DAVID C. BRAZEE.
Transcript of a taped, interview.
Narrator: David C. Brazee.
Dates June 5, 1982.
Interviewer: Jean Stewart Bower.
Mr. Brazee is a descendant of Tinis P. Brazee, one of the fourteen settlers who signed the first official petition in 1736, requesting that Salisbury be granted a charter to become a town. Having lived all his life near Mt. Riga Road, he has many memories of the area. Since 1950 he has served as Warden of the Mountain for the Mt. Riga Association.
Property of the Oral History Project.
Salisbury Association and Scoville Memorial Library.Salisbury, Connecticut 06068.
Jean Stewart Bower
Interview with David C. Brazee
June 5, 1982
T/iPtr rtn A?
DAVID C. BRAZEE
This Is Jean Stewart Bower, June 5, 1982. I have the exciting pleasure of talking with a direct descendant of one of the first families to settle in Salisbury almost two and one-half centuries ago — he is David C. Brazee. We are at his home at the foot of Mt. Riga. His whole life, and that of his family, has been part of this historic mountain — the iron of which helped to win the Revolutionary War.
Good morning, Mr. Brazee. Now perhaps I had better clarify that statement before we go on, if you don’t mind. The settlers of Salisbury made three petitions to the General Court in Hartford before Salisbury was finally granted a charter and became a town in 1741. The first official petition was made on May 13, 1736 and one of the 14 signers was Tinis P. Brazee. Now it happened in October of I960 I interviewed your mother, affectionately known as “Grandma Brazee,” for the Lakeville Journal. She told me some fascinating tales about the mountain and its folklore. She said the name was not Tinis, but Tunis. Would you set us straight on this and tell us what you know about your family history?
DCB: I was born in Salisbury, Connecticut in a house owned by my grandfather, Henry Brazee, at the end of Mt. Raggy Lane on October 29, 1904. I was close to five years old when we moved into a house owned by Mr. Bert Selleck on.Wa’shinee Road near Mr.
Selleck’s feed mill. It was very close to the road. The house was built of brick and stone on the first floor and wood on the second floor. The cellar was built in the back of the house.
The only heat we had was an old kitchen stove and it was very cold in the wintertime when the fire went out.
JSB: Were you the first child?
DOB: No, Lena was older than I.
JSB: And you were the second child? Were there any more?
DCB: Oh, yes. There were two brothers younger than I and they were born about two years apart.
JSB; In the Washinee house?
DCB; Yes, each morning in the cold weather we would walk up the Mt. Riga road to Mr. Selleck’s property, who owned the land, and drag back dry chestnut poles cut into short lengths for the stove. Some of us didn’t get the wood cut so Mother did it for us and she did it for us many times.
Dad worked/\a miller and all-round man for Mr. Selleck. Mr. Selleck sold cattle, chickens, eggs, pigs, apples, wood, potatoes kerosene and other things, besides all kinds of feed. The feed mill was run by water power. Some people called it a grist mill.
JSB; Where was the water power?
DCB: You know where the red building is on the left hand sideof the road coming up?
DCB: It has 1744 on it? I ground feed there. You know the old stone grinder? I ground feed with that myself. Some of the mill was run by water power and some by hand. Two large stones about five feet in diameter about 12 inches in depth grind the feed. As a rule the bottom stone was stationary and the top stone turning. The grain dropping into s slot near the center of the stone was then run between stones down to a chute where an elevator carried it to the bagging chute. Every so often the stones had to be picked up and made into sharp edges so they could grind the feed better.
JSB: You must have been pretty young then, weren’t you?
DCB: I went to work when I was n>ne years old.
JSB: You did? You were grinding wheat and picking up these big stones?
DCB: I was helping my father. I worked for Mr. Selleck until I was 16 years old. I mean, I worked for his son until I was sixteen. Mr. Selleck had passed away. When there was plenty of water for power, the mill would run all day and far into the night. I received four or five wagons of grain and corn on the cob come to the mill at about the same time. Some were getting their ground feed the same day, and others coming back later. I’ve seen my Dad and Ted Moore covered with feed dust. When they worked at night, the only light they had was candles.
In back of the feed mill was a brook, after coming over the dam, which ran over some large holes and many large boulders, making eddies.
JSB: I don’t understand about the eddies. What did they have to do with it, anything?
DCB: Yes, with my life.
JSB: Oh, I see, maybe this is exciting.
