Transcript of a taped interview.
Narrator: William Hallihan.
Tape: # 106 A
Date: November 14, 1996
Place of interview: Mr. Hallihan’s home at 3 Highland Lane, Canaan, CT. Interviewer: Bee Nickerson.
Mr. Hallihan recalls everyday life for a young boy growing up in Lakeville – the schools and teachers; recreation and area activities, especially the basketball league & skiing; the opportunities available for work. He describes the buildings along Main Street in Lakeville and mentions the Holley knife factory. He remembers very well the golf course that was built by a Mr. Fulton along Route 41, called Hob Nob Hill.
Property of the Oral History Project.Salisbury Association at Scoville Memorial Library.
Salisbury, CT 06068.
INTERVIEW OF WILLIAM HALLIHAN
November 14, 1996
Interviewer: Bee Nickerson
At his home at 3 Highland Lane, in Canaan, CT
B.N.: Mr. Hallihan, would you give me your birth date?
W.H.: February 2nd, 1912
B.N.: And where were you born?
W.H.: Syracuse, New York
B.N.: Syracuse, New York, and when did you come to Lakeville?
W.H.: Shortly after I was born.
B.N.: Did you? Was it a few months, or years?
W.H.: Less than that, even. Probably a, maybe a month.
B.N.: Can you give me your parents’ names?
W.H.: My father’s name was Patrick Hallihan, my mother’s name was Bridget Hallihan.
B.N.: Do you know her maiden name?
B.N.: Where were they born?
W.H.: Well, my mother was born in Ireland and my father was born around Lakeville.
B.N.: Oh, he was born around Lakeville.
B.N.: I know that you said earlier that you didn’t know their birth date. You have a rough idea of how old they were when you were born?
W.H.: I don’t think I can tell you that.
B.N.: All right. Where did you live here in Lakeville?
W.H.: On the Milmine estate. My father was caretaker there. That’s up near Hotchkiss School.
B.N.: Is that now a low building that’s kind of gray with white trim?
W.H.: Yes. It’s been purchased by some group over there, and I think they’re having dancing school there. It’s on the left side, just before you get to the Hotchkiss property.
B.N.: Dancing school, is that a change? How much of the change is that since when your family was there?
W.H.: Altogether different, because we just lived there because my father was a caretaker and this group now have just taken it over recently, and I can’t remember the name of the group.
B.N.: Did you have brothers and sisters?
W.H.: I have two sisters. One died two years ago and the other is living in California.
B.N.: Are they older or younger than you are?
W.H.: The one that passed away was older and the other one is younger. By two years.
B.N.: Where did you go to school?
W.H.: Well, first of all was a parochial school in Lakeville.
B.N.: Oh was there?
W.H.: Yes. Do you know where the Masonic building is in Lakeville?
W.H.: Well , it’s the building on the Lakeville Center side of town. I think there’s a roadway that goes between the two buildings. And, on the top of the hill was a convent. It was a parochial school and
B.N.: On top of the hill where St. Mary’s is?
W.H.: Yes. Well, in back of where the school was. I don’t know exactly what goes on there now, whether it’s apartments or what, but it’s a big building.
B.N.: You recall the name of the school?
W.H.: St. Mary’s.
B.N.: St. Mary’s. Let’s just talk for a minute and let me check. What did the school building look like then, do you recall?
W.H.: Just the same as it looks now, except the color is different.
B.N.: Do recall the color?
B.N.: Did your sisters also go to St. Mary’s?
B.N.: And, which teachers do you recall from the school?
W.H.: They were nuns. I don’t remember their names. That’s a long time ago.
B.N.: Were there any teachers that you recall, not so much their names, but the kind of people they were, the way they taught ?
W.H.: Well, all they were great people and they were quite strict. Didn’t do as they said, they were sent up to the priest.
B.N.: And what happened then?
W.H.: I don’t remember. I don’t know, I guess he straightened them out.
B.N.: I take it from what you said that you never visited the priest.
W.H.: Oh yes. I did. Very close. And all the priests over there, they were a pretty nice bunch of guys. And the nuns were nice too.
B.N.: But strict, as you said. Now, when you say strict, what you mean?
W.H.: Well, there was no fooling around and if someone really didn’t obey, the nun would get a big ruler out and you had to put your hand out there, and she would hit you a good many times with it.
B.N.: Rap you on the palm of your hand?
W.H.: On the palm of your hand, yes .
B.N.: What subjects were taught in school at that time?
W.H.: Gee, I don’t remember. That was so many years ago, but I can imagine writing, reading, and the normal things, arithmetic.
W.H.: No. Because you see, the school closed when I was in the third grade..
B.N.: Oh, I see. When you were about eight years old?
