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Howard Platt, Life in Redding from the 1880's into the 1920's  

Very special thank you to Gary Banks for this information and for his subtle reminders to make the time to format and post this very important "first person" narrative of life in Redding, Connecticut. You were right Gary, this stuff is priceless.

Howard Platt, Life in Redding from the 1880's into the 1920's:

My first recollection was a trip over to Newtown to my grandfather Platt's with my mother. Coming home she gave me the horse whip to play with and I got it caught in the wagon wheel and broke it. When we arrived home, dad asked mother what happened to the whip. The rest was simple. Dad took me across his knee and gave me a good spanking which I never forgot.

We always had Thanksgiving dinner at Grandfather Platt's and the dinner was always cooked in the brick oven and it was much better than today.

I now began to grow up and my father said to me one night as I was going to bed, "Tomorrow, son, you are going to school". In the morning we yoked the oxen because he was going to Mike Flood's blacksmith shop to get them shod. He said, "Get in and I will take you to school".

The Center District School was just south of Redding Center on the east side of the road on a stony hump. This was a one room school with eight grades. The teacher was Miss Mary Flood, a sister of the blacksmith, whose shop was a quarter of a mile beyond. My father took me in the school and I began to cry. Miss Flood told my father that I would be alright and I was. Soon I began to enjoy school.

In my second year we were playing hide and seek one day and I jumped over a fence right on a stub which pierced my foot so that I bled like a stuck hog. The boys helped me into school and the teacher boiled some water on the stove and washed my foot. The she took the broom and brushed down some cobwebs, pushed them in the stub hole to stop the bleeding, and sent me home with two older boys to help me.

That summer I spent with my mother's parents in Dodgingtown. One day granddaddy Crane (George) took me to Danbury and got me my first suit with knee breeches. These were my first pants. Before this I had worn kilts. The next morning he cut off my long curls and dressed me in my new suit with a pair of leather boots. About noon my parents came to dinner. As soon as my mother saw me she started to cry and cried the rest of the day. I spent the rest of the summer with my grandparents and came home to go to school in the fall.

In October the town had a small pox epidemic. Bill Reed, a colored man with a big family, who lived on Gallows Hill Road across the brook from the intersection of what is now called Old Stagecoach Road, asked Dr. Wakeman, of Redding Center, to help his family.

Dr. Wakeman refused so Dr. Barber, who lived next door to the Methodist Church in Bethel, came down. Dr. Barber would stop on Gallows Hill Road, change his clothes in the brush, spray himself, go on and treat the family as best he could, go back and change his clothes and go back to Bethel. He saved all but one small child. This would have been the fall of 1887.

Dr. Wakeman said that all children had to be vaccinated so one day my father took me down to the doctor. Dr. Wakeman sat me in a high chair and said, "Roll up your sleeve young man." He took a small knife and a saucer out of a dish closet. He said, "I'm not going to hurt you young man." and I began to cry. He pricked my arm in three or four places, dipped the knife in something that was in the saucer, and rubbed it on my arm.

In March of the next year, 1888, the blizzard came. The man next to us, named Upton, worked for Beers, near the Center (now Streeter's). The day the storm started, Upton's wife went down to ask him to come home, she was worried because the storm was getting so bad. He told her to go home and mind her own business but she did not. The storm was so bad it got the best of her. About a week later she was found, frozen to death, opposite what is now Redding's Town Office Building but was then Hill Academy.

My mother's father, George Crane, came over one day and told my mother I should be in school. She said there was no money to spare and he told her he would take care of the costs. So he took me to Mr. Webster, the teacher at Hill Academy, and after they talked for quite a while Mr. Webster gave me an examination. I guess I passed because he told me to come to school the following Monday, which I did. The Academy was equal to the high school of today and some of the boys and girls were fully grown.

More than anything else I remember the pranks I had a part in at the Academy. One sunny spring day I asked to go outside to the toilet. On the way I found a black snake about eighteen inches long. I cut a hole in my coat pocket and put the snake in. When I went back inside I walked down the aisle where the girls sat, bent over quickly, and put the snake on the floor. Just as I got to my seat there was a scream and the girls all got up on the desks. One kid told the teacher he saw me drop the snake and I got a good talking to.

Soon after that three of us boys went up to the belfry while the teacher was at dinner. When he came back someone told him where we were. He tried to get us to come down but we had pulled the ladder up after us and he couldn't get to us so he gave up calling to us. We watched for him to go home and when he did we put the ladder back and came down. The next morning he called school to order as if nothing had happened but when he dismissed the school that day he said, "You three boys can stay after school." He then told us to stay every night until we had made up the time we had lost. This took longer than we had thought.

That fall, Miss Burgess was looking for someone to pick apples for her. She asked me if I wanted the job and I took it because I wanted some money for the Danbury Fair. As I started to fill each barrel, I put leaves and sticks in the bottom to get a head start. I got my money for the fair. About a week later Miss Burgess came to the school and wanted to see me. She told me she was ashamed of me to cheat her as I did. "Now," she said, "you can come over and pick enough more apples to make up for the sticks and leaves you put in my barrels." I did. I guess I was a little ashamed too.

At the time of the Corbett - Fitzsimmons fight (March 17, 1897) some of the big boys teased a boy named Godfrey and me until they got us to agree to fight. They made a big circle on the ground and we stepped in it. One of the boys put a chip on my shoulder and told Godfrey to knock it off. In stead he hit me in the pit of my stomach and I went down and out. The boys worked my arms and legs and the teacher came running out with a pail of water. I knew he was there and wanted to tell him to stop but I had no breath and he threw the whole pail of water in my face. They helped me into the school but I did no studying that afternoon. I glared at Godfrey and thought of a way to get even.

I guessed right that he would go to Squires' store after school to buy candy. I met him there and knocked him into some rose bushes and started to hammer him. Mr. Squires came out, pulled me off, and gave me a good spanking and told me to go home. The next day, Harvey Rumsey came up to see my mother and told her I was a nuisance and the best thing she could do was to send me to a reform school. But, again, Grandfather Crane came over and patched things up.

The next summer, five of us went to Falls Hole to go swimming. After we swam awhile someone suggested we wade to the upper end of the hole and pick some pond lilies. When we came back, Joel Selleck said he was going to swim across the hole. I told him not to because I knew he couldn't swim well but he started out anyway. He went down in about eight feet of water. Four of us formed a chain, out from the shallow water, with me in the lead since I was the best swimmer. I got out to him and he grabbed me and down we went. I struck him behind the ear and when I managed to get him to the bank there wasn't a boy in sight.

I did not know what to do. I tried to open Joel's mouth but I couldn't so I found a stick and pried it open. I dragged him to a round boulder and pounded his back and the water came out of his mouth like a river. Finally he came to and the first words he said were, "Don't tell Auntie or Dad because I will never go swimming again." There still wasn't another boy in sight but after a while they all came back. Joel later studied law but he never was much of a swimmer.

One of the boys had come down to Falls Hole on horseback and his old horse had got loose and wandered, looking for grass. When we found him another boy grabbed the rope he was trailing and the horse kicked him in the mouth, knocked out two teeth, and cut his upper lip so that Dr. Wakeman had to put four stitches in it. We had quite a day.

That same summer Hezzy and Fred Nickerson, Joel Selleck and I built a hut in sections, put it on a wagon, took it down to the Saugatuck, put it together and camped for a week. It was strawberry season and one day I picked quite a few. That night we went over to another boys' house. His father, Mr. Tip Jones, gave us a gallon of milk out of his milk pail and told us to tie a string on the jug and put it on the bottom of the river so we could have milk to drink. We decided to save the milk for breakfast to go with the strawberries but by the next morning it had soured - there had been too much animal yeast in the milk. The strawberries were pretty good anyway.

In the fall I went back to school and nothing much happened until Danbury Fair time. Bicycles were much more popular than they have been ever since and Howard Miller and I rode bikes a good deal and we could beat anybody we had ever come up against. We decided to go to the fair and try to win the free-for-all. On the way to Danbury on our bikes we met some summer boarders with a horse and a two seated wagon. The horse took fright and jumped across the road. I struck him amidships and went over his back and into Mrs. Miller's garden. She was going out to feed the pigs. She emptied the swill pail and went to the brook and got a pail of water and threw it in my face. I came to and looked at my bike and saw that it was smashed. I knew who the city boarders were and I began to lay the law down to them. They finally shut me up and I really felt a little sorry for them because their wagon was a total wreck.

Howard and I went to Danbury on the trolley. I asked Howard what I was going to do and he said he knew a man - a friend of his father's - who ran a bicycle shop and we went and told him our story. He told us to pick any bikes we wanted and take them to the fair. We did and we raced in the free-for-all but couldn't quite make first. We came in second as a team. We went back to his place and his father brought me home and I went to bed and stayed there for a week. His father was County Commissioner and he had a big farm in Redding. After he became county commissioner he let the farm out on shares and moved to Danbury.

Then in November, the teacher sent the class to the blackboard to do some algebra. We set the problem down on the board and I turned my back on it and the teacher told me I could not do it with my back to the board. He looked at me and I looked at him and I made a dash for the door with him after me. He did not catch me and I went home. Mother asked me what I was home for and I said I was not going to school anymore. She watched for the teacher to come that night and she called him in and they had quite a talk. He told me to come up to his boarding place after supper and he would show me. I did and he showed me more in one hour than he had showed me in a year and a half but I did not go back to school. I was sorry in later years that I did not because I thought I wanted to be a lawyer.

There was a colored man by the name of Sip Coon (That's what everybody called him, I don't know as anybody knew his real name). He was some man. How he could play a banjo and sing. One day he gave me ten cents to go to the store and buy him a five cent plug of tobacco and I could have the other five cents for candy. I spent the whole ten cents for candy and came back home. I tried to make myself scarce but he finally spied me and asked where his tobacco was. I told him I lost the ten cents. Dad gave me five cents and I had to go back and get Sip tobacco. I did not buy any candy that time.

Another thing I remember is the Danbury Fair. Dad always drove what they call a carryall and carried people to and from the fair. This carryall was drawn by two pair of horses and he always hired Beach Baldwin to drive as he could handle two pair of horses to perfection. And scrap, too, as sometimes had to be done coming back to Danbury as some would have two or three sheets in the wind or would not have any money to pay their fare and it almost always started a fight. Dad would call on Beach to settle the argument and he did, most always. They would stay all the week in Danbury. There was other carryalls but the man that had the best looking rig and could holler the most got the most passengers as there was no other way to get to the fair unless you went by train and they did not run often enough. If the weather was good, dad made out pretty good and on Sunday they would come home with two pair of pretty tired horses and two tired men as there was no fair on Sunday.

In my kid days, onions were the main money crop around here. Most all the farmers raised onions. They were hauled to one boat in Westport and three in Southport. In Southport they sailed from docks where the yacht club is now. The owner's names were Meeker, Banks and Jennings and they would take onions and other farm stuff to New York and sell them for a commission of twenty one cents a barrel and bring back the empty barrels. They would make a trip in about ten days or two weeks. They had two and three masted sail boats and they carried a crew of about eight men. But they finally gave up and that ended the onion business. The year my father died we had about fifteen hundred barrels of onions and we did not get enough out of them to pay the fertilizer bill so that was the end of onions for us too.

Mother did not know what to do to support us three boys and a great grandmother. We had a man working for us name of George Poys, a polish fellow. He worked the farm on shares and he done some teaming on the outside and we got along pretty good till he got to drinking and my mother could not put up with him any longer.

At that time we had a colored girl working for us name of Jenny Willis. She and George had their troubles. She hit him on the head with a cast iron skillet and knocked him down and then she got a butcher knife and she said, "I am going to cut your heart out." Mother heard the racket and separated them. She paid Jenny off and told her to take the first train out of West Redding in the morning which was 6:15. She went and I never saw her again till, about twenty years ago, she came back to Redding to live. She was my "Black Mammy".

