Duntz, Herbert

Interviewer: Jean McMillen
Place of Interview: 147 Undermountain Road
Date of Interview:
File No: 46/60 Cycle:
Summary: Town Crew, The Cedars, Cock robin, Doc Leverty, Paul Argall, Mr & Mrs. Hamm, Maude Silvernail, Bill Raynsford, Lila Nash, Phil Warner, Jakey Holder,Salisbury knife Handle Factory, hunting, trapping

Interview Audio

Interview Transcript

This is file 46. This is jean McMillen and I am interviewing Mr. Herbert Duntz. He is going to talk about growing up in Salisbury and anything else he can remember. Today’s date is May 21, 2013. I will start with some basic genealogical information and we’ll go on from there.

JM:What is your name?

HD:Herbert Duntz

JM:Where were you born?

HD:Sharon, Ct.

JM:What is your birthdate?

HD:November 20, 1928

JM:May I have your parents’ names?

HD:Roy and Abigail Duntz

JM:Do you know her maiden name?

HD:It was Coons, Abigail Coons.

JM:Do you have brothers and sisters?

HD:Yes, I have one brother left. Three brothers are gone and a sister.

JM:Their names?

HD:Donald Duntz, Howard Duntz, Roy Duntz, and a ½ brother Newton Nickerson is his name and one sister Irene. (Donald Duntz was the husband of Gudrun Duntz- see tape #155 Ed.)

JM:Where did you go to school?

HD:I went to school in Copake, N.Y. for first and second grade.

JM:And then?

HD:Sharon for the 3rd, and Lakeville for the 4th.

JM:Through eighth grade in Lakeville?

HD:I had Mrs. Eggleston for the 8th grade teacher. I went to high school for one year.

JM:At the Regional?


JM:Do you remember any of the teachers in the Lakeville School?

HD:Yeah I had Mrs. Bruno, Mrs. Miner, Jo Cande, her maiden name was Bruno.2.

JM:Was Mrs. Eggleston the principal then?

HD:Yes, she was. There was another teacher there too.

JM:It seems to me that you told me that you have worked in many different places, so I am going to ask you some of the places that you worked. You worked as a plumber’s helper I think. What company did you work for?

HD:R. C. Miller

JM:Where was he located?

HD:Right in Lakeville in the Holley Block, where the parking lot is. There used to be a big building there.

JM:Who else?

HD:Earl Bertrand He used to have his plumbing shop underneath the movie theater. Then he went north to Springfield where he came from. I worked for Bauman & Garrity.

JM:Where were they located?

HD:In Lakeville right by the bridge. I forgot the street (Bostwick Ed.)

JM:Did you have any technical schooling as a plumber’s helper or was it all hand=on experience?

HD:All hands on.

JM:Did you work on the Town Crew at any time?

HD:I worked for them for about 11 to 12 years.

JM:It seems to me you talked about mowing the sides of the road.

HD:That’s what I did for the town.

JM:You liked that didn’t you?

HD:I loved it.


HD: It was the wild life, flowers, trees and everything that you can see.

JM:Did you do any snowplowing?

HD:For the highway department.


JM:Did you have a specific route when you were mowing or plowing? Or were you assigned daily or whatever?

HD:In plowing we had our own area, and with mowing hay I’d go all the way to Torrington, Litchfield with the State. I mowed all over.

JM:Did you work for the Town Crew as well as for the state?


JM:You did both. How long did you work for the state?

HD:26 years

JM:I think you told me that the pay scale was…

HD:A few dollars when I started, but when I got through I was getting over $6. They take the last three years and they base your retirement on it. The most I made, including over time was $14,000 a year.

JM:Do you remember “The Cedars”?

HD:I loved that place. I worked down there; I caddied there when I was in about the fourth grade all the way up until they closed.

JM:They closed after World War II, didn’t they? They closed in the 1950’s?

HD:I have forgotten that.

JM:I think they closed after the 55 flood.

HD:I still see one of the daughters, one of the girls every once in a while. When I see her somewhere, she remembers me.

JM:Mrs. Stratton or Mrs. Yarnell?

HD:I don’t know her married name. Her maiden name was Oshman.

