Oral History Cover Sheet
Narrator: Virginia Moskowitz
Interviewee: Ginger Gilman
Place of Interview: 53 E. Main Street, Salisbury
Summary of Talk: Family Background, Mt. Vernon, NY, Connection to Twin Lakes and Salisbury, Berkshire Hills Camp, Setting Up History Room at Scoville Library, Town Historian 1987-1999.
Property of the Oral History Project
The Salisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library
Salisbury, Conn. 06068
Ginger Gilman: This is Ginger Gilman interviewing Ginny Moskowitz at her lovely home on East Main Street in Salisbury. Now I’m just going to ask you a few questions here about your birthplace, your date, and your parents. We’ll start off with your birthplace and the date.
Virginia Moskowitz: It was April 7th 1915, in Mount Vernon, New York. It was interesting because it was a five generation family that had always lived there, so I had extra inspiration to be community minded.
GG: Well 1 was going to ask you more about that because I’m very interested in your family. And I’d like to know your parents’ names if you feel like it and so forth because I think this has a lot to do with what you did in your life.
VM: Right. My father was Vernon McClellan and my mother was Josephine Pomeroy McClellan. And as I say the family name had been around for a long time so it was doubly inspirational to do it. It was interesting too because having been born in Mount Vernon Hospital, in later years I graduated from the school of nursing there and worked for a number of years as head nurse in the surgical department and things like that. So it was sort of, you know destined to be.
GG: Definitely tied the two together.
VM: Yeah, right. I married Dr. Moskowitz from New York, and he worked at the hospital. Then we had an office at home in later years so there was a lot of connection there.
GG: How many children did you have?
VM: We had three boys, nine grandchildren, and three and a half great grand children. But they’re scattered all around like everybody’s family is.
GG: Yeah. Well that’s great. I’m just totally interested in your background in Mt. Vernon; then we’ll get on to Salisbury. But I’d like to know more what you did. I understand you did fourth grade tours with children?
VM: Yes. in Mt. Vernon yes.
GG: You figured that this is a good time to do this? That age?
VM: Yes. It was interesting because we involuntarily chose that month, then that year. In later years the state said that was a good time because the kids were still interested, and in later years they couldn’t have cared less. So that worked out nicely.
GG: How did the tours work?
VM: Well we had bus tours, and we also had walking tours. They went off very well.
GG: Did you do it by yourself?
GG: Oh for heaven’s sake. Organizing that must have been a job wasn’t it?
VM: Well once you get into the swing of it it’s alright. It worked out very well. They don’t do it anymore because they don’t have time they say “I don’t know”…
GG: Yeah, I can understand that.
VM: But a lot is lost.
GG: Yeah, yeah.
VM: We had a bus tour up here that was very successful, but I had my beginnings down there with kids. But these were adults in a bus, so-
GG: Up here?
GG: Oh for heaven’s sake. When did you move up here?
VM: Well it*s very interesting. When I was nine years old, my father, he never bought cottages, but we rented up at Twin Lakes when I was nine years old. We’d come up every summer and every weekend. Of course we got into high school, and we couldn’t do that anymore. But that’s how I got my beginning at Twin Lakes. We never came near Salisbury though because that was the ritzy part you see. So that’s how I got involved. In later years, when we had the family, we’d come up weekends, too. So it was a nice difference between those that had it and those that didn’t. I mean, country life is very different from city life. So it gave me a nice contrast.. Twin Lakes was born by Mount Vernon people.
GG: I didn’t know that.
VM: Yeah. So it was another connection and, let’s see I can’t think of anything else…
GG: That’s very interesting. So you spent the summers?
VM: Summers and weekends.
GG; Yes, right.
VM: We had the camp. We rented the cottage next to Berkshire Hills Camp so that was another connection.
VM: But that’s a whole ‘nother story so…
VM: Well, can you tell anything about that, because I think that’s very interesting?
VM: Well, we were right next to the tennis court so we could hear all the conversation from the kids. The young ones were in the first cottage, and the first night they cried the whole night. They missed their parents, you know? So it was interesting. After camp was out, my sisters, I had two sisters, and we’d go behind the bunks, cottages, whatever they were, and pick up everything they had thrown out. We used take all the coke bottles and you know, you’d get a whole fortune from all of those.
GG: That’s great. That is just great.
VM: We did all our shopping in Canaan. What would happen, the fathers would bring everybody up and go home for the week. The mothers were there without any cars or anything. So all the tradespeople would come over to us. You know, because otherwise they wouldn’t have had any business. So that was good too.
GG: That’s an interesting time, I would say. That would be about when?
VM: Oh gosh, let’s see. I’m 88, so whenever, 9 years old would be.
