This is Jean McMillen interviewing Cynthia Barnett Smith at her home 18 Lakeview Avenue, Lakeville Ct. 06039. The date is August 21, 2012.
JM:May I have your name?
JM;May I have your birth date and your birth place?
CS:August, 19, 1934, at Sharon Hospital.
JM:Your parents’ names.
CS:William B. Barnett and Mary Tuttle Barnett.
JM:And your father was selectman.
CS:He was First Selectman for 27 years for the town of Salisbury.
JM:Do you have siblings?
CS: Yes, I do. I have a sister Joan Loper. I have identical twin brothers William and John. John died 2 years ago, and I have a younger brother Peter Barnett in New Jersey.
JM:What is your educational background?
CS:I am a retired nurse. I went to high school and nursing school.
JM:Did you go to local schools?
CS:Yes, I did. I went to Salisbury Central and Housatonic Valley Regional.
JM:You have a reunion coming up soon don’t you?
CS:Yes, our 60th high school reunion is coming up in September.
JM:Now I think you are a life time member of the Lakeville United Methodist Church.
CS:Yes, I am.
JM:Would you tell a little bit about your cradle roll and Sunday school?
CS:I don’t remember much about the Cradle Roll other than I was on it because I was an infant. I went to Sunday school there all my Sunday school years.
JM:Where was the Sunday school? Was it in Fellowship Hall? Was it in the Parish House?
CS:The Parish House wasn’t here then. The Sunday school was in the church itself. We had places also in Fellowship Hall.
JM:So first it was in the church itself; then when Fellowship Hall was available, it was in Fellowship Hall.
Cs:Actually it was in both places because it was separated by ages and by grades so it was altogether. Depending on your age you were either in the balcony or in the back of the church.
JM:Were you in Junior Choir?
CS:Yes. I was in Junior Choir and Eleanor Dorsett led it for a while, but I don’t remember who else.
JM:Do you remember any community activities that the church was involved with?
CS:We had a lot of church suppers; I don’t recall just when they were as it was a long time ago. We still have church suppers periodically. Right now we do a ham dinner on the Saturday night during the Fall Festival in October. We have other different things now here since we are now associated with the Sharon Methodist Church. We do things together now and then.
JM:Do you know when the Methodist Church was active in the Fall Festival and when it started?
CS:No I don’t because that was before I became active in it. It was about 5 years ago that we stopped being active because it became a mostly Congregational Church type situation.
JM:You worked for many years at Indian Mountain School.
CS:Yes, I worked for 17 years at Indian Mountain School.
JM:When did you start at Indian Mountain?
CS:I started in 1982 and retired in 1999.
JM;What were your duties as the school nurse?
CS:Well I was the nurse. I picked up kids from the ball field with a broken bone or whatever and transported them to the doctor or Sharon Hospital whichever was necessary. I saw sick children; they spent the day in my office as we had a bed there. If they were seriously ill, they stayed overnight in Sharon Hospital. I went to all the so called “bad” games like hockey and varsity football, and stayed for the whole time in case somebody got hurt. Sometimes they did; most times they didn’t.
CS:Yes, I didn’t have to do much work.
JM:Tell me about the bats.
CS:One year when I was there I was looking for old records for children that had been there before my time, and I ended up looking in the attic where there were lots of bats. People could not understand why I went up there, but bats don’t bother me and they don’t hurt people; they take care of bugs. One time in my first office, a little tiny office probably in 1983, I had a couple of bats in the hallway, and the kids didn’t like them. I called one of the teachers who didn’t mind catching them, and was able to do so. We took it outside and let it go.
JM:You have, you told me before, a map in your office. Tell us about that.
Cs:I had a big world map because we had boarders, children from all over- China, Korea, Africa, England and even Russia. I put up a world map which covered an entire wall, and I put little stick pins each place where the kids came from. The kids were very interested in this. “Do you have a pin where I live?”
JM:They always are curious. Then they can look at who lived where which is really neat.
CS:I had a lot of fun doing that.
JM:And they had a lot of fun doing it too. Now when you retired I think you were given a very unusual going-away present.
CS:Yes, I sort of had three retirement parties over there. I had one with the faculty and past faculty that came back. I had one that the kids did for me, and they gave me a gift. The art department had cut out a candy kiss on a big board and put silver foil underneath it and broken pieces of mirror. They filled it with silver in that way. I used to give candy kisses away to kids that came in hurt or just for the heck of it. Some of them came in just to day “Hi. May I have my treat now?” They also had a little flag on the thing. It is very heavy and I have it hanging in my hallway. All the kids of that year which was 1999 signed it.
