Where Did Mom Live Growing Up? Using Local Resources

Doris Adams, Right Bottom Photo

Do you have an ancestor or family who moved frequently? Growing up, I only moved once from Passaic to Wayne, New Jersey. My mother, Doris Priscilla Adams, said my grandparents moved constantly because Grandfather, Vernon Tarbox Adams, worked for the Western Union. As he was promoted through the ranks, the family was uprooted time and again until 1947 when he was transferred to the Boston office and finished his work career in 1965.

I asked Mom once about the addresses where she lived. She said she didn’t remember most of them, but they lived in Maine, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, often more than once. She hated all the moves. She said they would just make some friends and get settled in school when it would be time to move again.

City directories have helped fill in some of the gaps to prove where Mom lived as she grew up.

Here is a short list of places that I’ve been able to cobble together:

1. Mom was born in Calais, Maine on 7 June 1923. However, the family was visiting relatives when she was born and I believe my grandparents were living in Massachusetts at the time. My aunt was born in 1921 in Malden, Massachusetts. I don’t know if they were still there in 1923.

2. Bangor Daily News reports that Vernon Adams and family are moving to Boston, 13 October 1925.

3. In December 1926, they were living somewhere in Bangor, Maine as the Bangor Daily News reported that Vernon’s grandmother, Nellie Adams, had visited the family over the holidays. No street address was given.

4. By 1928, the Adamses were still in Bangor, Maine, where they lived at 31 Wing Street, as found in the Bangor City Directory.

Source: Google Maps

5. They weren’t there for very long because the 1930 census shows them enumerated at 90 Mellen Street, Portland, Maine. It was a multi-family dwelling with Mary Torrey, owner, and one other family besides Mom’s living there.

6. However, they lived on Mellen Street for a very short time because the 1931 Portland City Directory gives their home address as 318 Stevens Avenue. They were still there in 1932.

7. The 1933 Portland City Directory gives the new family address as 145 Brentwood Street.

8. The 1937 Portland City Directory notes “move to New York City.” However, their exact address isn’t mentioned. I do have my aunt’s grammar school promotion certificate, dated June 1936. Apparently, my grandparents had settled in Lynbrook, New York.

Google Maps

9. Mom mentioned that before the family lived in Ridgewood, New Jersey, they lived for a short time in nearby Tenafly, New Jersey, but she didn’t remember the address.

10. My grandparents last lived in New Jersey at 630 Wyndemere Avenue in Ridgewood.

Source: Google Maps

Ridgewood is where the family lived at least from 1940 (as shown in the census that year) until Grandmother, Grandfather and my two aunts made the final family move to Massachusetts in 1947. My parents married in 1947, so Mom didn’t go with them.

I absolutely hated leaving my friends and classmates the one time my parents moved us to Wayne. I can’t imagine how many more moves my grandparents made that I haven’t yet been able to document. Given that they lived in at least three places just in Portland, almost 2 miles apart from each other, so it would mean a change of schools, it is conceivable that I am missing another 5-10 homes where they lived.

Have you had to move many times in your life?


One thought on “Where Did Mom Live Growing Up? Using Local Resources”

  1. I would have hated moving so much. It was hard making friends. We moved when I was in third grade and I changed schools from parochial to public. It was a difficult transition. I can’t imagine having to change schools in high school.

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