Stories and Remembrances from
Robert M. (Bobby) Phillips

Introduction

Since learning of the Carolina Rhode Island website, Bobby Phillips has sent a long a string of stories, rememberances and photos and they keep coming.

In order to give these stories the attention they deserve, and to allow other stories to not be eclipsed by the volume of Bobby's stories, I have added a page devoted to items submitted to me by Bobby Phillips.

About Bobby Phillips

"I was born in 1945 at the Hemlock Inn while my father was in the Navy, over seas in the Phillipenes. When we moved out of the village to the 100 acres next to “Richmond Country Club” (borders our land) on switch road, the first thing my mother, father, billy did was cut a roadway to the present house. We logged the land and started building; house, barn, (back border is Wood River). Horses, black angus, 4-H, FFA. At the same time frame, Fred Kenyon and my father started Woodville Company. The package store was moved next to Roy Wrights' potato barn on 91(Later sold and moved to its' present location in Alton."

Bobby's Photos

Bobby has sent along several photos of the Hemlock Inn, the "chicken coops" and other Carolina scenes from "back in the day".

Photo Gallery: Images courtesy of Bobby Phillips

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Seeds

About April/May in Carolina, a Bobby Phillips would be peddling his bike to Shannock,Columbia Heights, Kenyon, Sand Plain Rd to the Fenner Farm,back around up rt 2 and possibly getting a haircut from a Finnish Barber, almost to the intersection of 112 and 2 and turn right, down 112 to Charlie's Brother, Albert and on into Carolina making a left at Wrights Garage and, and, and Delivering packets of seeds to people that I had made the same route months before in the fall, knocking on doors, taking seed orders all the way to Alton and visiting my Mother at the "Country Side Package Store"...I would peddle as far as Holmes' Garageand specifically stop at the Cayers, who drove oil trucks for??????? Another favorite stop would be at Ole Mr. Timperley's house...

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Mr. Timperly lived in a house on the road into "Columbia Heights"... His Son bought Kenyon Mill with a Fella named Curtis... First names escape me at this time... I went to CHARIHO and graduated 1963 with Jay Timperley, etal of 83 graduating that year... YES(!!!!!!), I said 83 from 3 towns graduating... Ole Mr. Timperley showed me how to magnify the sun through a magnifying glass to start a camp fire and sit on his front stoop and we would simply talk... I'm sure he was delighted to talk to me as he was elderly... I used Ole Mr. Timperley's teachings in the Boy Scouts, Troop 1, Richmond, RI... And at the intersection of 112 and 2, before the building was known as the (Grilles')"Charlestown Lounge", it was a ice scream shop and dinner... And the Narragansett's owned a little restaurant in the triangle of the road there... Getting back to seeds, I must've got the idea of selling seeds from a comic book or from a seed catalogue... Seems like everybody got seed catalogues in those days... I don't know of any children today that sits down to a downright good seed catalogue today and dream of planting radishes and, and, and??? And not just read once... Sit and read and read and read and make that big decision of what to order and plant... It became a family matter also because my mother wanted some of this and my father wanted some of that... Ha, Billy really never was a farmer...

Still on the topic of seeds, Mr. Hargraves'(spelling) grew gladiolas every year and sold them on the roadside in front of his house across from Bersfords (spelling)... And, of course, Mr. Hargraves showed me allll his varieties of gladiola bulbs... My father taught me to plant gladiolas in a parallel staggered row... He said; "that way, when the wind blows heavy, one gladiola would lean on the one beside it and might not blow over... I was very proud of myself to be able to give my Mother gladiolas that I grew... And writing about Mr. Hargraves, he had 2 daughters, I believe and don't remember their names... If they are reading this article, maybe there could be some contact later???

Ha, another cute story;; we planted allll kinds of seeds for that first garden in Carolina Village... I/We would walk home from school and immediately go to the garden to see if anything was growing... I would dig-up seeds just to see if they were rooting... Finally stuff was poking up through the dirt... Radishes were first... I'm already laughing at this next experience... The carrots were getting pretty tall... I would scrape around the carrots to see how long they were and push the dirt back around them... One day I couldn't wait anymore and picked about a half bushel of carrots that were about 2" to 3" long... I was never so proud of my harvesting, until my father came home... My Mother already knew what might happen and said nothing... My Father took one look at those "Baby Carrots" and he started... "Blah, Blah, Blah, ever see your Mother bring home carrots that small, blah, blah, Bobby, you are going to eat every last one of those carrots"... "Now go out and peal them"!!! My brother(older) still tells that story about eating those carrots... Well, that 1/2 bushel carrots got peeled down to about 1/4 bushel, ha... Ha, and not only did I eat the "Baby Carrots", it was a Family matter of discussing and laughing and eating those Blah, Blah, Blah, "Baby Carrots"... SOooooo, the next time you folks are buying a can or 2 of "Baby Carrots", remember, Bobby Phillips invented them, he, he, heeeee......