W.H.: About that. So then we went down to the public school where the Post Office is now.
B.N.: The Lakeville Post Office?
B.N.: How many grades were in the school at that time?
W.H.: There were eight grades. I went down there when I was in the third, in the public school.
B.N.: And, you stayed there through eighth grade?
W.H.: Yes, and then a high-school which was upstairs in that same building.
B.N.: Oh really?
W.H.: Until the new school was built in between Lakeville and Salisbury. Our class was the first class to go there and graduate, although the class ahead of us held their graduation exercises there. (the Lower building at Salisbury Central School)
B.N.: I’m not sure I understand, your class was the first class to graduate at the new School?
W.H.: To go there, and graduate, though the class ahead of us graduated from there ahead of us, you see. They finished their senior year at the Lakeville High School, and graduated from the new school.
B.N.: I see. Now, did your class have your senior year at the new high-school?
B.N.: And then graduated from the new high school. About how many people were there in your grade school class?
W.H.: Gee, I don’t remember. It doesn’t seem that there were too many.
B.N.: Maybe a dozen?
W.H.: I would say about a dozen or 15.
B.N.: What about the high school class?
W.H.: Our graduating class was about 16. And I think there were about 80 students in high school. So you see, we weren’t too large.
B.N.: Do you recall what the old Lakeville school looked like?
W.H.: Sure. I can give you a picture of it.
B.N.: I’d like very much to see that. Who are the teachers that you particularly remember in grade school or high school ?
W.H.: Well, down there in the third grade, Miss Argall . And then the next class was taught by a Miss Smith. And then the seventh and eighth was taught by Miss Mahar. She finally married Bob Eggleston. And she was a great teacher.
B.N.: What do you remember particularly about her?
W.H.: She was real nice, a good teacher, and she really drilled us, and made us repeat things until we got them right.
B.N.: Repeat as a class, or individually?
W.H.: Well, individually.
B.N.: You would stand up and recite?
B.N.: Fine if you knew it, not so good if you didn’t?
W.H.: Yes, that’s right!
B.N.: Now, I just want to pick up on something you said earlier . Were there sometimes two grades together, like third and fourth grade in the same room?
W.H.: In the same room, yes .
W.H.: Then fifth in six would be in the next room, and seventh and eighth would be in the next room.
B.N.: What about high-school, was that true then too?
W.H.: All four classes were in high school.
B.N.: In high school, did you go to different teachers for different subjects, or were you in the same room with one teacher?
W.H.: We would have a different teacher for English and Math, Latin: I forget what the other one was.
B.N.: Let’s see, English, Math, Latin, History?
W.H.: History, yeah that would be the other one.
B.N.: So, you would go around to the different rooms where the teachers were?
W.H.: Certain classes we would, but then the other class we would be in the main study hall . There were probably 80 students in the high-school.
B.N.: Who were the high school teachers you especially remember?
W.H.: There was a Miss Simonton.
B.N.: What did she teach?
W.H.: English, and French. It’s hard to remember.
B.N.: I’m sure of this, it’s been awhile.
W.H.: Let’s see, there was a teacher from Canaan. Gee, I just can’t remember her name.
B.N.: What did she teach?
W.H.: I think she taught English and maybe Math. And then the principal taught Math and Geometry. Of course we had him in the higher grades.
B.N.: Do you recall his name?
W.H.: Mr. Mosely.
B.N.: Mr. Mosley? What was he like?
W.H.: A great guy. A good athlete and he used to coach too. He coached us in baseball, a real nice guy.
B.N.: What other sports did you play?
W.H.: Basketball, baseball, and we didn’t have a basketball hall at that time. But, Roberts Hall, do you know where that was?
W.H.: That’s where the Chinese restaurant is, and that was a three story building with a basketball floor on the top floor. You see we didn’t have that until my sophomore year, and we were fortunate enough to have an athletic director by the name of Mr. Hemmerly. He was a great guy, a good athlete, and a good coach. So we started basketball in our second year, and of course a lot of us didn’t know anything about basketball because living out of the village we wouldn’t get to see the old-timers play, and they were real big guys. So, of course then Mr. Hemmerly had a whole bunch of green kids. So what he did was to form a league in town, and the high-school would be one team, and the American Legion, the men’s club, and I can’t remember the other teams at that time. But, it gave us a chance to learn basketball from these big guys. First game I ever played in was against the American Legion team, and the center was about 300 lbs.
B.N.: That sounds pretty scary to me!
W.H.: Well, I’ll tell you, on the walls at the end were water pipes for heating the building, and when we jumped he stuck his stomach out and hit me, and I didn’t gain my equilibrium until I hit those pipes! But, it was a good experience.
