I Came in with Roosevelt – Family History (Part 2)

The Davis and Eastman families

Corinne Eastman Davis
Corinne Eastman Davis
Deane Davis
Dean Davis
"Little Dean" (Chandler Davis) riding a tricycle
“Little Dean” (Chandler Davis) riding a tricycle
Lois H. Davis, Tom's paternal grandmother
Lois H. Davis, Tom’s paternal grandmother
Corinne and Deane Davis with Tom's sister Marian and Tom as an infant
Corinne and Deane Davis with Tom’s sister Marian and Tom as an infant
Tom's maternal grandmother with his aunt
Tom’s Grandmother with his aunt
Thomas Cave, Tom's step grandfather
Thomas Cave, Tom’s step grandfather

My mother and father married in 1924, I think it was. And then they had a child. The child died in a fire in 1927 or 8. I may be wrong on that. It might be 9. And that shaped the history of the family. He was a boy four years old, before I was born, and he crawled into a closet with some matches and set the clothes or whatever was in the closet on fire. And they went looking for him. When the firemen came, they couldn’t find him until it was too late. That’s when my mother moved up closer to her mother. And was always a specter hanging over the family, was never spoken of, virtually never spoken of. “Little Deane” they called him.

And that was, of course, a blow to the family. A death in the family of that type lingers and hovers over the reality of everyone that’s involved in that and never really entirely goes away. The influence of that death–and I’ve experienced other ones since, of young children–it’s a phenomenon that’s first of all not very pleasant, and certainly, family-influencing in ways that nothing else can be.

I was born in 1931. I like to suggest it was a very happy surprise, and there’s no one around to say that it wasn’t. I came in with Roosevelt, which I thought was good company. I’m not sure anybody else in the family thought so at the time.

Parts of our family, through my grandmother on the Davis line, she was a Chandler, and that is our connection to the Mayflower. So we are descendants of the Mayflower. I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about the Mayflower, although I have visited the Plymouth Plantation down there. And the boat is just unbelievably small. I wouldn’t want to go across Joe’s Pond in that boat. But then I don’t want to go anywhere on a boat. (laughs)

After their first child died in a fire, my father moved from where he lived–where they had the fire–and moved up near where my mother’s parents lived. My grandmother was from Waterbury, originally. They had a little more money than most people, although they didn’t have a lot of. . . . By today’s standards, it wouldn’t be a lot of money. She lived on a farm. And the one thing she wouldn’t have anything to do with was eating meat. She didn’t believe in killing animals. She didn’t want anything to do with a farmer. If she was going to marry, she was going to marry somebody who wasn’t a farmer. And so she ended up with my grandfather–my step-grandfather.

Her first husband was named Eastman, and he and his brother built the Eastman block, which is down there next to what is now the Quarry Restaurant. And after he built the house, he decided to die. And he did, and left my grandmother with two small children.

My grandmother remarried a printer. He became a banker, Tom Cave. He later became State Treasurer. He was born in England. I don’t know anything more about him than that, other than I used to go fishing with him when I was a kid. And I regret not pursuing the many questions that come to mind years later, you know.

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