This is Jean McMillen interviewing Alice Gustafson at her home, Windfield, 210 Belgo Road, on Wednesday June 29, 2011.
JPM:Alice, what is your full name?
AG:Alice Louise Luchs Gustafson
JPM:Where were you born?
JPM:Month and day?
AG: December 15, 1919
JPM:Alice, how do you spell your last name, your maiden name?
AG:Luchs, it is of German background. During the war my mother decided she was not going to have a German last name, and changed it to Lukes. Didn’t ask anybody, didn’t go to any official name change place, but that was what I was from then on.
JPM:Why did you and you mother move to Lime Rock (in 1927)?
AG:Because the doctors told her to get out west to Arizona where the climate was hot, or she should go up to the hills in the Berkshires because the climate was better there than on Long Island. (Her mother had asthma.)
JPM:You did not stay full years in Lime Rock did you?
AG:No, we stayed from April 15th to Nov. 15th; that’s when I went to school there. From Nov.15 until April 15th we were in Florida. I went to school down there.
JPM:After you left the Lime Rock School, where did you go to school?
JPM:Do you remember the teachers you had in Lakeville?
AG:Miss Wilson, I only had one teacher there.
JPM:And she was?
AG:Miss Wilson, grade six.
JPM:And then you went to the high school, where?2.
AG:Where the elementary original building is now.
JPM:The Lower Building (Salisbury High School 1929-1939).
AG:Yeah, Lower Building
JPM:Do you remember the teachers you had in high school?
AG:7th grade Miss Holkam, 8th grade Miss Allyn, first year high Miss Crofton, 2nd year Mr. Fitts, 3rd year Mr. smith, and 4th year Miss Gordon, who later became Mrs. Fitts. (see tape 16A)
JPM:And the Principal at the high school was?
JPM:Can you tell me a little bit about your friend Elizabeth Goodwin?
AG:Elizabeth Goodwin lived on Dugway Road in Falls village/Lime Rock. She and her brother lived, (120/126 Dugway Road) used to come to school. Their father used to bring them for the most part, unless the weather was bad and then they used to stay home, because it was a long way to where the bus stopped. The bus stopped in front of the Lime Rock School on Rt.112.
JPM:What was Elizabeth’s brother’s name?
AG:Hezekiah Erastus Goodwin IV.
JPM:How were they connected with the Ensign family?
AG:I believe they were cousins; she was a cousin. To tell you the truth I don’t exactly know, but my understanding is that the Ensigns were related to the Goodwins somehow or other. Maybe Mrs. Goodwin was an Ensign. You could find that out by looking at the records in the Lime Rock church (Trinity).
JPM:How do you spell the Ensign name?
JPM:You told me something about a Memorial Day Parade.
AG:My mother decided that we should have a Memorial Day Parade in Lime Rock. Nobody had had one as far as she knew or anybody else knew so she gathered the children from our end of the town (Norton/Wells Hill area). There were hardly any children down on the Main Street. We started off from our house (first two houses on right going up Wells Hill toward Lakeville). She got each of them a flag, and we marched down single file all the way to the cemetery. This must have been in 1928 or 1929.
JPM:Did you have any spectators watching the children?
AG:Not until we got down into town, and of course the parents around in Coppertown (Norton/Wells Hill area) all said good bye, but nobody marched down with us, except my dog.
JPM:No floats, no band, just kids with flags.
AG:That’s right, and I remember we sang a few songs, but that got a little tiresome, so we just marched. We had a good time. Nobody dropped out, and I think the youngest must have been about 5. It was probably Roddy McDowell, who was the youngest McDowell boy.
JPM:Do you remember anything about Dard Hunter’s paper business?
AG:I remember about Dard Hunter.
JPM:Well, tell us about Dard Hunter.
AG:The paper business as far as I know, Dard Hunter Sr. bought the Lime Rock mill at a very reasonable price. He brought over the Robertson family from England; with them came Len Godding who married…
JPM:Emily (The Robertson family came from Little Chart, Kent, and Len Godding was born in Maidstone, Kent. He married Gladys Emily Robertson in Lime Rock on June 7, 1933.
AG:They worked in the mill making the paper the old handmade way, but it was a time when money was not flowing freely, and he was not making money; he was losing money, so he closed the mill, and I guess sold it. I am not sure.
JPM:Her name was Gladys Emily.
AG:Gladys Emily, Gladys was the name she came by. That was the name everybody knew her by.
JPM:Do you know where Dard Hunter went from Lime Rock?
AG:I sure do. He went to Boston. He had an apartment on Beacon Street. MIT gave Dard a wing or a floor of one of their buildings, and he had a very interesting and well visited paper exhibition up there of handmade paper. They were there for quite a few years. (1939-1954) Dard Sr. and his wife sort of lived separately. She was a Cornell; they have one son Cornell Hunter, and then they had Dard Hunter, two boys. They had a home in Chillicothe, Ohio, which we visited.
JPM:Then the paper exhibition went from MIT to Wisconsin, and now it’s down in Atlanta, Georgia. (It moved to Appleton, Wisconsin as part of the Institute of Paper Chemistry; later it was part of the Robert C. Williams Paper Museum at the Institute of Paper Science and Technology at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia.)
JPM:When you were a younger woman, you worked in the area, and you worked at the Interlaken Inn. Do you have any memories of that?