B.N.: You’ve mentioned old timers. From what you say then, there were some sort of basketball league, or groups among the older men in town?
W.H.: Before that time, they were all big guys, it was quite serious basketball that they played . So , it was good experience for us to play against those fellows.
B.N.:. These were men who lived in the town?
B.N.: Who just happened to like basketball, and got together on some kind of schedule and played every once in a-while?
W.H.: They used to play different towns, and of course that’s the way basketball was in those days, like Millerton would have a team, and Sharon, and Canaan. So they were a good league and of course we were not allowed at that time, we were allowed at that time to play with the older men. By the time I got to be a senior, we could, and at high-school. So I had my exercise I
W.H.: As well as the high-school. And, that’s where I played a lot of basketball.
B.N.: Oh, so when people got to be a senior, that is good enough, and if the men’s team wanted them, they could play both as a member of the high school team and as a member of the men’s team?
W.H.: Yes. In fact, that’s the way it was when I was a junior. I played with the town and with the high school. So, I had my exercise!
B.N.: You must have been a good player.
W.H.: Well I was taller. In those days, I was 6 ft. 3 in. and I never ran across a fellow that was any taller than I was. So you see they have really grown since that time.
B.N.: Well, you must have not stuck out, but stuck up!
W.H.: Yes I guess so.
B.N.: Bill, what did you do in the summer times?
W.H.: Well, when I was a young guy I used to caddie in the morning, and in the afternoon, and that was at Hotchkiss Golf course. And then in the afternoon we’d spend the afternoon in the lake. Canoeing, and tipping canoes over and righting them and trying to get back in. So, we kept busy. And then later on, I worked on the Milmine estate, all summer.
B.N.: What kind of work did you do?
W.H.: Taking care of the lawn, the gardens, and driveways. And, they had a couple cows and horses, and in the summertime, saddle horses. So we would have to get hay for them and then, with the saddle horses we cleaned them off, and put the saddle, and the bridles, so the Milmine girls could go horseback riding. So this was good, and the pay was good too, for a kid. 50 cents an hour.
B.N.: 50 cents an hour, to work on the Milmine place?
W.H.: Yeah, and $24 a week for a man was good pay in those days.
B.N.: How big was the Milmine estate?
W.H.: I don’t know how many acres but it ran from the Hotchkiss border down past the restaurant on the Hotchkiss road.
B.N.: Oh, what’s now the Woodland?
W.H.: Woodland, yes. And so there was a big estate.
B.N.: How large was the family?
W.H.: My family?
B.N.: Yes, when you were living there and working there.
W.H.: And now, let me see, five, counting Mr. and Mrs. Milmine.
B.N.: So they had three children, two girls and the boy?
B.N.: Tell me what you did on holidays.
W.H.: Played ball. And of course there were town activities on holidays you know, fourth of July, and things like that, parades.
B.N.: What was the July 4th parade like then?
W.H.: Well I think the firemen would be included in it, and I can’t remember what else.
B.N.: Where did they parade?
W.H.: Well, in Salisbury
B.N.: Did they start at the library the way they do now, or someplace else?
W.H.: I don’t remember, it was in Salisbury some place. That’s a good many years ago.
B.N.: They played on Main Street, to the cemetery?
B.N.: Tell me about some other holiday celebrations, when you were growing up.
W.H.: Well, of course Thanksgiving was always a good one. There wasn’t much activity in those days, and then Christmas. As I remember it, that’s about the only interesting thing.
B.N.: Where did you get your turkey?
W.H.: Well, we used to raise some turkeys, ducks, geese and chickens. So we generally got our own. And pigs, we had pork.
B.N.: Did you smoke any of the meats then?
W.H.: Yes. the pigs. They would hang them up, and I think they used Cedar wood to smoke these animals then.
B.N.: Where was the smoke house?
W.H.: Out in the backyard.
B.N.: Of your house?
W.H.: Yes. And there was a greenhouse out there and barns for the horses and a barn for the cow and then chicken houses. So, it was quite an estate.
B.N.: Yes, and a lot of work to be done.
B.N.: Who did the smoking, your father?
W.H.: My father did. Because there was a smokehouse out there you see, and he would take care of all of that.
B.N.: And, did you have a vegetable garden?
W.H.: I guess so. It was a great one. I think my father was probably the best gardener around. a big strawberry patch and peas and corn and everything.
B.N.: Did your mother can and preserve?
W.H.: Yes strawberries, raspberries and we had apple trees, pear trees and a grape arbor. So we ate well!
B.N.: Did you help to take care of the vegetable garden? You mentioned taking care of the animals.