Another seed story, I hated to eat peas... I want to tell ya that I ate plenty of peas for breakfast because my mother made me sit there till I ate allll my peas and if I didn't; "Bobby, if you don't finish your peas you are going to eat them for breakfast"!!! Eggs and peas and bacon with some toast were a delicious combination...To this day, I mash them into my potatoes or simply don't eat them...

A very popular seed were potatoes... Another one of my mischievous dealings was going to Roland Perraults, with my wagon in tow behind my bicycle, and digging 2 grain sacks full of potatoes... It was all I could do to put the 2 bags(100#) in my wagon and commenced to peddle home... The wagon kept falling over and I had to load the potatoes again... This was even before I got to "Switch Road" from the field... Finally I decided I would only haul 1 bag at a time... Peddling to Carolina on Pine Hill Road and right to Erving Masons' store... I convinced him that I dug them from our garden and he bought them... By the time that this all had happened, I was exhausted and abandoned the other bag of potatoes...

There was no money in those days so most of us boys competed for the lawns to mow, the driveways and walks to be shoveled, weeding gardens and I had a secret, Charile Dyson and Hazel... I washed windows and other home chores for Hazel and of course, my working for Charile... And, like most folks in Carolina, the Dyson's had a garden that needed weeding, etc, etc, etc...They always paid me and I was satisfied... I don't remember how much money was transacted...

O'yea, Roy Wright's potato fields... The package store, moved from the Hemlock Inn property, was located just past Wright's potato barn on 91... Roy had come to the store, probably to get rent money, as the package store was on Wright's land(I may be wrong in thinking this)... Or to buy refreshments... It was harvest time and I asked Ole Roy Wright if he needed any help... ".10c a bushel and work as long as you wanted", he said!!! He threw me into his truck and we went up to the fields... The digger had already gone through and the men and women were picking-up the potatoes and putting them in bushel baskets and dumping them into 55 gallon wooden drums... I discovered I couldn't even pick-up a bushel of potatoes and someone gave me a wire basket as I filled that up and dumped my potatoes into the wooden drum... It wasn't very long that this little boy got exhausted and walked back to the package store... Ole Roy came by later and gave me 5 dimes...

As probably one can read, there was plenty of activity going on in Carolina if one wanted to be active, ha... AND that is how my life went and ended-up in New Orleans, as I type, after Hurricane Katrina and soon to escape this city to new "Adventures of Bob"....................

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Tally-ho

Tally-ho, a bus-line ran by John Matteson's Father(John owns Wrights Garage) would be better at telling this Carolina Story... BUT, MY experience was; On Saturday morning, my Brother Bill and I would catch the Tally-ho bus, coming from the Shannock direction, at Wright's Garage, to Westerly... In Westerly, my Brother Bill would take accordion lessons on a second floor, possibly of "Jack and Harry's" and I would, sort of roam the streets... "Jack and Harry's"(Benny's of the day)located somewhat next door to Hotel Savoy, was a good stop for me... Dreaming about a new bicycle... Squeezing all the bicycle horns for the different sounds... "Tales" for bicycle handlebars, ha... Fishing equipment... As only being around 8 or 9ish, still a child, Checked-out the toys also... Jack and Harry's had everything a Benny's has today... Down the sidewalk was "Burdicks' Sporting Goods"... All types of athletic wear upstairs... What impressed me were the "jerseys" and "shorts" worn by the high schoolers in gym... Dreaming of going to Westerly High when I was old enough(no Chariho yet)... There were also high school jackets, blazers, sweaters all monogrammed with the school letter and personal sports number... And "gym bags", as I have already seen the bigger boys(?), who went to "Westerly High", carrying theirs...

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Bats, Baseballs, Gloves with the smell of leather permeating through out the store... Oh'ya, basket balls, hockey sticks and pucks and ice skates... Dreaming of new skates as we were already skating at that age, either on the mill pond or Molly Pond, way back in the woods behind Browns' Store... Most of us boys and some young lady's used hockey sticks fashioned from blueberry tree branches that grew to the shape of a hockey stick(if cut just right)... I remember my father showing us how to do that... Ha, probably because we always stole his "electricians tape" to tape the splintered blade back together... Talking about making stuff, my father also taught me how to make a slingshot... Getting back to Burdicks', downstairs had plenty of fishing gear... A glass front showcase with a rotisserie of narrow shelves held, it seemed to me, 1000's of fishing lures... A shopper pushed a button to revolve the shelves... I pushed the button every Saturday that I went with my brother to Westerly... Also the firearms and ammunition was downstairs... After Burdicks', Wilcox Park... Just had to go to the Goldfish pond and view the Goldfish... Venturing back to Grants and walking over to the Pawtucket River bridge and to the other side to Connecticut... Back around and up to meet my brother and off to the train station to wait for Tally-ho... There was always plenty of time to explore the tunnel going under the tracks to the South Bound tracks while waiting for Mr. Matteson's bus... Accordion??? Billy??? Well, Billy went on to be a GREAT accordion player from Carolina, Rhode Island.............

