MARY LEVESQUEANNA & KENNETH ROSSETERCLARINDA ULIN
Transcript of a taped interview
Narrators: Mary Levesque, Anna & Kenneth Rosseter, Clarinda Ulin.
Tape: #27 A&B.
Date: May 20, 1983.
Place of interview: Mrs. Ulin’s home, Walton Street, Lakeville, Connecticut.
Interviewer: Donald Kobler.
Anna, Mary, and Clarinda, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Beebe, share memories of Lakeville, their birthplace. They and Anna’s husband, Kenneth, have lived in Lakeville all or most of their lives. They recall what life was like for them as children and young adults, including their experiences when employed at the telephone company, in area businesses and for local dairy farmers.
Property of the Oral History Project.
Salisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library.
Salisbury, Connecticut 06068,
Beebe Sisters – 1
DK:This Is Donald Kobler, May 20, 1983, interviewing Clarinda Ulin, Mary Levesque and Anna Rosseter, sisters, and Kenneth Rosseter, husband of Anna Rosseter.
Suppose you start by telling us something about your parents, the Beebes,
ML:Dad was born in East Canaan, He was Herbert Beebe and he came to Lakeville about 1910, before 1910, about 1908, I think. He worked as a picture framer for Heaton, A.H. Heaton, in his store.
DK:Where was the store located?
KR:Where the gas station is now.
CU:Where the Lakeville Service Station is now.
DK:How long did he work there?
ML:Until 1930, 1931.
AR:He worked there ten years and then he thought he would have to have more training because he was a picture framer and it required a little bit more knowledge than what he had. So, he went to New London, Connecticut, and worked as a picture framer down there and then he went to the Wallace Nutting factory in Ashland, Massachusetts, and we lived in Hopkinton. Then his mother died, so he went back to East Canaan to help to take care of his father, and we children and my mother, of course, accompanied him.
CU:And he did ice cream.
ML:Oh, yeah, that was in East Canaan.
AR:And then Mr. Heaton came back over to my father and asked him to come back to work for him, so we came back to Lakeville. Dad bought a place up in Lincoln City Road, known years ago as the Pat Lawless place. And we lived there until he died in 1971.
Beebe Sisters – 2
DK:So, you lived there from 1930. . .
AR:No, 1922 to 1971.
DK:Was your father born here too?
ML:He was born in East Canaan.
DK:What about your mother?
AR:My mother was born in Beckley Quarter down near Middletown, Connecticut. She graduated from high school down there and then decided to become a nurse and went to the Winsted Hospital which was known as the Litchfield County Hospital at that time and trained to be a nurse. And it was there that she met my father. They were married in 1910 and built a little place on the Belgo Road where I was the oldest – I’m Anna – and then Newton was born and Mary was born and then Clarinda. Then we moved to New London and, as I said before, to Massachusetts and then back to East Canaan. Then in 1922 they came back to Lakeville and in 1923 Richard was born. He was the last of the Beebe family.
DK:So, all of you were born here.
AR:All of us were born in the town of Salisbury.
DK:You were born here, too, Mr. Rosseter?
KR:Yes, I was.
DK:And where did you live?
KR:I lived up at Lincoln City Road.
DK:What house is that now?
KR:Where Terry Solan is now. That was in 1912.
ML:Was it always the Rosseter house?
KR:No, they bought it in 1909 or 1910.
Beebe Sisters: – 3
AH:1908 they moved off the mountain.
KR:1908 it was. They bought it. I don’t know who they bought it from for sure. Floods used to live there. And at one time that house was a bar room.
KR:In the front room you can see where the bar used to be. And the floor was worn right down paper thin. And then they added on to the house. That was the front half of it then. They added on and made it twice as big as it was.
DK:Where would the customers come from for a bar there?
KR:Well, the Davis Digging Company was going full blast and. . .
DK:What was that?
KR:That’s the ore mine. . .
CU:In back of the school.
KR:It was right back of where the schoolhouse is.
CU:The Porter Ore Bed.
KR:No, the Davis.
CU:Oh, the Davis.
KR:Well, Porter was running, too. There were a few miners from the Porter that lived up there, but the Davis Digging owned half of Lincoln City or more. They owned everything on the east side of the road. And all those houses, at that time, belonged to them. There were two families in a house so, except for two houses, there were two, four, six, eight families up there.
DK:When were you born? What year?
DK:And was there anything going on in the ore industry then?
Beebe Sisters – 4
KR:The Ore Hill Mine was running a little bit, not much. I remember when the whistle used to blow at 7 o’clock every morning and 5 o’clock every afternoon. You could hear it from Ore Hill to there.
ML:Did they walk over to Ore Hill from Lakeville to go to work or did they, . . .
KR:Most of the ones that worked in Ore Hill lived over this way. But, yes, some of them did.
KR:Yes, some of them did after the Davis Digging Company closed. Most of them worked over there for a while.
ML:Did Doc Monahan ever work there? [ed: John Monahan]
KR:I don’t know as he ever worked in Ore Hill. He may have. He worked in the Porter. He worked in the Davis Digging. I don’t remember ever hearing of his working in Ore Hill. I don’t think he was an underground man. He was a pit man.
DK:Were your parents born here?
KR:Yes, my father was born up on Mount Riga. My mother was born in Ancram Lead Mines. Now it’s Ancramdale.
DK:How large was your family?
KR:I’m the youngest one of the family. I’m the ninth one.
DK:Any of your brothers and sisters living here now?
