Oral History Cover Sheet
Place of Interview: Jack Flynn’s home on Wells Hill Road, Lakeville, Ct.
Summary of talk: family information, military career, his work experience,family farm, 4 farms on Wells Hill,grandparents, local schooling, local businesses as a child, bridle paths and walking paths, Hotchkiss runners short cut, kids ski jump, sledding, winter driving, Lakeville Inns; Gateway, Wake Robin, and Interlaken, parades and carnivals, Salisbury vs. Lakeville railroad tresles and station, cars and race track, old town dirt roads.
Date:Dec. 3, 1992
Property of the Salisbury Association Oral History Project Salisbury Association at Scoville Memorial Library Salisbury, Conn. 06039
Jack Flynn tape 98A
JS:Jack, what is your whole name?
JF:John J. Flynn.
JS:What’s the J.?
JS:You were born here?
JF:Well, I was born in Sharon Hospital, but I was actually in Lime Rock at the time I was born. My
parents lived there.
JS:What was your mother’s name?
JF:Mary Agnes Walsh, her full name was Agnes Walsh Flynn, when she got married.
JS:And your father’s name?
JF:Peter J. Flynn
JS:So that’s who your brother isnamed after.
JF:Yeah. He was a junior.
JS:What did your father do?
JF:He was an automobile salesman.
JF:Well, he worked mostly for Dutchess Auto in Millerton, in the Depression in that era. Then he
did work in Wassaic, New York, for Stuart Kline, I think, owned the business then. They sold Fords.
JS:And your mom was a housewife.
JF:She was a nurse originally.
JF:She worked at Sharon quite a bit.
JS:You have a brother, Peter.
JF:One brother, yeah.
JS:Who are they?
JF:Mary, Gertrude, and Patty.
JS:Now, Mary I remember from the Sharon Clinic. She married ….
JS:Not related to Dick Cleaveland.
JF:Well, second cousin, I believe they are.
JS:Where’s she? What’s her name?
JF:Gertrude Hughes, she lives now in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
JF:Patricia, Patty. She lives in Montana.
JS:So the only one who is distantly related would be George Cleaveland to Dick Cleaveland. That’s
the only Cleaveland connection. The girls did not marry local people.
JF:Yeah. Patty married Steve Stanton of the whole Stanton family. Steve’s father was a trooper in
Canaan, a state policeman, quite well renowned in those days. They lived in Ore Hill. Shortly after they were married, they moved to Florida, where he was a deputy sheriff down there. Then when he got through there, they moved to Montana. He has since died, but she still lives there. Her family is there with her.
JS:You married who?
JF:Isabelle Shaddock fromCopake.
JS:And you have how many children?
JF:Just one, one boy.
JS:Who is the father of these two…
JF:Yeah. His name is John. In fact he’s a junior.
JS:How did you get into your business?
JF:Well, I was in radio and so forth in the war. That kinda got me going a little bit on electronics.
JS:You were in what, the navy?
JF:No, I was in the Air force. I was in Radar, eventually in Radar. I started out in Radio and then I
went into Radar. After the war I went to school in Hartford, and studied electrical engineering. I worked for GE for five years on power transformers. Then eventually I got into the construction business, residential, more or less.
JS:Did you always live here during all of that?
JS:And decided that GE was not for you?
JF:Oh no, I didn’t like that inside stuff. It’s a lot better working…
JS:But you really work on your own: you work for yourself.
JF:Oh, yeah, for quite a few years, thirty eight years, or so.
JS:You lived in Lime Rock when you were born.
JF:Yeah, but I came here as a baby.
JS:Here, this property here?
JF:Well, right next door. This was part of the family property. This was a pasture when we were
kids, right where we are sitting now.
JS:So your father was a car salesman, but he was also a farmer?
JF:Well, my grandfather owned this, what was a farm then. It was about thirty seven acres, I think
of all this area, all where Horseshoe Lane is. The house next door, which was our family home…
JS:That pretty white farmhouse?
JF:Yeah. Of course we lived there until I got married. We built this place, and…
JS:It was no longer a farm.
