Friday, March 11, 2016

Close to Home: Happy Birthday Aunt Ada

From the family photograph collection of William and Hannah (Champlin) Broadfoot
Privately Held by Midge Frazel, 2016
Close to Home: Happy Birthday, Aunt Ada!

Isn't it interesting that I chose to write about my Aunt Ada first even though she was not the oldest child in her family?

Today is her birthday anniversary! Born at home, on 7 Vose St. in Westerly, on 11 March 1913,  Ada was first on my mind to write about because she is the mother of my cousins and she was so devoted to her family. "Family first" defined her life and when she passed away, she had two married children and four grandsons. 

Ada described herself to others as a "dyed-in-the-wool" Baptist and was a life long member of the Niantic Baptist Church in the village of Bradford, in Westerly, RI. She married George J. Curry on 27 May 1939 in the rectory of St. Leo's Roman Catholic Church in Pawtucket, RI. 

For a long time, that was all I knew of her until the day, I interviewed my father's siblings and using that research as a guide, a picture of Ada's story began to slowly emerge. 

My cousin tells me that our mutual grandfather insisted that his daughters quit school and go to work. The 1940 census tells me this is true as she is listed as having only 2 years of high school but the 1930 census lists her at 17 and not employed making it look like she was still in school.  

Stepping back, the 1935 Rhode Island state census shows the family living at 97 Bowling Lane and Ada is 12 years old.  With her little brothers being only 7 and 5 in that year (and the year of so many of the photos I inherited being taken in 1925), I can see that Ada was probably taking care of my father and his brother while my grandmother worked. 

Tom Broadfoot, my grandfather, left working at the quarry and went to work for Bradford Dye and they moved to a mill house and he walked to work with many of the other men in the neighborhood. The house was owned by the mill and only those who worked at Bradford Dye were qualifed to live in what we now call a duplex style house.

Life was hard and my grandfather loved his drink. My grandmother had worked as a domestic in Scotland and so she turned to that kind of work, taking in laundry and being a maid in one of the big hotels in Westerly. 

When Ada married in 1939, both of her parents were dead and her husband moved into the house on Bowling Lane. 

That is where this photo of Ada was taken, outside, on the Lane. Happy Birthday, Aunt Ada.

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