Oral History Cover sheet
Interviewee: Bart Perotti
Tape # 32A/B
Place of Interview:Scoville Memorial Library
Date of Interview:March 14,1984
Summary of talk(side A): early iron works at Lime Rock, molding pig iron, ingredients: lime stone, charcoal and iron ore, use of water power and bellows to run the furnace, three dam locations and purposes, water flow problems, foundry, gristmill and pattern shop all on Salmon Kill, products made, car wheel process, transportation of car wheels and components, Ames Iron Works, new partner named Richardson, 2nd generation of Barnum and Richardson men & the firm, owners’ houses, office locations, McNeil Insurance Co. beginnings, B & R superintendents Weasley, Belcher, Ore Mine source of ore for B&R Co., water problems at Ore Hill Mine, molding process, accidents, furnace closing, upper foundry burned, fireworks, movies at the Casino, chemical plant in East Canaan, process of making wood alcohol and charcoal, steel mill, bankruptcy in 1919, closing of both upper and lower foundries 1919-1920, Richard N. Barnum, Lime Rock General Store, Charles Barnum, 2 Barnum houses destroyed by fire, two big houses on White Hollow Road, Bart’s early schooling, commuting by milk train to Canaan High School, recreations, the Casino, a saloon in town, the General Store, the Post Office, population about 600.
Side B: Copper town-Upper and Lower Lime Rock, Borden’s Creamery, clay beds used to make china, Dietz Lantern Co. other small businesses which folded, wage scale, Dard Hunter Paper Mill, Dard Hunter Paper Museum in Wisconsin, Bart’s trade schooling and work experience until and during the Depression, the Milmine estate and family, Lakeville businesses, hauling ore, French and Italian immigrant job seeking, summer recreation, view of first car, car stories, Lakeville businesses, area iron furnaces, Canaan High School teachers.
Property of the Salisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library, Salisbury Ct. 06068
This is Donald Kobler interviewing Bart Perotti at the Scoville Memorial Library on May 14,1984.
DK:Mr.Perotti, will you tell us something about your early days in Lime Rock.
BP:I was born (1907) in the upper part of Lime Rock called Coppertown. I was born right opposite
the furnace. The foundation is still there. The furnace was standing then. I lived in a house 50, maybe 100 feet from the furnace. My father worked at the furnace. First he worked upstairs where they charged the furnace with coal, iron ore, and lime. Then he worked downstairs where they drew off the iron every 8 hours. They made a bed (an area of sand). When they wanted the molded iron in this bed, it was shaped like pig iron. So when the iron drew in; it drew in like the branch of a tree. All these pig irons were fixed so that there would be a dent in the side of these long pigs so you could break them in two. (a dent like in a chocolate bar) They must have weighed 25 pound a piece, the 2 halves. Every eight hours the stuff would be thrown off. The thing kept repeating itself. It ran continuously. The furnace ran day and night 24 hours a day except in-—.
DK:Where did the ore come from?
BP:Ore Hill. All the ore was transferred by horse and wagon from Ore Hill; in summer by wagon and
in winter by sleigh. Charcoal was brought in from the mountains surrounding Lime Rock around White Hollow and all around Rt. 7, that whole mountain. That’s where the charcoal came from. There was some made in the upper part of Lime Rock. Of course the lime stone they got readily from around the area in Lime Rock. Lime stone, charcoal and iron ore were mixed together and filtered. It was poured in the top (of the furnace) and the slag and impurities were drawn off first every four hours (from the bottom of the furnace). Then the iron itself remained in there and was tested. The whole operation was run by a bellows type affair. There were two dams, an upper dam and a lower dam. The lower dam was not too far from the furnace; I’d say about 200-250 feet.
DK:That dam is still there.
BP:Still there. They had a big pipe; I would say the pipe must have been 4 feet in diameter. They
ran that pipe from that dam down to this house, had this big bellows, a real Rube Goldberg set up. The water ran a turbine, a water wheel and a big gear that actuated a great big gear. This thing ran like a locomotive, in and out. You could hear it, just a pulse. The bellows was about 15feet in diameter. It went back and forth, back and forth, all the time, (probably a piston pump) The air from the bellows was sent into the front (of the furnace). (This description is typical of a 2 cylinder blowing engine. Each cylinder would be about 6 feet in diameter and 6 feet high. The cylinders were connected to a crank shaft driven by a very large gear generally located between the cylinders.) The whole operation where the bellows was was across the river from that little creek, Salmon Kill. The bellow building was on one side and the furnace was on the other side. There was a foot bridge there. A lot of people who wanted to go down to the village would cross the foot bridge and go through the woods where it was open. People just walked on through there. Well, they got the air from the big bellows and pumped it over to the furnace. The pipe was probably 15 inches in diameter. That’s what drove the furnace, and it would just go like that. It ran seven days a week. I think they used to shut it down once a year to repair it; to replace the fire brick and stuff like that.
DK:Where was the lower dam?
BP:That’s what I’m talking about. The upper dam is up near the bridge that crosses the river on the
Lime Rock Salisbury Road. You look down to see the upper dam. The upper dam didn’t amount to much except when the water was. The lower dam was, well, there were three dams in Lime Rock. The
upper dam I just told you about. I lived in the house right next to it so far back in the field, then the
dam with the water wheel. Then there was another dam which they tore down by Lime Rock before you get to the bridge when they rebuilt the road.
DK:Where the paper company used to be? (Dard Hunter Paper)
BP:Right, three dams. They used the third dam to run the power to run a big fan to generate air for
the furnace. Actually when they melted the iron ore, they used the air to make it harder, but we’ll get to that later. Actually they placed the fan on the water, and this could cause problems. In midsummer the water could be low; then everything would come almost to a grinding halt.
DK:I can imagine.
BP:You see what I mean? At the lower end of the foundry complex, at one time or another at
Beckley furnace, the water ran out. Here’s this cupola smelting iron; it commenced to cool off. The air stopped coming. They dumped the. The iron was three feet thick; it solidified in the blooming
furnace. They had to close it all down and build it up again when they got the water back. It took about 2 weeks to get the thing all melted up again
DK:It must have been a real problem.
BP:Oh lots of problems. The trouble was they depended on that water not only to run the foundry
up above where they made these car wheels, and then on the other side there was a feed mill where they used to grind grain. So if there was any grain to grind, they had to grind it in the morning so they wouldn’t take the water fall away from the foundry. Next to the mill, the grist mill was what they called a pattern shop where they designed the patterns for molds and stuff like that. The wheels there designed to run the water pump so it was a question of who would get the water first. Now to get along to the end of my story; as I just told you, the furnace made the pig iron. The pig iron was transported down to Lime Rock to the foundry where they made car wheels. The upper part was where they made locomotive wheels.
DK:The foundry was on the Salmon Kill?
