|Adiel H. Hathaway||Julia L. (Reed) Hathaway|
|There isn't too much to tell you about my parents. They were very poor, ordinary people, who worked hard.--Dorothy Hathaway Lang|
Life is made up of several series of events that repeat themselves with predictable regularity. Each day we rise. We wash. We eat. We go to work. Each seventh day is different from the rest in a predictable way. The year is marked off by special days and seasons, that repeat the year before. Yes, each generation repeats the one before. We grow. We marry. We have children. We die. And life goes on. Each cycle–each day, week, and year–is like the one before. Each is also a little different. The differences give life excitement. The sameness gives us a sense of security and stability.
For Adiel Hathaway, the day began at 4:30 A.M. He peeled potatoes and put them on to boil. He put the meat on to cook. It might be herring, which would go into a big pan–as big as the oven–to bake. Or it might be some other kind of fish or meat. With breakfast cooking, Adiel called his wife, Julia, and she got up.
Adiel then went out to take care of the animals. His little farm had a little bit of everything, but not much of anything. There were chickens, pigs, cows, ducks, turkeys, geese, and a large garden. All were raised for the family to eat. Adiel fed and watered the animals.
In the house, Julia was now up. She set the table for breakfast. She packed the lunches for the children to take to school. Then she put breakfast on the table. Adiel, Julia, and all the children, ate a hearty breakfast of meat and potatoes around the large kitchen table.
The children left for school on the barge. The barge was a wagon pulled by two horses. It had wooden walls on each side, with windows, and a roof, but was open in the back. There were seats all along the sides for the children. In the middle was a low bench for the smallest children. The horse slowly plodded the five miles to the center of Fairhaven. It took about three quarters of an hour before all the children got off at their various schools.
Adiel was a rural mail carrier. After breakfast, he left for the post office in Fairhaven, to pick up the mail. For thirty years, ten months, and nine days he delivered the mail.
With a wagon open on both sides to permit him to reach mail boxes, he delivered mail for 15 years before he changed over to auto delivery in 1917. –New Bedford >Standard, 9 July 1932At first his route covered parts of Fairhaven, Mattapoisett and Acushnet. At one time he had 486 boxes to cover. As new routes were added, Adiel’s circuit was cut down to part of Fairhaven. He drove twenty-seven miles in the morning.
Kindly and cheerful, Mr. Hathaway is more than a letter carrier to most folks on his route. He is a family friend who shares the joys and sorrows of those he serves.–New Bedford Times 8 July 1932Meanwhile, Julia was busy at home. From 1890 to 1917, there were only three years she didn’t have a child under four to care for. There was cleaning, washing, and ironing. There was bread to bake. There was dinner to prepare.
By 2:00 P.M. most of the mail was delivered, and Adiel was home for dinner. Julia had a list ready, of things she wanted from town.
After dinner, Adiel delivered mail on Sconticut Neck. When he used a horse and wagon, he switched to a fresh horse at this time. He had to maintain two horses and the wagon at his own expense. Then, with all the mail delivered, he drove to the Fairhaven Post Office. He posted the letters that people on his route had given him to mail. Often he did other errands in town for people on the Neck. He did the family shopping, and then went home.
Meanwhile, the children returned on the barge. In the evening they ate a light supper. It might be just bread and molasses, or bread with heavy cream and sugar–but it was always good. And everyone had chores to do. Daughter Dot recalled:
We all had chores to do. Nobody was exempt from chores. My mother could never do it all with eight children. Never!Bread was kneeded about every other night. The dough was placed in a big metal bread mixer. Dot recalled, “We used to stand and grind it by the hour, for goodness sake, to mix that bread up good and proper.” Sometimes the children ground peanuts for homemade peanut butter. Older children cleaned the lamp chimneys and filled the lamps. Younger children washed dishes. There were beds to make, washing and ironing, animals to feed, and a coal space heater to stoke. Ironing was a chore in a large family. And a mail carrier was in the public. He needed a clean shirt every day.
