Whitcomb, Eddy

Interview by Scott Gryb and Peter Webb. Interview date: 04-04-2014

4/4/14 with Scott Gryb and Peter Webb at Eddy Whitcomb’s house at 22 Main Street in Brookline

Part 1 of 2

00:00 3/12/28 birth in Nashua. Harlan Whitcomb, father and Sarah Ward, mother
01:30 Currently lives at 22 Mail Street, his childhood home. His father’s house was next to the ball field. His mother was a maid at a nearby home. His father had a grocery store, “Whitcombs” and restaurant “Checkerboard” for 27 years. His father died in about 1944. It included an ice cream shop
03:30 His father built his own ice house after the fire. He had two sisters, Evelyn (“Pepper”) and Mary
04:00 They made ice cream by hand. The first two gallons took 1 to 1½ hours. Later, with the machine, they can make 10 gallons in six minutes. His father also sold and delivered ice in the Brookline/Milford/Hollis area
05:00 He graduated from high school in 1946. He and his sisters always worked at the store and restaurant. The store made deliveries. His dad and Alvin Taylor would make deliveries. In the morning they would take orders and the afternoon they would make deliveries
06:00 The other store was Hall’s Grocery Store run by Forrest and Fred Hall. Forest lived on Bond Street and Fred lived on Mason Road across from the home apparently occupied by Winston Hall
07:00 There was competition between stores. The post office would be moved as the federal administration changed. Roger Wright was a postmaster
08:20 Eddy’s father father had the big house on the west side of Old Milford Road. It was the “Whitcomb” place, with a barn (which apparently has been torn down). His father was Eddy S. Whitcomb
10:00 Eddy is a family name. His grandfather was a farmer. Ed is not sure if he was the first Whitcomb in Brookline
11:00 Eddy has lived for 86 years in his current house
12:00 Fifty percent of the houses in town had woodstoves when he was young. His first school was the Milford Street School where he went until the 5th grade. Then he attended Daniels Academy for 6th, 7th and 8th grade. He then went to Milford High School
12:45 The Milford Street School had only two rooms
13:00 One teacher taught all three grades
13:40 He has two of the wooden pointed ornaments from the belfry of the Milford Street School (which is donated to the BHS)
14:20 His friends included A Porter, Frankie Farwell, Raymond Dickey, Teddy Wirtanen
15:00 The Porter boy was killed in a crash when his car hit a lumber truck
16:00 The Porters sold milk. Teddy Wirtanen’s mother was a Fessenden

