Lester Amos HoysradtTranscript of a taped interview
Narrator: Lester Amos Hoysradt
Tape S:sides A & B
Date: December 10, 1986
Place of interview: Mr. Hoysradt’s home on Undermountain Road, Salisbury
Interviewer: Jodie Stone
Lester Hoysradt, whom the town knows as Oogie, is the gadfly of townmeetings. He was born in Salisbury in the post-Depression era. As a
youngster, he lived along Factory Street and remembers many of theresidents whom he identifies as Raggles. He speaks of the old knifefactory, of the markets that eventually became the Shagroy of today, andof the many changes in town.
Property of the
Salisbury Association at Salisbury,
Oral History Project, the Scoville Memorial Connecticut 06968
This is Jodie Stone on December 10, 1986, interviewing Lester Amos (“Oogie”) Hoysradt, who was born October 1st, 1933,
JS: Les, let’s get the business about Oogie and Lester straightened out, ’cause it’s gonna confuse people. How come Oogie?
LH: Well, uh, like I said, my mother called me Ughie.
LH: Well, when I was about two or three years old, she gave me that name, and she said it was because we used to climb trees like monkeys and made sounds like “ugh, ugh,” so she named me Ughie, and then later on it was changed around to Oogie.
JS: When you got to school.
LH: Yeah, when I got to school. They didn’t’ call me Ughie anymore. They called me Oogie.
JS: So, when people say Oogie, that’s Les.
LH: Oh, yes, yes, I’ve gone through all my life with the name, and a lot of people still don’t know who you’re talking about if you say Les.
JS: I know.
LH: They really don’t.
JS: Yeah, it’s funny. Tell me about your father. You were telling me about the rock.
LH: Yes. The hanging rock
JS: Where is that?
LH: That’s in Hanging Rock Park which is up behind the Town Hall. Off Factory Street, and there’s a huge rock there which looks like, you know, you could push it over, and they told me one day he put a couple sticks of dynamite under it, and he went down on the drugstore steps and sat there, and when it went off he said to all of them, “Now what could that noise be?” And there he’d tried to blow up the rock, but you can’t blow it up apparently. It’s really … I don’t know why it’s sitting like that.
JS: He sounds like a real character.
LH: He was. They were characters, and I can remember my mother … of course, he never worked.
LH: No. My father never worked. Most of the men, well no, I shouldn’t say most of them, but a lot of the men up that way didn’t work. The women went out and worked.
JS: Up what way?
LH: Up Factory Street, But lie used to come, oh he was a big drinker, and he had his friends, Tom Halley and Jakey Holder, and Danny Ashman and all the rest of them, they would get behind the lock-up or where the old lock-up was behind the Town Hall, There was a jail there year ago and it was called the lock-up.
JS: By the cemetery.
LH: Right. Where you go up to Buddy Trotta’s that road was called the lock-up. And they would get there drinking, and then they’d come up to my mother’s, and they’d want her to cook something. If she didn’t, they would go out and they’d steal somebody’s chickens, and they would come back and a lot of times they’d just put ’em right in the oven live, feathers and all. And they would cook ’em just like that.
|JS:||And eat ’em?|
|LH:||And then eat ’em. They would just put them right in the oven|
|JS:||You saw this, as a child?|
|LH:||Oh, yes, as a child.|
|JS:||What was your Dad’s name?|
|JS:||And your Mom?|
LH: My mother’s name was Wilhemina.
called her Meenie.
JS: What was her maiden name?
LH: Brazee. She was, of course, we used to talk about it, because my mother was very proud of her ancestors who were the old Marshalls from Virginia, and she said they were the old Marshall family down there. And I always talked to Tom Wagner who’s the other relation of the Loomises. Tom’s name was Loomis, and then when he was adopted by Wagner he changed it, but Tom was a cousin and they founded the Loomis School. But they always called it Lummis. The name was Lummis. My mother…. They lived up on, you know, it’s an old family over, what, Windsor. But my mother and them always called it Lummis. They didn’t call it Loomis. That was the old name.
JS: That’s intriguing.
LH: Yeah, then Catherine tells me, Catherine Roraback, that her grandmother was a Heizrit, so that’s where, you know, we got talking about that.
JS: So, who changed it to Hoysradt?
LH: I don’t knew. Well, of course it was my grandfather. When my
grandfather married my grandmother Ostrander, you see.
I meant the pronunciation.
LH: Oh. I don’t know. We always say, I think you should probably say Hoysrat. That’s probably the real name, but we always said Hoysrut. When we would talk to Kenny Farwell, it’s Farwell, but we always said Farrell. It was much easier. Everybody’s name was just pronounced the way you could.
Your Mom came up from Virginia.
