This is jean McMillen. I am interviewing Mr. Bud Trotta aka Louis Trotta who used to be first selectman in town. We are at the Scoville Memorial Library. Today’s date is Sept. 5, 2014. We’ll start with the genealogical stuff. He became First Selectman from 1989 until 1995 Ed.)
JM:What is your real name?
BT:My real name is Louis J. Trotta Jr.
BT:Bud everybody has called that since birth.
JM:Do you know why you got the nickname Bud?
BT:My sister could not say brother so it came out to be my Buddy. So that is how Bud got started and that is what I live with.
JM:it is a good thing she did not call you something worse!
JM:When were you born?
BT:I was born January 25, 1936, in Waterbury, Ct.
JM:Your parents’ names?
BT:My father’s name was Louis Trotta. My mother is Vengenza Ginnetti. Put down Jenny that is easier. That is what she goes by.
JM:Do you have brothers or sisters?
BT:I had a sister who passed away. She was Barbara Trotta.
BT:I graduated from Salisbury Central School in 1949. The lower building was the only building we had at that time. High School was Salisbury School; George D. Langdon was the Headmaster then. It was a wonderful place.
JM:Yes it was and still is.
BT:When I went there were only 80 of us in the student body.
JM:Really, do you remember how many faculty members there were then?
BT:Probably about a dozen? They all lived locally. Dave Harris was one of the professors or masters there. Carl Williams came later. Herrick, Walt Herrick, Harold Corbin lived on Main Street. Hop Rudd was there. In fact you knew them all.
JM:I have done a lot of interviews.
BT:You must have. Hop was the Athletic director as well as teacher. Jo taught also, she used to substitute teach a lot. (See File #54/66 Priscilla Rudd Wolf). A fellow named Tom Dorsey, and then there was a fellow who taught chemistry at Salisbury School.
BT:Yeah Keur was there.
JM:When did you come to Salisbury? How did you come to Salisbury?
BT:My family was in the food business. My father bought the Salisbury Market which is now where the liquor store is on Main Street. This goes back to 1945 or 46. We moved up from Waterbury, Oakville actually which is right next door to Waterbury. My father bought the market from Mr. & Mrs. Charlie Kimmerly. They were the owners from a long time. He came up in the spring and we moved up in the fall. That is when I entered Salisbury Central School in the 6th grade. That is how we got here. Life went on from there. My father bought the buildings from Kimmerly and built where Peter Beck’s store is now.
JM:Peter Beck’s store your father built that.
BT:Yeah he had all the buildings except the one on the end. Sam Whitbeck owned that last building. His wife had a knitting shop in there. When she died, Sam sold that building to me. We wound up with that business side of the street. That goes back a long way.
JM:Yes, it does. I remember Shagroy’s when it was in that set of buildings.
BT:Yeah, Bill Ford who was a lawyer in town. He also owned and bought Shagroy Farm when Shagroy Farm was really up and running. Yeah it was a big turkey farm. They were the first to do canned turkey and chickens. As a matter of fact the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II the turkeys that were served at her wedding came from Shagroy.
JM:Really? That is fascinating! Yes, but still that is a nice connection. We have a connection with Lady Churchill with the Wake Robin so now we have another one with the Queen.
BT:They used to box their turkeys. Shagroy did this for Thanksgiving holidays. All the turkeys came in boxes with the weight on the outside and how long they should be cooked. No paper wrapping then. We didn’t have to eviscerate them in the store. They were the only ones who eviscerated the birds and boxed them.
JM:What did you do before you got into politics?3.
BT:I worked in the food markets. We had a market here which my dad sold to Bill Ford. I went over to Canaan and opened up the Canaan Supermarket and worked there. When I came back, and bought the liquor store here in Salisbury from Bill Ford, and went into the liquor business. After about 10 years I changed it over into a wine store more than liquor. Politics was never anything I ever thought about or dreamt of doing. I sat on almost every board, town boards in my life here in Salisbury. I often said I would see myself coming out of one door and going in another door.
JM:But it is people like you that volunteer their time that makes the town work.
BT:I loved doing it. It was fun. I got a lot of experience there.
JM:What are some of the boards that you were on?
BT:Planning and Zoning, I was never on the Financial Board because that was a different animal. I did family services, but not the School Board, the church boards. Anything volunteer I’ve got a whole list of things they put on a plague for me and I can’t remember. I sat on Salisbury Bank & Trust, the hospital board. There were so many of them; the ones I did sit on, I was invited to find out just what was going on and where the town fit into the place.
JM:When did you first run for any office?
