Transcript of a taped, interview
Narrators Madeline Garrity
Tare #s 11 A&B
Date: March 21 and 28, 1982
Place of interview: Miss Garrity’s home, Walton Street, Lakeville, Ct.
Interviewers Charlotte Bartizek
Miss Garrity was born in Lakeville in 1902. She has lived all her life on Walton Street, and has worked for various local businesses. For many years she offered lodging for overnight guests in her home. Her father, a stone cutter and mason, supervised the work at the quarries in the area of Cleaveland Street. Her memoir includes recollections of her family and her hometown.
1982Property of the Oral History ProgramSalisbury Association and Scoville Memorial LibrarySalisbury, Connecticut 06068
CB: When I was here last time vie talked a little bit about your
father who…. Do you recall where he was from?
MG: Spencertown, New York. My mother was from Sheffield, Massachusetts.
CB: What was your dad’s name?
MG: John, John Garrity. My mother’s name was Ellen.
CB: Now, you said that you were born in this house? Right?
MG: Only left it for six months in all that time and then we were burned out. A man lost his life. So we had to go up street to live, right next to the Lakeville Food Center.
CB: Has this house changed or was it always this way?
MG: No, we lost everything except this desk. So we had to build it all over again. So it took six months to get it all fixed.
CB: When was that—the fire?
MG: In 1937.
CB: How many of you lived in this house? How many brothers and sisters?
MG: I had four sisters and two brothers, but two of them died when they were small.
BB: That was quite a crew!
MG: Yes, but they died when they were small,
CB: So, when you were growing up?
MG: I had two sisters and two brothers.
CB: Were you older than they were?
MG: No, I was the youngest.
CB: You were the youngest?
MG: Well, Dolan was younger than I was.
CB: Who was that?
MG: Dolan Garrity.
CB: That is your brother? Then he was really the youngest. You were second youngest.
MG: Yes, he was the youngest one.
CB: You mentioned your father a little bit and I thought it was interesting that you said that he was a mason.
MG: Yes, he was.
CB: Did he work for himself, Mrs. Garrity?
MG: Yes, he always did work for himself. Then, of course, years ago before we moved here, he lived at the, uh, down Cleaveland Street, down where they got the stone out for when they used to have trains come in they would take the stone out. He had about ten men working for him.
CB: Where is that?
MG: That’s down the end of this street. You go down Farnam Road and cut in. But you can go down here and get into it. That was the quarry.
CB: Oh, there was a quarry here?
MG: He was boss of the quarry.
CB: So he had other people working for him?
MG: Yes, he always had. Then he was the mason contractor. Then when he wasn’t able to do it any longer, my brother did it, Charles Garrity.
CB: Were they in business together?
MG: No, Charles went in when my father quit.
CB: So they took the stone right out of here?
MG: Yes, down there at the quarry.
CB: Do you remember some of the buildings that they worked on?
MG: Well, they had quite a few buildings down there and they had a great big stone down there and everybody that came cut their
name in the stone. I think it is still there. Everybody that came around there, they all cut their names in the stone.
Then when he was cutting the stone for the foundry down here, he cut it for the library in Salisbury and the Searles mansion in Great Barrington. They moved to Great Barrington after they were down there, before they came back here. He did quite a few places in Great Barrington, in Winsted and Norfolk — cut the stone for them. And then he made the water troughs up in Salisbury.
CB: The water troughs?
MG: He made that and then he made the round, you know, those round watering things. There’s one on Wells Hill and there was one at the fire company and there’s one up in Salisbury.
CB: Oh, you mean like the wells that you see along the road that they put in?
MG: And somebody’s very good at covering it up every winter up on Wells Hill. But I don’t know whatever happened to the one at the firehouse. I never see it there anymore, but it has been there for years. He made those three.
CB: All that while you all lived here in Lakeville, in this house? MG: Yes.
CB: Did it always have a second floor?
MG: Yes. We burned out in 1937. A man lost his life.
CB: I was going to ask you a little bit about the school. Did you go to school around here?
MG: Yes, it was up here where the post office is now.
CB: Oh, there was a school there? A different building, I bet?
MG: Different building, and the grammar school was downstairs and the high school was upstairs. I think they got rid of that when they took it down to Lime Rock.
CB: They moved it down there?
MG: They tore it down.
CB: And then you had to go to school in Lime Rock?
MG: I didn’t, but that was in later years.
CB: How old were you when you started school?
MG: Oh, I was about five years old.
CB: Then you went to the school here in Lakeville until you were in what grade?
MG: To the high school.
CB: All through high school, too. Was it a one room schoolhouse?
MG: Oh, no. I think there were three rooms downstairs and three rooms upstairs.
CB: How many teachers did you have there, in that school?
MG: Each grade had one teacher. One teacher did it all.
CB: One grade?
MG: No, not one grade, a whole room, one teacher for each room.
CB: Oh, I see, for each room. But you would have a couple of classes, grades, in that room?
MG: Oh yes, we had regular school, (pause) Yes, everybody in town knew my father.
CB: And your mother — did she stay home mostly and take care of the kids?
MG: Well, she died in 1924.
CB: That’s pretty young.
MG: No, she was 65.
CB: I thought perhaps that there were a lot of younger children left.
By that time you were already 22.
Bad your dad been trained to do mason work?
MG: Oh, yes, he was a stone cutter and then he was trained to do —
He could do everything. He made houses and churches and chimneys, you know, and everything.
CB: Did he work on chimneys for houses?
MG: He did everything. He gave up the stonecutting. I don’t know what year he did it, but he gave up the stonecutting and went into mason work.
CB: They probably didn’t do as much stonecutting anymore?
