Oral History Project
Interviewee: Francis B. Markey
Interviewer: Bob Steck
Place of Interview: Mr. Markey’s home on Library Street, Salisbury, CT.
July 2, 1996
Tape No. 78A, 78B
Transcribed by Lisa A. Wardell, 4/12
Summary of Talk: Born and grew up in Lime Rock until age 10, Lime Rock School, Iron foundries, games and chores, various families and nationalities, businesses in Lime Rock: 1921 moved to Salisbury – schools, the grove, railroads, passenger and freight station in Salisbury,
Salisbury stores, Buckley and Buckley House, Bushnell Tavern, Rev. Chiera and St. Johns, entertainment, Lakeville changes, cost of his house and building of it, Borden creamery, the grove, sewer around Lakeville Lake, zoning, snowplows, the Depression, WPA, Hotchkiss, Scoville Manufacturing.
Property of the Oral History Project: the Salisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library, Salisbury, CT 06068
Interviewed by Bob Steck 78A-B
BS: Frank, will you give us your full name please.
FM: Francis P. Markey, better known as Frank so I’m apt to hear you.
BS: Spell your last name.
BS:Alright thank you. Frank, why did you first come to this area?
FM:I was born in Lime Rock, Bob in what we used to call Hoppertown. That’s up near where you
are. Where it got its name from Bob, I don’t know. When I was a kid in Lime Rock, that’s what it was known as, but I was born in Lime Rock September the sixth, nineteen hundred and eleven. When Lime Rock was to me I think, really the hub of Salisbury because that’s where all the manufacturing was. All the business was in Lime Rock. In fact, many men I knew later in years came down from Salisbury to work in Lime Rock. My father worked in the foundries. He worked there for several years, and we lived down what was known at Brinton Hill later. We moved up to Brinton Hill from Hoppertown and lived in a little home that later Mr. Binzen bought. That was our homestead. I was born in the double house near where you live on Furnace Road. There was a double house on the left hand side going in just above. I think Mrs. Driscoll owned the house on the comer. The next house was the double house and that’s where I was born.
BS: That house isn’t there anymore.
FM: No, that house has been taken down and is no longer there.
BS: Just to set where that’s Marcello Lorenzo’s land is.
BM: That’s right. It would be backing up against Marcello’s only it would be facing on Furnace Road. That’s where that house was. I attended school in Lime Rock which was a three-room school. BS:Going back to that house, did you have a chicken coop?
FM:Yes on the right-hand side of the road. There was a bam and a chicken house.
BS: That is now a house.
FM: Is that right?
BS:I was told it was originally a chicken coop. Now it is a house for people to live in.
FM:That’s right Bob, it was a chicken house. People had pigs in there. In fact, we had chickens in
there. There was a boy in town named Ed Carter. He was a character. If you did anything Ed didn’t like, he’d take your eggs and put them in the other guy’s coop: (haha) you didn’t get any eggs that day. BS: You were born right there.
FM: I was born right there, yes. That which as you know today there are very few people born at home. In fact, the priest in Lakeville said to me, “Frank you’re one of the few of our parish that was born at home.” Everyone is born in the hospital today. Then we had a district nurse, you know, that used to come around. Ms. Van Clef, I think her name was. She came around to the homes and helped with the children and did all kinds of things like that and Dr. Bissell and Dr. Peterson, the old time doctors in town. They were the doctors back then. But going back to school Bob, that was a three-room school. We had eight grades in three rooms and three teachers. There was a family in Lime Rock named Lowell. Esther Lowell and Helen Lowell were both teachers in that school and a lady that come from up in Maine or Vermont. Her name was Miss Gordon. I talked to my brother and he’s older than I am and I said, “Wasn’t her name Miss Gordon?” He said, “Yes it was.” We had 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade in one room,
, 4th, 5th, and 6,h in another room. 7dl and 8’h was together in the third room, and that was the
school. If you got to high school, I guess you were on your own to get from Lime Rock to Lakeville. The Falls Village kids went to Canaan, but they went by train. The train went up in the morning around 8, somewhere around that neighborhood, and came back down around 3, but there was a train at noontime between that. It had nothing to do with the school kids, but they used to go on the train.
When I was a kid in Lime Rock when we went to Canaan, 10 cents on the train from Falls Village to Canaan.
FM: But my father worked at foundries like I say. In 1921, the foundries started to fade. They were going out. Barnum and Richardson owned the foundries. C. W. Barnum and Milo Richardson was the big man in the foundries. There were two foundries with the upper foundry made wheels for the railroad. They made car wheels. They were trucked to Lime Rock station by a chain driven Mac with the hard rubber tires that moves on the flat cars in Lime Rock station. That was how that was shipped out. The lower shop was more castings, gradings, and all that type. The patterns were made in another factory. They were laid out in sand. When they poured out the hot molten iron, that’s where they got the forms from. The molders made out those molds in the sand. It was made in a pattern shop across the brook. It’s been tom down now. In later years, they ran a paper mill in there or something. Then there was the machine shop down near the lower shops. There was really four factories running, two to support the iron factories. Most of the ore came down from Ore Hill. It was trucked down by teams. Horses would draw it down. I knew an old fellow, Bob , who was 90 years old. He told me they used to haul the ore from Ore Hill to Lime Rock. They’d be in the barn before 5 o’clock in the morning to have the horses fed and ready to go. The mud would be so heavy from Hotchkiss School Hill down towards Interlaken Inn that they had to double teams and take it up to the top of the hill and then go back and get the other
‘wagon because they couldn’t take it through the mud with one team. That’s going way back because when the old gentleman died, he was 90.
BS: Do you know when the factories were started there in Lime Rock?