BT:Don’t ask me years!
JM:What office did you run for?
BT:I ran for treasurer.
JM:Tell me your story because that is a good one.
BT:Olive Dubois was Town Treasurer. She was very popular. Her husband was Jimmy was just as popular.
JM:I worked with Jim.
BT:Then you knew Jimmy!
JM:I knew Olive too.
BT:They were great people. I ran under Louis Trotta; I got beaten badly. I got beat in the election anyways because n body beat Olive. I ran under Louis and nobody knew who the hell Louis Trotta was! After the election they found out it was Bud Trotta, a lot of people said “I would have voted for you.” It didn’t turn out that way. The next time around when I ran with Charlotte (1988 Ed.) first time, I changed for voting purposes to just Bud Trotta. I got voted in with Charlotte Reid.
JM:That would have been in the 1970’s?
BT:Yeah (1978) I had no intention but George Bushnell wanted to retire. He had been in office I think at that point for 25 years and Charlotte wanted to retire. I got to thinking because I was in and out of the town hall and I went to talk to Charlotte. I said, “Charlotte we will have a lack of continuity here if both you and George retire. Both of you can’t get out and expect 2 new people to come in and run the town. This is not fair to the town. She said, “What do you propose to do?” “I am not proposing to do anything. I am just saying one of you should stay. You and George ought to talk about it and decide who is going to stay.” “Why don’t you run?” “I don’t think so.” “I’ll tell you what, I run again if you will run with me.” Keep this in mind, I am an Independent, I am not a registered as either a Republican or a Democrat. The next thing I know I was meeting with the Democratic Party. They said, “First of all you have to join the party before we can do anything.” So that is what I did.
JM:Good for you.
BT:It just worked out that when I ran with Charlotte that year (1988).
JM:Who was the third person at that time? (George Kiefer 1984)
BT:George had retired; oh it was Smithwick, No he came the second time around.
JM:Second time around it was you and Charlotte and Bob Smithwick.
JM: At that time he had given up being the policeman.
BT:Yeah, he was not a policeman then. He stayed as the second selectman (1988-1992).Then there was a lady: she ran in 1992-1996.
BT:No it wasn’t Elyse Harney (1982=1984), nor Baroody. She did a lot of hiking all through Asia, climbed the Himalayas. She was a selectman. (It was Ann Cuddy Ed.) She was a nice gal.
BT:Three of us were there for a long time.
JM:What is the term of office for select people?
JM:How many years were you a selectman of some sort?
BT:All in all…
JM:After Charlotte retired, then was it you and Bob Smithwick and someone else?
BT: Yeah. (Bud, Bob, and Curtis Rand were selectmen in
JM:What would you call your management style? Were you laid back or did you keep your hand on the wheel at all times?
BT:I was involved with everything that was going on at that time. I wanted to know basically what was before the board and try to answer what was going on with the Planning and Zoning, Zoning Board Appeals, anything that involved the town.
JM:So you worked, you really worked.
JM:You did not sit behind a desk: you were out there doing it.
BT:Bill Pickert was my foreman. He and I would meet at 6:00 in the morning and lay out what was going to go down on the road ways. He would present something to me and ask, “What do you think?” We would work it through and see what was more important than this. We had a great working relationship. He was really a hell of a nice guy,
JM:I have heard that from other sources.
BT:He was really a sweet person to work with.
JM:Were there any large projects that you can remember?
BT:It took a long time to acquire what is now known as Trotta Field from Gus Pope.
JM:Where is Trotta field?
BT:It is just off the Salisbury-Lime Rock Road.
JM:Which is now Salmon Kill Road and it is down by the Nursing facilities (& day care).
BT:That whole area belonged to Gus Pope and his wife. That was my project. I felt that because the only other ball fields that the town owned were at the grammar school.
JM:Was this purchased for the recreation program?
BT:It wasn’t purchased; it was a gift from the Gus Pope family. It was a very gracious gift.
JM:Was it specified the purpose of this piece of land?
BT:It was almost four years in the making, talking with Gus to get it because the railroad track was there. Most people believed that the ball field in Lakeville was a town field. It is not. It belongs to the Lakeville Fire Department. At any given time if they get mad at the town, they could put a lock on it and we would have no use of it. This is not a threat.
JM:No, but it is a fact of life that it is a private field.6.
BT:We didn’t have a ball field for Little League ball; we didn’t have an ice skating place for the kids with the exception of Factory Pond. That was nip and tuck so we thought that looking down the road; it would be good to have. The railroad track was closed up years ago and turned into a bicycle path. It was ideal because you could get on it in Lakeville, ride down and just come across the road and be at the fields.
