Random Thoughts

Sister Isabel Goineau - Memories of Beebe Estate

 ... Mrs. Beebe was a very kind lady

from Sister Isabel Goineau, S.H.C.J

Editors note: This was given to Frances Bertulli after a discussion with Kay McCarte about the Beebe House of the past.


In 1909 my father, William Goineau, was hired by Mrs. Katherine Beebe to drive the horse and carriage. When he was not driving, he helped in the garden. The gardener was Edward Murphy, Sr.

When cars came into style, the Beebe's were one of the first to purchase a Packard and also a Ford or Tin Lizzie, as we called this humble car. The Ford was for my father to use for errands.

The Packard was housed in the present Milano Center. Later a garage was built in back of the center. If I remember correctly, a license was not needed to drive a car. Later Dad got his license.

The present white house was the home of Mr. & Mrs. Bigelow. She and her husband had no children so they adopted Katherine. When Katherine married Louis Beebe, her parents built her the large home where the school now stands. The house was huge. The servant quarters were at the back over the kitchen and laundry.

The house had a large porch overlooking the garden. There was an abundance of lilac bushes.  

The family usually had one or two cows. Their home was the barn (Milano Center). There was a ramp at the back to a small area for the cows to graze. They also grazed on the land on West Foster Street - between Florence and Vinton Streets. There was also a small field on West Foster at the corner of Vinton. In the evening the cows went down the ramp to the cellar and the horses went to the first floor, which is the cafeteria area now.  

On Sundays, Mr. Murphy and my dad took turns milking the cows. We usually accompanied my dad. The housekeeper, as a rule gave us milk and cookies.

Mrs. Beebe was a very kind lady. When my father had an accident she paid all the bills and was very concerned about his condition.  

Again the Beebe's were most likely one of the first to have an ice maker (I believe that was what it was). Evidently fumes of ammonia were escaping and Dad turned a screw to tighten the outlet but opened it. The ammonia blew up in his face and he was severely burned. His glasses saved his eyesight. The fire department came and the Chief rushed Dad to the hospital.

Mrs. Beebe was very active in the church and in the Melrose Hospital Guild. I remember my dad transporting sewing machines to various places when the Guild would meet to sew. Mrs. Beebe was also active in the Girl Scouts. When I became a Girl Scout, she bought my uniform.

I do not know when the Bigelows died but as far back as I can remember the Bigelow's house was closed up. It was called The White House back then. What is now the Senior Center was the barn then.

Between the White House and the railroad tracks was an apple orchard. In the middle was a little pool and pretty flowers around it.

In the summer time there were two sheep grazing on the lawn between the driveways. I think they were Miss Sylenda's pets.

After Mrs. Beebe died, my dad still worked for Miss Desira and Miss Sylenda.

Dad did not retire and worked until a week before he died in 1962. In fact he had an attack while driving Miss Sylenda but got her home safely. Dad's lung had collapsed. My brother rushed him to the hospital and sent for me and my other brother, Joe.

Miss Sylenda died a year later in 1963.

Click here to read about Sister Goineau
Life of a Catholic Nun

April 2, 2004


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