DCB: Below the dam was what was called the Big Hole. About 200 feet below the dam# was where it was situated, and here was where from six to fourteen years of age I spent many happy days of my childhood. I would sit here on the bank of the Big Hole for hours fishing and listening to the water coming over the dam and the rocks to the Big Hole. It was a song I never got tired of.
In the winter thick ice formed on the brook. Snow fell on the ice and I had the feeling that the brook had gone to sleep. Don’t let anybody tell you a brook can’t sing. Sit beside one some day and cast all the thoughts out of your mind — and just listen.
Here at the Big Hole I caught a big (my first) trout, one pound and one ounce. Mr. Selleck weighed it on the scale for me. In fact these scales weighed just about everything — pigs, chickens and cows, and every person from baby to grown-up got their exact weight here.
JSB: Were they the ones you could drive a wagon onto?
DCB: No, you had to drag your bag of feed on top of them.
JSB: Oh, I see.
DCB: I caught 25 or 30 trout at the Big Hole but I thought I had caught thousands. I even fished there in the wintertime, digging my worms close to the sawdust pile where the wood was cut for Mr. Selleck.
About 400 feet below the Big Hole was the Jenny Dexter home.
Here was a small dam and a bridge that crossed the brook. On clear days I would lay on the bridge and if the trout would not bite, I would take my hook and put it underneath his Jaw and hook him!
JSB: How could you catch him?
DCB: In the clear water you could see the trout very plain. Then if he wouldn’t bite, I’d catch him with the hook and my hands.
JSB: That’s an Interesting way to catch fish.
DCB: Across the brook from the old feed mill were the bird lots.
Here I shot my first woodchuck. I’d been shooting a 22 rifle from all
the time I could hold it on a support and aim.
JSB: Who taught you, your father I suppose?
DCB: Yes, but on the day I was eight years old I took my Dad’s old 12 inch hammer-gun and two shell number shots and three and a half grams of black powder. Crossing the bridge at Jenny Dexter’s, 1 would go up through the field to the bird lots. Resting on a large stone wall, I’d see a large woodchuck sit up, look around and drop down to feed again.
Very gently I laid down the old gun across the wall and pulled back one of the hammers. Dad had always told me to be sure the hammer clicked before I left go of it. Holding the gun as steady as I could and taking aim I fired. The world seemed to explode and the gun and I went over backwards. I felt like I’d been shot instead of the chuck.
Brazee – 6
JSB: That was a pretty big kick.
DCB: When I was able to get up I climbed over the stone wall to find the chuck very dead. Dragging him home with a great gun was fun. But home I went with the chuck feeling I was a real big game hun’er.
I went on my first fishing trip with my Dad on Mt. Riga when I was five years old.
JSB: What was the lake up there?
DCB: The upper lake – the North Pond — called “Riga” ‘low. About four or five miles from our home it’s called “Forge Lake” and the other lake is called “North Lake.” It was on North Lake that we fished on a small ledge called Patterson Rock. It would take over an hour to walk to the ledge. We arrived there about an hour before sun-down. Our cane poles were ash poles with the bark peeled off.
JSB: You made these yourself?
DCB: Yes, Dad would bait my hook with night crawlers and take any fish I would catch off the hook — perch, bass, sunfish and bullheads. When it got dark Dad would lay down an old coat on the green moss back of the lake, with the lantern close by me, and I would lie down on the coat and Dad would cover me with another. The green moss and the old coat were Just a wonderful bed. The whippoorwills would call back and forth across the cove
Brazee – 7 ~
The owls hoo-hooed over an Inlet and the frogs with their
deep Jug-a-rums were the noises of the night and I listened
to them and I fell asleep.
JSB: That’s very poetical.
DCB: I want you to read one of my poems. (A poem Is attached to) (this transcription)
JSB: Yes, go on.
DCB: Sometimes I would wake and hear Dad and Uncle Reuben and Uncle Fred and Ben Smith and hear them telling tales about hunting and fishing and Just about everything. The lantern would be covered with insects attracted by the light, and I would fall: asleep again. Some nights when Dad and our friends thought a storm might catch us on the mountain, they would start home early. I can remember holding Dad’s hand and closing my eyes and walking. It seemed I got home a lot sooner. If there’d been a rain during the day, old stumps and dead logs would be all aglow with phosphorous. Dad called It ’’fox-fire” but I thought it was animals with glowing eyes.
