Leila Shaw Interview:
This is file 49. Today’s date is June 12, 2013. This is Jean McMillen interviewing Leila Shaw at her home Faith House, 30 Fowler St. Salisbury, CT. I am going to start with the simple stuff.
JM:Leila, what is your name?
LS:My name is Leila Mae Shaw.
JM:Where were you born?
LS:I was born in Alabama in the county of Lee and town of Opelika.
JM:What is you birthdate?
LS:My birthday is October 12, 1935.
JM:What were your parents’ names?
LS:My mother’s maiden name was Lula Mae Loore. My father’s name was Jim; nobody ever called him anything but Jim. I don’t know if it was James. He was born in the same county, but in a different town.
JM;His last name was?
LS:Jim Pearl Darby
JM:Did you have brothers and sisters?
LS:I have one brother by my father and 1 sister; then my mother remarried and she and my step father had 3 girls.
JM:What’s your education?
LS:At the time when I was going to school, I only went to the 9th grade.
JM:Because of the family situation you had to work.
LS:Actually if I tell the truth I didn’t go to school because they didn’t have enough money to buy me shoes.
JM:How did you come here?
LS:Well, that’s a long story and it is a good one. It started back home, we were looking at the newspaper, my cousin and I, it had an article in there saying “Help Wanted”. It was through Barton employment agency in Gt. Barrington, Mass. That’s how I got here. I came to Massachusetts by way of a bus all the way up through and came to Hartford, and that is where we got the bus from Hartford to Gt. Barrington.
JM:Do you remember where that agency was located in Gt. Barrington?2.
LS:If I am not mistaken I think it was Railroad Street. As you go into Gt. Barrington there is a street that goes way back up that way.
JM:That is Railroad Street. It has changed a bit; that is the area I lived in so that makes sense.
LS:Her agency was on that street I am almost sure it was.
JM:What kind of a job did you get from this agency?
LS:I was doing homework, domestic work.
JM:So you did cooking, laundry, and light housekeeping.
LS:Everything, I went to a family in Norfolk, Ct. The first family she sent me to was a family in West Hartford, and I wasn’t happy there. The lady wasn’t the nicest person to work for. She sent me back to Mrs. Barton. Then Mrs. Barton sent me to the lady in Norfolk whose name was Brookfield; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Brookfield on Greenwoods Road in Norfolk.
JM:How long did you work there.
LS:I worked for Mrs. Brookfield from 1956 until 1966.
JM:Is that how you met your husband?
LS:I had just met him. He was married at another lady over the years and met him through a friend of mine who was a friend of theirs. I met him and his wife. There was a long story and that was their business but after that happened with them, I met him.
JM:Where did you go to work after Mrs. Brookfield?
LS:After Mrs. Brookfield died, I went to New York. We went from Norfolk to New York. Then I came back to Norfolk and I was in the house for a while. I went to work to a lady across the street by the name of Carolyn Robinson. I worked for her for maybe a few months. Then bob and I finally got married. We were going together at the time. When we got married, I moved to Lakeville.
JM:What was your wedding date?
LS:August 28, 1966, on a Sunday afternoon at 4:00 right on the dot. We moved to Lakeville we were living on the Millerton Road. He had a small apartment on Millerton Road. He was already there; we stayed there from the time we married on Aug 28 to October 1. Then we rented a place on Lime Rock Road from Charlotte Miner. We rented that house and I was there from Oct 1, 1966 until I moved here in 2004.
JM:I have a picture of your house on Lime Rock Road.
LS:A red house with a 2 car garage.
JM:When you moved to Lime Rock Road, what kind of work did you do?3.
LS:I was still going back and forth to Norfolk taking care of that house with that family; then I got pregnant so I couldn’t work for anybody for too long. After Roberta was born, she was born August 3, 1967, I went to work when she was 2 or 3 months old; I went to BD in October of that year 1967. I worked there until I retired in 1998.
JM:When you retired from there, did you do any home health care?
LS:I was doing part time work for the Visiting Nurses; I was going in and getting people’s supper or something like that or a lunch.
JM:You were doing meal prep.
LS:Yeah I would get lunch or dinner for somebody, different families but I can’t remember who all I did go to.
JM:You went to a number of them then?
LS:Yes, I know I went to three different people all the time; I see the ladies and Mr. Mesler is gone and I forgot who that other person was. One lady on Millerton Road I went to for a while; somebody on Wells Hill I went to for a while.
LS:I didn’t do too much for Dr. Noble; they were more of less like neighbors. Mr. Tom Blagden was the one I did a little bit of work for.
JM:What do you remember about Dr. Noble? Was he a good neighbor?
LS:They were very good neighbors; I still see her once in a while but not as often as I did when I was living there.
JM:Can you describe what he looked like? Do you remember?
LS:Not really, he wasn’t tall tall but he wasn’t short either. Dr. Noble didn’t strike me as a fat man. You might know his son, Greg Noble. By the time I left that house it was owned by Greg Noble.
JM:How about Tom Blagden?