I am a little ahead of my story. The next morning, George went to the constable, whose name was George Bartram, and he came up and asked my mother where Jenny was. Mother said, "I do not know." "Well," he said, "I will find her." But he never did, he died first.


So the end was near for George Poys and, to finish it up: He went up on the hill to mow and mother gave me his dinner to take up to him. I got up there and he had cut of the end of two of his fingers. I finished the piece and we went home. Mother was so mad she would not speak to him and she told me to take him down to the doctor and I did. Dr. Wakeman told George to lie on the floor and told me to sit on his chest and he sewed up the ends of George's fingers and we went home.

When we got home mother was out in the yard and she said, "George, we are through." He packed up and left and my mother said to me, "We will run the farm, you and I." It was a hard job as there was five of us to support but we did pretty good.


I got a job as a snot (plumber's helper) at Hull and Rogers in Danbury. I went there after the holidays and the boss asked me if I knew anything about horses. I said I did and he told me to hitch up the white horse and come around to the porch. I did and he put a mess of tools in the wagon and we started. We got into the street and he looked around and said, "You will have to run back and get the blow torch." I did not know what a blow torch was. I was looking around and the handyman asked me if I was looking for something. I told him I was and said what and he said, "There it is on the bench in front of you." If it had been a snake it would have bitten me.

It was very cold that winter and about all the work we had was frozen toilets. I could not take it. My stomach would not let me. I spent one month and I told the boss I could not take it. He said he thought I would make a good man for the business but I wound up my job as a plumber.

About that time I got a letter from an old school mate that had graduated the year before and gone to New York to work. He said he had a job with an insurance firm. I went down and had a talk with the boss and he told me to come to work Monday morning. I did and all I done was run errands. This was down on the lower part of Broadway and we boarded over in Brooklyn. The elevated train ran close to our window and I could not sleep. I stayed close to six weeks and, one night, I told my chum that I was going home to stay. That was the end of the city for me.

When my mother's brother, Bryne Crane, knew I was home, he came down and told me I was to go into the hat shop and learn a trade. He told me I had been running around enough. So I went to work up to E. Mallory and Sons and I signed an agreement to work for them for three years and they were to keep fifteen percent of my wages. I was to work on all branches of the finishing business which was stiff hat, soft hat, silk hat, lady's felt hat, and knap hat. I was to work two weeks on each one of them for nothing. If the man who was learning me saw fit to give me a dollar or two he would but many weeks I got nothing. It was pretty dull.

But I finally got a break. When I went there the shop was what they called a hoppen shop and two months after I went there the shop went fair and that made my agreement no good. The boss called me down to the office and said, "Our agreement is no good now so we will give you back half your money." After that I was on my own.

Then I began to look at the girls. There was a girl there from New York that boarded to Nickerson's in the summer, Bessie Moore, but she gave me the go by. She became a model and then she went to stage. The next girl was an Alice Gorham. Her father was always telling me what to do and what not to do and I did not like that so I quit her. Shortly after that she began going out with another boy and one night the horse ran away and she was killed. The next girl was Lucy Sanford. Her mother didn't like me so we broke up.

One Sunday afternoon I was sitting around the house and mother told me she wanted me to take some dress goods up to Annie Haines. So I hitched up my horse and went up. She had a younger sister, Allie, which I gave the once over and as I started to go she walked out to the gate with me and we had quite a talk and I asked her if she would go riding with me next Sunday and she said yes.

That started something. We kept company for a year and a half and then, the last day of 1900, we were married. I went down to get the marriage license and Judge Nickerson said, "I can not give you a license, you are a minor and I will have to see your mother." And he did and I guess she said alright because I got the license and that day we were married. I quit early and went to her house and told her father that Allie and I was going to get married. He looked at me and said, "This is kind of sudden, well, take good care of her, she is my baby." We got married that night down at the parsonage and came home and my hired hand had our bedroom all decorated. After new years we both went back in the shop.

Shortly after that mother began to disagree with me so I went over to grandfathers' and told him that my wife and I was going to leave, that he would have to pay the taxes and the insurance as he had the mortgage on the farm. He told me that I had better stay and I came home but things did not get any better.

Shortly after that he died and things got worse because he had left me twice as much as he did my brothers, and me being a minor made things worse yet. So I went down to J.B. Sanford and told him the story and asked him if he would act as my guardian and he said he would. I went home and told my mother what I had done and that I was going to leave. I told her that I would give her half the stuff. She said, "I will not give you nothing."

I had three horses, twelve cows, a barn full of hay, about a hundred bushel of potatoes, twenty barrels of apples and ten pigs. When she said she would not give me nothing I was pretty blue. I went to Mr. Sanford and told him and he came up and talked with my mother and she let me have one horse, two wagons, and two pigs. Mr. Sanford told me to forget the rest so I did. The next day my wife's father came down and asked what we were going to do. He said, "Well, you come up to the house and live with us till you know what you're going to do." So we did.

You know two families can not live in the same house together. I came home from work one night and the pot was boiling. He had been arrested because he had been harboring a horse of mine which I had had the vet cut the tail off of which was against the law. Several people told me to take her over to Brewster and have her tail cut off because you could not drive her. She would get her tail over the line and just stand there and start kicking till you got the tail off the line. The case was called so we went to the Bethel Court House. I had a lawyer and the court was called to order and the judge up and said, "I have looked into this case and I don't think Mr. Haines is guilty of any crime and the boy be morally guilty but not legally guilty. Court dismissed." I paid our lawyer fifty dollars.

I took the horse over to Baxter and Shove Stables in Brewster and they sent her down to New York to be auctioned off and the next I knew I came from work one night and I got off the trolley and Mr. P.J. Gavin that ran the drug store met me. He told me Baxter and Shove wanted me to call them. I called them and they asked me what I was going to do about that horse. They had sold her to a woman and she had run away and smashed up the carriage and broke the woman's arm. "I am not going to do nothing. I did not guarantee the horse." I said. I don't know how they came out, I never heard from them. Since I got nothing out of the deal, I lost the price of the horse plus the cost of cutting off her tail and fifty dollars I paid the lawyer - a pretty dear horse.

About that time my wife and I were not getting along very well with her parents. One morning at the breakfast table I was dunking my bread in my coffee and her father said to me, "Young man, as long as you eat at my table don't dunk your bread in your coffee because I don't like it." That night I told my wife we better get some rent so the next day we went to see Mr. Ed Andrews, the man I worked for when there was no work in the shop. He said there was an empty house two houses from him that was owned by a man in Waterbury and he would call him on the phone. The man said, "Yes if he will do his own cleaning up, and I mean back yard too, and he need not pay any rent until he hears from me." I took the rent and moved in. Mr. Ed Andrews told me I could take a team of horses any time I wanted to clean up the back yard. I did and we stayed there three months and I never saw the man that owned the house and I paid no rent.

One thing that happened while I was there, Mr. Ed Andrews came down one night and asked me if I wanted to go to Waterbury in the morning as he had bought two pairs of horses from the brass factory. We went and we put a saddle on one, tied the three others together, and I got into the saddle and started for Bethel. He led me out of the city and then he left me. I thought, "Boy, you will be alright."

He no more than left me and it started to rain. I had no rain coat and I was wet through. Then I began to get blisters you know where. I would get off and walk and then get back on and ride. I would swear and then I would cry but got into Bethel about ten o'clock that night. Ed heard me come in and he came out and said, "Boy, you had a bad day." We put the horses in the barn. "Now you come into the house, my wife has got a nice lunch for you." I said I had better go home as my wife would be worried about me but I went in and he and his wife could not do enough for me. They gave me dry clothes and then I went home and I found my wife crying and the first thing she said was, I thought you were never coming." I did not get out of the house for two days as I could not sit down or walk.

A few odd things about my father in law, Mr. Haines: He was a very witty man. The old timers laugh about him till this day. They would like to talk to him as he always had something to say to make you laugh or make you mad. One time he was a judge in Bethel and the courthouse was always full when he had a case because he was so witty he would keep them laughing all through the trial. He was a blacksmith by trade and he was a good one but in his later years he gave up blacksmithing and done a little farming and a little work for the neighbors.

Fourth of July, he would have the whole family home for a big day with a big clam bake. One fourth, he wanted some peas and he asked a neighbor if he could buy some peas. His name was Wildman and he was right named because he was wild. He told Haines the peas was too old but Haines got the peas anyway and they were old and you could not cook them.

Wildman peddled ice in Bethel at that time and, when he was coming back from Bethel, he went by Haines house. Haines saw him coming and was mad about the peas. He went out and told Wildman he wanted his money back. Wildman told him he would not give him his money back. Haines pulled him off the wagon and they started to fight. Wildman knocked him down and got straddle of him and began to punch him in the face. My wife told me to go and pull Wildman off or she would and I guessed she would so I pulled him off. Wildman looked at me and said, "Where in hell did you come from?" I said, "It makes no difference." I told him I thought Haines had had enough. Haines got up and he was a sight; two black eyes and a bloody nose. He went in the house and the girls washed him up. He told me to hitch up the horse and take him to Bethel as he was going to have Wildman arrested. I told him to cool off. "You are not going to have him arrested as you are to blame." He cooled off but I guess they never spoke after that.

One day, when he was about seventy five, he was fixing a silo for a neighbor and he fell about fifteen feet and broke his pelvis bone. That put him in bed for a long time and my wife and I would go up twice a week and I would shave him and my wife would wash him and he would say, "I feel fine."

One day we went up and somebody had butchered a hog for him and he told me to go up to the barn and cut up the hog and I did. I was cutting up the hog and I heard somebody hollering, "You are killing me." I got down to the house and his three daughters had got him into a wheel chair and you could hear him a mile. The girls told him that it was doctor's orders and that, if he did not get up soon, he never would. But we had to put him back to bed. The next day it was not so bad. In three or four days, he got so he could get from the bed into the chair himself.

When he got so he could get out, they was working the town road in front of his house and he went out and sat on a stone. It was in the spring and the stone was cold and he took cold and developed pneumonia and he died.

One Sunday my Uncle Will came up and asked me if I wanted to buy the home as he was going to foreclosure. It would be appraised and if I wanted it he would put a flea in the ear of the appraiser to appraise it low. I said, "Well it depends on how much they appraise it for." They appraised it and I told my wife we would buy it. I went down to Mr. J.B. Sanford as he was still my guardian and he said he thought it was a good buy. His sister came in the office and said, "Howard, you know that is an unlucky place as three young men have died there in my day."

I bought it, moved in, and soon found out nothing went well. One day I was looking at the buildings. The barn and the house needed new roofs on so I told my wife I was going to sell. Before I sold, I lost a horse and, again, I went to Mr. Sanford and told him I had no money and I had to have a horse. "I will meet you at the City National Bank in the morning. I will endorse your note and get the money." I met him there and in we went. He introduced me to Mr. Griffin, the president, and told him that I wanted to borrow some money. "That is alright if you will endorse the note." Mr. Sanford said, "Sure I will." Mr. Griffin then asked me how much I wanted. I told him I had changed my mind and did not want any. Mr. Sanford said, "If you was my boy, I would tune your pants." Mr. Griffin said it was a disgrace to borrow if you can't pay it when it comes due. "You come in and pay the interest and a little on the note. We will make out a new one and everything will be alright." I said, "No, I would not borrow no money."

I came home and went down to Sanfordtown where a horse jockey lived and told him I had some heifers I would trade for a horse. In the morning he came up and said, "I will take them two heifers there for the horse that you was looking at." We traded and if I had given him the two heifers and killed the old horse I would have been better off. He was cut in the wind. You worked him about ten minutes and had to rest him for five minutes. Well, I got along with him that summer and in the fall I sold him for five dollars.

