Sewall T. Butler Family

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Jacqueline & Sewall

Jackie, Sue, Tol, David, Nathan

Family Information

Sewall Butler: born August 25, 1920
Jacqueline Williams: born March 16, 1919

Married: July 26, 1943 at Woodstock, VT

Jacqueline: born April 28
Susan: born June 17
Tolbert: born March 25
David: born November 19
Nathan: born February 1

Sewall Tolbert Butler
Jacqueline Williams Butler
and Family

Compiled by David Butler from an evening of notes taken at Mom and Dad's Trailer at the Leisure Time resort at Echo Glen, WA. April 26 and 28 1990. See also a biography devoted to Jacqueline Williams Butler.

Sewall and Jackie at Iceland RestaurantOn September 30, 1942, in the midst of War-time America, Mom and Dad (Jackie and Sewall Butler) had their first date at the Iceland Restaurant in New York City. The picture to the left was taken at the Iceland, which was located at 1680 Broadway. The cover that contains the photo advertises "Caberet, Smorgasbord and Popular prices." On their way to dinner, Dad asked Mom where she would like to eat. Mom was somewhat noncommittal and said besides the man she married would get off easy since 2 can live as cheaply as one and she ate like a bird, anyway. Dad insists this is proof that Mother was proposing to him on their first date. Mom tells the story that after that, Dad proposed to her on every subsequent date. It got to the point that Mom said she'd only go out with him if he'd stop proposing to her. Anyway at the time of their first date, Dad was in the Merchant marines just back from a trip to England. Mom was attending Bank Street College, and student teaching at Rosemary Jr. School in Greenwich CT. She was living with Nanny's Sister Florence (Housie) House at 502 W. 121st. Dad was living at the Sloan House (a YMCA hotel on W. 34th Street) and on board his ship "Robin Adair".

Mom and Dad met through the Gram's involvement in the Industrial Arts Cooperative, whose principals were Housie and Sarah Patrick (called Aunt Patsy). Gram was teaching classes at Bentley school at the time and was friends with Housie. They had tried for a while to get the two to meet each other. After the first date Dad was sorry he hadn't met Mom sooner. They went out every night for the next two weeks, except for one night when Dad's shift on the boat interfered. On the last night, they went to see Glenn Miller at the Paramount. They were sitting up in the balcony and even though Dad had promised not to ask again he just had to propose one more time.

Another story from that time is that one Saturday aound noon they were sitting in a park near Grant's tomb when the air raid sirens were tested. Dad, recently back from England, took the siren very seriously and was under the park bench ("digging a foxhole" as Mom puts it). He was yelling for Mom to get down, but I guess by the way Mom was laughing he deduced that things were a little more secure here in the States.

Dad went back to sea on a 5-1/2 month trip to South Africa. Mom went on to Sunnyside Progressive School and then Western Queens Nursery School. Western Queens was for kids whose mothers were taking up jobs to support the war effort.

When Dad got back from sea in mid-February, Mom was staying with Major Nott and his sister in Queens. On Mom's birthday a dinner party was held at Aunt Ethel's on Morningside Drive. Nanny was down from Vermont and asked Mom if she was going to do anything foolish. Mom said of course not; but at dinner Dad made the announcement. He commented that the ice machine was broken so he had brought "this" instead. "This" was of course the engagement ring.

Mom and Dad got married in Woodstock, Vermont on July 26, 1943. In the photos from the wedding Dad's pants are very wrinkled at the bottom. The reason is that he forgot to bring his belt to the place he was getting dressed. He was rushed getting ready as Uncle Dick had had him playing golf right up to the time he was supposed to be there at the church. When they left the reception for their honeymoon, someone had disconnected some of the sparkplugs in Dad's car. The car started up anyway much to everyone's surprise and off Mom and Dad drove. Dad stopped on the way out of town and reconnected the plugs as he could tell by the way it was running what had been done.

For their honeymoon they borrowed Grampy's tires and headed to Cape Cod. They were planning to spend one week there. At the end of the week, they were having such a good time they decided to stay another. They didn't bother notifying anyone and Grampy got characteristically nervous about their tardiness and about whether he would get his tires back.

After their honeymoon they dropped Dad's car off in Ledyard and took the Train to New York. They stayed with Tommie (Priscilla) Simon whose husband Harry was a ship's carpenter on Dad's Ship. Mom and Dad found an apartment around the corner from them above a Gay bar in Greenwich village.

Around Thanksgiving they sublet their NY apartment, Mom took maternity leave and went to Woodstock. Dad entered Officer Candidate School at Fort Trumbull in New London on December 14, 1943. They lived in the little house behind Gram and Gramp's house on Gallup Hill Road in Ledyard. Dad had bought the house from Gram by sending money back while he was at sea. When Dad got out of school in April 1944 they took the train up to Woodstock. Jackie was expected soon and Mom wanted to be with Nanny when that occurred.

Mom and Dad were sleeping in one of the twin beds in Mom and Aunt Jean's bedroom when Mom's water broke about 4 in the morning. They hustled off to the Hospital in Hanover NH and Jackie was born 24 hours later on April 28th. When the Doctor came to announce that the baby had been born, Dad was sound asleep in the waiting room making it hard for the doctor to believe he was the father and that this was his first child.

Dad had to leave the next morning to get back to his ship which was heading for the Mediterranean. A month later Dad was passing through the straights of Gibraltar when he heard the news of D-Day.

Mom stayed in Vermont until after Sue was born. She lived with Nanny and Skipper and paid room and board.

