Roraback Oral History Cover sheet:
Interviewee:Barbara Marks Roraback
Place of interview:20 Grove Street, Salisbury, Ct.
Date:May 3, 2013
Summary of talk: Family background, born at home, Dr. Peterson, school teachers, neighborhood play areas, Grove St. School, the Grove, Salisbury Knife Handle factory, picture “They made Knife Handles”. Salisbury Visiting Nurses, Whit beck’s Pharmacy, ”Round House”, House of Herbs, Beehive, the Patch, the swinging bridge, the watering kettle, the Jigger Shop, hanging rock, roaring oaks, churches, people of Salisbury: Jakey Holder, Lila Nash, Fran LeMoyne, Judge Don Warner, Cock Robin, and Emily & Agnes Fowler.
This is file 46. I am interviewing Mrs. Barbara Marks Roraback at her home, 20 Grove St., Salisbury, Ct. The date is May 3, 2013. She’s going to talk about her life and times in Salisbury and all the wonderful people she has known.
JM: What is your full name?
BR: Barbara Rose Roraback
JM: Your birthdate?
BR: Feb. 4, 1936
JM: Now your birthplace is interesting. Where were you born?
BR: I was born in my grandfather’s home on which is now Echo Street.
JM: Is the house still in existence?
JM: Because it was February, who was the doctor that came?
BR: It was Dr. Peterson. I was born during a snowstorm.
JM: Oh my, he must have had a hard time getting there.
BR: I don’t think anything was hard for him. He was a nice man.
JM: Can you tell me anything more about Dr. Peterson?
BR: Well, he had his office in Lakeville in his home. I can remember sitting on the porch waiting for my turn to go see him.
JM: You also mentioned something about surgery.
BR: I did have surgery when I was very young; I was sick a lot so my mother called him one night and he had to come and do a tracheotomy on our kitchen table. My one brother was looking in the window.
JM: What were your parents’ names?
BR: My father was Claude Marks and my mother was Grace Elizabeth Ball.
JM: Did you have brothers and sisters?
BR: I have 5 brothers, two were older and 3were younger.
JM: May I have their names?
BR: My brother Claude was the oldest and then Allen, Barbara, Peter, David and Robert.
JM: Do any of your brothers still live in the area?
JM: What was your educational background? Where did you go to school?
BR: I went to the old school on Grove Street. I went to Salisbury Central in Lakeville, and I went to Housatonic Valley Regional High School.
JM: When you went to Grove Street School, do you remember any of the teachers that you had?
BR: Yes, We had Mrs. McCone, and Ruth White who later married Charles Parsons.
JM: The Mrs. McCone would that have been Molly Kelly’s mother? (See 112A)
JM: How about the teachers at Salisbury Central? Do you remember any of them?
BR: I can remember Mrs. Lemoyne.
JM: That would have been Frances Hamm.
BR: Right. Mrs. Peacock, there was a Mrs. Geer; there was a Mr. Negus, Mrs. Wilson, and Mrs. Eggleston.
JM: Was Mrs. Eggleston Principal or just a teacher then?
BR: She later became principal, but she was a teacher when I was there.
JM: Now we are going to backtrack a little bit. Where did you play as a child?
BR: We played a lot in the library; one of our favorite places. We played a lot on the green in front of the White Hart.
JM: Did you play in the cemetery at all?
BR: I was really afraid of the cemetery so I stayed away from that.
JM: Did you have a lot of children in the neighborhood to play with?
BR: I didn’t, no. There weren’t a lot of children in the neighborhood that I played with. Actually I was a tomboy; my brothers were very protective of me.
JM: Now you have a picture of the whole family, although we can’t see the picture, I’d like you to point out that there are 5 people in the picture.
BR: There are 5 generations picture. It shows Cousin Mickey.
JM: What was Cousin Mickey’s real name?
BR: It was Mildred. She later married Mike Ongley. This is my Aunt Elsie, Elsie Ball, and this is my grandmother, Minnie Smith, and this is her mother.
JM: Do you remember what her mother’s name was?
BR: No, then there’s the mother of my grandmother’s mother.
JM: And these 2 ladies you are not familiar with their names?
BR: No I’m not.
JM: Thank you for sharing that. Going back to Grove School do you remember about how the school was heated? Was it a wood stove?
BR: No, I don’t know what was in the cellar, but there was a radiator in the floor. I can remember standing on it a couple of times, and I fainted. I woke up on one of the tables.