On clear nights we’d stay all night. Dad would waken me just about daybreak when it was time to start home, with a basket full of fish, mostly bullheads. The walk up the mountain made me tired but the walk down was a long road to me.
JSB: You were only nine at this time.
DCB: I was only five.
JSB: Oh, my goodness, go on.
Brazee – 8
Dad would! carry me when I got tired. And this made a load with a basket of fish – but it was all worth it in the end… for a mess of fish fried nice and brown with home-made bread and butter and mashed potatoes and that made it a dish fit for a king. And Mom was a good cook. She could do so much with so little. I was not five years old when I first walked the mountain with my Mother. Grandmother Brazee and my aunt Nancy went to visit my great aunt, Liza, who lived up there.
JSB: Did she live at the top of the mountain?
DCB: Yes, but there’s nothing but a cellar hole there now.
JSB: What was her last name?
DCB: Liza Speed Rossiter. She was related to the Rossiters who lived up on Belgo Road.
JSB: Now is that a descendant of the Rossiters who are still here?
DCB: They lived in old Castinook years ago. Some of them were born on the mountain. Old Harris Rossiter could tell you tales of Mt. Riga.
I used to visit my great aunt Liza who lived up there. I still remember the large sugar cookies she gave me, large vanilla cookies with sugar on them. You don’t see them anymore.
On the way home they would fill their large aprons with dandelion greens — cooked or in salad — they tasted wonderful.
Brazee – 9
At the first heavy frost in the Fall, chestnut burrs opened and the ground would be covered with the brown shiny nuts – and the old Hen Clarke place was the favorite place to get them. Many bushels were picked up for winter use or to sell. In two years the blight hit the trees and Americans suffered a great loss. Hickory nuts and butternuts were loved and also picked up.
I experimented with chestnut trees for ten years. I still have chestnut trees here but they still have the blight on them.
JSB: They still have the blight after how many years?
DCB: The blight hit the United States about 1895 and from that time on. I’ve seen chestnut trees four feet in diameter. They made wonderful lumber, they did.
In the winter time if the fire went out you brought in ice in a water pall to fill the tea kettle. Very soon the old stove was a roaring welcome and with felt boots, called sock-a-loons, on your feet and then a warm coat on your back, you were ready for another day.
Snow was taken from the roads at this time and coasting was something really to have in the wintertime. Both the young and the old were on anything they could coast on, having the time of their lives. And the only vehicles we had to worry about were the horse and sleigh.
JSB: But you had your own sleds, were they homemade?
DCB: Some of them were and then we had the old Flexible Flyers.
Brazee – 10
JSB: Oh, yes, I remember them.
DCB: Oh, golly. But they went out of business. They’re gone. That’s too bad. The colder the nigh: the faster the ride.
During the early twenties a great deal of cord wood was cut and sold and whenever the new growth started up there would be loads of rabbits r cottontails. On a good sunny day four or five men or boys would take and track the rabbits into their holies and set the carrot in to get the rabbit out.
That’s as far as I got. (Mr. Brazee, up to this point, had been reading from his notes)
JSB: Did you say that you wanted to say something more about the rabbits?
DCB: Yes. I have a little more here on my graph.’ My mind … Sometimes there would be two or three rabbits in the hole and you certainly would have your hands full for a few moments catching them.
JSB: How did you catch them? With your hands?
DCB: With your hands. I can remember well, two rabbits. When I caught the first rabbit, the second one struck me square in the nose and I had a terrific nosebleed.
JSB: Oh, my goodness. That’s the first time I ever heard of a rabbit giving a man a nosebleed.
Brazee – 11
DCB: Many times we’d come home with a dozen rabbits or more and they would then be divided among the hunters. Let me tell you rabbit pie was something to fill up with on a cold winter’s day.
Across the brook from the Big Hole and on Ed Dexter’s land some large oaks stood and chestnut trees stood and it made a wonderful place for a summer camping spot. There we had a stone fireplace laid up — and from every garden, every potato^ and corn field, we had our share to eat.
But I alone was to blame for the chickens taken for the feast. With my old fish pole and two hundred feet of linen line on the reel, I would lay my pole down and taking the hook would creep along the bank of the brook to Mr. Dexter’s chicken coop yard that bordered on the stream. And there I placed the night crawler on the hook of the line, then crept back up to the pole. As soon as the chicken swallowed the worm, I had it — reeled her in, called it the (fence of “the chicken reel.” Up she comes only to lose her head to someone’s hatchet. We really didn’t take too many of them, only once in a while, a rooster.