About that time Mr. Deacon, who had bought the place next door, came over and asked me if I wanted to sell the place as he had heard I was going to build a tobacco barn across the road from his house and if I did that I would spoil his view. I said I was not going to build anything. I don't know whoever told him that. "How much will you take for the place?" I told him, "I will let you know in a day or two." The second day he came up and said he would take the place if I would take a half mortgage for one year and I did. He bought the place for his son and ran it for about a year and that was enough for him. He told me he had had all the farming he wanted. Then it was rented for two or three years to two different parties. Both of them had bad luck. Then Mr. B.J. Sanford bought it for his oldest son and I guess it was no better for him. He got discouraged and gave up.

I am a little ahead of myself. The first one that rented, both he and his wife died. Their youngest and second said it was the most "who do" place they had ever lived in. Then it was sold to Mr. Harold Burritt. He died there a young man. His wife is living there now.

When I left there I went to work over on Cough Hill for a man by the name of Lester Peck. I told the foreman when he hired me that I thought we could not get along together because he was too quick temperament. He said, "We will get along alright. I will tell you what to do in the morning and that is all there is to it." It did not. We got into one argument after another. The final one was this:

He told me to yoke up oxen with the boy that was working there and go down in the woods and get a load of brush. We got our load of brush and was coming up the cart path and I saw Stowe, the foreman, coming down. I said to the boy, his name was Paul Johnson, "Someone is coming." We met Stowe. He said, "What is the matter with you. We did not hire you to tell us what to do." I asked, "What do you mean?" He said, "You told Paul that he had better go and learn the carpenter trade as he had a good chance to go to Senior's Lumber Yard and learn the trade." I said, "What's wrong about that?" He looked at me and me at him like two cats. "I said, "Take your damn oxen. Here is the whip. Drive your own oxen."

That night, he and the big boss came down to the house and tried to patch things up. They offered me more money and a half day off to go to Bethel to pick up the meat and groceries that Peck sent up from New York every week, but I would have to be there at night to help milk as we was milking sixty head. Things went along pretty well for a while till our only child at that time got sick and the doctor told us we had to get a nurse. I told the boss. He said, "Well, I am going to Danbury today and I will find one." He came home and said, "You stay home for a while and help your wife as we had four of the help boarding with us. The next morning there was a knock on the door. I asked who was there. Stowe said, "It's me." You have to come up and help as some of them have gone off on a drunk." I had not been to sleep for two nights and one day and was not very agreeable but I went and helped milk and came back home for breakfast.

After breakfast I began to put the cookware and dishes into barrels and one of the men said, "Boss, what are you doing?" I said, "I am leaving you." He went up to the Stowe house and told him what was going on. Stowe came down and wanted to know what this was all about. I told him I was leaving. He tried to get me to stay but I would not. I went back to work at the hat shop.

About that time, Ed Miller got married. He bought out his two brothers and he wanted me to come work the old Miller farm for him. I did. We moved upstairs where the post office is now.

One day he said he had to go to Danbury and he said for me and his younger brother to finish connecting up the water pipe that ran from the top of the hill down to the barn. As we was putting on the last length came a bolt of lightning. His brother was on the end holding it and I was screwing it up when the lightening came. It threw him out the door about six feet. I went to him and he was unconscious. I brought him in by the water tub and splashed water on him and he came to. He said, "Did you not feel it?" I said, "No." I think the reason I did not was because I had rubber boots on. I then told him we would go up to the house where I lived. We did and we got up there I could not find my wife or the lady that lived downstairs there, name was Delaney. We finally found them on the back stairs with both doors shut. I asked them why they were there and they said so they could not see the lightning. I think it was one of the worst storms I ever seen.

Ed made a failure of farming, sold out to Dan Warner, and he moved to Bethel as his wife had come into possession of a hardware store and five houses. But he did not make a go of that either and finally lost everything. We then went to Boston for a while, as we had some friends up there by the name of Beers, and looked around for a farm as he was in the real estate business. One night my wife said, "We are going back to Redding and buy Mrs. Banks' place." I said, "Alright." We came back and I went down to Southport where Mrs. Banks lived to see what she wanted for the place. She told me that Mr. Deacon, over in Bridgeport, had an option on it. She said, "I will give you his address." I told her I knew him and I had had dealings with him. I went over to see him and he said if I would pay half of the option I could buy it. I told Mrs. Simon Banks that I would take the place. She could have the deeds drawn up and I would be down in a few days with the money.

I went down and she had the deeds of two pieces only. I told her that there were three pieces. She said she did not know, that I would have to see her brother in law, John Todd. I went to see him and he said, "Yes." I told him I knew where two pieces was but I did not know where the third piece was. He said, "I will show you tomorrow. I will meet you at the Midbrook place at ten o'clock in the morning."

He showed me the piece and after he had shown me we sat down for a little talk. "How much did you pay Mrs. Banks for the place?" I told him and he said, "You did not buy it, you stole it. Now, young man, you are starting out in life now. You want to save ten cents out of every dollar you make. When you get to be an old man, you will have something." I told him that it was alright for him, "As you are shipping one and two car loads of lime a day. Your income is large."

I bought the piece and one night I hired a horse from Will Nichols and my wife and I drove down from Bethel. Dan Warner was living here at the time and he had been here fourteen years and paid seventy five dollars a year rent. He had let the farm grow up to bushes and weeds as he made his living outside. I told him I had bought the place and I would give him thirty days to move. He got really mad and asked me how I could buy it, that he had been trying for two years to buy it. He moved over to the Miller farm when thirty days was up. Ed Andrews let me have a team of horses for nothing and I brought a load of stuff down to the place and I found that Warner had taken about all the doors that had been upstairs and all the potato bins with him.

I went over to see him. I told him I would give him until tomorrow night to bring the doors back and hang them and the potato bins he could have or I would have him arrested. He brought the doors back and did not speak to me for a year. But he got over it and we were the best of friends till he died. He was constable for a number of years and he would always call on me when he had a job he did not like.

I remember one case he had a young fellow from Danbury hammered up a old man over on the West Redding and Danbury line for his money and he was taken in by the police. But the house was in West Redding so he had to be tried in Redding.

Warner came over to the house one night and said he had a job for tomorrow and would I help him to bring that fellow down from Danbury for the trial. We went to Danbury with a horse and a two seated wagon. We went to the jail and the captain told Warner we had a bad actor and we had "Better handcuff him to one or the other of you." Warner said, "I will cuff him to you." I said, "No. If I can't get that boy down to West Redding without him being handcuffed to me, I will shoot myself." We had no trouble getting him down to West Redding. I sat in the back seat with him and gave him a cigar and we had a very nice ride. He got one year in jail.

Coming home from jail that day, Dan asked me if I had ever found that piece of woodland up on Huckleberry Hill. I told him I had. "John Todd showed me." I tried to tell him. "You are all wrong. The only way you will ever find it is to get Henry Hill to show you. If you can get him to." he said. Henry said, "I will show you anytime. We set a date and the three of us went over and, going over, Dan said, "If I am wrong I will give you and your wife the best oyster supper you ever had." We got over there and Henry said, "Somebody has been cutting wood on me." Dan said, "That somebody is me if that is your wood. I will pay you for it." Henry said, "No. I will never cut anymore wood. Now, the piece just north of here is Howard's." "How do you know?" Dan asked. "Well it was left to me by my father and I have been on and off it for over sixty years. I ought to know." Finally he convinced Dan that he was wrong. Dan said, "I am beat so I will let you know when we will have that supper." A few days after that Dan came up and said that supper would be served "at 7:00 o'clock tomorrow night."

We went down and what a supper that was. We had baked oysters, fried oysters, oyster stew and all the fixings that goes with it and we had wine but Henry would not touch it. Dan told him he would get to heaven just as well if he had drank it. "No.", Henry said, "I am temperate. I never touch the stuff." Mrs. Warner was one of the best cooks in Redding and we had a very nice evening. But all four now have gone. I don't know whether they went to heaven or hell.

Well up back of our house and barn was a three acre peach orchard and the federal government came along and told me I would have to cut them down as they had what they called "yellows" and they would have to burn them up. "If you want them cut down, you cut them down." I said. They told me I would have to do it myself. Two weeks after that they came and cut them down about two feet above the ground but they did not burn them. It took me all winter to trim them up and burn the brush.

One day when I was trying to plow with a pair of old horses, my neighbor Aaron Read came in and said, "What you want on this run down farm is a pair of oxen as you are the nervous type and a pair of oxen would do you good. They are slow and easy." I said, "I got no money to buy oxen with." "Did I ask you about any money? You be ready in the morning and we will go to Wilton."

In the morning I got up early and done my chores and got my breakfast and in he came. Down to Wilton we went and we drove into Sam Lockwood's and he came out and said, "Gosh, brother, I have not seen you in a long time." Mr. Read asked him if he had any oxen. He said, "Yes." "Well, we are down here to buy a pair if you will trust us." Mr. Read said. "I don't know any better man to trust than you." said Mr. Lockwood.

We went down in the lot and he had four pair. We looked them over and Aaron asked me what pair I liked. "I like all of them but I got no money." "There you go again." he said. Mr. Lockwood said, "That don't matter any. I will trust you." Mr. Read picked out a pair of Holstein and asked Lockwood if he could get them up to the barn so we could try them out on a cart. He brought them up to the barn and yoked them up to a cart and Mr. Read drove them around. "Howard, you are going to buy that pair of oxen." he said. Again I said I had no money. Lockwood said, "I have told you you do not need any money as these oxen will make you some." By that time they had me convinced. Mr. Read said, "You will have to take the boy's note." And Mr. Lockwood said, "That is alright."

We went to the house and he started to make out the note and I told him to make it out for half as I had enough money in my pocket to pay for half now. "If you need that money you keep it as I don't need it." He made out the note for half and we started home with the oxen. Aaron drove them pretty near up to Georgetown and he said, "I am getting tired. I think you can get home with them." He got into the wagon and went home and I took the oxen.

I got up to the railroad crossing and I could not get them across. An old man came along that I knew by the name of John Peters. "What is the matter? Can't you get them across?" he said. He took the whip and turned them around and backed them across. "You learn something every day." he said.

I got home and I began to feel pretty proud as all the neighbors all around me came to see them as they looked like they were twins. I found out afterwards they were twins. A man came along one day and stopped. They were out across the road and he asked me where I got those oxen. I told them and he said, "I raised them and they are twins."

I rooted up the whole farm and got it in good shape. One day I was harrowing a piece of rye over back and it was time to go and get the school children and the oxen were tired. Their tongues were hanging out. I drove them under a tree and went for the children. I came back in about one hour and could not find them. It was getting late and I had a lot of chores to do so I came home and, while I was milking, in came J.L. Blackman to sell me some feed. After he sold me some he said, "I think your oxen are over by Amy Carter's farm under an apple tree eating apples." As you know, cattle can eat enough apples to make them drunk. I rode back with Mr. J.L. Blackman and brought them home. They did not eat enough to make them drunk.

Then, one time, John Read and I was having trouble about our line fence. I did not think he was fixing his half. I wanted to turn in the oxen in this field where this piece of fence had not been fixed. So I took a steel tape and measured it and found that there were seventy five feet that belonged to him. When I went and told him he said, "I will not fix it. I know where my half is. I was born on this farm and I know all about the fences." "Alright," I said, "tomorrow I am going to turn those oxen in there and if they get on your land and do any damage you need not blame me."

I turned them in and it was on a Sunday and he had to go to church. He came home and found the oxen tearing a couple of stacks of hay to pieces. He came down on horseback and told me my oxen was up in his barnyard and I could not take them out until I had stacked that hay. I told him I would not and, about that time, his horse was getting into my wife's flowers and she began to tell him what she thought of him which did not make things any better. He went home and I got my ox whip and went up.

I opened the gates and he would shut them. We did that a couple of times and I told him I was going in the yard. And when I hollered he would not have any gates he said, "Your oxen can not jump them gates. They are too high. Mr. Adams has just built them for me and, you break them, I will have you arrested."

