Wolcott History
Wolcott Historical Society

Eva M. Tyrrell Remembered

By David E. Pierce, from a November 2009 letter written to Arline Tansley, Principal of Tyrrell Middle School

Dear Ms. Tansley,

A couple of years ago, I returned to Connecticut to attend my high school reunion in Milford, Connecticut. My wife and I decided to take a trip to Wolcott to my boyhood home. I had to ask directions from a person at a donut shop as things had changed so much. As it turned out, the directions given took me into Wolcott via Todd Road. I was overwhelmed with emotion when I saw the Eva M. Tyrrell School. You see, long ago from age 4 to 12, I was a foster child cared for by Mrs. Tyrrell. I am now almost 72 years old. She also cared for my brother, George Pierce and my sister, Shirley. We also had a brother and sister living there named Albert and Rita Pratt. Later, she also cared for a girl named Nancy Murry.

Oh, what a wonderful person she was. Caring, nurturing, yet firm in her teaching of how young people should conduct themselves. She taught us to be kind to others, took us to church every Sunday morning, and taught us to be upstanding citizens. She was the local newspaper correspondent for Wolcott. I can still remember her sitting at her oak roll-up desk talking on that old pedestal telephone gathering the news of Wolcott. After she had gathered the news she would send it in to a Waterbury newspaper and it appeared, I believe, under the heading "News from Wolcott." I was surprised that our home is still standing.

What wonderful memories that home holds for me. I can remember snow falling so high that it reached the eves of the house. We boys would make tunnels into the snow and line the floor with burlap feed sacks.

Summers were carefree in that home. We hardly ever wore shoes. We would catch night crawlers on warm summer evenings and then sit outside the house and sell them to the fisherman for a penny each. We had an outhouse and did not get an indoor bathroom until some time in the 40's. Boy, how the rhubarb grew around that outhouse, 3 feet tall!!

In researching your school, I came across a letter on a Web page called "Ghosts of America". The letter was from a student in your school telling about the ghost of Mrs. Tyrrell roaming the halls of the school and living in the bathroom. She said now all the kids were scared. I would tell those kids that Mrs. Tyrrell would never harm a fly. She would never wish that any child be scared of her. If she roams the halls of your school, it is just to show her caring warmth to all the children in the school, just as she did the foster children she cared for.

I hope this letter tells you a little something about the wonderful lady for whom your school is named. It would be nice if your Web page would have a section telling about her. My best to all the students and staff in your school and may you all have a very Merry Christmas!

David E. Pierce

Powhatan, Virginia  

By the way, to us foster children, Mrs. Tyrrell was alway known to us as "Grandma."

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