Johnson, Gordon

Interviewer: William Morrill
Place of Interview: 87 Canaan Rd.
Date of Interview:
File No: 114 A & B Cycle:
Summary: Veterinarian, names of various selectmen, P & Z, SCS Board of Ed. Regional Bd. of Ed. HCCC, school renovation, 55 flood, Town Hall fire

Interview Audio

Interview Transcript


WM: Good Morning. What is the subject of your interview?

GJ:     The subject is going to be my existence in this town, or my family’s existence in this town. I

guess we moved here in 1970 to Lime Rock, to the old homestead of Herb Bergdahl on Route 112. We used to jokingly call that East Lime Rock. There was a downtown Lime Rock and a West Lime Rock. Of course Lime Rock is a little village of about 200 people. We used to get a big laugh out of that.

WM: Before you start on Lime Rock, could you just give a quick squib on your previous…You grew up in Connecticut, didn’t you?

GJ:     I grew up in Wethersfield, Connecticut, the oldest town in the state, although Windsor disputes

that. I went to school at Tufts in Boston in Medford, Massachusetts. I got my DDM, doctorate in veterinary medicine at Michigan State in Canton, Michigan. That’s where I met my wife.

WM: When did you graduate?

GJ:     Tufts in 1956, Michigan State in 1961. At Michigan State I met Jerri who became my wife and is

still married to me, surprisingly, I guess. We’ve had a great life together. We moved back from Michigan where I took a position in Greenwich with Jack Robinson at the Blue Cross Animal Hospital on the Post road. I practiced there for nine years. Eventually that led to a partnership with Jack. After a number of years of partnership we decided Jerri and I that with a young growing family we would like to get into a less populated area. We loved the northwestern part of this state and realized that currently there was nobody in Salisbury. There had been a veterinarian named Haines, but he had moved to Florida. We thought this would be a great spot to start an animal hospital. So we started searching for a place to live.

WM: In 1970 you moved to the old Bergdahl property. (520 Lime Rock Road)

GJ:     The old Bergdahl estate, Bergdahl Senior. He had two sons and they lived there. I believe they

purchased it from a man named Owens in 1929. The Bergdahls never lived there full time. It was a weekend and vacation spot for them because they were New York City people. But by the time we were looking for a house, they were getting up in age and decided they couldn’t maintain this very large Victorian house, a house with 8 bedrooms, very gorgeous house with a beautiful barn next door to it. We converted part of the barn into the Lime Rock Animal Hospital. I practiced in that building until December of 1997 when Kent Kay of Millerton, New York, purchased my practice, and I moved to practice in Millerton, New York, just over the line, to work with my long-time associate and friend Kent Kay. I continued to work for him for a number of years, retired, semi-retired, and had worked with him on and off ever since.

WM: Your practice was mainly?

GJ:     My practice was exclusively with companion animals, small animals. They were sort of

interesting to me. Dogs and cats, I would occasionally see a snake, gerbils, turtles.

WM: Crow?

WM: We had one too.

GJ:      Really? The Hickeys had a crow; Jim Hickey in town had a crow that used to follow the kids to

school, the grammar school in Salisbury, and would sit and wait for the kids, and then come home with them. The poor fellow met up with something one day and lost his claw. His claw was caught and broken, and we couldn’t really repair it, so we had to amputate it. That crow, still one legged, flew and landed all over the village for many years; interesting bird, really nice bird. I did mostly small animals. I would see an occasional deer. Pete Begley who was at the time Conservation Officer in the area would bring some injured animals to me. We worked on a number of deer for him, but it was a great experience. Mychoice to do small animals was principally the guys around me, the veterinarians around me, were doing mixed practice and therefore were on the road very early in the morning and really didn’t return to the hospital or office until the afternoon.

WM: They were doing large animals.