Our dessert was blackberries and blackcaps that you could pick most anywhere those days. And there were many astrocen apples available.
JSB: Were these wild?
DCB: Yes, they were. After you cut a wood job off, these blackberry vines would come up. And In two years’ time you could pick your load.
JSB: What about blueberries? Didn’t you have blueberries?
DCB: Not around here. You had to go up on top of the mountain for them.
JSB: Oh, I see.
DCB: The old factory pond was close by…
JSB: You mean the one by the Lakeville Journal?
DCB: No, that’s where Bob McLane lives. You see there was a factory there at that time. We learned to swim there. I believe learning to swim should go along with other school lessons.
That’s the end. (This time it was the end of his notes and the real interview began.)
JSB: Mr. Brazee, is the name “Brazee” of Dutch origin?
DCB: New York State Dutch. The Brazee family was New York State Dutch.
JSB: Now where do you think that the name Tunis came from?
Did he come from New York State originally in 1736?
DCB: Now there’s a little history here. We had an uncle – my father’s brother – whom we called “Tunerfer.” He was so afraid to come home In the dark, he whistled all kinds of songs on his way home to scare off anything that he thought was going to
come after him. I often wondered if that came down the line.
JSB: So Tints was changed to Tunnerfer and then to Tunis.
DCB: Bill Barnett told me that he was among one of the first founder of Salisbury.
JSB: Yes, I know.
DCB: My daughter, Cathleen, went to New York to look up his
JSB: In the New York Library?
DCB: Yes, and she found that the name was BREZEE.
JSB: Spelled B R E Z E E?
DCB: There were so many changes in everyone’s names…
JSB: Yes, that’s true. Even on the list of petitioners one spelled his name one way and his brother spelled it another.
DCB: We had relatives who moved up the Hudson River to Albany and out the Post Road to Monterey and Beartown in Massachusetts. A man came onto my yard one day and he said, “You got a big head like me, you’re short like me, and you’re heavy like me.”
I said, “What can I do for you?” And he said, “Is your name Brazee?” And he said, “My name is Brazee, too.” And he had a package of those little telephone cards that you write down on. It was all about the Brazee name. He had just come from Alaska and was working for the United States government as a physicist.’
Brazee – 14
J SB: And he’d gone back and traced his history?
DCB: And found that some of his ancestors had come from Beartown and he lived in Maryland. He was very interesting to talk to.
JSB: He must have been. Tell me now about your own family.
What was your wife Cathleen’s maiden name? i
JSB: And where’d she come from?
DCB: Halifax, Nova Scotia.
JSB: Now tell me about your children and the dates they were born — if you can. I can’t remember my own two!
(Mrs. Brazee brought out the leather bound Bible.)
DCB: They’re all in the old Bible here.
JSB: Who was the first child born?
DCB: It was Anna. See, I married twice and my first wife left me after David was born so I had two children to bring up myself.
JSB: All right. We’ll talk about Cathleen — you were married to Cathleen on February 20, 1941. Now tell me about the children born to you and Cathleen.
DCB: Cathleen, our daughter, born Aug. 16, 1942 in the Sharon
Brazee – 15
Elizabeth was born Oct. 25, 1946, Sharon Hospital.
Daniel, our son, was born Nov. 17, 1947, Sharon Hospital
Theodore, our son, was born Sept. 9, 1959, Sharon Hospital.
Margaret was born Jan. 2, 1962 at the Sharon Hospital. She was the first baby born for the New Year,
JSB; Mr. Brazee you started to tell me that you were married before you married Cathleen and had two children and I got off on another tack. I’m sorry. Would you tell me who your first wife was, her name and the two children by her?
DCB: My first wife was Delia Lovett and we had two children, Anna and David.
JSB: As for the grandchildren — maybe you could just tell us how many children…
DCB: Anna has seven; six girls and a boy. David has three boys and a girl.
JSB: So the Brazee name goes on.
DCB: Cathleen has three children – 2 boys and a girl.
JSB: Mir. Brazee you have told me some very interesting stories of your first memories of your grandmother and grandfather. Now would you tell me some of the exciting things that happened to you? Of course, you told me about fishing and getting knocked over by the gun and all that — but as a teenager, did anything adventurous happen to you?
