Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A diversion on Facebook

1943 Thickly Settled EAST HARTLAND CT G.I. & Girl On Bikes USAAF Home From YALE

A friend of mine found this picture for sale on ebay and posted it on Facebook. This started a little flurry of curiosity as to who the couple were. The back of the photo stated that the GI was home from Yale in April or May 1943.

Today I spoke with one of the eldest members of East Hartland, Al Lilliendahl. He pretty quickly said he believed it was Jack Barber and his wife, Ruth. He said he wasn't positive, but that he even could have been the one to take the picture. This was close to the center of town, he believed and not at the town line.He is still in contact with Ruth who lives in Washington state.

The only piece of the puzzle that doesn't fit, is he said that Jack Barber went to Trinity. They were very good friends, therefore, he knew a lot about "Johnny" and he shared the following information with me. I took notes as he spoke to not miss any of the details that he related. I thought I'd share it with the rest of you.

He said that Jack Barber and his wife Ruth Simmons lived on Pell Hill Road. They owned the Silver Lane Pickle Company in East Hartford. I believe he said it was where Pratt and Whitney is today. He told me of the 6-8 feet high vats with agitators used to clean the cucumbers in soapy water.

He enjoyed telling me that during the war, synthetic soap was invented and one day when they ran out of soap, a kid was sent to the store to buy some more. He bought a half dozen boxes and used the soap in the vats. He said all of a sudden they saw clouds of suds overflowing from the synthetic soap.

Al also said that where the houses are on Route 20 now, that started out as cottages, there were no houses and at that time that is where they grew the cucumbers for the pickles.

At this point he digressed about the post office being in the Nielson house and that one day the wind was blowing so crazy and Dave, the postmaster wouldn't let him go because it was so windy. He said he stayed there an hour.

Other interesting notes, Jack's middle name was Randolph named after his mother's family who the town of Randolph, VA was named after.

Al also said that there used to be a sign in the center of town that said, "East Hartland, Higher than Mount Tom". He said it 's twenty feet higher.

As far as "thickly settled", he agreed that it has never been, but did note that there were more people here in the 1800's than in the 1900's. He also said there were far less trees when he moved here in 1936.

When we were done talking, he was getting out his car keys, I thought to leave, but there on his key chain he showed me an oval metal piece that had the initials of Jack Barber and a date. Al had gotten that when he was in their wedding. Evidently they were very close friends.

One final fun digression he related was of himself, Peter Pedersen, Bob Pedersen and someone else, who as teens went on a few trips--the Cape, Quebec and Florida. He said when they went to Florida they took a state highway sign with them that said, "East Hartland". They nailed it to a tree at the Florida Keys pointing it in the right direction and drew an arrow on it "1200 miles". Teenagers!

It is curious how this sign came to be in East Hartland. Who decided it was"thickly settled"? The things you see on the internet!

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