Donald Hurlbutt Interview
This is file #31, cycle 3. Today’s date is April 12, 2018. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Mr. Donald Hurlbutt who is going to talk about growing up in town, where he worked, his military career, and anything else he wants to chat about. First we will start with the genealogical information.
JM:What is your name?
DH:My name is Don Hurlbutt.
JM:What is your birthdate?
DH:December 17, 1948.
JM:Where were you born?
DH:I was born in Greenwich, Ct.
JM:Your parents;’ names?
DH:George W. Hurlbutt and Dorothy Siegle
DH:I had a sister Daphne. She is deceased.
JM:How did you come to this area?
DH:We moved here in 1958, I believe from Larchmont, N. Y.
JM:What was your father’s profession?
DH:He and my grandfather had a law office in Lakeville.
JM:That is why your father moved here.
DH:We moved here for my father to join my grandfather in the firm.
JM:When you were in Lakeville, where did you live?
DH:Growing up we lived on Belgo Road, Dr. Wieler’s house which is on the corner of Belgo and Ore Mine road.
JM:The pretty white one with the stone wall. When you were growing up, did you go to the Grove?
DH:All the time, any time we could during the summer.
JM:How did you get there?
DH: I rode my bike.
JM:Who ran the Grove at that time?2.
DH:It was Frank Markey. Had Fred Romeo started to work there, then?
DH:No, I don’t believe so.
JM:No that would be too early for Fred.
JM:Did you learn how to swim there?
JM:Was it Art Wilkinson, or Wilbur Hemmerly?
DH:Probably Hemmerly. I actually learned to swim at the Larchmont Yacht Club before we came up here. Swimming in fresh water is a whole different ball game.
JM:Do you remember Jeanette Axleby?
JM:Do you remember her swimming across the lake>
DH:I do. She was usually the first one in and the last one out from the lake, she and her wet suit.
JM:Did she have polio?
DH:Yes, she had polio.
JM:This is why she was doing the swimming. Did she teach swimming?
DH:I do not remember that she did. I don’t think she did. That was her exercise.
JM:How far is it across the lake?
DH:Too far for me, even when I was young. I think it is about a mile across the lake.
JM:Did you play baseball?
DH:I played Little League for 2 years, and was not very good at it.
JM:But you had fun.
JM:Who was the Recreation Director then?
JM:How about winter sports? What did you do in the winter?
DH:We played hockey down on Factory Pond, sledding, but I did not ski until I was in high school.
JM:Where did you ski?
JM:Did you do Bittersweet? (Located near Satre Hill Ski jump)
DH:No at that point. Bittersweet was not there. We skied at Hob Nob Hill. (Off Undermountain Road)
JM:When you were sledding, I have heard some pretty horrible stories about where people were sledding.
DH:We would go tobogganing on the hill between upper and lower buildings at Salisbury Central, and over at Hotchkiss.
JM:You did not come down Lincoln City Road, or Washinee Street.
JM:Those were early on when there was no traffic. How about Holley Hill Riding Stables?
DH:I rode at Holley Hill Stables. At age 12 maybe 13 I’d ride my bike from Belgo Road out to Holley Hill Stables I would feed the horses, clean horses, clean tack, ride for one hour, throw around hay bales and spend all day there.
JM:Did you know Chip Hines? (See file #1, cycle 2, Chip Hines)
DH:I knew Chip Hines and his sister Peggie.
JM:The Holley Hill Stables was run by Lucy Drummond at that point?
DH:Lucy Drummond, that’s right. John Clark was her main man there.
JM:Was that the John Clark that was the airplane pilot and lived on Porter Street?
DH:No, this John Clark lived on Route 41 just past Holley Hill.
JM:Holley Hill Stables is 485 Undermountain Road where Clarion Farm is now.
JM:You went to Housatonic Valley Regional High School and you loved the freedom of being able to drive and getting your license.
DH:I got my driver’s license on my 16th birthday. I was a little older than most of the kids so I was driving in my sophomore year.
JM;How did you learn to drive?
DH:I got in the car and practiced. Actually we lived on Belgo Road we had a lot car, a1850 Dodge hydromatic. I drove around the fields in that. In high school you had to have Driver’s Ed to graduate.
DH:I had my license before I took the Driver’s Ed course.
JM:You must have aced the Driver’s Ed course?
DH:I think I did, but I don’t remember. I didn’t have to do any driving; I just had to do the classroom.
JM:In sports you did track and you were very good at it.
DH:I was very good at it.
JM:You were; you had three records. Tell me about the three records.
DH:The high jump record, long jump record, and triple jump record, which I still have.
JM:With the high jump, that is going over the high bar?
JM:Do you remember how high your record was?
DH:I think it was 5 feet 10 ½ inches. I’m not sure.
JM:How about the long jump?
DH:That was 41 feet 8 inches.
JM:WOW! The triple jump was going over three hurdles?
DH:No not jumping over hurdles, it is just a hop skip and a jump that was 43 feet 10 inches.
JM:That is about 8 times your height!
JM:I am very impressed. Your triple jump record is still there.
DH:It is still there. I did that in 1967.
JM:When did you go into the Army?5.
DH:I volunteered for the draft and went in in Sept. 1969.
DH: I volunteered for the draft.
JM:What does that mean?
DH:If you were drafted they gave you three years’ service, but if you volunteered they gave you two years’ service. I would have been drafted anyway, so I volunteered.
JM:You thus cut off a year of enlistment
JM:That was a smart move.
