1975, Mrs. Phyllis Kroll had a dream...4 years later it was
accomlished. 45 students (7th & 8th graders) achieved
the goal of recording the first town history booklet since
Todd's History of Redding second edition of 1906. Redding
Remembered is a record of people and events- and the oral
history students that cared enough to capture the past, the
present, the famous and not-so-famous. 25 years later this
amazing body of work enters the "cyber-world" and
I hope all of you enjoy it as much as I do. Submit your ideas
or articles to firstname.lastname@example.org
and please consider donating
to the History of Redding so I can continue to provide
updates to this web site.
big social event of the summer was the clambake, held where
the general store is in West Redding (across from West Redding
Post Office). "All the oldtimers would get together.
You could eat all you wanted," Mr. Arthur Glasner, of
Limekiln Road, Redding, told us. "Some of the oldtimers
used to say that they would throw the clam shells over their
shoulders when they were through eating the clams. When the
clamshells reached up to the top of their necks, why then
it was time to quit."
Glasner was born in Brooklyn, NY. His early recollections
are of subways, trolley cars, and Propect Park. Mr. Glaner,
with his brother, mother and father, moved to Redding in 1930.
They travel to Redding during weekends before they bought
the house. When Mr. Glasner first moved into his house, it
was in the original state. There was no electricity or plumbing.
Cooking was done on a wood-burning range. The only source
of heat came from the fireplace. Kerosene lamps provided light.
of an old-limekiln are still on Mr. Glaner's Redding property.
Just the base of it is left today. The limestone rocks were
dynamited out of the quarry and hauled to the kiln. "The
lime rocks would disintegrate or burn. then the limestone
was put into barrels and sent to New York City. They used
the limestone to make plaster."
Glasner today, is well-known for his fine reproductions of
antique tin sconce lamps. He told us how it all started when
Florence Maine, a famous antique dealer in Ridgefield, approached
him with two antique tin sconce lamps and asked him to make
two more like them. "i've never done this before. I couldn't
do it," he said. "Oh, go ahead. You can do it,"
Glasner pointed out that he did not have any materials. Mrs.
Maine insisted he give it a try. Thus in 1959 after his brother
died, Arthur Glasner began his new career. "I got mixed
up in making these lighting fixtures. That's kept me busy."
Mr. Glasner is a meticulous artisan who reproduces lighting
fixtures in tin, just as they were, and similar to those in
old houses that used candles.
Glasner has observed many changes in his adopted town. "You
don't know people anymore. They rush right by in their automobiles.
Once I could hear a wagon coming up the road for quite a distance.
Nowadays, the automobile is right on top of you and by."
they had Ford Model T's, you could hear those. They would
rattle along. We bought a second-hand Ford car for $150.00.
they were kind of mean to travel in. They were very high.
They were built high because the ladies wore a lot of hats
with feathers on top. It was quite a tall thing. If you went
on a road that had a crown on it, why the thing was ready
to tip over! The car was plenty top-heavy."
this multi-talented man, Arthur Glasner, had not lived in
Redding all his life, he can still remember the times when
the town was a placid, pastorial community.
is calculated to be 190 miles from Boston, Massachusetts.
How then did the geographical designation "Little Boston"
come into being? Harold Iles, a knowledgeable man, who has
lived in Redding most of his life, provided us with an answer.
Boston is really quite famous and Redding people don't realize
it. The Boston Post Road went thru Redding, upto Danbury and
on to Boston. The reason the Boston Post Road went this far
inland was that there were not any bridges along the coast.
When the stagecoaches went over the road carrying the mail
from New York City to Boston they passed thru what is now
Georgetown. It was quite a joke among the drivers to say 'We're
coming into Boston' to the passengers, long before they actually
were coming into Boston. Passengers had been shaken up so
much by the trip from New York that they figured it was about
time for them to be coming into Boston. So, Mr. Iles concluded,
they started calling that corner 'Little Boston'.
where Peaceable St. and Umpawaug Rd. meet in Georgetown, there
is an area still called 'Little Boston'. And all because of
a stagecoach driver's little joke there is even a road which
is called Little Boston Lane.