I got over in the yard and let out a holler which is not in the English language and the neigh ox made a leap. He got his front end over but his hind end came down on the gate and it went to pieces. The off ox followed him and they never stopped running till they got down to the barn. My wife said she saw them come down over the hill and she never saw anything as fast. I never heard no more from John. He fixed the fence and that was the end of that.


When the state built the piece of road from Qualley's up to Lonetown School, a colored man was boss of the job. He came to the house one morning and asked if he could hire me to go down to Sanfordtown and draw his automobile. It had broken down and he said he would like to have it up on the job so he could fix it. "I will give you five dollars if you will bring it up." he said. We both went down and hitched on to it and we both got in the front seat and started for home. He said, "I have rode in everything but never a car drawn by a pair of oxen." He sang all the way up. He was a good singer and I enjoyed it. We got to the job and he gave me my five dollars.

They had a stone crusher with two pair of mules hooked on to it trying to move it and they could not. I told the boss I would move it for another five dollars. "Alright," he said, "You move it. "Now I don't want anybody around." So he told the men to take their hammers and go and break some stone. There was a wall that ran from George Williams' barn up to the school house. I hooked on to it and then we got some water and poured it under the skids. I began to get the oxen excited and they began to manure and I would pull the crusher sideways, first one way and the other until I got it on the manure. The rest was easy. I only had to draw it about seventy five feet. He gave me the five dollars more and that made a good pay for the day. Ten dollars was a lot of money in those days.

Then, one day a telephone man came in and asked me if I wanted to draw some telephone poles. "We are putting in a new line from here over Gallows Hill to West Redding and would like to get somebody to draw out the poles. They are already cut. We have bought them off every land owner from here to West Redding. We will pay fifty cents a piece to draw them out and leave them about where they need to be set." I took the job.

I put a hame or a horse collar on one oxen bottom side up so as not to choke him as an ox draws from the top of his neck and a horse from his breast. I left the other ox out beside the road and went into the woods and hooked on to the tip of a pole and told him to "Get". He would start for the other ox and if the pole got caught on anything I would take a log hook and loosen it and he would go out to the other ox. I made a good pay - some days three dollars, some days six dollars.

One day I took a load of hay up to the firehouse in Danbury with the ox and up on Main Street, where the Genung's store is now, I got in the trolley track. It was icy and when I tried to get out the bail hay turned over. A cop came along and asked me where I was going. I told him down to the fire house. "I will get you a man to help you load it." he said. I told him I did not need any man. "I loaded it this morning and I could do it again." I told him I would take half the load and come back and get the rest of it. When I came back he was there with a man. The man was about half drunk. I told him I was very thankful to him as I could do it myself much easier. Everybody in the street had a good time looking and I finally got it cleaned up. I got home that night about seven o'clock. I forgot to say that the bails of hay at that time was much larger. They would weigh about two hundred pounds and they measured four feet long, three high, and two feet thick which made quite a bundle.

Now the oxen were getting old and I thought I would go into making milk as I was making butter and sold it in Bethel for fifteen cents a pound. One day Sam Lockwood drove in and I told him I was going to sell the oxen and go into making milk. "Well, can't we make a deal? I will give you five heifers for the oxen." He took me down to his place and we made a deal. "Now," he said, "I bought twenty five head of cattle from Amos Camp this morning and he's to bring them over to your place in the morning and you can bring them and the oxen down to my place and I will pay you well." Mr. Camp came in the afternoon with the cattle and turned them in the lot across the road that was all free from bushes at the time. Next morning Beach Baldwin and I started for Wilton with the oxen. Beach went on ahead with the oxen as the cattle would follow. We got down to Wilton with no trouble. That was my last cattle drive. Truckers began to move cattle after that which was a godsend for man and beast.


Then I went into making milk. I had to take the milk over to a rock house on the Easton and Redding town line. The farmers would meet a man there with two pair of horses and he would take it into Bridgeport. Finally we got him to come up to the brick house which was about two miles nearer and he got a truck and came up to the foot of "S" Hill. About that time another man came into the picture and told us he would come to the church on the Ridge and for less money. We told the other man and he said he would do the same.

About that time the farmers decided to team up and go every other week. I teamed up with John Read. He died and then I teamed up with George Williams. Some days he would have two cans and some days three cans. I smelt a rat. I thought he was selling some water. And sure enough one morning I was going to Bethel and he came out and asked me if I would do him a favor. I said "Yes, anything but money." "Well the State had me arrested for watered milk and my car is broke down and I am supposed to get Judge Davis to plead my case and would you bring him down to John Munich for the hearing?"

I said yes and I went to the Judge's office and told him my errand. "I will be ready in about five minutes." he said. We came down and John came out and said, "Come in and listen to the show." I went in and court was called and Mr. Williams jumped to his feet and said "Gentlemen, I will plead my own case. I have Judge Davis here to help me out if I get stuck." George started out and in about five minutes he had the two lawyers for the State stunned. They did not know whether they were going or coming. George won out and I took the Judge back to Danbury. He said, "That Williams is a smart man. All he needed was somebody to pilot him the right way." I told him I thought Williams was a smarter man than he was.

Shortly after that a carpenter in Newtown who I was working for when things on the farm was a little slow got a job to fix over the Judge's new office. He was moving from Main Street onto West Street. Every day the Judge came in and one day when the man and I was eating our lunch he looked at me and said, "Don't I know you? I think we have met before." I said "I'm the one took you to Redding Ridge to plead William's water and milk case." You know, what you said was true." he said, "I wish I had listened to you as he has got my goat."

About that time the federal government passed a law that cattle had to be tested for T.B.. The test came and I lost every one. The state and federal government would pay you about half what they were worth and I lost about a thousand dollars. There were more and more inspections and things began to get worse and worse. My arms began to ache and I could not sleep nights and I went to see the doctor. He told me that my arteries and the muscles of my heart were not working as they should and I had to stop using my arms. I bought a milking machine but that was not much help. I went to the doctor again and he said, "You will have to quit." I did. I sold off the cows that was milking and kept the dry ones and some heifers that was coming fresh.

I hung around for three or four more weeks and Bill Banks called me up one night and wanted to know what I was doing. I told him, "Nothing." "I want a handyman", he said, "as I am short of help." At that time he was building a house down in Westport. My wife told me I was not going to work but I did and I worked for him about a year off and on. He was putting a roof on the Water Company cold storage plant and, coming home one night, I felt bad and pulled beside the road and it passed away. I went to the doctor's again and he told me I had high blood pressure and would have to stop. I did.

About that time the heifers that I kept back began to come fresh. I began to make a little milk and sold it to Burritt's Dairy. One day the inspector came and I had a pair of pigs in the barn with the cows and he said "You will have to get those pigs out of the barn or I will have to stop you from selling milk." I told him that it was too cold to put those baby pigs outdoors. I told him that when it came spring I would put them out. In about two weeks he came again and the pigs was in the barn. "Well," he said, "I will have to stop you from selling milk." I went down and told Emerson Burritt what had happened. He told me he needed the milk and I should keep on, that he would come and get the milk. He did and spring came, I put the pigs outside, and the inspector came on day and asked me what I had been doing with my milk. I did not say anything. "Well I know what you have been doing with your milk. You have been selling it to Burritt's. I might have you arrested." But nothing every happened.

The inspections was getting worse. They began to tell you what time you should clean your stables and sweep down the cobwebs. I told him I was going to sell out, that he need not come again. He did come and I had sold out. He said, "I think you are making a mistake as the price of milk is going up." I told him I did not care if it went to a dollar a quart. I was through being dictated to, that this was a free country.


Well, I can't find too much fault as God and the world has been pretty good to me. But I do have a few faults to find. The way prices keep going up. My town taxes was twenty dollars a year. Now they are over three hundred dollars. I used to buy sirloin steak two pounds for twenty five cents and you could chew it. Now you pay a dollar or more for one pound and you can't chew it. But the young people tell me it's all for the best. I can not see it that way.

We raised three daughters. Two went to Normal in Danbury and taught school. The third one went to a prep school in Bridgeport. She wanted to be a physical education teacher but she got married and that was the end of that.

Marion, the middle one, she taught for a while and she got married. She taught in the County Home in Norwalk for a while. One night she called up from Norwalk and told her mother she would not be home till late as they had a meeting. Her mother said to me, "I bet Marion has had an accident." And, sure enough, she had got in the trolley track and it was icy and the trolley was coming and she stepped on the gas. She jumped the track and went down an embankment and run against a state marker and tore off the bottom of the transmission. A coal truck came along and drew the car back on the road and, about that time, a friend of hers from Bethel came along and told her to get in her car and follow him; that he knew where there was a good garage. That afternoon, one of the teachers that rode with her could not find her gold beads and she finally found them in her boullmer leg.

The oldest daughter, Winifred, taught in Easton and, one Friday night when we was bringing her home, she said to me, "I am going to get married." And I said, "You know the old saying. 'Your mother and I gave you a head, now it's time for you to use it. As you make your bed now you will have to sleep in it.'"

I was born May 16, 1882. I had two brothers, one Arthur and the other was Clarence. Arthur had a mean disposition. Nothing would please him. Clarence was the other way. You could not make him mad. Arthur would sometimes get mad and hold his breath and turn black and mother would say, "Get on the horse. (name was Kit)", and I would go for the doctor. He would come up and they would put Arthur in a tub of hot water with mustard and he would come to. The doctor then told my mother not to cross Arthur and he would get over it but he never did. He still had that same temper. Clarence, the younger brother died at age thirty five.

The last days of my father, he left West Redding Depot for New York with five cows and a pair of oxen in a box car. The next thing we knew, the ticket agent came over to the house with a telegram that he had been hurt. My mother and his mother, Mabel Hill Platt, took the train to New York. They had taken him to the hospital because his skull had been fractured. They brought him home even though the doctor in New York said no. We always thought there was foul play because we never found his wallet or his watch and he had a revolver which was gone too.

He seemed to get better during the winter. Mother would take him to Danbury to collect money that was owed him for the hay and straw from livery stables and the fire department and one day he got a check from the department and we found out that every place he called at he would cross off their account. Then mother knew that something was wrong. He kept getting worse. Finally we called the doctor and he said he would have to have an operation. They did it right at home. We had three doctors and two nurses. Doctor Wolfe was the surgeon and Doctor Barber and Doctor May from Bethel. But on May 23, 1892, he died. I was ten.

I will tell you some of the ways he had to make money. He went up to Maine and would buy a carload of potatoes, put a stove in the car with the potatoes and keep fire in the stove so they would not freeze. He would come into Danbury and sell them. He would go into Canada and buy a load of turkeys. One time when he was up there, the man that was taking him around thought they had better stop and get a drink and some eats. They stopped and they went to the bar. The bartender said, "Brother, your nose is froze." They put some snow on it and it was alright until he got home and then it all peeled.

He would fatten up those turkeys and dress them and take them into Bergham and New Haven. Bergham is now part of New Haven. The neighbors would come in and pick them for ten cents a piece. The last trip to New Haven, the horse ran away and crashed into a store front which cost dad quite a lot of money to settle. That was the end of the turkey business. Then he would car in hay from Vermont and sell it to the livery stables as there was many at that time.

All this was a sideline to his farming. After haying, a good many farmers would go up to Vermont and the northern part of New York and buy cattle and drive them down. One time I went up with Aaron Reed and, up in the southern part of Vermont, he stopped and there was a man hoeing corn. Mr. Reed said, "Hello, brother!" (that was quite a saying at that time). "Your corn don't look very green. It looks yellow." "Yep." he said, "I planted the yellow kind." "Do you know who has any cattle to sell?" asked Mr. Reed. "Yep." he said. "Right up the road a piece on the right there is a big red barn and on the left is a big white house. I think you will be able to find someone there." We did and bought fifteen head and about five miles north of there we bought ten more. That made enough so, next day, we got them together and started back. The distance you could make in a day depended on the weather. If it was hot and they began to stick out there tongues and froth to the mouth you had to stop or they would act like a person who has been sun stroke.