DH:Yeah, the thing is if you did something like two years you were usually going to end up in infantry because they were not going to invest a lot of time for school for that short amount of service.
JM:Where did you do your basic training?
DH:Basic training was in Fort Dix, New Jersey. I had Advanced Infantry training in Fort Louis, Washington.
JM:You were in Vietnam?
DH:I was in Vietnam from March, 1970 to January, 1971.
JM:You were in combat?
JM:You were wounded?
JM:You said that you were a point man?
JM:That means what?
DH:A point man, if you are walking in a file, I am the first man there.
JM:You were the target.
DH:Yeah. I did that for 4 ½ months.
JM:Do you stay in touch with any of the men you served with?6.
DH:I am in touch with one of them, and one that I knew. There were 6 of us in a squad; Ione disappeared, we don’t know where he is, one is dead, the other one has atraumatic brain injury through an accident, then there is me and one other guy.
JM:I know nothing about the military but I understand there is a special bond with these men.
JM:At that time it was all men.
DH:In combat anyway.
JM:When did you go to Fort Benning?
DH:I came back in the middle of January and I reported March 1, 1971. I was there until July.
DH:I was a Specialist 4th class which is comparable to a Corporal. Actually where I worked I was an acting D6 which is a staff sergeant. There was a slot for a staff sergeant and they didn’t have anybody there, so I was put in.
JM:You came home in 1971 and as an adult you worked in various places.
JM:The village Store?
DH:I worked at the Village Store for a while until it was sold to Jon Higgins (See file #64, cycl3e 2 Jonathan Higgins).
JM:Who was running it then?
DH:Paul and Jean Blackburn. At that point it was half sporting goods and half hardware.
JM:That was an odd combination.
DH:It was. When Jon took it over it was all sporting goods.
JM;You worked at Community Service.
DH:I did. I worked in the Sharon store for a while; I can’t remember how long. Then I started working for Arnoff Moving & Storage.
JM:With Community Service was there a special department that you worked in?
DH:No I did anything in the store.
JM:When you went over to Arnoff, you actually did the moving.7.
DH:I did some moving, customer service, dispatch, and Operations.
JM:What is Operation?
DH:It is the overall management; making sure everybody is doing what they are supposed to do to get the job done.
JM:You also worked at Allyndale Lime in Canaan?
DH:I worked at Arnoff for 30 years then I worked or Allyndale Limestone for 13 years.
JM:A man of very interesting talents. But you like to work with your hands and be outside.
You have also done some volunteer work. One of the things that impressed me is that you do to the high school and talk about Vietnam.
DH:I did, but they don’t seem to want to hear about that much anymore.
JM:But it is history.
DH:It is history, I know but if you look at a history book, you don’t see a whole lot about it except for the fact we were bad people for being there.
JM:No you were not. You were doing your duty for your country.
DH:I do believe that, I do.
JM:Duty is important.
DH:Most assuredly. No matter what it is you do your duty to the best of your ability. My father always told me that. If you are digging a ditch or if you are doing brain surgery, do it to the best of your ability.
JM:You would go into the high school to do a specific history class.
DH: I think I did that 3 or 4 times. I would let them ask questions; that was a lot easier for me.
JM:It is easier because you do not know what they want to know.
JM:You said that Mary Louise Kenny was doing a veteran’s project.
DH:Yes, she was doing something; I don’t remember what it was called.
JM:Do you know what she is doing it for like for the American legion?
DH:I don’t know. I know it all goes into the Library of Congress History Project or something.
JM:I think you said she taped you for 2 ½ hours.
DH:I thought it was about 10 minutes and the time just went by.
JM:You had a wonderful story about when you were coaching Minor League baseball. You had a little girl that had no athletic ability. Please tell me that story.
DH:I got involved with minor League baseball because my sons were playing. I did this for 5 years or something. . I seemed to end up with the less than athletic kids on my team which I loved. The other guys were taking it so seriously and we were having fun. They were learning a little bit about baseball, the mechanic of it. I had one little girl who was a little overweight with no athletic ability whatsoever. By the end of the season a ball was hit to her on second base and she fielded the ball and threw it to first and got the out. That was my success right there. It was great. I loved it.
JM:She was proud of herself.
DH:I think she was. I believe she was. She was astounded, but she did it.
JM:Were you ever on the recreation committee?
DH:I was for a while. Especially when we were doing a 5 and 10 year planning, but I got off it rapidly.
JM:Was that strategic planning?
DH:Yes, I was not on the recreation committee, but the strategic planning.
JM:What is that supposed to be? Planning for the future?
DH:Planning for the future, a 5 or 10 year plan for the town. My plan was to do horse shoe pits and basketball court at the Grove. People didn’t seem to like that because the kids would walk all over the grass, and be disruptive. Don’t walk on the grass! They did have one broken down basketball hoop by the parking lot.
JM:How about Affordable Housing? Were you on that?
DH:No I was not. I always thought we should have affordable housing as part of the strategic plan. People who had moved into the town…
JM:They had a different attitude.
DH:They had a very different attitude. They started saying, “We don’t need affordable housing here because all the workers can live in Canaan or Millerton. That is wrong. That is why I got off the committee because I couldn’t stand that kind of attitude. It was not worth fighting about.
JM:What haven’t I covered that you would like to tell me?9.
DH:Hmm. I have just gone through life doing the best I can. There is not a whole lot left to tell.
JM: You have done very well. I thank you so much for your information.
DH:Well you are welcome. Thank you for asking me to do it.