Banks was born in Redding during the early part of the century
and has remained here ever since. Married, with children gone
from home, he leads an active life and is a member of a Redding
family that goes back seven generations. Banks related the
following story in one of his interviews:
"Dido" Nickerson, Jr. of Redding was an engineer
of the Shepaug Railroad line. He was born about 1880. Nickerson
related the following story of horse thieves in Redding. When
Nickerson was sixteen, and lived in Redding Center, he was
'sweet on' a young lady on Redding Ridge whose last name was
night, Nickerson cut 'across lots' to a point where Wilson's
Lane intersects with Cross Highway, near a steep hill. While
crossing, he sighted a light in the valley near Little River.
Nickerson then got down and hid behind a fence." People
were shoeing horses, and he recognized a blacksmith-neighbor,
one of a group of gentlemen horse thieves who were organized
from Maryland to Massachusetts. They would ride through Redding
at night and pick up horse that had been stolen for them.
They had the horses' shoes changed and their coats and marking
dyed. They would move the horses up river valleys and through
little-used roads. The leaders of the horse thieves would
eat and sleep at the homes of socially prominent families.
Nickerson asked, 'Do you see this scar? I got that from the
butt of a '45 because I had seen too much.' The following
Sunday, Nickerson had no sooner gotten inside church with
his mother, when someone came up to him and said, 'You have
24 hours to get out of town.' And that is when John "Dido"
Nickerson, Jr. went on the railroad.
would go on to become one of the New Haven Railroad's greatest
engineers. Better known as Dido, he ran Yankee Clippers, one
of the finest trains for a number of years, until he retired
to Roxbury Connecticut. There is a photo of Nickerson standing
in front of Engine No. 1573, Type 4-4-D Class C 15A, built
in Rhode Island 1893.
Interview With Stuart Chase "I am a Generalist..."
at the turn of the 20th Century, in the days of Mark Twain
and Charles Ives, Redding became a haven for a number of creative
writers and artists in search of a quieter life, away from
the pressures of the big city. Stuart Chase was a late comer
in that group. A writer of books and articles, he found a
remodeled barn, with an apple orchard, a garden, and open
fields, which seemed ideal for a writer. When in 1930 he drove
up to the village green at the Center, with its over-arching
elms and charming white New England church, he promptly returned
and bought the remodeled barn. Redding was where he wanted
to live, and with his wife Marian, a musician, has lived for
almost 50 years. Redding is where most of his ideas have germinated,
and where most of his writing has been done. Trips, yes, to
lecture around the country (in every state except Mississippi)
and visits to London, Paris, Russia, Egypt, Mexico, and the
Caribbean. But the real work has been done in the remodeled
asked Mr. Chase if he would summerize his outlook on life,
and how it might apply to Redding. He said he considered himslef
a philosophic "generalist". A generalist, he said,
is an observer who tries to see all the major angles before
he comes to a conclusion. He is not a one-party man. He is
particularly interested today in the planning of a human community,
and the conservation of its natural resources. Redding has
an urgent need for both if it is to continue to be a comely
rural town in a beautiful natural setting.
one of his columns for the Pilot, the weekly local paper,
Mr. Chase wrote an article addressed to children in general
and to children of Redding in particular. He wrote: "You
have two homes: the house where you live here in Redding,
and the planet earth on whose surface you walk, whose air
you breathe, whose water you drink, and that provides all
your food from its fields, forests and waters. Your house
must be kept aired and clean or you may get sick from poisons
and infections. "Your planet," he continued, "which
is your other home, must also be kept healthy, clean and livable.
If this effort fails, we shall all get sick before too long.
Presently (1978), on an unhealthy planet, with failing resources,
there will be little future for you, and certainly no future
for your children. It may take longer for this to happen,
but it is as bad to make a mess of your planet as to make
a mess of your living room. Indeed, it may be worse; you can
get out of your living room in an emergency-say a fire- but
you can't get off your planet and hope to survive for long.
How many people can a space ship carry? Where can it land
and find adequate soil, water and air?
say I am a generalist," Chase went on to say, "but
I have three specialties-economics, communication, and accounting.
