Marjorie Williams Horton
For the first two years of my life, I lived in Rhode Island. My father had come from Adams,
New York. My grandfather, my mother’s father, had a farm in Slatersville, Rhode Island, with
a meat market and an office at the end of the barn, and a big, lovely house. I was born in
Slatersville. We lived with our grandparents in a section of the house. My grandfather was a
gentleman farmer. He had lots of property, almost up to Pascoag. He had cows and horses.
My sister, Athleen, had been born five years before me. One summer she went to camp and
she was nicknamed Billie, from our family name, Williams. After that she was known as Billie
for the rest of her life.
My father’s family name was Williams, and my mother’s maiden name was Turner. (Her
father’s name was Solon Thompson Turner.) We didn’t have middle names because our
names were so long. My mother always told me that since we were girls, we couldn’t carry on
our father’s name, but in order to honor him, we could use Williams as our middle name
when we married. That’s a bit of etiquette that girls should know, but many don’t.
We didn’t visit my Grandmother Williams often, although we’d talk on the phone and write
letters. That was too much of a trip. We didn’t do much traveling in those days. I was 18
before I visited Boston for the first time. When we did travel, we’d take lunch along and find a
piece of land where we’d sit down on a blanket and eat our sandwiches. Of course, we’d
bring a Thermos, too. We’d have at least one flat tire on a trip like that. Sometimes we’d visit
relatives in the Putnam, Connecticut area.
When I was two, my grandparent’s house burned. It burned to the ground. We sat on the
back of a wagon with a blanket over us and watched it. It was in the night. All the books and
records that we had afterwards were given to us by friends. My mother was quite a horse
lady and had beautiful harnesses and other items that were kept in the house. They were all
lost in the fire, including her diamond ring. It was a very tragic thing. My father had been a
Chevrolet salesman in Woonsocket. After the fire, he was hired to work at Draper
Corporation and we moved to Hopedale, where I’ve been since age two.
There was electricity in Bancroft Park when we moved there. The light fixtures had originally
been made for gas lights. We didn’t have an electric refrigerator. We had an icebox. We
heated the house with coal and wood, and the heat came up through a big register in the
floor. The coal was carried in sacks and poured down a chute to the coal bin in the cellar.
Wood would be dropped by the bulkhead and we’d take it in. Coal, wood, and ice were all
brought to us by horse-drawn wagons. When the ice wagon was on the street, we’d go out
and ask the man for chips of ice to chew on. We’d put a card in the front window if we
wanted a delivery of ice, and we’d put a card with a big C when we wanted the Cushman’s
Bakery man to stop. We’d also get deliveries of groceries. Mead’s Market was the most
beautiful place. It was in the town hall, down below, on the Depot Street side. The quality of
the goods that they sold was exceptionally fine. We could call them on the phone and put in
an order. They delivered to the homes. Mr. Sneiderman would come by collecting rags. They
had a store near the top of Freedom Street. Later they operated a dry cleaning business
I went to kindergarten in the Chapel Street School. My teacher was Mrs. Draper (not related
to the “company Drapers”), and I loved her dearly. I went from first to fourth grade in the
Park Street School and fifth through eighth at the Dutcher Street School.
I had a thing about wheels and motion. Whatever I could find to ride or get on, I did. I’d ask
to borrow boys’ bikes. I didn’t like girls’ bikes. Because of the sprocket, there wasn’t enough
power. I learned to ride on the outside because I couldn’t reach the pedals. I’d push it along
like a scooter. I’d had a wonderful scooter, but it was stolen from our backyard. In those days
if you didn’t put things away, that would happen. I mostly just liked to just play outside. I’d
walk on my hands, stand on my head; do all kinds of crazy things instead of sitting and
painting my nails. That came later. Much later.
My parents wanted to give me a girls’ bike, but I didn’t want that. On the farm, I found four
pieces of wood and I had one of the hands cut them and make a frame out of them. In the
Sears Roebuck catalog I had found a picture of a red bicycle which I wanted. I cut it out and
put it in the frame. (I had painted the frame red.) I gave it to my grandfather. It took a lot of
doing, but at Christmas there it was — my red bike . . My friends loved to kid me about that.