W.H.: 0 yes, we had to pick the vegetables in the morning with the Milmine family, and they had a chauffeur, his family and there was a lady, there’s a little house near where we lived, in fact right across the driveway. And there was a lady there who had been friends with the Milmines and she would be there all summer. So that would be another lady who would use the vegetable garden. And the Milmines had three or four maids there, so it took a lot of vegetables to
B.N.: So, you’d go out in the morning and pick vegetables for the Milmine family, your family and for the others.
W.H.: I can remember picking 30 qt. of strawberries in the morning, and the peas, lots of peas, asparagus, rhubarb, you name it.
B.N.: You must have learned to be a pretty good vegetable gardener too.
W.H.: Well, I wouldn’t say that, but I could get by. I’ve always had a garden out back here.
B.N.: Where did your father learned to garden? You said he was such a good gardener.
W.H.: Well, he worked at Mr. Parsons place. The Parsons and the Milmines were related, so after my father worked at Parson’s for a certain time, he decided he wanted to do something different. So, the Parsons told him that the Milmines needed someone to be caretaker, so he went there .
B.N.: Tell me, I don’t know what the Parson family did to earn a living.
W.H.: I don’t really know, as far as I know they were retired.
B.N.: And, how did your father learn vegetable gardening there?
W.H.: I don’t know. It was just natural I think.
B.N.: They had a vegetable garden and he took care of it?
W.H.: I don’t know, because that was so far back. I can imagine that he probably did.
B.N.: Because I remember you saying that he had been born here in Lakeville. And then I take it went away for a while after he grew up?
W.H.: No, he died in Lakeville. So his whole life was in Lakeville.
B.N.: How were you born in Syracuse then?
W.H.: My mother came from Ireland and her folks came before she did and when it was time for my sisters and I to be born, why she would go up there. Of course the hospitals were better and everything. So then, when she was able to come back with us, we’d come back to Lakeville.
B.N.: I see. So she would stay with her family where they could take care of her, and then come back. Was there a hospital in the area at all?
W.H.: Sharon hospital I think was there, ‘cause it’s been there as long as I can remember, and then of course Winsted and Torrington. ‘Cause I had my tonsils out in Torrington.
B.N.: Charlotte Hungerford?
B.N.: How old were you, do you recall?
W.H.: I was a youngster, ‘cause I raised holy cane there.
B.N.: What did you do?
W.H.: I don’t think I even stayed overnight.
B.N.: They want to get rid of you fast!
W.H.: I wanted to get rid of them!
B.N.: Who was the family doctor?
W.H.: Dr. Bissell. You know, he went around in a horse and wagon, had a little handbag with him. He was a good man.
B.N.: He came to visit your house?
W.H.: Yes. He came to visit everybody.
B.N.: Do you recall what he was like as a person?
W.H.: A real nice man, a real nice guy, and a good doctor.
B.N.: A nice guy because he was very gentle?
W.H.: He was nice to everybody.
B.N.: Now he lived in town, did he?
W.H.: Yes. You know where Walton Street is?
W.H.: Well, you come up Walton Street and right across the main drag, he was in that house there .
B.N.: Can you give me an idea of what Lakeville looked like when you were growing up? You’ve mentioned the school where the Post Office was, is now, and you mentioned Robers Hall with a basketball game on the third floor. What was on the first two floors?
W.H.: The store, and then later the Post Office was in there and then of course they moved down to where they are now.
B.N.: And what was across the street?
W.H.: Well, some of the building are still there now, are the same.
B.N.: I’m trying to remember, at one time there was a jewelry store, wasn’t there?
W.H.: There was one up on top of the hill where the Salisbury Bank and Trust Co. was. There was a drugstore right on the corner and then on the lower side of that building was the jewelry store. And then there was O’Loughlin’s meat market.
B.N.: I’m sorry?
W.H.: O’Loughlin’s meat market was the next little building. So
B.N.: Now, that was on which side of the street?
W.H.: As you go toward Millerton it was on the left side. And then the hotel was on the other side. I think that was the Gateway Hotel.
B.N.: The Gateway?
B.N.: Now, about where was that in relation to the grade school and high-school?
W.H.: Well, of course that was up on the hill, and the grade school and high-school was down on the flat.
B.N.: So up on the Hill as you going toward Millerton. Is the building still there?
W.H.: I have the pictures on the wall. I’ll show you. The drugstore was in the first part and then there was a grocery store and then a plumbing business, all in the same building, with apartments up overhead.
B.N.: I see. Tell me, how did you get around during those years, in horse and buggy?
W.H.: Yes, and by putting one foot in front of the other.
B.N.: Did you do a lot of walking?
