Reginald W. Lamson Interview:
This is Jean McMillen. This is file #92. I am interviewing Reggie Lamson, a local, who has been in the area for a long time. He is going to talk about Salisbury, Salisbury Central, SWSA, and some of his good stories, and anything else he wants to add. Today’s date is April 8, 2015. We will start with the genealogical background.
JM:What is your name?
JM:What is your birthdate?
RL:June 14, 1950
JM:Your birth place?
RL:Sharon, Ct. (Sharon Hospital)
JM:Your parents’ names?
RL:My father was Reginald Lamson, also and my mother was Sylvia Nelson.
JM:Your father’s nickname was Jim?
RL:Jim, that’s correct. Everyone knew him as Jim.
JM:Did you have siblings?
RL:Yes, I had a brother Guy Harrison who was killed in an automobile accident.
RL:Salisbury Central, went to Oliver Walcott for high school, and went a couple of years to Hartford State Tech for electrical engineering.
JM:We are going to start with your genealogy because you have done a lot of genealogy. Can you tell me anything about the first Lamson that you know of-Ebenezer?
RL:Well actually that was the title of a book. The first Lamson to come to the country from England his name was Barnabus. That would have been a good name for my kids if I had known some of that.
JM:I don’t think they would have liked that! When they came over from England, did they settle in the northwest corner or did they?
RL:No, they settled, that was in 1635, so they settled in Boston and then moved across the state of Massachusetts. In the 1800’s Isaac Lamson moved to the little town of Mt. Washington, Mass.
JM:From Mt. Washington they moved?
RL:Well they moved all over. There was a big family; at one time in the mid 1800’s I was reading there were something like 35 Lamsons registered to vote in the town of Mt. Washington. It was a big family.
JM:It was a big community at one time up there.
RL:Yeah and there was a big Lamson presence there, but by 1900 I think they were all gone from there.
JM:Now your grandparents owned a farm somewhere.
RL:On my grandmother’s side, the Surdam side, they had a little family farm, a couple of cows and animals. That was where the Salisbury Nursery is today. (Rt. 44 going to Canaan Ed.)
JM:That was a Surdam farm on your grandmother’s side.
JM:Now we are going to talk about the village of Salisbury/Lakeville. We are going to start with Factory Street. What do you remember about Washinee/Factory Street? What businesses were going?
RL:I don’t remember any except for Salisbury Artisans; I think all the businesses had pretty much closed from what I remember. My father in younger day had worked at the Knife Handle factory.
JM:Are the buildings still there for the knife handle factory?
RL:I think part of it became Salisbury Artisans; it was in that same area.
JM:Are those the red buildings, big red buildings on the left.
RL:Yeah on the left.
JM:Any neighbors that you remember?
RL:Oh geez yeah we had a lot of neighbors. We had the McLanes who lived next door.
JM:Would that be Babs McLane?
RL:That would be Babs and her parents and siblings. (See tape #75 A/B Babs McLane). On the other side of us we had the Markses. Claude Marks and Rob Marks. (See file 46 Barbara Marks Roraback) My uncle, Harrison, lived up the street. Hen Shallot who I believe would be Cricket Trotta’s uncle, maybe? Of course we had a lot of Brazees, (See Tape# 17A Dave Brazee, and tape #116 A/B Ed Brazee) and we had Bonhotels, (See Rachel Bonhotel file #22) Matter of fact John Bonhotel was my best friend when we were growing up. Then we always had, I won’t say crazy, but my father always claimed that that there was always a strange lady at one time or another who lived on the street. When I was
growing up, it was a lady named Stella Sacket. She was a character. At times she would chase people with axes I
Of course she was real old but by the time I was around. I remember her just walking up and down the road, not really talking to anybody.
JM:A lonely soul. Salisbury Artisans, can you tell me anything specific about that?
RL:Only that I think it was a spin-off from the Knife Handle factory when the Warners sold it.
JM:Now David Bowen is working that now, right?
RL:Yes, and I think he bought it from the people at Salisbury Artisans after the knife handle factory. I asked my wife because she knew the lady. I think it was McClure.
JM:You told me that there were 2 town dumps at one time.
RL:Well, not at the same time. Yeah when I was real young in the early 1950’s, the town dump was right at the crest of Bunker Hill, where my house is right now. I do not know how many years it was there, a few years and then they moved it up to the farm.
