NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

March 4, 2013

Tales about 'over home,' as some call it

As I See It
Ralph Ayers

---- — Yup, we’re into March, and that means we are closer to spring than we were a month ago! How’s that statement for a little wisdom? Personally speaking, I can hardly wait for warmer weather, as I’ve been either in the hospital or at home all winter, and that has not been my agenda all these years.

Speaking of years, come to find out I’m having another birthday in March, and I don’t’ have enough fingers or toes to count up the years. Let’s just say I’m as old as dirt, and let it go at that!

While in the hospital, and receiving great care from doctors and nurses, some of them told me they lived in Seabrook and wanted to know something about their adopted town, so my story this month is about “over home,” as we natives called it. My tale goes something like this ...

At a very early age, probably about 7 or 8, my father Fred had a grocery store called Ayers Busy Corner, and he bought all his fresh eggs and chickens in Seabrook, and I accompanied him. I recall going through Seabrook on what is now called the “old” road, as Route 286 did not exist. There I met Jed Eaton, who showed me how to kill a chicken, butcher block, cleaver and all! The name Eaton, along with Janvrin, Dow, Randall and Brown, was the common name to be found in Seabrook.

As time moved on, I got to meet many a Seabrooker and discovered they were the most honest, sincere and friendliest people I had ever known. I recall driving through Seabrook, observing their homes, especially in the winter, when bales of hay were used around the foundations to keep warm. I recall that these natives knew every family and their children, and these families protected each other, regardless of the situation.

One of the oddest recollections I have is their dialect was much different than the surrounding communities and very similar to the Irish brogue. We natives Newburyporters, in checking out our history, discovered that many of our forefathers once inhabited that area, so I guess, if the truth were known, most of us would be “over homers.”

An example of the closeness Seabrook natives had was when I drove a bakery truck after WWII and was asked to open up Seabrook stores selling my products. The first stop I made was owned by an Eaton. I introduced myself, and Mr. Eaton wanted to know if I was related to Fred Ayers, my father. Saying yes, he told me what a great father I had, and allowed me to display my products. Going to the next store, and the rest of them, all the owners knew my name and consented to display my products. Yes, these native Seabrookers were a very tight-knit group, and the word got around very fast in Seabrook.

Yup, one more story. I had a sea captain from Galveston, Texas, visit my home years ago, and I introduced him to Wendall Janvrin, a real native ‘Brooker. They conversed for a good five minutes, and, due to their dialects, neither of them knew what the other was saying, including yours truly, but I got such a kick out of the meeting, I never forgot the story.

Yes, you know Seabrook residents. Remember that you are living in an area that is part of our heritage, and many a wonderful family was created in a place called Seabrook. Although many of these families are long gone, there are a few of us left that remember, and in doing so, are honored and grateful we knew them.

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Ralph Ayers of Newburyport calls himself a local yokel.