LH: No, Ely mother was born here, but her family, they ‘were…. But they lived…. Her great…. I can remember my mother’s grandmother. She lived co 88, Wilhemina Marshall. And she married a Brazee. But she used to sit at my Aunt Emma’s house, and was always rocking with a clay pipe. She always had a little clay pipe she smoked, but…
JS: Where’d she live?
LH: She lived, well, what they call Ragga Lane now. You go off Washinee or Factory Street, and down over the brook and up in the back where Emma Atkins and the Marshalls…. There are no houses up there anymore. George Speed, we lived there when we were kids. My grandfather Brazee, Amos, I was named after two grandfathers: Lester Hoysradt and Amos Brazee, and my father was supposed to get a keg of beer but he never did, he said, if he named me. But my grandfather Brazee lived where you go up Bunker Hill and up to the mountain. He had a beautiful old house. There used to be a house in there and then one night he was drinking and smoking in bed and it caught fire and burnt down. Of course, everything, my mother said, they had went up in the fire.
But I can remember, I was telling, you know, these, young people that when we were young, and my mother’s building the little house where we live now – we’ve only lived there since 1941 up on Roaring Oaks – she built that house. But we lived up on Factory Street, further up in George Speed’s old house, and in the winter, you know, you didn’t have heat and everybody slept in one bed. That’s the way, you know, five children, you just slept in one bed so you could keep warm. We walked from there down to the grammar school on Grove Street. That’s gone now, the grammar school we went to where Mrs. McKone, she was our teacher. My Aunt Emma Senior who lived across the street always made our lunches every day, and then we’d go over and bring them over and everybody’d have a hot lunch.
Than we always had Phil Warner. Phil was Don’s brother, and the uncle to this Don Warner in Sharon. Phil owned the knife handle factory up there where, you know, where Mrs. McClure lives now.
JS: Salisbury Artisans.
LH: Salisbury Artisans. Well, it was Salisbury Cutlery, and we always went down there and Phil was there with his sisters, Mary and Lois, and we would always ride into town with Phil in his old truck. He had
an old pickup truck, Aunt Emma Senior who and then we’d once a Warners had a camp.
and we’d go down and. pick up the laundry at mydid their laundry and a lot of people’s laundry,year, he’d take us all to the mountain where theThe second lake, we always called it. First lake
JS: Upper Lake.
LH: The Upper Lake. Phil was a very, very kind person. You know, really tried to, and later on he sold most of the houses up that street to the people who lived in them. I mean the Lovetts and the Farwells, and -where Basil McLane lives and the Markses. All those houses belonged to, you know, Phil Warner, and Phil let them all have them very cheap years ago. I think Phil was trying to make up for a lot of things that his father had done wrong. You know, he was completely different than Don.
Don was all right other than he would drink with my father and the rest of them, and I was telling somebody one day about…. We used to always go to the Episcopal Church. My grandfather had studied to be an Episcopal minister, and then he married my mother’s mother, and she was Catholic. Her name was Murray. She was French, and so then he became Catholic and was big in the Knights of Columbus. But every Christmas Eve we would go to St. John’s. My mother had been raised a Catholic, but we all co to the Congregational Church. But one Christmas Eve my grandfather Amos and old Don Warner, they would come into the church and they would begin to bless themselves. They’d kneel down by the pews and bless themselves and then they couldn’t get up ’cause they were so drunk, the two of them. And somebody would have to come along and help them both into the pews. You know, I can always remember seeing the two of them, and Don would come across the street from the old house, the old Bushnell Tavern, and I think he kept his liquor in his drawer in his safe. So he walked every day across the street, stumbling along, and if he fell… I remember, I think it was Dick Morey. Dick was our neighbor and Irene, and one day Don fell in the middle of the street, and of course they came along and helped him up, and he said, “Well, who are you?” and he said, “One of the Moreys,” and he said, “I don’t need any goddam help from the Moreys” and that was the end of that. But Don was a funny person. He was all right. He didn’t hurt anyone. He was nice.
When we were young we made a lot of money. We went out and picked berries on the mountain. We’d go up to Phil’s and pick the blackberries in their fields, and then we’d come down and we’d sell ’em to Don Warner’s wife, Lois Scoville. But she had a lot of help. She had all these Scandinavian people in the house in those days. There were two or three in the kitchen. Paid we’d pick these little strawberries, you know, wild strawberries, and we could always sell them there. Blueberries, strawberries, anything we could sell there, and we made money to go to the drugstore where you could buy a sundae or something else.
And then I tell people about, well, my brother. See, I had a brother who was killed in the war in Korea.
Hoysradt – 5
JS: What was his name?
LH: Donald Clayton. He was named after my father. But he was really… My brother and Kenny Farwell were like brothers, and they were always into trouble. I mean they were either burning the Warner’s fence down or they were burning their fields down, and then one time they were put in jail, Kenny and my brother. They were young, but they blew the water out of the watering kettle with firecrackers. You know these big cherry bombs, and so they were put in jail over in Canaan one night, but it didn’t bother. They just had a good time, always the two of them.
