Heck, David

Interviewer: Jean McMillen
Place of Interview: Academy Building
Date of Interview:
File No: 18 Cycle: 2
Summary: Lakeville Diorama, Salisbury Association

Interview Audio

Interview Transcript

David Heck Cover Sheet:

Interviewee;Dave Heck

Narrator:Jean McMillen

File #:18, cycle 2

Place of Interview:Academy Building, Salisbury, Ct.

Date: 2/18/2016

Summary of talk:Family background, building scale model of Lakeville, Salisbury Association and additions.


Dave Heck Interview:

This is file #18, cycle #2. Today’s date is February 18, 2016.  This is Jean McMillen.  I am interviewing David Heck.  He is going to talk about the model that he built of Lakeville and how the whole thing started and then he will probably tell me a little bit about the Salisbury Association and what they do.  So we will start with the genealogical information.

JM:       What is your name?

DH:      David Heck

JM:       Where were you born?

DH:      In Findlay, Ohio

JM:       What is your birthdate?

DH:      March 10, 1940

JM:       Your parents’ names

DH:       Paul and Kathryn Heck

JM:       Do you have siblings?

DH:      Yes I have a brother John who is 6 years my junior.

JM:       What is your educational background after high school?

DH:      I have a BS in forestry from the University of Idaho.

JM:       How did you come to the area?

DH:      We came here because I was transferred from Boston to New York City to LaGuardia Airport with TWA.  I was flying with TWA.  We knew the Northwest corner to some degree; we have relatives in Norfolk.  We looked around and we discovered Rt. 22 and 684. We found that I could get down to LaGuardia in reasonably good time.  We started to look in Sharon, Cornwall, Litchfield, and Salisbury.  I t did not take long to determine that Salisbury was the place to come.  That is how we got here.

JM:       How did you meet Donald Buckley?

DH:      I think probably I met don through our church; we went to the Salisbury Congregational Church together.

JM:       Had you been a model builder in your youth?

DH:      Yep of sure I build lots of model airplanes of course.  I had an electric train set –up that I did.  I did some of that and I also did some model railroading before we started this project.

JM:       How did the idea develop?  Did it come from you or Don?

DH:      I don’t really remember for sure; I think that we talked about it.  I don’t honestly remember where it came from. We thought that if we could build this model of the villages and the area, kind of around the railroad that would be the core part of it.  Plus the fact that we could run the thing at Christmas and have people come in.  You do things like that.  It would be a community thing.  That’s where we got the idea and the Salisbury Association was good enough to help us with financing.

JM:       What was the original idea?  It wasn’t just Salisbury and Lakeville: it was bigger than that.

DH:      No, that is right.  We were going to have 5 modules; one would be out at State Line toward Millerton because there was a division going out there on the CNE Railroad at that time. That would run around Wonoskopomuc into Lakeville, then from there right into Salisbury, then Twin Lakes which would have been a nice pretty area to model, and then finally into Canaan. I don’t know how much really we were going to do with the town of Canaan, but it would have gone at least into the west part of Canaan.

JM:       Do you know what year you started this project?

DH:      Yeah we started talking about it in 1991.

JM:       Who did Lakeville and who did Salisbury?

DH:      We both did both of them, but I primarily did Lakeville and Don did primarily did Salisbury.  We crossed over each one.

JM:       You said the funding was through the Salisbury Association.

DH:      Yeah and we went out and got some donations, private donations too.

JM:       Did Don Buckley have anybody who helped him, besides you?

DH:      I don’t think so. No I think he did all of it himself.  It was all his own work.

JM:       You had some people that helped you?

DH:      I that way we both did because we had people building who were working on those models for both towns.  Jack Rogers built a couple, Joanne Tabor; John Estabrook did one or two.  I guess that is about it.  They did some nice work.

JM:       What is the size of the completed diorama?

DH:      The diorama is 2 ½ feet wide and 8 feet long.  It has a backdrop on it with a sky line and that sort of stuff; the whole things stands up probably 5 feet and the backdrop.

JM:       Where is it stored right now?

DH:      Right now it is in the basement of the library. It has been there for years, looking for a place to put it.

JM:       It will come out.

DH:      It is not easy; it takes up a lot of room.

JM:       It was displayed here at the Academy Building for a while.  Did you just do the Main Street or did you do some of the peripheral streets?

