Honor Thy Mother & Father, part 1

Autobiography by Florence Goodman Enzmann 


My mother was Mary Sophia Stanhope, and my father was Robert F. Goodman, both of Calais, Maine, USA. Mother was the daughter of George Stanhope, who ventured with the California Gold Rush and never returned, nor to my knowledge, was he ever heard from or of again. Father was the son of Amelia Duncan and George Goodman, Sea Captain. Neither of them was American born (Scottish). I was the fifth of six children born to my parents:

  1. Mary Roberta, died in infancy.
  2. Margaret Stanhope, married Briton Oliver Smith.
  3. Jane Aylward Goodman, unmarried.
  4. Elizabeth Caroline, married Jay Aupperle.
  5. – Me, Florence Kelly Goodman, married Ernst V. Enzmann.
  6. Robert Goodman, Jr.

Elizabeth and Florence were twins.

(After my twin sister was born, my grandmother Stanhope said, “My God, there’s another one!” At least, that is what I have been told by my aunt Jane Aylward Goodman. I have always been “the other one.”)

Father and Mother

Father and mother wanted to have a large family, they were fond of children and quite able to support a big family, but after the birth of the first and only son of August 3, 1892, mother died. Father was on a trip “round the Horn” to China in the James W. Elwell at the time she died, so her body was kept in what, in a big city, would be called “The Morgue,” though there in Bath, Maine it was a little tomb built in under the grass and sod, with a door opening straight into the vault. It was seldom used. When father returned, he had his son, but his very much-loved wife was gone. They were very, very fond of each other.

My mother died from some kidney complication, and at that time, it was evidently not possible to save her, for they got the best doctors they could; I have been told that they sent to Boston and Portland for doctors. This was also told to me by my Aunt Jen. Mother knew she was going to haul in her anchor, for my sister Margaret was asked to go up to her room, and after she entered, mother asked her to go over and “ask the girls” (that being the MacDonald girls who lived across the street) to ask Mr. White (who was Deacon of the church which she attended there in Bath) to ask for prayers for her, and “if it be God’s will.” That is all I know, but Margaret says she cried and did not want to go but said nothing, only sensed as a child can that something was wrong. But she went and delivered the message and wept when she got there; the prayers were offered, and it was “God’s will.” My dear mother left us, but only Jane and Margaret could really miss her, for Beth, and I and Robert were too young.

My mother had been a school teacher before marriage at what was then called the Sand Bank School in Calais, Maine. She must have had intelligent, educated parents, for her mother had, and still could, read books written in French and German. Also, one of her sisters, who married a Waite, had been in France with her daughter Helen, of whom I will write a little more later.

Mother was, as comparisons go, very small and very pretty, with dark brown eyes and beautiful, long, dark brown hair which reached her knees. I remember father told me one time when we had gone across the fields into the woods where we kids used to play under some favorite Pine trees up on a little hill – there were lovely boulders just shaped as chairs, and we could hear the wind soughing through the pine needles – that he and mother used to go there. She would let down her hair so that he could admire it. In those days, it was not proper for a woman to exhibit her hair in public, only in private (aside from the Seven Southerland Sisters, who had beautiful hair and exhibited it as an advertisement for a hair tonic). I am sure he felt her loss very keenly.

Well, to continue. Of course, as is usual, telegrams were sent. My father’s sister Nennie (Jane Aylward), who was a widow with one adopted daughter Carrie, locked the doors of her own home on Franklin Street in Calais, Maine, and came, and stayed, and brought us up thoroughly for 11 years. I consider we were most fortunate in having such an Aunt to stick by us. Also, her mother came, Grandmother Goodman (Nana), father’s mother, who was also a widow, her husband, a sea Captain, having drowned. When he died, she was left with four children, plus, what was in those days a very good house which they owned, and a cow. The house was in Calais, Maine, right on the bank of the St. Croix River, down over the hill – in fact, on the River Front. She struggled as a widow would at that time. With the sewing, she did and caring for her friends and neighbors, and what food they raised on a good-sized lot of land, she managed.

My father was not too young when he lost his father and had already launched upon his career. At the age of 12, according to my Aunt, he went one day to his mother and said, “Captain so and so is leaving soon; can I go with him?” or words to that effect. The Captain had his ship anchored down the river at the breakwater. I think it was twelve miles down. Grandmother, not taking the boy seriously as at that time he was attending The Academy (now the high school) for which she was paying, as in those days schooling was not as free as it now is, told him to: “go and ask your father.” So he did. His father sort of got the idea that his mother had assented, so said the equivalent of all right, and the boy (my father) set off upon what was to be a lifelong career and love of the sea. Came supper time, and no Robbie appeared for food (Robbie is the name often used by Scots for a boy named Robert, Robin is also used). Finally, Grandmother asked his father, and the story came out that his father had really given permission, not realizing it was all upon his shoulders, to “go to sea.” As later accounts show, he was a mighty sad little boy on shipboard that night, for he had shipped as cook, and he did not know a thing about cooking, except that a mince pie he found already cooked was good, and he ate it entirely. So he was not only mentally sick but physically as well. In those days, the seamen were not treated with soft gloves. However, he lived to return for the first time about a year later, a sadder and wiser boy with a broken arm, already having begun his life’s voyage of a seafaring man.

Mayhap I have made some mistakes, but it is as I have understood events. I must add that when grandfather found what the boy had done, he got into his rowboat and pulled all the way down to the breakwater where the ships, which were too large for the river, used to anchor, and when he got there, found that the ship had left before he arrived. Imagine how those two parents felt, for twelve years is not very old.

Read Part 2