We had a lot of fun when we were young people. We had, as I say, probably a good fifty young people on our street. We had the Markses and we had the Suydams. We had the Brazees. We had all the Webbs. We had the Dotys. We had four or five Moreys and ourselves, the Pickerts, the Farwells and the Lovetts: all on that street. And it looked, when we were young, like Railroad Street does today. Just shanties with the windows out and everything, but it’s where we all lived: we would go over to George Selleck’s fields. They were behind our house where Bam and Audrey [Whitbeck. Ed.] live now. That’s the old Selleck house, and that was all cow pasture all the way down through there. And we had a ski jump on one hill and we bad our golf range on the other hill. We’d go with the lawn mower. And then we had a baseball field there, and we’d go over and we’d play, and if we lost we would take the high part going back home up on the hill, and then we’d get to the top of the hill and start throwing stones down on the kids from Factory Street ’cause they couldn’t throw ’em up. Then we’d always get fighting, always get fighting, it seems, you know. And in the winters we had loads of skating. Everybody went out skating in the winter’s evening. You could…
JS: In Lakeville?
LH: No, Salisbury. We hardly ever went to Lakeville.
JS: I’ve heard that.
LH: Yeah. We never knew…. Ah, when I was older, when we went to the movies in Lakeville, but we didn’t usually, you know, we didn’t go into Lakeville. We had a playground here in the summer that Frances Warner and Jane Hotchkiss, they used to run it.
JS: Where was it?
LH: It was at the Grove School, the old grammar school.
JS: Which is?
LH: Well, that’s gone now. It’s across from Ward Smith, you know, the Salmon Kill Builders, that open…. There was a big old white schoolhouse, two stories, and that’s where we went to school, and that’s where we had our playground. But we didn’t go much to Lakeville.
JS: Where’d you skate then?
Hoysradt – 6
LH: We would skate down here near the ski jump. There was a frog pond there, and that would freeze first, and then we would go up to Erickson’s on Bunker Hill ’cause that, would freeze, and then later on we could come to the Factory Pond right near the house. Hut you had to wait because that was deep and it was the mountain brook and that didn’t freeze as soon. But the frog pond, lots of times they were frozen by Thanksgiving. Then in the winter there’d be whole groups of us, I mean we’d go out with, like I say, twenty, thirty more and slide, and sometimes the Ericksons would pull us up the hill with their trucks, you know, we’d hook our sleighs on the back and we’d get up top by their farm and we could come all the way down into the street, and a lot of times right across the street because we didn’t have the traffic. But we always had something to do, but we would almost always get fighting. I mean, when we played cards at night and my mother had to go to work, we would really get fighting, and then she had to get up and take the cards away and that would be the end of the game, you know. But no matter what we were doing, somehow we always got fighting, all of us did. It was funny.
JS: How many brother and sisters did you have?
LH: Well, 1 had a sister that died, and then I have three sisters now. I have an older one who lives in Puerto Rico.
What’s her name?
LH: Kay Ora which was after my grandmother, Ora Ostrander. And then I have Mary Lou who lives in Sharon, and then Linda.
JS: Mary Lou who?
LH: Mary Lou Orth her name is now, and Linda Roddy. She lives in Kent, and she’s the youngest. She’s only forty.
JS: Now where is Factory Street? I mean, I know where it is, but we have to think in the future.
LH: Factory Street was what they call Washinee now. Starts right at the Town Hall and goes up, yes Because you see, there was the factory where Babs McLane lives now, that was there when we were kids, the little brick building, that’s been torn now, and then the next one….There was an old, old one down next to where, Stoeckers, there’s just the water wheel there now or where the water comes down through. But one of the real original ones was there, and that burnt, and then the one when we were young people was right across from where you go up Roaring Oaks Road where the Salisbury Artisans are now. But gee, all of them, when I was a kid I think they employed probably at least twenty people. I can remember the logs they said would come from South America, these great big huge trees. I think they said was cocobolo wood they had for the knives, and they would always be on the lookout for these spiders, you see, that would be in the wood. I forget, but they could kill you. When we were little kids, we would go down there, and we would watch them. They had a regular saw mill, and they’d saw these big logs up into boards. Then they had a little train we used to ride on it, back and forth, you know, just by pushing, and they’d take the boards down to
the factory, and then they went through a planer, and then they had a place where they were cut up, and then they were dyed. They put in this dye to color them or something.
JS: Roaring Oaks Road. Now, how do, if you come up Washinee and you go past Phil Warner and all those buildings, then the road dips and goes up.
LH: Oh, you’re going up Selleck Hill.
