GEORGE D. KELLOGG, JR.
Transcript of a taped interview
Narrator: George D. Kellogg, Jr.
Date: July 14, 1986
Place of interview: Mr. Kellogg’s home on Robin Hill Lane, Lakeville, CT.
Interviewer: Jodie Stone
Mr. Kellogg, now retired, was the Assistant Headmaster of the Hotchkiss School. He had been a student at Hotchkiss in the 1930’s and returned to join the faculty ten years later. He describes Lakeville as he remembers it in those years, and also speaks of activities at the School.
1986Property of the Oral History ProjectSalisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library
Salisbury, Connecticut 06068
This is Jodie Stone interviewing George Dwight Kellogg, Jr., on the 14th of July, 1986, at his home on Robin Hill Lane in Lakeville.
GDK: I came to Lakeville to the Hotchkiss School in the fall of 1931. As a student, I didn’t become involved in the town very much, but I do remember certain minor things. For instance, the road from Millerton past the Interlaken came up by Town Hill School and went through the middle of Hotchkiss and came out at the corners. Later on, of course, it was changed to Route 112 as it is now.
I remember in the fall of 1931 that we had polio at Hotchkiss and in Lakeville. In 1931 they didn’t know very much about polio, and at least four or five boys came down with minor or major forms of polio, and the whole school was sent home around Thanksgiving time in the fall of ’31, and we didn’t come back until the day after Christmas. I know at that time that Ed Paavola, a day student at Hotchkiss and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Paavola who ran the Lakeville Variety Store, got polio in his throat but got over it with a minor speech impediment. I think that Jeannette Axelby, who later worked at the bank, maybe got polio at the same time, but I’m not sure.
Other things that I remember my first few years as a student at Hotchkiss are, of course, that the center of Lakeville, where the Lakeville Cafe is now, was much different. In the middle of the intersection in the old days was a monument with a plaque on it telling you how far it was to Hartford or Albany or Poughkeepsie or whatever. It stood right in the middle of the intersection. It’s of course not there now. I haven’t any idea where it is. I’ve asked both Nort Miner and Charlotte Reid if they know, but they don’t. It’s too bad we can’t find it; it’s a nice relic of the past. In the center of Lakeville, where the Lakeville Cafe is now, was a large building or a series of buildings. I remember the Post Office was there. There was a barber shop, Mr. Judd’s barbershop was there, and of course the Lakeville Wine Shop wasn’t there. The present Apothecary was Rudman’s Market. On the other side of the street was Dufour’s Garage which took up quite a bit of room. Back toward the Catholic Church along there came Heaton Barnett’s Dry Goods Store, a wooden building, which later was torn down gradually. I remember at some point in the forties there was still part of it there where the Western Union office was and where Argall’s barber shop was located. Argali was certainly a barber in the 1940’s because I remember that it was rather annoying because he moonlighted working at the magnesium plant in Canaan at night, and often he was too tired to come to work in the morning. He had a cute trick, and that was, if you were waiting for a haircut you didn’t have to wait in the shop. As long as you were sitting on the porch it counted, so you could avoid the smell of cigarettes and lotions.
I remember that as a student we were allowed to come to Lakeville almost any time we were free in the afternoons. There was no Halfway House to go to. There was no snack bar at school, and so students came down the hill on foot. We were not allowed to take taxis, and we stopped either at the Jigger Shop, which was located in the building now occupied by the laundromat, or we went to Leverty’s Drugstore up at the corner of the hill above K&E. Of course, that building is torn down now, and there’s a little park in its place. When
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Leverty was running that drug store, it was a favorite place to go for two reasons: one, he had good sodas, and two, he had the only supply of magazines in the area. He was rather nasty about boys reading magazines without buying them, but he could just bark at us because there was very little he could do. I remember he would yell at the boys to close the door, and his favorite expression was, “Were you brought up in a barn?” We often thought it would’ve been easier if he had put a door closer on the door, and he wouldn’t have had to be upset. Working in Leverty’s Drugstore was Tony Gentile as an assistant. Later on he left Leverty and went to work in Canaan, and then he started the Apothecary Shop in Lakeville. [At first it was in the building now occupied by Al Borden -Ed.]
