Part of our work is to preserve physical artifacts from Southampton's history. We have plenty of old documents and maps and some interesting pieces of ephemera from our town's past, but one of the hardest things to document are the personal stories. These stories can help bring to life some of these objects and artifacts in our collection.
Below is one such story from someone who was born and raised in Southampton who now lives far away and was inspired by some of our recent blog posts to muse on her past. I encourage all of you if inspiration strikes you to do the same! Please do not hesitate to send an email my way with any interesting locally based story you might have. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Pamela Aldridge Damus
Miss Peter’s dress shop on Main St., Southampton. Diane and Pamela Aldridge (c. 1951). In audience are Miss Kennebrook (shiny earring), 1st grade teacher and in front of her, Mrs. Foster, Kindegarten teacher. Both are from Southampton Elementary
I was born in Southampton in 1948 and graduated with the class of 1966 at Southampton High School.
My parents, Clifford and Audrey Schwenk Aldridge, lived at 95 Burnett St. and then moved into my mother’s parents’ (Edwin and Rosalind Miller Schwenk) home at 47 Lewis Street after they built a new home at 186 Herrick Road. That Herrick Road house was built by Ed Koral’s company and was across the street from the high school principal, Dick Spooner and family.
Left Image: 1916 photo of Edwin Schwenk Sr. (In WWI uniform) and Rosalind Miller Schwenk
Right Image: 47 Lewis Street in 1960
Mr. Schulman, who owned the 5 & 10 cent store on Main Street, lived on the corner of Herrick & Little Plains and Allen & Audrey Cameron lived next door. The house at 47 Lewis St. was part of Schwenk’s Dairy that extended to Little Plains Road. There was once a bottle plant there in addition to offices and various garages and a loading dock. My mother helped out as the bookkeeper. My grandfather, Ed Schwenk, started as a milkman delivering glass milk bottles in a carrying case to local and summer residents. According to my grandmother, she fell for him when he leapt over their fence with the milk delivery.
As I get older, I grow nostalgic about my childhood in Southampton. No locked doors, telephone operators who connected you by name, knowing 99% of the merchants on Main St., Job’s Lane and Hampton Road, the police force, local volunteer fireman, family doctors who came to your house carrying a black leather doctor’s bag (this continued into the 1960’s), biking to Cooper’s Beach for the day, playing outside until called in for dinner, the annual Halloween children’s school parade down Main Street to the theatre where best costumes were awarded a prize of $1.00. In high school, relay races were held at night following any trick or treating. Winter brought many January snowstorms, ice skating on Old Town Pond and Big Fresh in North Sea. Boo Frankenbach was in charge of testing the ice in North Sea for safety. Main Street was lined with individual decorated and lit Christmas trees and the gates of the Parrish Art Museum displayed those beautiful angels. Sip n Soda was our place to hang out after school. Crutchley’s Crullers next door smelled heavenly and Bob Keene’s bookstore was a treasure. Corwith’s Pharmacy had a counter with 2 uniformed ladies serving food.
Some of my memories while self-isolating due to Covid in Sierra Madre (Pasadena), California.