W.H.: Yes, a lot of walking. We had to walk to school. In fact, when they opened up the new school, the one that’s there now, we lived a mile and nine tenths from the school. You had to live 2 mi. away in order to be able to ride on the bus. So we walked.
B.N.: About how long did it take you?
W.H.: Gee, I don’t remember, but when I was a senior I had to get a car. So we were able to ride back and forth in that. But the bus driver, we felt that we could walk that tenths of a mile and get on the bus there, but we couldn’t. So, you see, things weren’t as rosy as people think in those days.
B.N.: Well, from what you say, there was a lot of hard work.
B.N.: Taking care of a big vegetable garden, taking care of a lot of different kind of animals.
W.H.: But that would be included in the day’s work. You see, you could work a morning and work until 4:30 in the afternoon, and so then we were on our own.
B.N.: What time did you start in the morning?
W.H.: I think it was probably around 7:30 or eight o’clock. We worked eight hours a day.
B.N.: You’re talking now about the summer when you worked on the Milmine estate?
W.H.: Yes and then we didn’t do anything from September until June.
B.N.: What did you do after school?
W.H.: Well, we were always around through the woods, doing something like that. Play ball, and of course we were right near Hotchkiss School and we attended any athletic game or anything like that. There was football, baseball, gymnastics, and swimming. The coach up there didn’t like basketball because it was an inside game, and he wanted all the kids to be on the outside. And then there was skiing, sliding and in those days we didn’t have much traffic on highways, so we’d slide down the main road.
B.N.: On what?
W.H.: On sleds.
B.N.: On what kind of sleds?
W.H.: They were some kind of racer; I forget just what it is. They were fairly long, probably 6 ft. long or so or 5 ft., and took two or three people on them, going down the main highway.
B.N.: Were they those flat boards that curled in front?
W.H.: They would just curl up a little bit. And then they had the steering, the little bars. Then we all had skis.
B.N.: Let me just check the tape here, and see where we are.
B.N.: Tell me what kind of skiing you did? Was it cross country, downhill, jumping?
W.H.: Cross country, and regular skiing and we had small jumps. I never went over that real big jump in Salisbury, but they had a little jump on the side of it that was fairly big, and we use to go on that.
B.N.: Do you recall what the drop was on that little jump, what you called the little jump?
W.H.: No, I don’t remember but it was alongside of the bigger one, but nowhere as big as the big jump.
B.N.: From what you say, a whole lot of people around town skied then.
W.H.: Yes, well the Satres were the ones that really brought skiing into the town of Salisbury and then they were responsible for all of the ski jump I think. I think it’s called Satre Hill.
B.N.: Yes I believe so.
W.H.: And they were really good. They were professionals.
B.N.: Did you see them jump?
W.H.: Sure. And then Richie Parsons made the Olympic ski team and he was a Salisbury boy.
B.N.: What year was this roughly?
W.H.: Gee, it’s hard to relate time. It must have been, let me see, probably 1929, or 1930. And of course that was when Richie was on the Olympic team. But of course there were other people, other skiers from Norway or wherever they were from, were in Salisbury and they were all skiers, real good ones.
B.N.: Weil now, my mind is going on two tracks. Richie Parsons, you had mentioned earlier that your father had worked for some people name Parsons.
W.H.: Yes, no relation.
B.N.: Was Richie Parsons someone you went to school with?
W.H.: Yes, he was the head of the school. And they were great ballplayers too. Donnie Parsons, and George Parsons who was killed in the service, Charlie Parsons.
B.N.: George Parsons was killed in the service in World War two?
B.N.: You mentioned Norwegian skiers. They would come over just to ski in Salisbury?
W.H.: They came here and lived. They lived there, and Zetterstrom was another one. There were quite a few of them.
B.N.: And you said they were very good skiers, along with the Satres.
W.H.: Oh yes, they were all professionals.
B.N.: How did they earn their living?
W.H.: I think they probably worked at that handle shop on the road to Mount Riga. There is a handle shop but they used to make bowls, and all that kind of things. Wooden bowls.
B.N.: For salad?
B.N.: Handle shop? (Salisbury Cutlery/Salisbury Artisans)
W.H.: I think that’s what they called it, the handle shop. I don’t know if it’s still there or not but it’s right alongside the brook that comes down the mountain.
B.N.: I know that brook. Who owned that place, do you recall?
W.H.: No, I don’t know. I’m not sure whether the Warners had anything to do with that or not. But, I wouldn’t say. (Yes, Phil Warner owned it Ed.)
B.N.: So, they made wooden bowls and other wooden things.
W.H.: Yeah. I don’t know what all they made. It was made of a certain type of wood and you could smell that wood all over town. It smelled good.
B.N.: I take it a lot of the skiers that came from the Scandinavian countries worked there?
