Oral History Cover Sheet
Interviewee: John Falconer Fisher III
Place of Interview:his home on Scoville Ore Mine Road, Salisbury, Ct. 06068
Date of Interview:July 7, 1986
Summary of talk: Side A: Scoville family since 1782 on farm on Undermountain Road, Scoville family background, his education, 2 Scoville mines, Fisher Pond, Scoville farm property defined and parts which were sold, his property where he lives now, early ski jump history from 1928, Catamount and Jiminy Peak, his grandmother’s sister Angelina Pelton of Gt. Barrington, bill of sale dated 1832 with local names, photo of local people who worked as rope tow operators at Catamount who are named, photo of workers on ski patrol and shop, local names of debtors to the Scovilles, Livingstons, Chapins, Peter Arno(cartoonist for Life and New Yorker),
Side B blank for about 1/3 of this side. He is reading from a ledger of purchases dated 1812-15. Joyce family and Pickert family, Hop Rudd’s camp, storm of 1938, Abe Martin’s Garage, Day House, first Scoville homestead, building of Fisher Pond, burning of the original homestead, Herbert Scoville’s house, Edie Scoville’s house, Robert Scoville’s house, hand pumped fire engine, Spurr Field, train service, a bet of his father’s.
Property of the Oral History Project: The Salisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library, Salisbury, Ct. 06068
JS:Jack, how far back can you go with the Scoville family? (See also tape 29 Dr. H. Scoville)
JF:Well, the first Scovilles that I know for sure that were born here was in 1782 on the Scoville farm
on the Undermountain Road which is 4 % miles from Salisbury. My grandmother was born there, and her father was born there. My mother came from Morristown, New Jersey, and was born at Mt. Holley, New Jersey. My dad was born on the shore, and I will give Jodi the information later on. The property has been in the family to the best of my knowledge from at least 1782 until we sold out in 1950. (to Carl and Lucille Isaksen who renovated it and the house became the Undermountain Inn. What was eventually made into a bar was supposedly the large walk in safe which held the cash pay roll for the miners of the Scoville Ore Mine. Ed.)
JS:What are the names of the Scoville family that you remember? Who was married to whom?
JF:Well, there were Herb Scoville, Rob Scoville, Molly Scoville, Edith & Grace Scoville and Lois
JS:Did they all marry?
JF:Not Edie and Grace. Lois married Donald Warner, and Molly married Mr. McChesney.
JS:Who did the men marry?
JF:Herb married Orlena Zabriskie, and Rob married; I will have to think of it later.
JS:When you say Herb is that Pete?
JF:Pete, no, that’s his father. They were both Herberts and young Herb, Pete, who just passed
away here a month ago, had a sister by the name of Elvia.
JS:She isn’t Elvia Firuski?
JS:She was Elvia Scoville.
JF:She was Elvia Scoville, and she had a daughter, Ollie Scoville, I mean Ollie Firuski. (She was
named for her grandmother Orlena Ed.)
JS:Who is now Temby Argali’s wife?
JF: That is correct. Actually Ollie married Jack Ginoux and then Argali. She has two children Sam and Elvia.
JS:Now your grandmother was who? Which Scoville was she?
JF:She was Caroline Scoville.
JS:Who were her brothers and sisters? They would be your great aunts and uncles. 2.
JF:I’ll have to get that and make a list for you.
JS:Alright, that’s fine. What about the Fishers?
JF:He came from down on the shore as I told you, down on the sound. That was my grandfather
that came from the sound, and he was born in 1812. My dad was born in 1873.
JF:In Salisbury, to the best of my knowledge.
JS:Do you know where? Do you know where the house was?
JF:Yes, it is the Undermountain Inn now.
JS:And that’s where you were…
JF:Yes, that’s a Scoville house. That’s where everything started in 1782, but I think the original
house burned down in 1943, or maybe it was 1944 because when my mother went to sleep one night, it was there and when she woke up in the morning, it was gone. My sister was there at the same time.
JS:Were you born in that house?
JF:No I was born, my mother was a nurse, and I was born at Atlantic City, New Jersey.
JS:But moved right up here.
JF:We lived here. Every winter we went away on account of the cold, but due to the family being
from south Jersey, her family, they retreated that far south, sometimes as far as Florida.
JS:I take it you mean the house was not heated.
JF:Oh yes, it was heated.
JS:But you just got out because…
JF:Oh my heavens, it would burn over a ton a week.
JS:A ton of what?
JF:Coal. My dad was a steam buff, from trains and it was heated by steam, but to heat that whole
house, and it is lined with brick. It isn’t insulated.
JS:What about your schooling, if you went away every winter?