You’ve got to give those people credit. They worked hard and they worked from morning to night–Dorothy Hathaway LangOn Wednesday, Julia went to Sewing Circle. In later years she went to Grange two Thursday nights a month. But mostly she was at home all week.
Saturday was more work. Dot recalled cooking all day, to get ready for Sunday. Saturday night, Adiel and Julia drove to New Bedford to go shopping. This was their “night out.”
Sunday morning, Adiel was in charge of breakfast: doughnuts. Dot recalled,
What a beautiful memory I have of that! I shouldn’t forget it. He made doughnuts every Sunday morning. We kids stood at his elbow. We ate every doughnut hole. He’d give one to one, and they’d go off, and another one would take another one. And the first would be right back again, for the next doughnut hole to come.The children walked a short distance to Sunday School. Julia stayed home, cooking dinner.
Sunday afternoon the married children came home with their spouses and children. The many grandchildren played with their cousins, with their younger aunts and uncles, and with neighbor children. Pauline Krumbholz Maxfield recalled,
The front lawn was bigger then. We’d play games in the evening after supper. We played ‘Red Light,’ ‘Hide ‘n’ Seek’ and ‘Sardines.’Occasionally Adiel and Julia went to an evening service at the chapel.
The two biggest days of the year were the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. The whole family was home for Thanksgiving. Adiel made the turkey stuffing. The kitchen had a big table, but it wasn’t big enough. The men and grandchildren sat down and ate. Then the table was cleared, dishes washed, table reset, and the women sat down to dinner.
Fourth of July meant a clambake in the woods. Adiel and Julia fussed over it for days. Besides their own family, Adiel’s brothers and sisters came with their families. In later years, everyone chipped in for fireworks. All enjoyed a late chowder supper made by Adiel.
ADIEL HARVEY8 HATHAWAY (John7, David6, Salathiel5, Thomas4, Arthur3, John2, Arthur1) was born at Wareham, Massachusetts, on 25 January 1864, the fifth of six children. His parents were John Phineas King Hathaway and Lydia (Bumpus) Hathaway. The family home, in West Wareham, may have been on Siepet Street, near what is now the intersection of Route # 28 with County Road. As a young man, Adiel worked for the Tremont Nail Company, near home.
According to family tradition, Adiel once had a date with Emaline Reed. Her little sister Julia came along. They went for a canoe ride. When the canoe tipped over, Em didn’t think it was very funny, but Julia did. After that, Adiel dated Julia. Adiel married Julia L. Reed at Rochester, Massachusetts, on 15 June 1889.
JULIA LAWTON8 REED (Philip7, Lemuel6, Anna5, Thomas4, William3, James2, William1) was born at Fairhaven, Massachusetts, on 9 March 1873, the fourth of four children. Her parents were Philip and Emaline (Sekell) Reed. When Julia was born, her father was about 64; her mother about 33. Before Julia was nine months old, her father was dead. Julia was raised by her mother, at her home at 251 Sconticut Neck Road, Fairhaven.
Adiel worked for the railroad as a fireman. They apparently moved frequently. Their first child was born at Fairhaven in 1890, their second at Mansfield, Massachusetts, in 1895, and their third at Taunton, Massachusetts, in 1897.
Adiel lost his job with the railroad. His hearing had deteriorated; he could no longer hear the stopwatch. There was no unemployment insurance back then; Adiel was just out of a job. This was probably around 1900. They drifted down to Sconticut Neck in Fairhaven. Daughter Dot thought that they lived in the “Swain” house on Sconticut Neck Road. During this lean period, Adiel and Julia gathered clams and quahogs in the mud flats along Sconticut Neck, and sold them.
About this time some people circulated a petition for a rural mail route in Fairhaven. Adiel’s name was included in the petition to be the carrier. The route was approved, and Adiel began work on 1 September 1901, the first rural carrier attached to the Fairhaven Post Office.
Julia’s mother Emaline was diabetic. Julia was nearby, and must have been much help for her mother. But Emaline reached the point where she couldn’t take care of herself. So sometime after 1907, Julia and Adiel and their six children moved in with Julia’s mother. From then on, 251 Sconticut Neck Road was home. On 14 April 1910, Julia Hathaway became the owner of the property of one acre and forty rods. Two days later they mortgaged the property for $200, so that Adiel could build an addition to accommodate his large family. The mortgage was paid off in the 1920s.
