Saturday, November 13, 2010

Passing of a Sister . . .

Dredges Up Hometown Memories

I'll guess I am reminising back about 75 years or so with this memory. It was not long before the New York World's Fair and probably a couple of years before the celebration of my hometown of Taunton's 300th anniversary.

I'm the last of three Hoye children who lived at 5 Pleadwell Street. About six weeks ago my sister Margery passed away in Oklahoma where she was living with two of her five children. Ill for sometime, she had, reluctantly, moved two years ago to Oklahoma.

Now in rummaging through many boxes of "stuff" in my garage to get rid of maybe 50 years or more of "savings" (at the occasional pushing of a wife also growing old with me) I am running across memories of Margery and brother Paul, now both gone, and of the neighbors of the 30s, 40s and up.

Here's one of those memories, drawn from my memory of a short handwritten note in a school book saying "she chopped more wood than me."

I knew a girl, close to my own age, living a few houses away from my abode on Pleadwell Street. I used to watch her working with her daddy who ran a business called B. Bullock Bagwood Company. Her name was Helen, born in 1920, three years before me.

She was chopping wood one day when I met her in the nearby wood yard that
Mr. Bullock had stacked with lots of short logs and where several men kept busy chopping them into fireplace size chunks. She said "I'm the strongest girl in the world, I can chop wood faster then anybody, more then them!"

Being me, I didn't want any girl saying she was better than me so I challenged her to a chopping contest. Don't ask me what happened after I started chopping.

I had not finished chopping the first log. She had finished three. I think she was eight years old. We became good friends when I visited her often and WATCHED her chopping wood.

After a while I had other interests I guess and didn't pay much attention to her
until I read in the newspaper one day that she was going to be an act at the New York World's Fair in 1940. The fair began really in 1939 but spilled over into the next year.

She was 20 then and with her light brown hair flying, she tackled a pile of wood and in 90 seconds had reduced the pile to a bushel of kindling and before eight minutes had passed she had chopped, packed and tied six bags of fireplace wood.

She had earned the right to claim the title "Strongest Girl in the World." I seem to remember that 50 years later she appeared on the Johnny Carson show
where in greeting him, she clamped a bear hug on Johnny, lifting him into the air and causing him to yell to the orchestra for help.

I never kept track of Helen Bullock although once I heard she was living somewhere in the west, maybe Wyoming or Colorado. She may no longer be among us.

Yeah, she was a pretty strong girl and yes, a pretty girl, too.

- 30 -


  1. Hello, this is one of the current residents from pleadwell st. I found this article from 1984 about Helen Bullocks Daughter which has some information about Helen as well.

    Thought it may be an interesting read for you.

  2. Thank You so much for writing and sharing this!!! I am the Woodchoppers' Daughter. I just found your blog, Wow!!!!! I'm sorry about your sister. I would love to get in touch with you, please let me hear from you, I would like to speak with you! Thank you so much for writing of my Great Mama, The Worlds Champion Woodchopper from Taunton, Mass. Looking forward to hearing from you!
    Thank You!
    The Woodchoppers Daughter,
    Sarah S.