Hunt House Memory

The first time I visited the Hunt House was in June, 1995 when I returned from the Philippines. My cousin, Pat Henry, had often told me about all of the activities of the East Providence Historical Society, and I was very interested in visiting the Hunt House. As we drove in, Pat mentioned that our Aunt Marie (Tormey) had seen the house the previous week and commented, “That’s the house where Nana delivered the Barnes boy.” She remembered wading in the water of the millstream near the house as a little girl. The name Barnes rang a bell with me…

About twelve year ago while visiting a Catholic school in Connecticut, I met the principal of the high school, Fr. Robert Barnes. We started chatting and he discovered that I was from Rhode Island. He mentioned that he had been a Christian Brother before being ordained a priest. His religious name had been Brother Peter and he had taught at St. Raphael’s Academy in Pawtucket. Both my father and brother were graduates of St. Ray’s. Brother Peter was there at the time my brother was a student. I was delighted to discover this connection and when I came home I told my dad, Eddie McManus, that I had met Fr. Barnes. Dad was sitting at the kitchen table. He nodded his head and said in a thoughtful voice with a twinkle in his eye, “Oh, yes…Bobby Barnes. Your grandmother (Gertrude McManus) delivered him.” I was so surprised! Talk about a small world! Dad went on to tell me how he had sat on top of the kitchen table swinging his legs as he waited for his mother to deliver the baby in the next room. When I heard my cousin remark that this was the house where Nana had delivered the baby I couldn’t believe my ears. The Hunt House was the actual house where my father had sat on the kitchen table while Nana delivered the baby, whom I met as a grown man… a priest in Connecticut!

I was so delighted to tour the house. They are doing such a wonderful job of restoring it. I was thrilled to stand in the “birthing room” as they called the room next to the kitchen, with its wide fireplace. There Nana had delivered “Father” Bobby Barnes. Wandering into the kitchen I could imagine my dad as a little boy, dangling his feet as he sat patiently waiting for his mother, while outside, Aunt Marie dipped her toes in the clear waters of the millstream. It certainly is a small world after all.