At night we would hunt up a pound as every town in those days had one to put stray cattle in and the owner would have to pay to get them out. We would put them in and if it was not storming we would take our blankets and lay down for the night. In the morning we would start out again. The pound in Redding was where Mrs. Almy now lives. At that time it was owned by Albert Gorham.

Talking about cattle, my grandfather and his wife would drive a pair of oxen from Newtown to Bridgeport with a load of farm stuff such as was raised on the farm. Also some fresh meat - beef, pig, lamb - his wife would take eggs, butter, cheese, tallow candles, and yeast. She would go from door to door and sell her stuff and take the money and buy cloth to make a dress and things for the boys. Grandfather always bragged about it. He would say he raised three boys and all he did was to feed them. In the fall he would gather walnuts, chestnuts and butternuts and take them to New York to sell them and get enough to pay his taxes and some left over. About all they had to buy was tea, coffee, a few spices and salt.

And while we are talking about oxen, my brother was getting Mrs. Osborn's hay on Redding Ridge and the night we finished up we put all the tools and cider jug in the ox cart. Three men and myself got in to go home and we got to the top of the hill going down to Little River and the oxen started to run, turned the cart over, and as the cart went over, the pin on the end of the pole that holds the yoke dropped out and then the oxen was free. They went as far as Little River and all they wanted was a drink of water.

Every farm boy knew about horses but, because my father died when I was ten, I had to handle horses earlier than most. At the time my father died we had five horses. A horse is a funny animal. He has more diseases than any animal I know of: he has flat feet, corns, side bone spasms, ringbone, quitor, fistula, poll evil, glanders and, worst of all, he has colic - three different kinds. Some horses you can not feed or water when warm for they have the colic. Then there is another bad thing, is balking. He won't move. Sometimes they would put a chain around his neck and pull him with a pair of horses. Sometimes you could break him but you had to carry the chain with you and, when he stopped, you would take the chain and rattle it and he would go. But that would wear out.

I had one that I could not drive but my wife could. I told her that there would be a time when she could not. So, one day, she and a neighbor was going to Bethel and the horse stopped and would not go. Finally the horse turned herself around and came home. That was the end. I sold her for ten dollars for dog meat and her hide. I had another one that I got from J.B. Sanford that had no control of itsbowels. Every time you drove her she would cover you all over the wagon and all. I have no use for that kind of horse. The last pair I had I sold for dog meat and I got just as much as I paid for them, two hundred dollars. So you see dog meat has gone up since the old days.

One of the best horses I ever owned was a horse that Mark Twain had sent over from England for his daughter to ride. She never rode him much as she died shortly after. That horse would do anything you asked him to do. One day I was plowing and my wife came up in the lot and told me the Academy was on fire. I jumped on his back and went to the fire and when I got there there was three men. We formed a bucket line using some of the larger boys and we put the fire out. We done about as well as our fire company does today. We did not break no windows or doors to make a draft as they do today.

The finish of Scotty, that was his name, I went to harness him one morning and he was bleeding from the nose. I put a wet bag on his neck and head and called the vet. He came down and said, "I can stop it. You keep those bags wet." He blew some powder up in his nostrils and the bleeding eased up. I told the vet that was the end. He said, "No, he has not laid down yet." I told him when he laid down that would be the end and, about that time, he laid down and that was the end.

I threw a blanket over him as I had to go to Danbury the next day. The doctor came up as he was the Board of Health, and asked me if I had a dead horse up back of the barn. I said, "Yes." "Well, I had a compliant this morning that he smelled bad." He said I would have to bury him that night. I drew him over back and buried him and put a heap of hay and the blanket over where he was as I knew who made the complaint. The next day the doctor came up again. "Now, Howard, I don't want to make any trouble for you but you will have to dispose of that horse." "You get in the car and I will show you where that horse is." I said. We got in and started over back. We got about half way there and he asked me if I was taking him for a ride. We finally got to where the hay was with the blanket over it. The doctor said, "Well, that's something." I knew very well who made the complaint but the doctor would not tell me. I left the pile of hay there with the blanket over it so the old maids could see because I knew they was the only ones that could see where the horse died.

One morning I took milk over to the Ridge with Scotty. After I unloaded the milk and picked up my eight empty cans, I drove up to the platform of John Munich's store to get some groceries and, as I stepped from the wagon onto the platform, John drove up with his car and the horse started down the hill. I asked John if he would go after him. He said he was no cowboy but he would. We got down to Little River and there stood Mr. Tucker holding the horse. Tucker said he saw him coming and tried to stop him but, when he got into the road, the horse threw himself. The lines had got caught in the wheel and rolled up so tight that they threw him. Tucker cut the lines and that let him up. It did not do much damage but it cracked the shaft. I tied up the lines and we went back up to the store and picked up the eight empty milk cans as I went along as every one had been thrown out. I met Milo Osborn who lived at the top of the hill. He said, "I never, in all my life, see a horse run as fast as that horse did. He was just flying." It was a bad hill but the state took it over and straightened it out. I think the hill is hoodoo because that is where one of my girlfriends was killed in a run away.

My father sent his father over to Georgetown to get a load of cider barrels and, coming home, he was coming down Knob Crook which comes down to the Glen. The barrels started to role and they rolled off onto the horses and they ran away and ran into a tree. One of them could not get up so granddad got on the other horse and came home. He told dad what had happened and they went back down and dad thought the horse's leg was broken. Grandfather said, "I will go to Bethel and get the vet." The vet came down and the leg was broken. "If we had him under shelter I could put some splints on and, with close watch, you might bring him through." At the foot of the hill lived a man by the name of Ferdinand Gorham. Dad asked him if he could put the horse under his shed. Mr. Gorham said, "No, there is so much glanders going around I don't want him on my place." Glanders is very contagious. So the vet told dad he had better kill him as he had a spavin on the leg that was broken and he was not worth trying to save.

So the vet shot him and we drew him up on the Old Stagecoach Road and left him in horse heaven. That was a place where all the farmers took their dead animals. It was about a mile from my house. Soon the dogs, wild animals and birds had them all cleaned up. In a week or ten days there was nothing left but the bones and us kids got the bones and sold them to the rag man. So you see how much was gotten out of them animals. Now, the board of health makes you bury them so the wildlife gets no food and the kids get no money for candy change.

Things I remember about different men:

I will start with Mike Flood, the blacksmith. One night there was a bad ice storm. The next day I tied burlap bags on the horses' feet and went to the shop. It came dinner time and Lou Smith came in the shop. He lived right by the shop and he asked Mike Flood if he was going home for dinner. Mike said, "I think my sister will bring it over." It came one o'clock and she did not come so Lou Smith asked Mike if he could bring him over some food and he said. "Yes, if you got any to spare." So over he came with a big plate of food. Mike ate it and then Lou said to Mike, "When is Howard going to get out?" "Not before five o'clock." So he went back and came back with another plate the same as Mike's: mashed potatoes, and turnip sauce and a big piece of white meat. I ate it all. Then Lou asked Mike how did he like his cooking and Mike said, "Fine." Then Lou asked him if he knew what kind of meat it was. Mike said, "All I know is that it was good, no wonder you was a cook in the army." "Well, it was skunk!" Mike tried to get rid of it but it would not come up.

One morning Mike was going to work and we had a bad snow storm and, half way between the center and the shop, he dropped dead. A neighbor came along and found him and he stopped and told Dr. Smith. So Dr. Smith and his son took a sled and put him on it and took him home.

His father was the first man I ever saw to have his shirttail outside of his pants and, one day, I asked him why he did it and he said, "To keep cool."


The first town meeting I went to, somebody got up and made some motion, I don't remember what it was, and Harvey Rumsey was selectman. He jumped up and asked him if he had paid his taxes last year. The man said, "No." "Well, sit down we don't want men like you to try to run the town." Sometimes I think the town today is being run that way. They drift in and out like the tide. They get us in a hole and then they are gone.


Then there was Walter Edmonds. One day he sat on the porch at the store and he fell out of the chair. I ran over to Dr. Wakeman who lived just across the road. He came over and said, "I think he has been eating too much fresh pork." They took him home but he kept on having the spells and he had to stay in bed. One night Mrs. Edmonds came down to the house and asked my mother if I could come up and stay with her. That I did and we went in the bedroom and she told me to watch him and, "If he opens his mouth, you take that handkerchief (which she had in some water) and put it in his mouth." He opened his mouth and made a funny noise and I went out in the kitchen and told Mrs. Edmonds that he did not look right and she came in and he was dead.


John Todd, he would walk from West Redding over to the church in the center with his shoes under his arm, sit down on the steps, and put them on and go in, listen to the sermon, put more money on the plate than all the rest together, go out, take his shoes off, and walk back to West Redding.


Deacon Abbott, he paid his bills twice a year. That was when he got his interest money. One Sunday, he and the Preacher Jennings came by. My father was getting hay and they tried to tell him what a bad man he was to get hay on Sunday. My father told them he did not think it was any worse than it was for a preacher to get up in the pulpit and preach to make his living. Dad got the hay and they went home.


Mr. Will Loundsbury, they called him "The Newspaper". He knew everything. He would stop everybody that came along and get the news. He would keep on talking and you would have to go on and leave him talking. One morning I went up to pick up the Lonetown children to go to school. His mother came out and asked me to come in and put her son on the lounge as she could not wake him. I went in and he was slumped over in his chair. I told his mother he was dead.

I saw that if he went over any farther he would fall on the stove so I picked him up and laid him on the lounge. I told her that I had heard that it was against the law to move a dead person. She said she didn't care and I told her I would get the doctor as soon as I got the children to school. I went down and told him and he asked me if I would take him up and I did. We both went in and he looked at him and told his mother he was dead. I took the doctor home and went down to Selleck Corners and told her other son, Henry, and he went right up. Then, after that, he got the Qualleys, that lived a little way from there, to take Mrs. Loundsbury as a boarder.

She was there quite a while so the Qualleys thought she was getting on and may die in their house. The old Irish thought it was bad luck for a protestant to die in their house so her son found her a place in Bethel. Then, came the day to move, her doctor asked me if I would help as Seth Rider was going to help. So the three of us went up. The doctor went to her bedroom and told her and he came back downstairs and told Rider and me that she refused to dress. What will we do? We looked at one another and the doctor said, "Howard, what would you do?" I said, "Let Rider take hold of two corners of the sheet and I will do the same and we will pick her up and sit her in a chair. If we can get her in a chair, you tie her with a towel." It worked and Seth and I carried her downstairs and put her into the seat. Seth and I sat in the back seat with her and she fought and hollered all the way to Bethel. We got her there and she did not live long after that.


Isaiah Platt, he was another neighbor. He was totally blind but he could do several kinds of work. I did like to talk to him. He kept two cows and he always kept a pig to butcher in the fall. I would get his hay, plow his garden, and cut and draw his wood. He would come out and tell just how much more I had to get. He would saw and split that ten cord of wood and pile it. He had one daughter and he would say, "If I could open my eyes and see her, I would be willing to die." His wife was blind in one eye but she would gather roots and herbs and she would help everybody around that was sick.

I was coming up the back road one day and he was trying to shut the barn door and the wind blew it against him and knocked him down. I picked him up as he only weighed about a hundred and forty pounds. I took him up to the house, laid him on the lounge, and told Mrs. Platt that I would get the doctor. "No.", she said, "I will make him a cup of tea and he will be alright."

I did go down and tell the doctor what had happened and he came right up and looked him over and told his wife he thought his hip was broken. Doctor asked me if I would go and tell his daughter. (She lived in Danbury. She had married a Mr. Homer Fellow. He was mayor of Danbury at the time.) I did and they both came down and took him to the hospital and neither lived very long after that. I don't think they were any relation of mine.