The Jigger Shop was operated by two elderly ladies. I think one of them was a Mrs. Hamm, and it was a favorite place to go ’cause it was nearest to Hotchkiss and it was homey. Also, I remember that in the back room of the Jigger Shop they would have displays of men’s and boys’ clothing brought up to Lakeville from New Haven and New York by such outfits as J. Press and Finchley. I don’t think Brooks Brothers, but they all came, and in those days apparently they sold rather fancy clothes to Hotchkiss students in particular and perhaps to some locals, too.
I know that if you are walking from the Catholic Church down toward the middle of Lakeville, there’s a storefront house on the right down close to the Jigger Shop, and that at one point was, I think, a dry-cleaning outfit, and another time was a place where tailors displayed their goods. Frank Mercer who was the golf pro at Hotchkiss in the old days would have, I know, Spauldings bring their clothes and their sporting goods to his golf shop at Hotchkiss, but also he had a store down on the street down in Lakeville. Maybe that was after he retired from Hotchkiss.
In the middle of Lakeville the railroad continued to bring freight anyway from the east across Route 41, across the bridge and stopped just past the station. I don’t believe it went any further than that, and in my day it certainly didn’t bring passengers at all. I know it brought coal and oil to Community Service. The knife factory was operating to some extent in those days because I remember one year going down there, climbing the stairs to their showroom and buying a pocket knife for my father for Christmas. It was a beautiful little knife with a buffalo horn handle.
On our holidays we went to the caves. Almost everybody went to the caves once in their Hotchkiss careers. We climbed Lion’s Head Mountain often. One time in the ninth grade – that would have been ’31-’32 – we got a ride to Sage’s Ravine and then we climbed up to the Appalachian Trail and went all the way to Mt. Everett, came back, stopped at Berkshire, watched a track meet, started back toward Lakeville and one of our members was so tired by the time we reached what is now the Stagecoach Inn that he couldn’t go an inch further. So after some consultation, we told the school and got permission to get a taxi to take us back to school. We met the taxi, I remember, at the Massachusetts/Connecticut State line. That was a big event to get a taxi at all.
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Another thing we did on holidays was to go down the Housatonic by canoe. In those days a lot of canoes were owned by Hotchkiss students, and on a holiday we’d call Dufour’s Garage. They’d come in a truck; load the canoes in the truck: then take us to the bridge by the Housatonic Valley Regional High School. We’d start from that bridge and we’d paddle all the way down the Housatonic, under the covered bridge, over the rapids, and in some cases we’d carry the canoes back up so we could go through the rapids several times, ended up very wet, muddy and tired at Kent School in Kent. Father Sill, who was the headmaster, was very pleasant. He would invite us into his study, give us cocoa, and from there we’d call Dufour’s and he’d come back down in his truck and take the canoes back to school. It was a simple operation and Dufour was very cooperative.
As far as inns are concerned, I don’t remember the Interlaken much at all, except as a fire trap. Wake Robin Inn was, in those days, quite pleasant. It was more like a tea room than it was a bar and grill. It was the sort of place your mother liked to take you to lunch when she came down.
In the fall of 1934, Hotchkiss beat Hill in football which was fairly unusual. As a result, we had a large bonfire. It was sanctioned by the headmaster who helped build this tremendous bonfire. We all went out into the country to get wood for the bonfire. Some members of my class came back with a privy which they put on the fire and which subsequently was burned up. It turned out that the privy was actually in use, and the school was in sort of a jam, and my friends had to chip in and pay for a new privy.
Another jam they got the school into was on a holiday when some football players were walking through the country, and they saw a lot of corn shocks standing in a field, and they thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to tackle them?” They left a field with the shocks strewn over the ground and, later on, they all had to go back and set them up straight again.
That’s about all I remember important during my four years as a student. I returned in September 1942, and things were pretty much the same. The war was on. I do remember that Hotchkiss had only one school car. This was a Buick, I think driven by Frank Ingraham, and it took the headmaster to meetings and it met trains in Millerton and so forth. There were no trucks at all. There was a 1937 Ford ambulance that had been given to the school by Edsel Ford. This ambulance was in operation for a long time. It was kept in the barn near where Frank Ingraham lived, and he drove it when it was called. I remember that Bill Black, who worked as an employee of the Athletic Department, would go along to help load people into the ambulance. As I remember, this was the only ambulance in the area. There was no Salisbury, Sharon or Canaan ambulance. The school had no trucks, but they had two teams of horses. In the winter they pulled sleds, and in the spring and summer they pulled carts and these were used to deliver laundry, dirt and anything else the school had to carry around. Later on, perhaps at the end of the war, they rented a truck from Dufour’s Garage for several years before they finally bought one truck.