GG: Oh, a long…yeah.
VM: A long time. Yeah.
GG: That’s a great thing. Well, I’d love to know a little more about…I know you did a lot at Mt. Vernon, and if there’s anything you can remember about what you did there. You were on all these things, all these wonderful historical organizations.
VM: Well as I say, the family was history minded so that sort of shoved me a little bit like it might not have done otherwise.
GG: Yeah. But you had a lot of positions there, while you were there? You were a volunteer docent at St. Paul? Now what’s that, St. Paul?
VM: St. Paul’s is a national historic shrine. It’s owned by the government. Originally it was an Episcopal Church.
GG: I see.
VM: They just lost all the congregation so the historical society took it over, more or less. It’s now a national shrine.
GG: That’s interesting. You did a lot of volunteer stuff in the history room? I mean the work you’ve done here…
VM: Well you know, you get involved in one thing, you go along and-
GG: Yes, yes. Well, then you moved to Salisbury. Your jobs as an archivist at the library really were terrific, it sounds to me.
VM: Yeah, it was sort of informal. We more or less got it together so it was organized, and now it’s-
GG: You were Town Historian?
GG: That was in 1987 I gather?
VM: Right, yeah.
GG: The 200th anniversary-you did 250th anniversary.
VM: Right. I forget what the date was, but-
VM: That’s when we had the bus trips, and we took people. It was very interesting because we said they should sign up so we’d know how many for the bus, so the people that lived here said “Oh we know everything,” you know. That day we had to hire another bus, so many people came out; natives too.
GG: Good and where did you go mostly?
VM: Oh dear. Well, I described all the historic places here. We went up around Twin Lakes and just the general out in the area. So it was very successful.
GG: Well that’s terrific. That is terrific. Well I’m very interested. You were really busy in that library.
VM: 1 was. Now I’ve retired.
GG: I know.
VM: And I’m wobbly so-
GG: But you’ve set up a great system in there
VM: Yeah. There wasn’t any, really, everything was in the basement so it took me years and years to get everything together. But I don’t know how it is now, you know, I don’t want to butt in at all. But we had it pretty well organized.
GG: Well, you certainly did. I’m sure it was helpful to Norm [Sills—took over as Town Historian after Ginny retired in 1999].
VM: Oh yeah, sure. He looks at it in a modern way, with computers and things which I had no knowledge of, so between the two of us we managed. And, oh, you were helping too?
GG: Yes, 1 was helping.
VM: Yes of course. So that’s about it.
GG: You were there for quite a while, I mean you were there from 1985, it said?
VM: Yes, weekends 1 used to work unofficially in the library, you know, because my husband was at the hospital so…but now all the old people either died off or moved so we have a whole new influx of people coming that could be helpful.
GG: Yes, yes and I’m sure they wish you were there
VM: Oh no, he’s doing a very good job
GG: Oh, well he is, he certainly is. So now do you see your children much?
VM: Not very often because, one of them only lives about a half hour away, but you know, they’re very busy. They have kids, but we call each other all the time and write letters and stuff and so…and they were interested because they were little kids when they came to the lake, you know, so they have a feeling for it too, that they might not have had otherwise. So all in all I’ve had a good life.
GG: Who did you take over for your job at the library? Who was working there before as a historian, can you remember?
VM: No I don’t think there was anybody, officially.
GG: Oh, okay.
VM: No, everybody sort of clammed in. So then we got the history room and things sort of progressed, you know.
GG: ‘Cause it’s so well organized in there. It’s terrific.
VM: Well we have very good people running it too, which helps. I don’t go there now because I’ve figured once you give up your job…I went back a couple of times, and everybody came to me rather than to Norm. That wasn’t right. So I don’t go, because-
GG: Did you set up the genealogy because that’s very well done?
VM: Yeah. Everything was set up ’cause it was nothing at all. Well, it’s good town to have a genealogy. Although now as I say, everybody’s dying off now and-
GG: I know, I know.
VM: It’s hard to keep it going.
GG: Well we certainly miss you in there. I think you should come in whenever you can.
VM: Oh gee. Well that’s alright.
GG: This is rather a short interview because there’s so much that you did that it’s hard to-
VM: Well, luckily I have plenty of time. You know my husband’s working in Sharon Hospital and everything…then, of course, he died, so that gave me lots more time.
GG: Oh yeah. Well I thank you very much, Ginny.
VM: Well you’re very welcome.
GG: Very nice to be here talking to you.
VM: I’m glad you’re doing this project, it’s very important.
GG: Well we’ll see what happens. Thank you very much.
VM: You’re very welcome I’m sure.
GG: Okay, bye.