CB: So, when you were growing up you probably remember when there weren’t any cars around?
MG: There wasn’t very many. No.
CB: Did you have a horse?
MG: Yes, we had horses because my brother was a mail carrier…
CB: For the town here?
MG: … for the town, and so we had two horses and my sister and I had to ride the horses to keep them in shape.
CB: Did you have a wagon?
MG: Yes. We used to drive all around. But we didn’t have a barn, so we used to keep them over at Adolf Bauman’s barn. We had two horses over there. Then my brother had to go to the service so we gave up the horses. Because when he came back he went into mason work.
CB: Your brother did?
MG: Yes, Charles Garrity. (pause, voices inaudible.)
CB: What was it like to be in school back then?
MG: It was nice.
CB: Did you like it?
MG: Yes, it was real nice.
CB: Did you have large classes?
CB: And were a lot of people in that one room?
MG: I think she had three classes in each room…
CB: She had three classes in each room.
MG: …and then you would go…. after you would go to the next room.
CB: When you got older?
MG: As you grew up. They had a convent here where they had a school, convent school. It was taught by the sisters, but I never went there.
CB: Here in town, they had a convent school?
MG: Yes, where Mr. Metz is now, that was for children. The nuns boarded children. Then they had a day school, too. Did you see in the paper the other day? A girl wrote a story. She said her mother went to school there, was in the convent.
CB: No, I didn’t see that.
MG: They came from Hartford. Well, most of the children came from Hartford, but they came from all over.
CB: When you got out of high school, did you go to work?
MG: Yes, I went in the telephone company. But I didn’t stay there very long because I didn’t like it.
CB: Did you know what years that was?
MG: No, I don’t. Then I went to work for a theater and I stayed for many years at the Stuart Theater. Played piano a bit.
CB: Where was that?
MG: That burned down on Christmas Day. I worked there and then before it burned down I went to work for First National. I was with them for twenty-five years. I was fifteen years over here in Lakeville and ten years over in Millerton.
CB: So you really probably got to know a lot of people in the area?
MG: Yes, a lot of children. Those Buckley children — we had them when they were little bitsy children. They were, I guess about five years old, the youngest one, and Douglas used to bring them to the movies all the time.
CB: What did you do? That is Interesting about the theater. What did you do there?
CB: Well, I played the piano. Gladys Bellini and I worked for Mr. and Mrs. Edward Stuart…
CB: They owned the theater?
MG: They owned it. …so we took turns playing the piano and then in later years when the fellow, the people that bought it from Mr. Stuart, and I still stayed with them. So when he went to the service, I did —oh, you know— sold tickets and did a lot of odd jobs. Gladys Bellini and I were both there, and Harry Bellini.
CB: On the piano?
MG: No, Harry just came there because Gladys was there. But Gladys did play the piano.
CB:Did you play for soundless movies?
MG: Yes, and when the talkies came in, we sold tickets.
CB: Well, those were interesting days?
MG: Yes. I stayed with them until it was burned down.
CB: This may sound like a silly question, but where did you get the music to play with those movies? Did the movies come with the music?
MG: No, Mrs. Stuart made it up herself.
CB: Oh, she made it herself. I always wondered about that.
MG: She would get the music and put them down what it was like.
Because if it was a race or something, you had to have something fast. If it was a love story, you had to have something for that. She had everything written down for you. It was just like going to school because she would stay in the back and she’d write it down on a piece of per and then after the movies in the afternoon, she would tell you what was wrong and what was right. But I really enjoyed it.
CB: That sounds interesting.
MG: I was there a good many years. All these kids are grown up. They’d say, “You used to let us in for half price when we shouldn’t get in.” But they looked young and I didn’t know how old they were.
CB: Who taught you how to play the piano?
MG: This lady from Canaan, Miss Pigler. I took lessons from her.
CB: That was handy to have, right?
MG: Yes, but I can’t do it now. We had a piano. When we had the fire, the piano burned up and I never touched it since. Now, I don’t think I would beable to do it again.
CB:Did you have enough room in your house here, for yourself, your parents, and all those brothers and sisters?
MG:Oh, yes, the other house was much bigger than this.
CB:Oh, I see. So this housewas rebuilt after the fire, But the original house was a lot bigger?
MG: It was larger.
CB: A lot larger?
MG: But we’ve taken roomers, I guess, as long as I can remember.
CB: Even when your parents were alive?
MG: Yes. So, it was a much bigger house than this, so when we got burned out, my father died the year before that, when we were
burned out, it was only my sister and I living here. Dolan was married and Charlie was married and my sister, Mary, was married, and so we thought— we said—we weren’t coming back again and my brother said, “Well, you have to do something with it because that place is down there.” So that is why they put in loads of windows all over the house and it’s all cement inside and cement outside. So -we said we weren’t going to take roomers anymore. And so we had two rooms and a bath upstairs and two bedrooms downstairs and a powder room downstairs. People said, “You were foolish. You have to let us come back.” So we started taking them back again, but when we built the house, we didn’t intend to. That’s why it isn’t as large as the other one.
CB: When you were young did you ever go to different places? Did you travel anywhere?
MG: Oh, yes. I traveled all my life. I’ve been to Bermuda three times and I’ve be4n to…. We went to London three times and we have been to Ireland.
CB: When you were young? When you were a child?
MG: Yes, we traveled all the time.
CB: Oh, that is good then, that you had that experience.
MG: We’d go for two weeks.
CB: With your parents?
MG: No, not ’til after my parents died.
CB: After your parents died?
MG: My sister and I used to travel a lot. Used to, you know, close the place up for two weeks. We always went in August.
CB: After you left the theater, the Stuart Theater, did they close down?
MG: It burned.