JM:It was either Marilyn or Betty Oshman.

HD:One of the two. They always remember me. It seems funny that they remember me. They are very sweet. They are nice ladies.

JM:They are wonderful ladies. I did an interview last summer with them about “The Cedars” which was great fun. Did you do anything at “The Cedars” besides caddy? Did you do grounds work?



HD:No, just caddying. I also shagged balls for the pro there. I used to show people how to hold the club and stuff when he went to lunch.

JM:Was that a 9 or an 18 hole golf course?

HD:It was 18. A lot of people don’t know that across the pond was another 9 holes. I used to play that by myself, too.

JM:You told me that in order to make extra money for your family, you did a lot of hunting and fishing.


JM:Tell me about the hunting and the trapping and the fishing. Let’s start with the trapping. What kind of animals did you trap?

HD:I trapped every animal there was, anything that had a price on it. I trapped coon during the day, and I coon hunted during the night.

JM:What were you getting in your traps during the day?

HD:Well, I’d get raccoons, possum, muskrat that was the basics. It was just at night that I got more coons.

JM:Which kind of animal paid the best?

HD:The rate went up and down; at one time a good red fox would pay $90 for one pelt. A mink $35 you would get $5 for a good rat (muskrat Ed.). It had to be prime you had to catch them at the right time of year. Possum too I used get $4 to $4.50. At the end I was getting $54 for a big raccoon. The highest they ever paid in history. That was a lot of money. I have a picture somewhere of all the coons piled in the back in the car that I got.

JM:What did they do with the pelts? Did they make them into fur coats or…?

HD:They used to ship a lot of them over across. In American they had a lot of fur coats; at one time everybody wore them on the wagons. They had a clay like…you put it into the wagons and fill them with hot water to keep your feet warm.

JM:To keep your feet warm, like that old brick warmers. What kind of hunting did you do?

HD:I did everything, duck, pheasant.

JM:Did you do that for food or money or both?

HD:I did it for both actually. I never abused it in any way. It wasn’t worth it.


JM:What about deer? Were there a lot of deer around then?

HD:Yeah, I would say so.

JM:Did you hunt up on Mt. Riga? Or just locally?

HD:I have done mostly coon hunting up on Raggie.My son and his group hunted on Raggie; they had a place to go. I never did. I didn’t like… They had food up there, the better the food the better the eating.

JM:That’s true. That is the flesh that you want, the better the eating.

HD:That’s right.

JM:The flesh depends upon what they eat and if they eat just scrounge they don’t have a good tasting flesh.

HD:That’s right. A lot of people dress them right away and hang them up. I like to age them about 2 weeks. The temperature has to be right. If it warms up quick, you just cut it and put it into your refrigerator or your cellar. With a board in between, they aren’t supposed to touch one another. I think it will work out. First summer I had to do it, but then the meat, you don’t get that gamey taste. It is beautiful, a lot better.

JM:How about fishing? Where were your fishing spot?

HD:My favorite fishing spot was up here, that little trout stream Sage Ravine. The mountain brook up on Selleck Hill; there’s a little rill that comes out off the mountain. I haven’t fished there so far. Then there is the reservoir also for trout, for native brookies.

JM:Were they brown trout?

HD:No they were all native brook trout.

JM:How big?

HD: Oh 8 to 9 inches.

JM:Oh my, that is a good size.

HD:I try to get the bigger ones, and then the higher you get where it is dark, there was a darker hole. My son loved fishing; he was a great fisherman. He just loved to fish.

JM:It is a good occupation. There is a lot more finesse to it than people realize.

HD:Yeah there is. If you go to a brook and they see your shadow, they just shoot away.

JM:You have to have shadow and you have to have overcast.6.

HD:They can fish too. Always face the stream that’s what my son used to say. I would go with him and walk behind him and watch him fish up the brook like old Clayt Morey. (See #81 & 88 H.C. Morey Ed.) The bullheads would be good eating.

JM:How about sunnies?

HD:I like all fish, sunfish, and bluegills. There is a little fish up there in Sage Ravine that nobody can catch. They are like a little sucker. It was in the paper one time. I forgot what you call them.