JM:Now that was the Clark farm that was sold to the Ericksons. (See# 85A Walter Erickson & 101A Harold Erickson) One of the men had peacocks, I think.
RL:Yes, I remember the peacocks when I was young. I think it was Herman.
JM:Now your father had a job in town. What was your father’s job?
RL:He worked for the road maintenance crew and retired. He was the foreman when he got done.
JM:How long did he work for the town crew?
RL:I think he started in 1949 until about 1984; it was like about 35 years or 37 years.
JM:That is a lot of responsibility.
RL:Yeah it was and they did the job with a lot less equipment than they have now a days.
JM:Much more physical work than electrical.
JM:What did you do?
RL:Do you mean for working?
RL:When I was 12 I caddied at Hotchkiss School, along with a bunch of other young guys. They did not have golf carts so we walked. We would walk up to get there also and sit on the bench. When someone needed a caddy, we were there.
JM:Not ride a bicycle up?
RL:I didn’t ride a bicycle much that far. We pretty much walked. When I was 13 I mowed lawn; I had a little business with my brother, step brother. I had a lot of jobs as a teenager.
RL:I worked for George Kiefer for a couple of summers doing sheering of Christmas trees for forestry. As a matter of fact I was working for George when I got my driver’s license. The first day I got my driver’s license, George asked me to go pick up one of the other fellows down in Lakeville. I proceeded to get in his old car where the brakes weren’t too good, and I backed into his truck and smacked both of them up!
JM:Oh good! That must have made your day!!
RL:It didn’t make his day. I worked at Community Service.
JM:Was that when not Mike Tenure owned it.
RL:No before that, Sid Cowles.
JM:After the teenage years?
RL:I worked for the telephone company 20-25 years.
RL:No, a central office technician.
JM:I am going to ask you about some places on Main Street in Salisbury. We are going to start with the pharmacy.
RL:The pharmacy was a great place. That was our bus stop when we were going to Oliver Wolcott. We would walk down the hill and stand on the steps. When we got off the bus in the afternoon, we would usually go in there and have a soda or ice cream.
JM:Your favorite was?
RL:My favorite was a vanilla coke. I could not stay down there very long and hang around because my mother always said, “You are not going to be one of those drugstore cowboys!”
JM:Good for your mother.
RL:In other words there were just people who would hang around. I wasn’t allowed to do that.
JM:Who ran the store at that time?
RL: Gee there was all the Whitbecks, Anna and Walt, Bam, Audrey.
JM:Was Sam there at times too?
RL:I think when I was young, yes.
JM:Do you remember George Clark’s grocery store, dry goods store?
RL:No I don’t remember it. I know of it because I have collected a lot of memorabilia, post cards and such.
JM:Congregational Church? Who was the minister?
RL:Rev. Larry Stone
JM:Tell me about Shagroy’s Market, where was it located?
RL:Shagroy’s was located where Peter Beck’s store is now. My mother worked there with Grace Stanton and Florence Keeler as cashiers. Of course a lot of other people were working there in different parts of the store.
JM:Who owned it then?
RL:George Ernst owned it when I worked there.
JM:You worked there stocking shelves?
RL:Yeah stocking shelves while I was still in high school so I would get off the bus go to work for a couple of hours. On Saturday go to work.
JM:Tell me about Barnett’s store (Lakeville Ed.) at Christmas time.
RL:Barnett’s store was great because that was the only time in the season that they opened the second floor for all the toys and you went to see Santa Claus.
JM:Did you ever go and see Santa Claus?
RL:Yes I did.
JM:Did he ask you what you wanted or did you write things in a book?
RL:I was real young but I think he just asked you what you wanted. I think it may have been Judge Raynford; I didn’t know who it was then.
JM:It was for years and years. He loved that. Where was Barnett’s Store located?6.
RL: Just about where Patco is now.
JM:How about Bessie’s Lunch, where was that?
RL:Bessie’s Lunch was in the alley. There used to be an alley before they torn all the buildings down where Cannon’s Park is. But it was an alley going down into the ball field, community field in Lakeville. It was like a little diner; they had a pinball machine.
JM:Was there anything else in that building?
