NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 27, 2014

Enoch Toppan was never without a rhyme

(Continued)

The local children often sought him out to hear him bellow out his verse, and one day while flying a kite some boys spotted him and yelled, “Mr. Toppan, give us a rhyme!” Enoch pleasingly obliged as they cheered on: “Boys, your kite, when it comes night, will be out of sight.”

Enoch was by trade a pump and block maker in his shop on Carter’s wharf, supplying homes and ship owners. If business grew dull, he knew how to strike a chord with patrons and soon they would sing to his tune — he simply packed up his old decrepit wagon and made melody door to door, often with violin, and no one could resist.

Enoch’s other part-time specialty vocation was in servicing residents with dental infirmities — for a quarter he would pull your tooth and send you off with a good jingle. For Sunday worship, Enoch curbed his vocal chimes and made magic at the organ instead. He was also a parish treasurer of First Presbyterian, or “The Old South” Church. He was quite proficient, by all accounts.

Upon his death on Aug. 22, 1845, the Newburyport Herald served up an animated and fond narrative of Enoch. His grandson, Enoch Clark Coleman, testified that his reputation for poesy was equally measured by his generosity and Mr. E. C. Toppan definitely struck a cord with all who knew him!

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Visit Melissa Berry at ancestoryarchives.blogspot.com.

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