JM:It is probably protected by regulations.

HD:Yeah, it’s protected.

JM:When you were hunting or trapping were there a lot of state regulations about the size of the animal or the gender of the animal or was it pretty open?

HD:It was pretty open.

JM:Because now you can’t shoot female deer; you can’t shoot fawns, that sort of thing.

HD:That was pretty open.

JM:How about turkeys? Did you ever hunt turkeys?

HD:Yeah, I hunted them; now I’ve seen them out here. I hunted them just a little. (He had one that would peck at the tires of his car near the house. Ed.)

JM:You never abused the privilege. That is important. I am going to ask you about some people that you mentioned when we talked before. You told me a story about Jakey Holder and getting caught in a window?

HD:Yeah, this was the story that I was told. Jakey lived in the Lockup, the old jail house. Somebody moved in out back and they didn’t want him there. Somebody complained so apparently they torn the jail down. He wanted a place to get out of the weather; he climbed in the back of the town Hall and he got stuck in the window. The window came down on him. Lester Hoystradt could tell you that story, too. (See tape #55 Ed.)

JM:You also mentioned Cock Robin?

HD:I didn’t know much about him except that I knew him and I knew where he lived, up there.

JM:Where did he live?

HD:Right up Factory Street when you take a right to come down on the Lower Cobble Road. Take your right and there is a lot right there behind that a red house. His house burned down.

JM:He burned up in it. Do you know what his real name was?7.

HD:No I don’t.

JM:Everybody has just called him just Cock Robin. Do you know how he got that nickname?

HD:No. when I see Lester, if I remember, I’ll ask him. I’ll find out for you.

JM:How about Doc Leverty in the Holley block?

HD:I knew him. The Hotchkiss School kids used to tease him a lot. He’d get mad, but come right down to it and he was a nice fellow, if you treated him right. The kids used to call him up on his outside phone, he’d answer the phone and be told, ”The golf course was on fire.” It irritated him.

JM:He used to put chains on the tires of his car.

HD:Right, he’d leave them on all summer, clank, clank, clank.

JM:I remember chains. How about the barber, Paul Argall? What can you tell me about him?

HD:He was just a nice guy.

JM;what did he look like?

HD:He was kind of a thin guy about 5’8” average height. He married a southern girl; she had an awful southern accent. He had a son too who was a doctor. He committed suicide. He was married to the lady that lives, my sister-in-law lives down there. You know where the old school house used to be, across from the White Hart. Do you know that lot? The lady lives right there then, she was married to his son. JM:Lorraine Stevens?

HD:No, Stevens is at the top end of the street. You just come out where the school house used to be.

JM:Oh alright, I know where you mean, but I don’t know the lady.

HD:She’s the next drive. She walks, she had a dog and she’s got a car which she drives herself. She goes on vacation a lot. She was married to Paul Argall’s son.

JM:Mr. & Mrs. Hamm, you told me about how he died.

HD:He got hit by a truck or car, while he was walking in the road after dark.

JM:What business did they run?

HD:They ran the little ice cream parlor right there called the Jigger Shop.

JM:Do you know why it was called the Jigger Shop?



JM:Nobody else does either. I have asked as many people that I can think of and nobody knows why it was called the Jigger Shop.

HD:The daughter was a school teacher.

JM:She was Fran LeMoyne.

HD:Mrs. Silvernail, a tall lady with a long dress who used to live going out of Lakeville up on the hill. That house is now gone too.

JM:Was that Maude Silvernail?

HD:Yes, it was. She had a Dalmatian dog which growled at me one time. She used to walk to work at the Jigger Shop. That was quite a place, that little Jigger Shop. We used to play on the lawn; there were three or four guys who played Mumbley-peg and then pull the stick out.

JM:How about Bill Raynsford?

HD:I knew Bill, he lived right in Lakeville. I would see him quite often. I liked him; he was a nice guy.

JM:He was a judge, Justice of the Peace, police officer, and used to play Santa Claus.

HD:Yeah, he always has that big display up on the roof.

JM:is there anyone else that I haven’t mentioned-Lila Nash perhaps?

HD:I knew Lila Nash. He was a farmer too, wasn’t he?