JF:Well, that was a cause of trouble. Wherever we went that winter, I started at a school Miss
Stuart’s in Lakeville near Meadow Street on 41.1 went there with the Rands, Ben Belcher, the Bordens and Charlotte Ried, nee Charlotte Hall. (See tape 68 Miss Tracy’s School).
JS:This was when you were very young, starting at first grade.
JF:Starting at first grade, right. I would go there until about November; then when the cold started
to come in, away we would go to wherever we were going that winter, and then we’d come back April.
I had the pleasure of finding out what in the devil they were doing at Miss Stuart’s because it was entirely different than what they were doing in the winter. That was my schooling; then I went to St. Andrew’s in Middletown, Delaware, the first year it opened, that was in 1932. Then I went to flying school at Ryan, in San Diego, California.
JS:Tell me about this area. What about the Scoville mining interests.
JF:Oh, the Scovilles had two mines that I know of. Now the one in back of the house on their
property, I am talking now about the Undermountain Inn. In back of that there is a tip. I showed you the pictures? That is 90 feet deep and then it goes back to the face; they have little railroads going. They had that and I know that produced up to about the turn of the century which one way I don’t know. My dad never told me, but we do have the pictures of it working. This mine I don’t know when it worked.
JS:This mine, you mean right here (behind his house on Scoville Ore Mine road.)
JF:The one here on this property has shafts leading off underground and some of them which I
would like to show you later, caved in, and they made big sink holes. They look like test holes. Remember I mentioned the test holes? Up here they’re not. What’s happened is the roof had caved in. George Bushnell who lived on the next farm here had been in those when he was a kid. He’s now second selectman or a selectman. AS I say I don’t know when that was last worked, but I have a map of 1863 and the mine, I think, had stopped working, I believe.
JS:Can you still see it?
JF:Oh my heavens yes. It’s a deep, deep pit, well, again I’ll show you.
JF:No, well, if you fell off over the side, no there are enough trees there to save you.
JS:What about what I had always heard called Fisher’s Pond. Was that always a pond?
JF; Beavers had a pond there I imagine for many, many hundreds of years before the white man came, and it was called Beaver Dam Road. My dad put a dam in there; I believe it was in 1903 or 1904. Again I will have to check with my sister on this, I’m very good at listing all this stuff. The size of the pond is 49 ‘A acres, and the land surrounding it is about 49 acres and 1/2.
JS:What about the island in the middle? Was it the hill?4.
JF:I think that was the hill.
JS:How deep is it?
JF:In the one spot I know, it is about 25 feet deep. That’s where the spring is, maybe it is deeper.
My dad said that it was deeper than that, but most of the lake is 5 or 6 feet deep. It is excellent fishing for bass and pickerel.
JS:Who owns it now? The Undermountain Inn?
JF:No, that’s owned by Meryl Streep, Mrs. Henry Gummer.
JS:So it went with the house; the pond goes with that house.
JF:No, the old farmhouse is the inn. Many people own the old farm; we owned 660 acres from the
Beaver Dam Road on both sides of the road; on the left going north it would be well upon the mountain somewhere. I never did know where we owed there, and that went on for over a mile. It went up nearly to Sage’s Ravine. On the right we owned to Hammertown Road which is on the right, and then we owned to the middle of Hammertown Pond. Then we owned from there up to, as you go south now from that pond, you go south at the line and hit the road from the Undermountain Inn to Taconic (North Beaver Dam road Ed.) at a point just before Sarum Tea. That was our property, and then all the village.
JS:You did a lot of farming?
JF:It had been a farm, and then of course the prices went down. I know my dad got out of…They
had a head farmer and another fellow. The milk had to be delivered every day to Taconic and went down to New York by train, and he got 3 1/2 cents a quart. He bred Ayrshires, and we had about 70 head. It just didn’t pay. A lot of the other farms folded right about that time one right after another.
JS:You and your sister inherited the farm house.
JF:Yes, my mother lived until 1949 at which point we had the house, the main house, and two farm
houses and a cabin. We sold the farm to Lucy Drummond (niece of Miss Williams who inherited the Holley-Williams House which was donated to the town of Salisbury in 1971 and later sold in 2010.The furnishings were sold or stored if Holley-Williams items Ed.) I sold the lake to an Evengilonian Airline President. I might say here it sold for $25,000, and they just sold it for a million eight hundred thousand to Meryl Streep. Of course it did have a $275,000 house on it. Then other pieces of property south of the house on the Undermountain Road were sold in smaller lots.