BP:Right, the foundry was on the Salmon Kill, the grist mill was on the Salmon Kill. They derived all
their power from the water through a turbine system, the same way as the foundry. But the foundry had a different system; they had a big wind blower like those corn blowers that you see when they are chopping corn. This was a monstrous thing. They had a lot of air to grab the cupola to make the car wheels. The first foundry made car wheels; all the car wheels for freight trains and the front part of locomotives. The lower foundry was below the Lime Rock Lodge. There they made the components for
the locomotives; like pistons, boiler fronts, grates for the boilers themselves and smokestacks, all incidentals that went into building a locomotive. That was when, they ran it by steam to generate the part or use the air. They had a big boiler to operate this. They also had a machine shop there to make parts for the machinery when it broke down. That was operated on the same principle as the foundry up above. They had a big chisel, they used scrap iron there. The idea of the pig iron that was what they called a —.That was what made the strength of the wheel because the wheels had to be what they called a chill. The car wheels were made in a big mold. This mold was chilled with cold water. When they poured the iron into this mold, the water would cool it off. For some reason the outside edge of about one inch around the big car wheel was hard, harder than the rest of the wheel. That was the riding surface; so the more that was chilled down, the better the wheel. Those wheels weighed about between 350 and 500 pounds apiece. You could see the men rolling those wheels along after they were made as if they were rolling a hoop. You had to know what you were doing because if they started to fall, you couldn’t hold them. Those guys used to do it. Then they would transport those car wheels to Lime Rock Station (that is where the Regional High School is now) by a 6 or 7 wheeled truck. At that time there was no nice black topped road; the road was just dirt. Boy, at this time of year the mud was that deep. 1 know because I walked to high school. We used to have to go to high school in Canaan. We went down there as commuters to take the train. The same thing happened with the lower shaft. All the castings were brought down. Now Mr. (Milo) Barnum a great deal of the time had a contract to produce the rolling stock and the components for the locomotives.
DK:With the New York & New Haven Line?
BP:That’s where he derived his income. I guess when he moved this; let’s get back to the Ames Iron
Works. He bought the Ames Iron Works. They were talking about putting it alongside the rail way, but then they decided to compromise and get it closer to the furnace and closer to the source of the iron ore. So they would not have to transport it all the way to the Lime Rock Station. They had thought about putting a branch spur from the New Haven & Hartford Line up to Lime Rock Lodge where they did all the castings, but that wasn’t feasible. My friend said that he applied for a job as a fireman on this locomotive, but it never came to pass. I guess at this time (Milo) Barnum took a partner, a fellow named (Leonard) Richardson. I understand that he was an ordinary farmer on Pine Swamp Road. That’s over in West Cornwall where the Audubon society is. He used to run a farm there. I got this from a lady who knew these people. He committed whatever money he had into the firm. Now Richardson was actually the smarter; well William H. Barnum was the son, and he is the one who started this thing. He had two sons (Charles W. and William M.) When he (William H.) died, that’s when the problems started. Old man Richardson himself was a very conservative type of man. He had a beautiful home; in fact he had a very rich sister, an old maid (Carrie). She lived there. He lived up in back of what they call the Casino. Do you know where that red building is on top of the hill in Lime Rock?
In Lime Rock?
BP:Yes, he lived back there, a big mansion, a beautiful home. He was a very fine man; he was a
good businessman. Well, when his sons took over, William M. Barnum and Charlie his sons and Willie H. Barnum; that was a different story. Although Richardson had a son, (Leonard) too, but he was not as aggressive as his father. In fact he was sort of a willy-nilly sort of a guy. In fact his house is still there up on top of the hill. He lived there, but his father lived in that big mansion which was torn down. They used parts of it to build other house near Dutchers Bridge.
BP:Well, right there back of the Casino there’s a driveway up in there; first you come to the old
man’s house, Mr. Richardson himself, continue on up the hill, and his son built a house overlooking the village and Lime Rock Lodge. They used to walk down the hill together to go to the office. The main office was right across from the Lodge. That was not the original office. The original office was in upper Lime Rock that brick house there (top of Furnace Road). I’ve forgotten the name of the fellow who owns it now. It is on the Lime Rock Salisbury Road.
DK:I know the one you mean.
BP:That was the main office at one time. Everything came there. They weighed all the stuff; they
had a scale. They used to have; 1 don’t know if it is still there, a swinging arm where they used to hang lamps, gas lamps or that sort of stuff for weighing at nighttime. It was a 24 hour operation. Probably they needed this stuff for some people worked an 8 or 10 hour shift. In fact the safe is still in there. Then they decided to go down closer to the village, and built the building. By the way a lot of people made money from Barnum & Richardson. A.C. McNeil, the McNeil Insurance Company, that’s how he got his start. He came from New York State. He went to work up at the brick house, and he lived down where the Fitches live. He worked as a bookkeeper; then he got the brilliant idea to start an insurance company. It was at that time that Barnum & Richardson Company owned practically the whole town. What they didn’t own, well they almost owned it. Of course they owned 2 furnaces in Canaan. He got all the insurance business. He had about 4 or 5 people working for him. He’s the one who built that beautiful home in the center of Lime Rock with a cupola.(Martha Miller, 462 lime rock road) He used a chauffeur and a couple of drivers. I used to know a little bit of a fellow who had a place on route 7. He and his brother used to drive. I used to see that beautiful place. He (McNeil) came a long way from bookkeeping. His insurance company is still around, (now Founders Insurance) by that time he had cornered the market. In fact I guess most of the surrounding town used to get their insurance from McNeil. I knew people who worked for him; he had a man in charge of the operation and of course he worked there himself. Most of Lime Rock was where the executives lived, the manors of the bosses, the third element. The upper part of Lime rock (Norton/Wells Hill area) was where the working class lived, although they may have had money. There was one fellow by the name of Belcher. His son died three or four years ago. He lived across from Fitch. He got to be superintendent of the works at Lime Rock, both the upper and lower shaft. His son worked as a pattern maker. There was this guy named Weasley, and he worked there. But for some reason this
fellow didn’t see eye to eye with the management, and he quit. So that’s when Belcher took over. The whole operation had the ore from the mine at Ore Hill. That’s where they got the iron from. In fact the ore from that mine runs under Lakeville Lake. It runs under the end of Lakeville Lake. That’s why they had trouble with water. That’s why the whole operation became impractical. It got to the point it was quite a lot of work, it was not very deep (Ore Hill was a strip mine) and getting the stuff out, and the rain somehow added to the problem, and that finished the iron ore business in Lime Rock.(The Lakeville Lake theory may not be correct. Rather there were many springs under the mine, and that caused the water problems.) Well, they went on until about 1920. My father worked in the furnace, and then he went down to the upper foundry. He worked there. He used to work upstairs where they smashed up the car wheels and fed it to the furnace. The scrap iron and the rejected car wheels would come back, and they would break them up. Not only were they used for pig iron, but they were used for scrap iron. They had to throw a certain amount of scrap metal into the pig iron. Then in the afternoon he would go downstairs and he would draw the molten iron from a great big kettle. Then the whole thing was run into a smaller kettle. A two wheel wagon would haul this to the different molders down along a regular corridor, sort of a runway, a metal plate. They had two derricks which lifted this kettle of molten metal to pour into these molds. They had a group of molders or both sides. Well, one of them was. There were three of them. I forget how many each man had to make, about 6 or 7 molds. It took them all day. They would pour in the morning, and let them form in the afternoon. It took some time to cool. Sometimes when they would pour, there was something wrong with the mixture of sand. Then the iron would blow. When the iron hit that particular wet sand, she would just go up in a coil like a volcano. You had to run away or you’d get hurt. You were not paid for that. Sometimes trying to pour was mighty hard work. There was a hand derrick where it took two men to crank up this kettle of iron. It would creak and groan. The kettle itself was heavy and it was filled with molten iron. You had to handle it gingerly because you couldn’t afford to slop. The minute you slop, you could get burned. I got burned several times. Hot iron could run down your neck, into your shoes or get on your clothes. You had to be very careful. Some of these guys…
DK:Were there any fatal accidents?