In Reminiseing,"Why the/a bus"??? I guess it is that, put simply, "because it was available??? And at my age, 3rd grade to 6th grade living in the Village(1952 till 1956/7ish), again, because it was there and just a unquestionable thing to do in the day...Who, today would ever think that a bus ran from Carolina area to Westerly and back??? I would think that infomation, alone would startle the readers mind thoughts as that form of "Transportation" in Carolina, Rhode Island... Plus the "New Haven, Hartford Railroad Station in Shannock, have come back to me... I would imagine that "workers" used the bus line and the Shannock AND Bradford railroad station to get to work at the various mills still operating and other employment sites or other needs by commuters...Another reason; We still owned the package store and my mother probably was tending to it on Saturdays... On Saturdays, no school and our Mother would get us up and fed... AND, of course, scolded to behave that day.?.?.As she did Monday through Friday/Saturday... My Father would leave the Woodville Company to releave my mother to go home to tend to us, "already alone long enough boys" and my Sister Carol(4ish,5ish, 6ish, 7ish)To my rememberences, Carol never took the Westerly trip on Tally-ho... SOoooo, on those days, our Mother took Carol with her to the package store... If Mrs. Bertwhislte was living, she could, I'm sure, tell a few tales about "The Phillips Boys", ha... "We Were Not Saints"!!! Billy, being 3 years older, 10ish, 11ish, 12ish, 13ish, could have been baby-sitting me, ha... Don't forget the 'RESPONSIBILITIES" that we were taught in those days... AND, at my age, 8ish, 9ish, 10ish, the "RESPONSIBILITY" to, ha, to ACT responsible was somewhat responsible, ha... I'm sure my "adventures" in Westerly would not have been approved by my Mother and Father, ha, as I said, "ACT" "RESPONSILE"... Shannock had the "Shannock Spa", owned by Mr. (Carl)Richards... It wasn't even a thought process to ride bikes to the "Shannock Spa" and get a icescream... It was simply the thought of getting icecream... Or a comic book or dream about the "Rifle" hanging on the wall in Mr. Richards' corner where he sold guns and ammo... And, I don't know of anybody that didn't like the alure of a train... The Shannock Station was still operating... Walking in and around the station was enough to bring "Real Train Robbers" and "Rustlers" to the fanticies of a young boy... AND the FBI WANTED list with at least 1 waiting in the darkness to rob a train... And to this day, I don't know how the mail bag dissappeared that hung from a pole on the opposite side of the track... AND can't forget Whiteings(spelling) Store either in Shannock... Shoping in quanity or what the locals couldn't get from Mr. Browns' Store, a trip to Westerly in the Hudson was in order... That is where my first taste of Chinese food was eaton, China Village... Just to walk into JC Penny's and watch the overhead trolley system bringing customers money for purchases UP to the second floor cashier/clerk and the return trip with the change and receipt(same as the vacuum tube delivery of todays banks)...First Motion Picture, which I remember "Brear Rabbit" being one of the firsts... I have to say, that only happened when, I'm sure, "the money was right"... Another shopping trip was to Artic, West Warwick... Artic had a SEARS while Westerly had a "Monkey Wards"(Montgomery Wards)... Trips to Artic were rare... Christmas for sure, to see the lights and the new Garden City was all light-up at Christmas time... Artic had "Electric Street Cars" and Carolina had Tally-ho bus lines and Mr. Broomfield's Open Rolls Royce... Mr. Broomfield drove a open Rolls Royce... The old car with brass lights and brass everywhere would pop and fart, and spit and sputter up through town... One day I had all the nerve I could muster, and some, ha, to ask him where he was going... He yelled down to me;; "up to Wrights Garage and get them to make this car run better"... Ha, of course, the next day, he continued to yell at us kids to get off his "Bridges of Carolina"... Of all the transportation available to folks in Carolina, Rhode Island,I never did get to ride in Mr. Broomfield's Rolls Royce...