LH: The old road, when we were young, went in front of the Stoecker house. That was where Kenny Farwell lived. The Farwells and the Higginses lived there, you know, John Higgins. That was their grandfather and grandmother’s house, and the road went right in front of that house along the pond and came out in front of the factory, and then oh, probably, twenty-five years ago they built the new road up on the hill, and then where it used to come out by the factory is where you turned and went into Roaring Oaks. That used tc be called Locust Avenue, and then when all the locusts died – there was a blight and the locusts died. There were beautiful locusts on that street when we were young, and then they started calling it Roaring Oaks because if you get up there in the winter and hear those oaks. You want to hear some noise when the winds begin to roar through those things in the winter, because it’s just unbelievable, the noise it makes. So that people just called it Roaring Oaks. But I think now it’s turned back to Locust Avenue or Locust Lane now. They changed it again.
But on our street we had the Moreys. There was Dick Morey and he lives up on Riga Lane now, and there was his sister, two sisters, another brother, and I forget. They’ve all moved away. And then we had the nice old black lady, Mrs. Banks, who used to always take care of us. I mean, she worked for the Fords and all the different people cooking and things like that. She was a wonderful old lady, and we’d do her gardening, and you know, she’d give us a penny or two which was a lot of money. But if our parents had to work or we didn’t have food, she made sure we had something to eat. And then we had the awful German people. He was Indian and she was German, Mrs. Burns. They were Germans, or she was. And during the war years, you know, you had people going up and down the street for blackouts. Well, they refused to put their lights out. They were the only neighbors in the neighborhood you see, ’cause she was German, and they wouldn’t do it. I can remember that, they just wouldn’t… All of us, we had dark black curtains, shades, that you pulled, you know, if you had a, light on or something. They would patrol the streets to see that everybody turned their lights off.
JS: They must have been hated.
LH: Oh, they were. They were. Nobody liked them at all. No, because other people were very nice. The McLain’s, Charley and Stella lived down the back, and then Hattie Bennett, Jimmy Lamson’s mother, lived up there. Everybody else was wonderful but not…. And they stayed pretty much to themselves, really they did. Mrs. Banks passed away and her
godchild got the house, and she used to do church work in New Jersey, Montclair, and they would come up. Sometimes she’d have thirteen, fourteen young people living with her. Every weekend she’d bring all these young people from New Jersey. Nice kids. And then we all went off to the lake together. We would go down there. But new, I don’t know what’s happened. The house is falling down. The Burnses have moved away. Hattie’s in a nursing home in Torrington, and Charlie and Stella, they’re gone, and the whole street is changed. It was a very quiet little street. It was nice. You could down through the woods, and you would come out on Grove Street right above the White Hart, and so you took the short cut to school. And that’s where we got our water. We didn’t have running water, and every night when we came home, we had to first, my mother, of course, cleared the whole woods. She cut all the trees for the furnace. See, my father didn’t do anything. He was lazy. He just drank and that was it. And he didn’t work. He used to. When they first got married my mother said he did work. He worked at Alvoid’s Island for old Mrs. Alvoid but that was only a few years, and then after that he never worked again.
JS: Where did she work?
LH: Well, my mother used to, well, for years she used to walk to the bottom of Smith Hill where the Ortizes live now. And there was a chicken farm. The Brewster sisters owned that, and she used to pick chickens.
She walked from here?
LH: She walked there, and she said she got a penny a chicken, and then you walked home at night.
JS: Up Smith Hill at night.
LH: Yup, then you walked home at night. She said when she was a little girl, like fourteen years old; she used to walk up to the old, the Thornes house – that’s been torn down. That’s ah, Rich Emerson bought it. The old Thorne house was a great big old yellow house.
JS: On Asylum.
LH: Yeah. She used to walk there to work, and she would wait on table and if things weren’t right they would pull the tablecloths and thingy right off, and you’d have to do it all again. She said they were the meanest people you ever worked for. She said you had to work. She was fourteen. Then she worked at the chicken farm. Later on she worked at Kimmerle’s store. You know, where Buddy Trotts’s is? That was a little country store. That was the only thing we had. That was before Shagroy. And they added on. The Kimmerle’s, they lived up on Bunker Hill. Charley and Delia, and there was one other brother. But they were very, very nice. During the war years we were very lucky ’cause we could get sugar and we could get butter. But we did, a lot of times, we had the stamps, ’cause you know, my mother had children so you could get more. And that’s when my mother said my little sister, Linda (she was only six or seven years old, I guess), and the Nobles,
Mrs. Noble from Share:; and her husband, they used to come over to Kimmerle’s store here .in Salisbury, and they wanted to adopt her, ’cause you know, I guess she was a cute little girl, and they didn’t have any family really, the Nobles, and I keep teasing her now, “Lookit Lindy, you would never’ve had to work again.” But the Kimmerles and Delia had an antique shop above the store years ago, and then Stub Sherwood, ole Stub was their chauffeur. I can remember he used to drive them, you know, Bunker Hill down, and then he was the gardener and chauffeur for them- They sold it. They wanted my mother to buy it but you see, we were too little. My mother had, you know, now four little children, and she couldn’t handle it, so we weren’t old enough. So I think they sold it to Louie Trotta. I think Louie got it, and Louie sold it to Bill Ford and he named it Shagroy. Then Bill sold it to what’s-his-name – the son lives out in California. They lived up in the Leubuscher house on Belgo Road. Then 1 guess they sold it to Morris Brickman and Morris sold it to George Ernst. And that was that.