DH:      We did some; there was not a lot of room to do too many of the peripheral streets.  Basically here in the Salisbury it would have gone back up Library Street and Academy Street because it covered the station which was back along there and the freight house and some assorted things.  Those side streets would have been included.  In Lakeville around the Community Service (Herrington’s) and Farnam Road goes off there so there were a couple of buildings there.  There was a little house that sort of covered up by Community Service and you can still see it.  That was kind of the end of it.  It included the siding that went off into the E. W. Spurr Company at that time.

JM:       Where did you actually build these?

DH:      The little buildings themselves we built at home, all the landscaping and stuff had to be done right there in the library.

JM:       So the library was where you actually built the thing.

DH:      That’s right.

JM:       Was this kit built or scratch built?

DH:      It was scratch built. I figured because both of you were very good on building models to this would be something that you couldn’t buy in a kit.

JM:       When you started this did you have a blueprint or how did you lay out what it is you were going to build?

DH:      We measured buildings and photographed them. We never would have been able to do it without the Salisbury Association photo archives because they had the pictures of all these buildings C. 1900 when we were doing this.  Some of the existing buildings we could measure them.

JM:       If you were making a 1900 model, some of the buildings are no longer in existence so you used the pictures.  Your scale was “N” gauge?

DH:      N scale

JM:       This is railroad gauge.

DH:      That’s right.

JM:       Basically what did you use for materials?

DH:      It is a plastic substance styrene. That is what we used for almost everything and wood. Some of the buildings like barns and out buildings and things like that we built of wood.

JM:       Where did you get your supplies from?

DH:      We got an awful lot of them from over in Canaan at the Railroad Hobby Shop, Rolf Schneider and some from mail order and other hobby shops.

JM:       You were using particularly for the landscape and so forth, you were using railroad supplies.

DH:      Exactly from model stores.

JM:       When I ask you about time, how long from start to finish did it take to do your diorama?

DH:      It took years we spent years at it.  We would go periods of time during the summer when we wouldn’t do anything, so it wasn’t like we were down there 8 to 5.  Probably about 10 years in all.

JM:       You were telling me about a book that you started when you started this project related to the model.

DH:      I started a scrap book like thing with photographs of the buildings most of those from the archives, just where they were on the model so you could cross reference.  It would hang on the side of the model to tell a little bit more about the buildings.

JM:       Did you finish the book?

DH:      No!

JM:       Are you planning to?

DH:      No really now. It is finish-able.

JM;       If we can get it out of storage into a display area, that would be the time to finish it, I am sure.

DH:      I think that is correct.

JM:       Hopefully it will happen soon.

DH:      I hope so. We have had a number of different places that we have looked.  It takes a lot of room.

JM;       It does, but it is well worth it with the wonderful diorama.  I remember seeing it in the Academy Building when it was on display.  It was absolutely gorgeous.

JM:       Before we go on to the Salisbury Association, is there anything more that you want to talk about the model, making it or have I covered it?

DH:      I don’t think so; I think you have covered it quite well.  We just need a place for it.  I might say the Salisbury Association has been very generous and they have promised us money to enclose it.  It has to be enclosed in Plexiglas for keeping little fingers out and dust.

JM:       It is a treasure.  Now we shall move on to the Salisbury Association.  It has three parts.  What are they?

DH:      We basically started with the Land Trust, later came the Historical Society, and then the Civic Activities which now they call the Civic Committee.  The Land Trust is self-explanatory.  It is a land trust as most people understand it.  The history committee came into being when the Holley-Williams House was sold.  At that time the money we got from the Holley-Williams House funded the History committee. That began as a separate committee and it went on from there.

JM:       When did the Holley -Williams House get sold?

DH:      I was afraid you were going to ask that.  (The house closing was July, 2010. Ed.) 2011 maybe?

JM:       2010 or 2011 perhaps, because Katherine was dispersing the goods when I came to work with her which was about 2010.

DH:      Ok that would be very close.

JM:       What does the Civic Activity Committee do?

DH:      It can do whatever it wants to as far as just improving the town.  They are involved with the tree planting, and beautification. It used to be more involved with the Garden Club. (See tape #160 Jill Scott) also they run the 4th of July picnic at the Grove. (They also sponsor the lecture series Era of Elegance. Ed.) They developed a scholarship which Dave Bayersdorfer initiated. (It began in 2013.Ed.)

JM:       Is that the one that is in honor of Carl Williams? (See Tape #111 Carl Williams)

DH:      Yeah it is the Carl Williams Fund.