Julia ran up and down the stairs several times a day, caring for her mother, who stayed in a small upstairs room. Diabetics were worse off then, compared to today. There was no insulin. They had to control their sugar with diet. They had to eat a special gluten bread. Dot said with distaste, “When you take a bite it all squishes to nothing in your mouth.”
The family was moving on. In 1912 their oldest child married; in 1913 their eighth child was born. Julia discovered that she, too, was diabetic.
Grandma Reed died on 6 June 1915. The funeral was in the home; the younger children went to a babysitter. About this time Julia had another child, a girl, who died. Julia’s diabetes may have contributed to this child’s death.
Sometime around 1919 or 1920, Adiel and Julia were in a traffic accident. They were driving home from New Bedford on Saturday night. A man was selling short lobsters on Sconticut Neck Road from a horse drawn wagon with no lights. Adiel ran right into the back of the wagon with his Ford touring car. Julia had seventeen stitches in her forehead, and couldn’t do anything for weeks. Dot called the event “a turning point in our lives.”
In 1928 Adiel was in a more serious traffic accident while delivering the mail. A horse, pulling a hay wagon, bolted, and ran into his car. A shaft of the wagon shattered the windshield of Adiel’s car, broke the steering wheel in two, and grazed his head. (For a full account of the accident in the Fairhaven Star see below.)
Adiel soon recovered and returned to work. Shortly after this, probably in 1928 or 1929, Julia was hospitalized. In trying to control her diabetes she had over dieted. She was too frail. She was having a nervous breakdown; she was weepy all the time. Dot, the youngest daughter, dropped out of school to take care of her; she slowly recovered.
In 1932 Congress passed a law requiring older postal workers to retire. Adiel, now 68, retired on Saturday, 9 July 1932. He had traveled somewhere between 250,000 to 300,000 miles as a rural mail carrier. (Both New Bedford newspapers interviewed Adiel at the time of his retirement. For the full texts of their stories see below). At his retirement, his co-workers gave Adiel an overstuffed chair, something he never had before.
On 22 May 1935 Adiel Hathaway planted his garden. That night (23 May), he died in his sleep. He was seventy-one years old. He liked people and people liked him back. He was happiest when he had the newest grandchild seated on his lap.
On 21 September 1938, the tides of the Great New England Hurricane swept across Sconticut Neck. The water was over three feet high in the living room at 251 Sconticut Neck Road. But the upstairs, with four bedrooms and a bathroom, was intact. Daughter Dot recalled that after the hurricane son Adiel’s house was “just a stack of lumber.” After consulting with the other children, Julia sold the house to son Adiel for a dollar. With the help of the Red Cross he fixed up the house. The floor boards were all warped. They had to be ripped out, dried out, and relaid. Julia lived for a while with daughter Harriet in New Bedford. About 1940 she went to live with daughter Leita on Sassaquin Pond, New Bedford. Julia moved with daughter Leita to Lincoln Street in New Bedford, and finally back to the Neck, to live at 7 John Street.
The diabetes gradually progressed. In later years, Julia read with a magnifying glass and gave herself insulin shots. She died on 5 October 1956. She was eighty-three years old.
Adiel and Julia were buried with many other family members at Naskatucket Cemetery, on Route #6 in East Fairhaven, near the Naskatucket River.
The above story is based principally on interviews conducted in the period 1983-1985 with:
Adiel and Julia Hathaway had the following children:
Adiel H. Hathaway of Sconticut Neck Rd., rural mail carrier for 27 years,
suffered a severed artery and other injuries shortly after noon Friday when his automobile was struck by a runaway horse attached to a hay wagon on Washington Street in East Fairhaven. His car was badly damaged.
According to witnesses, the accident occured when the horse which was grazing in a lot near Shaw Street, became freightened and made a bolt for the street.