FM: They must have been started somewhere around 1900.1 would think the late 1800s. I don’t know exact, but it seems to me…. You see they used to cut all that wood up in East Canaan. They used to make charcoal up in East Canaan. The fellows used to cut wood year round. They’d cut up the whole side of the mountain up there. In Lime Rock there was the store, the Boardman Anderson store next to the hotel, then the hotel. We had a barber shop. We had movies once a week. They came down from Lakeville.
BS: That was across the street.
FM: Upper Wallack had his block, made his fabrics. That was the theater. There was a cheaper way of making iron I think Bob, and that was one of the things that hurt them. They started to go out of business and in 1921, we moved up to Salisbury. The only paved road at that time was the one through Main Street Salisbury/Lakeville. All the Lime Rock/Salisbury and Twin Lake’s Roads and all those roads were all dirt.
BS:So you spent perhaps the first ten or eleven years…
FM: About 10 years.
BS: When you were a kid before you went to school, can you recall were you able to play with other kids? Were there other kids in the area?
FM: Oh, yea. There was a good population. Lime Rock there was a lot of families and when the foundries went under, houses went for practically nothing down there. You could buy a good house for three or four hundred dollars which then was a lot of money too. For $500, you probably got the best house in Lime Rock. Mrs. Stone bought up a big parcel of that area. Lime Rock had a semi-pro ball
team. The Foundry paid for them. They played Saturday afternoon. There was no Sunday baseball then. I don’t remember the team, but I remember my father and them telling about Saturday afternoon baseball games. The ball field as I can figure out from talking with different people was down where Scuba’s owns all that area down in there. Where Scuba’s lives that was all open down back then. That was the field in there. They work in the foundry doing little odd jobs putting in lights wherever they needed it, doing little things. They didn’t do much hard labor. There were there for the ball team. BS: Can you remember how many hours a day your father had to work? How many days a week? FM: He worked six days a week. It was either 8 or 9 hours that they were in the foundry and if something went wrong, they were there later.
BS: Were there any children who worked in the foundry?
FM: Not that I know of, no. The youngest I remember maybe like young Mike Dunn. There was a family there, Mike Dunn’s. Mike went in to learn to be a molder so he might have gone in around 16 or 17 in that age, but no children. No. In fact, you weren’t even supposed to go in there. We used to go down and get my father with the horse and wagon you know when we got older. Bill, my brother, he used to drive us and we picked him up and another man from the other side of Britton Hill, a fellow of the name of Beal. They were both working in the foundry. Bill would take them down and drop them off in the morning and go after them again at night with the wagon. It was a very hot job carrying that molten and iron just like water. It had to be. It was so hot, it white really. It was hard work.
BS: Before you went to school when you were that young, four or fiveAt what age did you start school by the way?
FM: It seems to me it was around six, Bob.
BS: Before that what type of games did you play? What did you do?
FM:In the summertime…. There were five children in the family. We got a little older where we
could weed the gardens. We had so much work to do each day even in the summertime. My father would say, “Now when I come home tonight, I want the garden weeded.” We had the hay down. We want the hay raked up because then you raked a lot of it by hand, put it in piles, and go through it with a fork. We swam a lot. We played a little baseball together. We played hide and seek, tag – all the kid games that we played.
BS: Where did you swim?
FM: We swam in the brook down below the iron bridge a lot. There was a pond on top of Britton Hill. It used to belong to Ms. Gibbs. She was quite a noted artist. We used to swim in that pond. We did a lot of swimming in the brook. As I say down by the first dam. That’s where most of the swimming was done.
BS: All of the people living in your area worked in the foundry?
FM: Most everybody in Lime Rock worked in the foundry.
BS: Did you know the Sandrezs?
FM: Oh yes, Santo and Libra, one daughter was Libra. There was another girl. Libra was the one we knew the best. That was Santo Sandrez. They had a lot of grape arbors at your place and used to make a lot of wine. Then there was the Jake Perato up above the bridge. There was Mario and Levio, whom we all called “Midge”. He was a time-keeper in the office for the foundry.
BS: Who was Mario?
FM: Mario was a brother of his. Mario died in the war. Mario caught pneumonia over in Germany or Italy and died over there. Then there was Frank. Frank just died in Springfield at 81 about a month or two ago. There was Marcello who lives in Canaan. Then there was a family by the name of Malphry.
BS: You say Marcello?
FM: Marcello lives in Canaan.
BS: That’s a different Marcello. That’s Lorenzo down there. This is Marcello Perotti. Lorenzo lived up above the Bauer Farm. They owned a farm there. Pete Lorenzo did. Tavio run it in later years and just sold it off. That’s where that new development is going in. They didn’t do much in the foundry, Lorenzo. They ran a little farm up there. There was a family by the name of Billy O’Brien that lives up near where Art Mortson owns that house now. That’s where Billy O’Brien lived. There was a Van Dyke. They lived as you started up Norton Hill, the first or second house on the right. A couple houses in there. They lived there.
BS: Where is Norton Hill?
FM: That’s the steep hill that come up over into Lakeville. That was Norton Hill years ago. I don’t know what they do call it now.
BS: That’s Wells Hill now isn’t it?
FM: Up on top, yes, they do call that Wells Hill, but the bottom part was Norton Hill.
BS: The part close to 112.
FM: That’s right. That was Norton Hill. There was Billy Finn. They lived down where the race track is and the Mike Dunns and a fellow by the name of Kwalik (?) and Kilkenny. They were all foundry fellows: the Heinz boys from over on the other side of Brinton Hill and the Jennings from Dugway Road. They all worked in the foundry.
BS: These names sound like they might be English or Irish.
FM: A lot of Irish.
BS: There was a large Italian.
FM: Big Italian, yes.
BS: They worked in the foundry?
FM: They all worked in the foundry. Jake Perotti had charge of the furnace drawing the iron and keeping the furnace running. Some Swede Norwegians were there. Most I think was Italian and Irish.