Part 2 of 2

00:00 As a child he used to know everyone
01:10 Government is now a big business
01:50 Kids can’t be kids anymore
02:00 He spent his time as a child working at the store, especially after his dad’s death, but he played baseball, horsed around in local quarries. He would be on first base, George Farwell would play third base and pitcher. When George threw the ball to him at first, his hand burned for a week
03:00 He was 12 when he father died. His mother never remarried. He worked full-time after that. His mother worked very hard. She had to. She never swore and was always positive
04:00 His father, who had served in WWI, died of an enlargement of the heart in the bathroom. He was heavy set
04:30 Other businesses in town included Fessenden Garage and the Fessenden Lumber Yard. The Fessenden Garage had a wood furnace in the back. They repaired cars and pumped gas. Leo Austin worked there and used an air drill. Eldo used a hand wrench (unintelligible off-color joke)
05:40 Eldo Fessenden ran the garage
07:00 At the Fessenden Mill, they made barrel staves, wire spools and boxes for packing fish
07:30 The State came in and put limits on Tasker’s Turkey Farm, putting him out of business
08:40 Tasker moved on to blueberries
09:30 He had attempted to by the Tasker land on which the school sits, but it fell through
10:30 There were chicken farmers in town. Knudson Jensen. Knudson also built the restaurant and hotel called Skalla
11:30 Eddy was there when the Elmwood Inn burned. Knudson bought it from Ingraham (“Inky”) who ran the Inn. This was Bill Ingraham’s grandfather
12:30 Eddy’s father showed movies across the street. They had a plywood screen. They also had cowboy shows including a cowboy band. The movies ended with his father’s death
14:30 They had movies for about 5 or 6 years. A Knudson had a chicken farm on the top of Steam Mill Hill and on the property occupied by the Pelletier Event Center
16:00 There were several Knudsons in town. They came from Massachusetts
17:00 The ski hill was built in 1938. He skied there. He had a restaurant across the street from the ski hill
17:00 The railroad station was moved when Route 13 was built
18:00 In 1949, he built the restaurant. His father had a window service restaurant. They moved that building to Brookline, eventually with the highway to Route 13, and built a kitchen onto it. They later built the dining area which could hold 150 people. They also had window service. He was the cook
21:00 As a joke, he sent a worker for a bucket of steam to Lawrence Corey’s railroad station restaurant. It was sent back with some dry ice. They used to play jokes back and forth on each other. Whitcomb’s Ice Cream went out of business in 1972
23:00 He remembers the building on Route 13. His sister married one of the workers
24:00 Route 13 killed his Mail Street restaurant, so they went more into the grocery store. It had the post office in the corner
26:00 The post office location ended when the new building was built
26:30 There was a gas station on Route 13 near Scabbard Mill Brook, run by Keeches. It also had cabins to rent. A granite building remains on the property
28:00 There was a place that sold ice cream on Meetinghouse Hill Road
29:00 There was an old guy named Campbell who had a place known as the Greasy Sink at the bottom of Meetinghouse Hill Road. He sold candy. John Elliot used to sell fruits and vegetables off of his truck. He was bothered by sores on his legs
30:00 The Sartells had a store on the east end of Meetinghouse Hill Road before Eddy’s time
31:00 He remembers the train at the train station. There was a turn around at the ice house. He never did ride the train
31:40 He tried selling food at the race track but it did not work out. There was a lot of resistance to the race track
32:00 Eddy voted for the race track but not for a school issue, and that caused him to lose customers
33:00 He speaks about the Milford Street School being built. He was on the school board at the time
34:00 Town meetings are generally discussed
35:00 It was frequently Fessenden versus Farwell disagreements, for about road and land issues. Mason Farwell and Lawrence Corey built the race track
36:50 The race track was bulldozed and Bingham Lumber was built
37:00 Orville and Bill Betters had a construction company at the corner of Austin Road and Milford Street. They would quarry behind there and in Mason. They moved to Nashua at the location of the Nashua North High School where they operated Nashua Sand and Gravel. Del Porter worked for them
38:00 There were not too many farmers. Willard Cummings was a farmer
39:40 Arthur Goss’s daughter Hazel married George Davis, a carpenter
41:00 He remembers Doggy Austin. He would drink a lot and was always in jail for something. He lived on Sargent Road. Bentley Farwell had issues and was accused of starting fires. The Austins, including Jimmy, liked to drink and raise hell. They moved an outhouse and put it on Florence Palmer’s driveway, but Jimmy was caught when he had a picture taken of him sitting tin the outhouse. Peter White was also involved
44:50 Florence was telling people how to live. Alvin Taylor was able to nab Jimmy because he had the negatives
46:00 Florence angered some
47:00 Bell ringing would happen when he was a kid. They would drag wagons downtown
48:00 They once tied Chief Quigley’s car to a tree. Eddy’s son was caught by Earl Bosquet with eggs
49:00 There was old man Gould on Dupow Gould Road. Someone named Mallory lived in the shack on Cleveland Hill Road