No, because my mother had sold off all of where Horseshoe Lane is. Hopper bought that and
JF:No, because my mother had sold off all of where Horseshoe Lane is. Hopper bought that and
started a development where the Luttle house was, Carol Luttle which is up the road there, There was a
house built there. So there was no farm. It hadn’t really been a farm much since, well actually about the time Pete and I went into the Army. That’s when it broke up. It was getting smaller anyway. When we were little kids we used to farm it pretty good.
JS:Did you have cows?4.
JF:Had cows, had horses. We worked with horses, and pigs and chickens, and everybody had them
JS:Were there a lot of farms up here on Wells Hill when you were a kid?
JF:Well, there were four? Frank Vaill’s was the first.
JS:Where was that?
JF:That’s where Dunham is now. That was the first coming from Lakeville. That was the first. Rose
Hill Farm was the name of that one. It was pretty big for that encompassed all of Robin Hill Lane, and then he bought property from Jerome, which is the big place across the road there.
JF:Remember Windsor Lewis?
JF:Of course, eventually all the property down where you live, down Woodland Drive, that was all
his land. He owned an awful lot of land.
JS:But not all farmland.
JF:It wasn’t all farm. He farmed all Robin Hill Lane, though. It was all crops, or hay, or whatever.
Then there was…the next one up the road was Paul Cleaveland’s, which was a big farm. That was Oak Wood Farm.
JS:Where was that?
JF:That’s where Ingersoll owns now, that barn on the corner as you go through towards, past the
watering kettle and go straight away where that sharp corner is. There’s a big barn on the left.
JS:Oh, that used to be Quality Farm.
JF:No, no that was Oak Wood. Paul Cleaveland was Oak Wood.
JS:Then it was before…
JF:Oh yeah, beforethat.
JS:Oh I know whatyou mean. Alright, yes.
JF:Then Ben Cleaveland, his son, eventually, he more or less took over the operation when Paul got
older. Eventually he sold out, and moved to Florida. He raised cattle down in Florida. He’s since retired. Ben was my age. We were good friends. Next to that was a farm which was Albo Faybin’s, originally, before Dilworth. Dilworth bought land from Albo Faybin and built that big house.
JS:Dilworth built that house.
JF:Yeah, that great big house, and of course he updated the farm to the point where it was called
Quality Farm. Jack Brazee was the herdsman there at that time because Albert Faybin wasn’t that big. He made milk, and he took it to the railroad station.
JF:Millerton, he used to go to Millerton with it. But then of course those things change. Trucks
came in and everything. It was a lot simpler then, but by then Albo was getting pretty old and he…Mr. Dilworth came along at a good time. That was that for farms on the road.
JF:That’s all the farms there were.
JS:Oh I mean it was a dirt road?
JF:Oh yeah, it was all dirt.
JS:Who was Wells?
JF:Wells lived up on…well, on Old Asylum Road, at the very top of the hill.
JS:Not Gevault’s house?
JF:No, no, you go north from Gevault’s toward Farnam Road, right on the top of that hill was
where the Willis property was.
JS:Is the house no longer there?
JF:No, when we were kids there was a …the name of the people there were Thorne. They owned
quite a bit of property, probably from the Wells era, across the road which Paul Cleaveland used to rent most of that property for them to use for hay and stuff. He eventually bought it. The Thorne house is no longer there. They tore that down when Quayle built a house which then was Emerson. Remember that one? That was built by people by the name of Quayle. When they built that, they tore the Thorne house down which was a beautiful old house. God, that was a …but it was old, and I guess it wasn’t feasible to fix it up. Kinda let go for years, she was getting pretty old. Then just below her were people by the name of Dr.Kasper which were more or less summer people or weekenders as we called them
There weren’t any houses up there then. That’s where Wells, that’s Wells Hill. Of course he was influential in race track, on Race Track Road.
JS:I was just going to ask you about that. I remember when I came here; we came here in 1949,
and it must have been the mid-fifties when Dr. Noble and a bunch of them got together and had harness racing.
JF:Paul Cleaveland was in that, too.
JF:They used to go all over with those darn trotters. They loved it.
JS:Now wasn’t Paul something of an inventor?
JF:No, that wasn’t Paul’s end of the family. His son George…he’s a…
JS:Maybehe’s the one.