I‘dtake the bike in every night and put it in a space we had under the staircase. I’d clean it
every night – all the spokes, the frame, the rims, everything, before I put it away. I took good
care of that bike. Boy, did that bike cruise. Some of my girlfriends wanted to use it on hills,
and I’d let them because they could get up the hills better.
When we’d go somewhere in the car, I hated to get to where we were going. Most kids would
say, “When are we going to get there?” I’d say, “Oh, we’re here?” I just liked the ride; not the
destination. My mother was a great driver of horses, but she didn’t like driving a car. She
didn’t get her license until after my father died. I couldn’t wait to get my license. I received it
the day I turned sixteen, and I drove to Rhode Island all alone to visit my grandparents that
same day. I felt so proud to think I could do that. My mother was happy to have me drive her
anywhere she wanted to go. I’d take care of keeping water in the radiator, and I’d make sure
the tires were inflated. I could change a tire, and in those days when flats were very
common, I’d do that often. I kept the car cleaned and polished. I used to put snow chains on,
Whatever the season was, I was out doing something. I loved skating. Roller skating or ice
skating. I’d skate on any little pond I could find. First I had the skates that you’d clamp on to
your shoes. Then I had shoe skates, and later I had figure skates. I’d skate until the town
bell rang and I had to be home. After I was married, when the pond wasn’t safe I’d get into
the car and drive around looking for little ponds to skate on.
I loved skiing. My father put a nail into the end of a pole, painted it black, and that was my ski
pole. I wanted to be outside when there was snow on the ground, much to my mother’s
dismay. In later years we had a club to support activities at the ski hill. It was called the
“Comet Ski Club.” We collected dues to pay for the little things needed now and then. We
had many enjoyable hours on that hill.
I spent most of my early summers on my grandfather’s farm, haying. There was a girl in a
nearby town I’d visit now and then. Her father had a very lucrative lumber business. The
family had a big house where I’d visit once in a while, but I mostly wanted to stay on the farm.
The three Hanley boys lived next door to me. Their mother was very doting, and would sit in
the window to watch them when they were out. Most mothers at that time didn’t drive, so they
didn’t have the means of going far beyond the house.
Christmas was always lovely. Everything was decorated. There was a lot of cooking, of
course, just like you’d hear about in old-time Christmases. We’d have our grandparents with
us. We celebrated it well. When my dad was alive, our biggest present would be on the end
of a string. One end was attached to the end of our bed, and we’d follow it until we arrived at
the end, and our present. It would go down the stairs and it might go to the cellar and back
up. At the end was our best present. For me, it might be skates – roller skates or ice skates.
I’d roller skate all around Bancroft Park. I had some fancy ones with rubber tires that I had
begged for. When I heard a car coming, I’d hurry to the sidewalk in case it was the police. I
always kept them in mind when I was out performing in the street. There weren’t many cars
on the road then.
I didn’t do much with dolls, but I did have one favorite. I’d play with paper dolls a bit, but I was
too busy with athletics to spend much time with dolls. I’d get a good book for Christmas
sometimes. I should have done more reading than I did. When I had chicken pox, whooping
cough, and other childhood diseases, my mother had this crazy idea that I couldn’t go to the
library. I thought that was terrible.
Once when I was in Miss Cressey’s class, my friend Priscilla and I had volunteered to stay
after school to clean the blackboards and erasers. When we finished, I rushed down the
stairs and out the door, ahead of Priscilla. I assumed she was right behind me, and wanting
to play a little trick on her, I grabbed the doorknob and pulled on it so that the door wouldn’t
open. After a while, I opened the door and I was shocked to see that it wasn’t Priscilla, but
Miss Cressey who was on the other side. Whooo! I think I’m still in shock. I don’t recall what
she said or did, but it wasn’t anything startling. She liked me.
The biggest event for the whole town in the summer was the Draper field day. The night
before, movies would be shown on the back wall of the Main Office. We decorated doll
carriages. My sister even competed in the high jump. There’d be a baseball game. Baseball
was very well thought of way back in the early years of the park. It was considered quite an
accomplishment if you were selected to be on a baseball team. There were all kinds of track
events and potato sack races and all of the usual field day activities.