JS: Tell me about you. You went to grammar school, and then you went to high school at Regional…
LH: And I was kept back in first grade ’cause, you know Molly McKone? Her mother was our teacher, Minnie T, we called her. I can remember, I did enjoy school then, and I can remember her taking all of us in her – she had two grades, and. we would have to sit for music lessons, we would to do all these things, and she would take each one of us aside and teach us how to read with our eyes. She was very good. Then we went on into Lakeville in the third grade, and I didn’t have Mrs. LeMoine.
Did you walk?
LH: No, no. Then we came down to the Grove School and where Ward Smith, right across the street we would get the bus. We would always get the bus, and we were, lots of mornings if it was snowing we would try, the bus would get stuck coming around that corner at Conklin Street, and all of us would get on the back and keep pushing it into the woods more and more so it wouldn’t get out, you know. Then we would often sit on top of the hill by the hanging rock and would see the bus there and starting to go, and then we would run like crazy pretending we were trying to catch it. So my aunt, ’cause my aunt lived at the bottom of the hill, then she’d say, “Oh, they tried to catch the bus.” Then we had a nice neighbor, Jessie Morey’s wife, used to write all our excuses when we played hooky because my mother, we never told my mother a thing. If you got hit in school you didn’t tell her or you got hit when you got home, you really got it, so we never said how bad we were. She would write all our excuses.
Then I went to live with the Worthingtons. I don’t know if you know Bill and Margaret Worthington at Kent School. Their children, Patsy was at Radcliffe, and Billy, I think was at Bowdoin or Bates, and they wanted someone to live there. And so I had a wonderful time. Still they’re very good friends and then I went to Regional from Kent. That’s where I know all my Kent friends from because 1 lived in Kent four years. And then I went to U. Conn, for two years to take up, you know, landscaping, it’s not landscaping, but it’s a two year course.
JS: I was going to ask you how you got into this.
LH: Well, how I got into this was very interesting. When I was living with the Worthingtons and they were very good, and I always worked, even when 1 was in Kent. I worked after school and on weekends, but they got me a job with Mrs. Schumpeter at Windy Hill where Mrs. Baldwin lives. That was the old nursery. Wonderful photograph of that I should give the Historical Society. But she taught at Radcliffe and he taught at Harvard, and I started summer’s there working. And then I took a year off from school after I graduated from high school, and I worked a whole year for her, and she passed away. Her husband had passed .away a few years before, and then she left me – I think it was a couple thousand dollars, and I went on to U. Conn, which was a lot of money in those days, but anyway, I had a wonderful letter from her recommending me.
I had gone on in the winters after that, I used to work here doing gardening, and then I would go into Altman’s in New York and I’d work in the toy department from Thanksgiving until Christmas, and it was a lot of fun, it really was. And then I’d take off and go either to California or I worked two winters in Florida as a waiter, and I worked two winters in Washington, DC in a flower shop because, you see, there wasn’t much here in the winter, although you could do gardening nine months of the year, just about. And then I worked, I did come back and I worked two winters at a flower shop in New York and then I opened the business in Sharon.
JS: Roaring Oaks.
LH: Yeah, yup. So, but that’s how I got started. Well, I’d always been doing gardening since we were young. You know, I would help my grandfather, my grandfather did it, my cousin Alvin did it. They would all be mowing lawns, so we would all go out and help.
JS: Now, you’re a real honest-to-God Raggie.
LH: Oh yeah. I was even born here. We were all born in town, not in the hospital, you see. I was born where Johnny Keeler lives now, on Conklin Street. Right next to the cemetery there used to be an old shanty there. My grandmother and grandfather owned the house in front. My father and mother lived in the back. No, my mother was always very nice, even though they never approved of her marriage to my father, you know. They, he was too good to work that was my father’s problem. He had been raised that way by his mother. He was better – my grandmother always thought she was better than everybody else anyway, and then, of course, my grandfather on the other side didn’t like my father, so they never had much to do with my mother, and they never helped her.