KR:I have one brother living down in New Jersey. And one sister, that’s Terry Solan’s – that’s Mrs. Solan – she’s in the place where I was torn. She’s still there.
DK:Oh, she’s in the family house.
KR:The same house.
DK:What was it like growing up in Lakeville at the time when you were small? What did you do for amusement, for example?
Beebe Sisters – 5
AH:Well, in the summer time, we played ball out in the lot across from our house, pasture lot. Sometimes you played two-o-cat bat, sometimes if there were enough children out, we had teams.
DK:What was two-o-cat bat?
AR:Well, two-o-cat bat, you had a person batting and somebody, a second person, who was going to bat if the first person hit the ball and started to make a run. When a person got out, everybody moved up on the, . . . The catcher became a batter, the pitcher was the catcher, the first baseman moved to be a pitcher and a fielder moved up one, so that it made it interesting and everybody had a chance to pitch, catch and bat.
DK:Boys and girls played together?
AR:Oh, yes, sure.
KR:In two-o-cat bat you had two bases. In one-o-cat bat you had one base and then you had to run to the base and back to the plate and if you didn’t get back to the plate you were out.
AR:And we played tom-tom-pull-away, which was you had sides and you dared somebody to come over to your side and you tried to pull them off their side and yank then over to your side. And we played red rover, red rover, we dare you to come over. Then they’d all rush over and you rushed out to grab them. And if you got them, they had to be on your side.
CU:And then we played ally-ally-over, under over. . .
AR:Yeah, that was a ball.
CU:Throwing a ball over a building, over the roof.
ML:One stands on one side and one on the other. And you throw the ball and if it goes over, you say, “ally-ally-over.” That means they’ve got to catch it and throw it back. If it doesn’t go over, you say, “under,” and it comes back on your side and you throw it over again. And my father had a fit because he said we were going to break windows. Mama loved it because she knew where we were.
Beebe Sisters – 6
CU:You could always tell when it landed on the roof and ruined the shingles. And then in the winter time we skied and slid. Yes.
DK:What kind of skiing did you do? Was it. . .
DK:. . .cross-country or downhill?
ML:There were hills.
KR:We had both. In fact, we went in the winter time when the roads were full of snow, we skied to school. And we skied back at night.
DK:How far did you have to go to school then? From where you lived on Lincoln City Road?
KR:It would be a mile.
CU:A mile, about.
KR:But we went cross-lots and knocked some off of that.
ML:It [the ski] only had one strap on it, so, I mean, you kept coming out of the things, too, because it didn’t have the harness like they have now.
CU:You used can rubbers.
KR:I was one of the first ones, I think, to make a ski harness. But I used my skis for right through where I was working up until we lived at Twin Lakes there. I used to ski to Canaan to get groceries. I could put fifty or seventy-five pounds on my back – groceries – and ski off from Canaan to Twin Lakes and think nothing of it.
DK:Is that right? Where did you skate? On the lake?
Beebe Sisters – 7
AR:Sometimes on the lake end sometimes on the Porter Ore Bed, but my father was very fussy because he would always go down and test the ice before he’d let us on it because he was afraid that we might fall through. We’d also go up to Bergenty’s, up on the hill, way up on top of Selleck Hill there. There was a pond and we used to go up there and skate quite a bit.
CU:Brazzales had a pond over there later years. I used to go over there and skate. . .
AR:There sometimes was a pond that came if we had a lot of rain, right behind our house and I skated there a lot.
ML:That’s where we met Rena Marcon.
AR:In the winter time, of course, back there in 1920, in the 1920’s, they didn’t have the equipment that they have now to keep the roads open and Lincoln City always filled up with snow. We always figured if it didn’t fill up with snow, then the backbone of winter was not broken. And we always had a lot of fun because everybody got out and shoveled snow. One year we had to shovel. . .
DK:You mean shovel out the road?
AR:One year we had to shovel because Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Francis didn’t have coal. They had to have coal.
KR:We liked to get the mail man through, too.
AR:And we liked to get the mail man through.
ML:But the town would come and do it if there was a pregnant woman.
AR:Or if there was anybody sick.
ML:Then they’d come and plow it out, but other than that you were on your own.
Beebe Sisters – 8
CU:A lot of times they came down through the lot instead of going by the road because the road was so hard to get through.
ML:Yeah, they’d take fences down.
KR:People had a different outlook then. If you’d, . . . If you weren’t working, you went out and shoveled snow and thought nothing of it. For the town. Keep the road open for your neighbors.
DK:You did it free, you mean?
KR:But if you were working and drawing pay, then naturally you didn’t do it, but people in the summer time, they worked for all they could get. In the winter time, if something came up, somebody wanted something done, they’d go out and do it for any price to get that extra quarter to help out with what was left from summer’s wages. You never charged the town much. You always did it just as cheap as you could or for nothing when you worked for the town. Now it’s a little different.
AR:We had. . . Lincoln City is about a half a mile from where we were living down to the main road to Lakeville. But we had short cuts. We had the Porter Ore Bed way which you turned at the Monahan’s gate and went down across their lot, over a stile, down a steep hill alongside the Porter Ore Bed, over an old bridge, and came out on Porter Street down where the present post office is. The other way was the orchard way. You turned by what used to be Peter Garrity’s place and went down across the lot and came out down a steep hill by Argall’s – I don’t know who lives there now, but it was Argall’s – and came down Orchard Street. . .
Beebe Sisters – 9
CU:Paul Driscoll lives there.
AR:Oh, Paul Driscoll, that’s right. . . .and went down Orchard Street and on to the village. One winter Joe Francis took his car down over that hill at Orchard Street and, . . . That’s a steep hill. I don’t know how he did it.
