author’s foreword

 

THE FLATS ~ Some Memories of Woodbridge’s West River Valley

Compiled by Simon Donato

FOREWORD

            The following pages are a presentation of historic and prehistoric facts, theories, myths and photographs which I’ve accumulated since I was about ten years old (which was about fifty-five years ago).

The southeastern corner of Woodbridge, known as “The Flats” will be the area we revisit. The term Flats was a name applied to this area shortly before the beginning of the twentieth century (I’ll explain later). Its present plain was created some nineteen thousand years ago as the advancing Wisconsonian (Wisconsinan?) Glacier passed through it. A thousand years later and about ten miles to the southeast, the glaciar stopped advancing and began melting beginning its retreat northward. Four thousand years later, conditions were suitable for the first megafauna to enter this area.

woodbridge farms after iceage

The earliest verified evidence of pre-historic human occupation in our area dates to 9,600 years ago, which was at the Bennoit (Benoit?) site in Bethany. About 5,500 years ago, The Flats showed strong evidence through projectile points and tools of a stead habitation. This occupation continued until the first contact with the Dutch and later the English.

Historically, we begin at the very end of the nineteenth century. At this point, the photographs and oral recounting will be introduced. Many people who settled here in The Flats right after the turn of the century were from southern Italy. Many families did what they knew best…farming. Among those first immigrants were my grandparents.

 

Imagine standing on the spot which is now the corner of Lucy Street and Litchfield Turnpike about eighteen thousand years ago. At that time, our most recent Glacier, the Wisconsonian?, reached its maximum southeastern advancement. Its front face was somewhere along what is now the south shore of Long Island. Above your head is one thousand feet of solid ice. West Rock is buried under six hundred feet of solid ice. Underneath it all, where the ice meets the ground, melted water slowly flows and lubricates the mass above it. From this flow, the West River is born.

Now jump ahead five thousand years. The front face of the glacier is now in Maine and southern Canada. Pre‑Woodbridge is now forested with poplars, paper birch, spruce and balsam fir. It is very likely mastodons browsed in these forests as they passed through following what is now the West River Valley. This valley is bordered by West Rock to the east and The Ridge to the west which extends from Fountain Street to Bradley Highlands.

It was carved as the glacier ground its way from the northwest to its terminus on present day Long Island. In its wake, the glacier left behind an assortment of changed land forms in the West River Valley, as it did elsewhere along the Connecticut coastline. It is very likely our present day West River Valley was a group of fast moving ribbon‑like riverlets sixteen thousand years ago as they passed through this valley before entering the broad flood plain of present day New Haven.

Today, we can still see evidence of the glaciers passing. Tumbled blocks of basalt along the seven mile base of West Rock were mostly caused by ice advancement. Atop West Rock and Longhill (behind the present day Amity Shopping Center), there are three boulders of granite larger than a dump truck. These boulders, called glacial erratics, were deposited where they stand today as the ice sheet melted, ending their ride from the north where they were picked up by the ice flow somewhere between Mt. Tom, Massachusetts, and Meriden.

woodbridge- glacial rock

Judges Cave is a prime example of a glacial erratic, and another weighing twelve hundred tons lies directly west, atop Long Hill behind the Amity Shopping Center. A collection of three large erratics lie 150 feet off the east side of Amity Road by the intersection of Route 67 (Seymour Road).

A recent archaeological excavation (2011) at the base of one of these three erratics yielded a radiocarbon date of 750 years. Future excavations are planned and should yield earlier dates as the site will be examined to a deeper depth.

If someone were to dig a trench eight feet deep almost anywhere in The Flats, the stratum of glacial deposit would be obvious…sort of like a slice of lasagna. At the lowest level would be a jumble of rocks with sizes ranging from softball to basketball size. These rocks are held fast in their resting place by a mixture of sand, silt and clay, which was deposited by glacial outwash. This action occurred as the glacier started its retreat, and the ice melt caused rushing water to deposit its accumulated rock debris in the West River Valley.

Here is a passage from a publication of 1891 titled, The Four Rocks with Walks and Drives about New Haven by James D. Dana. “The glacial flood came down the West River Valley with great violence, making a fall of 80 feet per mile from Bethany to Westville.”