JS:Was this part of it? (His house on Scoville Ore Mine Road)
JF:This had nothing to do with it. This was 272 acres that was owned by, well right after the war
George Kiefer came back and acquired part ownership of this piece of property which comprised 272
acres, but he owned only % of every stick, stone, tree and everything else on this property. Eleven ex Scovilles who were my grandmother’s sisters they have of course married and had children. We broke down all their children by stirpes, I believe it is called, and the smallest part was a l/480,h that some person owned of this property. What I did, I had to get a quick claim deed for all the property and eventually after eight years I got it, but prior to that I had to buy out about eight cousins because there only could be six lots on a private road in the town of Salisbury. Two of the ex Scovilles still own property here. One is Herbert Scoville, just deceased, whose daughter Molly inherited 25 acres. Ten acres belong to a family named of Paschal, (Guy Sherman Paschal Ed.) who invented Air Wick. He is 86 years old and lives in Florida. He has a son who is a successful lawyer in New York, and he had a daughter who went to Hotchkiss. I just found this out about a year ago. A very pretty girl…
JF:Yes, that’s it.
JF:I’ve never seen her, I’d love to. She’s a cousin of mine of course; she I believe inherited the 10
acres. It is up on the hill with a view toward Sharon from one side nearly to the Sharon line and then on up to Sheffield on over Canaan. I sold the other part of the land; it could only be 6 lots on a private road. You can build any number of houses on the lots, but the lot has to be owned by one or one group of people. It cannot ever be sold or broken up in. I sold 60 acres up here to a doctor Donald Janelli and his son Chris. His other son who is Dr. Bruce Janelli; they have two houses up here which they bought from down near the shore and took apart completely, both of them, and brought them up here and assembled them in a couple years. They live up there. That’s all that I can say about the property that I can think of right now.
JS:Another thing I’d love to know about is early days of skiing when you were kids.
JF:Oh well, I was interested in skiing as I have a picture right there that I’ll show you. In about 1925
I had no more idea what I was doing than the man in the moon; a few of us skied, but most of us boys played hockey- Hop Rudd, he was good and played for Yale. Then the Satre family moved in, all Norwegians four brothers, and then a couple of other Norwegians moved in. Ollie Zetterstrom who was Swedish, he came quite a bit later, but the Satres and Donald Warner built the ski jump. The first ski jump was in 1928, to the best of my knowledge, it originated on Don Warner’s cabin-roof, went down the cabin roof, down a steep hill, little hill and they jumped. They had to stop very very quickly otherwise they went into Wochocastinook Brook.
JS:Where was Don Warner’s cabin?
JF:Selleck Hill, do you know where that is?
JF:Selleck Hill is the old Bushnell Tavern. It was toward Lakeville from that. (It turns left off of
Washinee/Factory Street and runs south to Lincoln City Road. Ed.) They only held the jump there one year, and I guess on account of the brook, they moved it down to where it is to this day. They called it Satre Hill and Don (Warner) financed the whole thing. In around 1930, maybe it was 1932 it could be looked up, they had the first, I think it was the Eastern here, or maybe it was the National, but I think it was the Eastern Jump. They brought trains in from New York, and with all the Press, Don financed that. Oh then the snow they a terrible time that winter with snow. They had to go get the snow up on the lakes of Mt. Riga with trucks and teams. They brought it down and put it on the jump all by hand. I mean this was a monstrous amount of work; they had no blowers or anything like that. He pulled it off successfully. They had a mob; they had a lot of people. The Jump has gone on ever since; nearly yearly it has missed a few times.
JS:The Don Warner you talk about is that our current Don Warner?
JF:No, it is not; it’s his father. He was the one that was married to Lois Scoville; he was the one
who really got skiing started around here, then after that I got into downhill. In 1939 I—Catamount and incorporated that in 1940 and stayed in it until 1971. In 1947 there was John Clark (see tape # 113A) from Lakeville and John Drummond and I started Catamount; I formed a corporation, named it Jiminy Peak, raised some money, and I also got Pete and Don Miller of the Pittsfield” Eagle” (local daily newspaper Ed.). They came in as another fourth partner. That was the first lift at Jiminy which is now a very good ski area. I sold that out; again I would have to go back and check. I had to commute between both of them every day which is about 40 miles, and it became too much.
JS:You were telling me the other day about your mother going up to Riga?
JF; No that was not my mother that was my grandmother’s sister, Angie Pelton who owned Pelton Brook in Gt. Barrington where Taft Farm is now (Division Street Ed.) and where a boys’ school is located for not wayward, but backward, I don’t know the term they use now, children and that was their estate. (The school is still there. Ed.) They used to go to Mt. Riga to buy the finer merchandize when she was a little girl. She’s buried in the cemetery in Gt. Barrington (Elmwood Ed.)Angelina Pelton.
