Snapshots of Eldredge, Continued

by | Nov 4, 2022

Above: Charlie the Monkey with Herbert Wilson, father of Eldredge custodian Hub Wilson. The photo was taken at the family home on Crompton Avenue where Charlie spent the summers. You can see Greenwich Cove in the background. Photo courtesy of Joyce (Wilson) Williams.

Editor’s note: Bruce Mastracchio initially shared his “snapshots” of Eldredge (which we ran in October) with his email list. Two individuals responded with their own remembrances. They follow here: 

From Joyce Williams:

My dad, Hub Wilson, was the head custodian of the schools. He would come home from work to pick me up and take me to Eldredge every morning. Dad would always get me to school way too early and I would spend time sitting in the boiler room waiting for school to start, but Mrs. Dresser, the kindergarten teacher, had a better idea and asked me to help her set up her classroom for morning classes and I enjoyed doing that with her for quite some time. She had a closet in her classroom that had odds and ends scattered around the shelves and I was intrigued by a little bale of cotton that came from the South – a place that seemed like it was on a distant continent to me and some place I would probably never see. She allowed me to use the cotton bale for a report I wrote on cotton. She was a neat lady and I enjoyed my time with her. Ironically I did make it to that “South” place when I was married. My husband and I lived outside of Memphis and were surrounded by cotton fields.

My dad was also the owner of the infamous “Charlie the Monkey” who is woven in the tales of Eldredge School. Here is the scoop on where Charlie came from: My Uncle Charlie (my dad’s brother) sent the monkey to my mother during the war as a joke. Charlie arrived in a crate and proceeded to pull curtains off the window in the kitchen. Charlie would spend the summers at my grandfather’s house and the winters in the boiler room at Eldredge with my Dad. I understand he wasn’t a very nice monkey. 

From Mark Thompson: 

Bruce, great tales of Eldredge. I went there for 7th and 8th grades, 1965-67, and your recollections brought back a lot of fond memories. I wrote a little bit about it in my appreciation of Lou Lepry for EG News in 2018:

Not so long ago, I stopped by Eldredge during a summer trip to East Greenwich and, as usual, pushed on the basement-level door at the back of the school where we used to mill around, awaiting the start of a new school day. For the first time in decades, the door opened. Only when you’re older can one appreciate what a fine place for learning, via the curriculum and otherwise, this 1927 building was.

I quickly climbed the stairs to the second floor and peeked into the rooms where I learned so much from Mr. Lepry, Mrs. Behan, Mrs. Beirne, Mr. Monks, Mrs. Dunphy and Mr. Woodbury, all now gone. Peering down the long corridor, I could almost see Mr. Lepry acting like a between-period traffic cop outside the library. He leavened his insistence that we get to our next class on time with humor that greased the skids on some long days. At the western end of the second floor was a door that overlooked the gymnasium grandstand and the basketball court far below. I could almost hear the grunts and howls that sounded there when we played “murder ball” under Mr. Kershaw’s guidance. More than a half-century later, there is as much chance of playing a tough game called “murder ball” in junior high as there is of being hit in the head by the gym’s falling ceiling (oh wait, that happened in April).

Standing there outside the science classroom, I remembered the day when a fellow seventh-grade boy asked Mrs. Keane how come babies only happened after marriage. The class, most of us more worldly, were aghast and felt our classmate’s pain. “Well, I didn’t know a cow couldn’t give milk until after it had a calf,” Mrs. Keane deftly responded like the science teacher she was. “Talk to some of the boys for more details later,” she kindly suggested.

And got a kick out of your mention of Mrs. Pike. I took this photo of her 46 years ago and put it into the Pendulum on Sept. 1, 1976. Those were the days! 

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5 Comments

  1. Bruce

    Enjoyed the comments of Joyce and Mark on Eldredge School. Wish some more people would write in about their “snapshot” experiences at that beautiful place of memories. Even include pictures. Sliding down the terrace, with or without snow. muckleball in the mud, movies on rainy days. EGHS football used to walk down to the field for Saturday afternoons in front of an adoring crowd filling the Veterans War Memorial Stadium, built I think by WPA workers of another time. The dances chaperoned by Mrs. Carr and always some other teachers. Mr. May was one. He is 95 and lives in Texas. We still stay in touch. He left in 1955 to work for Aramco in Saudi Arabia for 3x the pay. and went from coaching on football on Saturdays, to viewing beheadings in the town square on that day.
    The longer I think, the more I think about how good we had it, didn’t realize it at the time, but are becoming painfully aware of it now. Memories like the shadows in my mind. How I think of all those memories. Of the way we were.

    Reply
  2. bruce

    Enjoyed Joyce’s and Mark’s comments of a place that holds so many memories for a lot of people.
    “Could it be that life was oh so simple then. Or, has time rewritten every line ? if we had the chance to do it all again. Could we ? Would we ?” – Gladys Knight
    In a minute Gladys. An East Greenwich minute.

    Reply
  3. hub Brennan

    In EG tradition, I too am the son of an EG Herbert and nicknamed “Hub” just like the Wilsons. An association in which I take pride. …..Hub Brennan

    Reply
  4. Gordon Cooley

    I remember when Charlie the monkey was secured down in the groove beside the Wilson’s house. They also had a parrot, which I believe one of the gang sent home.
    Rumor had it that the parrot took a bite out of one of the gangs nose, when he was harrasing the feathered tyrant.
    They also had a goat in the groove, as well as an owl that Tiny captured by hand, over at Goddard park. What memories. If I got any of it wrong Joyce, please correct me.

    Reply
  5. Bruce

    Tiny had a glass eye. When he played football he wrapped a bandana around his head to protect it ( or he may have taken it out and wanted to protect the socket.
    Anyway, one day he went out to eat. He took the glass eye out of its perch and put it in his soup.
    Then he called the waiter over and said, ” Waiter, something’s in my soup.”
    With the bewildered waiter watching, Tiny spooned the eye out of the soup.
    Held it up for all to see.
    Wiped it off.
    Then put it back in its socket.
    True story.

    Reply

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