By this time, as far as I remember, there were two barbers in town.
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Argali was still there. Chet Thurston was new to me. He had a shop in the same building where Bob Fiengo has a shop now. Later on Thurston died, and Fiengo came up to Lakeville from Kent where he had been living and cutting hair. Fiengo is still here.
Along the main street from the Gulf Station toward where the Lakeville Cafe is, there was an A&P store and what was left of Heaton Barnett. Eventually all of that was torn down, the entrance to the ball field was improved and, of course, that gas station went through several changes. In the forties, I remember that taxis were run by Harry Ablahadian who had a garage up where Community Fuel is now. He had something to do also with a bus service or a van service that had sort of elongated airport limousine cars that would take you from Poughkeepsie to Hartford. As a matter of fact, you could change in Winsted and go to Albany and to New Haven. It was pretty good, much better actually than any transportation now.
Telephones in those days were still run by regular human operators. I think our number was 476 or something like that. They had a central office somewhere near where Community Fuel is now.
I remember in those days during the war walking to Lakeville in the morning to get a haircut, and I was walking back up the hill, and a nice fellow in a Community Service truck with a pole stopped, and it was Jimmy DuBois who was then working for Community Service, and it was the first time I had met him and, of course, I see him often now. He’s been a terrific citizen of this town.
I know that sometime during the war in the forties there was a rather bad blizzard, and Farnam Road at some point between Lakeville and the Lime Rock Road was completely snowed in. Trucks couldn’t get through to farmers to bring feed or get milk. It was completely blocked. I remember being asked by the headmaster to bring a group of boys to dig out the roadblock. So I rounded them up and Charlie Garrity who was a contractor in the area who lived, as a matter of fact, in the house where Wim Keur lives right now, he came up to get us in his truck. He didn’t say very much. He just drove us down to the village. He turned up Farnam Road, and we were on our way toward the roadblock when the left rear wheel of the truck fell off. Charlie said one short four-letter word, got out of the truck and left. We didn’t know what to do so we had a snowball fight for a while: after a long time another truck came and took us to the roadblock. We dug out the block. At least we made it passable for one lane anyway, and that’s about all you can get out of a group of boys who worked hard for about three quarters of a hour, and then it turned into a Japanese banzai attack with snow. Anyway, as a reward for our services Bill Barnett took us to the Jigger Shop, and the village of Lakeville supplied us all with sodas. Then we were taken back to school.
At this point that’s about all I can remember of interest, except that I was talking about the road up from Town Hill School to Hotchkiss, and at some point between the time I graduated from Hotchkiss and came back as a teacher,
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they moved the road and called it Route 112. In the process, Hotchkiss traded some land which was on the golf course for the land where the old road was, and so it was supposedly an even-steven, no-money kind of deal, and Route 112 went down to the Interlaken, and paving stopped at the Interlaken, and it was dirt all the way to Millerton/Route 44. At some point, of course, it was paved from the Interlaken on through, I don’t know when, but it was probably in the fifties. [It was paved by 1949.-Ed.] An interesting thing did happen about that land deal, and that was when Van Santvoord Hall at Hotchkiss, which is right near the cemetery, was being built they were laying the foundations and somehow it was discovered that a small section of the foundation was actually on land that belonged to the town of Salisbury, and the surveyor who made the arrangements back several years had apparently miscalculated the area of the road, and there was Hotchkiss building a building 95% on Hotchkiss land and 5% on town land. Fortunately it was in the summer, and they had a special town meeting, and without any negative votes they were able to deed the land as it should be entirely to Hotchkiss, so the building was on Hotchkiss property.
JS: Listen let me ask you a couple of things. By Halfway House, you mean the Woodland?
GDK: The Woodland, right.
JS: The caves. Are they on Rees Harris’s or Dave Harris’s land?
GDK: Well, let’s say they were on Harris land. I know that in the forties Dave Harris got very upset because of the danger that somebody might get trapped down in there and die. In fact we arrived there once and he wouldn’t let us go down. Another time, later on I remember calling David to ask him for permission to go, and he gave his permission.
JS: You as a student?