Another was Henry Hill. One day when I was delivering the school children at the school, Dr. Smith met me and asked if I was busy today. I said, "No." He said, "My car is broke down and Mr. Hill has got to go to the hospital. Can you take us up?" I told him, "Yes." "When can you go?", he asked. I said, "About an hour." I came home and fed the livestock and told my wife I was going to take the doctor and Mr. Hill to the hospital. She wanted to know what was the matter and I told her I did not know. When we got to Danbury, Mr. Hill wanted to stop at the bank and he wanted me to come in. He got some papers, told me to be sure to give them to his wife, and up to the hospital we went.

Dr. Smith asked me if I thought Mr. Hill acted pretty good when we got back into the car. I asked him what he was going to the hospital for and he said that was secret. We got up to the hospital and the doctor wanted to know if I was in a hurry. I said, "No." and went into the waiting room and wait I did. About an hour and a half later the doctor came and said. "Well I'm ready to go and I will tell you what's the matter with Mr. Hill. Last night he was trying to pin his night shirt and he swallowed a safety pin. He did not want anybody to know about it." In about a week I went up and got him and he came home. He said, "I suppose Doc told you what the matter was." I said, "Yes." "Well," he said, "don't tell anybody because they will make fun of me." But it did get out and the whole town laughed about it till the day he died.


Another old timer was John Todd. I was in the Groveland Hatter one afternoon after work with another fellow to get a glass of cider. We stood at the bar drinking our cider and in came Mr. Todd, barefoot, dirty pants and shirt, and he went into the backroom and sat down. He paid no attention to nobody. After a little while the bartender went in and told him he would have to get out, "As this is a very high tone place and the customers would not like the looks of you. Now if you don't get out I will call the cops." Mr. Todd said, "You go and tend to your business and I will do the same. I am going to sit here until the boss comes in." Finally Mr. McPherson came in and the bartended told him some bum in the backroom wanted to see him. He went in and you would have thought they were two brothers who had not seen each other for years. McPherson said, "I am glad to see you. I meant to get down to the place before but I didn't. I will make you out a check for the interest and I won't let it happen again." When Todd went by the bar, the bartender asked him if he would have a drink "on the house". He said, "No. If I want a drink I will buy it and pay for it like a man." I guess the boys razzed the bartender till the day he died.

Another thing that happened there, Mr. Murphy, that ran the big livery stable, he stopped out in front of the City National Bank one day and there was no place to hitch his horse. Mr. Todd stood there and Chew Chew, as the boys called him because he was always chewing tobacco, asked Todd if he would stand by his horse a minute as he had to go in the bank. "I will give you ten cents." Todd stood by the horse till Murphy came out. "Well I stayed longer than I thought. I will give you an extra nickel." he said. "No, a bargain is a bargain, I guess you don't know who I am." Todd said. "No I don't and I don't care." "Well, I am John Todd of West Redding. I am the richest man in Redding."

After we got our car paid for my wife said, "Well, I am going to have a bathroom." Where are you going to get the money to pay for it?", I wanted to know. She sold her chickens and, the first thing I knew, she handed me a card from the freight depot in Bethel that there was some bathroom fixtures there. I went up with the old horse and, after I got them loaded, Mr. Gellar, the freight agent, said, "I am going to tell you a little story. I guess I have told it a hundred times."

"You know Mick Famming over in Frog Hollow?" I said, "Yes." "Well, he had three daughters and, when they got old enough to work, they had a bathroom put in. One night the girls had their boys in to spend the evening and they were playing cards. Their father got up, put on his coat and hat, and one of the girls asked where he was going. "I have a job of my own to do." "Why don't you go upstairs?" they asked. "Now, when you girls was growing up we cooked cabbage and corned beef in the house and did our job out in the backhouse. Now it's the other way around. I am not going to change. Do you hear that?"

Chris Lovely was another man I will always remember. He was a short witty man that could not read or write and liked to look at funny pictures in the paper. If there was no picture, he would get the paper upside down and you would say to him, "Chris, your paper is upside down." And he would say, "Any damn fool can read right side up!"

The first piece of hard surface road that was put in the town of Redding was from the Redding Center firehouse up to the grammar school. Will Sanford was boss and first selectman. The roadbed was dug out about eighteen inches and filled in with stone. The stone had to be laid small end down so as to have good drainage. They call it till fed.

Lovely and I had the job to lay them stone. I was placing a big stone and Lovely picked up one and threw it down against the one I was putting in place and smashed two of my fingers. Will said, "You darn Irishman! Did you not see Howard's fingers?" "I couldn't help it. I'm sorry." Chris said. Will told me to go home as it was close to quitting time. I did not. I finished out the day. That night, they pained me so I could not sleep. My mother told my wife to get some hot water, put some wood ashes in it, and for me to put my fingers in. I did and I went right to sleep. The next day will put me to driving a team.

That Irishman raised seven children and he used to walk from his house up to Carney Crossing, work ten hours, and walk back again. He was a tough Irishman. He said he would live to eat the goose that ate the grass over my grave. But he did not.

There was a colored man named Herbert Freeman that lived close by and worked for me a good deal. He died and his wife asked me if I would dig his grave; that she had no money but she would pay me sometime. I told her yes I would dig the grave and she need not pay me anything. I got Lovely to help me and we went over to Redding Ridge with her father, Beach Baldwin, as he had a plot over there. He showed us where to dig. "Now don't go to the north any farther than that stake for I have a baby boy buried there."

Lovely did the picking and I did the shoveling and I kept telling him that he was going too far north. We was down about four feet and I came out of the hole and he went down to pick some more and, the first time he struck the pick in the ground, out came a big piece of wool cloth. He came out of that grave as if he had been shot out, white as a sheet, and would not go down in that grave anymore. I had to finish it alone.

Lovely lived next to me in a house that is gone now. The water company bought it and tore it down. The last of his days, there was a man by the name of Jim Sweeney lived with him and they were drunk most of the time. One day, they went to Danbury and, that evening, Jim came to the house and said Lovely was dead. That was all he could say so I pulled him into the house and gave him a good shaking and slapped him on the side of the face a few times. "Now, where is Lovely?" I asked him. He said he was up the road, "He is drowned." So I put two and two together as Jim was soaking wet. I thought maybe the old horse had dumped them in the brook. So we went down to the barn and there was the old horse but no wagon. Jim began to sober up a little and he said the wagon was up the road. We went up the road and we found the wagon up by the big oak tree up by Hill's corner. There was Lovely in the brook with nothing but his head and shoulders out of the water.

It was a bitter cold night and I ran to John Reed's house and told him what had happened and he said, if Old Lovely wanted to get drunk and fall in the brook, that was none of his business. "Well, you can not leave him there to freeze to death." I said. He finally gave in and went out to the barn and hitched up the horse and drove out to the brook where Lovely was. But Sweeney was gone. John and I picked Lovely up and threw him into the wagon like a dead hog and I sat down on top of him to hold him. We got him home and carried him in and put him on the bed and there was Sweeney sitting by the stove.

They did not live long after that. Lovely had a daughter in Bethel and she came down and took him to Bethel but he died shortly after that. I believe he was the toughest Irishman that ever lived.

The second house north of us, lived a family by the name of Qualley. They were one of the best neighbors we ever had. The father worked up to Putnam Park and one day the park commissioner had a clam bake and there was a lot of clams left over. He ate some of them and he came home from work and was taken with convulsions and died. The doctor said he had poctaime poisoning.

Shortly after that, during the First World War, his wife came running down the road hollering as loud as she could that the Germans were coming. I told her I did not think so and I tried to quiet her but I could not. Finally a bunch of boy scouts came along and then she quieted down and she went home much relieved.

About that time I had the pleasure of having the chicken pox. Dr. Smith came up and the first thing he said was, "Howard, if you was in the city they would take you to the Pest House." I had not slept in two nights and one day and I was about crazy. Doctor gave me some dope and tried to put me to sleep but I would not go so he gave me some more and it did not work. About that time Mrs. Qualley came in and the doctor told her I had chicken pox.

She said, "Now, don't you worry. I'll fix you up when the butcher comes." At that time, Emery Sanford ran four carts drawn by horses and, every five minutes, I would ask my wife if the butcher had been and, finally, she said, "Yes. Is there anything I can get for you to eat?" I said, "No." About one hour after that Mrs. Qualley came in with an old fashioned cup about half full of something that looked like lard. "Now, you put some of that on those boils and you will be alright. The spots you can't reach, let your wife do it. If you did not have a wife I would do it myself but I know she would not like that."

I did as she told me and, in thirty minutes, I was fast to sleep. That evening she came down and I was sitting up in bed eating a piece of toast and a poached egg. She came in and said, "You look much better." I told her I did not know how to thank her and I asked her what it was she gave me and she said mutton tallow. I found out that is what they use in face lotions and they call it lanolin. For those that don't know what it is, it is plain sheep fat.

It was not long after that that Kathy, one of the daughters, came down and said that her mother had fallen on the floor. She said she and her sister, Nell, could not pick her up and, "Would you come up and help us?" I went up and picked her up and laid her on the bed and I told Kathy, "I think your mother has had a stroke." The doctor came up and, sure enough, she had had a stroke. She did not live long. That left the two of the girls living alone.

The house this side of them lived a colored family name of Brown and, every Sunday, they would get to drinking and it would end up in a good free-for-all fight. One time, one of the boys by the name of Herbert Freeman got the worst of it and he ran up to Qualley's to telephone the constable and they did not open the door fast enough and he smashed the window and went in. He did not use the phone. He was too drunk. Kathy came down to the house and asked me to come up and see what I could do with him. She and I got in the car and went up and he lay on the floor bleeding like a stuck hog. I got him up on his feet but he could not stand without some help. I got him out of the house and into the car and he asked me what I was going to do with him. I told him I was going to take him down to Dr. Smith. "I do not want to go to Dr. Smith. I want to go to Dr. White in Bethel." I was about one mile from the doctor's and he hit me on the back of the head and, for a minute of two, I did not know whether I was going or coming. I saw a man on the sidewalk that I knew and I asked him if he would help me out. It took a lot of talking to get him to help me but he did and we got Herbert over to Dr. White's.

I did not go to the door as Herbert had got sober enough to fight. So I called aloud to the doctor and he raised his window and asked what was the trouble. I told him and he came downstairs and let us in. Of course he wanted to know the whole story. After I had told him he went to work on him. He took off his shoes and they were both full of blood. He had been cut in four places and it took several stitches to sew him up. Doctor said it was a wonder he did not bleed to death.

About that time, Maury Britto, the chief of police in Bethel, came in. That took all the fight out of Herbert. Maury put the handcuffs on and told Herbert he was going to take him up to the jail so he could cool off.


I was very fond of bicycles, swimming, and baseball. One day the Center Team was playing the West Redding Team. I was the pitcher and Marcus Burr was the catcher. I threw the ball and broke his finger.


In the winter the girls would have a party and we would have dances over to Whitehead Hall on Redding Ridge. The parents would bring the girls and they always had a chaperone. One night, after the dance, some of us boys was down under the hall in the store and a boy by the name of Harry Prindle was making fun of my girl. I grabbed him and pushed him through a plate glass window. I went through too. He stopped but I kept going. It was very dark and I ran into a horse. I guess his hoof was harder than my big toe as it broke and has bothered me ever since.

Then the girls would have parties at their houses. We would play post office and have a great time. We would go to Putnam Park on picnics and have a good time. And then, two or three times during the summer, the boys and girls would go over to Lake Kenosha. That was a great place. It had several amusements. We also went to the sea shore for one week which we enjoyed very much. The girls went too but not at the same time.


While I was living in Bethel the second time, I bought a place from Dr. Barber for a thousand dollars. I went to the bank and asked the teller, which I knew very well, for a thousand dollar bill. He told me that they did not have such a thing in the bank so he gave me ten one hundred dollar bills and we went down to the doctor's with the money. He said that I would have to keep the money till morning; that he would not keep it in the house over night. I asked, "Why not? You got a big safe." but he would not take it so the next morning I came in with the money and we went over to the clerk and had the deed made out. I never lived in the house. I kept it about six months and made five hundred dollars.