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Carolina's Basketball Teams

Back behind the Grimes' house was a big field that belonged to Mr. Broomfield... A big ole barn stood next to the field which a lot of us kids used as a fort, a Ponco Villa hide-out, a way station, ha, anything we wanted it to be... Well, the bigger boys, My Brother Billy, Barry Grimes, Georgie Berssford(spelling), Richard Lilligren and his older Brother, whose name escapes me and the Edwards boys, Frances boys, etc, etc, etc were old enough to be interested in basketball... I don't know how many of us there was, but when it was decided, the wooden floor came out of that barn as faster than the carpenters who had put it in, ha... Floor boards went flying out the open windows and doors... We wasted no time and there was a basketball court and we commenced to play... Endless energy alll of us had... I don't know where the backboards and nets came from but they were there...

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I was never aware of any of us to start smoking... Seems like we didn't have time to smoke, thinkin about it... My Brother Billy and I did get caught "trying out our 5c corncop pipes" though... In back of the Bertwhistle/Money house, was not only the big barn but plenty of land for planting a garden... When we moved in from the Hemlock Inn, almost immediately my father started cultivating and planting, along with my Mothers' and Billy and me helping... Well, when the corn got silky, Billy and I dried some for tobacco... The Bertwhistle/Money house sits pretty high up from rt 112, or Main St... A big high granite retaining wall on Main St, with granite steps led up to a side-walk to the house... Billy and I jumped to the ground and sat behind the wall from our Parents view... Not giving one thought that John Quinns' Parents house was in plain view accross the street... Ha, when Billy and I finished trying out our 5c corncob pipes, we went up-stars to get our fannies switched... Mrs. Quinn cranked-up the operator and got our Mother on the phone and described everything Billy and I was doing...

We had chickens in part of the barn that led to a outside fenced-in chicken yard... What the garden gave us and the eggs, I'm sure, helped... Most of the Carolinians still had their barns in the back of their homes... The Edwards had a couple cows... There was the Dufficy farm up Butter Lane... It seemed to me the Mr. Pendleton lived somewhere up Butter Lane...

And Irving Mason... To be continued................

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Irving Mason

In retrospect, Irving Mason was to Carolina, Rhode Island as Bill Porter, Watkins Co Salesman, was to Portland, Oregon, www.watkinsonline.com... I have no idea, though, that Erving Mason had cerebral palsy... Please don't READ anything into this personal recollection of Erving Mason... Erving Mason lived with his parents across the road from Charlie and Hazel Dyson... Erving went door to door, asking the head of the household that he would be glad to go "shopping" for their grocery and household items... Now, the ole mill store was still operating... Browns store and later, Melbourne's store out on 91... If I'm not mistaken, Mr. Melbourne was operating the ole mill store at the foot of Mill Lane and later moved out to rt. 91... Anyway, Erving had these 3 locations, including Wrights Garage to go shopping for his customers... Erving would retrieve the items and walk, yes walk back to each residence to make the deliveries... Erving carried a "hand basket" holding the items in his walks around Carolina...

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Later, after Browns' Store closed, and the ole mill store closed, Erving, somehow, had a store building built across the street from the Bitgoods residence and that the Bitgoods owned the land... It was a bread and milk store, primarily... AND Icescream:):):) Berssfords(spelling) Icecream had closed much earlier in the 50's or very late 40's... There was one other lil icescream store up on the flats past the Octagon House... Can't remember the name, though... BUT, as I write, we had plenty of icescream in Carolina; Wrights Garage, Melbournes' Store, Erving Mason's, and the lil store up on the flats and near-by Shannock Spa...

Getting back to Erving, he also sold vegetable plants, flower plants, onion settings, etc, etc, etc... I had always been very industrious as most the boys competed for mowing the lawns, raking the leaves, shoveling the snow for spending money... I had asked if Erving needed someone to haul water from the well located on the back of the land towards Flat Rock... Ha, I got the job and got my icescream also:):):) Somehow I had thought Erving owed me more than I was getting paid... Erving had several bales of peat stacked near-by and I was sitting on one and fuming that I thought I deserved more for watering the plants... I took my jack-knife out and commenced to cut the burlap wrapping and mischievously started spilling the peat on the ground... Well, Erving got mad, as was expected but instead of giving me more money, Erving told my Father... When my Father got home from The Woodville Co., instant spanking and ass kickin... Threw me into Hudson and drove out to Erving's store... Made me apologize and threw me back into the Hudson and drove back home... We used to park the vehicles up near the barn and walk to the house(Bertwhistles)... I got my fanny kicked a couple more times and my Father asked; "where is the jack-knife"... I sulkingly dug it out of my pocket and gave it to my Father... He wound up his arm and threw that knife towards Butter Lane and I watched it sailing in the air and marked the spot, so to speak... Of allll the searching for that knife, I never found it...