JM: Did you have individual desks; did you have a long table?
BR: We had a long table.
JM: Did you come home for lunch or was lunch served?
BR: We had lunch at the school; Mrs. Emma Senior lived close to the school and she could cook the food. Two of the kids would come over and bring it back to the school. It was great.
JM: Oh that’s wonderful; the original hot lunch program. Did you have either milk or cocoa or anything midmorning or midafternoon?
BR: I don’t remember.
JM: Now you told me about a teacher who taught in the Taconic School.
BR: That would be Flora Holmes.
JM: Flora Holmes was the mother of Laura Holmes Johnson. (SEE tape #39A & Girl Scout Interview) Did you ever visit the Taconic School, either as a child or as an adult?
BR: No, it was torn down, the original building.
JM: What happened to the Grove School that you went to? I know there were two of them. The first one got moved, and I have a picture of the outside of that (Donald Stevens, 14 Grove St. Salisbury. Ed.) Did you attend the second school that was torn down?
BR: That would have been the little kindergarten; I didn’t no.
JM: So you went to the first school?
JM: Now we are going to move over to the Grove. Who was running it at the time that you were swimming there?
BR: I can remember David Timmons.
JM: Do you remember Frank Markey at all?
BR: Yes, I do.
JM: What were the activities? Did they have a playground? Did they have swimming lessons?
BR: They had swimming lessons taught by Jeannette Axleby. She would swim across the lake; we were in awe of that. She taught lessons. We couldn’t afford to pay for them, so I would stand and watch as she taught and then I would do it. So in that way I learned to swim.
JM: Did you spend a lot of time at the Grove?
BR: I spent quite a bit.
JM: How did you get there?
BR: We walked. We just walked everywhere.
JM: It is a bit of a hike. It would be about a mile to two miles?
BR: At least.
JM: Where did your father work?
BR: My father worked at the Knife Handle factory.
JM: Where was that located?
BR: That was on Factory Street (Washinee St. ED.)
JM: Who owned it?
BR: Phillip Warner.
JM: What kind of a man was Mr. Warner?
BR: Oh he was great. He was absolutely great. Every year he used to load us in the back of his little old truck, all of us; he would take us up to his camp on the mountain for a day. We would swim and have fun.
JM: He sounds like a nice man.
BR: He was adorable.
JM: What hours did your dad work?
BR: I think he probably worked from 6 until about 4 or 5.
JM: Did he bring his lunch to work.
BR: No, my mother used to make up his lunch after he had gone to work, and then I would drop it off to him on my way to school.
JM: What did the factory make, anything besides knife handles? Did they do anything other than that?
BR: Oh yes, they did the pepper mills, the little wooden bowls for salt with the wooden spoons. (Salisbury Artisans used the building later and made these items. Ed.)
JM: Your dad’s factory did this?
BR: Well, all I know is that they made knife handles when my dad was there.
JM: They made the handles and then the Holley Manufacturing did the blades.
JM: What specifically did your father do? Did he just work with sawing the large logs? Did he do anything with the logs? Did he do fine work? Did he do large work with the logs?
BR: Pretty much the large logs; they would go through a saw; then they had to be planed.
JM: Do you remember what kind of wood they used?
BR: I physically remember a red wood, it was all good wood compared to what you get today.
JM: Oh it would be good hard wood. You shared with me a photograph of about 15 men in front of the building of the knife factory. I am going to read the caption; “ ‘They made knife handles’ The men in this picture worked at the Salisbury Cutlery Knife Handle factory in the late 1930’s to the early 1940’s and were recently identified by Jim Lamson of Salisbury for the Scoville Library’s Historical collection. Mr.Lamson worked at the factory at a later date. The knife handles were made of bone, wood, ivory, shell, buffalo horn, and pearl according to an old invoice. Total sales in 1886 totaled $19,900. The factory building on the brook next to the Selleck Hill Road Bridge was destroyed by fire in 1935, and the operation moved to a higher location on Factory Street.” This is the picture and these are the men the back row from left Tim Doty, Will Jones, Earl Morey, Bill Washington, Charlie Parsons, and Richie Parsons. Between the rows: Phil Warner who owned the factory, and Louis Farwell. Front Row from left Chad Smith, Claude Marks (Mrs. Roraback’s father) Curley Senior, Bill Parsons, Buster Washington, Hen Schlock, and Dick Parsons.