JM:Were you involved in creating the bicycle path?
BT:No. I wasn’t. As a child growing up there, we used to ski the tracks down to go to the jump meet and do all that stuff. It was like another roadway whether it was summer or winter. You walked it all the time and the trestles were up in Lakeville. We used to ride our bikes across that to get to the lake. It was before me that it was taken over and maintained by a group of people who just maintained it. It wasn’t any specific group; the town would jump in occasionally. When the sewer bed came in and expanded into Salisbury the bike path went down there. That was way back.
JM:Any other projects that you can remember that you were specifically involved in?
BT:The Extras program at the grammar school that was a fight.
BT:It was a time when people needed a place for their kids to go to after school. You know it was the old latch key program when we grew up. You are locked behind a door, mommy’s working, and daddy’s working.
JM:What decade are we talking about?
BT:This is in the 70”s, 80’s?
JM:I am going to say 80’s (1988 see Lou Bucceri’s interview file #61/73) because I taught at Salisbury Central from 1967 until 1991. It wasn’t called Extras. Yes there was an afterschool program but it wasn’t called Extras at the time I was working there.
BT:It didn’t last. They started one program, and it really never got off the ground 100%. I saw my grandchildren my daughter-in-law working and my son is working, the kids have no place to go.
JM:There was a definite need.
BT:I said we have to do this. I talked to some people who said that you are not going to get it going. We tried it and it didn’t go anyplace. I talked to others and they asked, “How do you think you are going to do it?” “First of all I am going to go to the churches; I am going to go to every organization in this town and ask for one volunteer to sit on this board. We are going to start this program for their grandchildren. I still get tears in my eyes when I think about it. The reception, there wasn’t one person that said no.”
JM:That’s the town. It is a wonderful town. Every time I have asked for help, whether it is oral history or now that I am Town Historian, people have come forward and said, “Sure I’ll help.” That is the town.
BT:When you get a person from every board, I was not asking the boards for anything, I just wanted you to be able to go back and tell your board what we are doing. We just got it together; we got the state involved because at that time they were giving money. The money wasn’t for the program; the money was for…If we could get it into the school that was the next big step. They would take care of parental fees, and the rest up us to do it. We got the school board, the principal (Thomas Bradley Ed.) was a little bit here and there on the subject because they didn’t want to get involved with that part of the program. They didn’t want the burden, and rightfully so. This wasn’t a burden to the school we made that clear. This was an afterschool program. Without the eligibility to get into the school, we were not going to get the money from the state. I can’t go to the town and say, “I am getting this money from the state, but I need this money from the town.” We went through it; we got everything lined up. We went before a town meeting and asked the Board of Finance for $60,000. They knew it was coming what I was asking for. One gentleman in the audience that didn’t think the town should get involved in the program. What happen at the end of the year? I made a personal guarantee to him that if we didn’t raise the $60,000 we needed, I would pay the town back the $60,000.
JM:That was quite a personal guarantee.
BT:That kept him quiet. He was a wealthy man. I didn’t have the money to be truthful but I figured if it was going wrong I would get it. People had enough faith in what I was doing. We got the money and we got everything. All the flyers are going out in the spring of the year so that the kids would be prepared and parents were prepared. We had 50 sign up right and ready to go in the fall. Three children show up. WOW! What the hell went wrong here? So we started making phone calls and all of this. It was the fact that so many of the people that were working had already their children in place and were afraid to let go of that. What happens if you don’t finish their year out and we are stuck and then try to get something to replace it? It is a burden on them. It had to be successful. After a few months they saw that it was working: the buses were going and the people were coming, and things were going well. In the second half of the year it worked out fine. From then on it went from after school to summer to before school. It is now a full-fledged program.
JM:It is. I have done Lou Bucceri who was running it. It is full bore. It is from after school until quarter of six, daily. They run it during school holidays, and school vacations. They run it during the summer. There is grant money from the state because it is regulated. It is a wonderful program,
BT:I can’t say enough good about the first board that was there.
JM;It is a wonderful town because they think of the community and the benefit to the community rather than me. That is something that I have learned with doing this.
BT:It is like the Summer Work Program. I have been away for a while.8.
JM:Oh that is still going.
BT:It was in now shape when I was in office.
JM:Charlotte was involved with that.
BT:We put on a fund raiser for that to bring up the money. So that we could have it last. That has been a tremendous program.
