Oral History Cover Sheet
Interviewee: Feliciano Zacchea
Place of Interview: Scoville Memorial Library.
Date of interview: Sept. 9, 1986
Summary: Birth in Switzerland, father’s apprenticeship, improved skills, father worked for Horace Kelsey a Salisbury contractor and coal dealer and B Raynsford of Lakeville, father worked on Congregational and Methodist Church, Rectory of St. Mary’s, Judge D. J. Warner’s house, he remodeled kitchen in Congregational Church, worked on Warner’s house and fence, Scoville Library, Hotchkiss School, Hoskins’ house; education at the Academy, Grove School. Lakeville High School, knitting for the Red Cross, chores and gardening, stores in Salisbury with order and delivery system, Salisbury Artisans, Oxy Christine factory, Philip Warner, Fisher’s Pond on Rt. 41, Selleck’s Feed Store on Washinee Street, Twin Lakes, Scoville families of Taconic, George H. Clark’s stores and location, White Hart Inn, Ragamont Inn, transportation by train and bus, fire in spring in 1940’s, town changes, business opportunities, his father’s name Michelle Archangelo Matteo.
Property of the Oral History Project, Salisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library,
This is Marion Haeberle on Sept. 9, 1986. I am interviewing a former resident of Salisbury, Feliciano Zacchea, who at the present time lives in Torrington. Now Zach I think you could tell us when you first came to Salisbury.
FZ:I was born in Lucerne, Switzerland, where my father was working in a furniture factory there at
the time. Then through some relatives here in Salisbury, my mother and father decided that they would like to come to Salisbury to live. So we stayed with our relatives in Salisbury for a while. Then dad finally found a rent that we moved into and lived there for a while until he got established enough to start his own home which he eventually did up on route 41 in Salisbury. We lived there until I went away to the service in 1942.1 never came back to Salisbury; I settled in Torrington. That is where I am living at the present time.
MH: Your father built the home.
FZ:My father built our home.
MH: Your father was trained in Italy as a furniture maker and cabinet maker. Could you tell us something about what he was trained as, and what he did here when he came to Salisbury?
FZ:Yes, I remember dad telling me how he got started in his line of work. He served an
apprenticeship with a wagon maker in Italy. That’s where he started working with wood. He worked making wagons, particularly making wagon wheels. Then he went on to some of the finer woodworking parts of a house. Italy is famous for mostly masonry type of home, but they all had windows, window frames, doors, and many things still made of wood. So he got accustomed to making the wooden components of these masonry homes. Then he decided that he would like to work in the finer things, enter the art field so to speak. He started making the finer things that go into a home, the furniture. Then he started with inlaid wood work. He established himself with quite a reputation to doing that kind of thing. The way he came toThere was no demand for that kind of work that he was already familiar with. It is a well- known fact that a cabinet maker is usually a pretty good carpenter, as well. He found some carpentry work. He went to work for some contractors here; he took jobs of his own. He established himself as a very well- known carpenter, as well as a cabinet maker. He worked most of his time in Salisbury as a carpenter. He did a lot of this fancier type of work in his leisure time, after he retired of course.
MH: Who were some of the contractors and carpenters for whom he worked?
FZ:One of the first contractors that dad worked for was a contractor here in Salisbury by the name
of Horace Kelsey. Horace Kelsey was a contractor, and he also had a coal business here down on what was known as Railroad Street. I remember dad telling me that he worked on the town hall, after it was remodeled for the first time. That was in 1914. There are a great many places here in Salisbury, even now when I come down here for a visit; I see various places where dad had worked. It brings back many memories of our days when we lived here. In later years besides the Horace Kelsey contract, he also worked with JE; Raynsford contracting firm in Lakeville. He was associated with that firm for a great
many years. He did numerous fine work and many fine jobs for Raynsford, including churches. I can remember one time while we were working for Raynsford, dad and I went to the little town of Falls Village to do a couple of weeks work. Believe it or not we were down there for a period of two years. We went from one job to another. We remodeled the house of the President of the Iron Bank in Falls Village by the name of Henry C. Gaillard. We remodeled his house, and he got us acquainted with many others in town. So for the Raynsford firm we produced quite a bit of work for that period of time in Falls Village.