JF:He’s got a brain on him, and he can figure anything out.
JS:Did hework with Jim Vaill?
JS:Maybeat Lime Rock Racetrack?
JF:Yeah. And of course George was good in a panic, and he worked on John Fitch’s Mazarattis and
all that. Of course at the race track when he and Jim got that going, why it was right down his alley. He loved that.
JS:Very good at it.
JF:Oh yeah, he was a sharp cookie. Paul Cleaveland’s wife was a Trailer. In fact she had a brother
who lived on Farnam Road where, well it’s George Stanton’s house now. He had a brother that was that was maybe the inventor that you are thinking of because he was a great tinkerer. He didn’t really care very much about material things: all he liked to do was built things and make ’em. That’s probably what you are thinking of.
JS:I think it might have been Jim Vaill who told me about him. He could do anything.
JF:Well, George was that way, whether laying bricks or figuring out a faucet, or the most intricate
details, he’s just got it.
JS:Is he still with us?7.
JF:Oh yeah. He married my sister, Mary.
JS:Oh, that George.
JF:Yeah. That’s the George.
JS:OK, they live out in Ohio.
JF:No they live up in St Regis Falls in New York State, way up near the Canadian border. It’s cold.
JS:I’ll bet it is.
JS:I forgot to ask you, grandparents. What were their names?
JF:Maternal was Michael Walsh and Pequiney. I don’t really remember her first name.
JS:They were from here?
JF:They were from here. Grampa’s father came over from Ireland. I am not sure about the
Pequiney end of the family. They were French. The family was in Sharon. They lived in Sharon.
JS:How do you spell that?
JF:My father’s side, I never knew my grandfather or grandmother. They were deceased before I
JS:Were they from here?
JF:Well, my father’s father worked in the mines in Ore Hill. So they had come over to work in the
mines, that’s how the Flynn family got in town.
JF:They were from Ireland.
JS:Along with the Finneys and goodness knows who else.
JF:There were a lot of them; I guess that was a big thing, boy.
JS:I’ll bet it was.
JS:Henry Argyle told me that his grandfather, his mother’s father came over and was
superintendent of the mines. The mine there…
JS:Yeah. The one on…Deep Lake, Deep Lake Farm
JS:His grandfather was superintendent there.
JF:Oh really. I didn’t know that. His mother huh?
JF:Well, whatelse can I tell you?
JS:Ask anything you want to tell me. Where did you go to school?
JF:We went to Lakeville. When we first started grade school, of course it was down where the post
office is now, only back further from the road. Then we went to what is now the Lower Building of the Center School. We went there for 7th and 8th grade. I started high school there. I went two year of high school and then regional opened.
JS:So you were practically the first graduate.
JF:I was the second. Pete, my brother was the first. I was a year behind him. We had school buses
then. We rode the bus once the regional opened up. Up’ til then you got to school the best way you could. We’d walk a lot of times, and sometimes my father would take us, if he could. If Paul Cleaveland happened to be going with a truckload somewhere, which was very rare, cause he was busy on the farm. But we walked a great deal of the time. Weren’t supposed to ride bikes, so we didn’t do that.
JS:That’s a hike from up here inthe winter downthere.
JF:Yeah. I froze my ear once.I remember that.I’llnever forget that.
JS:I’ll bet. Were there any shortcut?
JS:I didn’t think so.
JF:Only through back of Burgett’s…where we used to stop in to the sheds and look at the coffins. I
remember that, coming down over the back wood there. Yeah that was fun.
JS:What were the stores that you remember? Where did you go shopping for your mother?
JF:Well, Heaton’s was a, that was one of them, eventually that was Barnett. It was A.H. Heaton
when we were kids. That was right on the Main Street. Let’s see, an A&P store was the first one in line, then there was Heaton’s, then of course later Bessie’s Lunch was underneath that one building there. Paul Argyle’s barber shop was, it wasn’t Paul Argyle’s then’ cause he was still working for Chet Thurston on top of the hill as an apprentice, but that’s where he put his business. The Western Union was in there too in that building. Remember that? then Dufour’s Garage on the corner, and the Hub. Remember the Hub?
