This home was located on Wallis Lane in Beverly, Massachusetts – where the Larcom Theatre is located today. This is where Lucy Larcom was born and lived throughout the early years of her life before having to move to Lowell and work as a mill girl. Her books are filled with such wonderful memories of this place.
In Lucy Larcom: Life, Letters & Diary by Daniel Dulany Addison, it is written:
“The qualities of energy and self-reliance that come from the cultivation of Essex County soil and the winning of a livelihood as trader and sailor were apparent in the branch of the family that lived in Wallace Lane, – one of the by-streets of the quaint village that led in one direction through the fields to Bass River, “running with it’s tidal water from inland hills,” and in the other across the main street to the harbor with it’s fishing schooners and glimpses of the sea.
Her sensitivity quickly responded to the free surroundings of her childhood. The open fields with the wild flowers and granite ledges covered with vines and the sandy beaches of the harbor, and the village streets with their quiet picturesque life, formed her playground.”
In A New England Girlhood, Lucy speaks of the “primitive ways” of doing things when she was a child, but these were things that she loved dearly, such as: cooking over an open fireplace, using the bellows on the fire, and listening to fireside tales of old sailor yarns and ghost and witch legends at the end of the day. This was a tight-knit neighborhood, for Lucy was “adopted” by many neighbor women, she called aunties, who each had their own special story which are detailed in her book. All of these people and experiences were fuel for her imagination.
“Our lane ran parallel with the hill and the mowing fields, and down our lane we were always free to go. It was a genuine lane, all ups and downs, and too narrow for a street, although at least, they have leveled it and widened it, and made a commonplace thoroughfare of it. I am glad that my baby life knew it in all of it’s queer, original irregularities, for it seemed to have a character of its own, like many of its inhabitants, all the more charming because it was unlike anything but itself. The hill, too, is lost now buried under houses.
Our lane came to an end at some bars that let us into another lane, – or rather a footpath or cowpath, bordered with cornfields and orchards. We were still on the home ground, for my father’s vegetable garden and orchard were here. After a long straight stretch, the path suddenly took an abrupt turn, widening into a cart road, then to a tumble-down wharf, and there was the river!”
“Long as it is since the rural features of our lane were entirely obliterated, my feet often go back and press, in memory, its grass-grown borders, and in delight and liberty I am a child again. Its narrow limits were once my whole known world. Even then it seemed to me as if it might lead everywhere; and it was indeed but the beginning of a road which must lengthen and widen beneath my feet forever.”