MH: Zach, you said that your father had done some work in the Congregational Church and in the Lakeville Methodist Church? Could you tell us about the things that he made for them?
FZ:The thing that dad made for the Congregational church that comes to my mind right now is the
Communion Table that sits at the foot of the altar in the church. He may have done some other work besides that, but I am not familiar with it. I have no knowledge of that. While we are on the subject of the Congregational Church, I might mention that I did a bit of work there myself. After the war when the kitchen was remodeled, I was already established in the kitchen remodeling business, I came down for this concern in Torrington. I installed a modern kitchen in the rear part of the church. So getting back to dad now and the other church that he worked in was the Methodist church. He made the pulpit, and another section of the altar.
MH: The Communion Table?
FZ:The Communion Table in the Methodist Church in Lakeville. He did some work also for St.
Mary’s Catholic Church. But I think the major part of that work was in the residence of the pastor.
MH: The Rectory
FZ:The Rectory. My dad worked here in Salisbury, I might also mention along- side of the Town Hall
there is the residence of Donald J. Warner. (Bushnell Tavern) Dad did a lot of work on that house. One that comes to my mind, and I helped him with it, was when we repaired the fence, the beautiful fence that runs along the front of the property. I remember working on it for quite a while because it was a very well built fence. At that time it required quite a bit of repair work. When I was working for Raynsford, I helped reshingle the roof of that house. So I can say I did quite a bit of work here myself in this town.
MH:Yes, and you said that you helped with the renovation of the library?
FZ:I also did some work here in the library when I was employed with E. Raynsford. The main part
of the work I remember, now we are going back 40 years, and it is a little hard to dig these things out. I remember working on the roof. We had to remove a lot of the roof shingles and put in some new flashing. I worked with a contractor from Norfolk, a Mr. Mulville who did the masonry work at the time. We had to do the reflashing, the replacing of the shingles, the pointing in general, and waterproofing it all. That was another job that I worked on here.
MH: In the years your father was working here and you were helping him, was there a lot of new homes going up?
FZ:Yes, I remember working on a few new homes here; perhaps not as much as we see today in the
Salisbury and Lakeville area as it is. A place that we worked a lot was in the Hotchkiss School area. That was a fine school that always provided much building maintenance as well as the building of new dormitories, new buildings in general up there. I went up there with my dad in 1935-36, we started working in one dormitory, and we were the last ones to leave there. We worked throughout the construction of that building. That provided us with quite a bit of employment for that year.
MH:I think you also mentioned that you had worked on something for the Hoskins.
FZ:Yes, the Hoskins job came quite a bit later in my work. That came after the war. What I had
been talking about before was almost pre- World War II. Now I’ll say something about what came after the war. I did quite a bit of kitchen remodeling work in my recent years of employment. I did the kitchen job and the new construction of the Hoskins house. Mr. and Mrs. Hoskins were the publishers of the Lakeville Journal at the time. So I did a very fine job there and numerous other works up on their house on Reservoir Road. There is quite a bit of construction going up there. I was fortunate enough to get in there to do the kitchen cabinetry work.
MH: Zach, let us go back a little bit to the time you were growing up here in Lakeville. Could you tell us something about the schools you attended and activities that went on?
FZ:Every time I come to Salisbury, I am reminded of my first day in school here, going through the
center of Salisbury we go by the little brick, the Academy Building. It is now the temporary offices of the Town Hall also. I went to the first and second grade there. I can still remember my teacher’s name. She was a Miss Evalena Hardy, and they lived on route 41 just a short distance from the center of town.
After we graduated from that school, we went to Grove School at little ways up on 41. We had the third, fourth, and fifth grade on the first floor at the Grove School, and sixth, seventh, and eighth grade on the second floor. That’s where I finished my primary grades of school. I am trying to think of the names of the teachers that I had there, but I can remember my 3, 4,5th grade teacher as a Miss Clark. She may have been the sister of George Clark and a Bert Clark. My other teacher in that Grove School building was a Miss Butler, Mary C. Butler. She came down and taught us from where she lived in New Hampshire, Concord, New Hampshire.
