Richard Chilcoat Interview
This is file 47. This is Jean McMillen interviewing Richard Chilcoat at my home, 41 Chatfield Drive. The date is May 12, 2013.
JM:May I have your name?
RC:Richard Payne Chilcoat; the Payne is a family name.
JM:Where were you born?
RC:I was born in Sharon, Ct. in 1960.
JM:Month and day?
RC:June 27, 1960.
JM:What were your parents’ full names?
RC:William Henry Chilcoat and my mother’s maiden name was Katherine Whitney Payne.
JM:That would be where the Payne comes from.
RC:There it is.
JM:Do you have siblings?
RC:I do. I have a younger sister who is two years younger Susan Chilcoat Bucceri and I have an older sister who is four years older Dona Olinger (Alexander). She has recently been remarried.
JM:Oh good! What is your educational background?
RC:Salisbury Central School, on to Salisbury School, then on to Hobart College which is in Geneva, New York.
JM:Oh dear, I went to Keuka.
RC:Did you really?
JM:We dated Hobart guys, but… Now what did your father do?
RC:My father was a dairy farmer for the majority of his life.
JM:Where did he farm?
RC:He learned to farm in the Baltimore, Maryland area. He grew up in a little town called Sparks, Maryland, and ended up through 4H getting a scholarship to the University of Maryland. He was the first person in his family which was 9 kids; he was the only one ever to go to college, and graduated with a degree in I think at the time it was animal husbandry. He went on to work in various capacities in the dairy cattle business.
JM:Wonderful. What about your mother?
RC:My mother grew up in Mount Vernon, New York, a very different upbringing. She grew up in an apartment building in an urban environment. He father was an advertising executive in New York City for a company called Young & Rubicam. So they had very different upbringings, but met eventually right here in Lakeville, right down the street at Deep Lake Farm where she became the farm secretary, and he was the farm manager.
JM:Did she ever work at the town hall?
RC:I don’t have any recollection of her ever working at the town hall; my recollection is really just Salisbury Central. She went to secretary school.
RC:No it wasn’t Katherine Gibbs; she went to Smith College and became a secretary in a couple of different capacities prior to ending up here at Deep Lake Farm. Her mother and father had a weekend farm in Millerton that they used to come to on the weekends, and he was kind of a gentleman farmer. So she did have to some extent a farming background as well, just a different capacity.
JM:I see because she had mentioned the Millerton farm; I had no idea. I thought she was local.
RC:Yeah, it was called Silver Mountain Farm in Millerton, and it is still there.
JM:Tell me a little bit about growing up in town.
RC:I had a slightly different experience growing up in town I think because my father was a farmer, and had an agricultural background and that was not typical. Maybe a little more typical than it is today given the fact that most of the dairy farms in the area are gone. That was somewhat unique; we had a lot of animals on Montgomery Street where we lived (now 56 Sharon Road) horses, cows from time to time. I was very involved as was my sister in 4H, showing dairy cattle, and all that kind of thing. No one else that I grew up with was involved with anything remotely like that.
JM:The property of Montgomery Street is right at the corner of Wells Hill and 41, right? (Formerly A. E. Roberts House)
RC:It is on the left right before the Catholic Church, and a subsequent owner put up a big white (now green) fence in front of it.
JM:There was enough property?3.
RC:There actually is. There’s a barn with a stable and a little paddock out in the back. It was not huge but there was definitely enough property.
JM:Did you spend much time at the Grove?
RC:Yeah, the Grove was as far as the summer goes, the Grove was where we were. It was the center point of the community in many respects. Lots of us were on the swim teams; we were down there early every morning and doing that, going home for lunch, and then coming back and spending pretty much the entire day in the summer there. To some extent in the winter as well, hockey on Factory Pond was a really important thing that we did in the winters as well. We had a little house, a little cottage on Lakeville Lake for a few years as well, so we got to actually live on a lake for a little bit during the summer.
JM:Who was in charge of the Grove when you were there? I am sure Fred Romeo was working there.
RC:Fred was working there.
JM:Would it have been either Jim Rutledge or John Pogue?
RC:I think it was John Pogue. The person that I identify most with the Grove was Art Wilkinson.
RC:Because he was just an ever present person and he ran the swim team. So for whatever reason I think I was also involved in scouting. Scouting took place in the hall at the Grove, and Art was involved in scouting, so he was an ever present person there. There is another woman who used to teach us sailing; we all had little sail boats.