DK:Drove right over the snow?
AR:In the snow, yes. He took it down there cross-lots because he couldn’t get down the main way.
ML:I remember when our cow went dry, taking the little milk can and putting it in this little box with ten cents. Then when we came home from school we picked up the milk and took it home. Remember that? I think we got the milk from Cleaveland.
CU:I don’t remember. Yes. He lived in the last house there.
DK:Where did you go swimming? You must have done a lot of swimming. Did you use the lake then?
ML:Once in a great while.
AR:No, no. We were allowed to go swimming up in the brook above Lincoln City. Mr. Pettee owned the woods and there was a beautiful swimming hole. The water came down off a lot of rock and into this pool. And every year we shivered in our boots, and we waited for Mr. Pettee to come down the road. And then we’d say, “Mr. Pettee, do you mind if we go swimming in your swimming pool?” And he looked very stern at us, and he’d say, “You carry matches?” And we’d say, “No, we don’t.” “Well, by Jove, then maybe you could go.” But he was really a kindly man even though he scared us to death when we were kids.
DK:Would that be Burton Brook?
Beebe Sisters – 10
KR:That would be the Pettee Brook, the one that comes down through Lincoln City and comes out by Parke Sylvernale’s. There used to be a big brook down at. . .
CU:Doesn’t it through Green Pond? It empties into Green Pond? And then goes down by Parke’s out of Green Pond.
ML:Somebody had dammed it up a little to make that swimming hole, too.
CU:I think so.
AR:That was natural rock.
KR:That was natural rock. That was natural.
AR:It was ice cold. No sun hit it.
KR:The sun didn’t hit that for, oh, a mile before it got to open lot where the sun could hit it and then it went over those rocks and it was spring fed, anyhow.
AR:But we all learned to swim there.
ML:Dad. taught us. The breaststroke. That’s the only one he knew. So, we all learned the breaststroke.
KR:A few minutes of it was all you wanted.
ML:But you couldn’t. . . It wasn’t, . . . But I mean it was only up to your waist.
CU:For kids it was a good size, but grownups. . .
ML:But they didn’t have to worry about us. When we were up there we were all right.
DK:What about your schooling? Where did you go to school?
ML:I went to third grade in Lakeville at. . . What did you call that school?
CU:St. Mary’s Hall.
ML:Where St. Mary’s Hall is now.
KR:It was the Catholic school.
Beebe Sisters – 11
ML:It wasn’t the Catholic convent then.
KR:No, it wasn’t the convent. It never was a convent. It was a school.
KR:Run by the Catholic Church.
ML:But not when I went to school.
ML:The town had taken over. . .
KR:No, you went to school too late. I’m ahead of you a few years.
ML:But you went to school there, too.
KR:Yeah, but the town. . . When the Catholic Church closed the school, they left a lot of extra pupils for the town school, for the public school. And they didn’t have room for them, so they rented the Catholic school.
ML:That’s how it. . .
KR:They put the first three grades up there. At that time, I was a third-grader so I got a year up there.
ML:Well, then the next year I got in there. Miss Standard [Lila Standard: ed] was my teacher.
KR:She was mine, too.
ML:She was yours, too? Then Crin went there and she had Miss Horty.
CU:No, I didn’t. I had Miss Standard. I might have had Miss Horty in the first grade.
ML:In the first grade, you had Miss Horty.
KR:She taught first and second.
ML:And Anna was down with. . .
AR:I started with Bessie Argall in the fourth grade down at the other school where the post office is now.
Beebe Sisters – 12
There was a lovely school there. The grade school was on the first floor and the high school was on the second floor. The high school was one big room: the assembly room that started in at the front with the freshmen, then back was the sophomores, then behind them sat the juniors, and the seniors were at the end of the room. There were two classrooms: Room One, which was English – taught English and history, I guess – and the Science Room or laboratory room was the other room. And the principal’s office. That was the high school.
DK:How many teachers were there?
AR:Four. We had Miss Lee, Elizabeth Lee, who taught English.
ML:No, she was the second year. Who was the Latin teacher?
AR:Chapin, Margaret Chapin. The principal was Loring and he taught mathematics and science.
DK:What was his name?
AR:When Ken was there, it was Moseley.
CU:Yes, I was going to say Moseley.
KR:Henry Moseley and, boy, he was a wonderful man, too.
ML:Maybe it was Loring’s first year when I got to be a freshman. Because we went up to the other school, to the new. . . See, when I got up there it was Loring. See, I spent two years at the LHS, the Lakeville High School, and two years at Salisbury High School. I was a sophomore up there, right?
DK:So, the Salisbury High School was built to include students from both Lakeville and Salisbury?
ML:Well, the Lakeville High School was, too. They all came down, . . .
KR:They didn’t have a high school in Salisbury.
CU:Yeah, and Lime Rock and Ore Hill came over. They had grade schools in their towns.
Beebe Sisters – 13
ML:And Taconic. We went to the Town Hall to the Town meeting when they were trying to build that high school. There was a lot of flak. Remember that? People thought it was going to raise taxes too much.
DK:Now that’s the old building of Salisbury Central?
KR:That land was part of the Davis Digging Company, and the Scovilles bought it and then gave it to the town to put the school on.
ML:It had a great big sign on it when we moved to Lincoln City.
“This property belongs to the Davis Company.”
KR:They had an auction sign up there. They were going to put it in building lots and auction it off. The Scoville family stepped in and bought it off so that wouldn’t happen and they gave it to the town.