MH: You really remember the names, don’t you?
FZ:I come here to Salisbury. It is a great pleasure to come back here when I do. I am reminded of
many pleasant days here. I left here before the war to go into the service. I never came back here, but I do enjoy every visit I do make coming back here.
MH: When you went to school, they didn’t have buses in those days, did you?
FZ:No, we all walked. I think one of my sisters when she went to high school from Salisbury from
where we lived on route 41, by the time she got to go to high school, they did provide bus service. So she got to ride the bus. We always walked the three miles from our home to the High School in Lakeville and back. The High School was a building situated where the Post Office now stands in Lakeville. The school building was set back some ways back from where the Post Office now stands.
MH: Then the only school building which you attended that is still standing is the Academy, is that right?
FZ:That’s right; as far as I know that is the only building that, well the Grove School building was
moved or got torn down. (The original school was moved and became a private residence. The 2nd Grove School was torn down after it closed in the 1950’s.)
MH: I don’t know. You were saying that you were reminded of some Red Cross activity that you did as a very young child in school.
FZ:Oh yes, definitely. I walked in the library grounds this morning, and it really brought back
memories from way back. Children going to school here during the war years, we were taught how to knit little squares which eventually were assembled as Red Cross blankets. On this very library grounds here, groups of children under the direction of a Miss Lois Warner were taught how to knit these little squares. After our little session of knitting was over, we were treated to a picnic of peanut butter sandwiches and milk which to me was the greatest treat that I could have.
MH: Did you do this once a week or so?
FZ:We did that about once a week, yes. Exactly when it started and when we finished, my memory
fails me there, but I remember very well that wonderful time that we had on the library lawn here.
MH: Did you have much time for recreation when you were growing up or were you kept busy at home with chores?
FZ:No, when we were growing up, we were always had our chores to do at home. As a small little
boy, I used to have to help my two sisters. My mother would give each of us a dust cloth to keep the furniture dusted, and I used to help outside as much as I could with my mother in her garden. Dad was always busy with his work; he didn’t have too much time to devote to gardening so he left that up to mother and us children. We got so we liked it. When we were going to school, we had a district supervisor by the name of Miss Ester Frink who came to the school and got us interested in agriculture and gardening work. I remember having our own little individual gardens as we were children. She would come around and inspect them in the growing season to see how we were doing with them. I think we did quite well in helping to do our little bit to raise a few vegetables.
MH: Can you remember the different businesses that were here? I know there were a lot more right here in the center of Salisbury than there are now.
FZ:Something very strong in my mind is the system that they had at the time of helping the home
owners get provisions at home. In other words the facilities weren’t like they are today where we can just jump in a car and go to the market. In Salisbury we had the George H. Clark Grocery Store, (where Passports is) the George H. Clark Household Provision Store (where the SB&T is now 2011). They used to have a system of coming around in the morning, taking orders for whatever provisions we wanted, and then they would be delivered in the afternoon. George Parsons, a friend of our family, came around and took orders in a little horse and buggy in the morning, and then in the afternoon the orders were delivered by a team of horses and a large wagon by a man named Grant Tanner. I can remember those names because I saw so much of those people that they just stayed in my mind.
MH: Do you remember the small factories/ businesses which were located along Factory Street (Washinee St.) going up toward Mt. Riga?
FZ:Yes, I remember the Salisbury Artisans factory. That was a factory where they made mostly
knife handles. The material used for these knife handles were made out of various hard woods which came from various parts of the world. My dad went up there and got the scraps they used to discard to use. He would bring them home and if they were large enough, he would use them in his inlaid woodwork. Another factory here in Salisbury was the Oxy Christine sort of a pharmacy type of a product. I think it was a laxative product, a medication that they made; the Oxy Christine factory.
MH: This was on Railroad Street?
FZ:This was on Railroad Street.
MH: Who owned the knife handle factory?