JS:What about that trip to New York you told me about; you’d get up about…
JF:Oh, she did. Again this was Angelina Pelton, my grandmother’s sister. She used to stay with us
until 1920 maybe a little later in the summer. She had an apartment on Fifth Avenue which was fashionable at that time, but when they left the city, they would leave at dawn or close to it, and drive all day and picnic around Brewster. It was all dirt roads, and get up here with a big old locomobile limousine which again I have pictures of somewhere. It was an expedition because it was all dirt roads.
JS:Undermountain Road had grass in it.
JF:Oh good heavens yes. Undermountain Road was put in in 1928, and I think the moving light
behind that was Mortimer Bell who was Speaker of the House in Connecticut. They put the road in from Salisbury to Canaan and the road from Salisbury to the Undermountain Road the same year.
JS:When you say put in you mean paved?
JF:Paved. Of course since it has been macadam and changed many times. It was’28 when they
put it in.
JS:Do you want to start with this and I’ll read you the names.
JF:Yes, and I’ll just tell you who it was.
JS:This is a bill of sale dated 1832 in Salisbury. It says essentially that we know you John M. Holley
and John C. Coffing. Now who were they?
JF:John Holley I assume is one of the Holleys of the Holley Manufacturing Company which
manufactured knives in the town of Lakeville, and Coffing lived across the street from Judge Warner on what is now route 41. That house of Judge Warner is owned by a Mr. Buckley (Donald Buckley, 84 Main Street, Salisbury) and they have antiques. I believe that the Coffings were related to the Coffings of Nantucket.
JS:The sale is $2,500 to the satisfaction of Samuel C. Scoville.
JF:Samuel Church that is.
JS:The land they give Holley is measured. They talk about a heap of stones on a rock at the foot of
the mountain and lately owned by Milo Lee.
JF:Well the Lees owned the Lee farm across from the old Ball estate which this map shows here.
They owned the farm across the road from it. They might have also owned the whole Ball estate, I don’t know, but that could be looked up.
JS:Here’s the next one. They are measuring by chain and link, 3 chains and 77 links. How long do
you think a chain was?
JF:I don’t know, but that could easily be found out. (A chain is 4 rods, a rod is 16 ‘A feet Ed.) I’ve
seen them; a chain is about this long.
JS:Which is about two feet?
JF:No I don’t think so; it is closer to a foot, I think. No, those are the links, those are the links, I’m
JS:Yeah, those are the links. How long do you think a chain is?
JF:I don’t know. (A chain is 4 rods.)8.
JS:Then there is an Elisha Lee’s corner so that is still the same land and Knolls.
JF:Knolls I don’t know, but one of the Lee’s went with Benjamin Franklin to either Paris or London
on a peace mission. Of course I don’t know the dates, but we can say that we can look that up. My mother told me that, and my great aunt told me that.
JS:I’m just looking. I think that’s it on that. How about Landon?
JF:Horace Landon I assume again was related to later on in the town of Salisbury a Judge by the
name of Horace Landon. He had a son; I think his name was Bob Landon, who won the high jump in about 1932 in the Olympics.
JS:Could that be the Landon of…They call a house at Hotchkiss Landon House on the road from
Hotchkiss 4 corners going toward Lime Rock. It is on the left, a beautiful white house. (Just after the old gym, the Bowens lived there and part of the house did not have electricity. Ed)
JF:It could have been named for the same family. I know another Landon and I think it might have
been the same family raised Holsteins on the road to Sharon. You go passed the transfer station, up the hill, on the top of the hill there is a large white house.
JS:Tory Hill Farm.
JF:That was the Landon House. (George Seymour had it for a while. The Zimmerman family owned
it in the 1970’s. Foster McMillen bought “the little Red House” in 1975 which was on a parcel of land cut out from the main farm. Jeanne and Jack Blume bought from the Zimmermans and raised Black Angus cattle. The called the farm Fairfield Farm. Foster McMillen sold his 2 acre property in 2001/2. The Blumes sold their property to the Nature Conservancy and Hotchkiss School after 2006.Ed.)
JS:Now where are those pictures with the Raggie people?
JF:Riga as you know. These were some of the kids, they aren’t kids, but they are in their 30’s and
40’s. They were all lift operators, rope tow operators.
JS:What were their names?
JF:Are we recording that?