GJ:      They were doing large animals, doing cow, horse and sheep. I was available, by doing

exclusively small, I was able to do small animals in the mornings and give better coverage to the small animal clients in the area. We all got along very nicely as colleagues, and I don’t believe there was ever any animosity among any of us because of what I was attempting to do. Kent Kay very early in my career up here, he and I became good friends and he would utilize my practice for various situations. His building burned to the ground. His animal hospital burned to the ground, and it took him 6 or 7 years to reestablish. During that period of time he utilized my surgery for doing his surgery, and I was more or less the anesthesiologist in most cases. I was also the caretaker of the animals following surgery. We had a very nice understanding. That of course preceded his purchasing my practice and my becoming his associate. That was a nice way to do it because you don’t have to worry about the business, employee relations, and stuff like that. It was a good life.

WM: What did you do in your spare time?

GJ:      Well we were raising four children, and they can be quite demanding of our time. I did get

involved in our town. Bill Barnett came to me, I think in 1972, and asked if I would run for the Zoning Board. I always felt it was important that any of us in business in the area, in the town, contribute to the town. So I did. I was elected and served for 20 years. The gentleman sitting next to me was chairman for quite a few of those years. He and I worked together very closely in zoning. We had some difficult times in zoning. At that time there was a pretty heavy demand for subdivision and we had to deal especially, to make sure that was a controlled effort. We worked hard on planning. That was truly a great experience, a valuable experience. Both Bill and I sort of left at the same time and left it in the hand of John Higgins. He dealt with it for 20/22 years, and he has done a superb job. That was a great spot. I’ve served in a couple of areas. One of my favorite areas was the Housatonic Day Care. I was director of that for a number of years and was involved in the building of the new building (not new now, it’s about 8 or 10 years old) over on Salmon Kill Road. That was one of my joyful experiences, working with those people and with the children, and being building chairman of that building. I was also involved in 1990 and 1994 with the 51/2 million dollar renovation and new construction of the Salisbury Central School. John rice worked side by side with me on that. That was a very tedious project, but a very interesting project which I think came out quite decently for the town and for the children. I’m not an educator of course, but I am a sports fan. I was so pleased that the gymnasium we ended up building received so much attention, not only from the school children, but from those in town who liked to use it for sports. The gymnasium itself, there’s an anecdote about that. It was sort of in the final stages of construction, and I happened to be down observing some of the work. They had put up some basketball backboards, wooden backboards or a composition backboard, two on each side and one on each end. Bob Gutzman, the coach for the Housatonic basketball team, was in there at the same time and he said,”Boy, you can’t have those composite backboards at both ends. You’ve got to have glass. That’s what everybody has.” So I went back to the committee at the next committee meeting and said, “You know I really want to vote for glass backboards. I’ve got the price for them. The cost is $1500 more than the composite ones. It looks so much better, and the kids like them. It looks more professional.” Most of the members were wondering why I wanted to do that. I tried to explain to them. They finally agreed to free up another $1500 out of their contingency fund to do it. Really, if you go down and look at that, that’s a really wonderful facility. It was well-received by the community. It is a gymnasium with a stage on the side wall with the music room backed up to it. It has worked out to be efficient, for the music program, for the staging of school plays and school functions, and obviously for the sports. That was a project that took a fair amount of time, and it was very rewarding in that we have a school functioning very well.

WM: Do you recall the false start of the first go-round?

GJ:      Yes.

WM: This is after the town Hall burned down in 1985.

GJ:      A huge tragedy. There were workings for renovation of the school by another committee that

had been started. They actually had some drawings and had been studying it. When the Town Hall was torched, that issue had to go on the back burner. That issue for that project we picked it up in 1990 and got a referendum passed by the town.

WM: Wasn’t there a failure of the referendum at first?

GJ:      Our referendum? No.

WM: There was a first go-around that was rejected, I think. You came in on the second go-round.

GJ:      I believe so. We had to be very careful how that was presented. We had a lot of good coaching

about how to handle it. Buddy Trotta was First Selectman at the time, and we had people who had experienced the rough road on a previous referendum. It was pretty well planned and studied. We covered most bases in a number of public hearings and public meetings that allowed the public to buy it. The referendum passed. We came in under budget by about $10,000 even though we added a number of “wish list” items near the end that amounted to many thousands of dollars. I don’t think we left too much out that people wanted; teachers, students, parents, people on our board who wanted certain things, the principal of the school who wanted certain things. Most everybody’s wishes were brought in.