The next obvious stratum in our trench would be roughly a two-foot layer of course gravel with rocks softball size and smaller. Overlying these layers, we find two different types of surfaces. Most common is a return to gravel and stones larger than a softball. This occurs just about everywhere along Litchfield Turnpike and all of Bradley Road. The other surface type is a twenty inch layer of dark sandy loam. This small area begins from the corners of Amity and Bradley Roads and extends north to Lawrence Road. Its width is between three and four hundred feet starting below Old Amity Road.

In this relatively narrow band is where I have accumulated about seventy percent of my prehistoric stone points and tools. The other thirty percent were found in the farmed land at the base of West Rock (now Lunar and Research Drives) and the farms along Bradley Road as it passes between Amity Road and Litchfield Turnpike. Some of this area is now developed and the rest lies fallow.

In 1957, my father took me to meet Sal “Tito” Perrotti. We lived just up Litchfield Turnpike from Tito in a house which my father built five years earlier. Tito had collected several cigar boxes of arrowheads and stone tools over the years from the land he farmed. Since I was always rooting for the “Indians” on our black and white TV, my father figured I’d like to see some real arrowheads. He was right! Tito gave me four or five common points and brought us outside to show me how to “hunt” for arrowheads, and I’ve been picking them up ever since. I estimate my collection from The Flats numbers about eight hundred finished points and tools. Although the majority is made of quartz, there are several made from different types of flint from along the Hudson River area. Most of these flints likely arrived here through trade and were finished into points and tools locally, and a few were perhaps left behind by marauding Mohawks during their occasional raids, some of which were historically documented by the first Dutch and English settlers.

We can only imagine what the scenario was like as the first people came through the West River Valley. A radiocarbon date of 9,600 years ago was recorded at the Binett (Bennett?) site in Bethany. It’s likely the range of those people extended to the West River Valley, as they were followers of herds. Occupation sites going back that far are rare in our area, and I know of only four documented sites in Woodbridge, all of which are much later in time.

The most interesting to me is a site located at the gap above the parkway tunnels. This place is known as Wintergreen Gap. On the north slope of the gap, a site was located and excavated in 2005 by Cosimo Sgarlata for his doctorate dissertation in archaeology. He showed clearly that it was an ambush site used over the millennia. Not to ambush humans, but rather game as it passed up and over the gap. The site sits about seventy feet above the gap trail on the north slope. This site yielded numerous flakes from resharpening points, and many broken, whole and resharpened projectiles and is dated to 4,200 years before present.

WR pre-tunnel-west river

Just below this ambush site was a meadow known as Miller’s Grove. It was a sloping field which extended from below the now existing tunnels to the state highway building at the top of Pond Lily Avenue. Miller’s Grove was an idyllic place which pastured cows for a while and had a scattering of hazelnut, walnut and apple trees. When the parkway came through in 1950, the grove had been covered with fill to a depth of sixty feet in order to make a level plain as it entered the tunnels. Before that time, the grove had a spring which ran year round and flowed from a fissure in the trap rock. There was a well-worn road leading up to the grove which was made by the wheels of farmer Miller’s wagon. Today that road would be Merritt Avenue. Oral history tells of farmer Miller’s death on that road around 1933 due to his wagon overturning. Miller’s Grove disappeared fifteen years later under the causeway leading to the tunnels. It is likely the place was used by man and beast for millennia.

At the time of English contact, around 1637, the native population along the West River Valley was given the name “Quinnipiac” by those first settlers. Quinnipiac was the word the indigenous people had called the river that bisected their domain, which extended eight miles east of the river and five miles west of it. That would put The Flats at their western border. The Quinnipiac people were Algonquin in origin and probably occupied The Flats continuously for seven hundred years or more until they were asked to leave. The following is how it happened.

On April 24, 1638, Rev. John Davenport and about five hundred of his followers arrived by sea from Boston to settle at the mouth of the Quinnipiac River intent on establishing a Christian utopia. Without title to the land, they negotiated with the dwindling population of Quinnipiacs through a series of treaties between December 1638 and May 1645. In exchange for their land, they received twelve coats of English trucking cloth, twelve alchemy spoons, twelve hatchets, twelve hoes and two dozen knives. Those treaties ended the Quinnipiacs’ rights to what are now New Haven, East Haven, Branford, North Haven, Wallingford, Cheshire, Prospect, Meriden, Bethany and Woodbridge. They were given a thirty-acre reservation to live on along the river in Wallingford. This is considered to be the first Indian reservation in the United States. There they stayed until 1768, when the few remaining members moved to Farmington to live among the Tunxis people.