When I look at the town records and I see that my grandfather bad charged my mother five hundred dollars for that less than half acre in 1939, which was an awful lot of money in Salisbury. I mean you could probably have bought a huge house for that price, and then she, it cost her, I think, $3500 to build that house, but you know. My mother was
Hoysradt – 11
very good, and I can remember she always took a few dollars to put toward every mortgage. I mean, I was saying to people when Sid Cowles passed away, and who was the other one, uh, Sid and Dolan. It was the same when I started out. I didn’t have very much to start with. I started with five hundred dollars, you know. But I did have this property that. I picked up, and, but they would just say to you, both of them, just pay what you can each month. 1 mean, I owed Sid Cowles probably two or three thousand dollars. And if you gave Sid twenty- five dollars a month that’s all he cared. As long as you, and that’s the way they treated everybody. Sam Whitbeck – same way. Sam would lend money. I’m sure he didn’t get a lot of it back from people, but Sam was the same way. And I can remember Sam, and we used to think we were very smart. We were always stealing things at Sam’s at the drugstore, my brother, me and all the rest of us. But I’m sure Sam saw us doing it. When I think back now, he couldn’t help but notice us. But he never said anything. He was very good about it.
JS: Do you think, this is an awkward way to put it, but you’ve come quite a distance in your life from being a genuine Raggie?
LH: Oh well, certainly, but you know…
JS: How come? Is it your ambition?
LH; It’s my ambition. My mother was the same way, I’m sure. My grandfather, except the only thing my grandfather had a terrible gambling problem and drinking problem. My mother said when they were young they had a beautiful car one day and a fur coat she would, and then nothing the next day. My grandfather was a bookkeeper and, you know. But no, and the thing is, I think, what has helped me is that I love a challenge, you know. That’s the whole thing. If I had had things easy it wouldn’t’ve happened. But when somebody says you can’t do something, you know, then, and I’ve said to people, “Gee, the Raggies are doing all right now, a lot of them.” I mean you got the Paines over here who own a great deal, and you’ve got other ones who are pretty well off when you think, when they had nothing, all of them, you know, came from very, very little. When we were young, you just didn1t have it.
JS: You remember, 1 was saying to you the other day, that term in the Lakeville Journal about Mountain Mafiosi. I think, or don’t you think a lot them got a bum rap, a bad reputation?
LH: Yeah. Because, you see, ah, most of them aren’t like that.
You’ve got, like the Sherwoods, Lois Paine and Stubby. They’re all old Sacketts from the mountain. Their family all came from the mountain. They’re all old Raggies: the Rosseters. You know, the Thurstons. You know, I don’t think the Moreys, they’ve lived here a while and of course were born here, but I think they came much later, the Moreys. The only thing is, they were related to the Frinks, and the Frinks are an old Raggie family, too. But, a lot of them, you know, never behaved like this, like they’re doing now. They were a very proud people.
I don’t remember….Oh, I can remember fighting with, you know, like we did and neighbors did, but nothing like, you know, burning somebody’s place down or trying to kill somebody. I mean people, weren’t that way.
JS: I’ve heard it said that under Bill Barnett all those years, the
Hoysrad. – 12
phrase I’ve heard used around town was, “He kept them in their place.” Do you think there’s any truth to that?
LH: Well, I’m sure Bill did, and I’m sure, see Bill always figured he didn’t have to worry about the group of people, the Raggies or any of them because they weren’t the ones who kept him in power. They were not. And I always find this in Salisbury, it doesn’t matter what party you’re in, you can be Republican or Democrat, but there’s a certain group that will keep you in power, and they do it, you know and …
JS: It certainly has been true.
LH: Yeah, yeah. It really doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat. It’s who runs the town. And you can tell.
JS: Do you think the town’s changed a lot since you grew – I don’t mean from the time you were a child but in the last twenty years?
LH: It has changed a lot, but you know, I often think, you know, people get upset with city people, and uh, I often think that, see I worked for mainly city people, Miss Morehead, they were all from Brooklyn, all these people that came here in the ‘40’s. Who else? Mrs. Muller, the Piels, all of these people, Mrs. Breck in Cornwall, they all came out of the city. But, I find it still the same today. These people are willing to pay a decent wage to people here.
I can remember when we were young you could only work for certain people. I mean there were only certain people that hired people, and they did not pay money to anyone. I mean they just didn’t. It’s only been city people moving into this area that the wages have really gone up. We did lawns for two dollars an hour. Now people, you know, people are doing them for seventy-five dollars, but it’s only because of these people that have moved out of the city and they do realize… But I think another thing is that the local people have always wanted to keep other people down, the people who have it. They do not want people to have their independence. They would love to have them dependent on them.
And you know, I am outspoken, but it’s the same I’ve felt, when they were talking about the low cost housing I felt that a few people saying they don’t want, government aid because the government can control ita little,are denying a lotof people a place to live. This could
have been done long ago like the other towns have done, and they
don’t have much of a problem in Canaan or Kent or any place. Butit’s
just that they would like to control who moves into these places.