JF:This is Stub Sherwood, the father of the current Stub Sherwood (see tape #136A) and Roy
Sherwood; this is Jesse Morey, who is a very good woodsman; this is Pete Lorenzo a contractor; this is Jack Flynn an electrician and a very good one; this is Buck Whalen of the Lakeville Post Office, and he’s been dead about two years; this is Roy Bushnell who owned the Bushnell farm adjacent to this piece of property, I am referring to the property on Scoville Ore Mine Road; this is Ed Ball, this is his brother or it is the other way around, I’m not sure. They looked very much alike. This is Vincent Beale who was a
well driller; this is Stub McLain who worked at Catamount for many years, and worked around town; this is a McLain whose first name evades me right now. This is Stub Bennett an ex fireman on the Harlem division of the New York Central, and this is Glenn Curtiss who was the son of a carpenter who lived in Taconic, and his mother worked for the Scovilles in the house. Now I can get most of these I think.
Another picture? This is Jack Bell.
JS:Now these are not workers there?
JF:These were ski patrol and ski shop. This is Mrs. Charley she ran the shop. This is Jack Bell; that’s
an army uniform or coat that the ski troops used in World War II. This is Gertrude Drummond our nurse; oh boy this guy comes from Chappaqua, I can’t remember his name. This guy comes from Mt. Kisco and this is his brother; I can’t remember his name. This is Otar Satre…
Js:He’s what? the son of the original?
JF:No, he’s one of the originals.
JS:He was one of the originals OK.
JF:And his son was Paul Satre who now teaches at the Factor School in the Ohigh Valley. This is
Bob Kenny whose father was groundskeeper for Don Warner; this is Jack Hawley who once worked at Community Service; this is Walter Fenn who used to live in Lakeville and lived in Canton when this was taken. This is myself, and this is Jim Smith who drove for Mr. McChesney and he also at that time was on the ski patrol. You can’t see it here but somebody snapped a ski tow rope and knocked out his two front teeth. That was the time that the song was popular, “All I want for Christmas is my two front Teeth”. This is Bill Hill who at that time was going to medical school at Johns Hopkins. Oh this is Darwin.
JF:No, his last name is Darwin. He lived next to Harrison’s house in Lakeville. Harriet Harrison’s
house if you came down from the school, went across the road: Harriet’s house was the first on the left. The next house there was Mr. Darwin. This boy’s father taught banjo. He taught me but not successfully. That takes care of all of them.
This is Daniel, is that Brandt? No it isn’t. Bryant, I don’t know him.
Here’s an old family Abream Vosburgh. Mr. Vosburgh was a teller at the bank when I was a boy in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Here’s Ball, Elijah Ball. He’s Dr. Elijah Ball I assume and only assume that he’s related to the Balls on the Undermountain Road. Here’s a Louise Ball.
JS:Explain what you are looking at.
JF:Oh this is a book of, what would you call it? Bills owed to Samuel, I think it is Samuel Church
Scoville. I’m not sure. It is owed to two of them; there are two different Scovilles were in it. I would really have to sit down and study it. I just started to look at it the other day with you. The Bartletts, this is Isaac Bartlett or Dr. Isaac Bartlett that’s an old family name; I can’t read it. Is it Peter Livingston?
JF:I can’t makeit out.
JF:The writing is so good I can’t read it.
JS:The Livingstons I was told once owned all the way to Sharon from the Hudson River.
JF:The Livingstons had a large; they were in New York State too, very large, Livingston Manor and
then Livingston Lansing who lived up on Selleck Hill at what is now Don Hewett’s house. He was related to them, and his sister was Mary Lansing who was a famous beauty and she married Arnold Peters who was a very well- known artist of caricatures. He did a lot of work for Life magazine.
JS:And the New Yorker. He was a cartoonist.
JF:He changed his name. His name was actually Arnold Peters.
JS:He went to Hotchkiss.
JF:Yes, he did.
JF:That is correct.
JS:He switched hisname around.
JF:That’s correct. I just pick names out of this thing. The Chapins of the town of Taconic used to be
JS:You told me something the other day about why the name got changed.
JF:One of the reasons it was changed: there was a Tariffville, there was a Lakeville, there was a
Chapinville and there were some other villes on the Connecticut Western (RR Ed.) when they put it in. About the time it became the Central New England Railroad the confusion and the number of trains and the number of villes that went over the telegraph, they decided to change it to Taconic. My dad didn’t like it.
JS:I want to add two things. Jack’s birthday, he was born March 21, 1914. When he is talking about
the artist Arnold Peters, the man changed his name to Peter Arno. This is continued on the next side.
Side B: The tape is blank for about 1/3 in before it starts again. Apparently he is going through a book of debts or purchases.
JF:Dr.Chassin is that what this doctor means. There couldn’t be that many doctors in town.
Debtor? No. G R
JS:It looks like doctor, but you’re right.
JF:There are too many doctors.