JM:Do you remember who she was?
RC:It will come to me; she lived alone right across the corner of the lake next to the Grossmans.
JM:Tell me about the Methodist Church, Sunday school, choir, any of that?
RC:Yeah my father was a lay leader in the church. So from a very young age I would go there with him every day, we would have Sunday school. In those days it was the Pollock family who were real central figures in the town. I went to school with the Pollock girls. I think even probably as I reached middle school and later, one of them may have been the reason I kept going to church and Sunday school. Whatever it took to get me there, my father would use.
JM:Gerry died recently, he died in December (2012).
RC:He did: I heard that. Emma?
JM:She‘s still going. I walked into the service and Heidi immediately recognized me. “Oh Miss Porter, you came.” I was so pleased because I haven’t seen her since she was in my grade. It was like WOW! Did you sing in the choir?
RC:I did, I sang in the choir. The other job I had in church that was very important to me was I got to be an usher. I think prior to having that responsibility my job was I know it had a title; I’ll call it candle sniffer.
JM:Oh yes, an acolyte.
RC:Then I got to be an usher, and I would as my father invariably did linger on in the church after the service as I got to pick all the programs. Being an usher was particularly important; then it was a fairly substantial congregation. Now I know that is not necessarily the case anymore, but…
JM:It fluctuates, but yes it was a very substantial congregation. I think everybody liked Gerry Pollock. I kept waiting for the fire alarm to go off in the middle of one of his sermons, but it never happened.
RC:Right, but no only that we were surprised that he was able to stay as long as he did (21 years Ed.) because I know they rotate.
JM:They rotate about every three years but apparently he had a lot of influence and wanted to stay until his children were finished with high school so they would have a consistent background. Did you do any of the summer work experience programs or did you work during the summer at anything particular here in town?
RC:I am trying to think what summer jobs I would have had. In high school my summer job, well it started earlier than that. It probably started in 6th grade I worked for Peter Wood who was the owner of the Lakeville Oil Company on Farnam Road. Peter lived in Sharon, but he took me under his wing at a fairly early age and I would mow his lawn; he had a little farm in Sharon. I would take care of the few animals that he had, clean the barn and that kind of thing. In the winters on school vacations, he’d put me in the oil trucks with the guys delivering oil. So I got to haul the hose; it was fun. I was covered in oil.
JM:Your mother must have loved that!
RC:I was dragging hoses through the snow, but that fun. Later on I worked at Salisbury Central in the summers as a custodian. I got to scrape gum from desks and mow the lawn. I got to drive the big tractor in the ball field. It was part of the reason why Salisbury Central has been so important to my family. We’ve all worked there.
JM:In the summer time I am doing your sister Susan as a pupil, and working there so that I get the entire spectrum.
RC:Of course we have a niece you know her daughter works there.
JM:It is a family tradition.
RC:Part of our lineage
JM:But it is wonderful to have that continuity.
JM:It really is so important. When I first went to Salisbury Central, there was only one secretary, Evelyn Bellini and it has grown. Things have grown; they have gotten more complicated.
JM:Any other local jobs before you went off to bigger and better things?
RC:I had a job in town after college. I came back as many people do after college and worked for a construction company that was in Salisbury at the time; their name was Salmon Creek Builders. They’re actual office and yard was where my mom lives now right next to the House of Herbs. There was a barn and that is where all the equipment was stored. I think the first summer I worked they built the Iron National Bank on the way to Salisbury on the left.
JM:That was converted from the Salisbury Farms/Milk Bar.
RC:Exactly, that was the first construction job I ever had which was kind of significant because that is the business I am now in. My friend Jeffrey Lloyd worked there and got me a job which was terrific given that I had absolutely no experience, but I think Jeff convinced them. By that time Jeff was a pretty good carpenter; he had been in the business for a little while.
JM:You were trainable.
RC:I wouldn’t mind doing the grunt work for the summer.
JM:But it is a wonderful experience. My dad didn’t have any boys he had me so I learned not construction, but I learned sheet rocking, painting, some electrical and some plumbing. When I built this house it made a difference.
JM:I had wonderful people but they could talk to me and I understood what they were talking about.
RC:You already understood the vocabulary.6.