BP:Well, some of these guys got burned pretty badly. I had a friend of mine who fell or something;
the iron burned his whole knee. Some would get it into their shoes; terrible burns in their shoes. They had a special type of shoe, a slip-off type like a Congress shoe. There is a fellow named Pelletier who not only burned his knee, but got burns in his shoe too. It took him 4-5 weeks to heal. At that time they did not have the medication that they do now. My father got burned several times; he had his whole knee burned when he fell.
DK:Did your father always work at…
BP:He worked at the furnace. When the furnace closed, he went down below (the foundry). I don’t
know what happened or why the furnace closed. I think they were getting their pig iron from somewhere else. They were getting the pig iron from Canaan. They had two furnaces in Canaan; two different types. One was a… (The second furnace was called East Canaan #3)
DK: They continued to operate the foundries?
BP:They continued to operate both foundries. Then the upper foundry caught fire; it burned to the
ground. That was a catastrophe for a lot of reasons.
DK:When was that?
BP:That was about 1918. That was one reason that the company went downhill. The iron barons
were wheeler dealers. At that time he (Richard N. Barnum)had a sports car, he sponsored a baseball team, he sponsored flash drivers, had a big house on White Hollow Road, 2 chauffeurs, a Mercer car, a Stutz Bearcat, 4 or 5 servants in the house. He had a guy to take care of the chickens. He had a gardener. He was a big shot, a big wheel. Money meant nothing to him. Everybody in town knew him. He would sit up in the office upstairs, even the workmen “Hi Dick” just like that. He used to run the whole operation. It didn’t bother him a bit if you felt like taking off. Oh God, he was like a woman keeping on top of it. Of course he was married, and one of his daughters ran away, a Mrs. Pritchard(?) I understand. Well, anyway the kids had a pony cart, a governess. But he was a friendly guy. On the Fourth of July he used to put on this great fireworks display, all out of his own pocket; it ran 11/2 to 2 hours, a beautiful thing. That was something you didn’t see years ago. Then during the war, he sponsored movies in the casino. He got first motion pictures. He made a deal with a Mr. Stuart in Lakeville to come down once a week to show movies there. So that went along for a pretty long time. During the First World War I don’t know who sold him the idea, but he decided to build a chemical plant in East Canaan. That’s when the problems started. He built this chemical plant, and he distilled wood alcohol. That would seem to be a complicated process, but it is not when you see how it is done. He used to get the cord wood; there was plenty of it. The people who worked in the woods, the men made a lot of money from the Barnum Company because Chet Ellis (?) used to buy all the wood. The company, the Lime Works, and they made charcoal all used wood. It was nothing to put 23-400 cords of wood in the woods back of the race track, and other woods even around Huntsville and around there. Well, anyway to make a long story short, to make this chemical they’d get the wood and put it into steel cars, railroad cars, and run those cars into ovens. The ovens were heated to a tremendous temperature. They had boilers 2 or 3 boilers. What happened, they would run it like a still. As the wood dried out, the steam would rise. They ran the steam through a condenser. Once the steam was condensed, it was wood alcohol. Meantime after all the moisture was out of the wood, you had charcoal. They left it a certain amount of time; then they’d bring it out. They made wood alcohol, and then draw the wood out, and that was charcoal. For a time it went pretty good. They did pretty well during the war.
DK: So did they use the charcoal?
BP:Yes, they used the charcoal; they burned it in the furnaces. It went along pretty good. Then it
started going downhill. He was going to compete with these big steel companies down in Pennsylvania. He was going to make a steel mill. In fact part of that steel mill was up in that area of East Canaan for years and years, like the Bessemer process. He thought he could use the iron ore from Ore Hill. That would mean…He started building a plant, and all of a sudden he ran out of money. Well, I guess in order to repay all the money he had borrowed; he had run through a whole lot of money, he went bankrupt. He went into receivership. They formed the Salisbury Iron & Coal Corporation.
DK:This was approximately?
BP:Around 1919. The lower shop was still running; the upper shop had folded quite some time
back. The car wheel operation went somewhere else. It went down to Pennsylvania. They shipped the car wheel operation into Pennsylvania somewhere. The lower shop was still making castings.
Meanwhile things kept getting worse. He tore down the furnace in upper Lime Rock. He economized where he could. He was still part of the Salisbury Iron & Coal Corporation. Instead of getting better, it just got worse. Then to kill the whole thing, I was around here at that time, the lower shop shut down in part. What happened was it was set on fire; the whole thing burned right to the ground. There was nothing left to build on. It just killed the town of Lime Rock; some people almost cried.
DK:This fire was in 1918?
BP:Around 1919-1920. Meantime the chemical plant up in East Canaan was torn down. They were
going to build a steel mill, but the Wasabi Range killed the ore mine here. They could buy iron ore cheaper from the West.
DK:It was open range.
BP:Open range. So that left the company out of luck. Meanwhile one of the chiefs tried to keep his
head above water. He tried to sell to Germany. He melted all the scrap iron he could get a hold of in the furnace, and the other buildings were unused, but it still didn’t work. When the lower shop burned, that finished him entirely. You wouldn’t believe it. He just went broke. He had a lot of money; he was the richest man around. He went to selling cars for the Mercer Company down in Greenwich. He went down to nothing; that was a tragic condition.
Richardson was still around. He got out when he saw what was happening. He just refused because although Richardson was part owner, he couldn’t do anything with Barnum. He was a free spender. He wouldn’t listen to anybody, no matter who it was. He was a very aggressive guy. Somebody told me Richardson said,” I’m getting the hell out before it goes bust.” Well he did. He lived
quite a few years; in fact Marcello Lorenzo’s wife took care of him for years. She was a cook and stuff. Then his daughter married. He died. His wife and daughter moved to Florida.
DK:Richardson lived where?
