Brothers and sisters

Patricia ‘Richards’ Decatur’s father, Edward N. Richards, wrote a manuscript titled, “Anecdotes of the Richards Family.” Pat’s father was born in 1905 and grew up in the Exeter, New Hampshire area as did Pat.

Below are five stories for those who grew up with brothers and sisters. Edward Richards was one of seven children, six boys and one girl.

Paint job

“The Maple Street house had been recently painted white and Mama and Papa were quite proud of its appearance. On going out to the clothesline one day, Mama was horrified to see that someone had drawn great gobs and lines of green paint over the back of the house. In the middle of all this was a large, shaky “PWR.” This called for instant action, and in a moment Phil was being well paddled, screeching his innocence at the top of his lungs. This was not unusual, but when he continued to plead not guilty, Mama investigated further by questioning Don. ‘Oh, yes,’ said Don, ‘I painted the house.’ ‘Well,’ Asked Mama, sharply, ‘why did you paint Phil’s initials?’ ‘Because I thought he would get the blame for it,’ said Don reasonably.”


Pat Richards dressed in her Highlands dancer garb when a teenager. Photo provided.

The Apple Picker

“Phil tells about the time he persuaded brother Frank that Mrs. Illsley said they could have all the apples they wanted from her back orchard.

“Frank scrambled into the tree, but Phil was cautious enough to stay on terra firma, near the fence. Filling his blouse with the fruit, Frank looked down in astonishment to see the old ogress, Mrs. Illsley, stumping out from the barn, and to see his brother Phil disappearing toward Maple Street. Frank’s explanations were all in vain. Mrs. Illsley voiced her sentiments to Mother, by telephone, about those Richards boys, and poor Frank suffered the blame in a far from Christian spirit.”

The Archer

“Someone gave Frank a beautiful bow and arrow set, gleaming in fine varnish, with gorgeous feathered arrows in an ornamented holder. Frank guarded his treasure jealously, so much so that he wouldn’t even try it out.

“Lauris was intensely interested and pleaded with Frank for days to be allowed a shot. Reluctantly, under constant badgering, Frank agreed, and the pair took it out on the porch at Maple Street. Lauris adjusted the arrow and pulled back strongly on the bow.

“‘CRACK:’ the bow broke squarely in the middle.

“Frank’s face was a study in mingled rage and astonished disbelief. How could such a calamity occur, when he hadn’t even had a try himself?”

Minor Illness

“Blessed with a sound constitution, Lauris was seldom ill, but he was susceptible to suggestion. One time, at Park Street, he had caught a slight cold and was confined to bed. Frank and I decided to enliven his stay.

“Posting ourselves at the foot of the stairs, we began discussing his symptoms in hoarse whispers. We agreed on the seriousness of his condition and from that point proceeded to a discussion of his estate and a probable division of his clothing. It was only when we began measuring the turn in the stair landing for the casket and our surprised welcome to Mr. Jenkins, the local undertaker, that we had Lauris bolt upright in bed, clutching the blankets, with a conviction of immediate dissolution.

“Thoroughly exasperated, Mother spared few words about our idea of entertainment for our sick brother.”

  The Pest

“As Lauris, Frank and I were growing up, we found more activities in common and were inclined to exclude the younger members from our company.

“To our brother Phil this was a circumstance of extreme exasperation, and his determination to go where we went would have done more credit to a more worthy cause. For his uncanny ability to sense the exact moment we planned an excursion, lawful or otherwise, he early earned the title of ‘The Pest.’ All he had to do generally was to rush shrieking to Mama, and we would find ourselves burdened with our little brother Phil.

Many were the stratagems we employed, but one of our most successful was a casual saunter toward the corner, a full cry pf ‘Ooyay, aryay, okay let’s skip him,’ and away we would break in different directions. This had the desired effect of confusing our brother satisfactorily and allowed us to go our various ways in peace.”


A couple years ago I stopped to visit Lee and Pat. I was telling them about a Mr. Heald from Oregon who came to the historical society researching his Heald roots in Chester.

I finished by telling them we discovered I was related to Mr. Heald. Pat looked at me and said, “Is his nose as big as yours?” I still laugh when I think of that day.

Give me a call at 802-374-0119 if you have antiques to donate for Chester Historical Society’s annual antiques sale in September.

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