AG:Oh sure. I tell you what I did. I worked at the Lakeville Journal the first winter of the war. I honestly can’t remember whether I worked there first or the Interlaken. I sort of have a feeling maybe I worked at Interlaken after that. Because I got it, one of the couples that came to the Interlaken, the man had introduced me to somebody in New York. I took a job; I took a Dictaphone course of a week, and I got a job. But aside from that, Interlaken was owned by the Percys, husband and wife. They closed up in the winter, but they were gung-ho in the summer. They had lots of people who came up there every year. I remember I was just there the one summer. I remember a woman writing and saying, I don’t know why this sticks in my mind. She wrote and said,” Dear Mrs. Percy, I and mother are wanting to come up here for the summer.” I thought I and Mother! Who would say I and Mother? I couldn’t wait until she came, and she was a perfectly nice woman. Why she put I and mother I’ve never forgot it. Mrs. Percy was wonderful. I was a very poor shorthand specialist; I was even worse as a typist, but she put up with me all summer. I had a grand time. It was the first I ever met Dr. Gudernatch’s parents. He was a very well known doctor. His parents came up, and his mother and father were lovely people. I met so many nice people up there that I loved the job. I think I got paid $25 a week.
I had another job as secretary to Dr. Neilson. I used to go up on Brinton Hill three mornings a week to do his letters for him. He was the most patient man in the whole world.
JPM:Now you told me how you got that job with Dr. Neilson.
AG:I got it through an ad in the paper. I called that number, and I found out who it was. There was no name in the paper. He said he’d be delighted to have me, and he gave me his name and address. He said something like when could I start. When I found out who it was, I said I don’t think I can come. I don’t remember exactly what I said. Anyway I assured him that I couldn’t possibly come. After I hung up, my mother said,”What did he say?” “Well, he asked me to come.” “And what did you say?”” I don’t want to go up there; he’s past President of Smith College.” “You go right back and tell him that your plans have changed, and that you can come.” So my mother pushed me into that job. They were wonderful people. His wife used to come every time I was there; she would come in the middle of the morning with some lovely thing to drink and eat. One time she was away, shopping I guess, and I found Dr. Neilson in the kitchen. He was scrimmaging around; he had cupboard doors open. I indicated that I didn’t know what he was doing. ” I am trying to find things; I am having a friend for coffee.” “Well, let me help you. What can I do?” Lo and behold it was Felix Frankfurter, the Supreme Court Justice who was coming, so we all had coffee and whatever it was in the kitchen.
JPM:You were very impressed.
AG:Yes, extremely so.
JPM:When and where were you married?
AG:Lime Rock Trinity Church, June 12, 1948 @1:30. I was supposed to be married at 1:00, but my mother refused to get dressed. She actually wasn’t going to get dressed. She didn’t want me to marry Herbert, and she just dawdled and dawdled. Finally I said to her, “I’m going to go there.” I got down there, and the church was full of people; we had a full church, absolutely packed. The poor organist whose name I do not remember had evidently played everything she knew through about four times.
JPM:Did you have a bridal party? Matron of Honor/ Bridesmaids?
AG:Matron of Honor was Marjorie Richardson Sawallis, the daughter of the Barnum/Richardson enclave. She was the daughter of Milo and Edith Richardson. (After the tape Alice spoke about lovely picnics on the lawn of the Milo Richardson property.)
AG: No, I didn’t have any bridesmaids. We had several groomsmen, but they weren’t from around here.
JPM:What can you tell me about Lime Rock Church?
AG:Lime Rock Church only operated in the summer. They had stopped that by the time we got married, but I mean when I was a child. We had a succession of part time ministers. One was Harold Sedgwick whose family was in Sharon for I don’t know how many years. But they were part of the Stockbridge Sedgwicks. He father used to be the American minister in Rome, American minister for the Episcopal Church in Rome. He had a brother Charles, and I thought he was just too good to be true, but he was a movie actor. I think he was only in two movies, and then they sort of bowed out. He wasn’t a huge success. He was in “The Charge of the Light Brigade”. I just thought he was the be and end all. He was not a great actor. I must say I don’t think he was impassioned over me as I was over him.
AG:That’s right. Exactly.
JPM:Do you remember the CC camps that were here during the Depression?
AG:Yes, they weren’t right around here thought; the one I remember was on top of Goshen Mountain, or whatever that mountain is called (on Route4 south), because we used to see them ride around in their trucks. If we went up that way, you could always tell that there was activity back there, but there never was any camp right around this area that I remember.
JPM:Do you know what kind of work they did while they were in this camp? Were they clearing trails, or forestry?
AG:I think most of it was because, but I don’t really know.
JPM:Do you have anything that you would like to add to this interview?
Did I tell you when we drove (you and I did) into the school (at the foot of Salmon Kill road on the right side of Rt. 112) that there was a sign on the front door that said,”No School”. I thought that was very clever.
JPM:That had been a dress shop after the school closed. Do you know when that school closed?
AG:Well, it would have had to close when the school here took elementary students. Mrs. Kipp taught there from 1929-1939, but I don’t remember her. Who told you Mrs. Kipp?
JPM:It’s in the exhibition at the Academy Building. You’re just going to have to go and check it out.
AG:I am. I wish you’d come with me.
AG:I could point out to you the different people maybe, and maybe I can get another idea.
JPM:Alright. Thank you very much Mrs. Gustafson for your interview.