Brigham, Annetta

Interviewer: Jean McMillen
Place of Interview: Noble Horizons
Date of Interview:
File No: 84/96 Cycle:
Summary: Unitarian Fellowship 1973-2014

Interview Audio

Interview Transcript

Annetta Eddy Brigham Interview:

This is file 84. I am jean McMillen. I am interviewing Annetta Brigham who is going to talk about the UUA and the fellowship. Today is October 23, 2014. We’re going to start with the genealogical information.

JM:What is your name?

AB:Annetta Eddy Brigham

JM:What is your birth date?

AB:March 20, 1919.

JM:Where were you born?

AB:Hartford, Ct.

JM:What were your parents’ names?

AB:Lawrence Eddy and Doan Peirce Eddy

JM:Where did the name Doan come from? I have only heard it once before. (Doan Finlay Ed.)

AB: My mother’s mother’s family had Doans in them in the background.

JM:So it is a family name. Did you have sisters or brothers?

AB:I had one sister Emily Jane Eddy.

JM:You had a very interesting educational background. Can you tell me some about it, please, starting with your college?

AB:I graduated from Wellesley College in 1941. Then I worked towards my PhD. in Medical Social Work at Simmons School of Social Work. I was there for 2 years.

JM:Where was the Simmons School of Social Work?


JM: What happened after the two years? Why didn’t you finish your PhD. with your thesis?

AB:This was a time when young men were going overseas. My then husband, as a young doctor, was sent to the Pacific. He was there for 2 years. It seemed wise for me to go to Worcester where my family lived to live it out. (Her Simmons supervisor suggested that she not start a thesis at this time, but should get a job. After which she was employed for nearly a year as a medical social worker at the Boston Dispensary in their “Nerve” clinic. This turned out to be a psychiatric social worker! She worked through nearly 7 months of pregnancy, returning to our apartment near the Harvard Medical School. The Boston Dispensary has been absorbed into the Tufts Medical. Addendum by letter from A. B.)

JM:So you never actually wrote your thesis?2.


JM:Darn!! How did you come back here to this area? Your father moved around a lot with different engineering jobs? Tell me a little bit about your dad’s jobs.

AB:He was a mechanical engineer. One of his assignments was as a works manager at the Kennecott Mills, copper mills, in Alaska where he took my mother after he became established there. They lived there until a few months before I was due. We came back to my parents’ home in Canaan and that is why I was born in Hartford.

JM:The medical facilities in Canaan were not as good as the medical facilities in Hartford. Your dad wanted to make sure that he had a good healthy girl. Have you always lived in this area or did you go back to the eastern part of Massachusetts?

AB:My father was employed by various steel companies. At one time the American Rolling Mill Company and others; he had different assignments to either build plants or parts to plants. He had not been in the service because he had an injury to his eye was a boy and he was not accepted, much to his disappointment.

JM:I am going to ask you now about the UUA. What do the initials stand for?

AB:Unitarian Universalist Association

JM:Were you the Unitarian or was it your husband George that was the Unitarian?

AB:My husband George was a Unitarian and had been for many generations back in Concord, Massachusetts. They belonged to the First Parish which was the original church. It suited me very well so I became interested in the fellowship in Salisbury.

JM:As a good wife should. What are some of the general tenets or beliefs of the Unitarians?

AB:I think it is freedom to think as one wishes.

JM:Perfect, it is a very welcoming society to everyone. In reviewing with you as we will do, the various people that have been in the fellowship are all over the place as far as ideas and thoughts and so forth. As you know my husband Foster was a fourth generation Unitarian and was a bit of a free spirit.

Now I would like to ask you who was the prime “mover and shaker” in this area when you came into the UUSA fellowship?

AB:Lucille Murray was a very remarkable woman who came to her parents’ home on Farnum Road. She had great enthusiasm. I don’t know how the fellowship started; it was going when we came in 1973 or 1974. She was the originator as far as I know a pusher who directed this whole thing.

JM:She used to attend a conference of some sort.


AB:The General Assembly in Unitarian Universalist Society was a collection of all the churches in the country. Usually a delegate from each church was sent to the week- long assembly or anyone who wanted to could attend. We were not a church, but she attended every year quite religiously as a volunteer.