JM:I don’t know.

HD:They lived down in Lakeville on a side street.

JM:They lived on Bostwick Street up at the top? What did her husband do?

HD:I thought he was a plumber?

JM:Could be I don’t know.

HD:I used to know what he did.

JM:I want to go back and I want you to tell me about Phil Warner and the knife handle factory, please. What kind of a man was Phil Warner?

HD:A wonderful man

JM:Why was he wonderful?


HD:He gave everybody a job, and a Christmas present. You could ask him for help and he would help anybody out. He sold his houses., He had 3 or 4 houses up there for little or nothing. (Factory Street Ed.) People lived in them for years. He was just an all-around nice guy to work for; his wife was first Selectman at one time.

JM:What was her name?

HD:I can’t think. She was a big woman; I watched her and Bill Barnett walk into the house up here, Morey’s house, Jesse Morey, to get out heads for election. Bill Barnett said to Mrs. Warner, “The only reason you are a Democrat is that you are for the underdog.” I never forgot it! She said,”Yeah, that’s right.”

JM:That’s a nice thing, not everyone can be on top. You are a Democrat because you are for the underdog. I like that. What do you remember about Bill Barnett?

HD:I know when I built this house, when I got the land cleared off, I met him down on the street he shook my hand. He gave me credit for building a house. He was smart about that.

JM:He was very community-oriented.

HD:I remember him shaking my hand for building my house.

JM:That was a nice thing to do. Now the knife handle factory, you worked there didn’t you?

HD:Yeah, about six years.

JM:What did you do?

HD:I ran the shapers and the saws.

JM:Were these machines run by water power or electricity?


JM:What were some of the things that you manufactured?

HD:Just knife handles is all. They made bowls but I wasn’t involved with that.

JM:The bowls came later.

HD:The bowls came later: Richie Parsons made them on a different machine, salad bowls.

JM:What kind of wood did you use?

HD:Rosewood, cocobola, and a kind of ebony, grand wheeling ebony they used to call it.

JM:Was this wood imported from…?


HD:Yeah, it was all imported. We used to have these big spiders sometimes would come out; they would get inside the wood.

JM:Like tarantulas?

HD:Yes, I guess they were big ones. We used to use a white wood, too. They used that lighter, white wood for machete knives.

JM:Holly? Holly wood is a white wood.

HD:Is it? They used ivory, bone, pearl, too.

JM:How many knife handles would you make in a day or a week?

HD:In the shaper it had a little square handle and you would put it into the shaper, and it would grind around and grind it to cut the shape of it. We had metal barrels about that big around and that high that would hold thousands.


HD:Yeah, fill that barrel up then that fellow would roll it out and put another barrel there. Throw them in there as fast as you could.

JM:Were you working an 8 hour shift?

HD:Yeah, 8 hour shifts.

JM:Then after the handles were made, where did they go? Did they go down to the Holley Manufacturing Company for the blades?

HD:I don’t know where they did go, to tell you the truth.

JM:That is a mystery we’ll have to solve, but you did work there for 6 years. Did you work from 7 to 5 or…?

HD:He had a knife shop up there for a while, too. I guess he needed some more wood handles 3 times 11.40. It worked out. I worked that shift for a while.

JM:Did you like it?

HD:No because I was wanted to see my girlfriend every Friday night. I’d get my pay and take the shuttle bus and go to Poughkeepsie.

JM:How many were employed there, do you know?

HD:I had a picture. I could find out for you.

JM:I have seen a picture and it looked like there were maybe 15 to20.11.

HD:Not any more than that.

JM:So it was a small manufacturing company.

HD:Oh yeah, very small.

JM:Were there any other businesses in that area, grist mills or…?

HD:No, just the grist mill up there.

JM:Was that the Selleck Grist Mill?

HD: Yeah.

JM:What did they grind?

HD:I don’t know anything about that.

JM:Do you know anything about the Washinee Woolen Mill?


JM:It was all electric, not water powered?

HD:That’s all.

JM:Is there anything that I haven’t asked that you would like to tell me about, any good stories?

HD:No, I don’t believe there is.

JM:Thank you.