BP:Milo Richardson lived in this house. I told you overlooking the lodge right up on the hill. You can
see the house. That is the son’s house; the old man’s house was torn down. Richardson wasn’t much of an entrepreneur, you know. Richard N. Barnum was the whole thing. He was the one who put on the fireworks display. He got the motion pictures; he was the one who decided to build the chemical plant.
I don’t think this Richardson was too eager, but when Dick Barnum made up his mind, there was nothing you could do. He was like a man gone wild. Money meant nothing to him. He was always well dressed. He was a real sport. He was a hell of a nice guy, and everybody liked him. Well, Richardson was one of these more conservative guys. He never had much. He went along with…Of course; there was the Lime Rock store, the General Store. They derived a lot of business. When the whole thing went to pot around 1922, that’s when they moved to Lakeville and formed Amundsen’s Store. Amundsen died several years ago. He lived on White Hollow Road. He was one of the partners in the General Store. His father was general superintendent of the lower foundry. He ran that lower foundry as general superintendent. He died also. But that was quite a going concern until the thing got out of hand with dick Barnum. Then there was nobody who had any money after the second foundry burned down. Money was put into the steel operation, but that just didn’t work. Dick Barnum lost all his money. Then to show you what happened. His brother owned a big house where you see the car works (now Northwest Corner Classic Cars, 438 Lime Rock Road) in the upper part of Lime rock; that building where they take cars, Car Care they call it. That whole area belonged to Charlie Barnum. He had a beautiful home. They tried to hang on. This woman told me that at noon they used to eat off gold plates. They had a chauffeur, a caretaker, a gardener, and he was doing great. He went broke, and died in a nursing home with no money at all in Glens Falls, New York, somebody thought. His brother went broke and went down to selling cars. About these houses, one night there was a big fire, and Charlie Barnum’s house burned right to the ground. Then during the day when the lower foundry was still going, all of a sudden somebody said,” Dick Barnum’s house is on fire.” This was around middle day. They all rushed up there when they got the bad news. There was not the fire system we have now. The whole thing was a mass of flames; they couldn’t save it. It burned right to the ground. So both houses burned down; there was a suspicion of arson there too, but they couldn’t prove it. The suspicion was that both houses were set on fire to get the insurance money, I imagine. Well, that was ok. The only house left was the one now called General Semantics (It was Carrie Richardson’s house, 15 White Hollow Road.) the one next to it was called Clapp. This iron baron (William H. Barnum?) was part of the Clapp family. They had a lot of money. I don’t know the history of those people, but they were the only ones in Lime Rock.
They had a nice greenhouse, a gardener, exotic flowers in the greenhouse, big lawns, a nice rail fence all around, and a beautiful home. Once she died, she made the arrangements to leave the house to Yale College in Connecticut. Then one night the place caught fire; it burned right to the ground. They couldn’t get to it.
DK:That place was burned?
BP:Next to the…huh?
DK:the Carriage House
BP:That was part of it.
DK:It had been remodeled, and was a home?
BP:You see a little red house on the lawn out back there. That’s still part of the Clapp place. The
main house burned to the ground, beautiful house.
DK:So there were a lot of fires in Lime rock.
BP:I think so myself, but you can’t prove arson. But everybody figured that Barnum did both. How
in the hell he could do it; I guess he just needed the money. I knew a fellow who was caretaker for Dick Barnum, Joe Pelastreni. He was the caretaker there. I don’t know where he was when the place caught fire. All of a sudden the place was on fire. The shop men were trying to salvage, but they couldn’t salvage anything. There was no fire company; it hadn’t been built yet. It was a wooden building. He had quite a set-up there, a beautiful home and a nice big lawn, but it all burned to the ground. This other one in the center was the same thing. That’s where Phylo Lyons lived. I don’t know if he is still around. He ran the Post Office. It was right next to the house.
DK:I remember that; we used to use the Post Office.
BP:Phylo Lyons bought the house. I probably shouldn’t say this, but I wonder if he was paid to set the
fires, especially this one (in the center of town). He got the house there that he lives in. He lived on the- -next to the Car Care. Somebody said that’s how he got his house, but you can’t prove it. Well, the building burned. A barn on the Lorch farm caught fire at the same time. So there was no kind of fire equipment then. They couldn’t salvage either one. When the fire got going, the beautiful home burned to the ground-a total loss. The barn burned so they had to move the fire brigade. Somebody said that Lyons got the house, actually just part of it -the caretaker’s house. Somebody said to him that he could have the house provided the place catches fire. Now the other places, like the Barnum place the other brother out on White Hollow Road, how could it get started in the middle of the day? It was around 11, 12 o’clock, and all of a sudden there is a fire. Then there was the Clapp place, and that caught fire one night at 10 o’clock. It had been vacant for ten years or better, beautiful home. All of a sudden she burns right to the ground.
DK:You were born in Lime Rock.
BP:I was born in Lime Rock right across from the furnace.
DK:Tell us something about what it was like for you as a
BP:Well, I went to school there. You know that school there in Lime Rock. It sits back off the road
there. It was a grammar school.
DK:It is now a private home.
BP:Yeah, it’s practically the same. It is 3 rooms, school rooms. One of them held 1, 2, 3rd grades, the
other held 4, 5 and sometimes 6th grade, and the other room had 7,8th grade.
DK:But there weren’t that many children in Lime Rock.
BP:There were a lot of people in Lime Rock at that time. Some of them had 3 or 4 children. They
came all the way from White Hollow Road; they came from Britton Hill, even the Lorenzos walked down to Lime Rock.
DK:What would have been the total? 50?
BP:All of that. Miss —was one of the teachers there. We got most of our teachers from Maine. The
reason we got most of our teachers from Maine was Mr. Keene was superintendent, and he brought them all down from Maine. Same way, you remember Richardson?
DK:Teachers’ pay in Maine was lower that it was here.
BP:Well, you remember Richardson used to live in Lakeville. I went to high school in Canaan.
DK:Frank Richardson, yes. I knew him.
BP:He was a principal at Canaan. He came from Maine. Keene brought all his cronies down from
Maine. How come all these teachers come from Maine? Well, I think Keene was a graduate of Bates, I guess. He knew all these teachers and where they worked so he brought them down. They did very well. A couple of my, one of my teachers came from Augusta, no Bangor, Maine, one came from Lewiston, Maine, and another one came from Vindalhaven, Maine, which is off the coast. They were all pretty good teachers. Of course himself, Mr. Keene was from Maine, and Frank Richardson, the principal, was from Maine also.
DK:You went through the eighth grade at Lime Rock?
BP:Lime Rock, then we had to walk to Lime Rock…
DK:Lime Rock Station
BP:Lime Rock Station to commute to Canaan. I couldn’t figure that. Why couldn’t we go to
Lakeville? Well, they didn’t have room. That going to high school from Lime Rock was a terrible thing.
DK:So you rode the train every day.