The day I bought the house and doctor and I got things straightened up, I thought I would walk down the street and see if I could find something to do as it was too late to go to the shop. I got as far as Peter McDonnell's office and he came out and asked me if I wanted to work. I told him I did. "Well, I have some soft coal to go over to Ed Short's hat shop which is beyond the Catholic Church a little way."

I got as far as the church with my first load and the wagon wheel came off. While I was thinking what to do, a kid came along and I asked him if he wanted to make a nickel. He said, "Yes." I said, "You go and tell Peter McDonnell that the wheel has come off the wagon and when you come back I will give you a nickel." He did and Peter came with a little colored fellow. He told the colored fellow to "Take hold of the corner of that wagon body" and lift till his face turned white. He told me to do the same "till your face turns black". I did not think we could lift that ton and a half of coal but, you see, three corners of the load was already up. We did lift it up and Peter put the wheel on. I drew coal till dark and went to put up the team.

At that time there was a big barn where Canger and Lango Groceries is now. Peter kept eight to ten horses there and he was at the barn when I got there. He pulled out his money bag and paid me. "If you want to work tomorrow, come around." At that time there were three dealers. Peter's office was where Mullaney's store is now. Pat Dolan was just across the tracks (that was the Dolan boys' grandfather). And, where the Dolan's are now, was Beers and Fellow. All of them sold coal, wood and sand and they all did a good business. I worked more for Ed Andrews because he did more team work than the others.

One night he came down to the house as we lived the third house from him. "Well, what are you doing tomorrow? If you have got no work in the shop I would like to have you to start drawing sand up where Frank Lee is going to build his new factory." I went up in the morning, hitched up my team. "Now, you go over south of where Parloa Field is and get your sand."

I had made one trip up to the new factory and was making my second. I had got as far as Carney Crossing and I thought I heard a horse running. I turned and it was the boss. He hollered at me to pull to the side of the road. At first I thought the man was crazy when he said, "Unhitch that team, throw the harness on the ground, and leave the collars and bridle on." We started for Danbury with the team tied beside the horse that he was driving. He was a great man to holler when he talked. People always said my wife's father could holler but I think Mr. Andrews could beat him.

We got up to Jack Dan's Livery Stable, which was where the bus terminal is now on upper Main Street. Jack came out and Mr. Andrews told him he wanted a long whip and white canvas head stalls. He took the bridles off and put the new head stalls on and told me to get in the buggy. I did and he tied one horse on each side of the one that I was to drive. Then he said, "You have got to get that team down to Sinclair's Hotel by noon."

It was a very hot day and the horses were ringing wet with sweat. I thought to myself, "When I get out of sight of him, I will slow down." But it did not make much difference as it was very hot. I finally got down to Sinclair's and I went into the barroom and there sat two men playing cards. I asked them if they were the ones that had bought a pair of horses from Mr. Andrews and they said, "Yes, you are half an hour late." "I can't help that. I done as the boss told me. If you want to find any fault, you go to him as I only work for him." I jumped into the buggy and started for home.

Ed had told me when I got home, to feed the horse. I got home, put the horse in the stall and went to get his oats and I heard a noise. I turned around and that horse was sitting on his rear end, the other side of the barn. Just then the boss came in and said, "I must tell you never to tie that horse as he will break his rope and if the rope don't break, he will throw himself." You always learn. I put him back in the stall and there was a chain hanging on the wall and I should have seen it.

I ate my lunch and the boss said, "We will hitch up that pair of broncs on the mowing machine and you go out to Elmwood to the Eastman place and try to finish mowing that lot south of the house." The broncs were only about half broke and I went a little way and one bronc jumped over the pole and, as he did that, threw the other. There I was with two broncs down. I got off the machine and you could hear me swear way back to Bethel. I took the harness off and got them up and hitched back onto the machine and looked over toward the road. There stood the boss leaning on the fence. He was laughing and he said, "Boy, you done almost as good as I could have done." I did not say anything but I was pretty mad to think he had stood there and never offered to help me.

When I finished the piece and went back he said, "Well, boy, what are you doing tomorrow? If you can I would like to have you pick up that hay on Hoyt's Hill." So, next afternoon, another man, Tuffy Lyman, and I went to pick up that hay. We got one load and we went back for the second load and the boss came up. We had six heaps in another lot and I told the boss we better not get them as we had to make a very sharp turn to get to them. "Your load will not fall off if you just follow me." he said. I did and, as we was making the turn, off it went and Tuffy Lyman went down Hoyt's Hill so fast a gatling gun would not have got him. It was Saturday night and getting dark. The boss said, "What will I do? It is too late to find a man and I can't pitch hay. We will have to leave it till Monday for I think it is going to rain and it will all be spoiled."

Tuffy worked in the shop with me and, Monday morning when we went to the shop to work, I asked him why he ran away. He said Ed Andrews knew too darn much. Neither one of us ever worked for him again.


The First World War:

During the First World War, most of our National Guards was called into the service and then the towns began to form what they called the Home Guard. One day the men had a notice to appear at the town hall to form a home guard and enough enlisted to form a company. Fred Osborn said to me, "Howard, you was never yellow when you went to school but you are now. Why don't you sign up?" I told him I could not as I had too much work to do. Then I said, "Well, to prove to you that I am not yellow, I will sign up."

The following Sunday we all met and elected the officers. There was some of the boys that had been to military school. Then Charlie Ward, he had been in the Spanish War, he was elected first lieutenant; John Munich, second lieutenant; and Brett Nash, first sergeant. The following Sunday we got together and formed the rest into squads and started to drill. I tell you, it was a mess. Most of the men could not keep step but we finally got going. Then our uniforms and rifles came and we thought we were somebody. You ought to have seen us try to do the manual of arms. But we finally won out. In good weather we drilled at home and, in the winter, we went up to the armory in Danbury.

I remember one night I was doing guard duty down in the lot where the firehouse is now and it was getting dark. Brett Nash jumped me from behind and took my rifle away. I was some mad. We rolled around and, finally, I got on top and grabbed the rifle and I told him I was going to smash his damn face in with the rifle. He begged me to let him up and I did. He told me to follow him and he took me into the captain and did he talk to me. I listened and, when he got through, I told him no damn man was going to take my gun from me. "I admire your courage. That makes a good soldier. But you must not do it when we are drilling." After that, Brett was one of my best friends.

We had many parades. I remember one in Bridgeport. We had inspection down at Pleasure Beach. It was very hot and some of the boys keeled over and they had to take them away on stretchers. We were going down Main Street and the fellow ahead of me was way out of step and I kept stepping on his heel and, finally, his heel came off. He turned around and said, "I have a good will to knock your block off." He could do it because he was a big fellow. His name was Alley Dudley.

When the boys was keeling over with the heat, first lieutenant said to me, "Keep your toes and fingers moving and it will be alright." It did help. We finally got home. It was eleven o'clock before I got my chores done; some day! Now it was coming winter and we began to go up to the armory in Danbury. Sometimes it was pretty tough because we had a lot of snow. One night, Lem Sanford took us up with a pair of mules. At that time he worked for the water company and lived down in Sanfordtown. The place he lived in is now flooded and I think it cost him his job. Mr. Hubble, the boss, found out and they had quite a time about it and he left right after.

Now, some of the boys was called into real service also. The corporal of my squad went and the captain told me I would have to take over. I told him I did not want the job. "You will have to take it and that is orders. Now take your squad out and drill them." I took them out on the floor and we went through the manual of arms and I told them "at ease" and we stood around talking. The captain came along and said, "That is not drilling." I said, "They know as much as I do. I do not see any use to drill." We had quite a laugh and the captain called me into his office and did he talk to me. You would think we was in a real war.

One night I fell in without my rifle and the captain said, "Private Platt, front and center. Where is your rifle?" I told him I did not know. Somebody had taken it and left a dirty one in its place and I did not take it. I told him I could identify my rifle as I had put a notch in the bottom of the stock. He began to look them over and he found it. He asked the fellow why he did it and he said he knew we was going to have inspection that night and he knew that his rifle would not pass. "Well, don't do it again. Take your rifle downstairs and clean it quick and get back up here and fall in." He was always sorry after that.

We had a good time that winter. Every month we would have a good feed and pass a very nice evening.

The winter was over and we were getting back home and beginning to have some fun. Wrestling was one of them and, one day, Lou Warner threw me down so hard it knocked the wind out of me and when I got it back I asked him to try and do it again. He said, "No. Once is enough." I never could get him again; not even up to the day he died.

We would do a good deal of target practice. Mr. Demming gave four Winchester rifles to the company to give to men that had the highest score. I happened to be one of them and I still have the rifle.

Now the boys began coming home from the war and the town had a big home coming day up to the park. We had a big feed and, after that, we had some games. I remember one very well. It was a foot race. Bart Sanford was in the lead and I think to myself, "I have got to win." I did, but when the string broke, I did too. Down I went and did I have a pain in my side and it has bothered me off and on ever since. Shortly after that the company was mustered out. We all got an honorable discharge and the experience I got I never will forget.

One more thing, the company went to South Norwalk for a parade and it snowed. We went down on the train and spent all day. In the afternoon it snowed hard and the lieutenant told us to seek shelter. Close by was a big house with a porch on two sides. We filled up the porch and back of the house was two big pine trees which we huddled under like chickens. We was about froze. Joe Beaudry said, "I am going to get something to warm me up. You keep watch of my rifle and I'll be back in a little while." Sure enough, he was back and he had a pint of whiskey. He had drank about half of it and was not cold anymore.

Finally it was time for the train. We got into Danbury and it was after dark and still snowing. We got off the train and started for the armory and, on the corner of Main Street and West, J.B. Sanford fell on the ice. Joe gave him a swallow of whiskey and he said, "Joe, you saved my life." Joe and I helped him up to the armory and J. B. never forgot it. I got home about ten o'clock, had a little to eat, and went out to the barn as I had about two hours of chores to do. So, you see, it was not all fun.


The Milk Business:

I will tell you some ups and downs in the milk business. About the time I started there was too much milk coming into Bridgeport and we had hard work to sell it. Some farmers got together and called themselves The Farmer's Dairy and then they would go to each of the farmers to sign notes. I signed one for five hundred dollars. They took them to the bank and the bank took them for half value and we started a plant of our own.

But every man we hired did not do very well and we kept getting into debt. We had one arrested and he was found guilty of stealing. He got one year in jail but it didn't do any good. Finally we went bankrupt and the Mitchell Brothers took the plant and the Farmer's Dairy was owing a lot for milk. I had fifteen hundred dollars coming. Mitchell Brothers had a meeting of the farmers and told us they would give us half of our money that we had coming from the Farmer's Dairy or we could put it all into ice cream stocks. I took half of the money I had coming but I was sorry because it is now called Sealtest and it pays good dividends.

Before we left Mitchell's, George Williams came down to the house one morning and asked if I would go to Bridgeport with him as he had to have some money in advance on his milk as he had nothing to eat. I asked what good I could do and he said, "Well, you know them better than I do and maybe you could talk to them." I didn't want to go as it was bitter cold but I went.

Half of his windshield was broken and when we got to Bridgeport we was froze. I told him the first thing we were going to get was something to eat and he said he did not have any money. I told him I would pay for the eats and we found a place and went in. I asked what he wanted and he asked, "What are you going to have?" I told him I was going to have oyster stew. "Well, I'll have the same." We cleared that up and said we would have another helping. Well, we each had two stews, a piece of pie and coffee, and started up to the plant. George said, "There is nothing like food to make a man forget his troubles."

We got to the dairy and went into the office and there sat one of the brothers with his feet up on the desk. George said, "You look like a man of leisure. Well. My family is starving to death and I would like a little money in advance on my milk." Mitchell called the book keeper and told him to bring in George Williams' account. He did and Mitchell looked it over and told George he could not give him any money. That made George mad and he grabbed him and told him if he did not give him some money he would choke him to death.