Brazee – 16
DCB: Well one day when I was on the mou’tain hunting I saw this huge buck deer coming down off the side of the mountain so I thought, “Here’s the winter meat.” So I shot-at him, and down he went. I thought sure I had killed him right away so I went over and started to bleed him out and as I did, he came back to life again. And he tried to strike me with his horns, so I held him so he couldn’t. He took me down the hill about 300 feet before we landed.
JSB; The day you wrestled the deer!
DCB: We ended up in a huge brush pile and I was really bruised up some.
JSB: How old were you then?
DCB: About 29 years old. It was my 29th birthday, if you want to know the truth.
JSB; You told me about your first Job when you were very, very young — you were five years old when you were working in the grist mill,— but after you grew up:, when did you start to work on the mountain — when you became Warden?
DCB: I worked for the old Judge Warner, that is the real old Judge Warner way back In 1921 and I worked for him for a number of years. Then during the Second World War they let me go to Mt. Riga.
JSB: Oh, you just called it Mt. Reega. Now, that’s another thing I wanted to ask you. How…?
Brazee – 17
DCB: Mrs. Bower, I have a feeling that some sophisticated person changed that name. I still have the feeling that they thought Raggy was not the right word for it. And they wanted to change it to a more sophisticated name. They said, “Let’s make it Reega because there are no Latvians or Lithuanians up there.”
JSB: That’s right and your mother said she thought it was Ryga. I had asked her about Reega, Ryga Rayga, and she said, “No, I think it’s Ryga.” But you call it….
DCB: Well, my way is to call it Raggy — because they always say, “Here comes a Raggy.”
JSB: Yes, I understand that, and you took no offense at that.
It was just a…
DUB: No, No, I’m glad I’m one’.
JSB: Good for you — you and Lila Nash, who says she’s a Raggy. So you got your first job on the mountain from Judge Warner?
DCB: No, It was through his son that I got the job on the mountain.
JSB: Now, what was the job on the mountain? What did you have to do?
DCB: Taking care of all the camps and seeing that they were taken care of, getting the wood for them, cleaning their camps, getting ice for them and cleaning their stoves and things like that.
DCB: I’ve seen so many changes up there. Changes from wood stoves
Brazee – 18
to gas stoves; ice boxes to gas boxes or refrigerators. Everything was changed.
I used to give all the children a ride on the ice truck up there, and It was a wonderful thing. They all still remember it, now that they’re all grown up and have children of their own.
JSB: Did you harvest the ice up there?
DCB: No, when I first went there they told me I’d have to go to all the Ice houses so I knew it was going to be a real chore. So I called up an Ice company in Torrington and they delivered the ice right here onto my truck and I took it up that way.
It was much cleaner ice, too.
JSB: You kept it in sawdust?
DCB: No, I had two big heavy canvases to cover it.
JSB: Then you became Warden of-was that when Mt. Reega, Mt. Rayga … what shall we call it?
DCB: Mount Raggy.
JSB: When were you-made warden and the association formed, with Mr. Frank McCabe as president?
DCB: Mr. McCabe came to me and said, “Dave, we’re going to have some campers up on the mountain.” That’s the time he made me warden to watch over things.
JSB: What year was that?
Brazes – 19
DCB: About 1950.
JSB: And then you devoted all your time to the mountain.
DCB: All my time was taken up by the mountain but I had to do some small Jobs on the side — but not too much.
JSB: You looked after the houses and saw that nobody broke into or disturbed them.
DCB: There have been a number of break-ins up there but that can’t be stopped.
JSB: Now tell me about the wild animals that you have on the mountain.
DCB: I was cleaning Schwab’s camp one time out here and we heard dogs barking so I ran over to the woods with my 22 rifle and I could hear the deer, we say “bellerln.”
JSB: You called it what? Oh, I understand, you said “bellowing.”
DCB: I said “The darn dogs have got a deer down there. They are always having their young ones at this time of year, too.
So I ran over there. At the corner of the road going toward the camp there three dogs that had a huge doe down. One dog was backing into a small cliff that went into a small cave, or entrance. So I shot two dogs because at that time I was the Dog Warden, and I had a right to shoot dogs that were killing wildlife.
JSB: Of course.