JS:The Hub wasn’t here in ’49 when I came.
JF:Oh that’s right. It was gone then. Was the Jigger Shop still here? by the theatre there? Of
JS:No, the Stuart Theatre was there, because I was here that Christmas when it burned.
JF:Yeah, and between it was Goddress’s Market? Remember that one?
JS:The meat market
JF:The meat market, that was…
JS:With the big roll of paper in the window…
JF:Yeah, that was it. In later years Louie used to sit in the window, remember? The Jigger Shop was
kinda…We used to look forward to that. We used to caddie in the summer, Pete and I did anyway. Most of the kids from Lakeville wouldn’t go to Hotchkiss, and we would always stop by the Jigger Shop on the way back and buy a Baby Ruth or something. That Jigger Shop was a good spot.
JS:So you were walking all this time, when you went up to caddie.
JF:Well, when we got older we took our bikes, we rode bikes, but it wasn’t a bad walk from here
’cause we used to go down through by your house practically, and you’d come out by the old bridle path, by the horse barns. Where McChesney kept his horses, remember?
JS:I think you can still do that before the growth comes up. I think early spring you can…
JS:You can walk back in there.
JF:They don’t use it for a bridle path anymore. I doubt it.
JS:I don’t know. I’ve seen horses coming in and out of there, from time to time, so I don’t know.
They must because I’ve seen them crossing the road. You know the Hotchkiss road here, and then they go down to the lake.
JF:You know where they come from though; they come down from Belcher’s way. They don’t go
through into Woodland Drive area, towards Woodland Drive any more. They come down where the old trap shoots used to be from Belcher’s, and then they come down that back road back of the barn.
JS:Oh yeah, and then across and what, down to the lake?
JF:Down to the lake, yeah. I don’t know where they go from there. Whether they…
JS:Strange way to go.
JF:I know it because they come out at…
JS:run down there
JF:No, not down there. I don’t know where they go from there. I never figured that one out. I never
spent too much time thinking about it.
JS:Well, you know you can still walk from Woodland Drive over to the Woodland Restaurant.
JF:Over by Bernie Ling’s?
JS:Yup. The people who moved in there are weekenders, and they have some sort of automatic
tennis ball thing there in a cage, so you kind of have to go when they are not here.
JS:Jim Vaill once in a whilegoesinand cuts itback.
JS:Yeah, you come out right in the back of the Woodland.
JS:You know who discoveredit?TheHotchkiss boys, running.
JS:They are supposed to run all the way up to Race Track, across and down. They got back to the
gym very early one day, and whoever was the coach thought it was quite strange as they were covered with brush and so on. So he went out the next day and timed them. He said, “You can’t possibly have done it in that amount of time.” They confessed that they had found a short cut.
JF:Ha Ha, yeah, did you talk to Jim?
JS:Jim Vaill? Yeah.
JF:Yeah. He probably has a lot…
JS:He knows a lotabout the area.
JS:It’s a very quiet town.
JF:Did he tell you about the ski jump they used to build?
JF:Every year we used to, us kids, Frank Vaill would build us a ski jump, of course he built it, but he
maintained it. It was down on the peak there where Chapman’s house is now. It was right there, actually a little beyond Chapmans, almost to where Gafneys live in Harry Bellini’s old house there. But we used to call it the peak. We’d always go down there and jump. I am surprised that Jim didn’t tell you about that.
JS:Now how did, where did you jump to, toward what is nowhouse?
JF:No, we used to jump toward Charley Berry.
JF:When you came down the hill, you’d be in Charley Berry’s yard. That’s where we’d end up. Of
course there was a lot, there weren’t as many trees then. The hill we had was a good shape. We used to sometimes we had a jump over here on where Doty Smith’s is.
JS:Oh you mean her house.
JF:Her house. Yeah, you’dgo down the back way, and that was pretty good too. It wasn’t quite as
steep, but he used to build a little bigger tower there for us.
JS:You kids all grew up skiing, then.
JF:Oh yeah, we used to go out at night, good gosh, in the moonlight night, we had trail all through
here. Of course there weren’t anybody around, you know, and where ever you wanted to go, you went. You didn’t bother anybody. Moonlight nights we used to go out and have these trails. It was fun. You don’t get that now.
