GIRL ALONE: LIFE IN A CONNECTICUT COTTON MILL TOWN IN THE 20TH CENTURY

Written by Claire Meikle

Edited by Adam Phelps

     Claire Meikle was born in Willimantic, CT, in 1926 and died in 2017. She wrote her memoirs in 2013-14, with help from Adam Phelps. With the exception of a few years, she lived in Willimantic all of her life.

     Claire Meikle was born in a tumultuous decade, the year after a debilitating strike at Willimantic’s American Thread Company, a time when the New England textile industry showed its first signs of decline. Her memoirs are thus the story of the decline and eventual transformation of a New England textile mill town, and so have importance as a historical document.

     “Girl Alone” was edited by Adam Phelps, who treated it as a document, allowing Meikle’s own words shine through, editing mostly for grammar and clarity. Clicking on the links below will take you to Phelps’s document, divided into four PDFs.

     Meikle worked for many years as a popular waitress at a well-known Willimantic restaurant, the Italian Garden. While there, she took many photographs of the restaurant’s patrons. Before she died, Meikle gave many of these photos to John Monaghan, a local activist. Monaghan has posted many of the photos on his blog, and they can be viewed here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/windhamhs1957yahoocom/

     Although Meikle refers to “Girl Alone” as a novel, it is not a work of fiction, but rather her nonfiction memoirs and recollections. The Mill Museum does not own the copyright to “Girl Alone.” Anyone wishing to copy all or portions of “Girl Alone” should contact Adam Phelps.