CB: Oh, it burned down. So then you had to find another job?
MG: Well, that wasn’t really…. Well, we didn’t get too much money working for the theater but Mr. Gottliebsen was staying with us and they were just going to build—they had just built—the First National. So he wanted to know if I wanted a job. So that is how I happened to go to First National. So I was there for twenty-five years.
CB: Here in Lakeville?
MG: Fifteen years here, then when First National moved over to Millerton, I went with them.
CB: And what did you do for them?
CB: Oh, you were a cashier.
MG: I went to work for them in 1942. I worked ’til 1967.
CB: I see they gave you a lovely plaque.
MG: Yes, that’s from the gang over there.
CB: That’s nice. Looks like a stainless steel plaque or plate.
MG: It is.
CB: Oh, yes it says FNS, First National Stores on it. That’s nice.
MG: That’s from the people, the help.
CB: The people that worked there?
MG: Yes, because when I left they gave us a big party In Hartford at the—I forget the name of the hotel there. But they had a big party for everybody that was leaving at that time. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Livsey, he left then, too. He lives across from the school. We went all the way into Hartford. It’s nice. They give you a pension.
CB: One of your brothers was a mailman here in tom.
MG: That was years ago, before he went into service.
CB: What do the other brothers and sisters do?
MG: Well, my sister, she opened the telephone office and she closed it. Forty-three years.
CB: Here in town?
MG: Yes. She worked for the telephone company. She went to Torrington, too. Then they came back here and then Frances Jennie
Stuart, Mrs. William Dempsey, and Ginny Wheeler—they are all Lakeville people—and they went down to Torrington and then they came back, and those five started the telephone company. She was chief operator when she left, when the telephone gave up.
CB: When they closed the office here?
MG: When they closed the office here.
Then my sister, Mary, she worked for Benjamin’s store, the dry goods store. Used to be up there where—let’s see now, there’s a park there now, up next to the old bank…
CB: Right across from the Holley house?
MG: Yes. There was a drug store downstairs and there was a jewelry shop and there was the old thrift shop. We had a thrift shop there. And, oh, there must have been about eight departments, two floors up and Benjamin’s store was there, too.
CB: Was that a general store?
MG: That was a general store.
CB: Oh, I see.
MG: She worked there.
CB: So all of you were really working at the same time in town.
MG: Yes, and then Dolan worked for Bauman’s plumbing business and
then when Mr. Adolf Bauman gave up the building, Dolan bought it.
CB: Which building is this?
MG: Right on the next street. He bought the plumbing business so he has run it ever since.
CB: On Bostwick Street?
MG: Yes, he just sold it because he has a pacemaker. They had to put a pacemaker in. He isn’t very well. So he sold it. Then he sold his house to the Salisbury Bank.
CB: Oh, that was his house that he sold?
MG: Yes, that’s where he lives.
CB: When you were growing up in town, did you always buy your food from the stores?
MG: Yes, you never went out of town to buy anything.
CB: Did you buy anything from the farmers in town?
MG: Yes. I can remember we used to buy flour by the barrel and you’d get a pig and have it butchered. No, we never bought anything out of town.
CB: How about your milk and eggs?
MG: That was from Dave Doty who lived down the end of the street here. He sold milk and cream and we bought all our milk and cream from him. Then when he gave it up, Hiram Bissell, over here on the main street, he used to sell milk and cream.
CB: So the only thing that you bought from the store would be your dry goods?
CB: Like your flour…
MG: That came in barrels.
CB: Did you go shopping to the store once a month or once a week
MG: Well, we didn’t go too often. Once in a while we would go o over to Millerton.
CB: What was there?
MG: There was a dry goods Hawley’s store over there. You know Jack Hawley?
CB: The name is familiar.
MG: I think it was his mother’s store.
CB: And that’s where you buy all your…
MG: Yes, they sold everything there.
CB: But that was when you were really young. And where did you buy your clothes? Did you buy anything by mail? I know mail order catalogs used to be really popular.
MG: Yes, I think my mother used to send for things.
CB: Through the mail?
MG: I think it was—what was the store she used to buy—Sears and Roebucks, I guess it was.
CB: Did she buy things through the catalog?
MG: Through the catalog. Then, of course, when we got a car, then we went to shop. We would go to Great Barrington. But earlier we didn’t.
CB: Can you remember the first car that your family had?
MG: It was a Ford, five passenger Ford.
CB: Like the Model T Ford?
MG: Yes. (pause) I guess everybody in town knows us because we always lived here.
CB: But it’s interesting to know that there was a bigger house here.
MG: Well, you can tell by the walk out there. It doesn’t match.
CB: Did you have two stories on the other house?
CB: Can you remember the names of some of your teachers in school?
MG: No, I don’t think so. Not anymore. That’s a long time ago.
CB: I know. I can hardly remember mine. When they tore this school down, that you went to in Lakeville, then where did you go?
MG: They made a regional high school in Falls Village.
CB: Where did the grammar school children go?
MG: Up to the Central School.
CB: Yes, that would have been right because that building looks like it must have been built around the 1920’s or so.
MG: I never went to either one of those schools. That was before. We had the school up here where the new post office is now.
CB: What was your mother’s maiden name?
MG: Ellen Graney.
CB: From Sheffield. Did you go visit? You must have gone to visit there.
MG: Oh, yes. .My grandfather and grandmother lived on a farm up there.
CB: Right in Sheffield?
MG: No, it was on the outskirts of Sheffield.
CB: How did you get there?
MG: Horse and wagon. Then the boys had one of those two bicycles, you know. What were they called? Tangerines or something?
MG: Yes, that was it. They used to go up on that. They’d take us
CB: Did you ride on the bicycles?