Dad was in NY when VE day was announced on May 7 1945, but by virtue of being too slow the rest of the mates got off the ship before he did to celebrate and he had to stay on-board to tend the engine room. Dad was at Sea when Sue was born on June 17. And in August on VJ Day he was in Lorenzo Marques, East Africa. This time he was one of the first over the side of the boat and headed for a bar. When they got back to the ship, Dad's main hope was to get a few hours to sleep it off before his duties began. The first assistant engineer came and told Dad (who was second assistant) to get below and warm the engines. Dad said that's the third's job. First says I can't wake him. Dad says pretend you can't wake me. Dad's argument fell on deaf ears and he was soon down warming the engines.

Dad got off his last boat in February 1946. He go his official release papers in April 1946. Sue was about 10 months old when they bought a trailer, hitched it to their '39 Plymouth and headed off for Albuquerque. This mobile-home was probably smaller than the travel trailer they now own for just the two of them. It didn't even have a bathroom. But it was Mom, Dad, Jackie and Susie's home for the next year.\

Leaving for Albuquerque (Woodstock, VT): Gladys Williams, Jackie Butler, Edward Williams, Eva Butler, Jackie, Sewall, Sue, Sylvester Butler. (Cromwell, CT) Carie & George Butler host Ralph and Sylvester's families.

On their way out to Albuquerque, Dad was ready to stop one evening but Mom urged him to go on for another hour or so, since it wasn't that late yet and the girls were doing fine. Dad decided that he'd had enough and stopped anyway. Getting out of the car and going back to the trailer he found that the trailer hitch had fatigued and split. It was not far from being history.

They spent a year in Albuquerque. Dad started school there and then quit because he couldn't support the four of them. He worked at Creamland Dairy and picked up milk from the Farmers in the county. He also worked for Major Von Renselear who bottled Tropical Treat. They lived in three trailer parks one off Central Avenue near the Fairgrounds, a second near Harvard and a third on Cochiti road a block off Central.

In May 1947 they sold their trailer-home and bought a small utility trailer. They also sold the Plymouth and bought a '41 Chevrolet woody station wagon. They had decided they would like another baby and knew they couldn't have it in the small trailer in Albuquerque, so they decided to head back to Connecticut. Aunt Jean flew down to visit for a few days then drove back with them.

In the Pennsylvania Dutch country they pulled over to the side of the road to sleep one night. Mom and Susie were on one seat Aunt Jean and Jackie were on the other and Dad was tucked into the back somehow. Dad somehow managed to end up with his head in the diaper pail (clean mind you) but sleeping like a baby. Mom woke in the early dawn and heard the clop-clop of horse hoofs and a carriage. the Two men in the cart stopped by the car and Mom heard one ask the other, "Do ya think they're dead?". "No" the other didn't reckon so. "Look at that one's got his head in a bucket".

They moved back into the little house in Ledyard. Dad did odd jobs then sold Airway Sanitizer vacuums. Tol was born on March 25, 1948 in New London Connecticut.

Next the family moved to Castine Maine. The house they rented there, owned by the La Boutlier family, was a former hotel. Mom and Dad shut off 10 bedrooms to conserve heat. Dad taught fourth and fifth grades in a school there.

Back to Ledyard, Dad went to school in Willamantic and taught 8th graders as part of the training. They sold the little house and moved it up Gallup hill road. Next to Goshen, CT where Dad taught sixth and seventh graders in the public school. Next the family lived with Gram and Gramp for a year. Uncle Ralph helped Dad get a job at Travelers Insurance company.

Dad bought the house on Glen Hills Road in Meriden in 1952. This is where David was born in November 19, 1952 and Nathan was born February 1, 1954. In the summer of 1956 we moved to the Savage/Butler homestead in Cromwell.

Letter written the day Dad was born

Some Family Memories from Meriden

1940's Letters from Dad and Mom to Gramp

1942: Dad's Stories from the Merchant Marines

1940's List of Dad's ships in the Merchant Marines

1951-55: Hear the Butler family speaking

1961: Trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire

1962: Trip to the Harvey's Cabin on Sebago Lake

1971: Sewall Tolbert Butler: Candidate for First Selectman

1998: Obituary of Jacqueline W. Butler

2014: Obituary of Sewall Tolbert Butler

Some Family Memories from Meriden

SUE: We held a Carnival in the back yard of Meriden house. Lynnie Bon (Lynn Yvonne) was the fat lady, tho Sue says that Lynnie Bon was actually very skinny. Other "performers" included Tommy DeMonte and the Rodrigues' though Sue doesn't remember the details.
DAVID: I remember a large wooden box with a board nailed across the top as a wing and another on the front as a propeller. I seem to remember a number of kids in the yard at the time and suspect this might have been part of the carnival, though sometimes I wonder if it might have been a dream. I couldn't have been more than 3-1/2 at the time.

TOL: In 1955 he watched the very first Mouseketeers show with Richie DeMonte over at the DeMonte's house.

TOL: While we were living in Meriden Tol went with Dad to pick up a tent at someone's house. [not sure if this tent is the same as the umbrella tent.] On the way Dad wanted to make sure Tol knew the difference between "projects" and a "development".

Dad used to tell the story how we had two singing canaries but that the male canary never sang a note until the day the female died.

Nathan stepped on a tack in the drive way the day we were moving to Cromwell. Making him the first of the family to visit Dr. Nelson.

DAVID: I remember a trip back to Meriden, probably a week or so after we had moved. I remember the house was empty except for a few odds and ends we were picking up. I think one thing we picked up was a green record player.