JM:it did make a tremendous amount of difference in that there was a mutual respect which helps.
RC:Oh absolutely. I hate to say it but particularly when you are a woman and you are doing alone.
JM:I was single and it was an experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat if I could have the same contractor because he would say to me, “I want you to investigate different kinds of heating systems, and I’ll see you in two weeks.” I had to go out and learn about heating systems or hollow core vs. single core doors; it was a learning experience.
RC:He didn’t tell you this is what you want from the get-go.
JM: No and that was a wonderful experience.
RC:One very short lived job that I have to mention; I was the crossing guard at Salisbury Central for a little while. I don’t know how I ever; my mother I’m sure. Well you know what it was kind of a fun job, a little dangerous, but I can remember being there at least one winter. This was probably right after college as well because I can remember the kids throwing snowballs at me. It’s funny I drive my kids to school now and I actually know the crossing guard in the town that I live in. That looks like a great little retirement gig and maybe someday I’ll go full circle.
JM:Mr. Livesey did it as a retirement gig, and he was there for years. All the kids knew him.
RC:Yeah because I was a walker so I got to know him well.
JM:That was back when the kids walked to school. Are there any people that you remember particularly in town?
RC:Something has come to mind recently and probably just thinking about this a little bit more, there was a very special time in my life and I am guessing that it was probably ages 11-13 where I got very involved in the local adult baseball league. The Lakeville Hose Company team which used to play down on the town field; I was a little league baseball player and I loved the game and all. My father would go to all the games. He would take me to all the games. I can remember Mr. Barry would sit on the bench every game with a pocket full of nickels. Every foul ball that got hit back into the woods, we would all scamper for it and whoever got the ball got a nickel. So eventually I got the job…
JM:This would be Ron Barry?
RC:Ron Barry because Mark was playing at that time. So Ron was always there watching, and of course they lived right in the back yard. Somehow I got up the nerve to ask Frank McArthur Sr. who was the manager at the time if I could be the bat boy because they didn’t have a bat boy. So I did that I am guessing for probably three summers at that age, but that was such a terrific experience. I can remember the team had the Lakeville Hose Company uniforms. At one point during the first season I asked Frank if there was an extra uniform that I could wear. I had seen bat boys on television with uniforms; they had the real deal so I wanted a uniform. There was a little shed on the property there
where they kept all the bats and balls. Frank brought me over to the shed. There were these boxes in the back; he’s digging through and he found this old box of wool uniforms. Their uniforms weren’t much better but they were at least cotton; so he found the smallest he could which was huge for me. I wore this giant wool Lakeville Hose Co. uniform so proudly for the next two seasons. I can probably name every single player on that team during those years. I can still picture them all.
JM:Would you name them?
RC:Well, I think there was the catcher was Butch Sherwood, at first base was Frank McArthur Jr., then at second base was _____there was Mark Barry, there was David McArthur (See143A).
JM:I did him on baseball and I’m going to get Steve Griggs to give me an interview on Frank McArthur Sr.
RC:Oh excellent! Then there was another McArthur, Dougy who was a terrific athlete; he played in the outfield, Geoff Marchant from Hotchkiss, Pat Duneen was also on the team, I have got 7 and am missing 2.
JM:That is excellent!
RC:In thinking about it recently it obviously made a huge impact on me at the time that I can still conjure up the names of these people I haven’t… I did think about Frank Sr. from time to time because he was such a kind man and allowed me that opportunity. I was hanging around there all the time anyway so that kind of became my thing and I got to travel around all the games in Amenia and Canaan and Sharon. It was a really special time in part because I was spending the time with my father. He had to drive me to all those games and he wanted to see the games, but there were some people that I think about from time to time. I was telling my mother yesterday, “Boy I would love to see an exhibit get done on Lakeville Hose Company baseball.” She said that it is not a new idea, it had been considered recently but I guess the question is is there enough information out there to actually put an exhibit together with photographs or Lakeville Journal articles…
JM:I think there probably would be; I was quite pleased to do David McArthur JR. He did an excellent one, then with Steve Griggs, and there have been several others that have talked about the Sunday afternoon baseball games because it was a big deal. It was a really big deal. Is there something that you would like to add that I haven’t asked about?
RC:I don’t think so.
JM:We’ve covered the area? You have done extremely well as an impromptu, and I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.
RC:I am happy to do it.