MG: On the back.
CB: On the back, right. The roads were all dirt then?
MG: All dirt then, yes. Vie would have to go up to laconic and then go from Taconic towards Sheffield, that back road, and they had a big farm there.
CB: That was your grandparents then. Then did you ever go to Spencertown to visit your parents, or father’s parents?
MG: No, because my grandmother came to live with us.
CB: Oh, I see. So you really had her here?
MG: His father died and left the grandmother and she came. I think she was with us twenty-two years. She had two daughters, Mrs. James Carr and Mrs. Fitzpatrick, but she wouldn’t live with either one of the daughters.
CB: Where were they from?
MG: They lived up here. Mrs. Carr lived up here where the motel is, in Mrs. Haas’ house. They lived there. You know Mrs. Haas?
CB: I’ve heard that name, too.
MG: Well, they lived there. But she would never go and live with them.
CB: So they all came from Spencertown to live here then?
MG: I don’t know. I don’t remember.
CB: The two daughters did.
MG: They must have.
CB: Well, they would be your aunts, your father’s sisters.
MG: Well, Mrs. Fitzpatrick, she lived in New York and Mrs. Carr lived up here.
CB: In New York City?
CB: So you remember when there were still railroads coming through here?
MG: Yes, up the street here. They had a trestle go across the road, you know. Where the…
CB: Across Montgomery Street?
MG: …it came out there where that white house is now, a trestle crossed there. And I remember we used to have a great time walking across the trestle. The tracks you see down on the end of the street.
CB: Yes, I can see parts of them left over. How often did they come through?
MG: The train took you to Canaan: then you changed at Canaan and went where ever you wanted.
CB: Oh, it was a regular passenger train?
MG: A regular passenger train: it would take you to Millerton, too. I can remember riding on a train to Millerton and Canaan.
CB: How much did that cost?
MG: I don’t remember. I don’t know. I don’t remember how much that was. But I had an uncle who lived in Canaan, Jim Graney, so we used to ride up to Canaan a lot on that train.
CB: It must have been your mother’s brother.
MG: It was.
CB: You would take the train from here to Canaan. That was before the days of the cars.
CB: Good thing those trains were around, huh?
MG: I know it. That was a great trip to Canaan, you know.
CB: Oh, for you, when you were a little girl?
CB: How old do you think you were then?
MG: I must have been around, I don’t know, probably ten.
CB: Yes, that would make it about 1912, so there probably weren’t that many cars around.
MG: No. There were freight trains, too.
CB: That would bring things into tow? They ’would stop and make deliveries?
MG: Oh, sure, and then they had passenger trains, too. I can remember when I was a little girl. We went on the train there and went to Milford down there and in New Haven. I stayed for the summer down there. I went with Mrs. Courtney. She took me down there for the summer. I was only a little girl then.
CB: That is right on the Sound, huh? That is quite a trip for a little girl.
MG: I remember when we got on the train.
Then the post office used to be where the… I think it was down underneath the theater.
CB: Underneath Stuart’s Theater?
MG: Yes, That’s been a good many years ago. I can remember going over there to get the mall.
When we were burned out, this man came to stay overnight and he was moving his family in the next day and his wife was Mrs. Palmer’s sister. So he stayed with us, and her and her boys stayed with Mrs. Palmer. I don’t know why he went out on our screen porch. The dog got us up and when I got up the whole front of the house was gone. We thought we heard someone out there, but then when the fire company came we told them.
They put the water on there and they just found pieces of his bones.
This desk, this is the color of the desk. Did I tell you about it last time?
CB:A little bit.
MG: This is the color of the desk, this here, and these were burned so bad that they’re dark and the sides were burned, and the top of it’s burned. We had a couple of fellows from the White Mountains and they went home that day. They left a prayer book and my sister put the prayer book on the top of this desk. When we had the fire, see, it went around it. See it here. It went around it but it didn’t touch it.
CB: Oh, look at that? That’s interesting.
MG: So- that got in all the papers and we had lots of ministers and things from other places came to see this desk and (several words indistinct) all the people that used to stay with us sent us something. That is why we have got all these dishes in here. (Telephone rings, tape stopped and restarted)
CB: I would just like to get this right. You were the second youngest. You had a younger, a baby brother, who was younger than you?
MG: Yes, Dolan.
CB: Then how many other children were there again?
MG: There was Charles.
CB: Who was oldest?
CB: Mary was the oldest.
MG: They used to call her Mayme Brown. Everybody knew her.
CB: Call her what?
MG: Mayme Brown. She was married and when she got married they called her Mayme Brown.
CB: Oh, Mayme. And then who was there?
MG: Then there was Margaret Garrity, then Helen and Anna. They both died.
CB: What did they die from, Mrs. Garrity.
CB: When they were little? How old?
MG: Oh, they must have been five or six.
CB: Oh, and they died from appendicitis? Didn’t you have a doctor?
MG: Well, that was years ago.
CB: So maybe you couldn’t get them to the doctor quick enough?
MG: I don’t know.
CB: What a shame. They were only five years old?
MG: I think about three and five. One was Anna and the other was Helen.
CB: Who was the doctor in town? Did you have a doctor?
MG: I think it was Dr. Peterson.
CB: Dr. Peterson.
Okay, so there was Mary, then Margaret, then Helen and Anna, who died, and then Charles, and then yourself…
CB: …then Dolan. I just wanted to get that straight,the pecking order, right?
Of course, everything, the things that you wore, were different when you were a little girl, too.
MG: I think I have some pictures of myself, (shuffling papers, looking through pictures) I think I have one in here. Here is a picture of Charles and Margaret and I think It was Anna, or Helen, I forgot.