BS: How about Belgians or French.
FM: Malcris could be French. They lived next to Marcello Lorenzo. In fact, I think they lived in the house that Marcello owns now. That was Malcris. They’re all buried up here in St. Mary’s Cemetery. That name sounds as though it could have been French.
BS: Did Sandrez work in the foundry apart from all the other work he did?
FM: Yes. Mike Heinz lived where Johnson lives and my aunt lived there. He was married to my father’s sister. My father came over from Ireland when he was 16 years old. My mother was born and raised in Rye, NY and she was a laundress for C.W. Barnum. She could do laundry so neat. I used to say you could never find anybody like that again.
BS: Your mother and father came to the states from Ireland?
FM: My father did. My mother was born in Rye, NY.
BS: Her parents were already here?
FM: Their name was Gowan. They lived in Rye. Her parents were already here.
BS: How far back do they date in U.S. history? Her parents and grandparents?
FM: Oh gee, in fact I couldn’t say, Bob to be honest with you, but my niece is having my father’s name entered in the Statue of Liberty at Ellis Island on the wall. She had him registered last year. He was one that came through there. He came here when he was 16 years old. He died in 1932 so he would have been well over a hundred.
BS: That’s your father?
BS: Your mother’s parents were here but you don’t know when they came?
FM: No. They were in Rye, NY, that was their homestead.
BS:You started school about six years old. How many hours a day did you have to go to school?
FM: We went 9:00-3:30. We had an hour for lunch and then we had a recess around 10:30 I guess. You brought your own lunch. A lady that lived where I think Ms. Driscoll seems to own that place now, she made the cocoa. We went and got the cocoa at quarter till 12, and we paid 2 cents a cup for a cup of cocoa, hot cocoa. We carried our own lunch and we had to be at school at 9:00, and we got out at 3:30. We had to walk. When we lived on Brinton Hill , which to Lime Rock is probably a mile and a half-well over a mile, winter or summer, you walked it. There were no buses. You carried your own lunch.
I often think of the kids today if they don’t get a lunch in school that they like and pay very little and it isn’t right. We didn’t and you didn’t too without a doubt, you took your own lunch and a cup of cocoa was a real treat for 2 cents. That was really something. I often think of Lime Rock when we were kids growing up there and the foundries, you know we used to buy iron, looking for iron all the while. When we were kids in the summertime, we would take the old horse and wagon and go around and find what iron we could find. Take it down there, and they’d weigh it and tell you it was so much a pound. I forget just what it was. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a little. One time there was a sawmill moving on from down back in the woods there. They were leaving quite a bit behind. The guy said if you want it, you can have it. Well we were down there banging that stuff up to get whatever iron we could get out of it. They’d buy it off you for so much a pound. Lime Rock, and Falls Village too, was quite a little area.
BS: Do you recall, I think Marcello, was the one that told me, that there were some of the foundry workers that lived on the side of the hill going up towards what’s called Hangman’s Hill or that area where the y used to burn their fires. Do you remember any of that?
FM: I don’t remember it Bob, I’ve heard it. Were those the charcoal burners burning the charcoal?
FM: Up here in Salisbury, there used to be several of them on the mountain that made the charcoal, but I don’t remember it Bob. The first automobile I ever seen Boardman Anderson bought it. It was a little Ford yellow station wagon for delivering groceries. Everything was horses. The big iron ball Mac that the shop had Bobby Mattaley drove that. As you start up that road coming in on the other side of the river there Bob, there was an apartment house on the right. I think the house is still there, just as you started up around the bend. Two or three families lived in there that worked in the foundries.
BS: Do you remember what pay was like at that time?
FM: No, but it wasn’t very much Bob. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if it was a couple of dollars a day. It wasn’t much. They worked hard those fellows.
BS: What about the grocery store? Did that belong to the company?
FM: No. That belonged to Boardman Anderson, Bob. They later moved from Lime Rock and opened up a place in Lakeville up on the hill going out of Lakeville now which has all been torn down. There was a big apartment (Holly Block) building there and it had several stores on the first floor and they had one there. They went out of business and they’re all gone. In fact, Harry lived on White Hollow Road there just as you start up the hill on the right. He lived there till they passed away, him and his wife both. That’s where Dick Barnum’s house was on the White Hollow Road on the left and that burned down in one day when we were in school in Lime Rock. We all went down at noon to see this fire, and the big building going.
BS: Do you remember what year that was?
FM: Let’s see, we came up here in 1920. It must have been around 1918 somewhere there about. Everything was fading out then in Lime Rock. I remember that day it burned. C.W.’s house burned one night. That went up in one night. That was another big mansion up on the hill. Up on the flat near where Philo Lyons had his little store on the flat on the main section.
BS: You moved to Salisbury in 1921.
FM: 1921 we came up here. The Lime Rock Salisbury Road was dirt. Twin Lakes, all those were dirt roads. Where what they call the Court House Building (Academy Building) now, that was a little school downstairs and upstairs too, I think then. The old school house has been torn down up on 41. We had three or four grades in each room up there.
BS: You mean two schools in existence at the same time?
FM: There were two schools up here. The court house had the little grades, and the upper school had, I guess, 4,5,6,7 and 8th grade.
BS: Where was the high school?
FM: The high school was in Lakeville where the Post office sits now. That was torn down and the post office was built there. That was the high school. High school in those days was a tough thing to get to. My wife when she wanted to take a course in business, she went to Waterbury to Wilby.
BS: All the way to Waterbury?
FM: Went down and stayed with her aunt for the season because you see, there was none of those courses here Bob. I think Donny Parsons, Donny is 84 now, when he graduated, I guess he was the only one graduated, one in that class in high school.
BS: You went to which school when you got here?