My father wanted me to follow his footsteps in the accounting
profession. I passed my CPA examinations in Boston and practiced
for about ten years, part of the time with the Federal Trade
Commission in Washington, D.C.
discovered that accounting was not my cup of tea, and turned
more to writing, especially about economic problems and convervation.
My book Rich Land, Poor Land was praised by President
Roosevelt, and there was even some talk that he might write
an introduction-which did not materialize. I also became greatly
interested in how word behave, and have written three books
on semantics, a specialty that deals with language and meaning.
At the same time I have been concerned with the state of the
world in general, and what hard technology is doing to it,
and especially what atomic energy may do to us- not only in
war, but in peace as well. Where are we going to put the deadly
poisonous wastes that are produced in nuclear energy plants?
You see, a generalist is concerned with the condition of human
life on this planet, above and beyond his particular specialties.
We need the physical sciences, like chemistry; the social
sciences, like economics; and the human studies, like philosophy
and history, to understand our place in the universe. Man
became homo sapiens, the thinking creature, when he
learned to talk, thousands of years ago.
we humans are in a second great transformation, which began
on August 5, 1945, the day when Hiroshima in Japan was wiped
out by an atomic bomb. Let one generalist qoute another generalist,
Dr. Victor Weisskopf, professor of physics at M.I.T.: 'Today
we physicists have found a cosmic process, one in which
millions of electron volts per atom are exchanged, rather
than the few electron volts that are customary here on earth.'
I believe, may be as important to mankind as the day we first
learned to talk. This is a 'cosmic process,' like what goes
on in outer space, and in the interior of the sun. A generalist
must be aware of these two cosmic episodes in the history
of mankind; he hopes that we can deal with them.
my desk is a motto given to me by my friend Beardsley Ruml
when he lived down the road a little way. He was an excellent
generalist. The motto reads: 'Reasonable men always agree
if they understand what they are talking about.' I wish this
motto might be on a number of desks in the Middle East right
now in 1978!
and conservation are major interests of a generalist on a
world-wide scale. How do they apply to a small community?
I have been trying to apply them here in Redding for many
years; first as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, then
as Secretary of the Planning Commission, where I served for
20 years. Open space areas to keep the town rural and green
was a major goal of the Planning, Zoning and Conservation
Commissions, supported by the Selectmen and by the Board of
Finance. When they policy was first introduced in the 1960's
there were some 1.3 acres of town owned open space, at the
Green. Now there are more than 3,000 acres of all types of
Open Space! The policy seems to be working.
had not been on the Planning Commission long before I discovered
the following formula: The more open space we can save,
the lower our future taxes will be, and the pleasanter the
town. My training as a CPA helped to give the formula
a firm foundation.
works like this: If a parcel of 100 acres is bought by the
town for open space, taxpayers of course must pay for it (sometimes
with State and Federal Aid), and also pay for any recreation
facilities which may be put on it, like tennis courts. Income
will be zero. But if the 100 acres are bought by a subdivider,
and 30 or 40 houses are built on 2-acres lots, the cost to
taxpayers in providing roads, fire, police and other services,
and especially education in the public schools for the new
children, usually comes to a much greater cost. As a CPA,
I have verified this in case after case. Often the cost to
taxpayers of a subdivision development on 100 acreas, is twice
the cost of buying the land as open space. The cost to taxpayers
is thus not a burden but the reverse-when compared to all
the costs of a new subdivision.
physical topography of Redding is another cogent reason for
holding open space rather than developing subdivisions. The
town has three steep hills- Little Boston, The Center, The
Ridge- which prevent the construction of economic water and
sewage pipe lines. We must live on individual driven wells
and septic tanks. Also our preponderance of clay soils makes
even septic tanks a special problem (ask David Thompson of
the U.S. Soil Conservation Service).
sound reason for holding opening space is that Connecticut
is the second worst state in the Union suffering from air
pollution. My glass rain gauge supports this government report
by turning black at the bottom in about two months of operation!
The pollution comes from industrial operations in NY and NJ,
the expects say. the Tri-State Commission has nominated Redding
a kind of fresh air haven. If it can be kept open all of Western
Connecticut will benefit.