GDK: Yeah, as a student. And I can see how it would be quite easy to get trapped, ’cause I went down there once, and I think the first time I went down we didn’t have enough flashlights. The fellow behind me got claustrophobia and was really upset, and you were inching along on your stomach and he couldn’t see, and the fellow ahead of you who knew where he was going but you couldn’t turn around. You had to either inch backward or inch forward until you got to a big enough place to turn around. I think that all that land was Harris land and how it was divided, I don’t know. John Harris was a classmate as was Ed Paavola. John Harris died.
JS: Were they limestone caves? Were they big when you finally got in? Were they Big enough to stand in?
GDK: Oh yeah, there was some room. Awfully wet. These caves you got into by going straight down a vertical hole that was not very well marked, and there
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were boulders and things, and you inched your way down, and then it leveled out so it was horizontal, and as you went down the mouth of this hole there were pieces of string where people had tied them, and there were signs of candlewax.
JS: Was there light in the cave once you got in?
GDK: No, nothing. I have a feeling there might have been another entrance but I don’t know where it is. I’d never do it again.
JS: You were talking about the road, 112, and you were telling me the other day that when they redid 41 at the Hotchkiss corners
GDK: That’s right. The intersection there used to be a lot higher. As you came up the hill from Lakeville, you climbed a little hill so you really couldn’t see very well, so the State of Connecticut had the brilliant idea of redoing that and they completely redesigned the intersection, and they dug it down, I think, about ten feet. It used to be level with the DelPrete’s front lawn. Now it’s about ten feet below that front lawn. In the process of correcting the corner they made it absolutely blind if you are coming from Lime Rock, so it’s perhaps not much of an improvement. In the course of cutting the road down to make this improvement you could see that there had been another road somewhat maybe two or three feet under the old road, so that in the past there had been a lower road which had been built up, and now it’s much lower. I haven’t any idea but it looked to me like a dirt and crushed stone road. As I say, I don’t think it was a great improvement, and in the process they had to bargain with Ben Belcher. I think they had to condemn some of Ben’s land or buy it when they changed the road on his side, too.
JS: Oh, you mean 41 going down.
JS: Yes, I remember that.
GDK: It used to curve a lot.
JS: Yes, quite a difference.
GDK: You can see Beeslick Pond, and it used to go by the Cleavelands.
JS: Something I’ve always been curious about and maybe you know. On the Hotchkiss property just about by the Boathouse when we came here were remains of an old icehouse. Did they cut ice? Did Hotchkiss cut ice?
GDK: They cut ice, oh certainly. When I came back to teach they were still cutting ice. They had an ice house there. The kitchen at Hotchkiss was quite primitive. They had no refrigerators at all. They had a big icehouse which was full of blocks of ice, which were cut by horses which pulled saws. They cut out a big rectangular section of ice, dragged it (the horses did this) to
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the icehouse and somehow, by block and tackle pulled it in, covered it with sawdust and the ice would be kept through the year without completely melting.
JS: They dragged that ice all the way up that hill to the kitchen?
GDK: That’s what the horses would do, would bring blocks of ice up. In fact, I can remember when I was teaching here, two or three boys on one nice night when the lake was frozen, snuck out of the dormitory, went down to the lake, put on their skates and were skating on the ice. They were skating backwards, as a matter of fact, at one point, and fell right into the hole where they had been cutting ice, so that stopped that little thing, and they quickly came back to school soaking wet, very cold, only to find their dormitory rooms had been locked, and so they were caught and I think were sent home, unfortunately. But I don’t remember when they changed over from ice, but the ice house remained there for quite a long while. Now the only thing left is a water spigot that stands up about two feet high. I suppose that was to wash sawdust off the ice when they took it out of the icehouse.
The kitchen when they didn’t have refrigerators was really quite primitive, at least by our standards now. I think the cooking was all done in the bottom level and brought up by elevators or dumb waiters. They baked everything, and I guess still do, right there in their own bakeshop. It seems incredible they got along with that ice in a school that size.
JS: I’m just wondering, did you, as a student, ever use the lake? Did you skate across to town?
GDK: Of course, and we used it a lot more than they do now because actually school, for seniors anyway, ran well into the middle of June because seniors took College Boards after graduation. Therefore, the boathouse which had lockers for, I don’t know, about two dozen canoes, was pretty much full of canoes, so students would use the lake for canoeing. Sailing was not allowed in those days, so it was either swimming or canoeing. Then in the winter I know that we skated to the village, and I think that every student that did it felt that he was the first person ever to have skated across the lake. It is kind of fun. I remember going to the Salisbury Bank and Trust to make a deposit with my shoes tied around my neck and skating to the Grove and then taking them off. The Grove I suppose was there. I don’t remember it as being as beautiful as it is now. Of course there was no sailing at all on the lake, mostly canoes. John Cardoza, who ran the grounds crew at Hotchkiss, had an ice boat, a gigantic ice boat which he would put together when the ice was right, and after he left or died I know that his ice boat was willed to Elmer Lindsay and somebody else. I can remember these characters one winter putting the thing together and launching it on the ice and sailing around the lake. They didn’t really know much about sailing but they had a lot of fun.