JM:Where was this held?

AB:Various places in the country.

JM:So it moved around.


JM;I think Lucille’s father was a minister.


JM:She always used the phrase” come-outer” and anyone that came from a different church and joined the UUA fellowship was a “come-outer”. I loved that expression. Now we have a fellowship rather than a church building. Can you tell me some of the people that you remember that were in this fellowship?

AB:Yes, I remember a few. I remember Bob and Mary Lou Estabrook who were very much interested in it. I believe that Kiau and Jo Loi were in it early as very young people. The McMillens were in it. Lou Burgess came slightly after we had first come with her four daughters. Her husband didn’t come but I am sure he backed her up and the daughters and their interests. He (Henry ED.) was a prominent lawyer in town. I had met Vesta Milnes of Canaan who was the wife of Russell Milnes, a Congregational minister there. She was very different and original; she came to visit and liked it so much that she came whenever she could, but of course being a minister’s wife she couldn’t come every time. I had met her as a member of her sketch group.

JM:She was a wonderful artist.

AB:Oh yes, she could do anything in the world.

JM:She made the most wonderful hot rolls.

AB:She could do anything, paint a house. Then a bit later Peter Traub and Doris were there. I can’t remember any of the other early ones.

JM:How about the Howards, Fred and Garetta? They were out Taconic way.

AB:Oh yes, they came.

JM:How about Art Eddy?

AB:Art Eddy was around as long as I can remember, but I don’t know when he joined. 4.

JM:He came to Hotchkiss in the late 1960’s perhaps or before so he probably was one of the early ones in the fellowship.

AB:He could have been.

JM:How about Ruth and Warren Buck? They came later didn’t they?

AB:Ruth and Warren came a bit later: she was another driving person and very active in it.

JM:Oh yes she was very interested in it, and did a lot of “outreach” to get other people involved with it.


JM:The only other ones that I can remember are the young couple that we always called theYoung Brighams”. I don’t remember their names.

AB:Oh I don’t remember their names either, but they lived out in Boston Corners.

JM:In fact when we go to Marylynn Kalogeras’s house, we go right past where the young Brighams lived. We (Foster and I) used to chuckle about the “young Brighams” and the “older Brighams”. We didn’t say elderly, we said the older Brighams.

AB:They were apparently not related to us directly. She came as often as she could and was quite active. Then she found that she had too many other things to do there. We had several meetings at her house, and picnics.

JM:At that time we would do house to house. How often did you meet as a group?

AB:We met once a month.

JM:I know that we started doing houses and then it changed to where?

AB:Well for some reason after many years of each presenter having the meeting at his or her house, and providing also the refreshments, and directing the talk back or discussion; then I don’t remember why we had to go to the community room at Noble Horizons where we had some of the presentations. One time we couldn’t have the community room so they switched us to the Cobble living room which we liked so much better that we managed to stay there.

JM: Oh you are a clever group. Are you still in UUA?

AB:Oh yes.

JM:How many members are there today?

AB:I think 15 or so.

JM:I am going to use the word service. What did the presenter do?5.

AB:Oh yes, I remember presenting at least 2 or 3 times. What most of us did who were not ministers and needed some help, there was a way of finding out past sermons by UUA ministers. In the beginning I remember I would choose one that I thought was appropriate. We did not have a theme particularly. Each person chose their own. We would study and work it out so that we could present it and thoroughly know it and then direct the discussion afterwards and draw people out. Usually they were quite lively discussions. Then we had regular church like service. We would sing hymns.

JM:Only if Jo Loi played the piano!


JM;It was rather difficult to sing without Jo Loi at the piano.

AB:I don’t think anybody else played. I don’t remember whether Lucille Murray played the piano or not, but she had one. Anyway we a Cappella which some members did not like to do. We struggled through it and them there were the inspirational readings inserted, all chosen by the presenter.

JM:That is a good summation. Could you tell me the names of some of the newer members that are in the fellowship now?

AB:Let’s see Liza Close, Harding Bancroft, and Edward Nickerson.

JM:Oh I know him. You said there were about 15 in the group and of course there are some whom you have already mentioned. Is there anything that you would like to add to the UUA portion of this tape before we close?


JM:Thanks you so much for your time.