JM:       Who is eligible?

DH:      It has to be a student from Salisbury, a high school age primarily a good student, but also community involvement.  That is very important in the choice of the individual.  So far all the students have been from the high school, but I had better not say that. I am not sure about that. (Yes both winners so far have been from the High School according to Dave Bayersdorfer. Ed.)

JM:       What is the amount of the scholarship?

DH:      $2,500 a year and it goes on as long as the grades are kept up. As things keep going it is $2,500 over 4 years so for a student that starts out and keeps going over 4 years it is $10,000.

JM:       Do they have to pay it back?

DH:      No it is a true scholarship.

JM:       That is very generous.

DH:      It is a good deal.  We have given it to some good people.  It is the thing to do.

JM:       Oh absolutely

DH:      That is the type of thing that the Salisbury Association is about.

JM:       Does the Civic Committee run the Christmas concert?

DH:      Yes they do.  I should have included that.

JM:       When did you get involved in the Salisbury Association, especially the Land Trust?

DH:      That would have been in the 1990’s.  I do not recall the exact date.  I was in there for at least 6 years.

JM:       I am assuming that it was Land Trust that peaked your interest because of your forestry background.

DH:      I think so.  I have always been interested in environmental issues and conservation so it fit right in.

JM:       You gave me a wonderful definition of the purpose of the Land Trust.

DH:      It is to preserve the beauty of the town of Salisbury and to keep unnecessary development from occurring in lands that should be kept open.  Did I say something different before?

JM:       You said that the Land Trust forms a legally binding group to maintain easements and conservation restrictions of land.

DH:      That was pretty good!

JM:       Yes it was!  I am glad I wrote it down.  How did you get on the Board of Trustees?

DH:      At that time Mary Alice white asked me to go on the board.  She was involved with the Land Trust.  She was the Land Trust.

JM:       How long have you been on the Board of Trustees?

DH:      I was on originally for about 6 years and then I was off for a number of years and went back on again.

JM:       When did you become President?

DH:      That would have been about 8 years ago, I guess.  I did 7 years as President, so about 9 years ago so about 2006.

JM:       How many board members?

DH:      We have 15 there are 4 slots but many times there will be more than that because we have an assistant treasurer, a vice president, so the number is usually more than 4 officers.

JM:       You have two ex officio, the First Selectman and the Town Historian that are invited to attend.  Is there anything else that you want to tell me about the Land Trust?  What is your current project with the Land Trust?

DH:      The big thing right now is getting accredited to the Land Trust Alliance.  This is a very involved process. It is a two year process of getting everything together and presenting it to the Land Trust Alliance and getting accredited.  The main reason that the accreditation is important I think probably is the assistance that they can provide and also direction of how to run things.  We feel that probably in the future there is almost going to be a requirement for our Land Trust to be accredited.

JM;       Do you have any idea how many Land Trusts there are in Connecticut?

DH:       I really don’t know.

JM:       I know that Sharon has one.

DH:      Oh there are a number of them.  Lots of towns have them.

JM:       Well the most they could have is 169. Is there anything that you want to add that I have not covered?

DH:      As far as the Land Trust goes, I don’t think so.

JM:       What civic responsibilities do you have besides what you are already doing with the Salisbury Association?

DH:      Right now mostly just involved with the Salisbury Congregational Church.

JM:       and the choir.

DH:      Including the choir and the church.  I am a trustee and also a choir member.  We have fun in that.

JM:       Presently who is the Minister?

DH:      Diane Monti-Catania.

JM:       Who is the choir director?

DH:      That is Jack Bowman.  He is actually the Director of Music.  That is his title.

JM:       He took over 2 years ago when Al (Sly) retired?

DH:      Oh less than that; it was a year ago.

JM:       Al Sly was Director of Music for years. (See tape # 118 Al Sly)

DH:      45 years

JM:       Anything before we close that you would like to add to this interview?

DH:      The only thing I can think of is two things for the town of Salisbury.  I hope that through the Land Trust and through responsible government that the beauty and the environment of Salisbury can be maintained.  Also and I do not think it is mutually exclusive I also think that we need to attract light industry or businesses and that sort of thing that we really have lost; we need to have a climate here for young people.  I think that those of the two things that I would say that I would like to see and they do not have to be mutually exclusive.  They can work together.

JM:       They certainly can.  Thank you so much. I appreciate this very much.

DH:      Thank you.