BP:Rode the train. That was another thing. We rode what was called a milk train. (It used to pick
up milk for the Borden Milk Company.) So we walked every morning, rain, snow sleet, and the mud was up to our knees most of the time in the spring. In the wintertime you walked down in the snow. I used to leave the house; I lived in Upper Lime Rock, about 7:30. There were 2 girls from Upper Lime Rock, Ken Athoe (tape # 9A), Mike Dunne, and another guy Herbert Fenn. We used to walk down to the station. We picked up the milk train. That was ridiculous. We’d be at the station to meet the train at half past eight. I got to know the station agent pretty well. He’d say, “You fellow are out of luck today. The damn train hasn’t left Danbury yet. Here it is a quarter to nine.” We could hear it coming all the way up. It used to stop every time to pick up milk, even the empties. Many a time you’d come in at 11:30 just before the main train from new haven or Danbury would come to Pittsfield. Sometimes you got to go on a siding to let the main train the Berkshire Express go through. So here comes the train at 11:45. Here you’re going to high school at 1:00. All the morning had gone down the drain; geez it was wicked, and it happened time after time. Once in a great while, it would be on time, and then everybody would be mad. What the hell, how come we’d not be late today. At night we used to come down on a regular passenger train; it would come down about 4:00. We’d get out of high school at quarter past three. At that time you didn’t stay. We bought these commuter tickets, and we’d get on the train.
DK:What did it cost to commute to Canaan?
BP:Oooh about$4 -5. That wasn’t a problem; the only problem was in the morning, you never knew
when you were going to get there. Sometimes we’d take the Express; you might as well get on this one because the other one will be along in about 13 minutes. And they both stop in Canaan. So we’d get on that one. It was dreadful. When you get off the train at night with rain, snow, sleet or mud, you had to walk all the way from Lime Rock Station to Coppertown. Sometimes in the wintertime it would be dark and cold before you got home. It was terrific. Sometimes you’d get a ride in a wagon or an old Model T Ford. They’d pick us up; they couldn’t pick us all up so we’d be walking. Many a time when the train was on time in the morning, we’d be at the Iron Bridge. There used to be an iron bridge there, but they tore it down recently. We’d be on the bridge and you could hear the train whistle coming around the bend down below. We’d run up to the right of way, and we’d wave down the train. Then we’d go down and get on the train. Some of the guys said, “Why don’t you let it go?” or they would hide.
What is the use of that? You need an education. Some of them did it all the time, but that didn’t get them out of high school. We had some pretty good teachers; some were really good, not half the stuff they have now, general topics.
DK:Frank Richardson was the principal.
DK:What did you do for recreation in Lime Rock? Movies I gather.
BP:Movies once a week.
DK:What went on at the casino?
BP:They used to stage plays, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. They had these traveling troupes that would come
through. We used to see them. Then there would be groups playing instruments. They dome through, but not too often.
DK:Did they have any local amateur theatricals?
BP:Yeah, they used to have minstrel, sometimes a local minstrel show, and they had what they
called a red man show once in a while. But the minstrel show wasn’t bad at all.
DK:Did they have gambling at the casino?
BP:No, at one time they had a bar. But the only bar was at the Lime Rock Lodge that was used as a
boarding house for the men that worked at the company. There were two people who ran it. At night after eating supper, you’d see them sitting on the porch rocking back in their chairs. At one time they had a saloon, but it got out of hand. After a big weekend, Monday morning no one would show up for work. They stopped it. I guess Barnum & Richardson felt that can’t be; we can’t have this. They’d only get drunker. They did get drunk. They’d go over to Falls Village. They had a bar there. Come Monday morning and those with a big hangover wouldn’t show up for work. But at least they didn’t have to contend with a saloon right in town. Of course the village store did pretty well. All the people in town shopped there. It was really a general store with a pot-bellied stove, too.
DK:Where was the general store located?
BP:Right there, next to the lot where they have apartments. They have stairs going up there.
DK:Yes, right next to the lot.
BP:In fact they had a pharmacy, but they also had a pharmacist. He was the original one who
started it, a Gager. He could make up syrups, potions, but most products were over the counter. They had a Post Office there. They had a man who ran back and forth to pick up the mail. The mail train would come there, and he’d catch it. He would hang up the mail bag, something would trip it, and he’d catch it. Once in a while the train would stop at the station with packages and stuff. The mail carrier would bring it up to the Post Office. He would make 2 or 3 trips a day summer and winter. He used a horse and wagon, this was before automobiles. He used to deliver mail to the General Store and there was a Post Master. These were the same people who ran the General Store. The Post master had mail boxes, no delivery. I am not sure but I think everybody had to have a mail box.
DK:Do you have any idea about the population of Lime Rock?
BP:Well, I would say about 600.
End of Side A
Tape 32B Bart Perotti
DK:It was called Coppertown?12.B
BP:It was called Coppertown.
BP:I don’t know where it came from.
DK:Was there a family there by that name?
BP:Could have been. It is like Taconic. It wasn’t always Taconic; it was called Chapinville.
BP:Then they changed it to Taconic. The same way with Lime Rock; Lime Rock was upper and
down. The Upper part and Lime Rock general was down below. That’s why I said on the Main Street the bosses and the executives lived down there. The homes were better built; you could see that. The Upper part was mostly frame houses. They weren’t too bad except where Mr. Fitch lived. He had a pretty well -built home. That’s why I told you McNeil actually got his start, but then he moved down to Lime Rock next to the Rectory. Of course he built that big home in the center of Lime Rock (Martha Miller’s house, 462 Lime Rock Road). They had the creamery, Borden’s Creamery. In fact I talked to Al Borden about that.
DK:Where was the creamery?
BP:As you go to Music Mountain (via Lime Rock Station Road) just below there are some houses.
They’re right on the rail road tracks. They used to pasteurize the milk there.
DK:Right near Lime Rock Station?
BO:Right near Lime rock Station. That’s where all the iron works were shipped out.
DK:It must have been a busy place.
BP:It was! It was. Lime Rock was quite a town. They tell you about now. This town actually hasn’t
improved at all; in fact it has gone downhill. We have wealthy people here, but they…l’ve got to tell you another thing about Lime Rock. There was more to it than Lime Rock. As I said all the freight, all the materials came from Lime Rock Station. Also they had the milk factory down there. All the surrounding farmers would draw their milk and sell it to the Borden Company. They used to come from White Hollow Road and as far as where George Miner used to live. He used to draw his milk down there. That went on for a long time, but that finally closed down too. Then they had to ship it up to Canaan. They had one up there too. They transferred the whole operation. Now there were two evaporating tanks at
Lime Rock; this is years back. I think one was gone about 10-12 years ago in back of the Lime Rock Race Track. You’ve heard of a fellow Cleaveland?
DK:Yes, uh huh.13.
BP:The reason Cleaveland…Some company found a deposit of clay up on top of the clay beds.