Saugatuck Reservoir, which is partly in Redding, not only
provides some town open space in the form of water, but more
important, demands a lot of undeveloped land. Its watersheds
must be kept clear and underdeveloped if pure water is to
be supplied to Bridgeport, Westport and other towns. Just
to keep the record straight I must admit that I opposed the
building of the Saugatuck Reservoir because of its elimination
of some good farmland. This was before we had developed the
open space formula. A generalist lives and learns like everybody
Planning Commission for these and other reasons is aiming
at a quarter of the town of Redding, some 5,000 acres, to
be held forever open. So in Redding we have in full display
two of the major goals of a philosophic generalist-careful
planning, and the conservation of natural resources. It has
been a great privilege for me to to work with my fellow citizens
on these goals over the years here in this beautiful, unspoiled
New England town...May it never become 'Levittown-on-the-Saugatuck!'"
today look forward to getting a new pair of sneakers but when
Harry Colley was young new sneakers was a much more significant
event. "I think one of my most memorable experiences
as I was growing up was getting new sneakers. I was allowed
one pair of sneakers a year. I knew I was going to get the
sneakers but at least four weeks before I'd start asking my
mother for them. She'd always say, "Next week, next week,"
because they had to last me all summer and into the fall.
But in Connery's Store (Corner of Rt. 57 & Old Mill Rd.)
back then, they used to give a bat to everyone who purchased
a pair of sneakers. Can you imagine that? This was just fantastic!
And the bats always used to come in early. Every day I would
go down to Connery's and swing a bat to see if it was the
right weight, the right size, and the right color. I even
looked at the grain in those days though I didn't know much
about it...and when I found one that was just my size and
everything, I would ask them to put my name on it and they
would put it in the back room. Other children did the same,
I wasn't the only one who did this. And then my day came to
get my sneakers and to claim my bat at the same time. Let
me tell you it was a great experience.
Anderson is a true native Yankee- she is also one of Redding's
most knowledgeable historians. Involved in town affairs for
many years, she has just recently retired from her post as
Assistant Town Clerk. This remarkable woman who presently
lives in the same home she was born in, knows many stories
of Redding's past, and the "Peanut Lady" is one
asked if she might remember the "Peanut Lady" a
warm happy glow flashed for an instant across Ebba Anderson's
face as she told us "Oh, do I ever! Mamma Joe was her
name, Mamma Joe. She would walk up from Georgetown, with bags
of peanuts; intent on selling, she would continue walking
all the way to the Ridge."
Joe was the wife of the proprietor of the peanut-roasting
machine. This machine stood in a little fruit and vegetable
store on the Main St. of Georgetown. The father and mother
who ran the store were typical old-world Italians. They were
the nicest people you would ever meet."
people had wonderful vegetables and lovely roasted peanuts.
The Peanut Lady would come up to our house on a horse and
rap on the windows yelling, 'Eh, Peanuts! Peanuts!' Then mother
would come to the door and buy some!"
Anderson went on to tell us, "People thought she was
sort of crazy, absent in the head and the like, Maybe she
wasn't playing 'It's a Beautiful Day,' but Mamma Joe was a
harmless, lovely old lady; she really was, and I liked her
Peanut Lady was awful nice to us kids, when we came home from
school. She'd give us an apple that perhaps we didn't have
to pay for. But if you laughed at her or made sport of her,
I don't think she'd give you an apple. Yet, wouldn't that
be true of you?"
with this, her story ended. With a warm, radiant smile spreading
across her face, she left us feeling quite good about ourselves,
this remarkable woman, and the stories of Redding's past.
Chris Aruza, Rona Neri
Read bought a tract of land in 1711 from the Indian, Chicken
Warrups. This tract now makes up the 300 acre farm of Betty
& Sam Hill. Thus the farm was christened Warrups Farm
(across from Redding Country Club).