ML:Where the schools are now we used to pick wild strawberries.
KR:I used to mow the hay on those lots all the way from the state road up.
ML:Well, Lillian Atkins and I used to go down and pick strawberries.
DK:Who were some of your school chums who are still around?
ML:Mrs. Nolan Pickert. Gertrude Dineen Nielsen. Frances Hamm Lamoyne. Barbara Miller. Gertrude Fenn Clark. Mel Smith – well, he’s in Canaan, Emilio Brazzale. Guido and Peter.
KR:Peter. . .
ML:He was ahead of us in school.
AR:Our neighbors at that time. There was Henry Atkins and his wife, Emma, and their family. Sidney and Lillian, Bill, Chester, Philip, Leon Atkins. The Gunshannons lived the other side of us between our house and the Rosseter house. Then the Marcons bought it and they lived there until Mr. Marcon died, and I don’t know who lives there now.
Beebe Sisters- 14
ML:And John Monahan lived on the other side.
AR:And they had two daughters, Anna May and Helen. Helen is the only one living now. Around the corner and down the road a little ways was the Garritys, Pete Garrity, and he had two daughters who were living at home at that time. They were older than we. Julia married Jim Hines, and Katherine Garrity was never married. She was the telephone operator. She was the night operator for many years in Lakeville.
ML:Is she still living?
DK:What kind of work did you do as children? Did you have to help with the household chores?
CU:Help with the haying.
AR:Mom and Dad had about four acres of ground and Dad decided that we should have a cow to help bring the children up. We all had to learn to milk the cow and feed the cow because he worked until six o’clock at night. In the winter time it was dark when he got home. In the summer time we had to help get the hay in and plant the garden, help with the garden, weed the garden. We didn’t like to weed the garden. What kid does?
ML:We had to hill the potatoes and the corn, too. Remember?
ML:I don’t think you did that.
CU:We had a couple of pigs.
Beebe Sisters – 15
AS:Oh, yes, we had pigs and chickens. At one time we had goats.
ML:Not in Lakeville. We didn’t have any goats in Lakeville.
AH:We brought them to Lakeville and the Vasockis bought them.
ML:The Vasockis had them when we came to Lakeville. I remember going by the Vasockis’ and seeing our goats.
CU:Dad sold then.
ML:I was thinking I could go up and visit the goats, but I never did.
DK:What about you, Mr. Rosseter? Did you do farm work? Summers?
KR:Well, I’ll tell you. In those days every kid had his chores. And the bigger you got, the more chores you got. So, I don’t remember when I didn’t work. Something. Of course, with smaller kids, it was lighter work. But by the time I was fourteen I went to work out. And I could do anything that anybody else could do. Like mow hay or drive horses, cultivate or plow or whatever. And. . .
DK:What farm were you working on then?
KR:Well, when I worked out, I worked for market gardens. Dwight Cowles had a market garden and I worked for him. One year, two years. Then I worked to home. Then when I got out of school, I went out to work on farms.
DK:When did you start farming for yourself?
KR:Oh, let’s see. I got married in 1935. I worked over in York State for three years, on a farm, Then, about 1940, I think. . .
AR:It was 1938.
AR:Nineteen thirty-eight we bought our first pair of pigs and I said to you, “I have a feeling that we’ll never be without livestock from here on in.” And we never have. We started with pigs.
Beebe Sisters – 16
KR:And I’ve had pigs a good share of my life, too. A lot of them.
AR:Now we have a farm with feed cattle, a couple of dairy cows for our own use, and we have chickens. I sell eggs.
DK:Crin, what was your occupation before you were married?
CU:I worked for a while at the garage, the Lakeville Service Station, and I worked for the Wells Hill Dairy. I was bookkeeper there. It was during the war, so it was hard getting help, so I drove milk truck and delivered milk and then came back in and did the book work. And I enjoyed every bit of it.
DK:Was milk bottled then?
CU:Oh, yes. It was bottled. Quarts and pints. Harold Smith took my job when I had to quit on account of having children.
DK:He took over the bookkeeping. He didn’t deliver milk, did he?
CU:No, he never delivered milk.
AR:What was their slogan? “You can whip our cream, but you can’t beat our milk.”
DK: That was the Cleaveland Dairy?
CU:Yeah, the Wells Hill Dairy.
KR:Paul Cleaveland had that slogan way back when he had his own Oakwood Farm. He had that on everything.
DK:How did you happen to become a nurse, Mary?
ML:I was. . . A year after I got out of high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was answering the telephone for Dr. Herrick, whenever they’d go out. And they talked to me and they talked me into going into training to be a nurse. When I asked where to go, she said the St. Vincent Hospital Nurses – she was a supervisor, I think, at St, Luke’s – and I think she found they were one of the best qualified. So, she advised me to try to go there. So that’s where I ended up.
Beebe Sisters -17
DK:At St. Luke’s?
ML:No, St. Vincent’s.
DK:How long were you there?
ML:I finished my training – three years. I came back here for two years. I did private duty. I relieved – what was her name – the Public Health Nurse?
ML:I used to relieve her for a month every summer. I relieved the nurses at Sharon Hospital every once in a while. Then I won a scholarship, so I went on into anesthesia. That’s when I left Lakeville.
DK:Where did you study?
ML:Anesthesia? Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. After I left there, I went to the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and from there into the service. Then after four years, I decided to go to Maine. I liked the state of Maine, I loved the summers there. So that’s where I lived for thirty-five years. My husband died. I came back to Lakeville,
DK:Now, what changes do you notice? You’ve been away for a long time. . .
