This is Jean McMillen interviewing Christopher Dakin at his home at 11 Hammertown Road, Salisbury, Ct. 06068. The date is April 10, 2012.
JM:What is your full name?
CD:Christopher Michael Dakin
JM:What is your birth date?
CD:March 28, 1939
JM:Where were you born?
JM:Would you give me your parents’ names?
CD:My father was Myron Edward Dakin and my mother was Agatha Clapp Dakin. (See 80A Agatha Dakin)
JM:Were they both local people?
CD: My father was local; my mother was born in New Jersey.
JM:Do you have siblings?
CD:Yes, I have 2.
JM:Brothers or sisters?
CD:Both brothers; Timothy Robin Dakin of New Burn, North Carolina. He is 2 years younger than I am; a retired Air Force lawyer. I have another brother Jeremy Robin Dakin of Amesville. He never left here who was in the Army, came back and went to the University of Vermont. He found that he couldn’t get any 8 o’clock classes so he left the University of Vermont, and has been doing odd jobs around here ever since.
JM:A good man to know.
JM:Tell me about your education.
CD:Well, I went to the Grove School in Salisbury, and then about a year of Salisbury Central School, before my father came out of the Navy. He had been Vice-Principal at the Regional High School when it opened. There was not a job waiting for him when he returned. So he started teaching at the Darrow School in New Lebanon, New York, and taught there for about five years until he was called back into the Korean conflict. Where upon we moved back to Amesville, and I returned to Salisbury Central School. I had a short term at Hotchkiss, then transferred down to the high school where I enjoyed
myself very much, probably too much according to my report cards. I graduated from there and went to Colby College. I spent about a year and a half there before I decided to go traveling with the US Navy which I did for four years.
JM:Was that voluntary?
CD:No, my father said, “Get out of the house or get in the Navy.” So I got in the Navy and spent 4 interesting years there. I came back, went back to Colby College, and then to the University of Connecticut Law School.
JM:After you graduated from Connecticut Law School, where did you start practicing?
CD:I started in Lakeville with the office of Becket and Wagner; then after about 3 years I went off on my own; three to five years I would guess. I have practiced as a sole practitioner ever since. My wife Suzette Terhune Dakin was my secretary from the time when I went off on my own until the time she died about 15 years ago.
JM:What kind of law do you practice?
CD:Generally real estate and probate. I tried a swing at court work but the distance from here to the nearest court and the amount of wasted time in the court system, I decided that it was better to cater to my solid clients in real estate and probate.
JM:I am going to backtrack a bit. When I was here before, we talked a little bit about your grandfather. What was your grandfather’s name and what did he do?
CD:He was Harold Butler Dakin. He owned Dakin’s Store which was a general grocery store in Sharon. He founded the Sharon National Bank because there was no bank in Sharon. He was quite a fisherman from what I can gather. During the Second World War he did take my brother Tim and me fishing down by the Housatonic. Of course he was wearing his coat and tie. He was always a dapper banker-type man who enjoyed playing bridge more than anything else in the world.
JM:Oh my, that’s an accomplishment. Where was the Sharon National Bank located?
CD:It was at the present office of the Ackley Brown across from the fire house at 25 West Main Street.
JM:Where was his grocery store?
CD:The second building on your right going from the main intersection in Sharon toward Sharon Hospital. It is presently a flower shop (Roaring Oaks Ed.).
JM:You were telling me about a typical day for your grandfather between the store and the bank.
CD:He’d go from the house to the store which was next door (the right side of the intersection of Rt.41 and West Main Street). The house was a beautiful Victorian house which has since gone to shambles. He would first thing in the morning be over in the store working at his desk; then mid -morning he would check on things at the bank to make sure everything was ok there. He would come back into the store. He had I believe Tuck Cunningham as his number one trainee there at the bank. I am sure there were others.
JM: He’s the one you remember. (Tuck was President of the Salisbury Bank & Trust during the 1970’s. Ed.)
CD:He’d come back to the bank; then it was time for lunch. He would go home for lunch and the housekeeper would make lunch which he would eat and sit down in his recliner and take his nap, and then it was back to the store.
JM:How many employees in the store?
CD:Let’s see, Larry and Phil Cunningham were in the meat department, Jerry Pitcher was a run around, do-it-all, did the deliveries, stocked shelves, maintained the gardens around the house which were beautifully maintained. He was kind of the everything.
JM:A general factotum?