JS: What was the house behind the football field? When we first came here, somebody lived back in there, but I don’t think the house is even there now.
GDK: That’s where Charley Chapel lived. His name was actually Charley
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Robertson. He was English, and his job was really to be janitor in the Chapel. That’s why he was called Charley Chapel, of course. His brother was around in the area. I didn’t know him, but he was in the linoleum business or floor covering business. I can’t remember his first name, just Robertson. Charley Chapel, as he was called, lived all by himself in that house. The only thing I can remember about him is when he was in England he was in the paper-making business, and handmade paper, and if you wanted to spend about an hour and a half, you could go in the Chapel and find him and say, “Charley, know anything about making paper?” He would get out pieces of paper and explain how it was done and how the paper in the Bible [The School’s Bible. – Ed. was made, and so forth and so on. He walked every morning up from Long Pond, and he always had a lower temperature to report than anybody in the area. I always thought he made it up. There are some other houses. I think the Cuddys have a house down there, but that’s on the right. His was on the left.
JS: Yeah, it was on the Hotchkiss road down to Little Baker. [Dirt road across from Town Hill School. Little Baker is the practice football field behind Baker (game) Field. – Ed. And they just let it fall apart and die?
GDK: I guess so. There was another foundation hole for a while where the school dumped leaves, but I think that’s filled in. I think maybe it was torn down, because it wasn’t in great repair then. Although I think it did have electricity, because I can remember light wires going past Little Baker down to Long Pond.
JS: Do you remember a camp that is now, I think, the town owns the property and it was on Long Pond Road, over on the way toward
GDK: It was called the Cedars.
JS: The Cedars! Exactly! Do you remember that?
GDK: Yes, I never could understand what it was exactly because they had a little golf course, a nine-hole golf course. They had, of course, boating and swimming in Long Pond which in those days wasn’t too bad. But when you were playing golf on the Hotchkiss golf course you could actually hear their loud speaker calling for a member of the Cedars. I think it was a club or maybe it was a hotel, but anyway a resort, I guess. But they would page, you know. Dr. somebody, so loud that you could hear from their golf course over Long Pond and you could hear it on our golf course. And then it sort of, it folded, deteriorated, and then of course, the town got it …
JS: I think it was given to them.
GDK: I don’t know whether there are any buildings there or not. I haven’t been back.
JS: I went down once to see the spring.
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I don’t know whether
the town has done much with it.
It’s a nice area
in some ways.
JS: Did you use Long Pond as a student?
GDK: No, as a student no. We used the woods and groups of people built cabins. I was not involved in cabin building. Some were pretty good. There were ski trails in those days, still are. But we certainly used the lake a lot in the spring. We didn’t use it in the fall at all.
JS: Anything else?
JS: George is going to add something else here.
GDK: There are two other items that occurred to me. When we were talking about the Jigger Shop back in the days when I was a student and a young master, I remember there was a fellow who would drop in at the Jigger Shop whose name was Hen Day, and he was rather famous. I never really understood much about him. He was sort of the town bum. That’s probably not the right word. I think he came from some home for indigents or retarded or whatever, and he was no trouble. He wasn’t a drunk. He was famous because when you were talking to him, right in the middle of the conversation he would belch loudly and that of course made us make a lot of jokes. I think he was really a ward of the town is my guess.
GDK: The other little thing I had forgotten was Doc Leverty who ran the drug store was really quite a character and people liked to make fun of him. It was known that Doc Leverty put on chains early in the fall in preparation for winter, left the chains on until April or May until he was positive there was no more snow or ice. One day, in the late spring, Abe Martin’s garage which was located where the Mobil Station and Herrick Travel Company are now, Abe Martin’s garage caught fire. The local businessmen said that the fire started from sparks caused by Doc Leverty’s chains as he drove home for lunch. Probably not true.
Okay. Thanks. I think that’s it.
JS: Okay. That’s it.