Whittier Cameo        
Phebe Woodman        
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brooch13.png Played by Carolyn Moe

Phebe Woodman

I lived at Oak Knoll with my adopted parents, Abby and Henry Woodman, and two of my mother's sisters. Whittier used our home as his winter residence for 16 years. He was a distant cousin of my mother.

He loved children and was very kind to me. The fact of the day that "children were seen and not heard" meant nothing to him. He often would play with me, even getting down on the floor. Once he built me a stone farmhouse with a barn and animals.

carolyn_0690-denoise-clear_cp1_fx1_med.jpg One winter day I was outside wearing a red hooded cloak, scattering nuts and seeds for the birds and squirrels. When I came in he had written a manuscript called Red Riding Hood, a poem about my afternoon's activities.

My parents, being older, tended to be very strict with me. I never had the freedom that my friends and cousins had, and John would lend a sympathetic ear as I told him my problems. Once I ran away from home and he tried to protect me from reporters by telling them that I had only made a visit to a cousin's without my parent's knowledge and consent. He was such a bright spot in my life, living in a household with many restrictions.

Oak Knoll was the inspiration for much of his writings in his later years. He entertained many writers here like Oliver Wendell Holmes, Dorothea Dix, and Sarah Orne Jewett. I remember that he decorated the halls with pictures of those literary figures that he admired like Nathaniel Hawthorne.

As I grew up, John spent less and less time at Oak Knoll. But I enjoyed receiving letters from him. He loved getting mail from young people and wrote to many aspiring young writers encouraging them in their craft.

Note. Actually, the most-loved and influential of all his women was his soul-mate and sister, Elizabeth Hussey Whittier.