Patricia H.Williams Interview
This is file #39. I am interviewing Patricia Hahne Williams, Town Clerk at the Town Hall in Salisbury, Connecticut. The date is February 26, 2013. This is Jean McMillen doing the interview.
JM:May I have your full name?
PW:Patricia Hahne Williams
PW:Dec. 18, 1962
JM:May I have your parents’ full names?
PW:Margaret Theresa Downey and John Joseph Hahne.
JM:Do you have siblings?
PW:Yes 2, I have a brother John Edward Hahne and a sister Kathleen Hahne Stupak.
JM:What is your educational background?
PW:Grammar school at Salisbury Central School, high school at Housatonic Valley Regional High School, and I also went to Katherine Gibbs School in Norwalk, Ct.
JM:When did you graduate from Katy Gibbs?
JM: Would you give me a little background about your mother, please?
PW:My mother worked as a banker for 45 years. She worked at Sharon Bank, it might have been Colonial Bank I am not sure exactly what it was called as it was before me. She transferred and started working at Salisbury Bank.
JM:Was she a teller, was she a manager?
PW:She retired as Vice President in 1984 from Salisbury Bank.
JM:Then she worked in what used to be the old bank building which is now Founders Insurance. Did she work only in Salisbury or did she do the branches?
PW:Just the main office in Lakeville.
JM:Tell me a little bit about your dad.
PW:My dad when I was young worked as the mailman in Lakeville; he did the whole Lakeville route and that’s what he did. He was also part time in his own little business as a locksmith.
JM:Did he have any involvement with the Fire Department?
PW:He was a fire man probably before I was even born. I don’t know exactly but he was a fireman, yes.
JM:Do you know who the Postmaster was in Lakeville at the time your father was working? Was it one of the Whalens?
JM:Was it Martin, the son?
PW:Martin I know was there, and I think it was his father Joseph (Buck). That was before, yes.
JM:Tell me some of your memories of growing up in town and we’ll start with the Apothecary Shop with Dick Walsh.
PW:When I was 16 Dick Walsh called me and asked me if I was looking for a job, a part-time job. I was in high school so I worked after school at the Apothecary Shop in Lakeville which is now the Chinese Restaurant on the Main Street in Lakeville. So I would take the bus from school to the Apothecary Shop and wait on the public when they came in. Dick always played the NPR radio station; of course as a 16 or 17 year old that was not interesting to us who worked there. (They would change the station if Dick was out of the store. Ed.) My very good friend Devie Warner also worked there with me or I worked with her, she was there before I was. One story I remember which I believe I told his wife on Saturday mornings; I also worked Saturday, Dick would always mark the newspapers with somebody’s name. When they came in to get their paper, it was marked with their name. There was a gentleman who used to come in and I could never remember his name. After it happened for a few times, he finally said to me, I would always say, “I am sorry but I have forgotten your name sir.” “I am Bob Yoakum, and I am going to stick my name on my forehead, so you do not forget my name.” After that I remembered his name.
JM:What a good way of doing it!
PW:That was a lot of fun. Good customer service skills and lots of people in town.
JM:Working with the public is a lot of fun sometimes. Did you go to the Grove at all?
PW:Yes, as a child went to the Grove every day, rode my bike, my sister and a few other friends. I lived right in the center of Lakeville on Walton Street.
JM:Would it have been Frank Markey who was running it?
PW:Frank Markey ran it when we were young.
JM:Then it went to Jim Rutledge.
PW:Jim Rutledge, but Frank Markey was there when I was young.
JM:What kind of a person was Frank Markey from your recollection?
PW:He was very nice, I mean he…
JM:He ran a tight ship, but the kids respected him.
JM:And he had his signs “Keep off the grass”. Anything else about your teenage years growing up in the area that is outstanding?
PW:Just a great place to grow up. That is why I wanted to be here and raise my own family.
JM:After you graduated from Katherine Gibbs, where did you go to work?