ML:There are tremendous changes. Really and truly.
ML:Well, just around the house that I was brought up in. That whole place is built up. There was nothing on Lincoln City Road on the right-hand side until you got up to where Peter Brazzale lives. Now, it’s all built up. There was nothing from that house on except for Atkins, up to Joe Francis, next to Brazzales. Now, there’s all houses in there. In back of our house where there was a vacant lot, there’s a big road now. There’s houses built up in there where there used to be just, . . .
ML:Well, there wasn’t even pasture land. It was cliffs and rocks.
DK:Is that what they call Upland Meadow Road?
KR:No, that goes up on the farm that we used to have. She’s talking about the road that goes in back of her father’s place. . .
CU:Riva put it in.
KR:I don’t know whether they’ve got a name on that or not. It’s a new development. It’s. . .
CU:They haven’t got any name on the road yet, but I think Riva is the one that built one of the houses up there.
ML:They’re lovely, beautiful.
AR:Richard Maltby bought it for development.
KR:He bought over the other development, too, so it’s all Maltby development now.
Beebe Sisters –18
ML:And, of course, they built the second school up there behind the old high school. They took the old school down and put a post office there, Roberts Store was gone. That burned while I was home.
AR:Barnett’s is gone.
ML:There were three grocery stores when we lived in town and now there is none. There was the Jigger Shop and the candy store and they’re all gone.
KR:There were several garages and now there’s only one.
ML:There were two. There was Martin’s. Heffernans had a garage.
CU:There was a bowling alley. And that’s gone.
DK:Where was the bowling alley?
CU:In where. . . Harry Campbell owns that building now. By the Farnam Tavern. The Farnam Apartments.
KR:It used to be Smith’s Garage. A bowling alley after that.
AR:Bowling used to be the Friendly Club. The girls of Lakeville. The Lorgans, Harriet Roberts, and Babe Bissell, and Marion Bartram, Gladys Bellini and all of those, they formed this Friendly Club. When they built where the Masons are now, and the men had their own society, the Men’s Club, and that building is gone. That was next to right. . .
DK:These were social clubs primarily?
AR:The Friendly Club was a social club, but they were so social they didn’t let youngsters join because when we got to be. . . Oh, Thelma and Francis Hamm and Gertrude and Mary Jo Whalen and I and several others – Doris Peabody – we wanted to join the Friendly Club, but they didn’t want us. Because we were young and they couldn’t cope with our shenanigans, I suppose. I don’t know. So, they disbanded it. It was really too bad. It was really too bad because it was a nice little building and they really had good times.
Beebe Sisters – 19
KR:The Men’s Club did the same thing?
CU:Then there was the Stuart Theatre and that’s gone.
ML:How about the swinging bridge?
AH:The swinging bridge is gone and the trestle is gone.
CU:And the Holley Block is gone.
AR:Yes, the Holley Block is gone.
DK:And the train is gone.
ML:Yes. We used to have a Toonerville Trolley, you know.
DK:Where did the trolley run?
ML:Just from Lakeville to Millerton?
ML:It was just one little car.
CU:The Dinky Bus.
AR:I rode to Canaan. I used to work over to Canaan one time.
KR:The biggest part of it was the noise it made.
ML:But if you wanted to go shopping, it was an easy way to get to Millerton or to Canaan. Or you used to ride for a nickel from Lakeville to Salisbury and go to the library.
KR:You know, I remember when there were eight trains a day on that railroad.
DK:That’s coming through Lakeville.
AR:When I was a small child growing up, my grandparents, -Grandpa and Grandma Beebe, lived in East Canaan. And many a Sunday afternoon my father would say, “Well, let’s go to East Canaan.” And we’d get on our clothes and down to the station we’d go, and hop the train and go to East Canaan and stay there for a while and come on back on the next train.
DK:You mentioned the Jigger Shop. You said you worked there, Anna?
Beebe Sisters – 20
AH:I worked at the Jigger Shop.
DK:What was that?
AH:That was a. . . They sold newspapers and magazines, ice cream sandwiches. She did have a blue-plate dinner that people could get. On Sundays we usually had roast lamb, mashed potatoes and peas, homemade pies.
DK:Where was it located?
AH:Where the laundromat is now. They lived upstairs and had the restaurant downstairs. You know you could go in and get a quick meal. The Hotchkiss School boys used to come down a lot. In those days they didn’t have a store at Hotchkiss School.
KR:Boys would come down in the afternoon.
AR:The boys would come down every afternoon and they really spent money and enjoyed their ice cream and their hamburgs and their hot dogs, and some of them charged, some of them paid cash. But most of them charged and they had charge accounts and Mrs. Hamm always had to make out the bill and send it, I suppose, to the parents.
DK:Now, who was the proprietor?
AR:Edith Hamm and Floyd Hamm. I worked there until. . .
CU:They used to have drummers come who would. . .
AR:Oh, yes, Haberdashery.
AR:Brooks Brothers. Then there was. . . Who was it? Harry?
CU:He was from Spaulding, wasn’t he? Harry Collins. They would have shoes and suits, and make them up for the Hotchkiss boys. The Hotchkiss boys would come down and select what they’d want and they sold it that way.
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DK:At the Jigger Shop?
AR:Yes. They had a back room that they could put their displays in and they’d hang up the suits and the materials that they had and the boys could order, if they wanted to. Shoes and things like that. Nowadays, they don’t do that.
ML:Do you remember when we had a blizzard and the school would close and we’d all go down to Dad’s. Dad would link us all up together and send us home?