We used to slide to town on our sleds then, because they didn’t plow the roads. They were hard packed. We could get on the sled at, well where Lufkins is and could ride right clean into town. Nobody in your way…
JS:You must have gone so fast.
JF:Oh, you went like heck, but once you got to the church, then you could hop off the side road on
the sidewalk and just keep right on going. Of course it took half a day to get back. Another one we used to go over in back of Lufkins and go down through the woods. We had a trail down through the woods, and you’d come way down on Farnam Road then. That was a little more fun because there were a lot of trees and stuff, but it wasn’t hard packed like the roads, so you couldn’t really use a sled with the little narrow runner. It didn’t look too great.
JS:When you said that the roads were hard packed, how did you get around, certainly not with a
car with hard packed snow?
JS:Oh, my gosh!
JF:You had to be careful, but that’s why people knew how to drive. You had no choice. You had to
learn how or walk.
JS:When did they start plowing?
JF:Well, the plowing wasn’t the bad thing, it was the sand. That’s when everything got ruined, sand
and salt. Gosh I suppose probably war time, or maybe a little after. Of course this stuff goes back to the 30’s, ’36 somewhere in that era. You know so things were a lot different then. But that was fun.
JS:Do you remember any of the inns. That inn that isn’t even a structure anymore that was in
Lakeville? When we moved to Lakeville, it was still up.
JS:Yes, I think so. It was across from Doc Leverty’s kind of.
JS:Yeah, the Gateway.
JF:The Gateway, yeah. Well, let’s see the Gateway annex is where what’s her name…There’s
apartments there now.
JF:Eileen Mulligan is one of them that live there. Dempseys owned it at one point. Yeah, but that
was the annex to the Gateway. The Gateway was where that apartment building is now next to, well, it used to be Harry Ablahadian run a bus thing, remember that? That’s where the Gateway stood. I remember the building.
JS:What happened to it? Just got old and….
JS:Nobody kept it up.
JF:Nobody kept it up, and it just got run down. They eventually tore it down, but I don’t remember
any fire in there.
JS:But at one time it was a summer resort.
JS:Overlooking the lake
JF:Overlooking the lake, yeah,that wasa prime…
JS:And there was no Grovethen,was there?
JS:Just the lake
JF:That’s all. Of coursethe flumewas still there, and the little pond where you skate. No, that was
there but it wasn’t as large as it is now.
JS:Wasn’t there a swinging bridge?
JF:Yup, there was. There was. That went from the Gateway property over. You must remember
JS:I remember that bridge swinging back and forth.
JF:Yeah, because that has not really been gone too awfullylong.
JS:You’d be amazed. It’s probably been gone forty years.
JF:Well, ha-ha of course Wake Robin that hasn’t changed much. They’ve monkeyed around a little,
JS:It is still there.
JF:It’s still there, and it’s basically the same as it was, except they added that little motel wing
down the end.
JS:and the Interlaken had many lives.
JF:Yeah, yeah that was a pretty active place.
JS:So those were really the three here in town.
JF:Well, the White Hart, but that’s Salisbury. Well, that’s all I remember. Well, Lime Rock Lodge
JS:Oh I remember that place.
JF:That’s out of here, too, but that was a pretty nice place and big.
JS:Did you have the parades when you were a kid? Did you have the Firemen’s Parade and the
Fourth of July business and walking to the cemetery?
JF:We had parades. I remember going to Salisbury to stand and watch them. But just what they
were for I would hate to say, but they were probably the same as they are now, I imagine. Fourth of July and now they have Memorial Day, and the Fourth and others.
JS:Do we have a parade on the Fourth; I don’t remember we do any more.
JF:I don’t think so. I remember…
JS:We used to have them because the kids would put red and white paper, red, white and blue
paper in their bike spokes.
JS:No, we havethepicnicat the Grove.
JF:Yeah. We usedtohave carnivals.
JF:Well, I guess the firemen probably sponsored them in those days. They were pretty good. It was
a little bit different theme. Well, I guess the same plays everywhere now that carnivals aren’t like they were. They used to come for a week. Boy that was a big deal had quite a time at them.