JS:Yeah, I wonder what that means.
JF:I don’t know; I won’t say doctor any more. Town of Salisbury
JS:What are the dates?
JF:The date here is 1815. This whole book started in 1812 or 13. Another Bartlett, another Church,
yes the doctor doesn’t mean… of course there are many of them around. Town of Salisbury, I thought I knew more in here than I did. Here’s a Surdam; the Surdams I believe came from Germany. This is Hiram Surdam, year of 1817.
JS:What kinds of things are they owing? Buying?
JF:Oh, beef, pork, potatoes, bushel of rye, pork, bushel of rye, one fowl, wheat flour, pork, currant,
a quart of vinegar, rye, cheese, pork, tobacco. Sheffield for devotion, and then they are buying wood, a quarter of a cord, a half cord. Now here it goes to shillings again. Oh to horse to go to Litchfield, to horse to go to Stockbridge, to horse to go to…I can’t read it, it could be, what is that word? I made a mistake when I said Litchfield here, I’m afraid.
JS:I think it’s maybe…
JF:I took a pass at Litchfield, but I don’t think it is. No long enough.
JS:Fitch, no I think it’s Litch… yeah.
JF:To corn, oh two /twelve- paid Holley & Coffing. How about that? I don’t knowabout the twelve
dash, I guess is that 12 pounds? (2 pounds, 12 shillings, and the dash means no pence Ed.) To fishing, if I practiced this I think I could get it better later on. It’s fascinating. Potatoes, I am trying to pick out something different here. Butter…
JS:Let’s stop it a minute. What about this? Who were these people? and the house?
JF:This house was owned by the Joyces and their coachman in this picture taken I assume around
JS:Where is this house?
JF:This house is up right by Sage’s Ravine. He was their coachman, and they are headed toward
Salisbury in this picture. You have the story of all these people in this picture in that letter.
JS:Who were the Pickerts?
JF:The Pickerts worked as coachmen for the Joyces. The Joyces were lumber people that started in
Maine and eventually worked their way in the lumber business out to the Midwest Wisconsin, Michigan and became quite wealthy. One of them married; her first husband was Mr. Joyce. Her name was Peggy Hopkins Joyce, and she married 9 times.
JS:Are there lots of Pickerts left in town?
JF:I know Stan is alive, and there were five boys and about 4 or 5 girls. Chili Pickert married Oliver
Marston, and Oliver Marston used to be a mechanic for Dufour’s garage. They went out to Cape Cod, and they are both alive- Oliver Marston and Chili Pickert-to the best of my knowledge.
JF:Gerdondied here a few years ago; he was a very quiet man and quite deaf. Did you know him?
He put himself through Hotchkiss and put himself through Yale. He became an engineer and did all the stresses on the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building was designed to take a dirigible on the top of the building. It was designed to load and unload passengers on top of the Empire State Building. He had to do those stresses, and they were quite complicated. He went to this engineering firm that built the Empire State to get a job in the Depression. The man said. “It is a very, very poor time to try for a job. “Gerdon, as I said, was very quiet, and he said, “Would you follow me?” The man said yes. He just walked into this large office where all these engineer were, and the whole mass of them were over by the water cooler. He just looked at the employee and said,” You’re hired!”
JS:Did he have brothers and sisters?
JF:Oh he had about five brothers that I can think of right now and about four sisters. Chili is the
only one I can remember that is alive of the girls. Probably of the boys there’s a Stanley, and Bob who is still alive. One of the Pickerts married a Kelsey, and Kelsey is now … their son is a tree surgeon here in town. That’s all I can remember about them right now.
JS:How about Hop Rudd’s camp?
JF:I went to Flying School in 1934 in San Diego. When I came back, Hop had graduated from Yale
the year before. I believe he majored in anthropology. Jobs were very difficult to get, and he was
employed by Edie and Grace Scoville as a yard man that year. The next year he decided with Jo to start a children’s camp for a dollar a day per child. We started with 25 or 30 I guess. Eventually we got up to 70 total, and I think we boarded overnight 35 at various houses; Delima’s cabin being one, and the Feeney place up on Belgo which is now a doctor’s house. It is next to the house on Belgo that Tommy Bohlman used, used to live in. It’s the next house owned by a doctor. We sent 35 kids there, and then we went around and rounded up another 35 during the day. I never forget John Buckley, Pete Peterson, myself and another guy who should be in there; we were counselors. We got one spell; it rained 5 day one week and the next week it turned right around and rained four more. We used all the leather work, all the model airplanes, all the paintings; Jo was playing the piano and Hop would drum. If Jo had played “Onward Christian Soldiers” one more time, I’d leave the country. That went on until the war. The camp was conducted on what is now the Rudd property next to the Town Grove. We had sailing, and swimming. We started out with the first camp in 1935; we had them from 9 until 1. Then they went all day long with 35 kids.
