Tuesday With A Townshend

Contributed PhotoSecond through sixth-graders at Nathan Hale School interviewed 93-year-old local historian Doris Townshend for their school newspaper, The Patriot Times. Following is the story they published

It’s a cold, Tuesday night and Mrs. Townshend (also known as Doris or Deb), warmly greets us at the giant front door.

She has brown and white curly hair and is wearing a cozy sweater. She leads us slowly down a long dim hallway, where artwork hangs on the walls and chandeliers hang from the ceiling.  We walk into her toasty living room where a roaring fire is lit.  On the table she has a nice warm plate of homemade chocolate chip, walnut cookies. YUM! We are told they are “her specialty”. We wasted no time and got right down to eating the cookies and the interview.

Mrs. Townshend is 93 years old. This month she will be the oldest living Townshend to date. She said being 93 “is wonderful because you have so many memories”. In 1942, she moved from Delaware to New Haven after meeting a young, rowdy Dartmouth boy and his friends on a train.  Soon after, Henry would win her heart and ask for her hand in marriage.

Henry and Doris would later have five children.  All of the Townshend children were students at Nathan Hale School. Mrs. Townshend, a former PTO president of Nathan Hale, thinks our school is “wonderful”. She even has two great- grandchildren going to Nathan Hale right now!  Some of the things that have changed since her kids went to NH is the lunchtime. When her children were students, there was no cafeteria. Students would walk home to have lunch and would return to school once they were done eating. Wouldn’t that be nice? She also told us we are not the only Nathan Hale School in Connecticut. There are at least 7 that we found. One year, they had all the Nathan Hale Schools in our state come for a visit. She said it was very interesting and thought maybe we should do that sometime. Hmmm… food for thought.

Mrs. Townshend is a local historian and author. Her favorite thing is to write about local history. We asked her what she likes about being an author and she said, “Well, there are three ways that you do it. First you do the research, then you do the writing, then you try to sell it. That’s not the fun part. But the research I like very much” She also had some good advice for aspiring authors. “If you have a good thought, take a pencil and a piece of paper if you have an idea, because you will forget it. You have these ideas and you might be able to work on them.”  We thought that was helpful advice so go get yourself a little notepad to jot things down if you ever have a great idea!  Mrs. Townshend has written books like, Fair Haven-The Journey Through Time, The Townsend Heritage, The Streets of New Haven- The Origin of Their Names and many more! She guessed that she has written about 9 books just about local history. Mrs. Townshend’s great grandson, Nolan Brant has said that some of her books can even be found in the Nathan Hale Library. 

After our interview, her great grandson gave us a tour and we got to go all the way up to the widows walk. The widows walk is where they would look out with a spyglass for the ships to return to the harbor.

Mrs. Townshend is great for 93. She is very active and a really great author. Someday you should try to meet her because there’s so much to learn about this family’s history. Please go to the library and check out one of her great books and the next time you are driving by her house think about our story and all of the things we told you about. We really enjoyed our visit with Mrs. Townshend and her cookies. To listen to the complete audio click here!

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posted by: Marion on March 12, 2015  1:24pm

There’s hardly any like her left; what a delightful lady. Wish this piece had included a picture of her house.

posted by: Iteachem on March 12, 2015  8:50pm

What a terrific article and tribute to a great woman! The teachers of these students should be mighty proud of them. Well done!