Seeing the animal and the heavy wagon headed directly for him, Mr. Hathaway, who was delivering mail, brought his car to a stop. The impact with the machine threw the horse to the ground. A shaft of the wagon struck the front part of the car, grazed the hood and Mr. Hathaway's head and went clear through the windshield. After the accident, the shaft was found sticking up in the air through the top of the car, the windshield was shattered into many pieces and the steering wheel was broken in two.
On the eve of his retirement as Fairhaven rural mail carrier, Adiel H.
Hathaway, of Sconticut Neck Road, Fairhaven today recalled how he began carrying mail Sept. 1, 1901, just 30 years, 10 months, and 10 days ago. His retirement is effective Sunday, but he will turn in his equipment Saturday when he finishes his last delivery for the day.
Mr. Hathaway, a native of West Wareham, was the first rural carrier attached to the Fairhaven Post Office. In those days the office was in the town hall, occupying space now used by the tax collector and other offices.
Mr. Hathaway has driven about 27 1/2 miles per day, so that in his 30 years on the job, he traveled either in his wagon or his trusty Ford, from 250,000 to 300,000 miles.
With a wagon open on both sides to permit him to reach mail boxes, he delivered for 15 years before he changed over to auto delivery in 1917. His route was much the same as it is now. He delivered letters and parcels first in North Fairhaven, then went to Washington Street in East Fairhaven as far as the town line at Mattapoisett.
But he had to make numerous side trips off the main line of his route to take in mail boxes on side roads. And for that, when he first started, Uncle Sam paid Mr. Hathaway $500 yearly, less than $10 weekly. He had to keep two horses and maintain his own wagon, keeping the balance, if any, for salary.
"I tell you I had to do some scratching to keep going then. I spent my evenings farming, and working around my farm on Sconticut Neck Road and doing any kind of work I could to make a dollar. That's been my motto, 'do anything to make a dollar'--if it was honest, of course," he declared "At one time I kept as many as 10 cows, and milked them every morning before going to work," he recalled.
Despite popular belief, Mr. Hathaway was unable to pick up any money doing errands for people on his mail route.
"The regulations didn't allow me to do anything but deliver mail," he explained. "Lots of people used to ask me to get things for them, when I was in town, but of course I couldn't."
Previous to carrying mail in Fairhaven, Mr. Hathaway worked at the old Tremont Nail Factory in Wareham. He lift there to work as a fireman for the Old Colony Railroad. He fired for a number of years on freight and passenger trains, and on excursion trains out of New Bedford.
"When I left the Tremont factory to go firing, Mr. Tobey, who ran the nail company, told me if I ever wanted to come back, he'd have a job for me. He wanted to know why I was leaving anyway, so I told him I saw a better chance for myself," Mr. Hathaway said.
Now that he has plenty of leisure staring him in the face, Mr. Hathaway is undecided what he will do.
"I can't be still though," he said, "I'll keep jogging around the place, doing something, I suppose."
He has eight children, all married but two. One of the latter was a June graduate of the Vocational School here.
Fellow employees in the Fairhaven Post Office tonight will be hosts to Mr. Hathaway in a farewell party to be held at Kelly's Wharf in Fairhaven.
For nearly 31 years Adiel H. Hathaway has been the rural free delivery
carrier of the Fairhaven post office, bringing messages of good cheer, friendly greetings, budgets of family news and sometimes sad tidings to the many families on his route. Kindly and cheerful, Mr. Hathaway is more than the letter carrier to most folks on his route. He is a family friend who shares the joys and sorrows of those he serves. Saturday he will make his last trip over the route for Sunday afternoon he retires from the United States postal service.
Mr. Hathaway doesn't want to retire but under the provisions of a bill passed by Congress at this session, he must.
"I feel as able to do the work as I ever did," he told the Times today. "But when Congress says that a man of a certain age must get out, he has to do it. That is all there is to it. I think I'm going to find time hanging heavy on my hands. I have a garden but I always managed to tend one in my spare time. I won't need all my time for that. I'm going to miss the boys here and the fine folks on my route like sixty."