Their archaeological time frame is middle Woodland to late Woodland. The stone tools they used included implements for farming, such as hoes and grinding pestles for making cornmeal. I’m fortunate to have found about twenty of these tools on the Luciani farm which is obviously where they farmed centuries before.

 

 

THE HORSESHOE AND THE BEACON

 

            In geological terms, the horseshoe is known as a buttress dike. It was formed when new lava ejected after the trap rock face had cooled and formed the curious question mark shape. This buttress dike is unique because it is the only one known to penetrate the trap rock ridges of the Connecticut River Valley. Climbing it was a passage of rites.

Again, I’ll refer to James Dana’s observations of the horseshoe. In 1891, he describes one of his walks and carriage drives from Westville. “At Westville, take the road up West River Valley and continue on it beyond the Pond Lily Paper Mill. A bridge not far on affords a chance to cross the river on the way either to Wintergreen Notch or to the buttress dike, which is not far north of the road to the notch. There is also a bridge across the river nearly in line with the dike.” The road to Wintergreen Notch would have passed through what was to become Miller’s Grove and eventually Merritt Avenue. The bridge in line with the dike would be the present day Bradley Road.

In reference to the Wintergreen Notch, Dana explains, “This gap was caused by obstructions to the outflow. This caused an abrupt rise on the north and south sides of the notch to heights of 440 feet (south side) and 460 feet (north side) with a 340 foot height at the pass in the notch.”

Atop the horseshoe, the blue trail passes along the ridge on its way to Bethany from the Wintergreen Notch. A side path leads to the beacon. The beacon was erected in the early thirties. It had a rotating lens at its top which beamed three different colors in all directions all night – green, red and amber, the same colors of a traffic light. It was probably part of the W.P.A. Project which was responsible for building the road along the entire length of West Rock in the thirties. Its purpose was to warn early aviators of the ridge. Many nights as a child in our Litchfield Turnpike home, I would fall asleep watching its tri-colored lights as they panned across my bedroom walls. Its lights were turned off in 1961, although the structure still stands. I’m sure it’s been climbed many times by local daredevils since it was first erected. One memorable assent by Junnie Festa in 1946 (on a dare) never made it to the top. Junnie said, “I froze half way up, but I was able to inch my way back down with the help of a friend.”

 

KONOLDS POND AND THE QUARRY

 from WR looking at Konolds pond from WR konolds pond 2

knolds pond 1913

The creation of Konolds Pond occurred in 1912. This project was done by the Pond Lily Company as a backup water source for their dyeing operation. Around 1907, the Pond Lily Company (which was located where the present day Walgreens Plaza now stands) underwent a change from dyeing paper to dyeing cloth and fabrics. This new process meant that a continual flow of water was necessary to pass through the factory. So, they created Pond Lily by damming the West River by the north side of the factory. This allowed them to control and regulate the water flow as it passed through the building. That dam still exists today and can be seen from the berm near the north side of Walgreens. In 2012, a proposal was passed to eliminate part of the dam by Walgreens in order to alleviate flooding of the West River north to Bradley Road.

pond lilly

In1911, the Pond Lily Company purchased twenty-six acres of land from William J. Konold. At the southern border of this parcel, they built an earthen berm and a cement spillway, both of which still function today. Now, a second backup water source, whose flow also could be regulated, was created for their dyeing operation. Hence, Konolds Pond!

In the years before Konolds Pond, the Woodbridge Ice Company would seasonally dam the West River in the area of the present day District Animal Control building in order to have a source of ice to cut and harvest all winter. They would dam the river in the fall and release the water in the spring. The Woodbridge Ice Company was started in December 1896 by Henry, Harry, and William Konold, and Albert Widmann with a capital stock of ten thousand dollars. One hundred shares, at one hundred dollars per share, divided among the four owners.

