Windham Life and Times – December 15, 2017

Edward Searles and Angelo

Searles and Junior

TIME SPENT IN WINDHAM AND METHUEN

“I started to work for Mr. Searles in 1915, and Stanton Harcourt was the first place he brought me. We came to Methuen, Mr. Searles and I, and we stayed at the Red Tavern. We didn’t go to Pine Lodge because it was too late, and he didn’t want to bother Miss Littlefield. There were no rooms for guests at Pine Lodge, there were only two bedrooms; the rest was his museum. Carrie Barnes was the manager at the Red Tavern. She ran the place for him, and he sent her a telegram to let her know we would be arriving on a late train and to get rooms ready for us. The next day she fixed breakfast for us, and after that we went up to see the castle.  At that time people were working inside; they still had some woodwork to fix, and the kitchen was not finished yet.  Everything there had to be made in Boston; Vaughan was his architect. After the kitchen was finished he brought in a nice couple to take care of the place for him. He arranged for me to live with the Seavey family. Seavey was in charge of the estate. The place in Windham was called ‘Searles Castle’ or ‘Searles Folly’. I always called it ‘the castle’ myself. We had over two thousand acres there, and at Stillwater we had about one thousand acres! We had our own sheep, and cows, hogs, chickens, and horses; everything we used there. I had a room in the farm house; that was on the road before you go up the hill to the castle. Seavey’s wife would take care of my room and I would have my meals there. I became friends with her daughter, Emma Richter. She was Seavey’s step-daughter, and her husband worked there on the farm. Emma liked me, and she named her daughter after me; ‘Angie’. I’m the girl’s godfather! Whenever I was up there, in Windham, Mr. Searles would come to visit every day to watch them finish the work inside. Later, when the rooms in the castle were ready, he would sometimes stay overnight and go back to Pine Lodge in the morning, but he would come up again later in the day, to see me. Most of the time though he would go back to Pine Lodge for the night. My room in the castle was on the second floor overlooking the lakes; the old gentleman had his room upstairs.

“One of the towers of the castle was unfinished and I had my workshop there. I asked Mr. Searles if I could have a flagpole made for that tower, and he wanted to know why. I said that every English castle has a flagpole on the tower, so I put one up there! I had a crew move a small house from Rockingham Park up to the estate. Mr. Searles owned land at Rockingham Park at that time, so he had the house moved to Windham and I had my shop there. (It’s still there at the base  of the driveway to the castle.) He bought me a boat to use on Canobie Lake. The motor that came with it was not that good so I asked Mr. Searles if he could get me a better one. I heard him tell Arthur Walker to order one. When it came, I went all over the lake in that boat; I had a lot of fun there, and I learned to skate on Canobie Lake. In the winter they used to cut ice on the lakes for the icehouse on the estate. I remember blocks were fourteen inches thick! We put them in the icehouse, and covered them with some kind of straw, to keep it cool; the icehouse was in the shade anyways. In the summer we used the ice up to the castle, and on the farm. We had dogs there; I had three dogs myself! Mr. Searles had a dog named ‘Junior’, that would follow him around Pine Lodge without a leash.”

“Junior”

I first learned to drive in 1915, up in Windham. Mr. Searles had two Studebaker trucks, and I was shown how to drive; up and down the hill. After I learned the old gentleman bought a Studebaker car for me to use, and later his chauffeur gave me a few lessons on the big Pierce-Arrow. When we came back from trips to New York the driver would meet us in Boston, at the train, and take us to Methuen. I was with Mr. Searles, and the driver, when they went down to the Boston showroom to buy another one; in those days Pierce-Arrows were the best cars made in America, those and Packards. The big Pierce-Arrow  was a limousine, with a glass between the driver and the passengers; you could slide the glass to talk to the driver. The newer one he bought that day was a passenger car. He would use that car sometimes, but he never drove himself; he had his chauffeur. I think he bought that smaller car for me because it was the one that I used in Methuen. One day I asked him if I could use it to go visit a friend in Lewiston, Maine, and he said it was all right. On the way I had an accident. In those days they had big water wagons to use on the roads to keep the dust down, and I hit one and damaged the fender on the car. There weren’t body shops back then, so I went to a blacksmith and he did a good job repairing it. When I got back to Methuen, I spoke with Mr. Searles about the accident, and the only thing he was interested to know about was if I had been hurt! All he asked me was, ‘Are you hurt?’ ‘No?’ ‘All right don’t worry about it, as long as your were not hurt.’ That was the way he was. He didn’t care about the car or the money, as long as I was all right”

 

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