CB: Everybody wore those dark stockings. How did they hold those stockings up?
MG: I think they had, you know, garters.
CP: Oh, you had garters. Yes. That must have been funny for little kids to wear them.
MG: There’s my grandmother and I.
CB: You had those big bows in your hair.
MG: This is my brother and his wife and my father.
CB: That’s your father?
MG: Yes. That’s their wedding day.
CB: Was it at this house?
MG: No, it was in Pittsfield.
CB: Look at this young fellow. He had those short pants. Tho-t: was your brother?
MG: That was my brother.
CB: Isn’t that baby cute?
MG: That’s me.
CB: You all had these tight curls. (End of side 1. side 2 tape starts after conversation has begun)
MG: They weren’t cement roads. They were dirt roads.
CB: So maybe the dark stockings were better.
MG: That’s a real old picture.
CB: How old do you think you were here? You don’t look more than like six or seven. It doesn’t say.
MG: I don’t think so.
CB: It says here—I can’t tell what that is. It looks like four.
Say four years old.
MG: Yes, four years old.
CB: Four years old. So that would have been 1906. You were four
You were four years old then. Did they have a photographer come and take your picture?
MG: Johnnie Jordan. He used to live down Farnam Road.
CB: He would take everybody’s picture?
MG: He would take everybody’s picture.
CB: Like the town photographer.
MG: Those are nice pictures.
CB: They’re beautiful pictures.
MG: They are so many years old…
CB: And they’re still good
MG: …and they’re still good.
CB: Who’s that?
MG: That’s my brother when he was in the service.
My grandmother lived with us for all those years and she really ruled the house.
CB: Did she?
MG: Yes. She was the boss.
CB: Not your mother.
CB: No, your grandmother.
MG: She was the boss. She had a stick and she used to take the stick at us.
CB: Did she hit you?
MG: No, not hard, but she showed her authority.
CB: What kind of a stick was it?
MG: Just a cane.
CB: Oh, a cane
MG: But she never left. She would never go and live with either one of her daughters. She wouldn’t even go and stay a few days.
CB: She would rather stay here with your mom. She must have liked it here.
MG; I guess she did.
GB: Did you have well water here?
MG; Yes, we had a well down in the cellar and we had a pump down there.
CB: So you would just go downstairs to get your water. You didn’t have to go outside.
CB: That was good. That was before town water?
MG: That was before town water. Yes, we had a regular pump down there. The water was very good.
So this street I really know because I’ve always lived on it, except for the six months that we lived up street.
CB: Now they used to do a lot of…. Well, probably by the time you were a little girl, you probably don’t remember much of the iron industry.
MG: Over on Ore Hill?
MG: I remember some of it.
CB: What were they doing down there then?
MG: They had…. Oh, you know, they were down under the ground over there.
CB: Oh, they were?
MG: Then they had one up here—an ore bed they called it up here where the motel is now, too.
CB: That they worked on?
MG: I just barely remember that.
CB: They would take the rocks out?
MG: I think it was more ore because they called it ore beds. It was more the ore. Where the rocks were was down here on Cleaveland Street.
CB: Oh, I see what you mean. And they would take that ore out and ship it out?
MG: Yes, because you see the train went through here.
CB: So they put it on the train. (Telephone rings, tape stopped and restarted) Well, I guess we pretty much covered it all.
I tell you what we talked about most of the things that I can think of. But why don’t you just tell me about things that you remember about when you were growing up?
MG: Well, years ago they used to have a place over on Ore Hill where they had basketball games. So they had basketball teams here years ago, over there where Arnoff’s garage is now. Everybody went to them. We had up there where the Lakeville Food Center is, Bert Roberts had on the top floor: he had a big dance hall, a stage and everything. They used to put on shows there and movies. Before they went over to the Stuart Theater, they had movies up there.
MG: Oh yes. Then they had a big room where they used to hold dinners. Downstairs they had Bert Roberts’ store. He had a store that sold everything, you know. He sold clothes and he sold groceries and he sold everything. But that was burned out
CB: Did you go to the dances?
MG: Yes. We had a good time.
2^ – Garrity
CB: Did they have them each week?
MG: About every week they’d have some.
CB: Sounds like the Grange things.
MG: I don’t remember who put them on, but I know they did have them there.
CB: All the young people were there?
MG: They all…. The young people went. It was nice.
CB: What kind of dancing did you do?
MG: Well, they had the fox-trot and the waltz. And now we think it’s awful, the kids are so crazy, but they had that—what did they call it—some kind of a dance that was pretty lively.
CB: The Charleston?
MG: The Charleston. That would be it. That wasn’t very peaceful.
CB: Which one did you like?
MG: I liked the waltz and I liked the fox-trot. And then where the Masons is now, they had a hall there and they called it a Friendly Club. It was a club, you know. They used to put on dances and parties and everything, too, dinners, up there.
CB: Did your family go to church in town?
MG: Yes, we went to the Catholic Church.
CB: That convent school that you mentioned that was here in town, was that a Catholic school?
MG: Yes, that was Catholic. That was run by the nuns. Then after the nuns left here, they used to have summer children: children come from Hartford In the summer to board. They kept them there all summer. Then finally the nuns left.
CB: The nuns were from Hartford?
MG: I think they were. There were quite a few of them six or eight of them. It was quite a big place, because now Mr.
25 – Garrity
Metz has a lot of apartments in there.
CB: They had habits? Did they have black habits?
MG: Yes, the black habits and the veils.
Then the schoolhouse, the Catholic schoolhouse, was that two rooms right next to Mr. Metz. Now they made it into two apartments. That always used to be the Catholic school. Most everybody around here always went to Catholic school. I don’t know why, but I never went. I don’t remember why, but I know I never went.