AR:Yes, I do.
ML:One great big line, everybody hanging onto the next one so no one would get lost? And then we’d go directly to Mama’s and Mama would always have hot cocoa ready for everybody. And then she’d link the ones going south together and the ones going north together and they’d take off.
KR:They didn’t close school for too many storms then.
CU:No, because everybody walked. You didn’t have busses in those days.
KR:You’d walk in snow to your neck.
DK:What other changes do you notice, Mr. Rosseter? What changes strike you? What was it like when you were growing up as a boy and what it is now?
KR:Well, I don’t know. They’ve pretty well covered it. We used to when. . . The farmers used to have to all bring their milk into the village and it was out on a truck in milk cans and shipped to Hartford. No matter what the weather was, you had to get down to Roberts’ yard, where Roberts’ store was and meet the truck before 9 o’clock in the morning and you did it with horses. And some mornings it was below zero and the wind blowing. And sometimes it was raining and ice. I made that trip. I lived up on the Pettee farm. That was four miles each way.
DK:Did they ship the milk in by train then?
KR:That was after the trains. The trains used to take it, but then after the milk train was taken off way early.
DK:About what time?
AR:Bryant Chapman, wasn’t it?
KR:Bryant and Chapman was the big milk company in Hartford that took the milk from here, yes. But the trains were taken off, oh, my goodness, that was way back, probably in 1924. Or earlier. I couldn’t tell you. The milk train, I mean. Not the regular train.
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CU:No, I know, but I remember going up there and loading the platform for milk across from where the station is now. They had a place there and they put the milk on the platform.
KR:Well, we used that platform when the trucks first started at first. For a little while, when the train stopped. I never – where I was working – I never hauled milk for the train at any time. But Kimball’s from Millerton had contracts for trucking the cans in, and farmers – there were a lot of farmers then – came from all around the village in there. That yard would be so full of horses and wagons, sleighs, whatever the going was.
DK:There were a lot more farmers then than there are now, a lot more working farms, weren’t there?
AR:How many on Wells Hill? Sabin’s.
KR:Wells Hill alone there was. . .
KR:There was the Perry Farm and then Otto Sabin and Paul Cleaveland and. . .
CU:Wells Hill Farm.
CU:Frank Bell’s, Did he ship milk or was he kind of, . . . He shipped. . .
KR:He shipped. He had the route and he shipped, too.
CU:He sold, too. He bottled and so did Paul bottle.
AR:What about Johnson? Did he have a farm, too?
KR:What Johnson was that? Oh, he never shipped milk,
AR:No, he never shipped milk. Oh, well, Garrity. Did he ship milk?
CU:Oh, you mean, Johnny?
KR:That was Just Wells Hill. And there. . .
ML:Did Lansing ship?
KR:They had beef cattle. Sellecks did. When Selleck was there.
ML:I was going to say, when the cattle came back by the house. Those were milk cows.
CU:Louis Bergenty and. . .
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AR:And there was the Belters. Stevens, he shipped, didn’t he? Wilbur Stevens, when he was up there to the Pettee place?
CU:Bert Honor had the place down where Briscoes. . .
KR:. . .the Pettee place.
AR:Not the Pettee place. The Peabody place.
KR:Oh, yeah, yeah. The Peabody farm shipped milk. And the Warner farm where Bergenty was, and Selleck farm when they had it before Lansing.
KR:Oh, yeah, on that road there was Belters and Miners and Reeds, Baldwin Reed.
CU:Baldwin Reed, that’s right.
KR:And then you come up from Lime Rock,
DK:I think you said your father was instrumental in getting electricity through to Lincoln City Road?
ML:That’s right. There was no electricity, no telephone, no water.
DK:This was on Lincoln City Road.
ML:And Dad took a petition around. Everybody signed it except Doc Monahan, John Monahan, and he thought it would bring. . . If the lightning, it would strike a house if it had electricity in it. So, he refused to sign. He was the only one. Everybody else signed. And they brought up. . . I remember my mother cleaning the oil lamps every day and lighting them at night. And warning us to stay away from them. Boy, when they first turned on the electric light, that was a miracle.
KR:Weren’t they bright?
ML:That was a miracle.
KR:And at that time when you got electricity in the house, the power company didn’t put the meter in for a week. So, they let you have it free.
DK:You had free electricity for a week.
KR:They said it was the brightest place you ever saw.
ML:And the telephone was a party line and you had to ring central and tell her what number you wanted. If you wanted to talk to two people at the same time, you told her and she just plugged in both of them.
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End of side A
DK:Let’s go back a little bit to the telephone. I think we lost some of that.
ML:Well, the telephone. We had a party line and I remember 223 ring 12, and if anybody called and you wanted someone else, one of our friends, on the line, we’d say, “You hang up and call back in two minutes.” We’d call our friends and say, “You pick it up when you hear our ring.” So, we’d have a three-way conversation going. Then. . .
KR:In the meantime, there were other times when they didn’t say anything.
ML:Yes, there were a lot of times when people listened in. I mean, everybody knew your business. But, if you wanted to know where the fire was when the whistle blew, you just called central and said, “Where’s the fire?” and she’d tell you and if you wanted to know how somebody was, you’d call central and she’d usually tell you whether the doctor was in or not, or somebody was sick and couldn’t come to the phone. She knew all the news.
DK:Was that Katherine Garrity?
AR:Be careful what you say. I was a telephone operator.
DK:You were a telephone operator, too, Anna?
DK:For how long?