FM I went up to the central school up here. My father died in 1932. We were a pretty large family so we all went to work Bob. Went out to work and worked all my life.
BS: What kind of work did you start with?
FM: Well, I started doing garden work, Bob. When my father died, I took over the estate that he was handling for this wealthy family. A very good friend of my father’s knew Mr. Mills that was the head gardener at Whitridge estate up on the Twin Lakes Road came down to see me and he said, “If I can help
you in anyway, just call me and I’ll be down here.” Mr. Mills was the one that guided me along till I knew what I was doing. From then on I worked at several private homes. A few years I went into construction and I worked on Canaan Hospital, big dormitory at Salisbury School, several buildings at Hotchkiss School. 1 worked on those big buildings up to Hotchkiss. We’d be there a while, year, two years some of them. I worked for Community Service fourteen years: then I went to the lake in 1951 and stayed there 25 years with them. When I took over the lake, as you know there was nothing there. It was a run-down mess. In fact, the town was ready to give it up. It wasn’t running right. The fellow that was running it was drinking. Two very good friends of mine came to me and said we would like to have you go to the lake. I said I would have to think it over. I went down to see Mr. Barnett. He said, “You’re the guy we want if you’ll come with us.” I went to work one year. I was only supposed to work the summer months. Then he came to me that fall and he said, “We’d like you to stay year round with us. Mr. Belcher and them, they were ready to quit. They had put quite a bit of money in and they were getting no results. So they said if you’ll stay the year round, we’ll keep you working all the while. So I said I have to work every day. I can’t sit home one day and work on day. So they did. Mr. Barnett told me, he said, ’’Frank, you’re the one that made the grove. In fact, you’re the one that got the money for us. If it hadn’t been for you, the Belchers would have pulled out.”
BS: It’s a wonderful place now.
FM: There was nothing there when I went there Bob. There was no beach, no buildings. There were no lawns, there was no boats. We used to buy boats from an old gent up here on 41. He was going out of business. Mr. Barnett said, “What are we going to do now? We have nobody to build the boats.” I said, “Let me go up there. Let’s go buy two boats and let me work with him for a couple of days. I think I can pick it up in a hurry.” I went up. Nice old gent. I’d known him for years. He showed me
everything. He said, “If you get stuck when you’re starting on your own, let me know. I’ll come down and straighten you out.”
BS: That was right here in Lakeville?
FM:Right here in Lakeville.
BS:What’s his name?
FM: His name is Ed Smith, old-time boat builder. The first couple I built, I had a little trouble. I jotted down what I wanted in a pad so I could refer back to. I guess now all told Bob, I must have built close to 60 boats. In fact a fellow called me from Pawling two or three weeks ago. He wanted me to build him a boat and I said “no.” It was a nice job working for the town. Bill Barnett was a great man for the town. Nort Miner deserves a lot of credit too. Nort was the architect and the Belchers put all the money into it. A lot of people were very cooperative. It had to be to make it work. A lot of the young people worked with us and they all turned out great. One went on to be a doctor the other fellow is working for the nuclear business for the government out in Nebraska/Montana, out there somewhere. One fellow went to work for the state of Wisconsin, aerial photography for forestry. They all made out well, had several girls that are terrific. I had one boy when I hired him. Mr. Barnett said, “You can’t make that boy work. He just won’t work.” I said, “Let me try him.” He worked for me about a week and see he wasn’t doing it right. I took him aside and said, “I’m going to show you how the work should be done. Then I want you to do it. I don’t care if it takes a little longer. I want it to look just like mine you know.” He turned out to be one of the best kids I had. All he needed was a little guidance.
BS: And a little attention and a little caring.
FM: We had a lot of nice boys and girls work for us at the lake.
BS: When you came to Salisbury, had you visited Salisbury and Lakeville when you were in Lime Rock?
FM: Not too much Bob. We more or less went to Falls Village and Canaan. We knew people in Salisbury but we didn’t come up this way too much. When we moved from Lime Rock, a horse team with a big wagon and a hay rigging, that’s what the furniture was loaded on. It came up by team.
BS: Was the railroad here?
FM: The railroad was running. I remember seeing trains go through with two engines on with a hundred cars on. This was the big siding up here. The train coming through, the passenger train would slide over on the main. The one would slide in on the siding and clear the other end up on 44 near the House of Herbs. That was all siding.
BS: So we’re saying that the big center was right here on Library Street.
FM: Right here, right here.
BS: We’re talking about between the library and what can we fix on this side? Well, the community…
FM: Tri-state Supply or Community Service now. That’s where they passed those big freights.
BS: Where did the railroad come from and go to?
FM: It started in Millbrook, NY and went to Hartford then switched off on Canaan to Danbury whichever way they wanted to go. There was a big switch round table in Canaan that they used to switch on. Then they would go on to Hartford. In fact, it was about four or five trains a day coming through from Hartford and Danbury and would meet in Canaan, passengers and freights. There was a lot of trains went through here but a hundred car freights you’d see then every few days and freight went through at least two or three times a day. That’s where they passed – those big freights. Community Service got all their supplies by
BS: When did it go out of existence approximately?
FM: It went out somewhere around the 1950’s, I think, Bob.
FM: That was the passenger station and that building up there, that’s where the freight station was way up there, but they made that bigger.
BS: Which building is that?
FM: Where all those stores are. That’s where the freight station was located up there. The original station was pulled down and that was built there. See Tri-state built that there first for supplies for the stores.
BS: When you say the stores, you are talking about in the center of town?
FM: No, right up there. In that big building up there Bob, there are several stores in there. The flower shop is in there, hairdresser in there.
B S:What was that building?