In 1912, their ice house burned to the ground during the night. The structure was rebuilt and used until 1925, their final year in business. The Westville Fire Department, located at the corner of Fountain and Alden Streets, responded to the fire. They had one of the earliest horseless fire engines, but it arrived too late to save anything.

In 1916, the Bertolini family bought a parcel of the face from the New Haven Trap Rock Company and began quarrying the face above Konolds Pond. Before 1916, the New Haven Trap Rock Company had been quarrying trap rock talus from the base of West Rock in the area of the end of Lunar Drive. Still visible is the old road they used. It slopes upward toward the Horseshow, and there are still remains of an old iron conveyor machine on this fast fading access road.quarry at west rock

west rock quarry

In March of 1920, the Bertolini family bought six acres from Charles A. Bradley and in August of 1920, they bought forty-five acres from Emanuele Allara. Now they owned cliff face and bottom land and changed the name to Woodbridge Trap Rock Company.

Around 1934, the Bertolini family sold the business to the Clark-Barone Company, and quarrying trip rock was coupled with a ready mix cement operation.

Growing up on Litchfield Turnpike, along Konolds Pond, provided me with a constant view of the quarrying and blasting. Almost daily, weather permitting, there would be charges set off and another part of the face would tumble and slide with a cloud of dust. Moments before each blast, the steam shovel would sound off three high pitched warning toots. Here are some lines written in 1938 by Agnes Luciani DiFilippo.

The Quarry

 

The dust booms high from the mountainside, the rocks fly large and small.

The crushers, drills, and working men are busy near the wall.

The heavy stones, the light ones too are thrown to a grinding hand,

With blinding dust, the rocks ground small are sifted from the sand.

The blemish of the ugly wound is seen from near and far,

The strong and cruel dynamite has left a fearful scar.

The living beauty is no more, dead is the mountainside.

But our roads and streets are hard and smooth over the countryside.

On a prehistoric note, a sight was excavated along the west shore of Konolds Pond in 2012 by Cosimo Sgarlata, the same archaeologist who excavated the “Ambush Site”. Numerous stone artifacts were uncovered from depths of six to twenty-eight inches. At the lowest (earliest) depth, a fire hearth was found still with sufficient amounts of charcoal for a radiocarbon test which yielded a date of 4,200 years before present.

 

 

—STONE WALLS—

 

Most of the stone walls we see throughout Woodbridge today were built between the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Curiously, there are no stone walls to be found in the Flats! Perhaps that is because the stones which are large enough to create stone walls are buried under eight to ten feet of glacial deposited gravel and smaller stones. Those smaller stones, which made it to the surface through frost heaving, were loosely piled along property lines by the first immigrant truck gardeners after 1910. Those piles created boarders between the farms. Some sections of these piles are still visible as low, tree covered berm like features

One of these can be found on the east side of Coachmans Square’s parking lot, running north, and another along the west side of Litchfield Turnpike extending about five hundred feet from the corner of Bradley Road, again heading north. Within these few remaining rows of piled stone, reside most of the woodchuck population of the Flats.

 

 

 

 

D’ANDREA’S DRIVE-IN

 

D’Andrea’s three acre drive-in was built in 1953 to accommodate parkway travelers (and locals). It included a motel with the connected units arranged in a semicircle, a diner-like restaurant with booths and counter stools and a Shell gas station at the entry on Litchfield Turnpike. The D’Andrea brothers, Al and Gene, had a ninety-nine year lease on the property from Frank Perrotti. There was a large parking area between the restaurant and the gas station which served as the local teen center on Friday and Saturday nights.

amity dinner-wdbg- 1940's

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—Dear Readers—

Thank you for your interest and feedback on the installments of “The Flats” over the past six months. It has been an enjoyable experience to research and present these memories. It will be published in it’s entirety sometime after the New Year, and will include several vintage photos of Woodbridge’s West River Valley.   Special thanks to Woodbridge Town News for publishing these articles and Suzanne Principe for her assistance on the computer.