CD:Right. If you need something done, call Jerry. As I recall there was also a bookkeeper, and I would fill in occasionally. Primarily I was employed as soon as I turned 16 by the Lakeville A & P. Because of the fact that I had a car, I would get shifted to the various A & P branches in Lakeville, Canaan, and Sharon whenever they needed me somewhere.
JM:Where was the Lakeville A & P?
CD:It was where the Patco is now. It was Finkle’s gas station, and the A & P, and the A & P liquor store, and Barnett’s Store and then the path going down to the ball field; then there was a multi-business store that a barbershop, a telegraph office, coffee shop. Then on the corner you had Dufour’s Garage.
JM:At the bank in Sharon how many employees did your grandfather have?
CD:I really don’t know; I never went into the bank.
JM:Now tell me about some of the civic activities that you have participated in.
CD:Well, I was on the original Conservation Commission in town, I have done a couple of stints as director of the Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Service, been Town Attorney in North Canaan which doesn’t really count as Salisbury.
CD:I have cooked for the ski jumps.
CD:Oh yeah I belonged to both the Lime Rock and Salisbury Cemetery Association.
JM:And didn’t you say that the Lime Rock Cemetery is owned by Salisbury?
CD:Yes it is so any of the deeds are signed by the three selectmen.
JM:Is there a diagram of the cemetery and who’s buried in the Lime Rock Cemetery?
JM:Where is that located?
CD:I think Jeff Silvernale has it right now or Matt Kiefer.
JM:How about the Lakeville Fire District? Did you have something to do with that?
CD:Oh I was Chairman of that for quite a while. It is in charge of paying for street lighting, clearing snow from the sidewalks, and doing what firemen left needed to be done by way of dealing with the town.
JM:How about the Lakeville Hose Company?
CD:I have done a lot of work for them; I never charged for it. I had a lot of fun. I worked in the food booth in the Carnival with them.
JM:How about the ambulance company?
CD:Well I am just a director on that. As I said I served two stints there.
JM:I am going to backtrack again. Tell me a little bit about your father.
CD:Well, he was born and brought up in Sharon, went to Hotchkiss often by horseback. They lived where the store was on the corner of the Green. They had some stalls out on the first floor of the barn out in back of the store. He graduated from Hotchkiss in 1933, went to Williams, came back and was Principal of the Sharon Central School. When the high school opened in the fall of 1939, he became vice Principal under Dr. Paul Stoddard.
JM:I’ve heard about Dr. Stoddard!
CD:He was something. I have a silver cup that was given to me engraved C.M. Dakin, class of ’39. I got thinking about it the other day, and it is a little strange because there was no class of ’39. They opened in the fall of ’39, but somehow or another I guess I was the first graduate of regional.
JM:Wonderful! Do you remember some of the teachers that you had at regional?
CD:Yeah, there was John Just who was a math teacher and who rented our house in Amesville while we were up in New Lebanon. Clark Wood I really didn’t know until afterward because he was stuck down there in the agricultural section. The typing teacher, a little thing, had a lousy attitude sometimes. I can’t think of her name; she used to go with the guy who worked on power lines, John Bianci, not the lawyer John Bianci. She was a tough little thing; I went along with her for two semesters in typing. I was getting A’s. Then we got into a discussion about something, and I think I got D’s the rest of the year.
JM:How about a Miss Gordon who became Mrs. Fitts? Did you have any connection with her?
CD:No. There was a Latin teacher who I can’t recall; she was badly injured in a car accident with Dr. Stoddard. He used to come to school from his place on Belden Street, reading the New York Times. One time it caught up with him. He had a really bad accident. Then of course there was Coach Chinanti who was and is one of the greatest guys in the world. He and I got along very well except when report cards came out.
JM:Well, sometimes there is a difference of opinion on that.
CD:I picked up from a fellow student the philosophy that anything over passing is wasted which probably doesn’t appeal to you, Jean, but…
JM:Well, it depends upon the circumstances; there were a few courses that I was just lucky to get through. Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you would like to add?
CD:I don’t think so. It’s just this has been the greatest place in the world to grow up and live in. It is the main reason I got into law because I wanted to come back here and didn’t have a family business to come back to.
JM:What a wonderful attitude that you loved you home town so much that you wanted to come back to it.
CD:What is there not to love?
JM:I can’t think of a thing! Thank you very much; I appreciate your time and your interest, and all of the wonderful things that you have done for the community to make it what it is today.
CD; I haven’t done anything more than anyone who appreciates the community would do.
JM:We have a very wonderful community made up of a lot of wonderful people.