FM: That was the freight station only the original freight station was pulled down and that was built there. Dr. Reed’s was the passenger station. That was tom apart and put into a home. Most of that house is built out of the old railroad station. The Satre boys built that, the ski jumpers. They dug that cellar by hand and you’ve never seen so many rocks and stones in your life. That was the main line right there.
BS: You say three or four trains came through a day?
FM: At least. Yes, the freights and passenger trains. The last passenger train through was around seven at night, I think coming from Hartford. They go on to Millbrook, NY.
BS: Supposing someone wanted to go from here to Canaan?
FM: Oh, yea, you could go to Canaan from here.
BS: What would it cost you? Do you remember?
FM: Fifteen-twenty cents. We used to pay 10 cents from Falls Village to Canaan. When we were kids growing up in Lime Rock, my mother would go up to Bianchi store to buy the clothes for school. We would all go up on the train, ten cents a -piece. That was quite an outing.
BS: Isn’t that wonderful. What kind of stores were there in Salisbury?
FM: We had the meat market which was Kimberly’s where the factory store is now. The one where Higgins is, that’s a new store. That was built by Louis Trotta. Louie bought out Kimberly’s. Then he built that store and put the liquor store in there. That was all meat market: that whole building even where Durand has her real estate. That was all part of the meat market. I forget what they call that one where they have the big bird sitting out front. That was a plumbing shop. Weezy and somebody else had that as a plumbing shop. Charlie Weezy. Where CT Yankee was, was Clark’s Grocery Store. Then there was the flower shop. That was the barber shop and the shoe repair in back. That’s what that little building was where the tea room was. That was a barber shop in the front and a shoe repair in the back. Where the bank is was a dry good’s store. That belonged to George Clark too. He had both those stores and then came the drug store. The Whitbecks were in there. I’m trying to think of the guy’s name who owned it before Sam. Sam bought that. That’s going way back. The post office was in the drug store. The drug store was only about half the size it is now. On the right hand side looking in from the street, that was the post office. They built the new post office. Some people built that. The government doesn’t own that post office. That is a privately owned post office, a gold mine, Bob.
BS: They rent it.
FM: Yes. Then came the Academy Building where the little school was. That’s about what was in Salisbury.
BS: Was the lawyer’s place there next to the Congregational Church?
FM: Oh, yea. That was Don Warner’s law office. That’s his son down in Sharon.
BS: Was he the judge?
FM: That was old Judge Warner who lived down here. I think people have an antique place in it now. It is a big home on the left after you pass the Lime Rock/Salisbury Road, the second house on the left. The third house now because a new one built up in back there. That was the old Judge Warner’s home. But Don was a lawyer. That was his law office. He was the father of Don and all the girl’s there. I forget the girl’s names. He married a Scoville. He was married to one of the Scovilles. As you know, Scoville was a big name in town years ago. They owned a lot of property and did a lot of good things.
BS: That house that is across from the library and the town hall, it used to be a tavern. When you came to Salisbury, who had that house?
FM: Don Warner had it then some of the old timers say that some guy had that and ran a livery stable there. Somebody had that as a livery stable in there but when we came, Warner owned it.
BS: Was there any kind of a livery stable or horse stall behind the Congregational Church?
FM: There was horse stalls, yes, down in back of the drug store was the big horse sheds. You could rent a stall. It had your number on it, and put your horse in there. That was all horse sheds back down in there. That would be down about where Shagroy is now. That was all sheds in there in back of Sam Whitbeck’s in back of the drug store. The library was there. Kent Fulton owned the next place then he owned the big one down that’s just been sold on the right. I think Mrs. Ellsworth’s step son bought it. Sally Ellsworth’s, the big place down there. He owned it too. That was I.K. Fulton’s. Watermades owned the next one to Fulton then I think Dr. Goddard was the next one on that same side.
BS: What did people do for entertainment and recreation when you came to Salisbury at that time?
FM: More or less Bob, you made your own recreation. There was a minister in town, Mr. Chiera. He started a boy’s club. I think it was Chiera. I know it started with a C. I don’t know if that’s the correct spelling Bob. He started a boy’s club and had a radio which was a rarity then. WDKA out of
Pittsburg was the main station. That’s about the only one you got. We’d meet down there, and we’d play cards, setback and dominos. We used to do a little boxing. They’d have a little program of boxing.
BS: Which church was that?
FM: That was at St. John’s. We had great skating parties. People got together and formed their own skating parties. We’d toast marshmallows and we’d have sing-alongs around the fire. We had good times.
BS: Now these were the younger people
FM: These were the younger people. The older people had square dances, kitchen dances at home which is a big thing back years ago. Once in a few weeks there would be a dance at the town hall. Johnny Garrity used to play at all those kitchen dances and dances in the town hall. Square dancing was a big thing then. We played a lot of baseball when we were young people. People went to ball games, old and young. Everybody was at the ball game on Sunday afternoon. Then we had the movies in Lakeville. We had movies pretty near every night. We paid 10 cents to see the movie. I remember one of the great movies we all were waiting for and rushed to see was “The Covered Wagon”, the great western. Boy that was something. You were lucky to hitch a ride on a bud car that used to run through. The guys would all jump on the bud car and get a ride to Lakeville. 1 think they called it a bud car. It was just like a trolley, only one car.
BS: What ran it?
FM: A motor. It came out of Hartford I guess. When the train started to slow down. When the railroads started to die out. We’d jump this trolley car. We called it the toonaville trolley and ride to Lakeville. When the guy was trying to click the tickets, half of them were in the restroom hiding out.
BS: How many minutes did it take?
FM: Oh, four or five minutes to get down to Lakeville. We had lots of good times.
BS: Why did that die out that kind of community getting together?
FM: I don’t know Bob, just seemed to fade away. We had some great skating parties. In fact, I was talking to a girl here, Mini Carroll. She was talking only a few weeks ago about the great times we used to have skating. We’d get a whole group together and just dance among ourselves. Oh, there was so many things you could do.
