Hammond, Dean

Interviewer: Jean McMillen
Place of Interview: 34 Horseshoe Lane
Date of Interview:
File No: 128 Cycle:
Summary: Ragamont Inn 1955-1972, Barnett’s Store, Santa Claus, State police, Hammond Bus Company, Lakeville Livery, Grove

Interview Audio

Interview Transcript

This is Jean McMillen interviewing Dean Hammond at his home 34 Horseshoe Lane, Lakeville, Ct. The date is Wednesday, October 5, 2011.

JPM:What is your full name?

DH:J. Dean Hammond.

JPM:When and where were you born?

DH:White Plains, New York, Jan.12, 1943

JPM:What are your parents’ full names?

DH:Jabez Dean Hammond, Marcia Patel Pentergast Hammond

JPM:Do you have siblings?

DH: Yes, I have four one of whom is deceased. Her name is Marcia Hammond Gilchrest. The next is Gertrude Hammond McCardle, the next is James Thompson Hammond, and the last is Margaret Stephanie Hammond, also known as Peggy,

JPM:Where were you educated?

DH:In Scarsdale, New York until the 7th grade Our Lady of Fatima, then Salisbury Central School from 1957-1959, I graduated , and then Housatonic Valley Regional High school when I graduated in June of 1961. After which I graduated from East Carolina University in 1969.

JPM:I’d like some of your memories of the Ragamont Inn. Tell us how you came to this area.

DH: Well, my father retired from the railroad supply business in New York in the fall of 1955. My mother and father purchased the Ragamont Inn about that time, and we moved her in January of 1956. I was age 13 at the time.

JPM:Whom did you buy the Ragamont from?

DH:Miss Sharp and Miss McLane who had been operating the Ragamont since the late 1930’s or early 1940’s.

JPM:What was the inn like when your parents bought it?

DH:It was located where it presently is (Main Street, Salisbury); however it is under a different name now: it is just called The Ragamont. It was an 11 to 13 room hotel on the second floor and a restaurant on the first floor.

JPM:I think you told me they did not serve liquor.

DH:They didn’t for the first year or two.

JPM:When your parents bought it, how did you change it, if you did?2.

DH:We converted about 3 or 4 of the bedrooms, guest rooms on the second floor, into an apartment for ourselves where my brother Jim, my sister Peggy, and I and my mother and father lived.

JPM:Who was your chef? Do you remember?

DH:Chef Barksdale, I don’t remember his first name. He was from Virginia, and he came up each April and stayed until October of each year. He, his assistant chef, and all the kitchen help all came from Farmville, Virginia.

JPM:Were they black or white?

DH:They were black.

JPM:Now when did you start serving liquor and tell the story about the Connecticut laws>

DH:At that time the Connecticut law, which I think is still true today; you can’t have a liquor license within 500 feet of a church or school. We had St. Johns’ Episcopal Church which still remains there today directly next door. However the pastor was Rev. Hyde who enjoyed his cocktails, and he quickly and the congregation gave their approval to the liquor license at the Ragamont.

JPM: Did you serve three meals a day?

DH:Just a lunch and dinner, and breakfast to the guest.

JPM:Was it open to the public for lunch and dinner?

DH:Oh yes.

JPM:Was the White Hart in business at that time?

DH:It was. The White Hart was almost directly across the street diagonally, and it has been in business since about 1900 I believe.

JPM:When did your parents sell the Ragamont and whom did they sell it to?

DH:My mother passed away 2 ½ years after we purchased the inn, and my father passed away ten years after that, being about 1968. The inn was left to my step mother who sold the inn to the Schenkles in I believe 1972.

JPM:At the time your parents ran the inn, did they run it all year or just part of the year?

DH:Off and on the inn up until their purchasing it in 1955 had only been opened from Easter or Mother’s Day to Columbus Day. I am not sure exactly which year they attempted to keep it open year round because we were living there year round. An attempt was made on several occasions in the late 50’s to keep it open year round, however that proved, it didn’t work out well.

JPM:Would there have been the tourist trade for the ski jumps at that time?3.

DH:Yes, very much so. The ski jumps were a big part of the winter trade; probably the only weekend that it was a profitable venture.

JPM:You had a wonderful story about trucks lining the main street. Would you tell me that one please?

DH:Up until the mid 1960’s Massachusetts which was just north of us by 3 or 4 miles (more like 12) has a Blue Law which forbade the travel of tractor trailers, or any large commercial trucks on Sundays. On Sunday evening we had many, many trucks line up through the center of Salisbury up until almost midnight Monday morning waiting for it to be legal for them to travel into Massachusetts. Likewise, let’s see how this worked, we had a lot of trucks on Saturday evening late Saturday evening that have done their best to get through Massachusetts during Saturday before midnight on Sunday. The first place to pull off in Connecticut was in the center of Salisbury; they had rushed through Massachusetts during the day on Saturday.

JPM:You said that Rt. 44 at that time had a lot of truck traffic.

DH:It did. Route 44 was a major truck route from New York State into New England prior to the opening of the Interstate Highways I-87 in New York and I-90 in Massachusetts and I-91 in Connecticut along with I-84 in Connecticut. This continued until about 1965 when most of these interstates were open.

JPM:You had a very funny story about a cattle truck.

DH:Yes, we had a lot of cattle trucks come through town. These trucks carried cows being taken to market from dairy farms in New York State and Connecticut. It was required by law that the trucks stop periodically, I believe it was at least once every two hours to make sure that the cows, cattle, livestock, were all standing up. These tractor trailers were low bodied with side and rear entrances. Occasionally the best place to pull off on Rt. 44 was right in the center of Salisbury. Several times the truck driver found that some of his cattle had fallen down, or several had fallen down which required opening up the side door or the rear door of the low bodied truck. Somehow helping the cattle get up, there was at least one time that the rest of the cattle scattered out of the truck and ran loose all over town. Obviously they relieved themselves in the process, leaving the town a real mess.

