Pierrette Corriveau: Fond memories of Silver Lake

Pierrette 2Pierrette Corriveau was born in Bellingham, MA at Silver Lake, but says that she and her mother must have been transported to Woonsocket, RI immediately afterwards since her birth was registered in Woonsocket. She has stayed in this area her whole life, raising seven children with her husband, the late Eugene Corriveau, who for many years was the town collector and Treasurer in Bellingham. [As told to Marjorie Turner Hollman]

I was born during the Depression, 1932, at my grandparents’ little cottage on Dupre Road, at Silver Lake. It was little more than a shack, and back then there was no name on the road. During the Depression my mother used to go to the island at Silver Lake to get wood from the burned-down dance hall to heat the house.

My father was a baker, and didn’t have a car at the time. In the summer he took the trolley back to Woonsocket—it cost a nickel, and went from Silver Lake to Social Street in Woonsocket. In the winter we moved back to an apartment in Woonsocket. The cottage at Silver Lake wasn’t a place where you wanted to spend the winter.

Life at the lake was awesome. Our cottage was right on the water. We didn’t have a bath or shower so we took baths in the lake and lived in bathing suits all week. When I was young there was no indoor plumbing. We had an outhouse quite a ways out in the back—a single and a double!

Even though my parents didn’t play music, all their children did. I played the piano. My brother Charlie played drums, Arthur played saxophone, Clara played mandolin and Muriel played accordion. Sunday mornings my father took a stick to direct us and said, “OK kids, let’s go.” Oh, it was awful, but to him it was music to his ears.

My two sisters and I, along with Connie Crooks, got in our rowboat and rowed across the lake to where the public beach area is. There was a place where we roller skated—they had regular Chicago roller skates—four wheels with a boot on them. We skated for free til the owners needed them and said, “We need your skates now.” We’d leave, get in the row boat and row home. At the beach there was also a carousel, and Ray Metivier used to show movies at the beach near the carousel.

I contracted polio when I was fourteen. My father wouldn’t let me go to a hospital. “We’re going to find someone to help you,” he said. We had a chiropractor who came to the house and helped me do exercises. My sister and I were good swimmers, so I swam in the lake and forced myself to rehabilitate.

We had two horses and a pony. The pony was mine. On Pulaski Boulevard at the site of the former drive-in theater (it’s a construction dump now) we used to have rodeos. We rode our horses down to Pulaski. One of the events was musical chairs. We rode around and when the music stopped we jumped off our horses and sat on milk crates. We rode and played the game until we got eliminated.

There was no housing at Scot Hill Acres behind the bus barn so we could ride from Silver Lake up the hill. We crossed South Main Street and had races at Wade’s Pond on the track around the pond [now owned by the Wenger family].

When we moved back to Woonsocket for the winter we boarded the horses at a place on Auclair Street. I got dressed in the morning, put on my boots, took a couple of carrots and went to feed the horses and clean the barn.

I used to deliver manure when we had horses—fifty cents a load. People loved it for their gardens. One day I made a manure delivery, but my brother had stirred up the pony, and after I made the delivery I couldn’t hold the pony back. I tried to jump ahead of him to get off, but the metal wheel of the cart ran over my leg. I wasn’t supposed to wear my mother’s English leather boots, but I’d put them on that day and it was a good thing I did. If I’d been wearing cowboy boots I’d have broken my leg for sure. The wheel crushed the bone in my leg a little, but I didn’t go to a hospital, nor a doctor. It hurt for a couple of days, and I still have the bump on my leg.

In 1948 my father opened Rosie’s Dairy on Social Street in Woonsocket and we ran it for many years. He named it after my mother, Rosilda. He wanted this so bad. He still had his bread route, so my mother, brother and sisters, and Connie Crooks and I ran it. We opened Rosie’s Dairy from April to November. On Halloween each year we had all the grandchildren come to the back and told them to eat all they wanted because we were closing for the season.

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

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