I continued to buy icescream from Erving but he kept a keen eye on me while I was in his store... At that early age, I should have learned but I didn't... I had a streak of mischievousness/larceny in me that finally got curbed with bad experiences and mellowing out, ha... If Denny Gardner is reading this, I DID NOT steal your transmission!!!!! Alcohol became a part of my life from birth as my beginnings were at the Hemlock Inn... Ole Charlie told me that it was damn near impossible for me to escape alcohol...I know, first hand, the history of Roland Hazard and the Oxford Group and Rolands' history with Ebby Thatcher and of Ebby taking the Message to Bill Wilson... Bill Wilson became the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous along with Dr. Robert(Dr. Bob) Smith... AND the "Leave It To Beaver Phillips' Family that started out, did not end as a "family" at alllll, YET!!!

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More Hemlock Inn

Mom and Dad behind the bar

My Mother, Anna and my Father, George behind the bar at Hemlock Inn... Man on right is Joe Foster... Man in the Middle is Tex... If you look behind my Mother and Father, you'll see the first Television in Carolina... To the right there is a glass display case... In that case is a ship, the Estonia... My Grandfather John, hand carved the Estonia to almost scale... There are 2 "Steam" engine rooms with smoke curling out of each stack... All the bottom sails are furled out on the 4 masts... The upper sails are "wrapped/tied-up" on each mast cross-arm...Of course one can't see from the photo, but there is a little man standing in the "crows nest"... Several little men on and around the deck and in the rigging... Rigging with there rigging blocks and "lines"(Lines,not rope)all to scale and count... The display case used to be lighted with "flashlight battery power" which illuminated the interior of the bow showing the gears of the anchor machinery... Certain port-holes were also lighted... It took John Gronstrom many years to hand-carve that ship... It amasses me at what John Gronstrom accomplished in his life time...

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The "Chicken Coop", I was told, started out as a nickname for the business... Story is that when Prohibition was enacted, John moved allll the boose out to one of his several chicken coops, which he also raised poultry and eggs... So, the men in town used to tell each other that they were going to the(secret) chicken coop... I do remember photos of the Feds emptying John's bottles of booze on the ground... My Mother remembered "bathtubs" full of booze brewing, ha... BTW, John also worked for Kenyon Mill in and around this time-frame of building, building, building... Not to mention the boat he built, named after??? G, for sure is Gronstrom... Peggy's Mothers' name, my Mothers' sister, is Fannie Aline Gronstrom... Evidently, the Aline came for the "Old Country" Gronstroms'... Gee, another research project, ha...

To the right of Joe Foster was the Dance Hall... Also shown in the second photo of Hemlock Inn with the addition built-on in the right of the photo...John Gronstrom & family, being of their Estonian/Finnish decent were very much associated with the Finnish/Estonian community... Finnish friends were John and Lulu Saila(There Son is Saul Saila) of "Sandy Pond Lodge", out on the Switch Road next to Perrault's potato fields, with a large Finnish/Estonian customer base... Firdays and Saturdays were Polka, Polka, Polka, ha... The bands had a stage to set-up on and to play... There was "Records Made On The Spot"... My Brother Bill has the vinyl, larger than 78's, records... I was very much intrigued with the drums one night and playing around with the symbols... Finally, the drummer said; "DON'T TOUCH THE SYMBOLS"!!!!! During the week, the dance hall was one big empty "Playground"... My cousin Peggy remembers rollerskating on the dance floor with skates Gramps John gave her for a present... Well, she recalls, Grama yelled at her and Gramps shuuued her to somewhere to skate, ha... There was a old wicker wheelchair that Billy and I pushed each other around the dance floor in... Maybe belonged to Grandma or Grandfather???

My brother and I had no playmates out there in the woods... We used to play G-men and cops and robbers in and around allll the cars in the parking lot... Then eventually we got summoned in to go to bed as I was only 7 years old when we moved from the Hemlock inn... Bobby Manchester and his Mother(name?) and Father, "Rip", also a bartender, lived in a apartment above the barroom with a outside entrance of a flight of stairs to the second floor... Rip worked for Quonsett as a plumber and was Carolina's plumber for years... Bobby Manchester was Billy's age... The 3 of us, in the summertime, would ride our bikes, mine being the hard rubber tire bike, to "Sandy Pond Lodge" for swimming and Sauna(Finnish steam bath)...

I remember 2 Halloweens at the Hemlock... One, my Mother(excellent sewer)made me a "Porky the Pig" costume with a longer then a real pigs tail... And the other was a "Clara Bell the Clown" suit (see www.retroland.com/clarabell)... Not being taken to the Village, the barroom was where Halloween happened... I remember the "Box" Clara Bell/I wore around the waist and the patrons put their money in the box and I squeezed the bicycle horn in response, ha.....