JM:That is such a treasure.
CS:It is a treasure. I don’t know what to do with it when I am gone, but anyway that’s up to my son to find out.
JM:That’s a good solution. I like that one. Is there anything more that you would like to tell me about Indian Mountain before I move on to another topic?
CS:The school has changed a great deal since I left over there. They now have three nurses and a couple of trainers. The nurses don’t have to go out to the games anymore. The school has enlarged considerably. The office is now in its third place since I was there, about thirty years ago. It is much nicer and on the first floor. I was on the second floor all the time I was there. It was difficult for kids
with crutches, but now it is on the first floor. It is much easier for the students to get to, and that is about all I can say about it.
JM:Sounds fine to me. Now your father had quite a lot to do with creating the Grove.
CS:Yes, he did. He and Ben Belcher got together. The Grove was not owned by but run by Dave Timmons. We used to go over there for swimming lessons. Then there was not much sand, but mostly gravel and grass. Eventually, I don’t recall how old I was but was probably early teens or something, but Mr. Belcher and my father got together and talked to the lady (Mrs. Cantyne Ed.) who owned the property, and were able to buy it, and make it into the Lakeville Town Grove. They bought in a lot of sand to make a nice beach, and a decent new store with a lot of fishing equipment as well as different kinds of ice cream, candy, and pretzels or whatever the kids wanted to have.
JM:I have heard about those soft pretzels.
CS:They were very good, too; they were “chubby Joes” as my mother used to say. That’s from a story she used to read to us many years ago. They also built the big building in back of the grove (of white oaks trees Ed.) for use parties or wedding receptions or whatever. Now it is being used for basically an elderly lunch program for the town. (The building also contains the offices of the Grove Manager Stacey Dodge, and the Town Recreation Director Lisa McAuliffe as of 2012.).
JM:The Municipal Agent’s office is there.
CS:Yes, he is now.
JM:There is a very nice plaque dedicated to your father.
CS:Yes, after my father passed away, they got a plaque and put it on the front of the older building. My mother was still alive and we were there for that. The original building was changed a lot and not very well insulated. They took down the plaque and put it on the inside of the new building that was recently completed just as you walk in the front door.
JM:You were on the Grove Committee.
CS:Yes, I was on the Grove committee when it first started. My father was in charge of it; they set it up to make regulations for the Grove, who could come in and who couldn’t. Who paid and who didn’t. The Grove was set up basically for the free use of any Town of Salisbury child, and as it became more and more popular, parking was limited and still is, but is now better than it used to be. They started charging for parking; now I guess it costs a fair amount to park your car there now. Children still walk in and out for free; out of towners still have to pay. We had meetings about, well not every month, but in the summer time we had them more frequently. We sort of helped to regulate the price of boats, canoes, who was mooring them, and how much we could charge for people who came in and cars to be parked. We just upgraded some of the things to do with the Grove. I got off the committee many years
ago. Now they have a new building and they have changed the store building, and more beach; they have put in several tiers of beach which has worked out nicely. They have swimming lanes where they have swim meets. Most of the towns come here for their final meet at our grove because it is a bigger water area as well as a place to sit and watch the meet.
JM:Did you have any connection with hiring life guards?
CS:I had no connection with that.
JM:That would have been the manager of the Grove?
JM:Now after Mr. Timmons retired, Frank Markey took over?
CS:I think it was Frank Markey who took over. (See #78A&B)
JM:Then it was Jim Rutledge. (See#150A)
JM:Then it was John Pogue.
CS:As far as I can remember,
JM:I know Stacey Dodge is in charge of it now. (See VR file #40)
CS:And she has been for several years. (20 years Ed.) I was away some of that time going back to school so I don’t have dates or anything.
JM:We’ve talked a lot about your father, but I’d like to have some information about your mother. She was the daughter of Dr. Tuttle.
JM:When did she and her family come to town?
CS:I think she said she was about 9 years old when they came to town. Obviously I wasn’t around then so I don’t remember exactly. They lived and she grew up in the house that is nowhere the Salisbury bank and Trust is. Her house was moved in back over by where the current Lakeville Journal is.
JM:is it the big white building with the rounded front (Trust Department Ed.)
CS:I think it is white but it is on the opposite side from the Trust building behind the parking lot. (15 Gott Lane off Porter Street. Ed.)