Warrups Farm stands a lovely white house. The house has quite
a history . John Lee Hill, the 5th child of Colonel John Read,*
built the house in 1841, a year after his marriage to Harriet
Duncomb. Their child, William Hill, married Althea Hotchkiss
and had four children. Among them was Ernest Hill, the father
of Sam Hill.
house remained in the Hill family until 1907. For the next
22 years, there was a succession of owners. In 1929, Ernest
Hill purchased the house and the homestead was back in the
family. Today, Samuel Ervin Hill, the son of Ernest and his
wife Betty, own the house now. They restored the home to its
former beauty in the late fifties.
recent years some overgrown fields have been cleared for farm
and pastureland. With their son, William, acting as farm manager,
the Hills raise Scottish Highland Cattle, hay, cut flowers
and produce. They also make maple syrup in the spring.
is hoped the Hill Homestead can be passed on from generation
to generation and will always be part of the hertitage of
John Read was the grandson of John Read for whom the town
group of Redding citizens has provided the town with 270 acres
of open space, including the town's swimming area. The citizens,
calling themselves Redding Open Lands, Inc. (R.O.L.I.) initiated
the idea in 1970.
year before, Axel Bruzelius, who was an alternate on the Planning
Commission, became interested in a project in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
A whole farm in a suburb of Boston was purchased by local
citizens, The property was subdivided into several large acre
lots, which were sold, and which produced sufficient money
to pay back the purchase price. The excess land was given
to the town. Mr. Bruzelius decided Redding needed a similar
about this time Edward Steichen, the renowned photographer,
decided to sell all but 38 of the 421 acres he owned on Topstone
Road. Before Mr. Steichen put it on the open market he gave
the town the right of first refusal. A group of twelve citizens
decided to form an organization and attempt to accomplish
the same thing that had been done in Massachusetts.
began with the idea of building a park on Mr. Steichen's property.
Believing in R.O.L.I.'s idea, eleven more citizens joined
the group. James Jenkins was elected Presient of the first
meeting and William Karraker was elected chairman of the organization.
Their plan was to alter the size of the parcel so that the
land available for the town's purchase would be valued at
under a million dollars. They agreed that if R.O.L.I. bought
enough acreage, the remaining land's value would be brought
under a million dollars.
was able to negotiate a bank note for $350,000 dollars to
be secured only by the signatures of the 23 members of R.O.L.I.
This enabled R.O.L.I. to buy 117 of the 387 acres. The note
was signed on March 1, 1971.
town did indeed buy the other 270 acres, and it is now used
for open space and a natural park.
R.O.L.I. had to get its money back. They decided to sell their
acreage in plots. The smallest being 2.8 acres and the largest
being 10.6 acres. They sold all 15 plots and ended up with
a profit. These profits have been used to help the Conservation
Commission and the Land Trust.
Tracy Birmingham, Nadia Tarlow
Anna Hyatt Huntington died in 1973, she left us all a legacy
in her magnificent sculptures. Many of our public buildings
are enhanced by her bronze statues. But, she and her husband,
Archer, left us another legacy in Huntington State Park, a
park of 800 acres located in the northeast corner of Redding.
talked with Henry Rasmussen, who was employed by Mrs. Huntington,
in an effort to learn more about how the gift came about and
the history of the land.
estate originally belonged to the Lutchen family, and was
later owned by the Sterret family. Archer Huntington bought
the estate and named it Stanerigg. Archer was the son of Colis
P. Huntington, a wealthy man who was a shipbuilder and the
founder of the Chesapeake, the Ohio and the Union Pacific
his death, Archer willed 800 acres of the original estate
to the State of Connecticut. It was named Huntington State
Park before his death in 1955.
Mr. Rasmussen's employment with Mrs. Huntington, she often
expressed her desire to have the park remain in its natural
state for people to enjoy. Her wishes have resulted in a park
that has been open to the public for 8 years. Few modifications
have been made other than the bridge being restored. The park
is used for walking, hiking, horseback riding, picnicing,
fishing, cross-country skiiing, boating and nature study.
The Department of Environmental Protection provides patrols
at the park to see that Mrs. Huntington's wishes are fulfilled.
Geoppler Cider and Vinegar Mill
the intersection of Topstone Rd. and Simpaug Turnpike stands
an impressive building. Once it was filled with the hustle
and bustle of a productive factory. In the past, during the
months of October and November, it churned with exciting activity.
This enormous building is the Geoppler Cider & Vinegar
four-story building was built in 1893 by Mr. Adolf Geoppler.
Apples were stored in the cupola, and an apple chute, extending
from the cupola (the top of the mill) to the basement, was
used to let the apples roll down to where they would be mashed.