JM:It has dropped in numbers only because it is still privately funded. They don’t have as many work sites as they did in the 1970’s but I have been able to interview the three directors of the Summer Youth Program. (See John Mongeau’s file #55/67, David Bayersdorfer’s file #63/75 and Patty Stevens’ file #65/77) My 14 year old was a young man that went through the program last year (See James Bartram file #58/70) and he was willing to give me an interview. It is still going; it is a great program for the youth in the community to learn how to responsibly handle a job.
BT:The same thing happened with the selectmen about the program. I always kept tabs on that to make sure that the things were there for the kids. I got a call from the person who was running the program that year. “I have a problem. We have the kids working at the library and they are being sent home.” “What?” I went over to talk to the librarian at that time and said, “Why are you sending kids home?” “We don’t have anything for them to do?” “That is not the point of the program. The point of the program is to have these children be at a place at a certain time, do something, stay the length of time and then go home. It is teaching them to go work and what it means to have a job to get prepared for what life is all about. When you send them home, then at the end of the week, they are not getting the pay that they expect. They then get discouraged and the program will go down the tubes.” She looked at me and said, “Oh my god, I didn’t look at it that way.” “I am sure you are going to find something for them to do now.” She did. We never had that problem again.
JM:That would have been in the late 1980’s because I was working at the library then when we had Summer Youth Program students.
BT: It has been going a long time.
JM:It has been going since the 1970’s.
BT;It was Mr. Belcher who started it back then. That family was good to the town.
JM:He and his family have been very generous to the town.
BT:A lot of others too who have passed away.
JM:Anything involved the Grove?
BT:Gee that was my favorite place to play when I grew up here. We spent our summers here between here and the ball field; everybody was there. It was the place to be at. We just tried during
the time to get a few things changed. It was a problem with the water way; bugs were in the lower water because the water was not flowing right. We corrected that. The weeds were always there. Milfoil can be controlled if you want to use certain chemicals which are not harmful to fish or anything else. There are pros and cons to that problem. I don’t know how many books and studies are archived on that. It is ridiculous but some people took it upon themselves to have docks. They were using them and their docks are clean. The neighbors weren’t, but you couldn’t say, “Look we are going to do it.” It is just too much confrontation over it and arguments. We had the one weed cutter, and Hotchkiss School had their big fund campaign to do $100,000,000 10 year project. Ted Davis was at Hotchkiss at that time; he always did the water works for the town. This is when they had the campaign for improvements to the campus. They laid out a program of things they thought would improve it. They raised the money. The contribution to the town was that they bought the second cutter. That is how the town got the second cutter. The first one the town had bought.
JM:any other projects that you can remember off the top of your head?
BT:Probably when I get home, I’ll think of some.
JM:That is why I usually do a rehearsal.
BT:When you are there you just do things. We did the bridge here on the corner of Washinee Street, the first corner as you go up the road. The bridge was in the works when I was elected to office.
JM:Is that the one that goes over to Selleck Hill?
BT:This is the one at the corner when you go up by the bad corner. That whole thing was caving off and we had to redo that whole thing to get it all rebuilt. That was one project. We did a lot of things like that.
JM:A lot of it is maintenance, too,
BT:A lot of what we did was maintenance. The school programs Charlotte was in on those and were finished up under my regime.
JM:What do you mean by the school program?
BT:The building at the upper school.
JM:That was done in the 1950’s.
BT:No, remodeling. The lower school was there. Then there was a choice between bringing which grades which way. And remodeling and doing a whole lot of work up there.
JM:Well, I taught all over the place. I started off in the upper building, then I went down to the lower building, then I was put into the paper closet.
BT:We had to redo the upper building because of the asbestos.10.
JM:But that came later because the new wing was put on, the wing that I went into in the upper building had just been put on in the late 1960’s.
BT:Gordon Johnson ran the project.
JM:That was in the 1990’s, the one that Gordon Johnson ran. Is that the one you are talking about?
BT:Yeah. That’s the one we did. That was a major overhaul.
JM:I had left at that time. I had retired. Actually we have an oral history of Gordon Johnson telling about that.
BT:Yeah, Gordy ran that project for the town. He and Nimeroff were on the board; it was a good board. There was really a lot of pressure on the board for that one. There are a lot of things that just don’t come to mind. You just do it as it comes up. The main concern has always been the welfare of the town. I put through special things and ordinances for helping the elderly.
JM:Bissell fund, anything to do with that?
BT: Not the Bissell fund so much. When I was on the Board of Family Services, it was the Whitridge Fund which we replenished which helped people-young people getting a home. The Bissell Fund was pretty well taken care of.
