This is Jean McMIllen interviewing Janet Vaill Maus at her home, 48 Woodland Drive, Lakeville, Ct. the date is June 19, 2012.
JMcM:What is your full name?
JM:Janet Eleanor Vaill Maus
JMcM:Where were you born?
JMcM:Your birth date?
JM:November 18, 1927
JMcM:Your patents names?
JM:B. Franklin & Marjorie Baldwin Vaill. Marjorie is with a J.
JMcM:Do you have siblings?
JM:I did, I had two brothers both of whom were older, Jim and Dick: James Edward and Richard Allen. (Tootsie Vaill was Jim’s 1st wife, Ethel.)
JMcM:What was your education?
JM:Through high school and a little college.
JMcM:Now when you spoke to me before you mentioned that you had been in Boston at VE Day. Would you tell me about that please?
JM:(VE Day is Victory in Europe on May 8, 1945 when German surrendered.) Wow! Boston was unlike Boston. Everybody was crying and laughing, and I am doing the same thing again. It just exploded horns blowing…..
JMcM:What does VE Day mean? What was it the end of?
JM:That was the end of the war in Europe, WWII in Europe. There was still the war in Japan going on.
JMcM:That’s why people were so ecstatic and hugging and kissing and…
JM;And Boston being a port city for people going over to Europe, it was just they felt really a part of it, I think was what it was.
JMcM:Had the troops started to come back yet, or was it just the declaration of…
JM:No, it was just the declaration, the president…; Hitler had signed off, I guess.
JMcM:Now I am going to backtrack to local schools.Do you have any memories about the Lakeville schools that you went to?
JM:Well, I think I went to fourth grade to school in the building where the Post Office is in Lakeville. That was the grade school and then we moved up to the Lower Building (of Salisbury Central School) so the high school. In order to do that, the high school student must have started at the Regional. (The Regional school began in 1939. Ed.)So maybe it wasn’t 4th grade, maybe 6th grade. I don’t remember the year obviously. We moved up there and then when they built the Upper Building, I have no idea when that happened (1954 ED.), we just moved into the Lower Building. I don’t know how they did do that because I don’t think they closed the school that is now (the site of) the Post Office.
JMcM:Well, as I understood it, the first floor was elementary and the second floor was high school. Then when the Lower Building was available, the high school kids went to the Lower Building for high school or some part of high school, and then the Regional was built about 1939 and that is when the students left the Lower Building and started going to the Regional.
JM:OK, well our class was the second class to have gone all 4 years to Regional, so probably we can figure out the years from that.
JMcM:Do you have any memories of favorite teachers; either elementary school or high school?
JM:High school- Mrs. Camp was the English teacher and I adored her. She was just so nice. I saw another student at a reunion there and he was bemoaning Mrs. Camp. I said,” She was my favorite teacher.” He said,”Well of course she always liked a certain group of children.” The teacher in grammar school that I remember the most was the one I disliked the most was Miss Metcalf. I think she was 4th grade, but aside from that teachers come and go.
JM:As do students.
JMcM:Any principals that you remember?
JM:“Old liver lips”, Paul Stoddard.
JMcM:What was his nickname?
JM:“Old liver lips” he had floppy lips. That was not our pet name, but it was his pet name.
JMcM: Now your father, you told me before, owned a lot of property. Where did he own this property? Did he have a farm?
JM:Yes, he had a farm.
JMcM:What kind of a farm was it?
JM:A dairy farm.3.
JMcM: And what kind of cows?
JMcM: Were they black and white?
JM:No, they were brown, Jersey.
JMcM:Where was this farm?
JM:I don’t know who lives in the farm house now, but big brick house on the left set way back, coming up from Lakeville up Wells Hill Road. The farm house is the next building, and from that point on, oh I don’t know how many miles, but he owned primarily on the left hand side of Wells Hill Road.
JMcM:You said he had 15…
JM:1500 acres is what he started out with.
JMcM;Did he develop Robin Hill Lane?
JM:No, he didn’t. He sold that property pretty much as a bulk sale to somebody who developed it apparently.
JMcM:How about this side of Wells Hill? The Woodland Drive area: is this something that he owned and he sold, and was later developed? Or did he develop it?
JM:He more or less developed it because this part down here (48 Woodland Drive) was pasture land for the farm. I don’t know just how much acreage was on this side.
JMcM:You said that he built the Woodland Restaurant; what is now the Woodland?
JMcM:He built the original?
JMcM: Did he use it as a business or did he,
JM:He built it at night; an uncle and aunt ran it. It was strictly a milk bar.
JMcM:Who, the names of your uncle and aunt?
JM:Rolf Clements and they ran it for several years. Then other people have run it since, and changed it into a more complete… This was almost like a milk bar stop for Hotchkiss students when they were going back and forth.