Another important memory of the Hemlock Inn was the Nickelodeon placed at the back wall of the barroom... The mechanics of the machine amazed as I watched, and watched, and watched the movements and listened to the music... The Men's-room and Ladies-room was located to the left of the Nickelodeon... There was a storage closet there with the VFW marching rifles with boxes of "Blank" ammunition used in "Gun Salutes" The VFW's American Flag and other VFW group "stuff"... Years later, the Downy Weaver Post and the Gordon Greene Post were built... As I was 7 when we moved to the Village of Carolina, I went to Richmond Grammar School in the 1st grade... Jim Finny(Finnie?) was the bus driver... I don't remember the 1st grade teacher's name... Entering Charlestown Grammar School to Ms. Pine being 2nd grade teacher... And the Village was a whole new adventure... Walking to school was just the start of life in the village..............

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Bobby Philips Remembers Carolina Rhode Island - March 2013

"Tom Sawyer and Huckle Berry Finn in the 20th Century??? If you were raised in a 20 years behind the times Ole New England Mill Village, Yes!!! Carolina, Rhode Island is such a village.. Even to play Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in the 8th grade play with co-actor Mike Kenyon... I, Robert M (Bobby) Phillips, along with my older brother, William R (Billy) Phillips and younger sister Carol Ann Phillips(Thompson)... Of course there were Barry and Billy Grimes... Richard Lilegren... The Reverend Francis 2 boys, whose names escape me... The Edwards Brothers(Edwards Garage, Hope Valley Edwards) lived next to Dr. Duckworths'... George (Georgie) Bersford(Beserford's Ice Cream)... And a handful of other boys and girls of the era in the Charlestown and Richmond sides of Carolina. "

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"Carolina was a vast playground... The Pawtucket River, Ha, Call it the Mississippi and the adventures go on and on and on in Carolina, Rhode Island... I remember a bunch of us are going to build a raft, Yup, just like Tom and Ole Huckleberry... We worked our little fanny's off cutting trees down and limbing them and cutting them to length... Of course alllll schemed up during recess and our walks to and from school... We lashed those logs together and struggled to get allll that weight into the river , way in back of Broomfields mill, only to watch it float away and sink, ha... Down around that same raft building area on the river, we found a ole sunken row boat... What a treasure that was... We finally got her up on land and started our boat repairs... We lived on the second floor of Percy Bertwhistles' house, the first house across the river on the right on the Charlestown side... In back, there was a huge barn... On the top floor were garages and there were some "roll roofing" stored there... Probably Percys'... In those days, roll roofing came with a little "Campbell Soup" size can of tar... Just enough tar to spread a 1 1/2" from one end to the other to seal the matting layer... I stole allll the cans I could and we commenced to tar the hell out of the bottom of the rowboat, ha... Of course we already had her flipped over and did seat repairs, etc, etc, etc... I don't know where we got the nails and hammers from... And at recess and our walks to and from school, the boat was the talk... Now, Barry and Billy and Richard lived on the Richmond side and they took a bus way out to Richmond Grammar School... I'll never forget the "Launching day"... Ha, same as the raft... It floated out and got away from us in the current but to no avail anyway, It filled with water and sank..."

"Soooo many stories of Carolina... The fishing and just traipsing the shore of the mill pond catchin snakes and frogs, etc... Ha, and the Mill would take pages to fill of stories... My brothers' and sisters' origins though, for my first 6 years were in the Hemlock Inn.. Or still called "The Chicken Coop" by many of the locals... The Hemlock Inn was a barroom my Grandfather John Gronstrom built after his start in the booze business in “The Chicken Coop" on Pine Hill Rd... Gee, I don't know where to start here.. How about When Tarzan and Cliff Brown, Narragansett Indian stone masons, were building a wall at the base of "The cliff" next to Hemlock Inn... There was a old well over by the "Package store on the other side of the parking lot... It was Cliff that went down in the well and did a couple “War-hoops”… You could hear the “War-hoop”… like a big base horn, echoing out of the well... We were told that was a form of "Broadcasting voices" in their Native way... The Narragansett's were only able to buy liquor from the package store and were not allowed to drink in the barroom as I heard my father say one time, "Then they start acting like Indians", ha... Our personal kitchen and living room were on the 1st floor as was the barroom... It only took a push of a door from the kitchen to be "Behind the bar" so to speak... The spittoons around the bar foot rail.... Ole Joe Foster, and Tex were usually there... And there was something about Ole Chet Whaley(spelling)(the game warden) that I didn't like.. One day my mother was teaching me to ride my lil ole hard rubber tired bicycle in the parking lot... I could hear Ole chet Whaley's car poppin and fartin from down by the cemetery... He drove into the parking lot and asked; "Annie, what are you doing"(my mother hated annie)??? Well, Ole Chet picked me up under one arm and the bicycle in the other hand and put me on that ole bicycle and push me and I didn't stop till i got past the cemetery and coasted to a stop at “White Brook”… I found some matches in the garbage and went out on the woods and started a little campfire... Soon the fire got out of control and ran in the house and flopped on the couch... Exhausted, my mother asked what was the matter... “I just ran from Mr. Pickett's”, meanwhile my father and Sam Habarack was making cider in the garage and smelled smoke and call the Carolina Fire Dept... After the fire was out, the Chief gave me a good spanking, ha..."