Mr. Hathaway's eyes dimmed a bit as he talked of severing the connection of more than a quarter of a century. But as he began to recall his experiences when he first began on the route his face lighted up again and he became his old cheerful self. He was 68 Jan. 25.
"It was Congressman William S. Greene, who served this district so long, who brought about my appointment,: said Mr. Hathaway. "Billy Greene they always called him. He lived in Fall River, you know, for in those days New Bedford and Fall River were in the same district. There was a rural free delivery route in Acushnet first and a group of us who wanted one in Fairhaven consulted Capt. Franklin Howland out there about drawing up a petition. He suggested that they ask that I be named the carrier so that was included in the petition. There was a great demand for the route; and Congressman Greene pushed things right along. I started on the job September 1, 1901."
In those days, said Mr. Hathaway, the Fairhaven post office was located in the Town hall. W. C. Stoddard was the first postmaster he worked under. There were only two others in the office when Mr. Hathaway first began his work. They were Miss Helen Copeland and Carl Taylor.
There are now seven carriers alone in the post office and as they have been added thay have each taken slices from the route which Mr. Hathaway served. "Gracious, at one time I had 485 boxes to cover," said Mr. Hathaway. "I was sure on the jump in those days. You know a rural mail carrier doesn't just deliver the mail. He is a post office on wheels. He sells stamps, collects mail, takes money orders and registers letters. There is a lot more to our work than many folks think. When I first started I got $500 a year and had to maintain my two horses and keep my buggy in trim in the bargain."
Mr. Hathaway used two horses in covering his route at first. He used to change horses in the middle of the route. "I had some fine horses," said Mr. Hathaway. "They were my good friends. An automobile is a lot speedier of course, but say, I hated to give those horses up at first."
One day when Mr. Hathaway came into the post office, he saw a circular asking the postal employees to be on the lookout for the handwriting of a man who had stolen a large sum of money in the South. He had no connections with this section, but nevertheless Mr. Hathaway studied the handwriting specimen which was enclosed, very closely. Sometime after that when collecting the mail, he was amazed to see the handwriting on an envelope which looked like that of the criminal. He called it to the attention of the authorities and through his keenness, the thief was caught. Not one person in ten would have detected the writing the way Mr. Hathaway did, said the post office inspector who investigated the case.
During some blizzards when Mr. Hathaway has been unable to get through his route with the horses or the automobile, he has often left them and throwing his sack on his shoulder has walked over the route. One Saturday many years ago there was a heavy blizzard and he went out in a sleigh and delivered the mail on Sunday.
"I knew that the folks on the route didn't want to wait a minute longer than they had to for their mail and it was my job to get it to them as quickly as I could," he commented in telling of this incident.
Mr. Hathaway was born in West Wareham. He worked at the Tremont Nail Company and later was a fireman on the railroad. He has lived on Sconticut Neck Road, Fairhaven for about 32 years. When Mr. Hathaway first started there were 24 persons who had boxes on the route.
"But once the delivery service began the number of boxes went up by leaps and bounds," he commented, "Folks just rushed to get them."
His route now covers about 27 miles. There have been many times when it was longer. Mr. Hathaway can't say enough about the fine folks on his route. They are most kind and considerate he said and many of them have made it a point to remember the postman at Christmas.
"A priest on my route told me always to bring the mail to the door on Christmas day," he said. "He would shake hands with me and press a little remembrance into my hand. Yes, indeed, the folks I have had on my route are the salt of the earth, I think. They are always pleasant and never blame me if a letter they expected didn't come."
Mr. Hathaway says that he can't remember having had many outstanding experiences. "When one keeps busy it is sometimes hard to remember little things that happen," he commented.
Mr. Hathaway has a family of eight children living and 19 grandchildren. About the only advantage he can see to being retired is that it may give him a little more time to enjoy his fine grandchildren.
The associates of Mr. Hathaway at the Fairhaven post office spoke most appreciatively of him today.
"He's a great scout and we're going to miss him in many, many ways," they said almost in chorus, "If we're ever perplexed about finding a person, he can almost always help us out. Then he's always mighty helpful and looks for things to do to help folks."
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