W.H.: I’m not sure how many, but. And then they started making skis too.
B.N.: Oh really. Where did they make those?
W.H.: And they had the knife shop in Lakeville.(Holley Manufacturing Ed.)
B.N.: Oh, the Holley?
W.H.: Holley, Yeah . Of course that was a big thing, the knife shop. They had a big handle exhibition, knives and everything that was at the world’s Fair. I can’t say what year it was. They had that display in the shop there for a long time: I remember seeing all kinds of knives.
B.N.: When you were a boy, was the factory still going then, the Holley factory?
B.N.: Were they making knives at that time, or skis, or both, or something else?
W.H.: They were making knives for a long time and I think the ski business came in there, the Satres made the skis. That was when skiing was beginning to get quite popular too.
B.N.: Now, who owned a factory at that time, do you recall?
W.H.: I don’t know whether it was Holley or what. I don’t remember. Then across the street from that, right next to the pond, that was called the factory pond.
B.N.: I know the factory used that in the early years when they were making cannon. Was it used at all for manufacturing when you were a boy?
W.H.: It seems to me that they were, I think it was knives. Peter Oliver has his place right there too, you know the recreation place.
B.N.: Yes, the fitness center. In the basement, I think.
W.H.: Yes, ‘cause I stopped in there the other day.
B.N.: Did you?
W.H.: Peter wasn’t there but they have a lot of things there.
B.N.: Wanted to see what it looked like now?
B.N.: Let me just check this tape again. I think I’m going to turn it over.
B.N.: Tell me about some of the people or the boys that you grew up with.
W.H.: Allen Johnson lived a couple of houses away, and he was about a year older than I was but we were together all the time. And, he was a good golfer. I played golf with Al. We skied, and skated and played ball. kept us busy.
B.N.: It sounds as if you did keep busy.
W.H.: We used to trap a little bit too, for animals.
B.N.: What kind of animals were you able to catch?
W.H.: Muskrats and coon. And skunks occasionally, we didn’t like that!
B.N.: No, I guess not! Tell me, what kind of wildlife was there, at that time? You hear all kinds of stories.
W.H.: Rabbits, deer, I guess that’s about as much as we ever hunted. We didn’t hunt deer because that was too much for us as kids. And then we fished a lot, fished through the ice.
B.N.: On the lake?
W.H.: On the lake and up on Mount Riga, and Long Pond. You know where that is, over by Indian Mountain School.
B.N.: Yes. What kind of fish were you able to catch?
W.H.: Pickerel, mostly pickerel. There were good-sized fish, especially up on Mount Riga
B.N.: Who were some of the other boys you remember, from when you were growing up?
W.H.: We were along with the Cards. Mr. Card worked at Hotchkiss School and they had a house near the golf course. Fayette and I were very close, and another boy by the name of Charlie Jones. Fayette was killed in an airplane accident.
B.N.: I’m sorry, what was his name?
W.H.: Fayette, yes Fayette Card. It’s at the old Canaan airport. There’s a concrete house now at the end of that runway, they hit that and killed him like that. I was at the fire company at the time in Canaan. It was on a Saturday morning, and the whistle blew, we went up there and there was poor Fayette.
B.N.: You were a volunteer fireman?
W.H.: Yeah. I was a volunteer in Lakeville, too. When we moved to Canaan, I moved over here and joined the Canaan Fire Company.
B.N.: This was as a young man, or an older man ?
W.H.: Well, I joined the Lakeville Fire Company when I was old enough: I forget just when that was. When I came to Canaan, I was in my 30’s. I came to work for the power company, so I was there until I retired.
B.N.: Are there any townspeople that you would like me and others to know about, people you remember from your childhood, either grown-ups or other children?
W.H.: Well, most of those are gone. All our senior class is gone. Bill Kelsey died a few months ago, and he and I were the last two. Then of course all of my ball team, we had a great baseball team. Dick Gurney, who was a professor at Hotchkiss School, graduated from Brown, and when he graduated from Brown, the Detroit Tigers wanted him for a pitcher, but he was a Rhoades Scholar. So he studied in England, and when he came back we were fortunate enough to get him to catch for us. Then Hop Rudd was one of our local fellows, a great athlete and he pitched for Yale. So we had Hop and Jim Cunning (?) who pitched for Princeton, he was with us. And then later, Bill Fowell, who was a coach at Hotchkiss School, played.
B.N.: And this was after high-school?
B.N.: In the 20’s, did you have your team? Was it in the 1920’s?
W.H.: The early 30’s. And then of course Hob Nob Hill was started. Did you ever hear of Hob Nob Hill?
B.N.:. No, tell me about Hob Nob Hill.
