Publishing the history & culture

of Southeastern New England • Since 1981


ISBN 978-0932027-627

112 pages • 7.25” x 10”
12 Illustrations

Also available as an eBook!


The Ed Letters

Memories of a New England Boyhood

by Edwin & Cliff Ashley
Edited by Diane deManbey Duebber
Illustrated by Charles Parsons

 Born in 1909 and 1913 respectively in a little town called Marion, on the south coast of Massachusetts, brothers Ed and Cliff Ashley shared a childhood filled with simple country adventures and colorful characters. Remarkably, the Ashleys' cherished memories have been preserved in the letters that Cliff, who moved to Maine as a young man, wrote to his brother Ed over the course of 60 years. Cliff wrote of the scrapes they'd gotten into as kids, the games they'd played, the townsfolk they'd known, and the sleepy little town they called home.

 Ed read and saved each of those letters, until his failing eyesight made them difficult to read. That's when editor Diane deManbey Duebber stepped in. Working for the Council on Aging, she began reading Ed's mail to him, including the letters from Cliff. After hearing each new treasure from his brother, Ed put it in a box in his closet with the others. Realizing the value of those stored memories, Diane compiled Cliff's letters in a book, putting Ed's memories to writing in the form of replies.

 Here, then, is the result…a wonderful collection of letters, filled with quaint stories and a colorful cast of small-town characters, reminiscent of television's Andy Griffith Show. Readers will enjoy stories about "Mr. Midnight," the mysterious traveling salesman…ornery Bessie Nelson and her cats…Mr. Whitmarsh and his boney old horse, Gracie…Neal Potter, who hornswoggled the grocer with a bottle-return scheme…and many other delightfully funny characters.

About The Author

The Ed Letters: Memories of a New England Boyhood is Diane deManbey Duebber’s third published book. She developed the concept for it while employed by the Marion, Massachusetts Council on Aging, where part of her job was to read mail to the elderly Ed Ashley. Recognizing the historical value of the nostalgic letters Ed’s brother, Cliff, wrote to him every week, she set out to put Ed’s memories into writing as well. She chose to record them in the form of reply letters, pairing them with the best of Cliff ’s correspondence to create this unique and revealing collection of memories and stories from a bygone era.

Ms. Duebber’s other books are The Strange Case of the Pettis Murders and The Great East Thompson Train Crash. She lives with her husband and daughter in Thompson, Connecticut and is a teacher at the Rectory School in nearby Pomfret. In addition to writing about historical subjects, she enjoys children’s literature, antiques, and folk singing.