"Of course Charlie Dyson had been in my life since birth... My father and Charlie went into the Navy the same day... Charlie always told the story how at recruitment, he and my father and every other recruit were stripped naked, "AND your father was right behind me", and how he was always going to get that man the gave the order for that... Of course Charlie never did know who and chuckled telling the story... "AND your father right behind me" always struck a clear memory of my father and Charlie naked, walking off to War..."

"Well, Carolina and Bobby have a lot in common... Stories, stories, stories.....Robert M(Bobby) Phillips "

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The Woodville Company

"My father, George Washington Phillips lll became one of the last "Industrialists" in textiles while tending the bar at the Hemlock Inn... Fred Kenyon(from England), owner of Kenyon Piece Dye Works, in Kenyon, RI, used to stop at the Hemlock to have his afternoon tea... Of course, Fred was not a stranger to my father... His father was "Master Mechanic" (Plant Engineer) for Fred at his mill Kenyon Piece Dye Works.

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Fred hired my Grandfather out from under Jessie Metcalf's employ as My Grandfather was "Boss Farmer" for Jessie at the Austin Farm in Exeter... Anyway, my Father also worked for Fred upon arriving in Carolina... Living at his Fathers' house on the right-hand corner of School Street... Since my Father married Ms. Kitty, so to speak, he became bartender tending to Fred Kenyon drinking his afternoon tea, ha... As I know the story, my Father asked Fred if there might be something for him to do besides tending bar... As my Father was not bartender stock nor a lint head as he quit Fred's mill... Fred did tell my Father of a company starting in one of Fred's other mill complexes in Woodville... A Harry Whiticake r(spelling) was starting a new "Carding" operation for synthetic fiber, mainly Nylon... But these cards for synthetics were not called cards... They were called Garnets... Did the same operation as a card, which is, opening and paralleling... Precisely the same operation performed on the Natural fibers in Carolina Mill...(for you inquisitive, Hope Valley Rope(B-Line), has 1 of our garnets in there operation of making rope)(A PBS/History event in its' own, Edward(Ed) Boglen... Brad Boglen, Great Grandson of Ed/539-2291)"

Well, getting to the point, Something happened to Harry Whitaker and my Father and Fred went into partnership forming the Woodville company... The tin-roof on the original mill, still standing, is the tin roof that Grandfather Gronstrom took off the Hemlock Inn...I believe my Brother Bill, Knoxville has some Woodville + a DVD with Fred, and his 2 sons, Fred & Steven, photos... I have some George W. Phillips Co photos

Well, that is the quick of it... My Father and Fred eventually broke their partnership with my father continueing as George W. Phillips Co... My father delivered the first "sliva" to Ole Ed Boglen for Ed to spin and lay rope out of... Now, Hope Valley was quite a industrial center in its' day with Rob-Roy Rawlings' train going from Woodriver Jct to Hope Valley... Hence the name "Switch Rd".

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Iron Work is His Hobby as Well as his Work

The Providence Journal – Bulletin
Tuesday, August 16, 1988

COVENTRY — Most homeowners know Robert M. "Bob" Phillips, 43, of Phil-Weld on MacArthur Boulevard, as the man who makes those beautiful wrought iron railings.

His fancy iron work decorates homes from Coventry ranch houses to mansions on Ocean Road, Narragansett. It ranges from fancy railings to ornate curved railings around big semi-circular balconies overlooking the ocean.

Bobby Phillips

But his skills are broader than that. He runs a one-man machine shop; where he can do just about anything with metal, using power machinery and gadgets of his own invention.

The shop is so crammed with a steel press, milling machine, metal lathes, a power metal saw and other wall-to-wall equipment, it's hard to go anywhere without stepping on metal shavings from the latest job.

Lawn decorations, besides flower pots and wind-driven items, feature a 1904 reciprocating saw and an old cement mixer.

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"I love it," he says of his shop. It's good that he does, because he eats and sleeps in the next room, at on end of a building that was once a small shopping center for the Truman Heights development.

Expert Welder

Once iron work has been designed and assembled, it has to be welded, so he's an expert welder. His skills are in demand. Excavating contractors seek him out for repairs to heavy equipment such as backhoes and bulldozers. He's on call to do emergency work at state garages. New parts he's making to replace worn ones on the state's hydraulic Mack dump truck equipment are expected to extend its life four years, he said.

