I was pleased to get your letter of October 12 and to learn that interesting people are living in the house on Cricket Lane. I was very fond of the place and only left because of a divorce.
The house was built around 1939 by an English-American, one Thomas Tawell (wife Dorothy, son Arthur). They were Quakers and the large upstairs room, then unfinished, was by Woods Hole Quakers for meetings. Thomas Tawell worked in the stacks at the MBL library and stood about 5' 4". He was called "Shorty", which went well with Tawell.
Three carpenters built the place. One was Scotty (Kenneth) Morrison, who came from Stornoway, outer Hebrides and was a shipwright who worked at WHOI for many years. Whether he was moonlighting at Cricket Lane or hadn't yet gone to work for WHOI, I don't know. Another was Sidney Peck, a cabinetmaker who lived on School Street in Woods Hole in the house where Edie Bruce now has her gallery (next to the school). The third I don't remember. Scotty Morrison told me that Sidney Peck drove him crazy on the project because, being a cabinetmaker, he wanted to sand every board. Both Scotty Morrison and Sidney Peck were known as binge drinkers, not doing it very often, but wholly incapacitating themselves when they did. Sidney Peck was said to shut himself up in a cupboard and refuse to come out. I remember him as a quick small man in eyeglasses and sneakers.
The Tawells built the house because they expected to have to house English relatives during the blitz of London in WW2. We bought the house in 1954? for $14,700? G.I. mortgage-3%, $93/month! One of the questions I asked Mr. Tawell was whether the fireplace drew well. He said that he didn't know as they had never built a fire in it, and that Arthur parked his trucks in it. Later, Mr. Tawell called to report that he had lit a piece of newspaper in the fireplace and that it did indeed draw well. The Tawells removed to Barnesville, Ohio, why, I don't know, except that it is a Quaker community. I have (some place) a letter that Mr. Tawell wrote from Barnesville. I will send it to you for your archives if I can find it.
I'm sorry that I can't report that the mound behind the house is the grave of a Pokanoket (Wampanoag) chieftain. As far as I know it is simply a pile of the dirt removed when excavating for the new house's foundation and cellar. Why it was never smoothed away I don't know - conservation of energies, I suppose.
I did plant a number of ornamental trees and shrubs, some of which remain - two or three magnolias, for instance. Not all were exotic. I transplanted the beech in front from the nearby woods. Also, I am embarrassed to say that I planted the bamboo that now threatens to overwhelm everything else.
Of course, I am pleased that you have a copy of the book about sharks on the bookshelf there. Not long ago I stumbled onto the website of a guy who runs diving expeditions in the Pacific someplace. He says he has a collection of 500? books about sharks and that he'll tell you which ones are best. He rated lineweaver and Backus #1!
I have been writing and calling in to WCA1 what I call "60-second stories". Enclosed is one about the naming of Cricket Lane.
Richard H. Backus
244 Woods Hole Rd
Falmouth, MA 02540
This is Dick Backus on Woods Hole Road with a story.
I used to live on what used to be called Stuart Lane, that little street in Woods Hole off of Quisset Avenue almost across from Buzzards Bay Avenue. One day somebody in Town Hall called up and said we had to change the name of the street. "There's a Stuart Lane in North Falmouth and there can't be two streets in town with the same name", they said.
"OK", I said, "but are there are more people on the North Falmouth street to be inconvenienced by a change than there are on the Woods Hole one?"
"No", said Town Hall. "Even fewer people live on the North Falmouth one"
"Oh", I said. "I suppose the North Falmouth street has had the name longer."
"No", said Town Hall. "Actually the Woods Hole one had the name first".
"Well, why do we have to change then" I said, a little exasperated.
"The name for the North Falmouth one is shown on the Town Engineer's map and the name for the Woods Hole one isn't," came the explanation, and with that we were given the opportunity of choosing a new name.
Years before, there'd been a dump down there, and Asa Wing and I thought Dump Lane would be a neat address, but neighbor Herman Ward, even though he's a poet, didn't think so and neither did Dot Elo. Finally, my 9-year old son David, said, "What about 'Cricket lane'?" And that's what it's been called ever since.