RL:I used to get my hair cut there so Paul Argall’s barbershop was upstairs. Other than that I can’t remember but I think the jewelry store was next door in the next building over.
JM:How about Dufour’s Garage?
RL:Dufour’s Garage was further up on the corner.
JM:You said Cannon’s Park?
RL:The little park that is there now that is just grass.
JM:Is that by what used to be the fire department?
RL:No, across the street right next to Patco. There is a little park there with a bench. That was all buildings that they have torn down.
JM:I remember there used to be buildings. How about the Stuart Theater?
RL:The only thing I recollect about the Stuart Theater is that I saw my first movie there.
JM:and it was?
RL:“Ben Hur” It was some one’s birthday party; I think it may have been John Bates or Hoot Belter.
JM:The Village Store?
RL:The Village Store was on the far end of the group of buildings where Peter Beck’s is now. If you are looking at Peter Beck’s it would be way over to the right.
JM:Going north. What was that?
RL:It was just a general merchandise type store; I don’t think he had clothes, but he had some other sporting goods. I know I used to go and buy batteries for my transistor radio.
JM:You mentioned a Real Estate agent Gert Durand.
RL:Gert Durand later on had an office in that spot. Before that she and her husband ran the Milk Bar restaurant? Remember that?
JM: Oh yes that is where the National Iron Bank is now.
RL:Yes, before the Thomson’s had it.
JM:Durand was before Thomson?
JM:the only thing I have about the Milk Bar is Howard Bartram used to make ice cream, but that may be…
RL:Before it was a restaurant I think it was the creamery, but not in my time.
JM:That would probably tie in with why it was called the Milk Bar. I learn a lot all the time. You said that you went to Salisbury Central School. You also said that you could remember most of your teachers.
RL:I can remember a few of them.
JM: Who did you have in first grade?
RL:First grade wasMrs. Wilbert Hemmerly.
RL: It may have been Mrs. McKee, I am not sure.
JM:3rd grade we were vague on, 4th grade?
RL:That was Miss Peppe.
RL:Mrs. Zach Cande
JM:6th grade you were down in the lower building. Who was down there?
RL:I am not sure who was home room, but I think it was Mrs. Harold Smith.
JM:Who else was there?
RL:Mrs. Greer was in that area, Mrs. Betty Gandelli, Mrs. Miner, Fred Romeo, I was in his first class that he ever taught, and the first year he was here. That was when I was in 7th grade.
RL:We had Mrs. Miner and Mrs. Molly Kelly (See Tape #112A). Yes, it was one of those who had homeroom. That was when we started wandering around the building for different teachers taught different classes.
JM:Who taught art?
JM:Do you know who was principal?
RL:Mr. Alice Eggleston
JM:Did Bob Sullivan come after her?
RL:Yes, I think he may have been there even then by the time I left.
JM:You did very well; I am very impressed!
RL:Yes, so am I! I hadn’t thought about those people for a long time.
JM:Then in your leisure time you said something about a baseball school.
RL:Well that was when I was real young, probably little league age. The summer program was at Community field in Lakeville where they ran baseball school. They also had other activities that other kids were doing. I don’t know what they called it, but the baseball school, Andy Whalen taught it. So we would spend the mornings there, and then head up to the lake at the Grove and spend the afternoon there.
JM:Did you have swimming lessons there?
RL:They did, I can’t remember whether I took them or not. I may have for a short time. I was never on a swim team or anything. I probably took swimming lessons. That was very important to my father to learn how to swim.
JM:Oh absolutely, and then you worked there as a worker.
RL:A worker yeah, the summers of 1968 and 1969 when I was in college.
JM:Who was the manager then?
JM;Tell me about Frank Markey and his staff.
RL:Frank Markey and Fred Romeo worked summers together. They had about three life guards: a couple stand out. Bobby Ulram was a life guard and I think Jack Burcroft one year was a life guard as was Peggy Jenks. I worked with some other fellows that I can’t remember their names.
JM:How many hours a week did you work?
JM:You had a good story of working clipping around the flagpole.
