Chany & Crosby Wells Interview:
This is file 24, cycle 2. Today’s date is April 6, 2016. I am interviewing Chany Wells and her husband Crosby I hope. Chany is going to talk about Mt. Riga, the Beautification Committee and anything else she wants to talk about. If I am very lucky I shall get Crosby talking about Hotchkiss, his father, his father’s birthday and things like that. But first we’ll start with the genealogical information.
JM:What is your name?
CW:Hedwig Matilda Porro Wells, known as Chany.
CW:July 28, 1945
JM:Your parents’ names?
CW:Jose Rafael Porro & Clemencia Marlena Porro.
JM:Do you have sibling?
CW:I have one brother, Rafael Porro
JM:Educational background after high school?
CW;I went to Goucher College in Towson, Maryland. I have an AB; my major was Philosophy.
JM:How did you come to this area?
CW:When Crosby and I were married, I started coming up to Mt. Riga. That would have been in 1977 and 1978. We were still living in Manhattan; we came up on weekends. Summers we would spend about a month on Mt. Riga.
JM:You were married on Mt. Riga?
CW:Yes, we were married at the cabin on Mt. Riga. Then my brother–in-law had an English taxi cab and we drove down in that to the White Hart where we had our reception.
JM:What month were you married?
CW: August 6, 1978.
JM:What was your impression of Mt. Riga when you first went there?
CW:It was the best swimming I have had in years. It was just wonderful. It was a very cozy. Everybody knew each other. It was very friendly with lots of parties.
JM:Good and you were welcomed like a long lost sister.
JM;Can you describe for me the Wells Camp that you live in now.
CW:There are 5 camps in a row.
JM:Are you on the lower lake or the upper.
CW:We are on the lower lake. It is the Wells area. There is the Shorts camp where Crosby’s sister had a place there. Then Frank Wells had a place, and Virginia Wells Blaker had a place and then our place.
JM: Do you sleep in the cabin or is there a separate sleeping cabin?
CW:No in our case we sleep (Crosby: Did you mention Conrad?) No I didn’t. Conrad Wells has a cabin there too. (Crosby’s son) We sleep in what was called the “Boys cabin” because that is where the Wells boys, there were 5 of them, as they grew up they would stay there. That is where Crosby and I have our cabin. It is a one room cabin. There is a sleeping cabin for guests.
JM:Is there a girls’ cabin?
CW:No, not like the Warner camp. This is our particular area because the Blakers have something else. The Frank Wells have something else. Virginia has something else.
JM;The reason I ask this is because I got to see Wish-Come-True.
CW:That is a totally different.
JM:Which is why I wanted you to describe where you are.
CW:We are at the lower lake. The view is not as fantastic view at Wish-Come-True. We are directly across from the public beaches and a little bit further down.
JM:So you are across from Camp Ozone.
JM:Is it the guest beach Ostrander’s Beach?
CW:Yes so we are right there. You are doing well.
JM:When you are living there, do you use wood stove?
CW:No we have propane.3.
JM:You cook with propane?
JM:Are your toilet facilities?
CW:We have an outhouse.
JM:How about water?
CW:It is pumped to a tank and we have running water.
JM:Is it from the lake?
CW:Yes. Nobody has ever gotten sick.
JM:Oh I know. It is the most pristine body of water I think I have ever seen. Do you know when the camp that you live in was built?
CW:1929 the boys’ cabin was built because of the last remaining chestnut trees. The builder told Mother Wells that this was the time to do it, so they did. They are quite beautiful. The light makes they have sort of a honey color. We don’t have electricity so all our lighting in the boys’ cabin is kerosene.
JM:That is a warm light.
CW:Literally and figuratively. It can also be a very hot light.
JM:Cleaning the chimneys is not fun. Anything else you would like to tell me about your impressions about Mt. Riga?
CW:As I say it was just very friendly. I miss it because it is not the same. WE are a different generation and you feel it.
JM:Yes, you do because you have been going up there for a good number of years, and you have seen it change gradually. It had changed.
CW: For example Conrad had a camp right next to ours. He has a chemical toilet, LED lights; he does have electricity but uses it sparingly.
JM:Do you have a generator?
CW:No but he does. Well there is a generator for that is used to pump the water from the lake into the tank.
JM:We are going to go on to the garden club and the Beautification Committee.You were a member of Garden Club?
CW:I was a member of the garden club for about 5 years. (See file #150 Jill Scott) But I became so busy with my office work that I had to stop. Although I worked from home, it still did not work out.
JM:Was the beautification committee sort of a spin–off of the garden club?