Wm: What was your role in that? You were chairman.

GJ:      I was co-chairman originally with Barbara Leibowitz. Barbara Leibowitz and her husband moved

to Florida. I only took the co-chairmanship because I thought we could split the duties pretty well. She left, and I was obligated to continue as chairman. It was fine. I really enjoyed it, and I had a marvelous bunch of people working with me who really helped me: Peggy Heck, Norm Sills, Roland Bates, sue Morrill, Joe Brennan, he was very helpful. I may have forgotten one or two people, but we had a very good working group, very observant, to study the plans, study the work that had been done, come up with questions. Architects are a very knowledgeable group of people. We had some questions for them a number of times. (The architectural firm was Stecker, LaBau Arneill and McManus Architects, Inc. of Glastonbury, Ct.) We finally went to a construction manager program (O&G Industries Inc of Torrington, Ct.) which in the long term saved us a fair amount of money, and a fair amount of time on the volunteer part. We had a lot of cooperation from the principal at the time, Thom Bradley, and the head custodian, George parsons, was very, very helpful to us during construction. Both of those guys were monitoring on a daily basis in walking around. I was up there most every day of the week. It was definitely a team effort.

WM: Basically your job was checking on the actual physical progress of the construction.

GJ:      Talking to the construction manager (Robert O’Reilly), talking to the project manager;

sometimes we’d go back and forth with the architect. I had a great relationship with David LaBau who was the principal architect on the whole project… David LaBau and McManus were with the group called SLAM (Stecker, LaBau, Arneill & McManus). I had a good relationship with the architects although they were not always as cooperative as we would have liked. But the bottom line is the money dictated the project. But that’s okay. We understood their position, and they understood ours.

WM: What was Lime Rock like when you got here in 1970?

GJ:      Lime Rock was pretty much having its difficulties because of the Lime Rock Race Track. There

was quite a vocal group of people, The Lime Rock Protective Association; I think that was their name. I guess Mr. Bergdahl was one of the leading members and contributors financially. When we came there, I was interviewed by any number of the members of that committee wanting me to join their committee to be a vocal and hopefully a financial contributor. I withstood their barrage. I wanted to live here and see just how much of a problem it was to us and to my business, et cetera. I knew about the traffic; I knew about the noise. I knew it was very uncomfortable certain days of the year because of the high traffic volume and the noise. It came to the point that it didn’t bother us that much. The days that the traffic was very active, such as Memorial Day or Labor Day, we would just go over to the Grove, take the kids over to the Grove and stay there for that particular day. I understood people’s concerns about property damage and property values going down. They are less in Lime Rock than they are in Lakeville or Salisbury, for instance. I got to be, not friendly, but acquainted with a number of people at the track. I know that zoning came into the issue for screening. The track agreed obviously not to run on Sundays and to finish their running by 6 o’clock on Saturday nights. They would have to screen from route 112. There were these enormous, really fine trees at the time, maybe 4 or 5 feet high. Now 45 years later, you drive by and they’re huge, must be 50 feet in the air. They completely block the view of whatever they’ve got in there. I’m not sure that they block a lot of the noise. They have changed the aspect of people sitting on the highway looking over the track. I think the neighborhood and the town have come to an accommodation with that track. I have not really heard any real vociferous objections to Lime Rock Race Track in many years. Have you, Bill? (See tape #43A/B Cora Belter)

WM: It certainly quieted down, not the track but the objections. You were known as the “Mayor of Lime Rock”. What were your duties as Mayor of lime rock?

GJ:      Duties as Mayor of Lime Rock? That was sort of a comical name given to me in zoning one day.

The title doesn’t mean much except I was probably the one Lime rock representative on some of the boards in town. I was on the Zoning board. I would say you have to think about the village of Lime Rock when we were discussing things, and people would laugh at me. I did have concerns and didn’t want Lime rock to be forgotten in any negotiations. The track was an issue, and we must keep that in the forefront. It was just a comical name. As I said earlier, people used to kid and say, “Where are you from?” I used to say East Lime Rock. They would say, “Where’s East Lime Rock?” I would say there is West Lime Rock when you come from Rt. 112 from Hotchkiss, then there’s Downtown Lime Rock where the Lodge is, and then East Lime rock where I live. We used to kid about that a lot.

