This is Jean McMIllen interviewing Paula Rogers at her home 60 Chatfield Drive, Lakeville, Ct. The date is Sunday August 7, 2011.
JM:Paula, what is your full name?
PR:Paula McGivern Rogers
JM:Your birth date and place?
PR:May 14, 1955, at Utica, New York
JM:What are your parents’ full names?
PR:Thomas Edward McGivern Jr. and Lois Gregory McGivern
JM:Where were they born?
PR:My dad was born in Utica, New York. My mother was born in Cooperstown, New York.
JM:Do you have siblings?
PR:I have five siblings. Julianne McGivern Robinson who currently lives in Salisbury, Ct., Cynthia McGivern Pattison who currently lives in Lakeville, Ct., Michael Edward McGivern currently lives in Madison, Ct., Thomas Edward McGivern III who lives in New Milford, Ct., and Kevin McGivern who lives in Salisbury, Ct.
JM:That’s quite a family. You said that you moved here when you were four. Why did your parents move here?
PR:My dad moved to… He was working at the Lakeville Journal. He was relocated to the country, and this was the job he was taking on.
JM:Where did you go to school?
PR:Salisbury Central School K-8 and had some wonderful teachers there. In kindergarten I had Nancy Smith, first and second grade I had Mrs. Frances LeMoyne, third grade was Mrs. Love, fourth grade was Mr. Stiles, fifth grade was Mrs. Cande, sixth grade was Mrs. Luke. Seventh was when we switched classes for different subjects- seventh and eighth when we had Mr. Thurston for math, Mrs. Gandelli for social studies, Mrs. Alexander for English and Fred Romeo for science. Mr. Kofsuski was the art teacher and Mr. Ed(Clifford..Ed.) Fails was the P.E. teacher.
PR:Would have been Mrs. Kelly.
JM:Did you have a music teacher?
PR:We had several, I can’t remember their names. One was Mr. Jubare, and he played guitar. In fifth grade I remember singing folk songs. Other than that I don’t remember.
JM:Where did you go to high school?
PR:I attended Housatonic Valley Regional High School from 1969 to 1973.
JM:And you went on to college.
PR:To Central Connecticut State University where I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Education. I returned to Lakeville and after 2 years of many part time jobs, I found a job at Indian Mountain School, working under the wonderful tutelage of Julian Carlyle. I remained there for ten years, teaching and coaching and working in a variety of different areas.
JM:Then you went on to public school.
PR:I did. I currently work at Lee H. Kellogg School in Falls Village, Ct. which is the best of both worlds. It is small classes, but you don’t have the outside demands that the private school does.
JM:Would you give me some recollections of your growing up in the area.
PR:It’s a whole different philosophy than today because in our youth if the sun was outside so were you. We had a very large neighborhood. We lived on Perry Street which was just off of Farnam Road. There were thirty plus kids in our neighborhood. Three of our backyards joined together so we kind of overflowed. The games went from Hide and Seek to baseball to badminton to croquet, tag; there were a variety of activities that we took part in. Scholastically as far as school went there weren’t the organized sports that there are today. Girl Scouts played an important role as did Boy Scouts. That was where you put all of your effort into camping, selling Girl Scout cookies, and working with the elderly. Girls weren’t permitted to play on the team sports. That was not an option for us. They did have Candy Stripers at the high school which you could volunteer to do. I chose to work in the little hospital snack shack. What else did we do?
PR:Because there were six of us, you can imagine that going to the movies was quite an expense. My parents would often take advantage of the two local drive-ins movie theaters. There were two movies, and you could put all the kids in their pjs and load them into our station wagon and go either to the Canaan Drive-In or there was this Farmer Brown’s Drive-In which I think is in Amenia, or was in Amenia. It was located in this guy’s back yard. That used to be our family time out.
JP:Tell me about the Grove.
PR:OK well there’s lots of things that happened at the Grove. They still had a swim team under the direction of Art Wilkinson who was there and Jeanette Axleby who was the one who was in charge
of all of the life guards and teaching swim lessons. Our days were spent at the beach. When we got to be teenagers, there were probably four or five of us that would meet there with the kids we were in charge of. If one of us was off doing something, we would do tag team taking care of charges. They were always looked after, sometimes by three of us sometimes by two, and often by all of us. We used to play cards down there, and swim, swim, swim. Also at the Grove on Friday nights in middle school-seventh and eighth grade-we used to have sock hops. For a dollar we would go from 7-10, you could buy a soda and a snack. Art Wilkinson would be there with at the time it was Sue Hickey, she was his helper. You could go and sit around those nice big wooden tables and chit chat or God Forbid you danced if you were lucky.
JM:You weren’t a wall flower, I don’t imagine.
PR:No, I was not.
JM:At Salisbury Central was there anything special that went on either Friday nights or in the spring?
PR:I remember fondly these talent shows that we would have, and I remember it because my sister Cindy played guitar. We always sang at home, so it was a great chance for us—for Cindy to show off her talents playing guitar, and for me to sing with her. I have great fond memories of that. Friday nights, I think it was two or three times a month, you could buy a movie ticket and go to the lower building; there was a huge auditorium and you would sit in there. Mr. Romeo and a variety of teachers, I think they signed up for it as a duty, would come and chaperon. You were really there to see the movie. I remember seeing”30 Leagues under the Sea” and some of those great movies that kids don’t even know today. But it was a lot of fun.
JM:I think you mentioned something about IMS and dances. (Indian Mountain School)
PR:Oh seventh and eighth grade girls from Salisbury Central, at the time IMS was an all boys school, it was not co-ed so the girls from Salisbury Central were invited to dance lessons. I remember learning the Salsa, the Fox Trot and the box step and all the wonderful old traditional dances on Friday nights there. They did have a culminating ball, but I have to confess, I was chicken and didn’t go to that.
JM:Oh dear, oh dear. Did you have any special girl friends when you were in school?
PR:Ironically we are still very close today.
JM:That’s good, that’s not ironic.
PR:Well, ironic in the sense that we’re all back here in Lakeville or near. Judy Casey Terni is a very close friend, Sandy Gomez, Barbara Peck, Nancy Pollack Williams, Kim Sherwood, Karen Gersell, there’s just so many of us. We still get together oh once a month or every couple of months and laugh and joke as if no time has passed.
JM:which is perfectly wonderful. When you were growing up, did you have any chores to do? 4.
PR:Oh my heavens, that was one thing that my mother excelled at. She was a great organizer. With six kids you had a buddy and you had a dinner preparation buddy, a dish washing buddy, and a shopping buddy. I fired my shopping buddy because it was my brother Michael. If you remember Michael at all, he was a clown. One day he went into Brickman’s with me to buy groceries, and he had a little horn in his pocket. He would toot that horn any time we got behind an older woman; she would jump out of the way and I would be all apologies because our cart was overflowing, and she would have one or two things in hers. This happened throughout the whole store, and finally when my dad came and picked us up, I told him that Michael was fired. He could no longer shop with me.
JM:Good for you! Is there anything else that you thought of that you would like to add to this interview?
PR:Well, I do. I often look back on my memories here, and I know that a lot of it centered around volunteerism.When I think of camping at Wack Forest, Mrs. Quinion and Mrs. Bushnell went away from their families so that we could have fun. I think of a lot of different things that we did that were because it was such a caring, giving community.
JM:It still is.
PR:Yes, it still is.
JM:Thank you very much for your time, Paula.
PR:You’re welcome. Thank you.