JS:That camp was going not as a boarding camp, but a day camp after the war?
JF:After the war, I guess it was. I had forgotten. I had nothing to do with it. I was running the ski
area. That was the storm of 1938.
JS:That’s what I wanted to know.
JF:It was 1938. It’s right at the foot of Smith Hill where there is a restaurant right here “The
Rocking Chair”. (It was turned into a motel and later completely razed. Ed.)
JS:”The Rocking Chair”, so how deep was the water?
JF:Well, you can see it was up to the hub; that guy is in a boat rowingbeside the…
JS:Now what did you tell me? You took a row boat and went…
JF:We went across the river and managed to get across Dutchers Bridge, we just barely could make
it. We took a row boat from Ashley Falls up to Great Barrington across the fences. You had to raise the motor to get over the fences; in this case the water came up a little more than this. I had a roadster, Ford roadster Model A, and I left the fan on. That was a mistake because a truck passed me and his bow wave sent a large wave up towards the engine and the fan blew it back and flooded it out. Then another truck came along and pushed us out.
JS:Was there a lot of damage in this area?
JF:Quite a bit, but it was mostly up in Vermont and New Hampshire, New Hampshire especially and
Eastern Massachusetts. It took down millions of trees.
JS:But not here other than heavy rain?
JF:We had a great deal of rain. I’ve forgotten; I know we had 18 inches or more in 1955, but in
1938 there might have been more than that. I don’t know, but it took down all the power lines. I remember Main Street in Lakeville was not quite level. It was coming down Burton Brook; it couldn’t go through the bridge. The water came down Main Street and it went down Pettee Street, but the most spectacular part what is now the travel agency (Now the Health food Store Ed.) Herrick Travel was Abe Martin’s Garage a vast amount of the whole thing went right through his garage and cleaned the whole thing out the back. It was only 2 or 4 inches deep but it was very pretty and spectacular going down there. I think I have pictures somewhere. That’s the Day House across from what is now the Telephone building near our current bank in Lakeville. That building is next to the bank.
JS:This is now the Housatonic Day Care Center. (Now a private residence again Ed.)l am wrong the
Psychiatric Center. Who lived there? (See Heather Kahler’s transcription Ed.)
JS:Who were they?
JF:The only thing I can tell you about Mr. Day; there were two brothers. One was had raised
produce and the other one Henry Day, well in flying they say he was a needle off. He wasn’t quite there. If you go in the Town Hall you’ll see a picture of him with Mr. Blanchard Rand and Kent Fulton and all the people in World War I.
JS:Do you remember telling me about a house that a Scoville built that burned?
JF:Oh yes, that house was…
JS:Where was it?
JF:Now this is as I remember what my great aunt told me again, my grandmother’s sister. The
reason I go back to my great aunt is that my grandmother was dead when I was born. She died in 1909.
JS:Now what was your great aunt’s name?
JF:Angeline Pelton again; Pelton Brook in Great Barrington. A house whether it was the first one or
the second one I don’t know, was tacked onto the north end of what is now the Undermountain Inn and you can see where it was nailed on. I don’t know if you still can see where it was nailed on. I was told that it was taken by oxen on rollers down the Undermountain Road about 1,000 feet and put by the lake that my dad built. Now that was done before my dad built the lake (Fisher’s Pond Ed.) During World War II my mother and sister were sleeping in what is now the Undermountain Inn, the old homestead. When they woke up in the morning, there was just a little smoke going up in the air, and that house had burned down. I think that was the original Scoville house. Everything in there was handmade; I mean the locks and the latches and all: then the grounds to my knowledge were never gone over with a metal detector. Then Mr. Schwaikert came along, and bulldozed the chimney and everything down.
JS:Just let me ask you one thing. That house in your time, you said you could read a magazine in
your bedroom when the house burned?
JF:Oh no that was the Scoville house in Taconic.
JS:Where was that?
JF:That is what is now Herbert Scoville’s home.
JS:Second, I mean rebuilt.
JF:It was completely rebuilt. Remember I showed you…
JF:The gardens are still the same, of course.
JS:Well, where did Edie live?
JF:Edie and Grace lived on Taconic Road. As you go toward Canaan from Salisbury, you take
Taconic Road. Theirs was the first house on the left (#16 Ed.) Ollie lives there now. Her mother was a Scoville, Ollie’s mother.
JS:How about the huge house in Taconic that looks like a castle? Was that ever a Scoville house?
