Maureen Dell Interview:
This is file #39, cycle 2. This is Jean McMillen. I am at Trish Walsh’s house, 20 Chatfield Drive. I am interviewing her sister Maureen Dell. She is going to talk about her job as Assistant Registrar of the Republican Party in Salisbury and at the end she is going to talk about some of her very interesting recreational activities such as SWSA, canoeing and swimming. Today’s date is August 17, 2016. First we’ll start with the genealogical information.
JM:What is your name?
MD:My name is Maureen Dell
JM:What is your birthdate?
MD:I was born in August 27, 1959.
JM:Where were you born?
MD:John & Myra Dell
MD:Yes I do. I have 6 of them. There were 7 of us and I lost one of my brothers, my eldest brother Scott. I have Richard, Catherine, Stephen, Patricia, myself and Stirling.
JM:Education after high school you said you attended some college.
MD:I attended some college, but I never did graduate.
JM;When did you become Deputy Registrar?
MD:In August of 2014.
JM:Were you elected or appointed?
MD:I was appointed by Janet Lynne, the Registrar.
JM;Do you have a term of office?
MD:No I don’t.
JM:When Janet retires, will you become the new Registrar?
MD:Well, I am nominated. I am on the ballot this year. It is kind of a given.
JM:What will be the term of office when you become Registrar?2.
MD:Right now it is a two year term, but there is a bill to make it a 4 year term. Actually in Connecticut some people do have 4 year terms. Every town is different. Salisbury is two years. But after the2017 term is over, it is going to become a 4 year term.
JM:I am going to ask you your duties. What are your duties at a town meeting where there is a ballot issue?
MD:We usually will have a ballot vote in it is financial. The registrars only participate in town meetings is it is a financial decision where townspeople are voting on something where money is involved on a decision for the town.
JM:There was a town meeting recently on buying the Pope property.
MD:The acquisition of that and if was overwhelmingly voted in favor. I think it was 203 -11 no. It was a hot steamy night, it was packed. It was a great meeting that went well.
JM:What are your duties at an election?
MD:At an election it varies but as a deputy I just assigned a post. I am either a ballot clerk or a checker. This year I will probably going to be working in same day registration which is called EDR which is Election Day registration. That is when people come in from other towns or they want to reregister. We are there to do that for them. That is new; in the last 2 years that has become active in Connecticut.
JM:What type of records do you have to keep?
MD:We keep paper records, the actual registration card that people first filled out when they first became registered. That stays in our filing cabinet and after 4 years if they have not participated in an election, they become inactive. Then we do a canvas every single year and notices are sent out to them as to whether they have moved away or they are back or they changed their address or if they have left the state or if they want to become active again. Then they can. If someone passes away then they are taken off the records or if they move out of state, they are taken off. We keep those for 5 years.
JM:What information is given on a voter registration card?
MD:That is pretty much all the contact information: name, address, date of birth, the last 4 digits of the social security number, or driver’s license number.
JM:Can you register on line?
MD:Yes, you can; that is something that is actively being done every day. It has really affected out work in the office. It has increased.
JM:Do you think that is a good thing to have more people registered to vote?
MD:I think it is a wonderful thing; that is the prime obligation of our job is to encourage people to participate.
JM:Do you have to have training for your job?
MD:As of this year, we now have to have 8 sessions of training which is done by city. It is called CITI through UConn. It is a series of 8 different sections; they have just divided the whole registrar’s job into different sections. Some of the courses are 4 hours; some are 2 and some of them are 3. I think it is a total of about 35 hours. We will have to sit an exam at the end of that.
JM:You said that you have done 6 of them.
MD:Yes I have done 6 of the 8 courses. The town pays for that. It is mandatory that the town pay for that for all the registrars. That is something that some towns find taxing because they are $200 per course. It is a lot of money to come up with. That is one of the reasons I really want to give back to the town investing in me.
JM:When you get certified with these 8 courses, then do you have to be recertified every certain period?
MD:As far as I know I think it is after a 2 year, then we may have to be recertified with a refresher course.
JM:With the closing of the Torrington branch of UConn, does that make a difference where you drive to your courses?
MD:It certainly does. Now our choices are Waterbury, Avery Point wherever that is, Stamford or Hartford. I think there are 7 branches of UConn. It is very unfortunate.
JM: What have I forgotten to ask you about your job?
MD:Probably I like best about it. I would say first off the people. I started working at the elections and that is how I came and got to work to be the Deputy. Working on elections is a lot of fun. It is a nice group of people. The people I work with within the town hall are great; we all get along and in some towns the registrars of the Republicans and Democrats don’t even work on the same day. We always do; it is a nonpartisan office. It is not political.
JM:Now we are going to move into the recreation part of your life. What do you want to start off with canoeing, SWSA, or swimming?
MD:I started when I first started at college; I was an English and history major. Those were the two things I loved. Historical journalism was my field actually. I met my canoe instructor. Then the next 10 years of my life I was heavily involved in canoeing. We used to canoe on the Farmington River where we had a canoe shop on the Farmington. We did winter trips in the Florida Everglades. I was a canoe poler. I am still the National Women’s Canoeing Poling champion. That was on the Delaware River; you go up river with a canoe and pole and then you turn around and go around a buoy and come back down. That
was one aspect of my life. I did guiding canoeing, teaching, getting certified in all those things. We used to do overnight trips and long trips in the Everglades for four or five days at a time. In the wintertime we would run a cross country ski business; I became a certified ski instructor; I worked at various places in Farmington. I worked at Winding Trails as a ski instructor. When I came back to Salisbury, I worked with SWSA. I would teach the after school program, the EXTRAS program had a cross country ski program. We used to do the Special Olympics in Salisbury. We used to do the cross country skiing at the grade school.