When the apples reached the bottom floor, they were dropped
on to a large tray and into a huge burlap cloth. The power
to grind the apples was provided by a steam boiler. A press
was lowered, the juice was squeezed out of the apples, and
then was stored in barrels or jugs. The apple pulp was loaded
into a hand-wheeled cart and then dumped out in front of the
the juice has been pressed out of the apples, some of it was
stored in vats to ferment. A few months later it turned into
vinegar and was sold for about 25 cents a gallon. The cider
had to be kept in a warm, dry place in order for the fermentation
fifty gallon barrel of cider required about fifteen bushels
of apples. They were bought from residents who owned apple
trees. When asked what type of apple was used, Mrs. Geoppler
replied, "any kind, if it was an apple. Worms, bugs and
bees, all went in, but it was fine cider." To make a
barrel of cider the cost was about 2 dollars.
Geoppler usually had two men who helped him in the mill. Their
pay was probably only two dollars a day, but, as Mrs. Emma
Geoppler said, "You were just glad to have a job."
Geoppler Cider Mill was more than just a mill in the early
1900's. It was also the Post Office and RR Station, called
Sanford Station named for the many families named Sanford
in the area. Mr. Geoppler was the postmaster, Later the post
office was renamed Topstone because the mail became mixed
up with the Town of Stamford.
Geoppler recalled, "My husband came down one morning
to the room where the post offccie was and found that someone
had broken into the mill and blown the safe open. They had
grabbed the few dollars that were in the safe and most of
the 2-cent stamps Mr. Geoppler had in the mill."
case was never solved and the money was never recovered. However,
the safe, with a chunk blown out of the door, still remains
mill served as a post office, until cider operations ceased
in about 1940. Adolf Geoppler sold the mill in 1946, and for
a time it was used as an antique shop. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas
Sachetti renovated the mill into their home in the 1980's.
Redding Firehouse Jubilee
Kristen Bernhardt, Andrew Metzger
first year we had about 150 people, and they sat around, swatted
mosquitoes and told tall stories.," Tom Lalley, thirty-five
year member of the West Redding Fire Department, described
the First Annual Fireman's Hickory Charcoal Beefsteak Dinner.
dinner was initiated in 1954. Since then it has been drawing
crowds of up to 1,500 Reddingites, and many out of towners.
the first Fireman's Dinner, center cut sirloins, fresh green
salads, and homemade desserts were served. These were all
a hit, but the biggest hit of the evening was Tom Lalley's
Firehouse Jubilee Cocktail.
"Firehouse" as Tom refers to it, is a fantastic
tomato juice drink. "It started as a recipe we read in
a farm journal many years ago. We made some adjustments and
added and subtracted some ingredients so we feel its our own
recipe. We used it for about 20 years before the picnic."
The Laley's creation, when introduced, became an instant favorite,
people all over town could heard asking for "that tomato
juice" or "the juice cocktail the firemen make."
wasn't until 1960 or so that Tom realized his creation had
commercial possibilities. At first Tom mixed the jubilee in
a tub in his kitchen and brewed it on a three burner electric
first sale of the Firehouse Jubilee was at the opening of
the Country Emporium. "We made up 12 cases, and at the
end of the first day there was only half a case left."
Before long Tom was supplying it to local gourmet shops.
all the publicity the Jubilee was getting, Paul Dean Arnold
of Arnold Bakers became interested. After a short discussion,
Tom sold the Firehouse Jubilee to Arnold. Firehouse was produced
by Arnold for a while. Subsequently the rights were bought
back by Mr. Lalley and sold to Ocean Spray. To this day Ocean
Spray is producing Tom's Firehouse Jubilee. So next time you
take a sip of the now Ocean Spray Tomato Vegetable Juice Cocktail,
it's nice to know that a product distributed worldwide can
trace its roots back to Tom and Helen Lalley's small kitchen
on Redding Road.
St. John's "Home Remedies"
St. John is a true "old timer," probably one of
Redding's oldest residents. A very active person, Mr. St.