W.H.: I’m surprised, so few people in the town was Salisbury know about Hob Nob Hill. Mr. Fulton, was going to Hotchkiss one day to play golf, and he had some guests with him: they said you can’t play today. And he said why not, and they said the boys are having a tournament up here. So he said OK, I’ll build my own course. And he built one of the most, had the reputation to be the most beautiful privately owned 18 hole course in the East. And it was a beautiful course. Everybody played free. He invited everybody at the beginning of the year, and if they wanted to take a guest along with them, you’d have to call him and ask permission, but he always let them play. And, I worked on it, helped build it and I stayed on there for a couple of years until I went to work for the power company.
B.N.: Did you take care of it?
B.N.: Where was Hob Nob Hill?
W.H.: Well you go up Route 41, and you go up there maybe a mile and a half or so, and there’s a little drive off the highway for cars to stop. You know where that is?
B.N.: Yes, I believe so
W.H.: OK. Well then, farther up the road is a driveway that goes up the hill.
B.N.: To the left, going towards Great Barrington?
W.H.: This is off of 41. It’s a driveway that goes up the hill and now the caddy house was there, and then Mr. Fulton built a house up on the top of the hill. But, it was on the side of the mountain.
B.N.: The caddy house, is that the little stone house that is still there?
W.H.: Yes, on the right as you go up there. I think Ford lives there
B.N.: I know just where you mean. You say that was an 18 hole golf course?
W.H.: Yes. Opened in 1933.
B.N.: And how long did it remain a golf course, do you know?
W.H.: Yes, until I was going through the Panama Canal, I was in the Navy in 42, 43 when I got a letter that Mr. Fulton had died, and that was the end of the golf course.
B.N.: And he built this himself, at his own expense?
W.H.: His own expense, Yeah.
B.N.: And anybody could play there?
W.H.: Well, you would have to get an invitation. But, if you had a friend that would invite you, get permission, they’d play too. And, it started a lot of people playing golf. Because, you know, golf was expensive. People weren’t too flush.
B.N.: Now this was the Depression, wasn’t it?
W.H.: Well, yes, and shortly after. I think laborers were getting 35 cents an hour, and truck drivers were getting 50 cents an hour, tractor drivers, and I was fortunate enough to be able to drive tractors.
B.N.: And, so wages had gone down a little, because I remember you’re talking about earning 50 cents a day as a boy, working on the Milmine Estate.
W.H.: Well, no, 50 cents an hour . So you see wages dropped in the 30’s, and still there wasn’t much work around.
B.N.: How did people get along?
W.H.: Well, of course of things weren’t as expensive in those days. They survived.
There was none of this handout stuff you get. Of course a lot of the rich people would furnish potatoes, apples, and things like that to the town people. They were good. Milmines were good, Parsons, and I know they were the ones that would donate things like that.
B.N.: Well, how would they do that, would they’d donate them to the church, or would they say, you know, on a certain day at a certain time you could come and they would be
W.H.: No, and they were donated to the town. And of course the town knew the people that really needed things. There were a lot people who were hard up.
B.N.: Yes, I can imagine. So when they were donated to the town, where would the food be distributed?
W.H.: I don’t know how they did that. I know for a fact that those things were donated to the town by these people, and of course there were a lot of other wealthy people around that did the same thing.
B.N.: Now, who were the old families that were in town at that time?
W.H.: Well, of course the Milmines, the Parsons, Abe Martin , who was the head selectman for a long time, he had a garage there, and Dufours.
B.N.: Which is still around, I think.
W.H.: Well, the Dufours Garage used to be right across from the Chinese restaurant. You see they moved, they had a little restaurant there, they called it the Hub, and the Hotchkiss boys used to come down there and get their hamburgers and things. Well they moved that over where the Lakeville Journal is, in that area. I know that there were a lot of people around Salisbury that donated things. I just can’t think of their names right now. Then there was Hall, Borden’s, they were on the lake. They had those two big houses on the eastern shore of Lakeville Lake. They were very generous people.
B.N.: Anything else that you would like me to know about people or big events or buildings or anything else you want to be remembered?
W.H.: Well, we used to have a boat around Lakeville Lake that was called the Thelma. A man by the name of Timmons ran the Grove at that time, I guess, so they charged people to take them around Lakeville Lake.
B.N.: They just did a tour around Lake, then come back to the Grove?
B.N.: Did the Thelma run on weekends?
W.H.: I can imagine it ran most of the time.
B.N.: During the summer?
B.N.: Do you recall what he charged people to take them on that little tour?
W.H.: No , but it couldn’t have been many cents.
B.N.: What kind of boat was it?
W.H.: I don’t know a lodge of some kind.