RL:Yes, well Frank was not one that would have anyone be idle no matter what the weather was or kids or anything. So he would send you off to do something. One day he sent me out to with a pair of clippers before they had wed whackers to trim around the trees and the fireplaces, so you would be kind of sitting and clipping. A friend of mine stopped and was visiting with me. Frank didn’t care for that either, visiting with his employees. But instead of coming out and quietly mentioning it, he had a bull horn. He would yell from the store “Get away from my worker!” That was embarrassing.
JM:That would be embarrassing to everybody. You had boats for fishermen.
RL;Yeah, we did. That was one actually of my main things was to clean the boats. Frank was really picky about that. When the fishermen came in you had to sponge down the whole boat and the inside and make it clean. So we did that. We had to pump water out of the boats after a big thunderstorm or something like that so they wouldn’t sink.
JM:You said something about the oars and the boats were numbered?
RL:Yeah, the set of oars went with a specific boat; I guess that was just Frank’s way of keeping track of things.
JM:He sounds like he was organized.
RL:He was real organized.
JM:Did you have like a little snack shop or convenience store at the Grove?
RL:Yeah there was a snack shop. They sold fishing lures, hooks and that and rented the boats. Some people would rent them with a motor so we would put the motor on.
JM:You were busy.
RL:Yeah, there wasn’t much idle time. I think the quiet time was either real late at night because we were there until 9:00 PM in the summer. I kind of enjoyed it, most people probably wouldn’t but t for the last hour he would send me out with a stick with a nail on it to walk around the park picking up papers. It was a nice kind of a quiet time. I used to really enjoy it in the evening, a quiet place.
JM:It would be beautiful, with stars and moonlight, gorgeous.10.
RL:A few local people would come over and visit then.
JM;It is a beautiful spot. Was there a dock and sand at that time?
RL:Oh yeah, the beach was pretty much as it is now and the swimming dock. The only thing that was different was they had a on the big raft a 12 foot tower that you could dive off which was fun. I guess for insurance reasons they got rid of that. In from that they had a log that you could roll on. That was fun.
JM:That has gone too?
RL:I suppose that was dangerous too.
JM:SWSA, when did you get involved with SWSA?
RL:When my kids were little and they started ski jumping with Larry Stone on the little hills. Mat Kiefer was already a Director, and of course George Kiefer had been a Director for years. It didn’t take long for Mat to haul me into it.
JM:He is good at that, isn’t he?
RL:Yeah, he is. The kids jumped for 2 or 3 years, and I am still here.
JM:How many Directors are there?
RL;20, and we need every one.
JM:It is a big job!
RL:Yeah there are a lot of facets to it.
JM:How many hills are there?
RL:We have three jumps, small medium and large. 10 meter jump, we have a thirty meter hill and a k64 hill. They change the terminology about every few years so it is kind of hard to keep up with it.
JM:What do you specifically do?
RL:I am mainly on the maintenance crew that takes care of the hill. In the winter we make snow and groom snow.
JM:That must be interesting.
RL:It was at first.
JM:Yeah, you have been doing it for how many years, probably 15?
RL:No, more like 1984 until now 2015. It has changed a lot; from going to hauling snow from parking lots with trucks and all that. Now we have really modern snow making equipment. We improve it all the time. That part of the job has gotten easier. It is not likely that we will ever have to cancel a meet because we don’t have enough snow.
JM:How much snow pack do you have to have on the hills?
RL:You probably only need to have a foot, but we always make extra.
JM:The program when it started was small and it has gotten bigger each year, hasn’t it? As far as people coming from far away?
RL:There was an improvement this year. I think it goes in cycles really. You hear about the real old days where they get tons of people, big crowds. But this past winter was real good.
JM:We had snow: we had a lot of snow! I think somebody said they had so much snow they had to take some off?
RL:Oh that happens if we made snow we have it already. Then if it snows we have to get rid of it. The natural snow is good for drawing crowds in to see the jumps because if they look out their window at home and see snow, they want to come. If there is no snow on the ground, they kind of think well how are they going to have a ski jump?
JM:When you groom snow, what do you do?
RL:You shovel and rake it and we have a snow cat to do the big work.
JM:If you pack it, then do you have to have some fluffy on the top so it doesn’t become icy?
RL:No they ski on it pretty hard nowadays.
JM:Really! You can tell I know nothing about skiing.
RL:Yeah, it is a pretty hard surface. Especially with the man-made it is pretty dense.
JM:Do you have anything to do with the judging?
