A Sea Captain

My 2nd-great-grandfather, Capt. William Nelson Hamblin, son of William and Amanda (Bearse) Hamblin, was born about 1844 in West Dennis (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died there 19 May 1883. He married 16 January 1868 in Dennis, Anna Eliza “Annie” Baker, who was born 2 October 1845 in Dennis, and died 2 December 1927, daughter of Benjamin and Eliza R. (Eldridge) Baker.

Hamblin home ~ 123 Fisk St., West Dennis

William was a mariner and became a sea-captain by the time of his death at age 39 of heart disease. William & Annie lie buried in West Dennis Cemetery on Fisk Street. William’s gravestone inscription reads:

Husband
William N. Hamblin
d. 5-19-1883 Aged 39 yrs,
We hope to meet thee in heaven.

Annie was a widow for many years. Next to her husband’s, her gravestone is inscribed:

Wife
Annie. E. Hamblin
d. 12-2-1927 Aged 82 yrs,
Gone but not forgotten.

Annie & William were the parents of three children:

1. Benjamin Francis “Benny” Hamblin, born 23 November 1873 in West Dennis, died 26 October 1955. He married 30 November 1899 in West Bridgewater (Plymouth) Massachusetts, Lillian Wright Pratt, who was born 16 September 1872 and died 20 May 1946 in Abington (Plymouth) Massachusetts, daughter of Ira A. and Lucy Ann (Hathaway) Pratt. Benjamin & Lillian were the parents of a daughter, Ruth Vivian Hamblin, who married Arthur John Coburn. Ruth was an only child, just like my grandmother, her cousin. Grandmother told me that she and Ruth considered themselves sisters more than cousins and had a very special relationship. Ruth’s husband, Arthur Coburn, made the cherry magazine rack that my grandparents, John & Emma White, gave Tim and me for a wedding present.

2. Amanda Eliza Hamblin (my great-grandmother), born 2 August 1879 in Dennis, died 6 July 1966 in Taunton (Bristol) Massachusetts. She married 1 February 1900 in Dennis, Capt. Martin Freeman Thompson, who was born 29 March 1875 in South Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts and died 13 July 1965 in Dennis, son of Martin Edward and Elisabeth Emma (Freeman) Thompson. Amanda & Martin were the parents of Emma Freeman Thompson, my grandmother and Ruth’s cousin.

3. William Nelson Hamblin, born 1 July 1883 in Dennis, two months after the death of his father, died 31 December 1958. He married Sadie Louise Crowell, who was born 11 September 1884 in Dennis, and died 23 March 1972 in Yarmouth (Barnstable) Massachusetts. Apparently the younger William did not follow his father to a life at sea. William & Sadie were the parents of two sons — Gordon and Francis Hamblin were the much-talked-about cousins of my grandmother.

The following is from the Sunday Cape Cod Times, June 22, 1980 article by Craig Little, pg 13, South Yarmouth:

[William] began selling Mobil gasoline from 55-gallon oil drums mounted in his Main Street front yard in 1914, when Main Street was still Route 28. Ten years later, when it was clear that cars were here to stay, he had the garage built a few dozen yards from his house. Even in 1935, when Route 28 was rerouted to the north and Main Street was relegated to a scenic bypass, there was enough business to keep the station going….. W.H. Hamblin bought the little candy store and moved it to the property in 1928 so his wife could sell ice cream. Now window boxes with geraniums decorate the outside, hanging below the old wood-framed glass display cases.

Hamblin’s Garage in Bass River is a living museum of roadside retailing, a dusty monument to the time when gas stations were stucco and red tile, not shiny plastic and chrome floating on a sea of jet black seal-coated asphalt………[Francis’] brother, Gordon, takes care of the mechanical work (“We don’t do any big jobs like transmission work or rebuilding engines. We do mufflers, brakes, tune-ups, exhausts. Yep, we do all that”). He’s been there since 1934, when he was right out of high school…… After Francis leaves, Gordon will stay on in the house behind the shop. He’ll keep on driving school buses for the town, something he’s done for years. For years he’s also serviced the South Yarmouth’s post office’s fleet of mail vans, working on them on an outdoor hydraulic lift installed in 1930. “Oh, I dunno, I guess they got about 18, 19, or 20 of ’em,” he says from under his cap, worn at an angle, Rootie Kazootie style. “I work on all of ’em — they usually get ’em down here about 5 in the evenin’. They need ’em in the day.”……. The Hamblins charge between $5 and $6 an hour for labor. It doesn’t seem to bother them that other garages get three times that for the same work……. “Yep, been an inspection station since I was a kid,” adds Gordon, twisting a final spark plug into place on Silva’s Mustang. “As far as I know, since the early ’20s.” Behind the car, in a corner next to a pile of old boxes capped with a dusty pith helmet, is a sagging easy chair where Gordon can sneak a break during his long days.

Like an archeological dig, the inside of the gas station has strata of artifacts. Peel back a tire sealant ad from the ’50s and you find a tobacco ad from the ’40s. Peel that back, and underneath is a flyer from the ’30s. Time stands still here…… But after 66 years of pumping gas and changing flats here, the Hamblins are selling out. “Don’t wanna die here,” says Francis, the talkative Hamblin who acts as the front man, pumping gas, taking care of the candy store and making small talk with the customers…….. Francis didn’t arrive until after World War II, when the brothers took over the business from their father, W. H. Hamblin……. Even in 1967, when a shiny new Mobil station was built down by the Bass River Bridge, the Hamblins managed to survive, by switching to Arco. “That’s comin’ too close,” philosophizes Francis….. The more you look around, the more you wonder why antique dealers didn’t clean out the Hamblins years ago. “Oh, I got some baseball cards of Babe Ruth and them at home. Must be worth $40 or $50 apiece,” says Francis, who knows by now that an old thing gets more valuable as it gets older…….. Probably the newest thing in the garage… a rototiller destined to carve out a garden for Francis in New Hampshire. “Just bought a place there last year,” he says. “Hope to have a good-sized garden…….. Because of the war, our father started closing Sundays,” says Francis. “He liked it so well he never got back to the seven-day week. We stay pretty busy, ‘specially at inspection time. Most of ’em is repeats…….. A lot of people come in to have work done on their old cars,” Francis says, nodding toward the 1936 Packard that someone dropped off in the back lot. “They hate to see us go. Oh, we’ve just gotten up in age and want to take it a little easier. Anyway, fella that wants to buy the place says he’s gonna try to keep it as a landmark… won’t do much modernizing. Geez, hope they pass those papers.

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