Actually if you drive up there, you can drive up there from route 7, goes right up there where you come through Pine Swamp Road. This clay bed produced white clay, pure white clay, and some company decided that they would use it for making china. So they started an operation up. They got equipment to dig the stuff out of the ground. In fact along the lane there’s stuff all rusted up, big wheels, gears, and stuff that was left from this operation. What they used to do, they’d take the clay and make slurry out of it, and run it through a conduit. Now you wouldn’t believe this, it came down the mountain on route 7 and across the river. The railroad siding is on the opposite side of the Housatonic. With this big pipe they used to load these box cars with this liquid slurry, clay. That went on for quite some time until it became impractical. I talked to my dad; it went on for three or four years; then it got too expensive.
DK:What period would that be?
BP:That must have been around 1908-9, somewhere in there. Then on the other side of the river
below the creamery right on the bend; the river takes a big bend there; there was a factory. I used to go by there years ago with a horse and wagon-the Dietz Lantern Company. They made lanterns there. They were there for quite a while. This was around 1912-13. Suddenly they moved away from there. I guess they moved closer to where they got their materials. Then another project they used to get this rubber, old tires. They decided to make rubber mats out of them, cut them up. That went on for quite a while; I guess they lasted about 11/2 years. Then there was a wood working shop down there, but that didn’t last too long either. Finally the whole thing just went to pot. They left it there (the empty factory), and I guess it finally caught fire and burned one time. You know the railroad comes through there. At that time they used steam so they always had a fire going, and the ashes would blow out of the stack, and you’d see grass fires along the line. Between that and the clay beds, you see a lot of people don’t realize about that. When I tell them about that small shop on the Housatonic River, they couldn’t believe it. But I knew it was there as I used to go by it. They used to make these lanterns, lamps and everything. That’s a well- known product at one time. Of course this clay bed business, it’s still up there. Different people if you knew where it was, but I wouldn’t go up there in the summertime because of the rattlesnakes. The pits are still there; the clay is just like snow, just like snow. In fact Charlie Burdick got some for his kids one time-beautiful stuff. It looks like spackle.
DK:Now is this above the gravel pits?
BP:Oh yeah, way on the top of the mountain, way back of the race track. Now if you go up Race
Track Mountain. That mountain goes up there, then you go down, then there’s another mountain. The only way to get up there, you go down Route 7 oh about 3 miles, and it goes around a bend. On this side of the bend is a road that goes straight up the mountain. The way I get there is by the cc camps.
They were up there. They built the road, cut the trees, and cleared it all up. You can actually drive up to where the clay beds were. Some of the equipment is still there, but it is all rusted. You can see where the operation was.
DK:So this pipe that carried…14.
BP:It went across the river, down the mountain…
DK:What about the road, overhead?
BP:Overhead of course, the whole thing was overhead. It had to be to get across the river. But you
see what happened was that it wasn’t practical, although labor was dirt cheap.
DK:What were the wages?
BP:My father started at $2.00 a day, then he got a raise to $2.50 a day, but some of those people
were working 10 hours a day. The best you could do down at the foundry in Lime Rock was $3.50 a day. Sometimes he worked 6 days a week. Sometimes he worked late and got a little overtime. They paid straight time for overtime. The most you could make was $20 a week, but that was pretty good. On a farm they only paid you $30 a month and board. My father sometimes worked during the slack time in the summer when things were bad. They’d shut the foundry down for 3-4 weeks in the summer, then my father would go and get himself a job on a farm, pitching hay and stuff like that. They didn’t make much, not more than $2.00 a day, but that was all the farmer could afford.
DK:What about the paper mill?
BP:Well, I’m not, you mean down in Lime Rock? That was a joke. Robinson, Elliot was his son, was
one of the fellows that worked there. They are all dead now. The father died a while back. Ridge
Robinson died and his brother bought it back. This fellow Dard Hunter (William Joseph Hunter, B.; T
11/29/1883 D. 2/20/1966) was from Chillicothe, Ohio; I don’t know how he got around here, but he found out about the mill with the water pond. Well, he thought he was going to make paper. Well, he must have…He found out about these people that made paper; that was a big deal. So he brought them over here, I don’t know about the business end. I felt sorry for these people. He brought them over here and got them ensconced in this area.
DK:He brought them from England.
BP:Yes, from England, the whole family. Len Godding is one of them and his wife. (Leonard
Godding was born in Maidstone, Kent, England. He married Gladys Emily Robertson on June 7,193 in Lime Rock. She was born in Little Chart, Kent, England.)Len Godding married a Robertson girl. She’s the only one left of the original family. He came here and dated her. He finally married her. They all moved here. They were on the verge of starvation; it was the Depression. Dard Hunter set them up in his paper business. I used to watch them. He used…l don’t know just how the operation went. They had these
vats. They made this pulp paper; then they used to take it out and put it on a screen to dry out. I guess they did some other work, but it was sheet paper and handmade. He advertised it, but he didn’t make enough money to pay these guys. Half the time he wouldn’t pay them. You see the whole operation went to pot. I guess about 1 ‘A years and the whole thing went to pot.15.
DK:But he did become a famous papermaker.
DK:Oh yes, there is a museum in Wisconsin, the Dard Hunter Museum. There is information about
him in this display; you can look at it later.
BP:I don’t see about that down in Lime Rock. Oh he had a guy by the name of Beech who was the
general manager. The reason I know about this Beech is His wife became an announcer for NBC. I don’t know how she got the job. She wouldn’t be here, but the kids were. Beech was in charge of the paper mill. Dard Hunter would come east from Chillicothe; in fact he owed my father some money. Remembering he owed him $25, but the best he got was $10. I went down and met the guy. “You’ve got to give my father some money; it’s the Depression, you know”. “Well,” he said, “I don’t have it right now.” “I’ll take what you’ve got.” He had ten dollars, and he gave me the ten. During the Depression $10 was a lot on money. He owed the Englishmen all kinds of money; it was a dreadful situation. Finally they went to work at Hotchkiss School. The whole operation came to a grinding halt.
DK:It wasn’t in operation for very long then? (from 1930-1933)
BP:No, not more than 2 years if that.
DK:He didn’t erect the building?
BP:No that was the grist mill, and the other part where they worked was the pattern shop. Of
course they still had the water supply. That was where they got their water from. I used to watch them there. It wasn’t too complicated. I guess the mixture you had to make had to be just right. Then they put on this stuff that filtered out the water and let it dry. They make this sheet paper. It was pretty nice looking stuff. I have a couple of sheets of the stuff. Now you are telling me that these people; they had no use for Dard Hunter, he was nothing but a crook. Beech was in charge. They would go to Beech and say,” How about our money?” He’d say, “I haven’t got it from Dard Hunter yet.” Hunter, that’s where the payroll came. These poor people were running all the time. Why he left this Beech in charge remains to be seen. He lived in the mill anyway. I saw Dard Hunter two or three times. Now you are telling me…
DK:Maybe his fortune improved after he left here.