CW:Yes, it is a spin off. Initially the garden club had numerous committees and one of them was the beautification committee. I remember Emmy Corbiere planting at this time of year outside the liquor store. I have a picture somewhere.
JM:This is not the year to be planting anything.
CW:We are supposed to do it next week (week of April 11th) but I am beginning to wonder.
JM:How often do you meet?
CW:We have one meeting early in the year and then we have another meeting in May when we send out the requests for funds. Finally we meet each time that we plant. Now, May just before Memorial Day, then just before the Fall Festival, and then just before Thanksgiving we do the greenery.
JM:About how many people are on the committee?
CW:It varies; there are five solid members and then we can have up to 13. I send an E-mail to about 13 people.
JM:I am going to ask you particularly to tell me the areas that are planted in Salisbury.
CW:The window boxes at the bank, then the two planters just before the drive that goes down to the market (LaBonne’s), then the two planters in front of the post office, the window boxes at the post office, and the two planters in front of the Salisbury Association. Then we have one planter in front of Vail & Vail on Academy Street. (It used to be At Home in the Country. Ed.) Then we have the window boxes in front of the liquor store, the trash container beside the pharmacy and one in front and to the side of the Eliza Peet building. And the town hall they are very long and they take a lot of work.
JM:I think they are going to be either relined or remade.
JM:Do you have any paid staff?
CW:We have somebody who comes and waters the plants and feeds them and deadheads them. We pay her every month. We have a carpenter who fixes the necessary planters and boxes.
JM:Who buys the plants?
CW:Barbara Nicholls and I are usually the ones who do it. Sometimes other people are involved, but it is usually us.
JM:Where do you get your plants?5.
CW:Freud’s in East Canaan, and Greystone in Sharon. We have tried various places, but these seem to be the best for us.
JM:When you send out this fund letter, are people responsive?
CW:Last year, considering how small it is, we got about $3,500.
JM:Really! I am amazed! Is there anything that you want to add about the beautification committee before I ask you about other things that you have done?
CW:No we are very happy with the volunteer aspect of this beautification committee.
JM:One thing I wanted to ask, when you come to plant what do you have to bring with you?
CW:The usual trowel, watering can, and gloves, and trash bag.
JM:What are some of the other civic activities you’ve done over the years?
CW:I have done the Housatonic child Care Center; I did that for about 6 years.
JM:Was it then on Wells Hill?
CW:No it had just moved to 30 Salmon Kill Road in the new building. Then I did EXTRAS for about 6 years too. I was thinking of the people whom I served under. Besides Rev. Taber it was ______White and Theresa Carroll also. I think Judy McKernon was there too. I did Noble Auxiliary: I was secretary. The Library I was involved with the annual appeal for fund raising.
JM:When were you involved with the Noble Horizons Auxiliary?
CW:Oh that was not until about last year. 2013?
JM:Was the library appeal, were you working with who was the treasurer on the board at that time?
CW:Actually I worked under three presidents: Sara Wardell, Ron Jones, and Tom Key.
JM:What else you have been on, other things I know.
CW:Loin’s Head board I was three for 3 years.
JM:Were you secretary?
CW:I was secretary, yes.
JM:That is a hard job.
JM:Have we missed anything?6.
CW:Not that I am aware of?
JM:Is there anything else that you would like to add to the interview before we close?
CW:I was just thinking, talking to a friend, this area is really in a bubble. The world is disappearing and this area is so pleasant – Shangri-La. Donald Warner used to call Salisbury Shangri-La and Mt. Riga Brigadoon!
JM:Oh good heavens!
CW: It fell asleep every winter.
JM:That is wonderful. I love it. Thank you so much.
CW:You are welcome.
Although Crosby Wells was present at both sessions, he was not tapes but I am adding a few bits of information of interest.
Crosby Wells was born on January 25, 1922, in White Plains, NY. This date was also his father’s birthday (Henry Hubbard Wells). Both father and son attended Hotchkiss. Henry H. Wells was there on the first day Hotchkiss opened in 1892 and spent 4 years there. Crosby attended Hotchkiss from 1936- 1940. The Headmaster at that time was George Van Sanford. School building then included Bissell Hall, the home of Dr.Wieler, the first school physician, he Infirmary and Mr. Monahan’s House, the sports coach. Apparently the only time the boys could leave campus was on Headmaster’s holiday when they were free to go where they wished for the day. Henry Hubbard Wells lived to be 101 and his picture was proudly displayed on the cover of the alumni magazine for his 100th birthday anniversary.