William Wallace Interview:
This is file #53, cycle 2. Today’s date is June 7, 2017. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing William Wallace who is going to talk about his early memories of the Rossiter family, Grove Street School, and his business which he later bought from Ken Rossiter. But first we are going to start with the genealogical information.
JM:What is your name?
JM:What is your birthdate?
JM:Where is your birthplace?
JM:What were your parents’ names?
WW:Eunice and Harold
JM:Did you have siblings?
WW:Joyce, Bertha, and Arthur.
JM:Would you tell me a little bit about the Rossiters and their farm.
WW:The farm they first had was on Between the Lakes Road in Lakeville. Mrs. Miles owned the farm and they rented it. We moved up here when I was probably 3. My mother and father were getting a divorce. All of us siblings and my mother moved up here to live with Ken and Anna Rossiter. They had 3 girls. We lived with them until I was probably 7. Then we moved back to Norwich. We used to come up every summer; we would stay up here me and my brother.
JM:You had a good story about cows when you were about 5.
WW:My sisters and Virginia, Ken’s child, were going up to the field way up by the Between the Lakes Road. Somehow I got separated from them. I counted all the cows and brought them all the way home. They used to go into the lake and everything else. This woman, I think she was German, she would come out with a whisk broom and yell, “Get them cows off my grass!” that was funny. I drove them all the way home, and my uncle was in the barn. He was mad because the girls first had left me by myself and I was only about 4 or 5 years old, and I drove the cows home 2 hours early. He was not happy about that. The girls were in big trouble when they got back.
JM:Then you had another story about Virginia on the gate.
WW:There was a gate between the barn and the house. We had chores to do; we would get done with the chores, we would go down to the house. She would always get on the gate and swing it shut. My uncle happened to see it from the barn; she would be in trouble when he came back from the barn for swinging on the gate. She wouldn’t do it for a few days; then she would be right back like she wanted the punishment or something.
JM:Then there was something about having her hair cut.
WW:Oh yeah. They cut her hair, my mother and my aunt cut it short. She wouldn’t even come out of her room. We would be outside playing and we would look up at the window in her room, and she would be looking out. She would not come out; she was so embarrassed about the short haircut.
JM:Oh dear. You had a short story about Mrs. Miles and her car.
WW:She was so short, she was a short woman. I remember she used to come down the road and you could hardly see her. She could look out the windshield underneath the roundness of the steering wheel. She could not look over it, she would look in between she was so short. She was a very nice woman.
JM:You went to Grove Street School?
WW: Grove Street in the first year because I didn’t get to go to kindergarten. Back then you did not have to go to kindergarten so they didn’t send me. They sent me to Grove Street. I kinda remember the school but I do remember like 2 kids used to go over to I think Grove Street and this woman used to make our lunches. We would carry them back. Most times it was soup. We carried the bucket back. We had lunch there; I remember that.
JM:How was it heated? Was it a wood stove?
WW:It was back then, yes, a wood stove. Bob Palmer said he had that school house. I can’t remember. I thought it was just one building.
JM:It was a one building, there were two Grove Street Schools and the later one is now part of Lorraine Stevens house. (See Lorraine Stevens file 15, cycle 2). The second building was moved.
WW:I didn’t know that.
JM:Did you actually walk from the Between the Lakes Road to Grove Street?
WW:We used to have to walk up Between the Lakes Road all the way to the top of Smith Hill to catch the bus.
JM:Oh you did have a bus.
WW:Yes there was a bus that picked up, but they wouldn’t come down Between the Lakes Road.
JM:I don’t blame them.3.
WW:We used to always have to walk up there. I remember in the winter time with the snow, I use to go behind my sisters and my cousins because I was small and they would make a trail for me and I could walk through it.
JM:What did you do in the wintertime? Did you skate or slide?
WW:We used to slide down Between the Lakes Road if they ever did plow it. We always ice skated. I think I remember two runners back then. The skates just clamped on your shoes. I can remember fishing; we used to fish quite a lot. They would give me a pole, but they put a safety hook rather than a regular hook. I could have stuck myself with a safety hook. I never realized that until I got older.
JM:What kind of fish did you catch?
WW:We would catch bass, trout. We used to go bull heading. There was a pond on the other side of the railroad tracks. We would go down there and we used to get them.
JM:Now you went into the Marines in 1960. Where were you stationed?
WW:Camp Lejeune, North Carolina for 4 years. I married Belle in 1960 while I was in the service.
JM:She was from Millerton?
WW:No she was from Norwich, too. We had been going out before I went into the service.
JM:So you knew her from high school?
JM:When you came back, you go involved with Ken Rossiter’s garbage business.
WW:That was quite a while later. I worked as a carpenter with kitchen cabinets for about 10 years after I got out of the service. We always came up and visited the Rossiters during the summer vacation. In 1973 I bought the garbage business from Ken. I was in business until 2009. Then I retired finally.
JM:How did you expand it?
WW:I just kept putting customers on and put on more trucks. Then I got into the roll-off part of it and I did a lot of that. It just got bigger and bigger.
JM:I know you always gave good service.
WW:Thank you. I tried my best.
JM:There were business problems too with it?
WW:Yeah, you had to put up with a lot of people; some were very nice like you and other people expected you to jump when they called.
JM:I know what that is like.
WW: I put up with it.
JM:You get tired after a while.
WW:In business you do have to put up with some.
JM:How many trucks did you have at the end?
JM:What is the roll-off business?
WW:It is big containers that they drop off at the house where construction work is going on. I had quite a lot of them. I had carpenters use me all the time. It was getting harder to get rid of the stuff; it was getting harder and harder.
JM:Is there anything else you would like to add before we close?
WW:Well, I remember we moved out from the Twin Lakes farm for some reason, I don’t really know. They moved over to Kaplan’s in Millerton. MY uncle ran the farm over there; he was like the head man. He lived in that old house that is run down now. He bought a farm on Dimon Road, right before you go across the Millerton border. As soon as Mr. Kaplan found out he had bought the farm, he fired him. We moved into the house, no indoor toilet, no inside water; it was bad for a few years. It was good; there was always something to remember.
JM:It builds your character to have to do things like that.
WW:Oh yeah. We lived hard back then but it was good. My mother moved back to Norwich, I don’t know why.
JM:But you have good memories of Lakeville.
WW:Oh yeah We did not go a lot of places because you if you went to Canaan or Millerton, that was a big deal way back then! They took the kids. That was a big deal. WE did no travel as we do now.
JM:That is good because you appreciate the treats. Thank you so much.
WW:You are welcome.