Happy Trails

Simon Donato

 

 

 

THE MOTHER CHURCH

Soon after the turn of the twentieth century, the Italian community of The Flats attended Mass in various churches in New Haven, including St. Anthony’s on Washington Avenue, St. Michael’s on Wooster Square, and St. Ann’s in Hamden. By 1920, most families found St. Ann’s to be the choice church. I can imagine a caravan of four or five family vehicles traveling from The Flats to Highwood in Hamden to attend Mass at St. Ann’s. It would have been a pleasant Sunday morning drive down Valley Street and over to Fitch Street and on to Arch Street in Hamden. (Early Mass transit?)

In 1923, a delegation was sent to the Archdiocese of Hartford to request permission to build a mission church in Woodbridge, to be administered by the pastor of St. Ann’s Church. This was granted and work began on the new church early in 1924. The land for the new church was generously donated by Pasquale and Annina Perrotti and was deeded to the church in June of 1924. The parishioners donated money or their particular trade or talent to the construction of the church, and all the cement was donated by the Bertolini brothers.

In November 1924, the church was dedicated, and Masses were said in the basement while the unfinished upper level was used for storage and as the church hall. At that time, the stairs at the front entry led down to the basement, and access to the upper level was gained from both sides of the building. Also, the bell was located at the rear of the church and was rung on Sundays and holy days. On March 30, 1952, the parishioners, led by Father Raymond O’Callaghan, rededicated the church in celebration of the completion of the upper level as the new church proper. The bell was relocated to the front of the church and a belfry was added. Again, many parishioners pitched in to help transform the upper level to what it is today, and it’s still as enchanting as it was then.

Finally, on October `17, 1957, the archbishop authorized the establishment of the Assumption Parish, and we became independent from St. Ann’s. Soon, a rectory was needed, and my grandmother, Maria Potenziani, agreed to sell her home to the church as it was located across the street from the church, and it would be convenient for the new priest and for church business.

 

THE FEASTS

            Up until 1963, two feasts were simultaneously celebrated every August around the fifteen of the month in The Flats. The Church of the Assumption feast was located on the grass parking area next to the church, and a blue draped statue of the Virgin Mary was placed by the front entry of the church. Brown canvas tents lined both sides of the lot offering games of chance for prizes, fried pizza dough, barbecued chicken, sausage and peppers, corn, etc.

A short quarter mile down Litchfield Turnpike, a second feast sponsored by the Santa Maria Assunta Society, under the direction of the Pasquale Perrotti family, was celebrated. Both feasts ran for four nights (sometimes five) and ended with a spectacular fireworks display on the final night paid for by the Perrotti family. It was not uncommon for two pyrotechnic companies to be employed with a cash prize going to the best display.

This feast was much large than the one at the Mother Church, and it occupied both sides of the West River with Merritt Avenue as the access. Besides all the food and rides, there were other attractions. There was a large bandstand which was set up across the West River with Italian music playing and sometimes a short fat lady singing requests.

Another event was the climbing of the grease pole. This was a one-night attraction open to anyone, and the object was to retrieve three hundred dollars in a tin box which was nailed to the top of a thirty-five foot cedar pole which was covered with grease from top to bottom. One year, TV western star Clint Walker was in attendance and he gave it an unsuccessful try. Many local teens gave it a try, sometimes working in tandem to reach the tin box. Only once do I remember them getting the prize.

lady at landin farm

This shot appears to be at the corner of what is now Landin St. at Litchfield.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————–

My grandparents, Sante and Maria Potenziani, lived across the street from the Mother Church since before it was built. This was convenient, especially for me. During feast week, my grandmother’s house was my second home, as well as a station for mixing pizza dough for the feast, a public bathroom, and a phone for anyone’s use. She had a small area by her garden where people could park their cars for fifty cents. My job was to collect the money until all twelve or so spaces were filled, then split the proceeds with her, and spend the rest of the evening at both feasts until my half of the money had been exchanged for food, games and rides. To me, it was like having the circus come to town once a year and setting up in my front yard.

The first time the feast was celebrated in The Flats was around 1917, six years before the Mother Church was built. It was held on a vacant lot by the corner of Litchfield Turnpike and Bradley Road on the north side. It was organized by local farmers including Mr. (first name) Amato and his son Dominic, Pasquale Perrotti and his brother Frank, and Luigi DeGennaro. After the Mother Church was built in 1923, the celebration was relocated to the parking area adjacent to the church.