It was the same when they were going to use the land up Factory Street. Well, the people who got together to buy down here, the old Ashman place, were all the people who were wealthy on Factory Street and Selleck Hill. They got a hundred thousand dollars together and donated this piece of land because they didn’t want low cost housing up near them, and that’s my opinion and I will always say it.
I didn’t like it when, you know, they took Charlie Ashman’s house away from him. I can remember the morning, I’m a broker, I’m a real
estate broker, I don’t do a lot of it, but I had the listing on the Railroad Street property, I had the listing on the Lower Cobble Road and I had the listing on Echo Street, the three houses that Charlie had. And 1 remember the one down on Railroad Street, it had been on the market about one week. I think they wanted around ten/five for it. They took eight/five for it from the Village Housing. I can remember the morning George Bushnell, came in to Anna at the drugstore and said, “Well, we got it.” I have always been upset because I told Jack Rogers and the others at the bank since they were handling, and Buddy Trotta, they were handling his affairs, 1 said I thought if you were handling somebody’s affairs you were trying to get the best deal you could, and you don’t sell something after a week. And it was the same with the piece on Echo Street. I had shown it to Don and Lorraine Stevens, and they were going to put a bid on it. They were asking, I think, about nineteen at the time, and they took that off. And then, about a year later it was purchased by Family Services. So, at nineteen, but I just felt they wanted Charlie’s property and they put him away. You know.
It’s very sad to think that, you know, because he worked, Charlie was not easy. He was difficult. He was a very difficult person to get along with, no doubt. But, when I was young there were loads of difficult people in town and loads of people who sat on street corners. We used to have Stella Sackett. She would come down from the mountain, and my God, she was like an old witch, you know, all in rags, and she’d sit along the street and everything. Nobody bothered her. Then there was Miss Swift. She would come down, she was an old school teacher, and she’d go down through her cousin’s there, and the Parsons, and she would sit along the street, and nobody bothered anyone. People would sit on the town hall steps. They’d sit behind it. I mean, they didn’t carry on maybe the way that the kids carry on today. I mean, they were a little, I mean they were decent, I mean they didn’t use it as a bathroom or you know, things like that like some of them have been doing, and they didn’t make love on the church steps and things like that. So I can see why they don’t like some of that. But I mean, people always sat on the town hall steps.
But I don’t know, I. air, very outspoken because I’ve seen….Especially with coning, I know we have to have it and it’s good in many ways, but I hate the way it’s run in that certain people get some things and other people can’t because they don’t have a lawyer to fight it to get it. If they had a little money and they could go to court they too would win. You know, I think when I see…. 1 lived in Sharon while I had the shop. I lived there twenty years in. the back apartment, and I’d come here in the summer. But zoning came into Sharon later, much later than Salisbury. But even now, they have people on the board who give a little. You can see the difference. I mean the zoning in Sharon about home industries in parts of town. There’s a little give and there should be. I mean, after all, you know, but it just depends here, and it’s too bad.
End – Side A
JS: What you’re trying to say, and what I feel, too, is that the town
has to be perfect. It has to be gentrified, it has to be beautified and nothing bad can come in. You don’t want a lot of bums moving in housing.
LH: Bums. Yeah. It’s too bad because there’re a lot of people who need it. There are loads of people who need houses here.
JS: Affordable housing.
LH: Right, right. You know, I can’t understand people who have all this land, and you know they say they want to do some good. When you have hundreds of acres, why you can’t at least maybe donate fifty acres? I mean if you’re going to give it away to something at least maybe do something to help a few people, you know. And another thing, I’m sure there are those who let people live in their caretakers’ cottages, and they’re doing all right, but there’re so many….
JS: Well, how many caretakers’ cottages are there today?
LH: Most of them have been sold off from the places, too. Yeah,yeah.
JS: It’s become a town of older people.
LH: It’s much older people. It’s much older people.
JS: Who cannot get services
JS: Because there’s nobody around.
LH: No, no. It’s very hard. When you want to go to a garage, I mean, it’s only John [Palmer. Ed.] John can only do so much in Lakeville. I mean, there’s the Autosport thing at thirty some dollars an hour.
JS: Hans Rocke
LH: Yeah, yeah. Hans Rocke. Right But I mean there’s nothing where you can just go in and have your oil changed and your tires changed or something unless you wait a couple weeks. And that was another thing, we were talking one day. We were figuring out how many service stations there used to be in Salisbury when we were young.
JS: There was one, that’s the ambulance garage.