LS:Tom Blagden was a very nice kind of easy going quiet man; I never had a cross word with the man. He was never cross with me. I went to him up until the end; he had a girl from Africa working, and she would take so many days off, but I was going to him long before any of them. I used to go help and get supper once in a while, but not regular. They always had regular help.
JM:You worked for him for a long time, but more as a fill in?
LS:Yes, I did fill in work.
JM:Did he work at Hotchkiss?4.
LS:Mr. Blagden I think he taught at Hotchkiss. I think it was art at Hotchkiss.
JM:Where did he live when you were working for him?
LS:Right across over behind the trees from where I lived. Just before you get to the house I lived in, there is a red barn, going that way, and you would take a right and go down in.
JM:You do, it’s Race Track Road and you go down in.
LS:Not Race Track, the opposite side of the road.
JM:Oh Town Hill Road.
LS: Yeah the big white house where Charlotte Miner used to live. The road is right there. I am trying to think. There used to be a Mr. Fowle who used to live down in there. He also taught school at Hotchkiss.
JM:He was. The big white house that’s near Town Hill is that where Charlotte Miner lived?
LS:Charlotte Miner is on the same side as you are turning to go down into where Tom Blagden lived. I think the Burbank’s lived down the road from where I was living on the same side of the road. Lorenzo’s lived down that road, years ago.
JM:Was that Peter Lorenzo?
LS:His brother, I think his name started with an O his first name. He had a lot of cows.
JM:Is there anyone else you can remember that you worked for?
LS:I had a full time job at BD and then and short term jobs; I was doing part time work for the nurses, and I can’t remember all of those people. I worked for a lot of different people.
JM:Did you enjoy it?
LS:Sure, I enjoyed most of the people I went to; I once went to a lady who goes to our church and she lives on Wells Hill, You sit with her sometimes.
LS:I think I worked for her one time. I think I went to her and did some cleaning or got a lunch. I think it was her. I believe it was her, but I am not sure. Then there was another lady on Millerton Road, she set back up, I don’t know where she is now.
JM:I’ll ask Marion; she’ll probably know.
LS:I am not sure if it was her or her husband, but I think they sent me there one or two times.
JM:How did you come to the Methodist Church?5.
LS:Through my husband.
JM:I know you had children; did your children go to Sunday school, choir, and all that?
LS:My oldest daughter didn’t go to church here that much because she more or less stayed with my mother. She didn’t like it here: my mother pretty much raised her. She took care of her when I came here to work. Roberta did.
JM:Is Whitney your older girl?
LS:Whitney is my granddaughter; that is Roberta’s daughter.
JM:What was you oldest girl’s name?
LS:Sharon, she was Sharon Darby by her maiden name. She lived here a while. McGowan was her last name.
JM:The only one I know is Roberta.
LS:You know Roberta; she was Bob and my daughter.
JM:Who was the minister at the Methodist church; was it Gerry Pollock?
LS:It was Gerry Pollock; he married us.
JM:Oh he did! Do you remember anything special about Gerry or Emma Pollock?
LS:They were just nice people, and he baptized Roberta. I don’t know what else to say.
JM:What else would you like to tell me about your life and times in Salisbury?
LS:I just love Salisbury, I am a country girl, as I told somebody the only way you are going to get me out of town is to thrown me out and they are going to carry me down and drag me out. I love this little town; it is quiet. I don’t remember if I have ever had a run in with anybody.
JM:Probably not because you are a nice lady yourself.
LS:I did have to say something to somebody when they hit my car at La Bonne’s but that was just that he was trying to get away and I wouldn’t let him. I just don’t know anything bad to say.
JM:I am so pleased. What a lovely way to end our interview.
LS:If somebody made me, I’d just turn my head and go about my business.
JM:You are a very wise lady.
LS:I had one incident at the Mobil station, a man called me a “nigger”. He had a New York state tag on his car. That was about 5 years ago. That is the only thing that ever really rubbed my feathers so they stood up.
JM:I can believe that.
LS:Other than that all the years I’ve been here and I have worked with some difficult people like at the shop where I worked; otherwise everybody got along but there is always one person.
JM:There has to be one; just to give you a contrast.
LS:There is always one that wants to be the boss, or supervisor. I can’t say anything bad.
JM:Thank you so much for your time and I really have enjoyed interviewing you.
LS:I am just a person that loves going to church and I live working on everything; I have worked on quite a few things at my church, and that’s what I love. The only handicap I have now is that I can’t jump in the car and go anywhere I want to at night anymore because I can’t see.
JM:You don’t really want to be out at night anyway.
LS:No you don’t, but there are times when you would like not have people always having to pick you up, but I appreciate that everybody at the church has been very nice to me. I have had no problem when I am having problems with my back or whatever is wrong, the Romeos have been nice enough to drive me and Cindy Smith and everybody had been just so nice.
JM:That is one of the things in this town everybody helps everybody else.
LS:N body had said “no” to me.
JM:Thank you so much.
LS:Even the pastor wanted to bring me, but I said, “No I have a ride.” He is going to be missed. (Pastor Kim)
JM:Yes, he is. Thank you so much.
LS:You are quite welcome.