Selected from the pages of The Middletown Press and lightly annotated by Sally Haase
Middletown, Aug. 6, 1919: Three naval sea-planes flew over the city his morning and attracted much attention. They are stationed at the Middletown Yacht club and will remain here until tomorrow to carry on their recruiting mission. The seaplanes hovered over Middletown dropping circulars with just a hint of the kind of things the folks across the ocean experienced in war times. The plan is to take up all men who enlist here for the naval aviation service and pass the physical examination.
Middletown, Aug. 7, 1919: 2,000 New Haven Road (railroad) voted to go out on strike, as the strike continued to spread throughout the United States today. The railroad men in this city feel that the demand to lower the high cost of living is a just one. They do not demand higher wages if what they do receive can become sufficiently possessed of purchasing power. “What good does it do?” inquired one railroader, “if we get a raise in wages and then find that the cost of food… have gone up correspondingly.”
Middletown, Aug. 8, 1919: Some trains have been withdrawn on the Air Line and the Valley Branch. Those that are operating are running on a delayed schedule; the main line trains are running few and far between. An attempt is being made to keep all milk and mail trains running on the old schedule.
Shailerville, Aug. 9, 1919: Mr. and Mrs. M.J. Gifford and nieces are guests at the Rivulet House. [Have you heard of it? Let us know.]]
Mr. and Mrs. E. Schutte are entertaining their cousins from New Jersey.
Herman Dittman is substituting as mail carrier for A.M. Clark, who has his annual vacation.
East Haddam, Aug. 11, 1919: Superintendent Robert Bailey of the (swing) bridge is enjoying his vacation in camping in Saybrook. He was accompanied by his family and Captain Adelbert Buell.
A large number of power boats stopped here during the day Sunday, and the parties partook of refreshments at the Riverside Inn and the drug store.
Shailerville, Aug. 12, 1919: “Shady Nook” is enjoying an unusual number of summer people. At one time there were 27 present and this week there are 19 guests. [Another mystery! Anyone know?]
Portland, Aug. 13, 1919: Drug addicts and dope fiends, if there are any, are to be registered and placed under federal supervision. J.M. Manning, a member of the government staff, which is to enforce the new narcotic law, is the organizer for Middlesex county. The federal plan is to supply drugs to addicts in diminishing quantities, until they are gradually broken from the habit. Of course, the identity of those registered will be kept in strict confidence. In New York the campaign has already been commenced with the result that thousands have registered and are daily receiving their quota of dope under federal supervision.
Middletown, Aug. 14, 1919: Claiming that his reputation has been damaged by his employer, Harry Schor, chief clerk in the furniture store of Jacob Kabatznick, has brought suit against Mr. Kabatznick. The suit follows a robbery at the furniture store on which $364 was taken. Mr. Schor alleges that at the police station and upon the street Mr. Kabatznick accused him of stealing the money. This has been detrimental to his reputation and damaged his credit. His small grocery store on Church street, he alleges, has been hampered considerably in the conduct of his business by these statements.
Middletown, Aug. 14, 1919: Postmaster D.J. McCarthy is making arrangements to handle the expected rush when the sale of surplus army foods opens at the postoffice. When the order blanks arrive the office will open for business, in effort to reduce somewhat the present high cost of living. The clerks at the postoffice will take your order and forward it to Washington. The amount that can be sent through the mails is 125 pounds.
Haddam, Aug. 14, 1919: At the meeting of the Fire District last evening the following officers were elected: President, Charles A. Dickenson; Vice-President, P.C. Arnold; Secretary, H.W. Arnold; Treasurer, A.M. Clarke; Assessor, G.A. Dickenson; Collector, J.C. Russell. There were enough members of the Rural Society present to transact business so they voted to transfer funds to the Fire District to be used for improving sidewalks.
Haddam Neck, Aug. 15, 1919: The tenth annual Haddam Neck Grange agriculture fair will be held as usual this year on Labor Day. Arrangements have been made for transportation of visitors from the west side of the river by ferry and jitney, while automobiles will find the highway between Middle Haddam and Haddam Neck greatly improved by the stretch of new state road. Last year, one of the attractions was the greased pig race, the poker going by right of capture to a youth from Portland. There will be a fine slippery pig at the fair this year, for some nimble chap “to have and to hold.”