Brazee – 20
DCB: And the other dog that was trying to get at the animal in the cleft of the rock started running and I shot him. I found him a little while afterwards. And the mother had had it, she was chewed up terrible. In the cleft of the rocks was this little baby doe deer and it had a broken leg and was all chewed up and everything. And it was Just in far enough so that the dog could just reach it. So I said to my wife, “I, am going to put this one out of its misery.” And she said, “No you’re not! You’re going to take it.”
So she kept it six weeks like a baby.
JSB: What did she do, splint its leg?
DCB: I set the leg with waterglass.
JSB: Like the material you used to preserve eggs?
DCB: Yes. And we had the deer for seven years. And she stayed right here. Oh, it was a she — a doe. We raised her like a dog, on a leash and everything. And she rode on the truck with us.
She was Just like a dog — she came in the house, Jumped on the bed and used it for a trampoline. Her name was Bambi.
JSB: What happened to her eventually?
DCB: She had a cracked vertebrae in her neck and I think that’s
what made her pass away.
JSB: That’s almost like losing a member of the family.
Brazee – 21
DCB: Gene Beeman, the game warden — I don’t know whether we
should put this on tape or not.
JSB: I’m sure it’s all right.
DCB: He came into the yard and said to my wife, “How’s everything?” And she said, “What do you think when you’re going to take my doe away from me.”
But he was a wonderful fellow. Wonderful fellow and he knew we were taking good care of it. You know when you lose them, it takes a little out of your life.
JSB: Yes, it does. I do understand that you are very very fond of all animals and wild life. Did you ever run across any bears here on the mountain?
DCB: No, but there was a boy came into the yard, young Hubbard Wells. He said, “You wouldn’t believe this Mr. Brazee but I saw a bear on the mountain.” I said, “I believe you, Hubbard, because a lady stopped in not long ago and told me she Just took a picture of a bear.”
JSB: How long ago was that?
DCB: About five years. Barbara Griggs did.show me the picture. It just showed a black shadow but enough to tell it was a bear.
JSB: What about wild cats?
DCB: In 1959 I was coming off the mountain and I see this animal
jump on the side of the railing and I said to my wife,
Brazee – 22
“Good Lord, a Schnauzer dog doesn’t do that. That’s something else.” And when it got a little closer and jumped off the rail, I said, “That was a bobcat.” So I went back up to see if the dog could catch him, but he took off again. So that following winter they had killed two deer on the Lake so I set some traps and they didn’t go near them so I tried a trap put out by the Canadian people … a very humane trap.
JSB: And did you catch one?
DCB: I caught one. And it was a big one. It weighed 39 pounds.
JSB: Wow that was a big one.
What did you do with it?
DCB: I had it mounted by Mr. Bond. And Dr. Brewer kept it for a while and someone stole it out of his camp, (when it was recovered) Dr. Brewer said, “Dave you keep it. This is your
JSB: Do you still have it?
DCB: I still have it.
JSB: What about rattlesnakes?
(At this point Mrs. Brazee came out of the house and showed some pictures of a baby beaver, a skunk and the wildcat. At the picture of the beaver Mr. Brazee said off mike that there were too many beavers 15 years ago.)
DCB: We had to kill some of the beavers and trap some of them to get them out of there and keep the pond clear. One beaver weighed 65 pounds 11 ounces.
JSB: Did your wife get a beaver coat by any chance?
DCB: No, you know it takes an awful lot to skin a beaver. And all I was offered was two dollars apiece and I said, “No, you’re not taking them.” And I buried them on my own property.
JSB: Now, again, the other thing I wanted to ask about was
DCB: I have crawled these mountains all my life ever since I was five years old and I’ve never seen a rattlesnake.
JSB: Isn’t that interesting.
DCB: I’d be lying like everything if I told you different. Some people go up for the first time and see a snake but I’ve never seen one.
JSB: Have you seen anything else besides your skunks and your deer and wildcats? Have you seen any other animals up there that are unusual?
DCB: Well coming down off the mountain one night late, a huge black animal came from the right hand side of the road about 100 feet below me. It ran toward the ravine and I also thought it was a bear. But we had all kinds of raccoons. We had an owl that was so tame! He’d know when he saw me coming with a chipmunk — we were covered with chipmunks up here – that I’d shot, he’d fly right to me. He knew that chipmunk would be for him. I’d be
there waiting for him.
Brazee — 24
JSB: Have you seen any eagles?
JSB: You have?