WM: Do you remember any stories about the history of Lime Rock. You would have heard them because you were not here at the time.

GJ:      Just some of the derivation. I guess at one time it was a mine, gravel taken from it way back.

WM: In the area of the track.

GJ:      The village itself was very active in the Barnum Richardson days. It was fairly wealthy at one

point. The iron industry crashed in the early 1900’s, and by 1929 there were many, many houses for sale. The realtor (see tape 12A Mrs. Lucille Singleton Fish) came in and purchased; his mother (Mr. Stone) or mother-in-law purchased many of the houses in the area. There were some gorgeous old houses all along the main drag. There were three lovely little houses right near the river, the Salmon Kill River, that were homes for the workers in the foundry which was on the river. There is this old furnace that is on the edge of the river just past the bridge going up the hill on Rt.12 going west. That was not there, but the foundations are.

WM: Did that get washed out in the’55 flood?

GJ:     I think it was destroyed in the ’55 flood. The entire area was under a great deal of water. Herb

Bergdahl, Jr. was showing me pictures of what the flood looked like. The building over the bridge down by the Salmon Kill River, a good 30/40 feet high (See tape #34A Evelyn Bellini) (The Lime Rock furnace survived the 1955 flood. The foundry building and bridge were damaged and repaired. When Rt.112 was repaired, the new bridge was built over the ruins of the foundry creating the road as it is today 2011. Mrs. Fish moved her house up next to the furnace where it remains. Apparently it was not damaged in that flood.)

WM:    On the brook?

GJ:     Yes, on the brook.

WM: Did Barnum get flooded?

GJ:     I think only once in the entire history of that property. I think Barnum was flooded in that late

r’rfay storm in 1984 where we were surrounded by water, and my wife, Jerri, reminded me today that it was when she was working at Hotchkiss. When she came home one afternoon during the flood, she couldn’t get the car down to our house. She parked it up at the track, took her shoes and stockings off, hiked up her dress, and walked through the water and got into the house. Then she was stranded because by the next day the water was too deep to get out on the road. The water did not get quite up to our house, but the basement did flood as the groundwater came up. We had our cars and everything else up on the hill behind us. The barn was flooded. My animal hospital did not get flooded, but it was in that situation probably for 3 or 4 days.

WM:    Is that when you called me to borrow a rowboat to use in the basement?

GJ:     Yes, I did borrow a rowboat from ,h(erb to row over to the barn to get some hay because we had

some oil that was down there, and I wanted to contain the oil. When that receded, the Salmon Kill used to go to the west of us and behind us, that’s its normal route, but during the storm it came down the middle of Rt.112. It was rushing by the front of our house. Following that when the water receded, and we were finally able to get on the road, when the road was dry, there was a large puddle of water across the street from us. I noticed all these fish jumping out of the water. They were huge river carp that came up from the Housatonic, and they were land locked when the water receded. I presume what was happening was that they were starting to lose oxygen. A couple of hours later I saw them and had taken photographs of them, there were 10-15 guys out there in their trucks with spears nailing these fish. I mean they were really big. They must have been 3 or 4 feet long. It was fascinating to see them. But they were obviously going to succumb as the water got really low. But that was, you said 1984?

WM: Yes, that was May’84.

GJ:     Then that was a 75 year flood. I think they said ’55 was a 100 year flood. That was the worst

flood they had in that area for probably 100 years. But Lime Rock did change. Buildings were destroyed up at the forge and the mill. These were hard times. Property values did drop; houses weren’t being kept up. It’s a nice little village. I always tried to support Lime rock. Then I moved to Salisbury to get out of the big house and come to a nice compact building we’re in right now-Lion’s Head. I still drive through Lime rock and admire what’s been done and how people have fixed up their homes. I don’t think it has grown very much in population. There’s not too much new building.

WM: Did you have much contact with Hezekiah Goodwin?