Haddam, Aug. 15, 1919: With only eight prisoners at the county jail in Haddam, Sheriff Bert G. Thompson is wondering how he is going to keep things going at the penal institution. Commissioners from all counties at the State County Commissioners reported similar experiences. The discussion was of the decline in population compared to the “good old times” of highballs, cocktails, and beer, when the saloons were in full swing. The Middlesex County Jail average population in the “wet” days was between thirty or forty. [The Wartime Prohibition Act took effect on 6/30/1919 in an effort to save grain for the war effort, although the war was over by then. In January 1920 social based prohibition began with the 18th Amendment.]
Middletown, Aug. 18, 1919: Postmaster D.J. McCarthy received official advice that no army food would hereafter be available for distribution by parcel post and that all orders already taken are to be refunded to the customers. The notice from the War Department stated that all surplus army food stuff will be turned over to the state Governors for distribution to the municipalities.
East Haddam, Aug. 18, 1919: A party of eight from Wolfe’s boarding house on Town Street enjoyed a fishing trip to the Sound on the “Comrade” and caught a nice string of black fish.
George H. Ventres is quite busy these days with his large auto bus which has a seating capacity of twenty and is especially adapted for conveying the campers to and from the camps.
A number from this village visited the Gowen farm in Turkey Hill in quest of blackberries or more properly thimble berries which grows in abundance among the ledges on that place.
Haddam, Aug. 19, 1919: The annual picnic of the members of the Middlesex County Farm Bureau will be held at Field Park. Basket lunches will be carried by those attending and a corn roast has been planned to supplement the dinner.
East Haddam, Aug. 19, 1919: Geo Morgan came near losing a good team of horses, while engaged in dumping a load off the river bank. The neck yoke broke, causing the loss of control of the pole, and the dump cart went over the bank.
Farmers in this town report the potato crop a failure. There seems to be an abundance in each hill, but so small as to be useless for the table. [Note: Growing up these small potatoes were called pig potatoes as they fed by farmers to the pigs. Today these small potatoes are sold at a premium.]
Hartford, Aug. 21, 1919: Three cases of typhoid fever were reported to the state board of health. Two were from Higganum,65 and 69 years old, and are in serious condition. These cases are believed to have been contracted at the Plainville camp grounds. The ill Higganum persons were at the Higganum church house on the grounds.
Higganum, Aug. 22, 1919: A third case of typhoid fever was reported to the state, making three from Higganum. Cyron J. Usher died from the results of the disease while his wife Mrs. Usher is very ill. Mr. Usher was a deacon of the Congregational Church and gave liberally to the church and town.
Tylerville, Aug. 23, 1919: The Forty-second Annual Camp Meeting at Camp Bethel is now running full blast with sessions every day. Due to the present social unrest in the world the interest in the camp meeting this year is unusually intense. Many testimonies are heard that these are the last days in the world’s history and the second coming of Christ may be expected very soon.
Plainville, Aug. 26, 1919: The Commissioner of Health issued an order closing the Plainville Camp Grounds until further notice. An investigation failed to reveal the exact source of the disease. But it was learned that one man delivered milk in a garbage wagon. It was frequently wet from garbage drippings when used for carrying the milk cans.
Haddam, Aug. 28, 1919: H. Gordon Chasseaud of Brooklyn and Haddam has received the following notice: “By a dispatch of …His Majesty the King of Belgium has conferred upon you “The Medal of King Albert” in recognition of this high distinction His Majesty has voiced the sentiments of gratitude of all the Belgium People.” Mr. Chasseaud was with the American relief for the distribution of food.
Killingworth, Aug. 29, 1919: The shingling work on the Emanuel Church has been finished and the blinds newly painted, giving the edifice a very trim and neat appearance.
Higganum, Aug. 30, 1919: Owing to lack of support on the part of the townspeople, the Higganum Savings Bank is planning to close its doors on September 28th. The bank is the only savings bank in the state paying 6 percent interest on its deposits and the bank has ample funds. There were but four banks paying 5 percent dividends in 1918 and but two paying 4 ½ percent on its deposits. The president of the bank, Whitney S. Porter and the secretary, Eugene O. Burr are both residents of Higganum. Other officers were: Frederic Kelsey, Elwyn T. Clark, Ralph E. Thayer and Wm. C. Marble. [The final Bank Commissioner’s Report would show that there were only 54 depositors and 0 new depositors in the past year.]
100 years ago, much has changed and, then again, nothing has changed.