JM: Now we are going to move on to the Salisbury Visiting Nurses. Who started that?
BR: Ruth Miner started it. (It was started by Rose Milmine Parsons in 1904. Ed.) I don’t know if she started it, but I remember her as the instigator of it.
JM: Was it run by her or was managed by somebody else.
BR: No, I think it was just at that time one nurse and she was it. (Henrietta Van Cleft Ed.)
JM: She kept diaries and was a nurse that would do home visits. Who were some of the nurses that you knew that worked at the Salisbury Visiting Nurses?
BR: I knew Phoebe Storms, Mrs. Wells I remember her, she would give me rides around with her. Dorothy Sherwood, Martha Fitzgerald.
JM: How long did you work for them?
BR: I think probably not more than 2 years.
JM: You have a picture here that was in the Journal Feb. 28, 1975, and it shows Dot Sherwood, Sam Whitbeck, and yourself as a home health aide. Then where did you go to work after the Salisbury Visiting Nurses?
BR: The drugstore.
JM: You went to the drugstore. That’s always been called Whitbeck’s Pharmacy. Who ran it?
BR: Sam, Walter, Anna, Audrey Whitbeck.
JM: What job did Walter do?
BR: Walter did pretty much the newspapers.
BR: Anna did the soda fountain.
BR Audrey was a pharmacist and I think she pretty much managed the store.
JM: And Bam (Nelson, Audrey’s husband Ed.)
BR: Yes, he was the pharmacist.
JM: If I remember correctly both Audrey and Bam went to the University of Connecticut to learn how to be pharmacists. Bam’s father and Anna’s father and Walter’s father was Sam Whitbeck.
JM: What did it look like inside?
BR: It was your typical old-fashioned drugstore. We had booths in the front part by the windows and then we had the soda machine, the soda fountain. They had this big thing that had all kinds of these wonderful nuts and jars filled with candy. They had the pharmacy in the back. The soda fountain was on one side and they had this big mirror so you could watch the fellow make all those delicious banana splits and stuff.
JM: How about root beer floats?
BR: Oh my gosh; it was so hard to pick something when you could afford it. You thought about it a long time.
JM: Who were some of the other people that worked at the pharmacy?
BR: Well, we had Lorraine Stevens who did everything. Then there was Nancy Paine who did the bookkeeping, Dick Phair was a pharmacist, Richard Farrow was a pharmacist. Eric Hein was a pharmacist.
JM: What did Peter Kelsey do?
BR: Peter Kelsey helped with papers, and whatever.
JM: Sue Poglitch?
BR: She was out in the back in the ice cream parlor.
JM: Then there was Marla Hein?
BR: Marla Hime was Eric’s daughter and when she came, she did a lot with the computers.
JM: How long did you work there?
BR: I was there about 17 years.
JM: Oh my word, because I remember you working there. I recognized the picture of you as the home health aide, but I remember you in the pharmacy. That was a neat place to go. Now I am going to ask you about buildings and business in Salisbury. I’d like you to tell me what was the “Round House”?
BR: That was on Echo Street down at the end; it was called the Round House because it was round. It was really a great place; we used play by it a lot. My cousins lived there; they tore it down.
JM: How about the House of Herbs? Do you remember when Mrs. Winters was running it?
BR: I remember the House of herbs; my sister-in-law Pearl Roraback worked there for a long time.
JM: What about the Beehive?
BR: The Beehive was big; it had more than 2 or 3 apartments but I am not sure. It was up in back of where the K&E is now (Holley St. ED.) (See Lila Nash # 57.) It burned down.
JM: The Patch?
BR: Oh by Jim Vaill- that is where the iron Master’s Motor Lodge is now; I remember that. There was a cute little old lady that lived there, but I can’t remember what her name was.
JM: How about the swinging bridge? Do you remember that?
BR: Oh I loved that. We used to lay on it and watch the fish and make it swing, and it was just great.
JM: Were you afraid of it or did you just enjoy it?
BR: No, I loved it.
JM: That was so the people from the Gateway Inn could get across to the lake. Do you remember the watering kettle? Where was it located, in the middle of the road by the town hall?
BR: Well, they tell me it was the middle of the road, but I don’t remember it.
JM: I think Audrey Whitbeck told me that Bam when he was a teenager ran into it when it was in the center of the street.
BR: It is possible.
JM: Do you remember the Jigger Shop?