LH: There was one there. That was Hamzy’s Garage. Then there was Marsh McLane’s, Babs’s father which was Sonoco which was behind the White Hart – that long building Mrs. Fish [lived in] on Conklin Street. Then there was the one at the bottom of Smith Hill. There was the one in Taconic at the store. There was one in Lime Rock at the store, the little general store in Lime Rock. There was the one at the bottom of Boulevard Hill where Coons is. That was there. There was Dufour’s in Lakeville. There was Abe Martin’s where the travel agency is, and there was another garage where Precision Molding is. And then of course you
had gas across at Community Service. But a lot of those were garages, too. But they’re all gone.
JS: What’d you think about all the flap about the town hall plan? .And all the arguments in the town meetings.
LH: Well, I was, well, in the beginning I just thought it would have been nicer for it to have been on the. hill where we had loads of room, could have expanded, loads of parking, whatever, and the reason I thought that was because I was afraid we were going to get a very, very ugly modern town hall, and I thought, well, I’d rather not see it on Main Street. But then, when they decided that they would put it on Main Street, I really was, did not want that thing they put up before us. I’d rather have what we’re getting now. There‘re a few things wrong with it, but you can’t have everything, and it’s a lot, a great, great improvement over the other one. And I’m glad that people did speak up, and I’m glad that they listened, and I think most people are going to be very happy now.
JS: Do you think the architects were hostile at one- of those meetings? I felt, they were sort cf looking down their noses at all of us.
LH: Yes, they just weren’t listening, and they didn’t care what we were saying, it seems. They were gonna do this, and you know, that was it. And then I didn’t go to a lot of the meetings. I went to quite a few, but I didn’t go to all of ’em ’cause I was in Florida a few times. Yes, T. just thought they were not paying any attention to what the people wanted, and I think most people had been led to believe that it was going to be almost the same kind of building but back on that spot. I think that’s why people wanted it back there. They had the understanding it would be pretty much the same style building.
JS: How do you see this town in another fifteen years, even ten?
LH: Wow. Well, I think you’ll see a lot of building, a tremendous amount of development.
LH: Homes, yes. I think the population, but they may not be year-
round. I think the sad thing is that you probably won’t have much of avolunteer fire department: you probably won’t have much of a volunteerambulance anymore. I think it’s coming to the point where we’reprobably going to have to pay for these things because you just arenot. The young people aren’t going into it. When these older peoplethat have been in it for years go, they’re not going into it.
JS: Well, there’re not many young people here.
LH: No, they’re leaving like…. But you know the young people come next door here. I rent to Scott [Robinson] and you know, they’re all 21 to 25, and they’re all living at home most of them because they can’t find a. rent. They can’t afford a lot of them to, you know, pay the rents, but then when a house comes up like Scott just bought one over in Sharon. It’s one that has to be fixed, but they just can’t
Hoysradt – 16
afford to buy, most of them, and they’re not going to be able to afford to buy in Salisbury. They might be able to over in Millerton and Canaan. Not for long, and if Canaan gets zoning you will see the prices jump the way they did in Sharon. It was amazing when I got my house in Sharon it was eleven thousand dollars, but I was telling people at the same time you could have bought Dr. Lovallo’s house, which is the old Rhoades house, for thirty-three thousand. That’s what that was. And that’s only 2.5 years ago, and now what’d it sell, over a million dollars a month or so ago. But I mean, eleven thousand was still a lot of money you know. I had to put a thousand dollars down. But then when zoning came in, probably eight, ten years later, prices really overnight started jumping and going like crazy in Sharon. And now they’re right up with Salisbury. They caught right up, and this is probably what will happen in Canaan. It’ll take a few years, but they’ll catch right up because people then, and. 1 can understand it, feel very safe if they put up a big house in a nice neighborhood that some little trailer is not going to be next to them, you know. I do think, and I’ve talked to a lot of people, there could be a place in the town of Salisbury’ where there could be a nice trailer park, and a lot of the retired people have even said they would like to have a trailer and go to Florida for the winter so they could have two houses, a trailer there and a trailer here, and they could go up and down and get rid of their own houses. You know, as people get older, these houses, a lot of them are big and the upkeep and they don’t have the income anymore, taxes keep going up, you know. They would love to get rid of them and like having two places to go to. It’d be very nice, but about the only way you can do it is if you get into Noble, and then you can go away.
JS: But that’s not cheap, you know.
LH: No, but the little cottages, compared to a lot of things in town. I mean if you sell your house and get a couple hundred thousand, and you no longer have the taxes and the upkeep, you can do all right. I’ve talked to a few who are getting rid of their houses and doing that. No, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Scott, they do landscaping. I mean, they’re getting ten dollars an hour now to do gardening, and some are getting more. Ten years from now I hate to think what -just to have somebody come in and mow your lawn what it’s going to cost you. All these, a plumber, there aren’t any plumbers really. They’re a thing of you know, and painters.
JS: Well, I thank you can think of?
you very much.
Anything else you want to say, that