BS: Why don’t young people get together to do that today? Did somebody organize that?
FM: No, just say let’s have a little party. First thing you know you had a gathering. Those were good times. Hope that will come out alright for you Bob.
BS:Frank what are some of the major changes you lived through in this town? What are some of the
differences between today and when you were growing up here?
FM: I don’t know Bob. One of the big changes was the tearing down most of Lakeville. Lakeville used to be the business section of this area. Most all the stores were in Lakeville. Today they’re all gone. Just above the Patco Station there was the A&P and liquor store, Barnett’s Dry Good Store, Bessie’s Lunch underneath, the telegraph office upstairs, Argali’s Barber shop, Dufour’s Garage, The Hub which is a restaurant that the Dufour’s ran. Those are all gone now, there’s nothing there. Up on the hill there was Miller’s Tin Shop plumbing business, then down later, Boardman Anderson’s Lafferty’s drugstore. They’re all gone. The buildings are gone. There’s nothing there. Lakeville has practically wound up a ghost town or ghost village. Not the town because it comes under the town of Salisbury. Salisbury, the Knife Handle shop went out. That employed a lot of people up on Factory Street. Phil Warner and the Warner family ran that. They made knife handles there, machete handles, hatchet handles, everything. The knife’s handles were made from bone and rosewood. It was imported. It was shipped in here, big logs and they slabbed it up here and they cut it up. In fact, Ricky Parsons was one of the fellows that worked in there for years in the shop. All the Parsons worked in the shop. In
Lakeville there was the knife factory. I remember just as it was closing out, the Holley Knife Manufacturing. There were so many things in Lakeville. Lakeville just went to pieces, nothing there
BS:Did people move away who were living here at the time?
FM: No. There didn’t seem too many move away Bob, it just seemed as though the business just went out. No business left or what I don’t know. Salisbury, really the center of the town hasn’t changed too much, just a few new buildings. Salisbury is about the same but most of the business has gone out in this area. Years ago and I guess they still do, lot of people work at Hotchkiss School. They employed quite a few up there and a lot of fellows commuted to Torrington when business failed here, many fellows. Some drove as far as Hartford. One man I know drove to Hartford for several years. A lot of them went to Torrington. Some went to Winsted. Most of the business went out around here. Now where the ambulance was, that was a big garage years ago. That was Rosco Britten’s garage. That was a big garage. It employed a few fellows in there. The White Hart Inn was run by a fellow named Will Russell. He owned the White Hart and which is the Ragamont now, he owned both of those. My uncle ran his farm over where it belonged to Crosby then later over by Dutcher’s Bridge. They raised all their pork, chickens, and eggs. Everything was raised on this farm that came into the inns. So there have been quite a few changes Bob. Lot of fellows still go in to Torrington. I know fellows who drive into Torrington today to work.
BS: The young people are surely leaving.
FM: Oh yes. There’s nothing here for young people Bob. As you know, property in the town of Salisbury is very high. It’s tough for a young couple to get started in Salisbury. You’re talking $100,000 and up. Not too many young people starting out can get up $100,000. We built this little house Bob and built it for $13,000 complete.
BS: We bought ours for $16,500.
FM: $13,000 did a lot of it ourselves. I had good carpenters working for me in 1959 paying $2.00 an hour cash because they were working contracting for $20.00 a day. They came to me nights and weekends for $2.00 an hour. Two of the finest carpenters you want to get. A very good friend of mine, Grady Brizzolo was a very good carpenter. He retired. He worked on this house, and he wouldn’t take a nickel. He wouldn’t let me pay him. What’s friends and neighbors for? He said, “I want to come up and help you build your home. I did a lot of it myself. My brother was pretty handy and we put it together for $13,000. When 1 tell people that, they say “you got to be crazy”, but it’s true. Young people today in Salisbury have a tough time getting started because valuation is so high in this area. As you know, years ago in Lime Rock, the Lime Rock station was the Boardman Creamery. All the milk was trucked in there from all around Falls Village and Lime Rock. It went into Borden’s Creamery.
BS: Where was that creamery?
FM: Down below as you go up by the regional high school, you turn right.
BS: Where the railroad is?
FM: Yes. That’s where Borden’s Creamery was. The railroad station was the Lime Rock station. They called it the Lime Rock station but it really was in the town of Canaan. It’s on the other side of the river. That’s where all the milk was. In fact, when I was a kid, later on, my father before we came up here, he went to drive in the horse for the Boardman’s creamery. We went out through Huntsville and all out through there picking up the farmer’s milk with the team in the morning and get back and put the milk in at the creamery maybe for 11 o’clock. That’s gone. That’s no longer there. Lime Rock, as I say Bob, way back was really the hub of Salisbury.
BS: You built the town grove up so well. What were some of the problems you ran into?
FM: Well, it was in bad shape Bob.
FM: Physically the buildings were all shot. No running water or toilet. There were no lawns. There was nothing. Everything was in a rundown condition. They were very fortunate to buy the town grove through Mrs. Belcher and the Belcher family was what made the Salisbury Town Grove. A lady by the name of Mrs. —– owned that. She was a Rudd. The Rudds is a real old family in the town. She got in touch with Mr. Barnett that they were going to sell the grove and through his initiative and pushing with people, he got people interested so that they bought it. As I say, they were strongly against buying it. As I say, they ran it one year then I went there in 1951 with the help of all the selectmen which was George Selleck at the time and Alan Buck and Bill Barnett and Nort Miner is the architect and with the help of the Belchers, it started to take shape. We turned it into what I think was probably one of the finest little parks in the county.
BS: Everybody thinks that, yup.