JMcM:Ice cream soda and milkshakes.4.
JM:Stuff like that I think as well as hamburgers and stuff. I don’t think they did, I guess they did some dinners.
JMcM:But they didn’t do haute cuisine.
JM:NO, no indeed.
JMcM:I remember that milk bar in 1967 when I came to town. It was the bar stools and hamburgers and hot dogs that sort of thing.
(Her daughter): not just Rolf, but Rolf and Eleanor.
JMcM:Any information or recollections about the Methodist Church in general?
JM:Just that I have gone there forever.
JMcM:You worked at the Town Hall, didn’t you?
JMcM:What was your job?
JM:I was Assistant Town Clerk for several years. Then when the job opened up to do, I was sort of the accountant for the town; I did the book work, and that was when we became computerized in that department.
JMcM:As Assistant Town Clerk, I have gone in and asked all sorts of weird questions, what were your responsibilities?
JM:With Lila Nash, I don’t know if the name is familiar?
JM:Well, she was the Town Clerk so you can sort of visualize which is why I left that job and started doing book work.
JMcM: How long were you bookkeeper?
JM:Well, I left that job when I was 65, but I started work originally when I was 39, but then I worked in a couple of other places so I don’t remember how long. But I was bookkeeper for a good ten years.
JMcM:Who were the selectmen that you were working under?
JM:Bill Barnett was the First Selectman, and I don’t think anybody notice who were the second and third.
JMcM:He pretty much ran the town.
JM:He pretty much did.5.
JMcM:Did you work under Charlotte Ried?
JMcM:Memories of growing up in Lakeville?
JM:Just it was probably an ideal childhood because there are not so many memories. I remember this whole area. I used to just wander through the woods in safety. There was a ledge in that area that was all sandy, and I would sit there and play in the sand. Then people would walk down to the lake.
JMcM:Did you spend time at the Grove?
JMcM:Was Mr. Timmens running it then or Frank Markey or who?
JM:Frank Markey was later, but I think Mr. Timmens was when I was there first. When I was very, very young for some reason, our family always swam in the part of the lake that you first come to before you turn right and then run parallel to the lake. In that section that was always the part that we went to and I was so envious of everybody that could go over to the Grove which was 6 feet away. Then it stopped being so segregated and I could go over to the Grove.
JMcM:But at that time they didn’t do swim lessons or swim team or anything like that. It was just swimming and no life guards.
JMcM:How has the town changed because I know you have lived in Florida and Texas so you’ve got a different idea because you have been away and seen other…?
JM:Yeah, it is not as friendly a town, but that’s because I’ve been away and come back and the same people aren’t here. It’s not an especially welcoming town, I don’t think any more. Physically it looks about the same.
JMcM:It is typical New England. We have a reputation for being rather reserved and staid I think.
JMcM:Now I think we deserve that reputation, rather than warm and cuddly and that sort of thing.
JM:Yes, in Texas everybody hugs. When I first came back, I saw somebody that I just barely knew, but I went up and hugged him, and he did not know what to do.
JMcM:I can understand that. When you had children, you did civic activities like boy scouts, girl scouts.
JM:Yes, I did the brownies in the Girl Scouts and the cub scouts. I never did boy scouts; that was always the guys.
JMcM: But you had the cubs.
JMcM:Any boards or volunteer work that you have done over the years?
JM:I can’t think of anything so I didn’t do anything for very long. I remember we were plane spotters during World War II.
JMcM:Oh tell me about that!
JM:OK, we were high school kids. At certain hours we had to go and keep our eyes on the sky to make sure that the Germans weren’t coming.
JMcM:Did you have an observation tower?
JM:No, it was just up at the farm, opposite where, what is the name of the street down to Millerton, as you go on the road to Sharon and you head off to Millerton, it was a farm on the right. Her name was Charlotte and she taught riding. But that is where we went. We stood, I remember being there especially with Jean Hemmerlie because you would get off the school bus and look for airplanes for a while and then go home.
JMcM:Had you had any training as to what to look for?
JM:I don’t think so. There might have been a chart of planes.
JMcM:Because Martha Briscoe speaks of plane spotting, too. Anything that I haven’t covered about your life, the town, your family? Oh yes I wanted to ask you who was Tootsie Erickson Vaill?
JM:That was Jim’s first wife.
JMcM: Did they have children?
JM: Yes, Carol and Ronnie. Carol has a school for gifted children on Long Island. Ronnie has retired from some major industrial company. He lives in Pennsylvania.
JMcM:Anything else you’d like to add.
JM:I should mention that Dick went to Hotchkiss a day student for a year and then a resident. He went on from there to Annapolis. I hardly remember him as a teenager, since I have gotten to know him as a man, he was a delightful man.
JMcM:Good, that is always nice to hear about brothers. Thank you so very much. I really appreciate it.