They made good use of the town park in the summertime. The tennis courts and the
baseball diamond were very well cared for. No cars were allowed in the park. None. Playing
tennis on Sundays was forbidden.
I never had the opportunity to take lessons in tennis and other sports, so I had to copy from
people who were good at them. I played field hockey, tennis and basketball. I was kind of
short for basketball, but I could jump. I’d grown some pretty strong muscles for a girl, down
on the farm. I wasn’t all that crazy about swimming, and the reason was that I hated to get my
hair wet, because it wasn’t curly. I did take lessons, up through junior life saving, but stopped
there. My mother had insisted that I take lessons at least that far.
I lost my father at age twelve, so I didn’t have him to pal around with. My sister was a lady.
She was attached to Carleton Goff from about the age of fourteen, on through. I was kind of
in her way until we got older, and then we were very close.
On radio there were westerns and mysteries. Tom Mix is one that I remember. We’d go to
the movies at the State Theater in Milford. I think it cost about ten cents for a show. The
Ideal Theater was further down Main Street, but we didn’t venture that far for a movie. We
liked the looks of the State Theater better. I might have found a ride over there now and
then, but most of the time we’d walk. I remember going to Milford by trolley a couple of times
when I was with my mother to buy clothes. Later there was a bus service we could take to
Milford. The bus went around Bancroft Park to pick up passengers. When television came
along, we’d often gather at the house of a neighbor who had one. There was a lot of boxing
featured on television in those days.
There were parties, dances and musical events at the Community House. The dances were
wonderful. All the kids, even up through marriage age, would be there. In my dating years,
about 17 through 19, we’d go to wonderful dances in Worcester. The school prize speaking
contests were at the town hall. Graduations were held there, too.
One thing that I remember is the time I jumped off of the Hope Street Bridge. I don’t
remember why I did it. I had always loved to jump. There were lots of railroad sidings that
went under the bridge, and often boxcars would be parked on them. It kept annoying me that
the top of the train was often so close to the bottom of the bridge. I thought I’d like to try
jumping down onto one. Just some little quirk in my head said, “Why don’t you try it?” So I
looked things over, and I held on by my hands so that my feet wouldn’t be too far from the
top of the train when I let go. It didn’t take much of a jump, but then I thought, “Oh, dear, if
somebody sees me!” I liked to go up and down ladders. Heights didn’t bother me. I climbed
down the ladder on the side of the boxcar. Priscilla Woodhead was usually my cohort, but I
don’t think she was with me that day. So I was the only one down there with those trains and
I had to get up to where people were. I can remember being a little frightened over that. I
was thinking, “I guess I won’t do that again.”
During my high school years, I decided I’d rather be a girl than a boy. In the beginning I
thought I’d rather do boyish things to help my father. They’d had a boy who’d died as a
baby. Then they had my sister, and then me. I figured they sure as heck wanted a boy, and I
did my darndest to be one for a little while. Then all of a sudden, when I reached my teens I
thought, oh, this doesn’t feel right. I decided I’d rather be a girl. Thank the Lord!
I remember a number of super guys who were killed in World War II, including Robinson
Billings, Donald Midgley, Francis Wallace and Leverett Clark. They were considered to be
the fair-haired boys of Hopedale. There were another eleven from town who were killed, and
who were just as wonderful, but those four are the ones I knew.
On Sundays in the winter, we’d go to church and then we’d stop at somebody’s house for
a toddy. Sometimes it would be at our house, sometimes Willard Taft’s house, and
sometimes Jean and Woody Biggs’s house. We’d go into the attic and look for old clothes to
put on. We‘d dress as foolish as we could. We had great fun. Then we’d go to the ski hill
One time somebody from the Daily News came over and took our picture. In the picture
above, that’s Willard on the left. I’m in the top hat and tails. My niece, Jannie, is next to me.
Next to her is one of the Nelson girls from Bancroft Park. Then there’s Woody Biggs in some
kind of robe, or maybe pajamas. That’s Jean Biggs on the right, wearing a red bonnet. The
photographer said, “Line up,” so we did. We’d go up and down the hill with these outfits on.
Of course we had a little “fuel.” Not much; just a little.