AR:Oh, I spent about 11 years in Lakeville as one, [ed: telephone operator] before I was married, and then later on after the children were – had grown a little bit – I was able to leave then and Mother took care of them. Then I went back and helped out.
CU:You worked in Millerton for a while.
KR:When they closed the Lakeville office.
AR:I worked until Lakeville went dial. Then I worked in Millerton ’til Millerton went dial.
CU:Did you go to Canaan?
AR:Yes, I went to Canaan, also. And worked. It’s very fascinating.
DK:Did you have any unusual experiences? While you were working as a telephone operator?
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AR:Why, I worked the night we had the terrible ice storm. I don’t know whether you remember. The trees, the wires and everything were just coated with ice. I was working all night. There was a man – I don’t remember what his name was – that was janitor for the Holley apartments, and he was very worried and he kept calling me every night – I mean, every little while – and say, “Are you all right? You’re not scared? Are you all right?” And I’d say, “Yes, I’m all right.”
KR:The noise was terrific.
AR:Oh, because, . . . Everybody was petrified because when it began to thaw, the poles became afire and there were trees burning and everything, and it was an awful eerie night. And the man at the White Hart, the all-night clerk up there, was very nice. He kept calling in and saying, “Are you all right?” He wanted to take me home in the morning when I would be free. I told him, “No, I had a way,”
DK:Where was the telephone building then?
AR:The telephone building was up on the hill, now where. . .
AR:Community Fuel. It was upstairs in that building. On the second floor. And, of course, then we had that beautiful inn across from that Gateway Inn which was demolished. What other experiences did I have with the. . .
CU:The thunder storms were terrible.
AR:Well, we were well grounded, so we had no fear. I used to be very afraid of thunderstorms, but working for the telephone company you are well grounded. You don’t have to really, but we always made it a point to answer every light that came in on the board and when the lightning flashed, we could tell where the center of the storm was. It would be up in Taconic or it could be in Salisbury or something because those were the lines that would come in and flash. We’d go in on them because it could be that somebody was in trouble and needed the fire company or something. And in those days, we blew the whistle for the fire company.
DK:Oh, you did?
AR:We’d have to find out where the fire was and try to find out what kind of a fire it was. You know, if it was a chimney fire or a house fire or a grass fire or. . . Then we blew the whistle and then the men at the firehouse were supposed to turn it off. We also blew the twelve o’clock whistle in those days. Now, I don’t know who blows the twelve o’clock whistle.
DK:Is there anything else you think would be of interest?
ML:Remember the tri-state fire?
DK:What was that?
AR: Well, I was in high school at that time. The fire started over in Copake and came right over the mountain to Undermountain Road. And that was pretty awful.
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DK:Sometime around 1920?
KR:The first day of May 1930.
ML:How many days did it burn? They had Hotchkiss School boys and the seniors from the high school.
KR:It burned for a couple of weeks. For a week it was bad.
DK:How did the fire start? Did they ever determine?
KR:It started from somebody who dropped a match or something over in Copake.
DK:In the park over there?
KR:On the side of the mountain over there. It was an awfully dry year. Awfully hot. I was building fence at Dr. Simmons’ place. We were going to pasture it that year, and I was building a fence. And you couldn’t get a post in the ground, the ground was so hard. It was awfully dry. It had been that way all through April. Hot. That Pettee place, . . . It was on a Sunday, and I looked up and seen the smoke, and my brother and I watched it for a minute and went in the house and called in an alarm, but they had just gotten a call from New York State about it. Somebody had reported it over there. It was not long before it was in Connecticut. They said it was over in New York State and not to worry about it. It didn’t stay in New York State.
DK:How long did it burn, did you say?
KR:As I remember, it was a good hot fire for a week.
AR:It came right up to Forge Pond, right around Schwab’s camp.
KR:It was funny. Those camps were out in the woods. It came right up to them and went around them.
ML:We could see all the glow, it was behind the mountain. You know, it was all red. We had been to the movies in Canaan, and when we came home – remember going around Barack Matiff? We could see the fires. And they backfired some of the mountains. When we got home, Dad had the car out front. My mother was taking care of Grandma, and so Dad was in charge. He had the. . . All the important papers were in the car and he told us to go to bed and if we needed to move out, he’d wake us up. I slept in the room off the sitting room and I could hear him pacing back and forth. I could look out and see the rosy glow. You could smell the smoke. It was very. . .
KR:Oh, the smell. . .
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CU:Down in Salisbury it hung.
KR:You couldn’t see to go up the Undermountain Road. Well, the fire came right to the edge of the road, anyway.
ML:At midnight, Dad came in and said, “You can go to sleep now. It’s starting to rain. It will cut the fire out.” And that was the end of the fire.
AR:It was certainly awful while it lasted.
KR:I was up there to the Pettee Farm and it was just as light in the room as could be, several nights.
ML:Then the first radio, the one-tube radio that we bought. We bought it for a Christmas present. We had to go down with the sled to get it.
DK:What year was that?
CU:It must have been.
ML:And you had two sets of earphones and either two people sat and listened, after you found, like turning the cat whiskers, you found the station. Or four people if you wanted to hold just one earphone up. And then my grandfather came up and he had a three-tube radio with a speaker. Everybody could listen.
KR:That was quite a thing.
ML:That was really something. And the Ford car where you had to get off the front seat and take the front seat out and measure the gas tank and put the gas in the front seat.
AH:Do you remember the day we ran up Avon Mountain, we had to back up? And walk.
ML:Everybody had to get out and walk except the driver and he. . .
DK:Did you have a self-starter on the car?