FM: The first year was a little rough Bob. I’ll tell you why, the year before, the fellow that ran it, didn’t have control of it so the teenagers ran it. They did as they want. So when I went there the selectman said, “If you can run it, we’re gonna back you up on this. We want this thing to operate right.” So after a couple of weeks, I gathered a flock of them together and said, “Boys from now on, I run it. If you want to have a good year, you work with me. We’ll have a nice time. If you don’t, we’re going to have a rough summer, but I’m going to run it. You ran it last year, this year, I’m going to run it.” We got it straightened out, and I got along great with all the kids. When I spoke to them, they knew I meant what I was saying. There was no fooling. If we wanted to horse around that was fine later but when something had to be pinned down to make it work, they knew that I wasn’t fooling. We had our ups and downs with a few people, but most of them eventually seen what we were going to do and we went together pretty good. Bill Barnett was a great man to work for. Nort Miner. Without Nort’s help, it wouldn’t be what it is today. Nort I guess he donated his time free of charge and laid out everything for us.
The highway crew used to come in and do all the heavy parts for me because they had the equipment to do it. That was still all charged against the town budget. Bill was very business-like. Everything had to be just so. It was a nice job. I made a lot of friends all over the country. I had a nice gentleman call me from New York a couple of weeks ago and said, “We’re coming up fishing, I want to be sure to see you.”
BS:If I remember correctly there were no stipulations when we first got here.
FM: It got out of hand. There were no restrictions on it. Everybody was coming from everywhere. It got out of hand. Mrs. Belcher got upset. She was going to pull out. She wasn’t going to put more money in to it. So we sat down and set up some rules to make it work for the town’s people and the kids in town and it worked out very well. I see some of their problems today, but when I go down there, I can see why their problems are there because nobody is checking people coming in. We used to know everybody. I knew who you were Bob. I knew every family that came in. If they didn’t belong in there, I told them so. You don’t belong here, you need to go out. Made a lot of friends and people were good to me. I have no enemies at all.
BS: You found the community people very cooperative. It was always kept so clean.
FM: Oh, it wasn’t the clean place. I had one man that was a chauffeur for a very wealthy lady. They used to go to Maine in the summer and Florida in the winter. They weren’t from around here but they used to stop off in Salisbury and spend a day or two on their way through. Her chauffeur used to come to the lake. He said to me, “Frank you have the cleanest rest rooms in the U.S. You can go from Maine to Florida and you won’t find a restroom that’s got as clean as those. There’s no odor. “We used to buy disinfectant by the 5-gallon pail and we used it. The state inspector came in. Many times they told us we got the cleanest place as anybody. Then we had one fellow complain. We didn’t have a cash register Bob. We had to keep a book on the boat, the park, the store, what we spent, what we got back, everything.
So the auditors came every year. I had to go to a meeting on it. This was auditing for the town. They came out of Hartford. I’ll never forget the company who did the auditing. Everybody that had money for the town was at that meeting. When it came my turn, Mr. Barnett said, “Before Frank talks, I want to say something. We have a few people arguing about a cash register which would cost $1500.1 don’t see any need for a cash register because who’s gonna watch to see if they put it into the cash register. Then who’s going to watch him. We would have a line from here back to New York. “After he got through, the auditor said to me, “I’m going tell you something. I audit books for many companies. He said, I’ve been auditing this fellow for the last seven to eight years. I can’t find a mistake anywhere. If I had a fellow that had as little loss as this man has, I wouldn’t spend money on a cash register. I’ve seen people with a cash register with much more loss than he’s got.” So I thought that was pretty good. We didn’t hear anything more about a cash register, but now they’ve got a cash register. I said to the fellow one day, “I’ve seen some money piled up on the counter.” I said, “What’s all the money on the counter?” He says, “We run it through when we get a pile. “ I said, “That’s no way to do it.” He said, “We’d wear it out.” The town grove was a great thing for the town. They’ve got them problems with the lake, gut they should have listened 35 years ago when the Union Carbide people ran a study and told them what was wrong. If they’d listened to those people, instead of listening to somebody around the lake who didn’t want to spend a few dollars, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today. It’s true Bob.
BS: What was their suggestion?
FM: They suggested a sewer all the way around 35 years ago. They would run it down near the lake. Everything would drain through the pipe and then they would pump every so far everybody wouldn’t have to have put in a pump. They suggested three aeration pumps. One at Hotchkiss School, one up at Mary Smalling’s in front of the boat house. You see they’re pumping out from the boat house now.
They’re pumping water out of that hole. That hole is only 55 foot deep. You’ve got a bar going through the center of the lake that is only 8 foot deep. That bar is within 8 feet of the surface, sand bar all the way through that lake. On the other side, you’ve got 108 feet of water. You’d be got 90 feet of water off of Mary Smalling’s. How can you draw the nutrients from 108 feet if you’re only pumping from 50 from the bar in the middle? You see, it doesn’t make sense. You can’t tell a lot of these people about that. They know more about it, but then you can’t tell them. The Union Carbide fellows told Fred Romeo and I you’ve got to get a sewer here, you’ve got to get the aeration pumps in here and you’ve got a chance. That’s 35 years gone by. Look what it costs today to put a sewer in. They would have to put in the pumps for $100,000, the whole business. That was the price they set on it. They brought up mud from the bottom of the lake that smelled like sulfur. Smelled like rotten eggs.
BS: Was there a town meeting about this?
FM: Well they had meetings and one thing and another Bob it seems like a few got their own way. Then they were going to test all the septic tanks. They went around notifying everybody they were going to test the septic tanks, then everybody pumped their tank out so the guy didn’t come out. That didn’t make sense.
BS: Were there any other major problems in town that you can recall that became areas that people got involved in negatively or positively?
