(an 85 year old
Branford native, in a letter to his daughter,
reflects on the
town's earlier days)
looking back over my 85 years to the many things, lost
to progress, which bring happy tears at the remembrance
might be willing to let me tell you all the sweet
memories that I keep locked in my heart.
Captain Baldwin who owned the Dorothy and the Billy “B”.
They met the New Haven trolley at Brockett’s Point and
would ferry you to any accessible dock in Branford.
Nellie Green’s on the Farm River, a very popular eating
spot in the early part of the century.
the picnicking and swimming at Double Beach and the rows
of little wooden cabins that were rented out to swimmers
wanting privacy to change clothes.
the coal barges that were towed up the Branford River to
tie up at the docks at Malleable Iron Fittings Company.
those docks lined with workers during the heavy snapper
blue runs in late August. The plant was temporarily
closed for a couple of hours periodically, to take
advantage of the bountiful fishing.
when the schools closed some days in June so the
youngsters could earn spending money picking
strawberries. The schools also closed one day for the
when old Charlie Covert was Branford’s first Automobile
Inspector. He gave driver’s tests and issued licenses at
the Town Hall in the early ‘20’s.
when one pound or one and a quarter pound lobsters sold
three for a dollar and steamer clams went for the
digging or if you had a yen for some steamers, they sold
for 10 cents for a heaping quart.
the old time Collins and Freeman, “The Friendly Store.”
You went in there to buy anything under the sun except
groceries and/or to pay your gas bill, but mostly you
went in to catch up on the latest news and gossip from
around the town.
when Mrs. Hosley had a little restaurant not far from
the Water Company’s office in the center of town. She
started making and selling those luscious pies. Boy!
Were those pies ever good!
when the Mason’s held their Lodge meetings on the second
floor of the old corset factory on the corner of South
Main and Montowese Street.
watching with sorrow the old “Jennie Lind” rotting away
at her last anchorage in the Branford River. I believe
the Jennie Lind was one of the last boats to sail out of
Branford to trade in the West Indies.
when Rudi Vallee’s band played for Saturday night
dancing at Palmer’s Casino and when Paul Whitman’s band
was hired to play at Short Beach.
when the Episcopal Church Ladies held their annual fair
and auction on the Montowese House lawn before
transferring in later years to the Branford Green.
the sand, gravel and shell roads leading to Sunset Beach
and Summer Island. They would be knee-deep in water at
high tide. You had to be very careful to stay in the
road or you would be hip deep in oozing mud in one of
the ditches that ran alongside.
the Ark Inn that was tied up at the wharf at Maltby’s
Cove near the Clam Island landing. I watched it year
after year as the storms, the tides and age took their
toll. Eventually Cliff Collins, former First Selectman,
brought the land, built his house and lobster barn and
conducted his business there for many years. Cliff was a
wonderful man to know. The “Ark” business was moved
across Linden Point to the little red cottage where the
most delicious shore dinners were served this side of
Wilcox’s at Savin Rock.
Oppel’s Boathouse, later Tyler’s, where boats werere
stored, repaired and painted; where tackle, oars, paint,
anchors, rope, etc. were sold. I recall it was there I
was given a piece of rope and taught to make a simple
“Artie” pond’s marina in the back of his house on Linden
Avenue. It was a very busy place in the Spring and Fall.
A deep but narrow creek ran fro mthe Branford River
through his back yard.
more Carol, many more, but these are some of the
thoughts that will lighten my heart in these my golden
years. May the Good Lord bless and keep you. May His
light shine upon you. I shall love you always.