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Reflections

(an 85 year old Branford native, in a letter to his daughter,

reflects on the town's earlier days)

 

Dear Carol;

            I recall looking back over my 85 years to the many things, lost to progress, which bring happy tears at the remembrance of them.

            Perhaps you might be willing to let me tell you all the sweet memories that I keep locked in my heart.

            I remember 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.

            I remember Nellie Green’s on the Farm River, a very popular eating spot in the early part of the century.

            I remember 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.

            I remember the coal barges that were towed up the Branford River to tie up at the docks at Malleable Iron Fittings Company.

            I remember 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.

            I remember 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 Guilford Fair.

            I remember 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.

            I remember 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.

            I remember 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.

            I remember 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!

            I remember 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.

            I remember 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.

            I remember 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.

            I remember 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.

            I remember 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.

            I remember 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.

            I remember 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 splice.

            I remember “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.

            There are 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.

                                                            Dad

 

 

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