JM:Was she involved with the garden club?
CS:Yes, she was involved with garden club for many years. Before she got married she was a teacher, a part-time teacher with some lady, but I don’t remember her name.
JM:Was it either Mrs. Tracy’s School or Miss Stuart’s school?
CS:It was Miss Stuart’s school. Yeah she worked for her. There again I wasn’t around so I don’t remember. My father was born here in Lakeville; they went to the high school which was where the Post Office is. That’s where they had high school. When my parents got married, they lived in the Holley Block which is no longer the Holley Block, but a nice park. (across from the Holley Williams House Ed.) It was Laverty’s Drugstore underneath and above were apartments. They lived there for about a year until they built their house across the street (33 Lakeview Ave Ed.) from my father’s parents, and that’s where I grew up which is just down the road from where I currently live.
JM:Did your parents buy the property from the Kane sisters or someone else?
CS:They bought the property from someone, but I don’t think it was the Kane sisters. It might have been Harry Bellini. I think Bill Raynsford was the one who built the house. It was not built like they are today; it was built board by board.
JM:I think your mother took dictation from some people.
Cs:Yes, she did. She took dictation from Mr. McChesney; I don’t recall his first name (John Ed.) She took dictation from him when my youngest brother was a baby. She used to go out into his car to take dictation from him because it was quieter than in the house. Later on after my brother when to school, she was secretary for Rod Aller and worked 2 or 3 days a week to help pay for our going away to school. She enjoyed working for him; she also did time down in my father’s store.
JM:Was she bookkeeper for your father?
CS:No, just general, when she was needed, she would fill in. I did too and so did my sister especially at Christmas time. We did a lot of filling in down there, marking of things. We helped set up the 2 train sets which were upstairs in Toyland which were going around for 2 months ,the months of November and December.
JM:That was a very popular place to be around Christmas time.
CS: Very popular, in fact it was the only place around here. Now there is nothing you have to go out to a city to find a toy or something for somebody. It was the only place; we got toys at Christmas. It was just a general department store because we had just about everything in it: glasses, clothing, stuff to do with painting, and everything.
JM:What happened to the train set? Do you have it?
CS:No, the train sets were given away. There were 2 train sets. There was a working freight train that dumped coal and logs and picked them up. Then there was just a regular passenger train. Both were given away at Christmas time. When people bought something, they put slips in a little box, like a lottery.
JM:So that each year you had 2 different train sets to give away. These would probably be Lionel trains.
CS:We never had one.
JM:But you could play with the one at the store.
CS:We played with the one at the store until my brothers got old enough, and then they took over that job, and my sister and I took over selling, putting things up in the attic. People used to buy things and store them for Christmas.
JM:Like a lay-away plan. What have I forgotten? What should I ask you that I haven’t?
CS: I don’t remember. I don’t know.
JM:I know you told me that you remember your 21st birthday.
CS:Oh my 21st birthday was the big flood of 1955. It washed out part of the city of Winsted. I was working in New Haven at the time, and I was coming home for the weekend. I got as far as Falls Village and followed the state truck that was closing the road because of water over it.
JM:But you did get home.
CS:I did get home without being waterlogged.
JM:What are some of the civic activities that you participate in over the years?
CS:I have done a lot of stuff for our church, various different things. I am right now a member of the Republican Town Committee. I really didn’t do too much in town until I got married which is almost 40 years ago now. I was living and working down in New Haven. Since I have been living here I worked for the church, and babysitting, a lot of babysitting, probably 50 to 75 kids I used to baby sit for before or after school. I had a lot of kindergarteners because my son was going to kindergarten. The folks came here to pick up their kids, and also drop off kids for the afternoon. I sometimes fed them lunch if they were going to school and came home for lunch, they had already had it. Some would have a nap one or two of them.
JM:Were you babysitting at the same time as Anne Chase was babysitting?
CS:Yes, I was.
JM:I knew about Anne Chase.
CS:I had more babies; she had more school age kids.
JM:Your specialty is pediatrics, isn’t it?
CS:Right, I had my training at Yale and I did Pediatrics there all the time. I had the new-borns up through 3 years of age. I enjoyed it; I loved it.
JM:Wonderful, I wouldn’t have been able to stand it. If there isn’t anything else, Cindy, I thank you very much.
CS:I can’t think of anything else except my childhood which you have on another tape. (See 92A)
Cs:You are very welcome.