BR: I do. That was a great place located in Lakeville on Ethan Allen and Sharon Road. (Now “The Black Rabbit” Ed.)
JM: How about the hanging rock, where was that?
BR: That was on Locust Avenue off Factory Street. It starts at the top of the hill.
JM: How about roaring oaks, the area the kids played on the vines called roaring oaks, was that in the same area?
BR: Yes, it was. That is what we used to do for fun, was swing on the grape vines.
JM: Because Oogie Hoystradter when he started the florist shop in Sharon named it “Roaring Oaks” for where he used to play which I thought was great. What if anything do you remember about the Methodist Church?
BR: I can remember that as kids they used have a lot of pageants, and I can remember being in a couple of them. Then they had this for adults Mr. and Mrs. Corbin; that was always fun if you could manage to sit on the Town Hall steps which we did a lot and just watch the activity at the church. You could see the really elegant people.
JM: You are confusing me because if you are standing on the Town Hall steps you are looking at the Congregational Church not the Methodist Church. The Methodist Church is in Lakeville.
BR: The Methodist Church I remember when the Pollocks were there.
JM: So the pageants and the elegant people were at the Congregational church.
BR: Yes, the Congregational.
JM: The Pollocks came in 1963 and they left in 1982. They had 4 children.
BR: Yeah, three girls and a boy. He was wonderful, absolutely wonderful.
JM: Yes, he was. I had the youngest girl and the boy in my class. Recently at his service that they did here, Emma Pollock received from the Fire Department a check and a citation in his honor which was wonderful.
BR: Oh he was into everything.
JM: He was in Rotary, he was in the fire department, and he did scholarships to Camp Sloane. Now I am going to move on to people in Salisbury. You told me a story about someone who lived in the Lock-Up. Who was that?
BR: That was Jakey Holder; he was a cute little guy. Apparently he liked to have his wine, maybe a little bit too much sometimes because they used to put him in “The Lock Up” which was a building up on Lock Up Street.
JM: Lock Up Street is by the Town Hall. The Lock Up building was behind the Town Hall.
BR: I never saw the building; I just know that that is where he was. He used to do a little tap dance, so he was a cute little guy.
JM: It seems to me I was told that somebody bought the property. Her house was across the street from the Lock Up, and she tore down the Lock Up so he had to go elsewhere. How about Lila Nash?
BR: Oh my gosh, she was great. Actually I took care of her for a while as a health aide. She was always there; she did everything, even to the Memorial Day Parade with the flowers and the flags.
JM: I can remember her passing out the flags. She was Town Clerk for years and years. Is there anything particular about Fran LeMoyne that you remember?
BR: She was just a wonderful teacher. She never, all she had to do was look at you, she never raised her voice. She really loved the kids.
JM: It was very evident. I was fortunate enough to work when she was still working. She was very quiet. She said, “I can’t cook, at all.” Her husband did the cooking. She told a story about they used to have plastic recorders for the children to play on. She said she wanted to make sure that they were very clean, so she boiled them, and they melted.
BR: She would do something like that.
JM: Yes, She would. What about Judge Don Warner?
BR: I don’t remember him too much except that he was a tall man. I would see him walking, maybe he wanted to get his newspaper or something, I don’t know.
JM: You mentioned somebody named Cock Robin?
BR: Yes, he lived up on the back road. It was off Factory Street near George Selleck. It’s called Upper Cobble now. He had his little house over in the woods, and it caught fire one night and he was burned to death. He was a very nice man.
JM: Did he do odd jobs?
BR: I am not sure exactly what he did; I just know that he was there.
JM: How about the Fowler sisters?
BR: Oh gosh they were great. Emily and Agnes Fowler had a German shepherd dog and a Welsh corgi. Whenever they heard that someone was not feeling well, or had a problem, they pack a basket of goodies and you would see them and the dog trotting up the sidewalk to deliver it. Agnes actually rode a horse. She had a horse there; she got thrown off one time and broke her hip. They had this cute little Irish couple Jack and Mary Kiley who lived in the back of their house. They took care of them.
JM: They sound like a very lovely couple. I think I have asked you all of my questions. Is there something that you would like to add?
BR: Ho, I don’t think so.
JM: Thank you so much for your time.
BR: I hope it comes out alright.
JM: It will! Thanks you again.
Property of the Oral History Project: the Salisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library, Salisbury, Ct. 06068