John is a man of many talents.
the interview, he had a special knack for sharing the unique
knowledge gained during his long lifetime. He was delighted
when he got a chance to speak of the "home remedies"
he had picked up while fishing with an old doctor.
confessed that in not smoking, not drinking alcohol, going
to bed at 10:00pm every night and drinking a lot of milk,
his home remedies had helped to carry him through his ninety-three
years. He explained that he was not a doctor, but he could
cure many ailments.
above the Georgetown Saloon, Mr. St. John gets many opportunites
to "prescribe" his remedies to the saloon's customers
and employees. When asked if he could tell about some of his
remedies, a smile came across his face.
"A fellow next door to me had high blood pressure,"
he recalled, "and called me in so I went and looked at
him. I came right back here to my room, went to the ice box,
chopped up some ice and put it in a thin towel (a heavy one's
no good). I put the ice around his neck- it's got a cord there.
You take the cord and push on it just a little, and in five
minutes his high blood pressure was gone."
and Steel Keys
"I sat down not too long ago," Mr. St. John went
on. "A girl had a hiccupping spell. She sat at a table
and I asked her, 'You want me to stop it?' She says, 'How
you gonna stop it?' 'Do what I tell you,' I said. 'Take your
two hands and put them about ten inches apart- no more. Make
a fist with your thumbs up and focus one eye on the right
thumb, and one eye on the left tumb, and gradually bring'em
together- not too fast. When you get 'em together work them
slowly outwards. I guarantee your hiccups will be gone.'
night I was down there and another woman had a coughin' spell.
So I took two keys (they've got to be steel) and I took those
keys and put one on the right side of her neck and another
on the left side of her neck and I just pressed them- not
too hard- and it stopped her coughin'. If you have a nose
bleed the steel keys will stop that too."
Ives: Musical Visionary
Cathy Laning, Katie Tkach
August of 1912, Charles Ives and his wife Harmony came to
West Redding and bought land on Umpawaug Hill, across the
road from the site of General Putnam's headquarters in the
Revolutionary War (corner of Umpawaug and Topstone Rd). They
had the house and barn built, and moved in a year later. This
was their country home for the rest of their lives. They would
come out from New York City in the early spring, and stay
until late in the fall. Ives commuted each morning by train
to his insurance office in the city, and he did much of his
music writing on this train.
many years they had a house named "Rocket" who was
very much a member of the family. Ives would ride "Rocket"
down the hill to Sanford General Store near the train station.
They also had a Model T Ford. Umpawaug Road in those days
was just a dirt country road, filled with "thank you
ma'am's, as Ives's nephew Bigelow describes it. It wasn't
paved until 1928, and when it was, Ives got quite upset. He
was also outraged when the first airplanes began flying over,
and whenever he heard one he would come out and shake his
fist at it and shout "Get off my property!" He didn't
want anything to disrupt the peaceful country world of Umpawaug
Hill which he loved so much.
our quest to capture the essence of Charles Ives- revered
classical composer, interpreter of the American scene, and
the man- we talked with John Kirkpatrick, Paul Winter and
Luemily Ryder. The synthesis of their recollections provides
a composite sketch of this muscian.
Kirkpatrick is the curator of the Ives Collection at Yale.
He is a well known Ives authority and has come to know Ives's
1937 Kirkpatrick met Charles Ives. He had been corresponding
with him for ten years, but had never met him.
can see him right there. I knew him during the last 17 years
of his life, and I saw him a few times each year. In a way
he was the most paradoxical man I've ever known. As a musician
he was both traditional and experimental. You could describe
his music best by saying there's no simple way to describe
it. That's part of the paradoxical nature he had.
Ives first began to compose, his music was comparatively simple.
Many of his early pieces were influenced greatly by the church,
since he played the organ in church during his grammar school
years. At fourteen he was a salaried organist, the youngest
professional organist in the state.
father was a musical "jack-of-all-trades". He was
even more versatile than his son.
received his earliest muscial training from his father and
later from Horatio Parker at Yale. He attended Yale from 1894-1898.
From this time through his twenties he used both styles, experimental
and traditional, but he hardly ever showed his experiments
to Parker. At that period the simpler traditional style was
more acceptable than the complicated, experimental style.