GJ:      Hezekiah Goodwin was just a delightful guy, a very, very old Yankee. His original property was a

grant from King George as I understand it. I guess his son told me about that.

WM: But there’s what, 6, 7, or 8 generations of Hezekiah Goodwin?

GJ:      who lived on that property? He was a very bright guy, very interesting to talk to, and I don’t

think he was properly understood by Salisbury residents. I think he was too much of an old Yankee. He used to visit; he was dog warden for a number of years. Unfortunately we had to take care of some of those dogs who were strays and had to be taken care of. I remember one great scene. He was driving one day down Rt. 112, and he had a huge wire cage strapped to the top of his beat up old station wagon with 2 dogs in it. He was bringing them over to my place. He had picked the dogs up someplace in Salisbury and put them in this cage. He was driving through town with the dogs on top in the cage.

It was a winter scene and snow was really drifting and 112 was hardly plowed. I was in the animal hospital which was right next door to our house. I looked up, and there was a cow at the front door of the animal hospital looking in. “oh geez, Hezzie’s cows have gotten loose.” I wondered how these cows had gotten loose. Hezzie had maybe 10-15 head of cattle that would get loose four or five times a year; he wasn’t great on fixing fences sure enough. So I called Hezzie and said there were cows in my front yard, and he said, “OK, I’ll be down in a minute, Doc.” By the time he got here, there was a whole herd of cows. They had moved from my house and were walking down Rt. 112 toward Rt. 7. Well, Hezzie came in and said,”Where’s the cows?” “They went that way, Hezzie.” “Ok”. Well, he got out of his car, and he had a bucket of grain, and started walking down Rt. 112. Next thing I know, here comes Hezzie up 112 with a bucket of grain in his hand, the lead cow walking right behind him, and 15 other cows right behind them. He walked them back home. That’s how he got his cows back. I always enjoyed him. It was a wonderful scene. It was something out of the 1800’s. There were no cars around at that time. It was snowing so heavily.

He knew a lot about the stock market; he invested quite a bit. He always tried to get stock tips. He got involved when the town wanted to put the dump in Lime Rock. We enlisted his help because the property they were going to put it on was his old gravel pit. Thomas White was on the Refuse Commission to look for a new site. Tom decided along with a bunch of us in Lime Rock that we didn’t want it in Lime Rock. He sort of changed his stripes a bit and joined our group. There was this very large reaction at one of the largest town Meetings I had ever been to at Hotchkiss Auditorium. The commission which was in charge of finding the site; it was a hearing. Six or seven men were sitting in a row, and they were going to present the program. We had contacted a lawyer in Hartford to represent us and that was Kelly, who was head of the Democratic Party in the state at that time. He was a huge man. He must have been 6 feet 5 inches, and 300 pounds, a very dominating presence. Anyway, Tom White was sitting next to Bill Barnett. Tom had not submitted to the Commission his change of heart until that night at the meeting. The microphone was passed to him, and he said, “Well, I oppose the decision of this site on the Goodwin property. I think we should turn it down and look for a better solution.” With that the crowd, at least the crowd from Lime Rock erupted in cheers. I think we had packed the audience pretty well. Bill Barnett turned to Tom White and said,” You will never get anything in this town again.”” Of course that was an empty threat because he didn’t have that kind of power. Tom White was all by himself when the shouting was all over, but it turned out that the position we maintained won, luckily for us. The outcome of it was the Transfer Station up on Rt. 41.

WM: We’re starting the second side of the Gordon Johnson interview Sept 21, 2004. We have just been talking about the relocation of the Transfer Station.

GJ:     That would have been in the 1970’s.

WM:    There were other interesting events that you wanted to mention.

GJ:     Again I guess climate, and problems like that and storms are on my mind because we are moving

to South Carolina. I have told people we have almost an equal amount of terrible calamities here with weather. We all remember the tornado that went through here that really landed solidly in Cornwall in the late 1980’s.