BP:Maybe he ran a paper mill in Ohio. He was originally from Ohio.
DK: I don’t know much about his background, but I do know there is a museum named after him in Wisconsin. (Dard Hunter started his paper museum first in 1939 at MIT in Mass. Next the Dard Hunter
Paper Museum went to Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1954. Finally it is now part of the Robert C. Williams Paper Museum on the campus of Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia.)16.
BP:That’s pretty strange. He looked to me like a promoter; you know one of these guys that go
around the country. He went to England and found these papermakers over there. They had pretty good jobs, but he convinced them that they would make their fortune.
DK:I can see how they would be disillusioned.
BP:Oh gee it was terribly hard. You should have seen them. I used to go to visit them once in a
while. Old people, they were just living hand to mouth, you know the afternoon tea. The boys grew up, and they were in pretty good shape. It got worse and worse. Finally they got a job as house cleaners, Len Godding and his wife. She did house cleaning, you know chambermaid, otherwise… That’s when the place went to pot. (The land was sold at auction in 1933.) It went to pot a couple of months before that. Dard Hunter didn’t show up any more, and Beech took off. He never paid anybody. He left the whole operation. I walked into the mill and said,” What are you going to do with this stuff?” “What good is it, you can’t sell it. Who are you going to sell it to?” “What about Dard Hunter?” “He’s nothing but a crook; he ain’t paid us yet.”
DK:Then the buildings came down.
BP:Yes, they tore down the buildings.
DK:after the flood.
DK:So when did you leave Lime Rock?
BP:I left in 1923.
DK:You were in Bridgeport for a few years?
BP:Well I was in Bridgeport; I went to trade school to take up the machinist vocation. I worked in
that for a while. Then I went to Hartford and worked there 7-8 years. Then the Depression came around; the 1929 crash and the whole thing went to pot. There was no use staying around there so I took off for Lime Rock. At least I might be able to pick up a job out in the country on a farm or doing some outside work which turned out to be true. I just about made a living. That’s when I met the Robertsons. I said to my father,” What’s going on down there?” “They’ve got a paper mill down there, and they haven’t got paid yet. So then I met these Robertsons. I walked and introduced myself. I said, “Who’s the big wheel here?” “It’s Dard Hunter.” “Where did you people come from?” “We came from
England, Maidstone, England.” “How come you came over here?” “Well he painted great picture, a great opportunity to make handmade paper; there was a big market for it.” “When we got over here, the man had no money. We started making paper, and he kept telling us it’s going to be a big deal. It was never a big deal.” They did make quite a bit of paper, and I guess he sold it. He must have had17.
other expenses, but by the time he got around to pay them…They even went to the Labor Board, but they couldn’t do anything. He said, “You’ll just have to wait until I get some money to pay you off.” Well he kept that up for 6 or 7 months; finally they said, “This is it; unless we get paid, we’re not doing it.” Well, he’d come back and give them some money to get them going again. Finally they figured it was a losing proposition. “What if it (the Depression) should come here? We don’t know. It wasn’t too good in England, and here it’s worse.” So that’s when they started looking around.
DK:So you came back here from Hartford and went to work?
BP:I came back here to work in 1934.1 used to work for the Milmines, my kind of work. They had a
caretaker then. During and after the war work was not very steady until 1939. But that place went downhill, too. At one time the Milmine estate was quite a place. Of course you saw that old house, used to be lawn right down to the wall, a big garden. It went downhill, and they tried to sell the place. Everybody asked me, “Why did they tear down the big house?” Well, they tore it down because Mrs. Miimine wanted her own house. The old house was better than this one. That may be so; it’s gone.
DK:So that’s all for sale now, or has it been sold?
BP:No, I don’t know if it has been sold or not. They’re up for sale, both places: the house I lived in
and the house across the road. To tell you the truth, if you look at the house…I think it was (George) Milmine, he worked at the school. He was a dollar-a-year-man; he never got paid. It was a job. He went away to college, graduated from MIT as a structural engineer. Actually he taught history and math at the school. During the war he worked for Pratt & Whitney. He got himself a pretty good job working with magnetos. But he came back.” You had a good job; why did you come back?” “That’s not for me.” So he went back to the school. (Hotchkiss) When he built his place, if you look at the structure from the road (route 41 before Hotchkiss School) it looks like a dormitory. Everybody says the same. We always thought that the Milmine place would go to the school. I think that was the whole idea. When he became sick, I guess he never bothered to change his will. I think the advantage to have the school take it, even if they sell it now; the house would lead to the biggest part of the sale. The boys are already complaining that the estate taxes are killing them, the same way with the house. The house was never made that well. If you saw the construction of the house, I was there until 1955 when Dean Brown designed it. It looks like a building up at school, the same kind of brick. It is constructed over one half of the cellar of the old house. They used to have a carriage house, but they tore it down. You probably saw that. People ask me about that. It was a nice building. “Why did they tear it down?” I guess they didn’t want to pay the taxes on it. So that’s the way it was.
The town of Lime rock was the center of all activity; although Lakeville had the knife shop, Holley Manufacturing co. That did pretty well, it was run by the Rudd family, I forget his name, but Rudd ran it. Plus there was the Spurr Co. that was Mrs. Reid’s father. They sold feed, lumber, and coal. So things weren’t too bad. But the whole thing was oriented around the Barnum & Richardson Company.
DK:Did a lot of people who worked in Lime Rock live in Lakeville and Salisbury?
DK:They tended to live, transportation being what it was in those days.
BP:People tended, the ones in Lakeville lived up here, like in Salisbury. The ones who lived in Lime
Rock, maybe one or two people might live in Salisbury and come down. Lot of the people did transportation with a wagon and team from Salisbury or Lakeville. They made two or three trips a day which was considered pretty good in the summer. You couldn’t draw more than two and one half tons in a wagon; the horses couldn’t pull it. We used to go up by the Interlaken Inn. That was a hard job too. My father was telling me that at different times when work was slack, they would put him on a one of these teams. Now if you are driving a team in the dead of winter, it would get so cold that you couldn’t ride or you’d freeze. So you had to walk along beside the wagon with the horses plodding along. Imagine hauling 2 % tones from Ore Hill to Lime Rock. That was a long drawn out process, and the road was dirt. It was wicked, snow- drifts. That was a real hardship, and that’s why it was so expensive.
DK:Where did the workers like your father come from? Were they natives of Lime Rock?
BP:They came from Italy.
DK:Was you father born inItaly?
DK:How did he find out about…
BP:He came from Italy. At that time these immigrants came to New York. They saw employers who
were looking for help. When he got off the boat, unless he had some connections or knew somebody, the people were tagged. A certain groups would be sent to New England, another group would be sent to Pennsylvania. My father’s brother was sent to Colorado. They would put them on trains and send them to where they were needed by employers. My father wound up in New Haven.
DK:Did he come as a single man?