JM:How about affordable housing?
BT:I was instigating in the project Sarum Village, I helped get the property. The original property owner was Charlie Ashman. I was the administrator of Charlie’s will and possessions. I was able to sell the property to the town at a good price for him and the town. The money was all raised privately and Sarum Village was built. Jack Rogers was on that board with Jeff Walker, and myself. There were a lot of things going on then which are now taken for granted.
JM:That’s why history and the way it progresses is so important. I just finished Roger McKee; he was saying that people think that Lakeville always looked this way. He started naming the all the stores that are gone.
BT:Yeah, Lakeville had everything and Salisbury had nothing.
JM:Right, and now it is sort of the other way around. It has flipped.
BT:When I grew up, there was the movie theater, the bowling alley, the ski shop, the music shop and all kinds of things. It is funny how things change.
JM:Anything about baseball?
BT:We had the old Lakeville Firemen Baseball team; Salisbury had a team back when I was growing up. That used to be on the holidays like 4th of July, and Sunday afternoons. There was always a ball game going on. Lakeville and Salisbury were rivals. On summer holiday the fireworks used to be on the Lakeville ball field not down at Lime Rock Park. How those oil tankers never lite up by Community Service is beyond me. I don’t know. Those tank cars used to sit out there on the tracks and the fireworks were just in front. You would never get away with that today. The whole town blows up! We had running sewer lines all the way up to Hotchkiss School; that was a big help to them. All those type of things that you think little about now were important.
JM:How about the Ambulance or the Fire Department? Were there any special projects with them?
BT:No, they had their own projects and they do it well. They knew what their needs were. All we did was personally back them when they went before the Board of Finance. This is what you have to do. You give them a few hints and how the presentation might go or what the needs are. We always talked and find out the needs are and you know what the needs are. It is like running a garage, the Town Garage. There are needs that people don’t realize. The first thing I would do was buy equipment that makes the hoses for the fluids because they break a lot. We used to send over to Canaan to have them made. It would save time and save money if we make them ourselves. Billy Pickert was the one who said, “We could cut the time down and get more work if we could get this, this and this.” We’d talk about it. He would get his information from the guys, the workers. By working together it works.
JM:You are using the expertise of a lot of people in house.
BT:You got down and somebody is (excuse my French) bitching; you say “What’s the bitch?” Let’s see how we can fix it. That is the way I tried to operate.
JM:But that is a good management style because everybody does their piece, and you are using the expertise of many different people rather than outsourcing it.
BT:The biggest problem we had was putting computers in the town hall. This goes back to IBM. They were just doing this kind of thing. There really weren’t any programs. It was a mess. It was a hard time for everybody. I am not a computer person to this day, I don’t like them. I stay away from them. Everything I look at it, it says, I’m going to get you! We did it, and it turned out well because it is much easier for everything, records etc.
JM:The records are wonderfully kept, and the training. I did both town clerks (Patty Williams & Rachel Lamb), I have done Joe Cleaveland, I have done Denise Rice, I‘ve done Jeanne Bell, I have done Barbara Bigos in the Town Hall. I am always impressed with the amount of training that those ladies and gentlemen have to have, and the scope of their jobs. It is fabulous.
BT:It is a lot more now than when I was in office. It gets more complicated every day. Joe has been there since I was in office.
JM;I think he said that you hired him, but I am not sure.12.
BT:Yeah, I did. I had to talk to him. He had a job with an accounting firm. I said, “Joe, you’re not going to get a better job that this, believe me.” We were having a tough time getting somebody to fill that job, running the book department. “Joe, everything else can go, but you have to be it. There are no ways about it.”
JM:It has to be well run.
BT:You and the tax collector: that is all it takes to run the town. If those two offices are off, man you are in big trouble.
JM:He is doing a fabulous job, as is Jean Bell.
BT: Yeah, and I knew he would be good. His family had been in town for a long time. He is a super person. Joe agreed to it. He wanted to open his own office. I said, “Look Joe, you can do that and still work in the town Hall. Everybody out there is going to know you because your name is out there.” He just looked at me. Some of the advice worked. The rest was up to him. He has done a wonderful job. I am proud of him. I really am.
JM;I think I had him in school, but I am not sure, but he will call me up, and he’ll say, “Miss Porter it is time to do your taxes.” “Joe I have been married for 25 years and I am Mrs. McMillen.” But to him I am still Miss Porter. This has been so interesting and fascinating. Thank you so much for giving me your time to do this interview.
BT:Thank you for asking me.