CB: Did you all go swimming in the summer?
CB: Where did you go swimming?
MG: At the lake Lake Wononscopomuc.
CB: How do you say that?
MG: Lake Wononscopomuc.
CB: That’s a different pronunciation.
MG: I think it was Indian, wasn’t it? We didn’t pay to go over there then. We just walked in.
CB: Quite a change.
MG: We just walked in.
My father was a great skater, so he had us all out skating every winter. Every winter he had us over on the lake. CB: Did he do any ice fishing?
MG: No, he never went fishing?
CB: But he liked to skate with all of you.
MG: He always used to take us to the movies.
CB: Sounds like you had a pretty nice father.
MG: Oh, yes, I did. Yup, he was. He would take some of the neighbors’ kids along with him. We used to have great times.
CB: you must have had a lot of friends in the neighborhood.
MG: We did. My mother was a great one for having..,. In the afternoon she would have several people in for tea. All the neighbors used to come in. Then there were these three women from Hotchkiss School and they would come a couple times a week. Different people up street would come down. She liked to have company.
CB; Which way was up street?
MG: This way.
CB: This way?
MG: She was a great one for entertaining people. She had loads of friends.
CB: You must have gotten to know all the people in town.
MG: Now, we don’t know anybody. But then, we knew everybody.
There wasn’t anybody that you didn’t know. If something was the matter with one, everybody helped them.
CB: Everybody would know about it.
MG: We never wanted for anything. They didn’t charge like they do now.
CB: You mean for services, like doctors and nurses?
MG: We had a nurse service. I know Christmas time she used to bring a stocking for my grandmother and they had everything you could think of. She’d have oranges, everything in that stocking. She always got her stocking on Christmas Eve from the village nurse. Miss Van Cleft lived up there on Lakeview Avenue.
CB: And then you had that one doctor?
MG: Dr. Peterson. He was here a good many years.
CB: Did you have a selectman or mayor?
MG: Yes, Abe Martin. He was wonderful for quite a while.
CB: What was he?
MG: He was the selectman. He ran a garage up where the garage is now…up near the post office.
CB: The Mobil station?
MG: Yes, that’s where he lived. His house was there, too. And they moved his house down… the first house down on the right hand side… down Pettee Street over there. He had a garage there. He took care of everybody in town, I guess. Everybody knew Abe Martin.
CB: Would he take care of their cars?
MG: Yes. But this street hasn’t changed any.
CB: Probably just a few new houses and that’s about all.
MG: Well, just a few down the very end of the street. Up here all the houses look the same, except the house next door.
Jack Lenahan lived there. He used to drink. He saw the men coming out of the house. He thought he saw the men coming out: then he set the house on fire and burned the house. So then when they had to build it up—it hadn’t been built only a few years—when they were selling it, my brother bought it. He made a house out of it and then he sold it to the Griffens. But he bought it because we didn’t know what kind of house anybody would put there and it would be right in my yard.
They had another fire. I don’t remember when It was, 1943, 1946. No, 1964, I think it was. They burned the whole top of the upstairs off. This fellow dropped a cigarette between the cushion and an arm of the chair.
I had an old lady come in to stay overnight and it was in the summertime and she had the room across from him. He
left and that was smoldering and when she came in, I opened up that room and at the same time, at quarter to three in the morning, we had a fire, same time as the time before.
CB: Strange. Well, we talked about just about everything.
MG: I think so.
CB: How did you wash your clothes? Did you have to wash everything by hand?
MG: Well, my mother had an old-fashioned washing machine that you had to use with some kind of a stick and you would run around and around. And then, of course, later years we had electric but we didn’t have it earlier.
CB: You had to do everything by hand?
CB: That was some chore?
MG: yes, quite a job. And then, of course, my mother had it kind of hard because she had…. My brother lived in New York and he had two boys and a girl and every summer he’d bring them up here and keep them all summer.
CB: Two boys and a girl?
CB: Oh, my goodness, three extra children! That was some gang.
MG: She kept them all summer.
CB: Oh, my goodness.
MG: There was George and Harold and Margaret. And now this Margaret, she turned…. She is blind and she lives alone. But the people in the apartment house where she lives take care of her. She spent every summer up here.
CB: That must have been fun to have all those kids together.
Did you get into a lot of trouble?
MG: Yes, we did. One didn’t want to do something, the other
didn’t want to do something?
CP: You must have had some adventures.
MG: One week…. My mother settled that. One week Margaret had to do the dishes and one week I’d have to do the dishes. Divide it up. She kept them every summer.
CB: She was pretty courageous to do that I think.
Lest time that I was here we talked about—you mentioned a men who came for many years and was a guest.
MG: Thirty-eight years.
CB: And then he didn’t come last year.
CB: How come?
MG: He had trouble with something. He called me up (tape indistinct)
CB: So now he feels that he can come back.
MG: We’ve been taking them as long as I can remember.
CB: Visitors and guests?
MG: Uh huh.
CB: In the guest house here?
MG: Yes, we started…. Oh, I don’t know. We got burned out in 1937 and we were taking them for quite a few years before that.
CB: Have you ever had any interesting people? I’m sure they were all interesting, but have you had any notable people?
MG: No, I don’t think so.
CB: Were they just mostly ordinary vacationers?
MG: Yes. They were parents from the Salisbury School and Hotchkiss School and the motel.
CB: They were parents from Salisbury School, Hotchkiss School and the motel?
MG: Yes, and the White Hart.
CB: You would take the extra guests that couldn’t be accommodated.
MG: We took them from Ragamont, too.
CB: So over the years you must have seen quite a few different people.