Phillips comes naturally by an ability to do things with his powerful hands. "I've been around machinery since I was five years old," he said. But that has been supplemented by training. "I'm a mechanical engineer. I studied mechanical engineering at New England College in Henniker, N.H."

His grandfather, George Washington Phillips Jr., was boss farmer and general factotum at the late U.S. Sen. Jesse H. Metcalf's Austin Farm in Exeter. "That was a job in which, if anything needed fixing, you fixed it. He did blacksmithing etc. The farm was self-sufficient," he said. His grandfather later became master mechanic at Kenyon Piece Dye Works.

His father, George Washington Phillips 3rd, now of Knoxville, Tenn., was also a farmer, later in the textile business. "I worked on my father's 100-acre farm near Woodville, Richmond." he said. “I also worked for him when he had the Woodville Company in an old mill in Woodville."

Phillips worked for Leesona Corp. after New England College, wanting to try something else, then in Warwick, as a design engineer for a while. "But my father asked me to come back and work.”

Leesona now in the South. The company was sold. I see a cycle in these things in the textile business. When labor and other costs get too high, they move."

"He does some unbelievable work," said his girlfriend, Jayme. She helps out by painting some of the iron work. Her father, Charles Molineau of Coventry, who started at West Warwick Welding Company, has also done wrought iron work.

"My father's still working at my brother Charles Jr.'s, Eastern Iron Works, off Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick," she said.

Phillips has also come up with a better design for a part crucial to lace manufacturing. A lace manufacturer told him his doesn't break the way others have. He may also inherit mechanical ability from his mother's side. Her father, who came from Estonia, was a ship's carpenter.

Most of the iron work is done cold, not hot as used to be done by blacksmiths, he said. Sometimes it has to be heated to bend, but normally he uses cold metal and shapes it with jigs and power equipment.

Donning his welder's helmet and working with a truck-mounted Lincoln Arc Welder, sparks flying, he welded a thick metal part for a backhoe. A nearby sign warned not to watch the bright arc without eye protection. "It won't bother you, unless you're up close to it," he assured.

"You can't be afraid to get your lands dirty" he said. I remember when my brothers and I were kids and our father got parts from a Philadelphia company. They came packed in Cosmoline, and our job was to wash them off with gasoline.”

"You've got to be willing to work hard," he said. "That last mansion job in Narragansett nobody in the state wanted to touch. I had to bend the railing by hand and heat it. I had to hoist it up to the balcony with ropes."

Does he have any hobbies? "My work is my hobby," he said. "I used to be in the Model A Ford Club. You put your heart and soul in fixing them up, and it's expensive. Now I'm thinking of getting into steam engines."

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Jim Ferris

Percy Bertwhistle owned the "Money" house where we lived, on the 2nd floor, after the sale of the Hemlock Inn. Was Percy's wife a Money??? Also, a Jim Ferris moved to Carolina with his wife Betty Bertwhistle from Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Jim was/is from.

Jim Ferris was the tallest man I ever did see... Jim was a excellent archer. He would demonstrate his skill to us kids to our amazement. One time, we were standing on the "down river" bridge side in Charlestown. A big ole snake was swimming downstream and Jim had his bow and he loaded a arrow and shot that snake right in the head with the arrow; at least 75 to 100 feet away. I'm the kid that ran down the stone wall/embankment to the river bank and retrieved the snake swimming in the river.

Jim Ferris sure was a piece of enjoyment for us kids that knew him. Jim bought a Metropolitan from Roy Wrights Garage (Hudson distributorship). Jim worked for Kenyon Mill as did Percy Bertwhistle and they rode together in that Metropolitan. Watching Jim get in and out of that little car was as interesting as watching him show us kids his archery skills. Jim and Betty sold the Money house way after we moved to our 100 acres and I believe he moved to Stonington, Connecticut where Jim continued his career as a school teacher... BUT, was Percy's wife(Elisabeth?) a Money?

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Lace Making in Carolina

Lace making was another Carolina business... There was a man named Bradley that had a lace mill on Ide Farm Rd past where Washington County Fair Grounds is. Also, the Cekalla's(spelling/Polish) had a mill behind the Chinese Resturant in Wyoming. Another one was out on Arcadia Rd. (may have the wrong road).

Coventry RI was called "The Lace Capital of the World". Leaver's Lace Mill, shown in this Vimeo video, is still in operation in West Greenwich, RI. York Roberts, the owner, was a customer of mine. I know you are going to enjoy these videos of lace being made from/on machines over a 100 years old. Also, here is a small video clip showing lace being made in Rhode Island for replicas of royal wedding dress:I love this kind of American History.

Lastly. here is a link that you are going to get simply lost in; The New England Wireless and Steam Museum. I have been a active volunteer there for over 20 years.

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