Kitty Crockett

Adele “Kitty” Crockett Robertson

Adele LeBourgeois Crockett Robertson, known locally as Kitty, was born in Ipswich on August 4, 1901, the daughter of Dr. Eugene Crockett and Elizabeth LeBourgeois Crockett of Boston, who summered in Ipswich in a former country boarding house which he purchased in 1897. Dr. Crockett was the first of several Boston doctors, artists and architects who established a Boston enclave on Argilla Road.

Crockett houseon Argilla Rd.
The Crockett house at 232 Argilla Rd.

Kitty’s early education was in private schools, where she had a reputation as a “hell raiser.” She graduated from Radcliffe in 1924, but after her parents’ deaths she made the Ipswich house her home and attempted for two years to run the family’s heavily-mortgaged orchard. In 1936, she married William A. Robertson, who had returned from an Anatartic expedition with Admiral Byrd. While he was away during WWII, Kitty obtained employment as the only woman working at Robinson’s Shipyard and later at the Sylvania factory in Ipswich. At age 50 she became a successful and well-known reporter for the Ipswich Chronicle, and won several New England Press awards. She had a daily morning radio segment on a Newburyport station. Her husband died in 1968.

In 1975 Kitty was elected for a three-year term as an Ipswich Selectman, but was defeated when she ran for re-election.

Kitty’ weekly articles regarding anything that happened in Ipswich, and especially her political observations, are still legendary. Her personality was “salty, but in a good way.” Kitty never missed a scoop. When the selectmen would go into executive session, Kitty would stand outside under an open window. Her daily visit to the Post Office was never a quick stop to get her mail. The Post Office steps were where she got her stories. She could often be found standing on the steps with her hair tied back with a bandana, giving passersby a smile and a wave. When in 1979 she died unexpectedly at the age of 78, stepping out of her VW beetle in front of the Post Office, flags in Ipswich were lowered to half mast.

Kitty’s daughter Betsy Robertson Cramer assembled two books from Kitty Robertson’s memoirs and newspaper articles. The first, Measuring Time…by an Hour Glass is a picture of growing up in Boston and her life in Ipswich, and was published in 1981. The Orchard was published in 1995, and is about the period from 1932 to 1934 when Kitty struggled to make a living from the old apple orchard. Read:This Kitty was no pussycat” by Bob Waite

Measuring Time…by an Hour Glass by Adelle “Kitty” Crocket Robertson. “Ipswich Chronicle Photo Kitty” Robertson’s ‘Measuring Time’ is an exquisite collection of essays, reflections on a 20th century life in small town New England, that first were published in the Ipswich Chronicle. Kitty’s writing has a rhythm like the tides. Like music. Like the best bluegrass music, which from me is the ultimate compliment. North Shore Sunday editor Taylor Armerding continues: “Mostly she taught those of us who had the good fortune to know her, that you can see the world without having to see the whole world. That when you choose a tiny corner of it, get to know its land and its people, train your eyes and your mind to look for beauty in the great, small and tiniest things, that you have seen a world and lived a life as exquisite as any.” “Measuring Time” is like that, petals, perhaps, of the apple blossoms of “The Orchard.” “Look through my eyes for a little while,” Kitty invites, “and may what you see bring you the joy it brings to me.”

The Orchard by Adelle “Kitty” Crocket Robertson. “The Orchard is an exquisitely beautiful and poignant memoir of a young woman’s single-handed struggle to save her New England farm in the depths of the Great Depression. Recently discovered by the author’s daughter, it tells the story of Adele “Kitty” Robertson, young and energetic, but unprepared by her Radcliffe education for the rigors of apple farming in those bitter times. Alone at the end of a country road, with only a Great Dane for company, plagued by debts, broken machinery, and killing frosts, Kitty revives the old orchard after years of neglect. Every day is a struggle, but every day she is also rewarded by the beauty of the world and the unexpected kindness of neighbors and hired workers. Animated by quiet courage and simple goodness, The Orchard stands as a deeply moving celebration of decency and beauty in the midst of grim prospects and crushing poverty.”

2 thoughts on “Adele “Kitty” Crockett Robertson”

  1. Visiting my Wade grandparents on County Road, mornings we listened to Kitty’s Ipswich news on the radio. My grandfather referred to her as “flannel mouth”, but never missed her morning report.

  2. Thank you for the story on Kitty. Without it I would not have known about the book “Measuring Time” which I was able to purchase. Also, the poem John Updike wrote for Kitty’s 70th birthday. A very nice plus. I have and read several times “The Orchard”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s