FZ:The knife handle factory was owned by Mr. Philip Warner, one of the Warners of the prominent
Warner families of Salisbury.
MH:When you were a young boy growing up, did you ever go up on Mt. Riga?
FZ:Yes, we used to go up there quite a bit. I was with a group of boys, we hiked, and we usually
traveled around with a fishing pole on our shoulder looking for a stream where we could fish. Roaming around in the woods was always a fascinating pastime for us children growing up. We enjoyed that very much in this area.
MH: One of the narrators on the tapes said that he used to fish as a young boy in Fisher’s Pond. Did you ever go up there on 41?
FZ:Yes, I fished at Fisher’s Pond when I was a child. I don’t know too much about it today, whether
it is allowed or not but there was quite a bit of freedom in the fishing places back then when I was growing up.
MH: It probably isn’t allowed now; I think what was Fisher’s Pond is now on Meryl Streep’s property.
FZ:I heard that she was in this area.
MH: I think many people preserve their privacy a little more.
FZ:Fisher’s Pond brings back another memory. It was called Fisher’s Pond because it was once
owned by a man named Fisher. He came around with a truck, one of the first trucks in the area, and sold some of the fish that came from his pond.
MH: Another person who brought food to the house. To go back a minute to Factory (Washinee Street) Street, there was a mill there, was there not? Feed, did you father make use of that for what animals you had on your place?
FZ:Yes there was a feed store there. It was run by a George H. Selleck who was also one of our
town selectmen. I remember going there with dad to get feed for our livestock that we had at home. At one time we had as many as three cows, and we always had a few chickens, and a couple of pigs. Back then that was our way of life. We had some livestock to help us along. I remember as a boy going there with some of my playmates, they had a pond back there, and we used to go swimming in that pond.
MH: You had a swimming hole.
FZ:We had our swimming hole.
MH: Did you ever go up to Twin lakes?
FZ:That was one of our greatest places of pleasure. We would go there for picnicking, for fishing,
boating, and it was quite a popular place back then, particularly for us youngsters.
MH: Do you remember the Scovilles who owned so much property in the Twin Lake area?
FZ:Yes, we remember both Scoville families very well; the Herbert Scovilles and the Robert
Scovilles. Dad and I did quite a bit of work for both families. I remember the last time the Herbert Scoville place burned down and rebuilt. I remember some work was done later on, and a lot of new furniture for that estate was imported from abroad. Dad worked on a lot of it; restoring it and doing repair work and the like for the Scovilles.
MH: They owned a great deal of property up there.
FZ:They owned quite a bit of Taconic.
MH:To go back a little bit, you mentioned the Clark store. Is that building still in existence?
FZ:The Clark’s store buildings are still here. The main building is right next to St. John’s Church, and
then there is a big building in between. I think that was owned by the Clarks. I think at the time there was a little shoemaker shop in there. Next to that was a larger building that was the dry goods store establishment of the George H. Clark firm.
MH: He was quite a merchant in town then.
FZ:He was quite a merchant, and a very prominent figure. I can still see him in my mind; he was one
of the most well- dressed men in town and always wore a derby hat. He was the first Town Clerk that I can remember.
MH: Living up on 41 and coming down into town as a young boy, you passed White Hart Inn many times. Was that as great an inn and restaurant as it has been in recent years? Was it as busy a place?
FZ:I think I can say the White Hart Inn has always been a prominent establishment in Salisbury;
always was a very well- known inn. When I was here, one of the managers of the inn and probably the owner of it was a man by the name of William Russell.
MH:The Ragamont Inn was that an inn when you were a young boy?
FZ:The Ragamont Inn is not very clear in my mind as I was growing up as a young boy. I do
remember a very nice restaurant, the biggest memory I have of it was that it was the reception area for the marriage of my two sisters here. They both had their reception parties there. Both my sisters were married in St. Mary’s Church in Lakeville. Rev. P. J Lawler was there.
MH: Can you recall if there have been any changes along Railroad Street other than the fact that the railroad has gone since you moved away?