WM: Yeah,’87 or 88 (July 10,1989)

GJ:     That sort of hopped and skipped around through the area. At Hotchkiss, it was interesting to

me, that part of it did land at Hotchkiss, and the tennis court fences were bent right over. It was so strange to see those big wire fences that were just bent over by the storm. It sort of leaped from there and came down to land in part of our area in Lime Rock and destroyed quite a few of our willow trees. That took a lot of clearing. Then it leapfrogged over to West Cornwall and finally landed in Cornwall, almost the center of Cornwall and just knocked the living heck out of that village and the trees in the area. (Cathedral of the Pines in Cornwall) it has taken a long time for those areas to show new growth.

The storm that I remember most vividly because the storm literally got Jerri and I to think about getting out of the big house and all the maintenance of the big house and changing the practice was the storm of April 1,1997. We had a wet, wet snow and high winds at night, and it just knocked down tree after tree after tree on our property. In fact one big huge old Maple tree went across Rt. 112 and shut off ail the electricity for the entire town of Salisbury and Lakeville. We lost a lot of trees. I got up in the morning and opened the back door of the house and just saw a couple of beautiful Elm trees down and pine trees all broken up.

WM: So how much snow was there?


GJ:      I think there was close to one foot of snow, very heavy wet snow. Fortunately our buildings

survived any damage from falling trees. Our family was safe, but I stood there and I came back in and I said, “Jerri, I can’t take this any longer. This is just too much to have to go through.” We were constantly cleaning up trees from wind and snow damage on that beautiful property. I think probably two months later after $15-20,000 worth of tree clearing work and a lot of hours of my family cutting and clearing wood, we decided that we were going to sell the practice and get out of that house as much as we loved it. By that time our children were, Ian was the only one with us in the house, the rest of the kids had married and moved on, gone to college and so forth. So we really didn’t need that.

Moving on I served on the Board of Education; I am still on the Board of Education in Salisbury Central, and I served for three years on the Regional Board at the High School. Those are very current and vivid experiences. I enjoyed those moments, very interesting. We have gone through a couple of principals at Salisbury Central. We have Paul Sales right now, and he’s a gem. We’re in pretty good shape. We did a big building renovation again clearing out some of the old asbestos which is still around. There are some windows that are not great from the original construction in 1990. The town was very gracious in passing the budget, allowing us to spend that money $260,000. The Regional Board was interesting. At the time we went through one budget hearing, four referendums to get the budget passed. That got fairly contentious, and there was a fair amount of bad feeling amongst some of the public, back and forth with the Board of Education with the Superintendant of Schools, Chairman of the Board of Education. That got ironed out finally and moved out. Now they are working rather nicely. The High School is a great school with wonderful programs and a very dedicated staff. The grammar school, Salisbury Central, is probably one of the shining lights in the k-8 education in the state of Connecticut. It is just outstanding. The people there are wonderful. They are conscientious; they work very hard. They do beyond what they have to do for the children. I think this town should be very proud of that school.

I have worked for a number of selectmen from Bill Barnett to Charlotte (Ried) to Buddy (Trotta), Bob Smithwick; less so, I mean I did not have much contact with Vai (Bernadoni). If you want my frank opinion, I think Vai Bernadoni was the best thing that happened to the town of Salisbury in probably thirty or forty years. He was just a workaholic, bright, on top of things, had worked for the state of Connecticut to get state financing for some of our road projects and bridge projects, he and the other selectmen Curtis (Rand) and Peter Oliver. Bill Barnett was an interesting contrast with all these guys and gals. He played his cards pretty close to the vest, and he had sort of an inner circle of people that things didn’t get beyond them. He was a good administrator. The town progressed very well. He was obviously involved pretty heavily with the track, and I believe one of those who were financially involved with the track. He maybe had an issue about that. He may not have realized how the ramifications of that were hurting the village of Lime Rock. Issues which are somewhat known.

I worked very closely with Bud Trotta, and Charlotte. Charlotte and I get along very well. I though she did a marvelous job. I think they all were bit long in the tooth by being in the position for more than 5, 6, 7, years, and having been in some administrative positions it is sometime so difficult to get a committee to approve something so you are better off making the decision yourself and running with it. I think that happens sometimes with any of our administrators, and I could see that with Charlotte, and I saw it in Buddy’s later days, but Bud and I get along very well. We were very close friends. In fact the house we are living in right now we got from Buddy and his wife. He was a very strong supporter of mine during the construction of the school as a mentor. I spent many hours discussing some of the difficulties and some of the projects. He had me in contact with people with Ralph Elliot the attorney and his people when we had some problems with legal questions.