JM:With the cross country skiing at the grade school, did you do it on the property.
MD:We did it on the school property and also partly at Selleck Hill. One of the longer races was at Selleck Hill. They also combined it with Mohawk ski Area, but that was back when they did cross country skiing as an event in the Special Olympics. I do not know if they do that anymore but we had 50 sets of skis. It was George Parsons, Mat Kiefer, and Gordie Whitbeck . That was my skiing. Then I was on the Board of Directors for SWSA for years; I always worked at the ski jumps as a measurer.
JM:You were one of those that had to go out and measure the jump.
MD:I measured one of the longest jumps they have ever had. He was from Sweden. He kept coming. I used to always like to stand farther down on the hill so your get to watch it. He kept coming. I was always involved with Salisbury Recreation because Sharon never had a real strong recreation program. I used to swim on the Salisbury swim team.
JM:That was quite a story. Tell me the whole story on that one, please.
MD:I started age 10 and under; I went with a good friend of mine, Kathy Hooker. We lived next door to each other on White Hollow Road. Her mother Margot Hooker worked at the Administration Office and Alumni Office at Hotchkiss. We used to ride with Margot to Hotchkiss School; we would keep our bikes in various little sheds; then we would take our bicycles down to the Grove. We swam on the team. I started in 10 and under. I was a breast stroke swimmer. Then we would ride back to Hotchkiss; we took tennis lessons with Hoot Belter. He was our coach and our teacher. We would ride back down to the Grove and spend the rest of the day there. When Margot got out of work at 3.00, we would ride back up to Hotchkiss and ride back home with her. That is what I did for years because Kathy lives right near us. We would ride together and we swam together. One day my brother Richard who had this fancy Shelby Mustang that everybody knew; it was this loud flashy car. He gave me a ride because I had missed my ride with Margot or something. When he dropped me off at the Grove, Frank Markey who used to be the Manager of the Grove saw me; he later on he said, “Who was that who dropped you off this morning?” “Oh that was my brother, Richard.” They knew that Richard was from Sharon because he was kind of notorious with his car. After practice that morning they had found out that I was from Sharon, Art Wilkinson had to tell me that I could not swim on the team anymore because I was from Sharon. I was absolutely devastated; I wanted to swim in the Olympics; I really did. I wrote a short story about swimming in the Olympics. I won. I was just thinking about this the other night. I won a short story
contest at the grade school in 7th grade. I won a $5 gift certificate to the book store in Sharon. It was a lot of money then. That was in 1973 when I graduated from Sharon Center. What my story was about swimming and just being up on the box when they blew the whistle, the timer, the judges readied, Take your make. Art later told me that that was one of the hardest things he had to do was tell me that I couldn’t swim. I just burst into tears. I remember we all had the blue and white striped Speedo swimsuits.
JM:What a devastating experience.
MD:Now there is just such a mixed bag of all kids swimming on the team. At the time it was just Salisbury. Swimming was the world to me. Salisbury Recreation always had great programs.
JM:They always had a good recreation program. It is such a shame that they didn’t do a special dispensation, but I think at that time probably many children lived in the village.
MD:I think many people thought we did live in Salisbury because we were on White Hollow Road and teetering right on the line. We were only about a ½ mile from the Sharon /Salisbury line.
JM:You were coming to church here.
MD:We always came to St. Mary’s; my mother likes the Priest. We used to walk down to the drugstore after church. Another thing I just thought of this we always used to get the Lakeville Journal. We would go down to the Journal and buy it. We would work on that “Write the Caption”. We would take it back to the beach. Sometimes we trade in bottles and we would get a pretzel. You could get a pretzel for 2 cents. We used to keep them in a container on the counter of the little shop at the Grove.
JM:I heard about the pretzels (from Trish).
MD:I just always was involved with Salisbury Recreation with skiing and the swimming. I guess I was not a member of the Grove; maybe that was what it was.
JM:Then it would have been the Grove was closed to anyone that was not a Salisbury resident at that time. It has changed, but it is devastating for a young person to be told they can’t do something that they are very good at simply because of a residential requirement. You handled it very well.
You have another part of your life; you are a professional gardener.
JM:Tell me about the Amesville Association.
MD:All the residents of Amesville are members and very proud of their neighborhood. They invest $10 a year or whatever they pay. Some people pay more and give more. It is a contracted position; I just maintain the 3 islands.
JM:Where are the three islands?6.
MD:The bottom of Britton Hill and Dugway, Salmon Kill and Britton Hill, and Sugar Hill and River Road. It is a Y right there near the Hardy daylily place. It is just from March to Thanksgiving. 2 years ago I put in another 1500 daffodils. They are responsible for all the daffodils that you see all from the bottom of Amesville all the way down River Road. Then I have 7 or 8 other jobs many of them in Amesville.
JM:About how many homes are there in Amesville?
MD:I think there are around 60.
JM:That sounds about right; it is a special little community. Thank you so much for your information. It has been wonderful.