Thursday, December 23, 2010

143 Years Ago, Part II

Continuing from Part I, here are excerpts from the second of a series of articles published by The Southampton Press titled “Southampton Sixty Years Ago,” beginning in December of 1927 and written by Benjamin C. Palmer.

“While one can believe only a small part of what he reads in the newspapers, a home recital can be believed.

……we are sticking to the job of endeavoring to make plain to the younger generation here what took place around Main Street sixty years ago.
…..Just south of the Sayre house (photo above) at Bridgehampton road [Hampton Road now] corner stands a very small building; it stood there just as it does [not] now, when the writer was one of the boys about town. Build and occupied by a good natured genial man, who came from Washington County, NY., and who was a shoemaker by trade. He was brought here by Charles Parsons, the Postmaster, who also was from the same county…….
In the old days, when horses were the only motive power along the country roads, there were inns every few miles, and nearer often, according to the amount of travel, just as gas filling stations exist today, which furnished all that was necessary for man or beast. The leading requirement for most of the travelers was rum. It appears that whiskies and stimulants of other kinds had not become so well known in those days, while rum was well established, rum of two colors – a yellowish white known as New England, and a very dark kind known as Jamaica. Every inn had built at one end a one-room apartment for men only, known as the bar room. Ladies received their refreshments in the main building. Early writers tell us that the demand for rum by the men travelers was continual and the main traffic of these was rum in astonishing quantities. A man was charged only for a measured amount, two fingers being the minor measure, and a hand, including the thumb, the maximum. Generally it was the latter measure that sold most frequently. All inns depended for a livelihood on the amount of rum sold in their bar rooms. Each finger above the two added to the cost, and the most welcome guests were those who ordered a full hand. We have said “all inns,” we have learned of one exception and that one stood on Main Street about opposite the Southampton Bank, and was run by Capt. Charles Howell (photo below). It was a neat, clean hostelry, well kept by the Capt. And his wife. It had the usual bar room attachment, but not a drop of intoxicating liquor was ever sold there. He certainly was a past master Prohibitionist; he raised two fine sons free from the taint of rum-polluted air, the oldest, Charles Rogers Howell, who wrote Howell’s History of Southampton and who also went to Albany, NY. to become the state Librarian and Historian. John, the younger, remained at home and later built and ran the bathing station at the beach…..

We recall the Capt. had a nice row of trees in front of his property. Itching posts were not plentiful, the Methodist Church [relocated, now Brown, Harris, Stevens; photo below] was close by and they had no sheds for the attendants to drive their horses under, out of wind and weather, hence the Capt.’s trees were a great temptation, affording good hitching places and affording shade to the horses on a hot summer morn.

Horses often will gnaw the bark, thus defacing and injuring the young tree; the front stoop of the house stood out to the sidewalk, and today in memory we can see Mrs. Howell, who also prized the trees, standing on the stoop and in shrill and commanding voice calling out to some forgetful Methodist, “Hey there, don’t tie your horse to that tree,” and the poor misguided Methodist had to hunt around and find another place to tie to, for he knew when he woke up, that if by chance he did tie to a Howell tree, he would find after service his horses untied and led off to crib…..”

What a kick! Hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for part III!

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