JS:Of course you lived here; you didn’t really do much with Salisbury did you, as a child. It was
JF:Salisbury, yeah, they were always the opposing team in baseball and anything else you wanted
to play, Halloween. Yeah we really didn’t get into Salisbury too much. We did go up there to the ski jump, and we monkeyed around there with that kind of stuff. Other than that no, most of the fellows from Lakeville caddied at Hotchkiss School, and the fellows from Salisbury caddied at Hob Nob. You know it was a geographical thing.
JS:Well, of course now you just whip back and forth in your car, but then that was a distance.
JF:Yeah, you didn’t, until you had a bike you were really restricted, and the bike was only god in
JS:Did you ever walk the tracks?
JF:Oh yeah, put pennies on them, and we used to walk the trestle? Do you remember that old
JS:It came down about a year after we moved here.
JF:Yeah, too bad. They took them all down, didn’t they? And now they are going to move the
JF:I’d just as soon they didn’t, might as well take it down as move it.
JS:Too bad. But they need the space. SPINA take care of so many people in town.
JF:Oh I know it.
JS:We’re lucky we’ve got them. Well, my dear have you got anything else you want to tell me?
JF:No, Jim probably told you about all the cars we used to monkey with when we were kids.
JF:Course George was a little older and a little more mechanically minded than any of the rest of
us, but all us kids had cars, from one time or another, old Model T’s. You could buy them for $2 you know. Out here we had a track around here. In fact when we built this house, which was many years after the Model T’s, you could see that track. We didn’t have much gas ’cause we didn’t have any money to buy gas, but we would walk all the way to town, buy a gallon of gas, walk all the way back, put it into the Model T, and just have a ball, ’til it ran out. If it broke down, if we couldn’t fix it, George
generally could. Then down where you live now, Jim and George had tracks every which way. They just had a ball down there. That’s where Jim got the idea for the race track, I am sure, was down there. They would buy a car and cut it down, take the fenders off it. It was a lot of fun. No harm done at all. No one that I ever remember got hurt or smashed into a tree.
We used to be able to at that time we could go from here go over to Town Hill, then you’d go by Belcher’s house where Blagden’s are now, and you’d go out through there and go up that dirt road and you’d be on the road to Sharon. If you were real risqué, you could cross the road and go down Long Pond Road. Everything was dirt then you know, and the policemen weren’t around in such force. You’d need a lot of gas. You had to make £ucfr you had enough gas to get back, but it was…Those were the good old days, I guess for that.
JS:That road that the 911number calls Town Hill Road that goes up to the Blagdens…
JF:Yeah, that’s Town Hill Road.
JS:Didn’t that, that’s the road you are talking about, at one point it did cut through past whatever
that lake is on the left going toward Sharon. (Beeslick Pond) It did go there, didn’t it?
JF:Yup, if fact if you go to Tom Blagden’s now, and when you get to his place, you take a sharp left.
Well, it used to go right straight ahead, and went down to the lower side of that field. You’d go down through that field and you’d get to that area where that pond is, and then you’d go back up the hill, back towards Sharon.
JS:I thought so because it seems to me years ago I saw a sign there that said “Road discontinued”.
JF:Yeah, it was a town road.
JS:Who owns all that huge amount of land there?
JF:I honestly don’t know but I suppose some of it’s probably Blum’s and I would think some of it’s
JS:Yeah, you’re right.
JF:They probably put it together.
JS:So if you walked, you could still do it. You could walk through it.
JF:Well, land owners
JS:But with approval
JF:Yeah, I think you probably could. I am sure the road bed and stuff is still there; been years since I
was over there that way.
JS:Why did they abandon it?
JF:No reason for having it really. It’s like the one over that went by Willie Belter’s, you know that
goes up over the hill to Falls Village. It’s pretty hard to maneuver and no one used it. It cost a lot of money to keep it.
JS:Well, we’ve still got Race Track.
JS:And the dirt roadDark Hollow
JF:And Dark Hollow, of course they close that in the winter, probably a good thing.
JF:I guess so.
JS:OK, my dear, thanks a million.