DCB: I’ll tell you what. On the ice truck one day we were going down Wells Road and this eagle…
JSB: What year was this, do you remember?
DCB: About 25 years ago. This eagle was in a dead tree and flew out of the tree right in front of the truck and he turned around and looked straight back at the truck as he was going down the road to see how close it was to him.
JSB: Was it a bald eagle?
DCB: A bald eagle, and a huge thing, too. He didn’t seem to be afraid of anything. He just wanted to see how close that big thing was to him. And every child on the truck saw it. They were all screaming their heads off.
JSB: Now in the depression you’ve told me about how you worked, shooting meat and raising things and so you managed to raise your family.
DCB: That was tough.
JSB: That was tough, yes.
DCB: I can remember one time when I had seven cents for a can
of tomato soup. It was eight cents and I couldn’t give it
Brazee – 25
That was real tough.
JSB: What did you do?
DCS: Well, we used the seven cents for what we could get and ate what we could.
JSB: And yes, you managed.
DCB: I’d go fishing or anything else. Anything that was shot then went into the pot.
JSB: How long were you the warden for the mountain?
DCB: I’m still the warden … the Old Man of the Mountain. Mr.
O McCabe has never given me my walking papers yet. My son, Ted, is so agile and so much younger. He takes care of the campsites.
JSB: What do you do now?
DCB: I do what I can. Ted takes care of the campsites and my son, Danny, helps me out a great deal. We have 22 camps we take care of.
JSB: How many children are home now with you?
DCB: Two. Ted and Margaret.
JSB: How many of your children still live in Salisbury?
_ DCB: Well, there’s Elizabeth, Margaret, Danny and Ted. David
lives in Norfolk and Cathleen lives in Albany.
J SB: So they are all close enough to come visit. When was the last time you had a reunion?
DCB: About two weeks ago. We had a cookout in the yard.
JSB: And how many came?
DCB: At least fifty with all the grandchildren.
SBB: Well I’m certainly happy that the Brazee family is going to go on and on. You’ve been here for almost two and a half centuries now.
DCB: I built this house in 1929. I’m not a carpenter — there are many mistakes in my house — but it’s a roof over my head.
JSB: Now, tell me again what house you were born in?
DCB: I was born in a house that belonged to my Grandfather on Mt. Raggy Lane. It’s a dead-end road.
SSB: Where is the dead-end road? Up by the cemetery?
DCB: No, you go down here about 1000 feet by the road and turn right across a little bridge and go up to the end of the road.
JSB: Is the house still standing?
DCB: Oh yes. It’s still standing. Max Marshall lives there now. 7
JSB: Of all the people that you met on the mountain or who lived
there,., are there any famous or odd ones?
Brazee – 27
DCB: The most famous people I met on the mountain were the State Police. They were the most accommodating people I know of, and also the Conservation Officer. They have a tough job. That’s a tough mountain for them to get into.
JSB: How often do they patrol?
DCB: As often as necessary. They’re always ready to help out.
JSB: Good. Now, another question. Have any people in the last 20 years lived there all year round – up on the mountain?
JSB: Do you close up everything?
DCB: The first time I took over the Job on Mount Riga, July and August were the two months that they stayed at their camps. Now they go up in April, Just as soon as they can drive up there.
They stay until way after the snow flies, some of them.
JSB: Mr. Brazee I know that you are very, very modest and Mrs. Brazee knows it too. So she has just shown me some of your memorabilia. There’s a letter here from Governor Thomas Meskill honoring you for serving as a Dog Warden of the town of Salisbury for the past 26 years. That was in July, 1973. Here is also a letter from Bill Barnett, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, complimenting you on your years as Dog Warden which made it so much easier for him to work with a peace of mind knowing that
the dog matters were taken care of so beautifully
Brazee – 28
Here is also a picture showing Lila Nash giving you the beautiful silver cup with a gold dog on it, and, of course, pictures of Bambi, the beaver, the skunk Petunia, and the huge wild cat.
Thank you very much Mr. Brazee for sharing your memories with us here in your garden to the accompaniment of that merry bird song. And I’m sure the people of Salisbury would add their thanks to the “Old Man of the Mountain,” as you call yourself, for taking such good care of their Mount Raggy all these years.
Attached are the poem by Mr. Brazee – “Sounds of the Night.” and the interview with Grandma Brazee in October of l960 in The Lakeville Journal.