JPM:Oh my. Now when you were growing up in Salisbury, tell us something about what you did as a youth in town. Did you go to the Grove, for example?

DH:Yes, the Grove was a primary place of entertainment for kids in their early teens and late teens.

JPM:Did it have a sand beach?




DH:Yes, the Grove was identical to what it is today, with the exception of the new building which was erected in the last year. There was a Grove Building very similar to it which had been built I believe in 1955, so it was new to my arrival in town also.

JPM:Who was in charge of the Grove at that time?

DH:Frank Markey. See tape #78.

JPM:How about Bill Barnett’s store? What can you tell me about that?

DH:Barnett’s store was located where the Patco Station, the Mobile-Exxon station is today in Lakeville; right on the intersection of route 44 & 41. Montgomery (Sharon Rd) St. It was a three storey building. On the first floor was a 5 and 10 cent store, the second floor was also and probably the third floor. (No, the third floor was used only at Christmas Ed.) They sold clothing, they sold toys, and they sold household utensils, no refrigerators or televisions that I remember being sold there. It was much like a Woolworth’s of today.

JPM:What did they do special for Christmas?

DH: At Christmas time Bill Raynsford who was the Justice of the Peace in town was Santa Claus. He had a big chair on the second floor. He greeted children on certain days during the Christmas season. (See picture of him in Romeo or C.Smith folder)

JPM:Was there a train layout?

DH:Yes, I don’t remember a great deal about it.

JPM:You mentioned that the Academy Building was used for arts and crafts.

DH:It was. It was an afternoon place where…It would be very similar to the Extras program today at the Upper Building at Salisbury Central, but it was in the Academy Building located on Main Street in Salisbury, still where it is today. On the second floor kids in town after school would go color, there were erector sets, games and that sort of thing.

JPM:Was there a Recreation Director at that time for organized sports?

DH:Yes, Mr. Hemmerle, I believe it was Wilbur Hemmerle.

JPM:Did you have anything to do with automobiles when you were young?

DH:I did. I acquired my first car which was a 1935 Ford with a rumble seat. It was a wreck, but it ran. I used to keep it behind the Ragamont in a lot. Just about every afternoon I’d climb into it and drive it down to the ski jump and Indian Cave Road and at times we’d even take it up over Mt. Riga in the late fall and early spring before there were any residents up there. I’d drive it across to Mt. Washington to Copake, staying strictly on the dirt roads.

JPM:Were the roads at that time macadamized or were they dirt?5.

DH:No there were all the same as they are today. I can’t think of a road that had been dirt or gravel that has been paved over. No all the roads were gravel.

JPM:Did the neighbors complain about you and your jalopy?

DH:Not that I heard of. I never had any complaints. As a matter of fact George K iefer years later said why there weren’t any complaints because that car and my friends ‘cars were similar. A lot of times they didn’t have mufflers on them. They obviously were heard and seen by townspeople, but to my knowledge there was never ever a complaint.

JPM:What was the police department, if there was such a thing at that time? Who was the resident trooper or law protection?

DH:Stan Szczieul was the first resident trooper of Salisbury. He came here in January of 1957. The force hasn’t changed any in the last 50 years. We did have a constable in town whose nickname was Chick; his last name was Brammer. I am not sure what his real first name was; it was William, William Brammer but he went by the name of Chick.

JPM:What were some of the offenses at that time?

DH:Well, much the same as today. However there were laws on the books that have been erased over the years: public intoxication, adultery, but other than that all the laws were the same as they are today.

JPM:What got you into police work?

DH:Just the desire to… I have always had an interest in it, but as a kid I was usually on the other side of the law, not in a…

JPM:Cops and robbers and you were the robber!


JPM:Did you find the work as a policeman interesting?

DH:Yes, very interesting.

JPM:What areas were of particular interest to you?

DH:Criminal investigations.

JPM:How long were you with the police force?

DH:I was with them for 16 years.

JPM:Were you always at Barrack B or…?

DH:Yeah, I was the resident trooper in Salisbury from the mid 1970’s to 1983.6.

JPM:What did you do when you retired from the (state) police department?

DH:My wife and I started a bus company, a school bus company, here in Salisbury.

JPM:That must have been interesting.

DH:It was.

JPM:Tell me a little bit about that enterprise.

DH:We started off with bidding on the Salisbury contract in 1983 and Cornwall at the same time. The following year the contract to Canaan was sold to us. We took that over. We provided school transportation for Region #1 in the Northwest corner and also sports buses, and activity buses for the private schools.

JPM:How many employees did you have?

DH:They were all mostly all part time, probably numbered about 20.

JPM:How long did you do that?

DH:Until 1994.

JPM:Then did you retire or did you go into another endeavor?

DH:I basically retired. We also had started an auto repair business at the bus garage in 1987 and taxi-livery business.

JPM:Is the taxi business still going?

DH:It is still going. My daughter Laurie took it over in 1994. She ran it for 10 years until 2004; she sold it to Jimmy and Katy Wood in 2004.

JPM:Have you been involved with town activities or organizations?

DH:Most of my adult life I have been on the Zoning Board of Appeals, on the Board of Assessment, Tax Review, and I was for a number of years Director of Emergency Services in town.

JPM:That’s a responsible position.

DH:Yes, I did that up until about 6 or 7 years ago. It is now taken over by Jacqui Rice.

JPM:Are there any additions that you would like to make to this tape, things we haven’t covered?

DH:I don’t think so.

JPM:Thank you very much for your time.