B.N.: It was a motor boat?
W.H.: 0n Yeah.
B.N.: Anything else?
W.H.: Skating. Skating was a big thing on the lake too. They used to have cars out there.
B.N.: Cars on the lake?
W.H.: Yeah, and, you’d hold hands you know in the back of a car, and they got going at a pretty good speed, and then they’d turn, and then we’d snap the whip. There was a lot of activity on the lake . And we used to fish through the ice on the lake.
B.N.: I remember your talking about that. That implies pretty cold winters.
W.H.: Well, you know, it doesn’t take much ice to hold you up if it’s good black ice. You know, when it first freezes, you can look through it. We used to skate around to look at the bottom: you could see it through the ice. But then of course, it would get pretty thick, and they would cut ice. Mr. Doughty had an ice house. He used to deliver ice around through the summer. And that ice was taken off the lake. So that was the cause of work too, you see, in the wintertime.
B.N.: Was it delivered by horse and wagon?
W.H.: I guess so, but they had cars at that time.
B.N.: So this might be in the 20’s?
W.H.: Yeah. the twenties.
B.N.: Where did they store the ice until warm weather?
W.H.: Down on Walton Street, down on the end there, he had an ice house. And, they’d pack the ice with sawdust. And my father bought that place after he left Milmines. And there was 25 acres there, and so he had a vegetable garden and cows, and sold milk.
B.N.: He lived there, then?
B.N.: Was there a house there, or did he build one?
W.H.: No, there was a house there, and a cottage next to it. There was another house toward the end of the street where we lived. And now, McCue has his carpenter place there, and Dufours had the school bus building down there. And the water company has their works down there. And the railroad track ran through there, that’s where they wanted to have that bicycle path.
B.N.: There used to be an overpass, did they’re not?
W.H.: Yes. It went, you know where the station house is now, the track ran right by there right over Route 44, and then it went over through that property and into Salisbury.
B.N.: How often did the trains run?
W.H.: I don’t know, they discontinued them a long time ago , and I don’t remember. I do remember being up there, and looking at the engines, and things like that.
B.N.: They were still running when you were a boy?
W.H.: Yes. In fact, my friend Al, who I was telling you about, his father drove a truck at Hotchkiss School. They’d pick up barrels of fish for the school boys, and we’d jump on that truck and sometimes they’d kick us off on the hill by the church, but they didn’t go very fast, so we’d jump back on. We had a lot of fun in the those days
B.N.: Anything else you want people to remember?
W.H.: Probably lots of things that we wouldn’t want them to remember. But the kids, they were, they never caused any trouble. We never heard of anybody getting beaten up, or something like that anymore. Everyone seemed to get along. If you got in a fight, you might get a black eye , but that’s all. No knives, or guns or anything like that. Everyone seemed to get along well. Then, they used have what they called rippers, they were a big long sled, you know. A lot of people could ride on them and then there was a road that came down by the firehouse, there used to be road there that went right up through there to the Bank. They use to ride down there in those things, and there was no traffic much in those days, you didn’t have to worry too much about that.
B.N.: I’m amazed you were sledding on the main road.
W.H.: And that trestle that went across the roadway that we were talking about, the trestle wasn’t too high and lots of times a big trucks or vehicles like that would hit that thing, and they were carrying ambulances one night and knocked the ambulances off the truck. It wasn’t too high.
B.N.: Anything else?
W.H.: Probably there is, but I just can’t say nothing.
B.N.: You’ve mentioned a lot of things and given to the project a very clear picture of what it was like to grow up in Lakeville during the 20’s and the 30’s. Thank you very much.
W.H.: This aviator from California that was so wealthy, you probably know who I mean, he landed at Lakeville Lake a couple of times in a seaplane, and he was going with a girl there in Salisbury, and when we were out in California a few months ago, a couple of years ago, that plane that he built was supposed to carry a lot of people. I guess they got it off the water about four or 5 ft., and he landed it again. And it was on display out there, we went and saw it, and it had eight engines on it. There was a walkway up the side, and you could walk up there. They had a pilot in there, you know and you could look in that thing. It was tremendous.
B.N.: And you say that landed on Lakeville Lake?
W.H.: No, not that, but he was a pilot, you know. I can’t think of his name right now, but he was a wealthy man.
B.N.: I wish I knew who you meant, but I don’t
W.H.: Was that pilot out in California, was his name Hughes? (Called out to someone else)
B.N.: Are you thinking about Howard Hughes?
W.H.: Howard Hughes.
B.N.: Oh really. He was going out with somebody here in Salisbury?
W.H.: Yeah, she lived up on the mountain. (Col. Lassing’s daughter Ed.)