JM:Is it a paid organization, or is it all volunteers?
RL;It is all volunteers, unless we contract out some job. But as far as the directors and workers, we are all volunteers.
JM:Now I know there are different parts, like the publicity would start earlier, but about how many people volunteer? Can you give an idea?
RL:Gee that’s a tough one. Because for different aspects of the job and different years. We are hoping for a big turnout this coming year because we are going to have the Junior Internationals and that takes a lot more work. But I would say there are 50 to 100 if you took some people who might show up one day and some people might be there all the days.
JM:There are different things, there is the food concession and somebody does marking and judging distance and all that stuff. What is the Junior Nationals?
RL:USY are the kids that are picked that are best in their classes up until about 20 years old. They are the juniors. They come and they train and they have meets. They used to call it the Junior Olympics, but they don’t do that anymore because it is just the US. It takes about three or four days of competition.
JM:It starts about Wednesday and goes until Saturday.
RL:You said that in the United States there are 5 districts?
RL:Yeah, I am pretty sure there are 5 regions: the Eastern, Central, Rocky Mountain, the Western, and the Alaskan division. I am not the authority on those.
JM:No but it gives me an idea. You had some kind of interesting stories that you were willing to share. One of them was a school story about Maude Miner. Would you retell that one?
RL:Absolutely, I think we were down to the lower building 6th or 7th graders or maybe even 8th. We used to raise a little heck and one of the things we did that got to be a trend one years was that we would all get rubber bands and tie them all together. We would tie a knot at one end; then we would snap each other with them. She caught me snapping somebody when we were outside. So as I was going up the steps she says, ”Give me that thing!” she took it and as I walked away from her, she hauled off and whacked me in the back of the head with it. I’ll never forget that. I don’t think you could get away with that today.
JM:Oh no, but it worked at the time.
RL:At the time if you went home and complained to my parents, they would have whacked me again. She got her point across.
JM:She did and I don’t think you probably did it again.
RL;No I don’t think I did. Not when she was around anyway.
JM:I’ll grant you, I was a school teacher, too. Sometimes it helps for a teacher to know the tricks.
JM:Because then you could sort of figure out what was going on and monitor it.13.
RL:I guess she just wanted to let me know what it felt like, on the other end of it.
JM:When you were working at the Grove, Fred Romeo has a special job.
RL: Yes on Sunday mornings when we would go in, it was relaxed. Frank would always go to church, so he would be gone for a couple of hours. Right in front of the store there was where the flagpole was, there was a big flower bed of petunias, which had to be deadheaded. Usually Fred had to do the deadheading on the petunias while I watched them because I wasn’t qualified to do that. If I had been there a couple more years, I think I could have gotten that job.
JM:You could have worked your way up. I shall have to tease Fred about that. Now Rachel told me about your making bicycles and coming down Mt. Riga. How did you get ahold of a bicycle? What did you do?
RL:Like we talked about, the dump was up the road, so we would go up to the dump and pick around and find wheels and frames and seats and handlebars and build a bike. We rode around. Sometime it worked out and sometimes it didn’t. There was one day I was riding with My friend John Bonhotel, Rachel’s brother. We were riding past the bridge on the mountain road; I had lost my chain on my bike so there were no brakes. So I was going to walk it down, but John who was a better rider than I was. He said, “Well, you take my bike, and I’ll ride yours. I’ll go down without brakes.” So he took off and got going pretty fast and yelling out. Then I went with his bike; it didn’t turn out too good for me because I hit a bump and the front wheel fell off the bike and my face went into the road.
JM: Ooh ouch, oh dear.
RL:Anyway we survived it. After I washed my face off in the brook, my mother took me to the doctor so we got through it.
JM:We were pretty hardy back then I think.
RL:We used to do really crazy things, compared to now. We used to make carts also from parts off the dump, wheels and a plank. Just a plank with wheels, boards and we would put wheels on it and drive down and go down Bunker Hill.
JM:I won’t even drive that in a car.
RL:Oh of course the traffic wasn’t what it is now.
JM:Oh absolutely not. Is there anything else that you would like to add to this interview? Any stories or reminiscences that you would like to add? Or are we going to shut it down?
RL:I think for now we are good.
JM:Thank you so much for your time.