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100 Years Ago: February 1920 — In and About the Haddams

Selected from the pages of The Middletown Press and lightly annotated by Sally Haase


East Haddam, Feb. 2, 1920: W.O. Peck took a sleighing party to Higganum Friday where they attended a minstrel.

Saturday was one of the worst days of the season for those obliged to be out as the cold winds penetrated through one in a few minutes. Parties from Hartford were fishing on the Salmon river with the cold and were not rewarded with a “nibble.”

The Press Candid Comments, Feb. 2, 1920: *Did your water pipes freeze Saturday night? This winter has been just one freeze after another. *The revenue bureau now rules that the tips received by barbers are taxable. Sure, but how many will admit the tip? *Already the big dailies are printing stories about some of the drinks that used to be popular. This is one of the bad features of prohibition. *Forty thousand Poles have asked for passports back to Poland because they cannot get a drink in this country.

Middletown, Feb. 3, 1920: The city is in the grip of the worst snow storm of winter. A storm witch some of the older residents say reminds them of the blizzard of 1888, when a warm wave met a cold one as was the case this time. This morning trolley traffic was entirely put out of business, trains were way off schedule, workers walked to work, and an army of snow shovelers mobilized to combat the drifts. The sleet storm arrived early this morning.

Washington, Feb. 5, 1920: Enormous withdrawals of whiskey from bonded warehouses by alleged “flavoring extract” and “hair tonic” manufacturers, upon such a scale that it may reach the proportions of a scandal, has led to a probe. The outcome of an investigation probably will be the revocation of large numbers of permits issued to embryo establishments that have sprung into effect. Most of the places being probed are said to be factories in name only and exist only as a means through which the prohibited alcohol can be secured.

Hartford, Feb. 6, 1920: The Federal Income Tax season opens today. From now until the bell rings on the night of March 15th, the annual returns for 1919 will be filed by citizens and residents. The payments may be made in whole or in part of the tax due. At least one quarter of the tax must accompany the return. [Note: The filing deadline changed to April 15th in 1955.]

Higganum, Feb. 6, 1920: An opportunity will be given the pupils in the schools of Haddam to compete for three cash prizes to be given by the W.C.T.U. for the three best essays written by the 7th and 8th grade pupils. The subject will be “What Is The Business Man’s Opportunity Regarding Alcohol.”

Middletown, Feb. 7, 1920: The State Highway department is making gigantic efforts to clear the main traveled highways by means of the big army trucks equipped with snowplows. Four big motor plows came down from Hartford and began fighting their way to Saybrook. This turning the sinews of war to the pursuits of peace here at home has proved a valuable asset. Otherwise, the state would have had to wait either for men to clear the roads with shovels or for a general thaw.

Deep River, Feb. 7, 1920: A “knight of the road,” who struck town about the same time as the blizzard, has made himself very useful about the town hall building under the direction of the postmaster and mayor. The “hobo” has been shoveling snow for four days, but in return he is being loyally treated to a good bed and a very enticing “bill of fare.” It is a long time since the last tramp came here for shelter.

East Haddam, Feb. 9, 1920: A.R. Doe has a large force of men employed in removing the snow from the highway bridge and it is reported they are to continue on the trunk line towards Middletown, as the road scrapers and ploughs are unable to progress through the heavy crust.

Middletown, Feb. 10, 1920: Hon. H.B. Freeman advocated the cause of the Republican party in the first lecture of the citizenship course. He urged the women especially to align themselves with that party because it represents the farmers, the middle classes, the employers, and the mass of working people. Also, it stands for protection to our industries, for sound money, and for law and order. The Democratic party, on the hand, he said, has always stood for free trade, which benefits the South at the expense of the North, for flat money, and has often used its influence against law and order in its attempts to overthrow the 13th, 14th, 15th, and the 18th amendments to our Constitution. The Democrats not only have prevented most of the negroes of the South from voting, but now are trying to in New Jersey to make a bluff against Prohibition. [For those of you in Shailerville: The 13th Amendment abolished slavery; The 14th Amendment granted citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the U.S.; The 15th Amendment granted voting rights to African-American men. The 18th Amendment established Prohibition.]

Killingworth, Feb. 10, 1920: The heavy snow that fell here last week has kept the men folks and teams busy breaking paths, in many places a large amount of shoveling has had to be done as the roads were drifted badly. There was no service at the Congregational Church on Sunday morning owing to bad traveling.

Haddam, Feb. 12, 1920: E.W. Hazen and Ezekiel Shailer were in Hartford to attend the Agricultural and Industrial Exposition.

A novel sight, yesterday, was the plowing of the snow beside the road, with a farm field plow, to break the crust for the road scraper. Eight horses were employed in improving the traveling through the snow.

East Haddam, Feb. 17, 1920: Dr. N.W. Plumstead is contemplating the purchase of a new car with regular doctor’s coupe body and equipped with starter, generator, etc., as “Doc” says he does not enjoy “spinning them” (cranking) during the cold weather.

Ponsett, Feb. 20, 1920: John Milanase has purchased an incubator and expects to hatch a large number of chicks this spring.

The rural carrier has only succeeded in getting through on the turnpike, the back roads still being impassable.

Killingworth, Feb. 25, 1920: Herbert Stevens moved a building from Winthrop on a sled for Mrs. Frederick Winkel the last of the week.

   Word has been received from Mr. and Mrs. P.E. Parmelee that they will leave Tuesday from Cades, S.C. for their home here. Their many friends will welcome them home.

Higganum, Feb. 25, 1920: The people about town were pleased to have the Chester laundry truck come to town again as it has been a number of weeks since it was here on account of the weather.

The Russell Co., of Middletown, is now running their truck to convey their help to and from work.

100 years ago, much has changed and, then again, nothing has changed.


Photo from of the Haddam Historical Society, courtesy of Lindamae Peck, 1920ish Snow Storm


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