I think the Town Hall fire was a watershed in all of our lives in this town. It was just devastating to the psyche of the town, obviously to the facility of the Town Hall, and financial cost, but I think it came out well. Granted Bill Morrill and I were both sort of ad hoc, or at least we followed people around looking at sites. I know the grammar school, the Lower Building was considered. There were a number of us who thought that that would have been an excellent choice for Town Hall. There was already talk of building, changing the building up at the grammar school, and some talk of eliminating that building as a school.

WM: The Lower Building of the school.

GJ:     The Lower Building at the school. That was on the drawing board for a while. The property

behind the town hall which the town owns we all walked around and looked at. There was some thought that there was going to be a lot of ledge, and it would be difficult to build there. I think probably it came down to the fact that Charlotte wanted the Town Hall replaced in the same location. That’s pretty much what happened. Granted there’s been controversy about that from the beginning. The building itself maybe was not constructed in the greatest way; there are some traffic problems inside the building, but most of us have gotten used to it. I frankly like it where it is. It could have been a different size perhaps. That was a problem back then, and I think all the wounds have been healed. It was just unbelievable to see that building in ashes.

WM: The old Town Hall.

GJ:     The old Town Hall. Just a side light, the Lower Building, which was to be maybe the Town Hall, it

was turned down. When we were talking about renovating, there was a strong advocacy for again eliminating that building and giving it back to the town for the town to use for whatever. In fact I think they talked about maybe a Senior Citizen Center or that type of thing, maybe even Daycare at that point. The school people, maybe 80% the principal and the Board of Education wanted everything in the Upper Building, the site for the whole school. Those of us on the commission to site the building, to site the new school project, and the architect looked at the Lower building and felt that it was in such good condition, such a well constructed building, and it had a long tradition since 1926 as a school in town that we really shouldn’t abandon it as a school. We did convince the board to agree and the town to agree that we should save that building. I am really glad we did although I still hear questions about well it’s a long walk between the buildings, and the kids lose 5 or 10 minutes of the day because of the walk back and forth. I think it works well; I am not an educator but it works well at the middle school, a separate school with the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders have their own building and their own dimension. They can call it their school. I think that works, and I am sure that there are some people who disagreed with that idea.

Bill Morrill and I were both in a group called the Echo League. That was back in 1971. That is more or less when I started my volunteer type approach to town. I got involved there. I got involved in this group that fought the dump in Lime Rock. Then zoning, zoning was the kick-off for other things. I guess it was the Day Care Center, Salisbury Public Health Nurses, the Bissell Fund, Salisbury Association, Salisbury Housing Trust which is the latest one, and I think a very important part of the growing town. Not a volunteer situation, but a paid position is the Salisbury Bank & Trust where I’m a Director. I have said that I think that is sort of a second career for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed doing that and becoming reasonably acquainted with banking business. I will miss that, as I will miss many other aspects of my life here in this town. I don’t know where we can go from there. It has just been a good career. I will say a comment that I have said to other people a number of times is that I have always felt that 1 owe this town a great debt because of the way the town has supported me in business in town and supported my family throughout every aspect of the town; the recreation, the school and so by returning to help in any way you can an organization such as the Housing Trust or the Association, or Zoning, or the Board of Education. I think all of us are obligated to chip in. I have great feeling that we have, at least in this town, maintained or run as well as it is because hundreds of people that give their time to all the organizations, all the groups that volunteer. If it weren’t for a volunteer fire department, it would be a million dollar budget item on the town budget. It is insane what it would cost to have a paid fire department. We have very dedicated people who are involved with that. We must keep the young people in town; keep the people who manage those areas interested. I am up there in years, although I sort of regret or resist being called the old timer, but it’s true, I am of their age. It is really time for us to involve the 20 and 30 year old people in town, and get them more active in some of the organization that the town has. It is their town and they should grab it and run with it.