FM: Most of the time everybody in town was quite cooperative. There were very few little frictions. Once in a while you would run into something that somebody didn’t like. The zoning I think caused the biggest stir of anything, when the zoning first started to come in. that was the biggest crowd Salisbury had ever seen up here. You couldn’t even get into the building. They beat that that time by a big margin. Zoning is meant for a good thing, but sometimes I think it’s a little too strict on things. I am not against zoning.
I think zoning is good, but if it is carried through for everybody on the same scale. Don’t discriminate against one guy and let the other guy get his way.
BS: What’s the good of a law that…
FM: That’s right. I think zoning caused the most trouble, the most controversy at that time. Most of the time, the town has been really good. It’s a well-run town down through the years. We’ve had a lot of good people, and I think we are very fortunate to have what we do have in Salisbury, but it is getting a little expensive too.
BS: I guess that is true most everywhere. Don’t know what’s happening. Although I understand as far as housing is concerned, there are now some areas in Texas and New Mexico, Arizona that are even further down. I think we’re down.
FM: Yes. Evaluation is down all over the country. Some of these houses are over priced – really out of line.
BS: Now is there anything else you can think of?
FM: Not offhand. We’ve covered a pretty good scope.
BS: Frank, you said there were no snowplows.
FM: No back in the 18’s, 19’s, 1919, 1918, 1920 there were no snowplows. The farmers broke the road out with the teams. They did it on their own. That’s the only way you could get out. They usually strapped a regular side hill plow on each side of the sleigh. The team they went down the road and that’s what rolled out the sides the runners would come. You’d use the sleigh. It would be packed down by the foot, the snow. A family across the way during the flu lost two boys. The only way they could take those boys down off the mountain, Briton Hill, was by sleigh and teams. They broke out the road a day or two before with big teams and sleighs to get the road passable. Then I think we had much more snow than we do today. Snow falls was tremendous back then. There were no snowplows. I remember seeing
them over on what we call Weatogue going to Twin Lakes shoveling those flats by hand: fifty men or more being there with shovels. Lincoln City Road going up to the school that road would drift full every year. When they couldn’t get by, they had to shovel it by hand. The first bulldozer that I ever seen, Charlie Garrity had it. That was the first one I’ve ever seen in town. That’s going back in the 30’s. I would say somewhere along in there. There were no snow plows.
BS: How did the depression hit this town?
FM: It hit it hard Bob. I remember the depression, 1929. There was no work. My brother and I used to go to the sawmill and get slabs, saw them up in half and sell them for a dollar and a half, two dollars a load. Everybody was in the same boat. We ate a lot of macaroni and stuff like that, but we got by. It was tough, no jobs. You would see 30 men sitting on the porch up here. The drugstore used to be a big porch all across the front of the drugstore, a whole porch all the way across, full width, right in front. That porch went full length of the building. There would be 30 men sitting there, nothing to do, no work. It was tough going. When I was a young lad, I went to work. Community Service for twelve dollars a week. I worked hard.
BS: That was during the depression?
FM: Right shortly after.
BS: I was getting twelve dollars a week at the Hills Shoe Store in Davenport, Iowa.
FM: My older brother drove a team for them. I guess he got $12-15 a week sitting out in the cold and snow. It was tough going.
BS: Did WPA help?
FM: WPA helped. They built the Canaan airport at that time and they built the Lakeville Firehouse at the same time. So a lot of fellows got jobs on the WPA. There was quite a bunch of them working up at Canaan on the airport which is up where that sawmill is in there now. I forget the name of the guy who
opened up the lumber mill. He’s got a big lumber mill up near the cemetery up there going out of Canaan on the right by the police barracks. That’s where the airport was. Later they had a drive-in movie theater there that went under. A lot of fellows did work on WPA. Quite a few fellas did work at Hotchkiss School. We would work all day for $3.00 cleaning the skating rink. That was down on that lower pond towards the Interlaken Inn, down over the hill. That was the hockey pond. Budd Ellis was the head man on the maintenance, athletic fields and things. Buddy always had extra skates you know, the boys left behind, graduated. When we’d get through, Buddy would say, “How are you boys fixed for skates?” So he would give us a pair of skates.
BS: How did the younger people in town feel about Hotchkiss because of how much money it took to go there?
FM: Years ago Bob, we are going back quite a ways, a boy could go through Hotchkiss through the town of Salisbury. The way I was told, he paid for his books. His tuition was free. He didn’t stay there at night. He went home, a day student. He paid nothing for his tuition, got a scholarship from the town. He had to meet their standards. He had to pay for his books, his pencils, whatever he needed. Alice’s oldest brother, Art used to walk from here to Hotchkiss School every day, my wife’s brother. He went on to Yale from Hotchkiss. He came from a poor family, but he got into Yale. He had good marks. He went on and was a big gun in Scoville Manufacturing. In fact, he used to go out interviewing the college boys for the top jobs for the higher up men they needed. Alice’s Uncle Jim, he was a toolmaker for Scoville for years. He was one of the top men they had. They’d fly him to Cleveland or Detroit if they were looking for a special tool they had to have. He was the one that was sent to get this tool made, the idea of it.
BS: Was there any Scoville Manufacturing in town?
FM: Not that 1 know of Bob, no. It was all in Waterbury. In fact, I think they say the Fulton Park in Waterbury was connected with the Fultons that were here. His father and mother and others were the same Fultons in the Fulton Park in Waterbury. Uncle Jim, he was a tool maker for years. He quit during WWII. They were trying to teach fellows in two years or more to make a tool. It took him seven years to learn. He said, “This is crazy, can’t do it.” He was odd. He was a bachelor. One day, he picked up all his tools and walked out. They said, “Where did he go?” The guy says, “ I guess he quit.” The depression was a tough time Bob. A lot of people had the hard sledding. We were quite fortunate. We came through it, but it was tough going.
BS: Very good. Thank you.