I worked at the Home National Bank for thirty years. One time when there was a bad snowstorm, the roads hadn’t been plowed, so I decided to ski to work. I carried my work clothes in a little bag. I didn’t have cross-country skis; just regular skis, so going up Northrop Street was difficult. When I got to Main Street, Nick Tosches, the Milford News photographer, was there. He said, “I don’t believe what I’m seeing,” and he took the picture. I didn’t ski home. The roads had been plowed by then and I called my son, Jimmy, who came to the bank and drove me home. When the picture appeared in the paper, it brought in so many people that George Ellis, who was the bank president, gave me a day off from work, and a hundred dollar bill.
After all these experiences, I’m still here on Dennett Street, and I’m going strong. Marge Horton, October 2015
Dear Holy Ones,
It is with heavy heart I inform you that longtime Hopedale Unitarian Parish member and beloved elder of our community Marjorie Horton passed from this life on Friday, March 29, 2019. Born in 1920, she was months shy of her 99th birthday. Marge was known and loved not only in our parish but in the Hopedale community. We will miss her presence among us in manifold ways. Trusting Marge is at peace, we turn our prayers to her family that they may find the love, support, and comfort they need during this time. May we all be a part of that loving support in the coming days.
There will be a memorial service for Marge in our church on Saturday morning, May 4, 2019 at 11 a.m. A reception will follow in the parish hall. There will be no calling hours. Burial will be in a private family ceremony.
Remembering Marge, now departed from us, we pray:
Infinite God of Love and Life, who cares for each one of us as if for that one alone, and so for all, as if all were one; blessed are they who have loved you and spent their life in your service with praise and thanksgiving. To you our God we entrust all that we have received to you, so unto you we send Marge’s spirit. Receive her into your loving embrace and all encompassing light. Amen.
Grace and peace,
Marjorie W. (Williams) Lovejoy Horton, 98, of Dennett St, Hopedale passed away Fri. March 29, 2019. She was the beloved wife the late Edward M. “Ted” Horton who died in 2010. Formerly, she was the wife of the late Millard A. Lovejoy. Mrs. Horton had been employed at the former Home National Bank in Milford for 30 years before her retirement.
Marge was born in 1920 in Slatersville, RI the daughter of the late Clifford P. and Florence (Turner) Williams and had been resident of Hopedale for more than 96 years and a graduate of Hopedale High School. She loved her Hopedale community.
She was a longtime member of the Hopedale Unitarian Parish and was an active member of the church’s Ladies Alliance. She was also a member of the Ladies Auxiliary at the Milford Regional Medical Center and the Upton Women’s Club. In earlier years, she loved to ski on Hopedale Hill and ice skate on Hopedale Pond. In later years, she loved to travel with Ted, visit Lake Winnipesaukee with her dear friends Bill and Nancy Gannett, participate in the Kris Kringle Fair at her church, go sailing, and also loved spending time with great friends and her family.
By those who loved her, she was known as Nana, Auntie, Mom, Hazel, and Marge. Mrs Horton is survived by her granddaughters; Beth (Lovejoy) King and her husband Michael King of Walpole, Karen (Lovejoy) Lovely of Hopedale, and Susan Lovejoy of Blackstone. Two step grandsons; Edward F. Horton and Andrew W. Horton, Seven great-grandchildren; Jessica, James, and Julia Lovely, Ryan and Cara King, Christopher and Mia Lovejoy along with two great-great grandchildren Quinn and Eson Lovely-Henderson. Her niece Janet Daubenspeck, 2 Great-nieces, and her dear family friend Paula Touhey.
She was pre-deceased by her son James M. Lovejoy, daughter-in-law Cassandra J. (Earl) Lovejoy, stepson Edward M. Horton Jr., sister Athleen (Williams) Goff and brother-in-law Carleton N. Goff.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2019, at 11:00 am in the Hopedale Unitarian Pariah, 65 Hopedale St., Hopedale. Graveside services will be held privately at the convenience of the family.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Hopedale Unitarian Parish, 65 Hopedale St., Hopedale, MA 01747 or to the charity of one’s choice. Arrangements by Buma-Sargeant Funeral Home, Milford.