Like many locals, Mystic native Sheila Murphy Adams had a childhood packed with magical memories of Mystic and Watch Hill. But unlike many locals Adams decided to document her memories publishing her first children’s book: Beads, Bands & A Brass Ring.
The independently published book, depicting life centered around her grandparent’s house in Watch Hill, made its way onto local bookshelves and retail stores this past June.
“I focused in on my memories of Watch Hill, walking through the Ocean House, being on the beach,” Adams said.
Adams, a teacher at and a North Stonington resident, began her book four years ago as a memoir unit with her classes. Through student encouragement, she entertained the idea of publishing but gave the prospect time to ripen and four years later she now holds the finished product, illustrated by her father Ed Murphy.
“Any time I give students a major writing assignment; I do it along with them so they can see my process,” Adams said.
Adams is a seasoned writer, and her verbal descriptions are equally florid and nostalgic. I can see the fire stoke in her eyes as she conveys the contents of the book to me.
“I grew up on Mason’s Island,” Adams said. “It was safe and secluded and we could play kick ball all day. Mom rang the dinner bell and wherever we were, we’d come running—life was so simple.” Adams reminisced. “My parents are still in the house we grew up in.”
But it was her grandparent’s house in Watch Hill that held the social glue for the family. Adams’s grandparents were known for having big parties. Her grandfather, a drummer would invite his fellow musicians over for a jam session and the house would come alive.
“There were 11 cousins and we would go into a closet filled with fur coats, jackets and costume jewelry,” Adams said. “We would all wrap ourselves in the fur stoles and the boys would put on grandpa’s coats and hats. We would come prancing out of the room with our dress up gear, we were part of the entertainment and they loved having us there.”
The house was a pit stop for Watch Hill escapades until Adams went off to college.
Adams attended Bryant College, got her business degree becoming a private accountant. After getting married and having two kids, she kept a flexible schedule but asked herself if she wanted to fall into the role of accounting for a lifetime and the answer was no. So, with an open mind and some inspiration from North Stonington Elementary, she decided teaching was her calling and got a master’s degree in education followed and then a teaching position in 2004.
Adams has wrote a few other books, which she intends to have her 82-year-old father Murphy illustrate. With a background in construction and development, Murphy has experience drawing plans but always had a penchant for cartooning and painting.
“I didn’t expect him to love [illustrating the book] as much as he did,” Adams said. “I thought it was too much to ask, but my mother said he’s loving it.”
As for Adams, she feels satisfaction in seeing the finished results.
“I never tire of looking at the cover it’s so colorful,” Adams said. “My goal was to publish before I turned 40 and now to publish more before I turn 50, I can definitely do that.”