50:00 During the 1938 hurricane, his father tied up their building with a cable
51:00 After the hurricane, his father set up a bike to pump gas. The ice house fire happened when he was 4 or 5 years old
53:00 Alvin Taylor was police chief and would talk to the young people and give them several chances. Alvin’s mother wrote for the newspaper. Alvin lived behind the Greasy Sink on Meetinghouse Hill Road. He worked in the grocery store and was the police chief for many years. He was a straight shooter. He worked for PSNH and retired in Maine. Taylor also later had a house on Mason Road after Russell Hill
55:00 He remembers laurel picking. His father made wreaths. Ralph Porter had one hand bigger than the other from laurel work. Roping and wreathes were made and shipped to Boston. The Betts family was involved. Moss was harvested for florists
56:00 The Porters made wooden baskets
57:00 Dick Gilson also made baskets. Peter Mourgis had a big laurel business
58:25 He remembers Clarence Russell
58:40 He was with the fire department for 26 years. The station was in the ambulance bay/annex. They expanded it. They had two trucks: number 29 and number 39
59:40 The Model T engine had been sold. It was found and rebuilt. George Farwell directed the work
1:00:00 There was a house fire near Bohanen Bridge. They had no phone so the wife had to walk for help. They found her husband’s body by the front door
1:02:00 There was a place across from the Chandler’s former home on Averill Road which burned down
1:03:03 There is a brown house which burned down
1:03:30 He went to high school in Milford. Alton Jenson drove the school bus. He was a “pokey old guy.” He later was the dump custodian. Alton was Ross’s father
1:04:00 After he graduated from high school in 1946, he worked in the store and the restaurant. He met Barbara, his wife, five years before they married. Her family raises foxes and had cows, as well as a little store and cabins across the street (it was in Townsend on Route 13)
1:05:00 He and Barbara always lived at 22 Main Street. His mother lived with them. They had five children
1:06:00 He remembers Eben Bartlett (who lived on Meetinghouse Hill Road) who was a selectmen and went to the vault and threw a lot of documents away
1:10:00 Miriam Jepson was a fair person, very involved, wrote for the paper, could be tough, was an important part of the town
1:11:00 Carl Smith’s wife, Barbara, was Miriam Jepson’s sister
1:12:00 Fred Jepson took off on Miriam while she had the children
1:13:00 Ed has owned the apartment house across the street from his home for about 47 years. His Aunt Grace would not go into the building because they had served liquor there. George Nichols owned the apartment house before him. At that time, it originally had three apartments. Now it has six apartments
1:15:00 There was a lot of trouble when Peter F__________ was the building inspector
1:17:00 Allan Fessenden was a strong guy in town. Nason was his father
1:18:00 For the past 23 years, he has volunteered every week at the Shriner’s Boston Burn Center. He and his wife drive down and drive vans picking up incoming kids. He was head of the New Hampshire Shriner’s. The Shriner’s help terribly burned children
1:22:00 He is active in the church: on the board, as a deacon, as a steward. Some were not happy about the merger of the Methodist and Congregational Church. The active Methodists he recalls include Blanche Wright and Roy and Connie Ward. They eventually came around
1:26:00 His son Steve recently lost his daughter, Katy, and his daughter Jane recently lost her husband
1:27:00 Barbara says he married her because she knew how to work
1:28:00 She made pies and pasties 7 days a week
1:29:00 Ed developed a lung issue
1:30:00 It was easier to know everybody when you had a child in school
1:30:30 A condition when he sold Whitcomb’s Ice Cream was that if wine or beer were sold, the name could not be used. He learned that alcohol was sold. He contacted a lawyer. After that, it became known as the Riverside
1:31:00 Ed is responsible for the Korean and Vietnam War Memorial on the Town Hall lawn. The stone was from Pennsylvania. Planes were to fly overhead at the dedication but it was raining so they could not. John Weidman delivered the eagle on top of it on the morning of the dedication
1:33:00 Donald Barnaby had an exceptional memory for dates
1:33:30 The Masons dedicated the war memorial for Ed
1:35:00 His mother was once stopped at the Canada border with her children
1:35:30 He tells the story of Mont Blanc
1:36:00 Barbara’s father raised foxes, had a farm, rented cabins. She says that depression did not bother because they had everything
1:37:00 Her father had a generator during the 38 hurricane. He was from Brunswick, Maine, her mother from Ashby
1:38:00 Her father was a Maine guide. What he raised were silver foxes
1:39:00 Barbara has been involved in many town activities
1:40:00 Eddy was a Selectmen, school board member. Allan Fessenden would turn off the heat early and Ed’s feet were so cold he told him to cut that out because he had to go home and sleep with Barbara
1:42:00 They talk of the challenges of old age
1:43:00 They worked too hard to take time off
1:44:00 He remembered Florence Barnaby. She rode her bike all over time. She had no running water, only a well
1:45:00 He recalls other people who had previously lived on Main Street
1:50:00 Barbara recalls her childhood home
1:52:00 Barbara could not believe it when Ed spent $1,000.00 on land for their sons
1:55:00 Ed is a pack rat. He had Steven built Westville module homes in the area