I pulled them apart and said, "I did not come down here to fight. I came to help you out and if you don't stop, I am going to walk out, George. Mitchell said, "I am going to loan you a hundred dollars out of my own pocket just to see what kind of a man you are. If you don't pay it back, God bless you." George got his money and we came home and we was as cold when we got home. We went in and I fed him again and he could not thank me enough.

Shortly after that the farmers got together and called themselves the C.M.P.A. and tried to control the price of milk. They did pretty well but the dues was sky high. One night when I was milking, a man by the name of Beers, from Norwalk, came and wanted to know where he could buy some milk as he was going to start a route of his own in Norwalk. He said he would like about twenty cans of milk. I asked him what he would pay and he told me. I told him I was not satisfied with where I was selling and I knew two others that was in the same boat. I told him, "I will see you tomorrow."

That night I went up to Gary Burnett and down to Bart Sanford and told them what was up. Gary said he would take us down tomorrow and we went down and he bought the milk. I told them we ought to have a contract. "Alright." Beers said, "My father is a lawyer. We'll go down and get some papers drawn up." We did. We got him to put a bond and to agree to take our milk for six months and we had to haul the milk up to the Bethel depot. He paid us two dollars a day and things went fine for the whole six months.

When the six months was up, we all went down and we had everything our way. He was just about ready to sign the paper and in came Mr. Germain, and he asked Beers if he wanted to buy some milk. Beers asked him, "How much a quart do you want?" He told him and it was one half cent less than Beers offered us and that made me mad. I told Mr. Germain that he was nothing but a gentleman farmer and he got quite mad and Gary told me to shut up. Then we split the difference and went home. All three of us was pretty mad at Germain but he did not last long. He went broke. I told him I would make milk after he went broke and it came true.

Now it was coming haying time and I was trying to find somebody to haul this milk. One day I was down to Flood's blacksmith shop and Charlie Favreau was in the shop. I asked him if he would like the job of carting our milk to Norwalk. He said, "I got no money to buy a truck." I told him that I would take him down and we would have a talk with Beers. We did and Beers financed him. He got the truck and he made a good living for a long time. He died and then his son took it over and, finally, Borden's bought Beers out and that was the end.


The Mills in Town:

Every good sized stream had a mill of some kind and there was more water in those days to drive the wheels. Going to a mill with grain or with apples for cider was an all day chore but I looked forward to going and there was a time when I thought I would like to own a mill.

There were mills over in Little York which runs from Mark Twain's house to West Redding. The first mill, going from south to north, was near Mark Twain and was called Lounsky's. A man by the name of Adams, he lived on the four corners, gave the land for the mill.

The next man to run it was Bennett. He was a big man, about six foot six, weighed about three hundred pounds. He would take two bags of feed, each weighing one hundred pounds, and throw them into the wagon. His hands was so big they used to scare me. The next up was run by a man named Ryder. He made cider, sawed logs, and done a little wagon making. One late fall day I went over to get some cider made and there was about fifteen loads ahead of me. Nobody seemed to be moving so I went to see what the trouble was and I found Mr. Ryder sitting on a box south of the shop with a bottle of whiskey about two thirds gone. The farmers stood around begging him to start the mill. He said, "No, not till this bottle is empty." Soon it was and he started the mill and, I am telling you, he made cider fast.

One half a mile north of there was two more mills owned by Jim Blackman. One was a grist mill where he ground feed and sold feed and coal. Then over by the depot, south of Brookside Park, he had a saw mill. Grinding feed in those days was quite a job. All the farmers raised their one grain both for their cattle and themselves. In the late fall they would take some wheat, some rye and some buckwheat to get ground for family use. I tell you, buckwheat pancakes with some homemade syrup was fine. You could eat six or eight and some home made sausage and you could go out and face the cold.

North of there, on the Bethel line, was John Todd's lime kiln where he burnt lime rock and shipped it all over. I remember the first time I saw the kiln. My father told my mother to get ready and we would go over and get some lime. So he hitched up a colt that he was breaking and we got to the top of Gallows Hill and dad got out to shorten up the back straps. He had fixed one and he went around to fix the other one and the colt started and father hollered, "Jump!" But we did not and the colt ran into an old chimney and we went out of the wagon. It was a wreck so we left the wagon and dad got the colt and we all walked back home. Mother told dad, "You know the saying, 'That colt is no good because he has got four white feet.', skin him and give him to the crows."

The next day he hitched up another horse and we all went over to the kiln and the one thing that I will remember was a colored couple, man and wife, that was putting the burnt lime into barrels. They had no eyebrows or eyelashes. They were all burnt off from the hot lime, and the whites of their eyes was just like blood.

Now, south from Mark Twain's library on the next corner was a blacksmith shop run by a man by the name of Ezekise Burr. Then, going south from there about three miles, was what we called the Buckley Forge which was in the town of Weston. It is now covered with water which is owned by the Bridgeport Water Company. The farmers for miles around would take all their old iron there and trade it for what they needed which was a stove or a plow.

A little way south of there, also in the town of Weston, was the Bradley ax factory where they made several cutting tools such as the common ax, the broad ax, and what we call the adze. The adze was used to score timber or chip it. Then they would take the broad ax and square it up. Most everyone around would go there and buy seconds.

Now, coming back to Redding Center, we had the country store and the post office. The mail man would drive one or two horses from Redding Ridge to West Redding and back. At the country store you could buy anything from a needle to a gallon of molasses. The store was run by Mr. Joe Squires and the post office was taken care of by James Gregory. I used to help him sort the mail.

I remember one thing that I got a good kick out of. There was a man by the name of Con Keith that could not write. He had a girl in New York that had worked up here and she went back to New York. So he got Mr. Gregory to write for him. Mr. Gregory would not seal the letter till I came in and, when I came, he would say, "Kid, you know more about love than I do, I being an old bachelor…" The things we put in those letters would not bear repeating but it worked and they were married and had one son by the name of John. He lives in Bethel now but his mother and father are dead. So is my friend Mr. Gregory. He left our oldest daughter his piano and that made the Sanfords mad as he was brother to Mr. J.B. Sanford's wife.



Most of us used to have a good horse and we would do a lot of racing to see who had the best horse. Sometimes we would lock wheels and get a broken wheel. There was no hooting and hollering and there was no arrests. We would patch things up ourselves and somebody would bring you and your girl home with the horse on behind. When I was going to see my girl which is my wife, they lived in Plumtrees. There was a bridge about a quarter of a mile south of her house and she said she could hear my horse when he hit that bridge. Well, the second time I went to see her, I went in and her other boyfriend sat there. She introduced us and we sat there looking at one another. It began to get late and I told her I guessed I would have to go. She said, "Not yet.", and then she told Willis Burr that he need not call on her anymore. He went out and slammed the door. I kissed her good night and she said, "I hope I have done the right thing." I started for home and had not gone far when I met Willis. I asked him if he would like a ride as he had about one mile to go. He got in and said, "I guess you are the best man." We went to dances and skating and he and some other boy was always trying to pick a fight with me.

I remember one night I went up skating on Wildman's pond and it got pretty tough. There was a lot of name calling and I knew things was not getting any better. One night I was going up skating and I had a friend by the name of Henry Hawley, that worked for J.B. Sanford, that liked to fight better than eat. I asked him if he would like to go up to Plumtrees skating. He went and we got up as far as Adam's place and got in a rut and broke a wheel on the wagon. There was some boys and girls skating on Adam's pond and I asked one of the boys that I knew if he would take my horse home. "I'd be glad to. It will save me from walking." he said. We went on to Plumtrees afoot.

I stopped and got my girl and she asked me where my horse was. I told her we had broke a wagon wheel and we had walked up. We went up to the pond and I was putting on my girl's skates and someone gave me a kick you know where. I jumped up and slapped him in the face and that started things. Part of the boys got on one side of us and part on the other side. Henry got in the middle and said, "I can lick any three of you fellows." and a free for all started. After a while things cooled off and we started up to my girls house and there was three boys that followed us.

After a while Henry turned. "Now." he said, "I have had enough of this cursing. You go on about your business. If you don't you'll be sorry." Then he said, "Give me your skates." He took a pair in each hand and did he hammer those boys. They started running and we went up to the house and my girl's father said, "You two boys better stay all night as those boys will gang up on you." We did not stay and, after that, everything was fine. I guess that learned them a lesson.

After that Henry joined the Navy and was stationed out in the Philippines. He took a swim one day and that was the last he was ever seen. About twenty years after that my wife and I were coming home from Danbury and the old horse fell down. My wife said, "If we ever get home I am going to call up Lou Unger." He sold Ford cars. She did and he was down at the house in about half an hour. We bought a Ford and my younger brother learned me to drive. When I got stuck he would say, "Figure it out for yourself." I finally learned to drive and, one day, I drove up to the Bethel Garage. There was a man there every Wednesday that tried you out. The garage man told me not to cross him because I would not get my license. He had me drive around Bethel and back up to the garage. We went in that the garage man asked him how I made out. "Not so good." he said. "I think the boy can drive alright." the garage man said. "I don't care. He drove up to the garage and did not stick out his hand. When he learns the signals I will give him his license." That made me open my mouth. I told him, "Why should a waste my strength when there was nobody in sight?" Then he began to ask me about who had the right of way and so on and so on. Finally he gave me a license. After he made out the papers and had given them to me, he asked how I got my car up to Bethel. I told him, "I sat behind the wheel and steered it up here." "Don't get sassy. You will have to get somebody to drive it home."

I went down to the post office and mailed the papers and a few days after that I got a letter from Hartford saying there was no money with the application. If I would send the money they would send me my license. I got my license and a few days after that the car went wrong and I went up to the Ford station and who should I meet but one of the boys that was in the scrape down at Wildman's pond twenty years before.

He looked at me and I at him. His name was Ned Baldwin. He said, "Your name is Howard Platt." I said, "Yes." While he fixed the car we had quite a chat about old times. When he finished fixing it he said, "Well, we will try it out." We went up the street and he said he was dry and he stopped to a saloon. "Come on in and have a beer." I said, "No." "Well, come on in and have a cigar." I went in and when the bartender put the box of cigars on the bar he said, "Don't I know you? You're one of the boys that gave me the licking of my life."

He raised his hair. "You see that scar? That's what I got when that friend of yours struck me with that pair of skates. What has become of him?" I told him he was drown in the Pacific Ocean and he said it was a good thing; that he was glad of it. That did not sit very well with me and things began to get pretty hot and Ned said, "Come on, Howard. You two are going to get in a fight." He took me by the arm and started for the door and, to have the last word, I told that bartender to go to hell and Ned and I walked out. Ned was the only one that ever apologized. He said, "I'm very sorry that I made such a fool of myself."


Running a One-man Farm:

Running a one man farm, as I did for most of my life, I had to learn to do things the easiest way I could. Here are some things I learned. It's easier to dig a ditch or shovel snow uphill. You don't have to reach or lift as far. But mow down hill with a scythe or a grain cradle. You take one step forward and swing your cradle and clip your grain about four to six inches above the ground and, as you come around, you slip the grain off the cradle. The cradle has four or five fingers made of wood and you could cradle one acre in about two hours. Most farmers raised their one grain so it made quite a job. After the grain was cut it had to be done up into bundles and to be shocked. Fifteen bundles made a shock to dry so it could be thrashed. When it was thrashed the grain was put through a farming mill and then it was ready for the mill.

Now, with a scythe it is different. You don't clip but you keep the back of the scythe on the ground and scuff your feet along the ground. You mow what they call a swath which is from four to six feet wide according to your reach. You could not cut as much with a scythe as you could with a cradle.

Now, talking about digging a ditch, I knew a blind man that could dig a ditch as well as a man that could see. The sides would be straight up and down and it would be the same width at the bottom as it was at the top. You laid a rail on top of the ground and he would follow the rail.


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