MG: Oh, yes, we did.
CB: Did you ever see anyone that you thought might be pretty well-known?
MG: Well, of course, you don’t ask them any questions when they cone so you don’t really know.
CB: You don’t really know who they are?
CB: Yes, l see.
MG: But they were Salisbury School and Hotchkiss School parents.
We always took them.
CB: You talked a little bit about the town, the way it was years ago. Do you recall people by the name of Goderis brothers?
MG: Yes. They lived on the next street.
CB: Did they own a store in town?
MG: Yes, they owned a meat market.
CB: Did you know them?
MG: Yes, they owned the meat market next to the laundromat. That was their meat market.
CB: What were they like? I understand they were very interesting people.
MG: Yes. There were two girls and two boys. They lived on the next street. Ernie just died not very long ago in Canaan. They were nice people. Did you know them?
CB: No, I didn’t. It was mentioned to me that they were kind of interesting people in the community.
MG: They came from Belgium.
MG: I think so.
CB: They were not Americans, Native Americans?
MG: No. Well, I don’t know. Probably they were, but not their father and mother.
CP: I see. The father and mother came from Belgium.
MG: I think that’s where they came from. I’m not sure, but I think that’s where they came from.
Years ago, on the next street, they used to have like a circus. There weren’t as many houses over there as there are now. They used to have, you know, pretty good times over there.
CB: They’d have a fair or circus?
MG: Yes, kind of a circus, they used to have. They used to have fairs over there. Now, of course, all the houses are built up over there.
CB: Is that where the tennis courts are now?
CB: In that field, baseball.
I was also asked to ask you about Isabel Decker.
MG: She lives in Salisbury.
CB: Did you know her?
MG: Oh, yes. You see, my sister was in the telephone office.
She opened it and she closed it. She was there 43 years.
So Isabel used to work for her. When the Lakeville office closed, then Isabel went down to Torrington.
CB: I see.
MG: She’s only been retired, I guess, about a year now.
CB: Do you remember her coming to your house?
MG: Well, she used to live up there as you are going up to the Catholic Church. My sister lived in a house across from the laundromat and Isabel lived two doors up above them. So that’s where Isabel’s mother and her brother lived.
CE: What was she like, Isabel?
MG: Well, she is a nice girl, kind of tall and skinny. She lives in Salisbury in one of those trailers. I imagine you could get a lot of information from her.
CB: Now, there also was a store called the Boardman Co. store?
MG: Yes. My sister worked for them. That was up across from the Williams house…
CB: The Holley-Williams house.
MG: …and, that was quite a few apartments upstairs, and downstairs there was Boardman’s and a drug store, Leverty’s Drug Store.
And then there was a thrift shop and a jeweler’s shop down in the basement. That was a big place. That was torn down.
CB: You started out working for First National Foods and afterwards you worked at Stuart Theater. Right?
MG: Yes, I was with the Stuart Theater and then, oh I was a couple of years in the telephone company. But I didn’t stay there. Then I went to work for…. Mr. Gottliebsen was staying with us here. And they were opening up the First National. He asked me if I wanted a job so I went to work for him, worked twenty-five years. I worked fifteen years here in Lakeville and then I went to Millerton with then and I worked ten years over in Millerton.
CB: So you always worked for the stores?
MG: Twenty-five years.
CB: You were like a cashier there?
CB: Did you have a—what do you call them?
MG: You mean like they are now? Yes.
CE: There were always counters.
MG; Not up here in Lakeville, there wasn’t. There was just one big counter across and then the cash register was on that.
CB: Cash registers. That’s the word I was thinking of. So you always had cash registers as long as you can remember.
MG: Oh, yes. Well, they have for twenty-five years, since I have been working for them.
CB: But the prices of food must have changed a lot?
MG: Oh, my goodness. When you go over and see it now.
CB: Can you remember, when you first started working, how much things cost?
MG: Mo, I can’t remember. But they weren’t very expensive. Of’ course, people weren’t getting the wages then either.
CB: That’s true. How much would you pay for milk then? Did you carry milk then?
MG: Oh, sure. I don’t remember how much we did charge for it.
(Sounds, of going through pictures) I think we took a picture or something. We had a flood here, you know, in 1955 and one more step into my kitchen and the water would have been right in it.
CB: Oh, my goodness from the brook here probably?
MG: Yes. It was a bad flood. Well, it was all over. That’s the way we used to have snow.
CB: That looks a little bit like this year.
MG: This is a picture I had. That’s a shrine in Ireland. This is when we opened the Millerton store.
That whole crowd was over there then.
This house next door here…. Jack Lenahan, he used to drink pretty heavy, and this was his house. So one day he started, set the house on fire and he burned the whole house down.
CB: He burned his own house down? What was he trying to do, do you think?
MG: He said he was trying to get the…oh, he saw all these people in the house. He was going to get all these people out of his house. So he burned it down.
When we were on one of our ships going across, this ship was lost and so our ship, instead of going on, we stayed there and kept going around trying to find it. So we had quite a time.
My sister-in-law, she worked at the Town Hill School at the Hotchkiss School and she was up there forty-three years. CB: What was her name?
CB: Oh, Connie Garrity. She was a teacher and a head mistress of the Town Hill School?
MG: Yes, forty-three years. When she left they gave her $1,000 spending money and gave them two weeks trip to London.
CB: Isn’t that nice?
MG: That was nice.
CB: She was your brother’s wife, right?
MG: Yes, my brother’s wife.
Every year I used to go on vacation. But, of course, now since I been sick, I can’t go. But I went every year.
CB: Who were some of your childhood friends from around town?
MG: Well, let’s see Elizabeth Haas, Hazel Flynn, Lois Evarts, Elizabeth Bartle and Caroline Judd.