PW:I was here and I worked for Dick Fitzgerald in his law office, and then I worked at Dotty smith Corporation. I was the secretary for the Research and Development and the Sportswear Managers. Dotty was very nice and let me come and go once I started, got married and had children. She let me work part-time in between children so I stayed there from 1981 until 1994; you know in and out with children and part-time and full time. I was her secretary, a switchboard operator also; it was a lot of fun.
JM:I am going to go back to Dick Fitzgerald. Where was his law office?
PW:His office was on the Main Street in Canaan in the Raynard & Pierce Building, where the Canaan National Bank was.
JM:What did Dotty Smith, did she manufacture clothes? Was she just a marketing facility?
PW:She was a wholesale operation. She did women’s accessories, belts, belt buckles, watchbands; then she just did sportswear for a short time.
JM:Do you have any idea when she came into Lakeville? Would it have been in the early 1980’s?
PW:It might have been in the late 1970’s.
JM:Do you know when she went out?
PW:I don’t, but I would say late 1990’s.
JM:Yeah that was what I was thinking. Now how did you go from Dotty Smith to getting the Town Clerk’s job?
PW:When I left Dotty Smith, I ended up going to Hotchkiss School, and I worked at Hotchkiss School Bookstore. I worked there part-time from when I left Dotty Smith in 1994. Then I heard about an opening in the Town Hall at the end of 2000. I applied and got the job.
JM:You told me you were going to work a half day for the town clerk and a half day for the Building Inspector.
PW:That’s what I did. I worked in the mornings for Mike Fitting, the Building Inspector, as his secretary and then in the afternoon I worked as the Assistant Town Clerk with Sue Spring who was Town Clerk at the time.
JM:Did you work with Laura Johnson at all? (An earlier Town Clerk Ed.)
PW:No, I did not. It is funny you should say that because years before I came in to buy a dog license and she asked me if I had ever thought about becoming the Town Clerk; I said, “No way!”
JM:Never say never.
PW:I found that out.
JM:As Town Clerk what are your responsibilities?
PW:The responsibilities of the Town Clerk are essentially to keep the records of the town; we take care of all the vital records which are the birth, marriage, and death records. We record the land records which are deeds, mortgages, and liens. We issue hunting and fishing licenses, dog licenses, marriage licenses which are part of the vitals. We keep track of all the minutes for all the different commissions within the town.
JM:That’s a job. How many different commissions are there?
Pw:Without a Town Report in front of me I couldn’t tell you.
JM:Probably about 20. What kind of training do you have to have to be a Town Clerk?
PW:They have Town Clerk School. There are 2 sessions each year. There is a session in May and a session in December. There are five classes or sessions that you go to; they are usually one or two day classes; then after you have taken all five you are able to take the exam, the town clerk exam. Then if you pass that you are able to be a certified town clerk.
JM:Does the certification have to be renewed?
JM:It’s permanent. Once you get it, it is yours.
Pw: Yes, there are more classes that you can take.
JM:There are more levels.
PW:Yes, but I have not done that, yet.
JM:How long have you been the Town Clerk?
PW:I became the Town Clerk in 2003 when Sue Spring retired.
JM:It is now 2013, so you have been at it a long time. Do you enjoy it?
PW:I do, very much. It is fun to deal with the public. Every day is different because of the public and because of the work we do. You never know who is coming in the door.
JM:Do you participate in any civic responsibilities besides your job?
PW:In the past I was on the Extras board; I am now of the Salisbury Fire Commission. I was in the Ladies Auxiliary for the Lakeville Hose Company. I think they have restarted it, but I am no longer on it. My mother was in it.
JM:You mother was in just about everything, wasn’t she?
PW:Yes, she was; there was nothing that she wasn’t involved with.
JM:Well, I think it makes a different how your background goes. If you parents are involved in community service, as both your parents were, it seems to be a natural thing.
PW:I think so.
JM:is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you would like to add to this interview?
PW:Nothing that I can think of; I was glad that we were able to do this. It is helpful and gives people information about the town.
JM:It is a wonderful resource for anyone who is looking at the town as a microcosm because we have got a little bit of everything. Thank you very much for your time.