FZ:At the time I left here in 1942 to go into the service there may have been some new homes built
in the area of Railroad Street. The big change came after World War III think because we now have a great shopping area. There are some newer homes built down there as well.
MH: Speaking of the railroad, did you use it much to get from place to place, say to Canaan or down to Lakeville?
FZ:As a young man I helped dad take care of a residence, a very fine residence in Taconic, in Twin
Lake area. I remember taking the railroad; at that time it was a one car system to go from Salisbury to Taconic. From there I walked the short distance to Twin Lakes to do the work that I wanted to do at the residence.
MH: I guess there are very few remnants of the railroad in that area now, maybe an occasional bridge. Did they have a station in Taconic?
FZ:Yes, they had a small station in Taconic. When we were small children, our physician was Dr.
Bissell, who lived in Lakeville. One time my sisters and I had tonsil trouble so we had to have our tonsils removed. We went to Canaan and got on a train in Canaan. That took us over the weekend (and he stayed with us) in Pittsfield while we were in the hospital having our tonsils removed.
MH: Dr. Bissell did it?
FZ:Dr. Bissell in the Pittsfield Hospital.
MH: That was quite a ways to go to a hospital.
FZ:It was: it was.
MH:Was there any bus service, say between Salisbury and Canaan?
FZ:I don’t remember much of a bus service system back then. The first bus I remember was the bus
that went by our house to pick up my sister when she went to high school in Lakeville. She was one of the first ones to use the bus system.
MH: Do you remember a fire in the spring of 1940 or so that was supposed to have started in New York State and just spread across the border? Many people felt that their property was in extreme danger.
FZ:Yes, I do remember that fire quite well. I took the garden hose: we didn’t have town water then,
we had all springs, and sprinkled the area immediately around our buildings so in case the fire did come anywhere near us. The fire was no very far up in back of our house where we lived on 41. It was up in the Selleck Hill area up in there, and there was a lot of back fire going on. They would build a fire to fight the other fire that was coming toward us. I remember that very well. We were very fortunate to having one of the fire trucks parked right in front of our house in the immediate area in case something happened to the several houses grouped together there. That fire engine made us feel very secure and protected against what could possibly happen. (See also tape #27A/B the Beebe Sisters)
MH: Fortunately it didn’t come…
FZ:Fortunately it didn’t come; it didn’t reach the house.
MH: But it was a fiercesome thing.
FZ:It was a fiercesome thing. Do you remember anything about these two communities Salisbury
and Lakeville and how they have changed since you lived here?
FZ:Yes, I’ve seen many changes in the time I’ve been back here since I have been living in
Torrington. On route 41 where we used to live, dad and I sold our house in 1952, since then I’ve seen a great many new places grow up just in that one area. I haven’t had occasion to travel around too much in the immediate area here, but undoubtedly there must be a lot of new buildings throughout the whole area.
MH:Yes, I think there are.
MH: Would you say that there are fewer commercial enterprises here than there were when you were growing up, little factories and businesses?
FZ:Perhaps so. The older ones have gone on, but there are some new ones which came about to
replace them, so there is still good employment for those who seek work here. I am reminded of a new establishment in Canaan, Becton & Dickenson factory, the Lime Kiln factory is still going…
MH: Pfizer, do you mean Pfizer?
FZ:Yes, the Pfizer establishment. I know there are many fine new homes in this area because I have
worked on some of them.
MH: I am sure you have. Before we close, I want to mention your father. We know his name is Matteo, but I didn’t mention his first name. Since he is so well known for his artistry in building furniture, I think we should have his first name on the tape.
FZ:Dad’s real Italian name was Michelle: it is spelled the same as the girl’s name Michelle. His middle
name was Archangel. His last name was Matteo. Michelle Archangelo Matteo. There’s a good old fashioned Italian name for you.
MH: Yes, it certainly is; melodious too. I want to thank you very much for coming here and giving us some of your memories and also telling us about your father’s work of whom I know you are very proud.
FZ:That I am, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to come here and come out with this little
bit on information that I have been able to give to you. It has given me much pleasure, and thank you very much.