BP:Yeah. He went to New Haven to work in a brick yard. They were all Polish kids. That was great.
One of the Polish lads took a liking to my father, and they got along pretty well. They used to make bricks by hand. They would stack them in the kiln and bake them. He stayed there for a while; then he picked up some sort of malaria fever. He was sick for quite a while. He went up to Hartford. He lived cheaply; he boarded. It took him 6 to 8 weeks to find a job; then he went to work in the tobacco fields He worked in the tobacco fields for quite a while. Then he found out from a couple of his friends who
were in this part of the state, around Canaan, Falls Village, and Lime Rock. They ran saw mills. “Why don’t you come up here and go to work in the saw mills?” So he did. I guess he got tired of that, and he got a job in the furnace. Then he got married, and worked in the furnace when it was working pretty well. When that petered out, he went to work at the foundry, the upper part of the foundry where they made car wheels. When that burned down, he went down to the lower foundry. When that burned down, he got a job with the state highway.
DK:Where did he meet your mother?19.
DK:Was her family already here?
BP:No, no she came over here to marry somebody, but when she got here, I guess they needed a—
-.My father met her, and they got married. There were a lot of other people here. There were a lot of Frenchmen here, too. They worked with charcoal and cut logs for charcoal. They cut logs for charcoal and the saw mill. My father never did much cord wood cutting when he worked down at the saw mill. He handled the slabs, taking the slabs off, piling the lumber. That went on for quite a few years. Then he got the job at the furnace which was more steady work. Of course dad worked 24 hours a day. He worked the night shift when he could. That was pretty good, but as I said, the pig iron business petered out. They were getting their pig iron from the two furnaces in Canaan. After a while, they thought they would move the whole operation up there.
DK:This is interesting. It is surprising how thriving a community like Lime Rock was with all this
BP:What I like is at that time, the kids today are always in trouble, all kinds of trouble. In my day in
the summer we would play ball, go fishing, and go swimming. I lived right next to the river in Upper Lime Rock, near the red bridge on the Lime rock Salisbury Road. Ken Athoe and a bunch of us would go skinny dipping. On Sundays we’d go fishing. Bill Stanton, Don and Ted—all grew up there. Bill Stanton’s mother grew up there in the upper part. Their grandfather lived there. Everybody knew each other, everybody helped each other, and everybody got along just great. That’s where I saw my first automobile. I told you about this Belcher. I’ll never forget it. He bought an Oldsmobile; the first Oldsmobile I ever saw, bright red with brass trim. That was the height of fashion at that time. He had more difficulties getting that thing going on the road. Nobody knew too much about cars.
DK:What year was that?
BP:I think around 1918. He had the money to buy a car, $600-800, a small fortune. He lived where
Ted Johnson lives. Well this Belcher, we’d go down to watch them on Sunday. Everybody had a car. They’d back them out and work on them, cleaning and polishing. Then they would start. It was not unusual for the thing to go down the road for about a mile and then come to a dead stop. Then they would spend another 3 hours trying to get it back to the garage with all that pushing. The only one who was going pretty well was Dick Barnum. Of course he had two chauffeurs and he knew something about
cars, and could keep them going; but these other guys. One fellow had a Polk-Hartford. Now that is an old car.
BP:Yeah, they used to make them a long time ago; they go way back.
DK:Oh yes, I have seen one now that you mention it.
BP:He used to live on Old Furnace Road; his name was Hall. There were two brothers. They had
this car. I don’t think they ever got that car down town. They’d get it out. They’d crank it and crank it, work it and push it; finally it would get going. They’d get it down to about where the upper Lime Rock School is: BANG it would stop. They’d work on it; every Sunday it was the same thing. Finally they would get somebody to help them push it back to the garage. Those guys never got downtown with that car. I guess they didn’t know too much about mechanics, but at that time the thing was new to them. It was probably a used car to begin with. They never got it to function properly.
DK:Did you have a horse and buggy?
BP:Oh yes. The team was kept on Sand Road. At that time it was really sand; it was all sand.
Saturday night you’d hitch up the horse and wagon, drive in to Lakeville, tie the team up where the old railroad station is and go to the movies, then drive home. We used to shop at the general store, where the Lakeville Cafe is (now The Boathouse) used to be Robert’s Store. There was a little movie theater, too. It moved up to where…
BP:Yeah, Stuart’s Theater, in fact it was a stable before it was a theater, a horse stable. In the park
where the Holley Block used to be (across Rt. 44 from the Holley Williams House) that was a big building with a drugstore, a barbershop, and next to it was another stable. Then across the road was the Wononsco House (where Founder’s Insurance now is.) a big building which used to be a hotel, an inn, but they tore it down. Miss Peabody used to have a livery stable. There was a stable there and where the Stuart Theater was. One of them Stuart’s, his father ran a livery stable. I know all this because a fellow Mark used to work for him and told me about it. All that dirt and the willow trees, when they built the road years ago and cut down all those willows, it was like a mud hole with all those wagons. Peabody had the contract to haul the students to Millerton and Lakeville. So Stuart’s petered out, and he decided to make a movie theater. Peabody kept buying new buggies, new wagons and horses. The Stuarts believed that the automobile wouldn’t amount to anything. There was another stable where Community fuel is (now Herrington’s). On Pocketknife Square was the knife shop (Holley Manufacturing) that’s about all they had. I remember a wood working mill where the Lakeville Precision Molding was (now Lakeville Interiors) was. It was a mill at one time. A lot of people don’t remember that. Of course there was the Davis ore pit where the (Iron Masters) old motel is.
DK:Yes, behind the school (Salisbury Central Lower Building).
BP:Perkins, she’s still around, (not now 2011). Mrs. Elizabeth Haas’ father was the foreman. That
was actually a pit mine. You can find iron ore all around, even up on the mountain (Mt. Riga). They did some mining up there. Then there was a furnace over in Harlem Valley, on the Harlem back roads. There was another one in Sharon Valley. Have you seen it?
DK:No, if I have, I don’t remember it.
BP:You cut across and go down Sharon Valley Road and keep going; it goes around Coleman
Station. The foundation is still there. There is one down in Kent.
DK:Well, this has been very interesting. I appreciate your time; you have good recollections.
BP:I really enjoyed it. We all went to school; it wasn’t bad at all. I think some of them did pretty
well; some of them have done really well. I went to school with the Belter boys on White Hollow Road, all of the Lorenzo family, and others from White Hollow. We walked to school or rode the bus. They taught reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, physics and physiology, not that art stuff they teach today.
DK:Mr. Richardson was the science teacher?
BP:Yeah, he was pretty good.
DK:Yes, he was. I taught with him. He was still teaching when I came here.
BP:They had good teachers up in Canaan High School. One I remember was Mrs. Kent. She was a
good teacher; she was one of the better ones. The majority were pretty good. Mr. Richardson kept a tight rein, he had rigid discipline.
DK:Thank you Mr. Perotti.