Ives's music was different from itself all the time. It could
be very simple, or it could be very, very complex. There were
pieces that could be read and played with no effort, they
were the simple. And there were pieces that were so complicated
they are challenging, even today.
know how you can look at a page of music and feel instinctively
if there is somthing real there or not? Well, there's something
real to Ives's music. There's always a core of something very
direct. and no matter how complicated it is, it hangs together
Charles Ives reached the peak of his experimental period,
he did not receive the recognition he deserved. The public
did not like being put to the inconvenience of having to try
hard to understand and play his music. "He knew exactly
how good a composer he was, and he knew exactly how far ahead
of his own time he was. It didn't bother him. Someone once
asked him why he didn't write music that people would like,
and he said 'I can't hear something else.' He anticipated
all the tricks of modern music in the first part of the 20th
century. Even though he was so far ahead of his time he still
deeply admired some of the classical composers- Bach, Beethoven,
and Brahms. He also admired the popular composers of the Civil
War Period. Although he enjoyed their styles, he had ideas
and opinions of his own.
would be impossible to describe his music because it was so
paradoxical. You could never put your finger on it. You could
rarely get a definite answer to a question our of him. He
usually used your question as a springboard to other thoughts.
He was a genius. He was used to improvising and filling in;
he was much more of a musician than anybody realized.
Ives knew that the kind of music he wanted to compose would
have no relation to his own times. Ives knew he would never
be able to support a family on it, so he deliberately financed
his composing through his insurance business. Many people
regard him as an insurance man doing music on the side. However,
he was a composer first and foremost, financing his non-conformist
composing through insurance, and showing the same genius in
both. There was a constant pressure living two lives a once.
Most people who come home from business want to relax. If
a composer finishes a symphony he naturally wants to relax
and perhaps celebrate. When Ives finished a symphony, most
likely late at night, he probably had time for only a little
sleep, before going downtown the next day for business. When
he got home from a day's business he would roll up his shirt
sleeves and start right into composing where he had left off
the previous night.
Ives literally lived a double life. He was an insurance man
by day and a composer by night, on weekends, and during vacations.
Many of his business associates had no idea that he was even
interested in music. His musical friends never saw any trace
of his business life. He kept to himself a great deal, partly
because he treasured the time he wasn't actually engaged in
business, so he could compose. But he was both gregarious
and shy; like his music, Ives himself was a paradox."
Home with the Iveses
Luemily Ryder became a close friend of Charles Ives during
his years in Redding. She and her husband, Bill, lived next
door to Ives on Umpawaug Hill.
he was, shall I say, gentle, first; he was also a rebel and
he could be quite explosive. I think he was a religious person
and I think he was very understanding and considerate of the
downtrodden and the outcast. He was a great person.
Iveses were people who often showed their kindness and generosity.
They were always doing something for other people. One family's
house was burned down and they offered their cottage. Here
the family stayed until a new house could be built.
Iveses often lent their cottage out to poor people from the
city. It was similar to the Fresh-Air Organization (Branchville,
CT) that brings city children into the country for a vacation.
One summer the Iveses lent their cottage to the Osborne family.
the youngest Osborne child, Edith, was very ill. Mrs. Ives
graciously offered to take care of her. Edith gradually improved
in health under Mrs. Ives's care. The Ives grew immensely
fond of her and near the end of Edith's stay they approached
the Osbornes about adopting Edith. After much thought the
loved Charles Ives. He would come out with his cane and shake
it in their facesm or he'd grab a child around the neck with
it and pull him toward him. The children would either be so
scared or so tickled that they'd giggle all over.
Ives was just as loving as her husband. When she came down
to visit you could hear he whistling all the way down the
visited them in NYC many times and after dinner at their house
we would go into the living room. Mr. Ives would stretch out
on the couch. The room was dimly lit to rest his eyes so Mrs.
Ives would sit directly under the light to read the classics.
He liked that so much, just to listen to her read. That's
one of the nicest things I remember about them."
Ryder, herself a pianist and organist, went on to say, "His
music is beautiful. I really love it, even though it would
clash. I know he had all these sounds in his head that he
kept hearing and he would just bring them all together in
a composition. At first people did not accept it. There were
only a few that would play it. Most said it couldn't be played
because it was so difficult. That would make him mad because
he was so sure it could be played..
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