ML:Oh, no. We cranked it. And we backed up and walked up Smith Hill many times.
KR:Getting low on gas, you had to back up. The car wouldn’t make it up the hill.
ML:The first time. . . I didn’t see the first television, but they say everybody sat around with TV trays and ate dinner in front of it and wouldn’t leave. . .
KR:Well, we had one of the first ones in the town of Salisbury and not the first one, but one of the first ones. What we got all day long was test patterns. You could turn it and you got this light that come on and it said Channel Six or Channel Four or whatever you had it onto and that just set there like that in front of your eyes until about five o’clock at night. Then it started the programs. But they had good programs.
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DK:What year was that?
KR:That was in the early nineteen-forties. We were over to Twin Lakes.
KR:And I remember one night, the kids was settling around the television waiting for the show to come on, I walked in and said,” There won’t be any television tonight.” We had Anna’s cousin living with us with her children, too: there was four of them and three of ours. They were all setting there and their faces said, “Why?” I said, “It’s raining. The picture is going to get wet.” You never saw such a sad bunch of kids in all your life.
DK:What do you think are the most important improvements? Since you were children?
ML:The washing machine. We remember the old scrub boards.
ML:And vacuum cleaners. Remember the old rug beater?
CU:I still have one.
KR:I remember one hung. . .
ML:And ironing. Electricity was the most wonderful invention.
KR:I think refrigeration is one of the best things ever happened.
AR:Because refrigeration embraces a lot of things, but I remember when we moved to the farm where we are now, we had no electricity. It was very, very hard to keep your food or your milk.
KR:We were spoiled. We had had. . .
AR:Yes, we had had refrigeration.
ML:We kept things even though it was in the basement, in the cellar, remember?
AR:I know we did, but still on lowery days. . .
CU:I had an old icebox. You put ice in it. Remember that?
ML:You remember the old ice house on Porter?
ML:Who owned that? McCue?
KR:McCue owned the land, but the railroad owned the ice house.
CU:Oh, did they?
ML:They made ice, they were still making ice when we were kids.
DK:Was this on Porter Street?
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KR:When you worked in that ice house, you got paid by the railroad.
ML:I wouldn’t know that.
KR:Most of that ice out of that ice house went on the milk trains.
ML:I remember them putting up ice and I remember them…
KR:The last two or three years, I guess, some local person put some in there, but they didn’t fill it full.
ML:On hot days we’d always go over and put our heads in, because it seemed to be cooler.
DK:What was the pay like back then? What did you get, for example, at the Jigger Shop?
AH:At the Jigger Shop, I worked Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I had Monday and Tuesday off. And I worked the rest of the week and I got eight dollars for the week. I started work for the telephone company and I started at twenty-five cents an hour. That I was raised to twenty-eight cents an hour. That I kept for quite a little while. And now the wage scale is a great deal higher than it was at that point.
ML:Do you remember the Chautauquas?
AR:Oh, that was wonderful.
ML:It went on for three days. And three nights. And you got a season ticket that took you to the three afternoons and the three evening entertainments. There was always a speaker.
DK:Where was it held?
ML:In Roberts Hall. In the old Roberts building. On the third floor, and that’s also where they held the Hotchkiss School plays. The high school play. That was the big entertainment center then. There was a dentist and, I don’t know what else, on the second floor. But the Chautauqua, . . . The first day would usually be, somebody would play a steel guitar or something like that in the afternoon. And at night would be a speaker. The second day they would have some kind of one-act plays. Things like that. But the big play was the last night. That was the big thing.
AR:One year they had the Swiss Bell Ringers, and that was beautiful. All those bells set out, and they picked them up and rang them. It was certainly grand.
ML:Everybody loved them. I mean, it was…
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KR:It was one thing everybody liked.
CU:That was always in February, the coldest darn time.
KR:I think it came out of Philadelphia, didn’t it?
ML:And then every summer, of course, there was the circus that came to town, with a bunch of Ferris wheels and things like that, the merry-go-round. And the time they lost the snake, remember? The python got loose. Doc Monahan thought he had it. He killed a great big snake, and it was a water snake from the Porter Ore Bed.
DK:Is there anything else you think of?
ML:Remember the Indian Cave? The kids going through the Indian Cave?
DK:Over in Salisbury?
AR:No, up above Lincoln City. We had an Indian Cave. At the end of the road.
KR:The Hotchkiss School kids used to go down in there and they always stopped at the house and got candles and matches and ropes and anything they could borrow to go down in there.
CU:We never went down in there. I never went…
ML:Dad wouldn’t let us. Dad wouldn’t allow us. We knew where it went in and we knew where it came out, but Lansing filled it in. He was afraid somebody was going to get hurt. So, they used it as the dump.
DK:So, it’s been filled in since?
KR:Yes. The mouth of it. They put all the rubbish from the farm into it.
ML:Isn’t there a watering trough up there, too?
CU:Oh, yes. Way up. David George hewed it out of rock. It’s still there.
ML:I was wondering if it was still there. That’s just above the pool.
KR:They’ve fixed it so the water’s running in it again. They’ve got plastic pipe now.
ML:That’s good water, too. Used to be, anyway. I don’t know whether it is now or not.
KR:There’s a spring right there on the hill.
AR:Then on Lincoln City there used to be a lot of walnut trees up along the Lansing estate. We used to go up and get them every year.
CU:And hickory nuts.
ML:We got our Christmas tree, but we usually had to put two together to make one. Kind of spindly. I can’t think of anything else.
DK:Thank you very much. It’s been very Interesting.