JF:Oh that’s Rob Scoville’s. He married a gal from Millbrook who had been married to a Wayne. I
don’t think Henry Wayne’s mother, but it could have been. She might have been married to Henry Wayne’s brother. Do you know Henry, a great guy?
JS:Did he build that monstrous place?
JF:Well, he not only built it; that burned down in a Journal story of the railroad that burned down
in the 1890’s. It said that the railroad engineer who everybody knew, long before my time but I remember the name was O’Herne. He kept blowing the whistle to wake everyone up. I don’t know what good it did, because there was nothing they could do to put out a fire in those days. In pictures here I have a picture of the Town Hall in Salisbury. On the north end of that Town hall there was a hand pulled pumper, and the way to pump-people put buckets of water in the box and then men on the side of it pumped up and down, a whole bunch of men. That after having run God knows how far with the fire engine, then all the people have to come with the buckets, and then they have to find the water. So putting out a fire in the old days was nearly impossible.
JS:They kept the fire engine so to speak in the side of the Town Hall.
JF:It was a fire pump.
JS:Where the War memorial is now.
JF:Pulled by hand. They had too. Here I’ll show you a picture; this is Twin lakes and
that’s a naphtha launch. That is the mountain.
JS:Describe the naphtha launch.
JF:They had a naphtha engine in it is all I know because that’s what they used. Naphtha was a form
of gas, an extract of petroleum. This is the lake house I was referring to. The homestead is right here what is now called the Undermountain Inn.
JS:You have to remember that they can’t see these pictures.
JF:I know they can’t; that’s why I am telling you. This is the house that burned down, now that is
quite a sizable house, and this looks to me like a root cellar. See what I mean, see that? That burned down with no one even detecting it.
JS:Jack, where was…you mentioned the field; maybe it was where the Salisbury Fair was held.
What fields? Spurr?
JF:Spurr Field and that is down in back between the town garage and the ski jump. Yeah, about in
JS:Do you know who he was, Spurr?
JF:I’m guessing, and I’m only guessing that it might be Spurr who owned the Spurr Hardware Store
who was Charlotte Ried’s grandfather. He sold to Sid Cowles and Kent Fulton and so on (See tape I113A John Clark Ed.)
JS:I don’t understand Angelina’s relationship.
JF:Angelina Scoville married Mr. Pelton; she became Angelina Pelton. Her sister was Caroline
Scoville married John Fisher the first. Another sister married Mr. Pascal. Then it got too complicated. That’s where I said I had to find the eleven of them, scattered all over the place.
JS:How about this?
JF:Oh that I just happened to find; it is an insurance rider for a permit to have for automobiles
using gasoline. In other words to put it in the barn, I guess. The price of the rider was 75 cents and it was by N. A. McNeil in Lime Rock on August 1, 1903. The vapor from one pint it says here of gasoline will make 200 cubic feet of air explosive. In other words they are telling you to be careful.
JS:Yes. Your father had one of the earliest cars?
JF:Dad had a car here in 1898. It was an otter car, an open 2 seater, to the best of my knowledge
again. Then he had a 1902 Tiller Speared Oldsmobile; then he had a 1906 Locomobile, then he had a
1912 Locomobile which I remember. It was a big car. We took that to Florida once. Mostly we went by train. I have pictures of that somewhere.
JS:Speaking of which, how about the trains during your childhood?
JF:They were great; they beat anything. You saw where you were going, and the food was great. If
you took a bedroom, it was fine. Of course the kids love upper berths.
JS:Where did you take the trains from, Millerton only?
JF:You take them to New York, and then you either went to Grand Central or out of Penn Station.
JS:But you never took the train to Canaan or…
JF:Oddly enough I never took it to Canaan, nor did I ever go from Canaan to Great Barrington. My
dad did many, many times. As a matter of fact, my dad knew the guys on the Harlem (RR) pretty well. Incidentally see all those railroad ties? That’s part of what’s left of the Harlem division of the New York Central. He, on a bet and when he was a young fellow, he went to Exeter and he came home. He talked to the fireman, and he fired as a fireman from Millerton to Grand Central Station in a tuxedo. That’s something; he didn’t tell me that. During Prohibition Bernie Manning says he remember it. Bernie Manning ran a saloon in Millerton. Manning’s Opera, we’d go, we’d all go there. Baseball players, we’d all go. Must it must have been quite a looking sight when he arrived at Grand Central. You see, I’m not even sure it was at that Grand Central Station; they’ve moved it, but I think the train stopped up around where they transfer the engine.
JS:Anything else you have on your mind that you want to tell us?
JF:I can’t think of anything.