CB: Those were girls that you grew up with in town?
CB: Were there always a lot of people that came in during the summer time?
MG: Oh, yes, we always had…
CB: Summer people?
MG: …summer and winter both. Because we had Salisbury School and Hotchkiss School for the winters and then summer time, we had summer people.
CB: What would the summer people do mostly?
MG: Vacations. They’d go to Tanglewood. They’d go to the lake.
Things like that. I have been busy right up until before I
was sick. Of course, I haven’t been since I was sick. Before I was sick, I still took people.
CB: So you figure that you really had your guest house since 1937?
MG: Oh, as long as I can remember.
CB: Way before even…
MG: Oh, yes, it must have been fifteen years before that.
CB: Do they still call you from the hotels?
MG: Yes, they do. Well, they did before I got sick, but not since
I got sick. But before I got sick they did.
CB: You never really get to know the guests that much? You sort of leave them alone.
MG: No, you don’t really get acquainted too much with them.
CB: Is there anything else, Mrs. Garrity that you would like to talk about, like you might enjoy talking about, that you haven’t talked about?
MG: I don’t know. I used to work up to the elections every year.
I’d go to work at 5 o’clock in the morning and stay until 9 o’clock at night. Then the American Legion brings in the supper. I used to make all the rolls for the supper. I did that right up until I got sick, last year—the year before.
I thought it was very nice of them. The first year I was sick, they sent me a great big basket of fruit. I used to go every year. Mrs. Charles Parsons used to come and get me, 5 o’clock in the morning and we would stay all day.
CB: This was on voting day. What would you do?
MG: Work the booths.
CB: Check off the names?
MG: No, you would press the button every time someone wanted to vote.
CB: Open the curtains?
MG: Open the curtains.
CB: What political party are you?
CB: You’re a Democrat. Always been?
MG: Uh huh.
The library is really beautiful now.
CB: Oh, it’s fixed up.
MG: Don’t you like it?
CB: Oh, I do. It is lovely, a real improvement.
MG: Of course we’ve known a lot of people because my sister was in the telephone office and my other sister was in the store until she got married. And of course, I was in the movies and then the store. So really, you know a lot of people.
CB: Everyone in town?
MG: Uh huh. Now you go over to Millerton and you know all the customers but you’ve forgotten their names. They know you.
CB: Do you have any interesting stories? I’ll bet your sister and yourself came home with crazy stories of those days.
MG: Well, sort of forgotten them. It was nice to take Quests because somebody always knew the people. One time we had a man…. A fellow and a girl came that just came from a wedding, they had just got married and they came and they stayed a couple days. Then, the next week the man came back again and he had a girl with him. He said, “Can I stay?” My sister said, “No. You were here last week, but you had a. different girl.” He said, “Well, we are twin brothers.” So she wasn’t going to keep him because she thought he was the same man.
CB: He came with two different girls?
MG: No, they were twins.
CB: They were twins. Oh, they really were.
MG: They were twins.
CB: How did you find that out?
MG: He showed us the paper.
CB: And she thought it was the same person with a different girl every week as a bride.
MG: Yes. We have had a lot of people that have homes around the lake now that used to stay with us.
CB: Like whom, for instance?
MG: Well, like Mrs. Hope. She stayed with us until she bought a place. I can’t think of all their names but a lot of people you know, that years ago came here to get homes and stayed with us.
CB: And they liked it here.
MG: I met a lady the other day and she said she used to stay with me years ago. But I had forgotten her. But she said that she had stayed. So we had a lot of them come up like that, then they’d buy houses.
CB: Did you have fishermen come up, too?
CB: It’s a good lake to fish in.
MG: Oh, yes. A lot of them go to Twin Lakes.
SB: Twin Lakes?
MG: They like it up there. We have them over here to the lake, too.
CB: Did they ever bring their fish back?
MG: Yes, they gave us a lot of fish. They have to put the fish in my ice box, so they would always leave me fish when they go. We had a lot of fishermen.
I had one nan. He must have been in his eighties. He and his wife used to come up about every week. They were from New York and they had a farm up in_______. So when his wife
died, he then sold the farm. But he would come up: stay with us just the same. He was here for a good many years.
CB: You wouldn’t fix them food or anything?
MG: We did him. After his wife died, he would eat with us. He was kind of lonesome, didn’t know what to do with himself: so he used to come up from New York.
It was nice working at First National. They were a very good company to work for. So when Lakeville gave up, I went to work for Millerton.
CB: How did you get over to Millerton?
MG: Well, I used to go with a man from Canaan, Bob___ . I had
to leave at 6 a.m. He used to have to go at 7 o’clock in the morning because…. And then I didn’t have to go to work ’til nine. So I used to spend that time over at Millerton at the store. But that was the only way I could get back and forth. Of course, I have a car but I can’t drive it. My sister wasn’t ready to go at the time I was. So she drove the car and I didn’t. Then she died.
We had an Oldsmobile and she had just paid the last payment on it. Then she died. The first of April, I think she died. One sister died in March and this sister died in April. Last payment on the car was the first of April and she died the twelfth of April. The car’s been ever since out in the garage and of course, I can’t drive it. I. always kept it licensed and then different people would drive it for me.
CB: So the store in Millerton was open from 9 o’clock until…? What time did it close?
MG: Six at night, nine to six. And then on Friday nights, it was 9 o’clock.
CB: When you first started to work here In Lakeville, what time was the store open?
MG: Nine o’clock.
CB: Until when?
MG: Until 6. On Friday night it would be 9 o’clock. I used to work with__girl. When I went to work for First National, I had to go to school in Hartford, (tape ran out)