that was afraid of hay loads. When we got to Arctic, Mother would get out and put reins around the hitching post.

I would hang on to my mother’s clothes. Mother would go into the Bedards store. There was one little aisle or hall where I could see two little old ladies there. Mother always sat there and talked with them for a while. I sat there. I was quiet.

28 February 2004

Heather: What was the difference in ages between you and your brother and sister?

Audrey: When I was two years, Ed was eight years and Edith was sixteen years. Grandma had an awful time having children. She stayed in bed most of the nine months because she was afraid to lose me like she lost all of the others. When I was born, the doctor gave me a slap on the behind, and Grandma about died because she thought that was awful. The doctor had to slap me because I wasn’t going to breath. Grandma lost babies and had a hard time.

We (Edith, Ed and Audrey) seemed to be stronger. Other babies she lost. When I came along, Grandma was careful. When I was born, I had hair that was very dark. Grandma was very, very happy that I was alive. I was heavy as a baby. I think I was 10 pounds.

Your uncle Robert MacDonald weighed ounces when he was born, but when he grew up to be three hundred pounds. (whereas) I weighed ten pounds at birth but never weighed much more than a hundred pounds when I was an adult. It was just the opposite.

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