 

D’Andrea’s three acre drive-in was built in 1953 to accommodate parkway travelers (and locals). It included a motel with the connected units arranged in a semicircle, a diner-like restaurant with booths and counter stools and a Shell gas station at the entry on Litchfield Turnpike. The D’Andrea brothers, Al and Gene, had a ninety-nine year lease on the property from Frank Perrotti. There was a large parking area between the restaurant and the gas station which served as the local teen center on Friday and Saturday nights.

 amity dinner-wdbg- 1940's

 

As aerial photograph taken in 1950, shown in a publication titled, “Route 15 – The Road to Hartford” by Larry Larned, shows a beautiful panorama of The Flats looking east to the tunnels. It shows farmed land on the west side of Amity Road on what is now the Amity Shopping Center and A-1 Toyota. This was land farmed by John Perrotti (A-1 Toyota) and the Musto family (Amity Shopping Center). Across Amity Road, nearly every bit of land is under cultivation. From the backyards of houses on Lucy Street to the parkway entry/exit ramps, and from Litchfield Turnpike to Amity Road is a patchwork of crops. Manila Avenue borders a large tract of farmed land on the north. The photo is bisected by the brand new Wilbur Cross Parkway. All this before D’Andrea’s, Voloshin Cadillac, A-1 Toyota, Amity Plaza, Three Judges Restaurant and Motel, and the West River Ball Fields. In ten years, all of the farms visible in the photograph would be gone.

tunnel two tunnel one

parkway- WR tunnel

Other photos:

Joyce family- bradley rd  WDBG woodbridge go cart race don cozzi-delmonico springJoyce family at Bradley Road home lived in the Captain Thunderbolt house.

A go cart race- location and date not known.

Boy walking near what was Delmonico Springs under gap. [before the tunnel went through]

29 thoughts on “author’s foreword

      • Wow, this is a great slice of history! So glad to see it here (and the write-up in the Woodbridge Town News!). I have a keen interest in the genealogy of old Woodbridge, and I have always wondered how the land in this area of town went from Richard Sperry to the various families that own it today. It would seem that if the Charles Bradley mentioned here is the Charles Bradley I think he is (born March 8, 1744 in Woodbridge, died Oct 23, 1799 and buried in the East Side Burying Ground), then he may be the link!
        See details of this family here: http://www.oxfordpast.com/oxfordpas/aqwg126.htm#1666
        It looks as though Charles Bradley’s mother was Mabel Sperry (born Sept. 27, 1723 and died Jan. 12, 1798), a great-granddaughter of Richard Sperry, the original European settler in Woodbridge (through his son John, and John’s son Richard, born 1681).:-)

    • Me too, that’s the street I grew up on as well. It was cool to hear about Luciani Farm and all the roads I remember. Thanks for writing this! To the author: I may be able to get you information on the trails in Woodbridge. My father maintained them for years and knows a lot about the history. Email me.

  1. Simon: This is fantastic! You helped jostle some forgotten memories and had me saying Oh Yes! I remember that! I had totally forgotten about those warning toots before the blasting. Just recently I was recounting my early schooling in the little kindergarten building and then the brick William Warner School across the playground. For first and second grade, in one room, Ms. Matilda Buckholtz was the teacher as well as the Principal, as I’m sure you recall as well as I do. I have wonderful memories of then. Thanks for researching, writing, and having this published. There is so much I didn’t know about the history and development of The Flats and its early and later inhabitants.

    Renee Rausch, Bond Rd.

  2. Thank you Simon, I was thinking of you recently, your family, your stand, and your search for arrow heads after a fresh field plowing and a rain (of course I remember). Hope all is well, best wishes from “The Zinnia King”.

    • And I was recently remembering your bright field of zinnias, Paul. Now I have a name to go with the memory!

  3. Dear Simon, Thank you for this. Life was good back then. As a teen I picked poppy seeds for Pasqual Perrotti’ son Tony. Great era to grow up in. God bless you.
    Peg Perrotti Pallotto

  4. Hey Simon,Frank Rausch here. This is just the greatest most awesome article. I come back to Woodbridge to vsit my mom ,who still lives on Bond Rd. We should get together and rehash old times .Thanks for all the things I didn’t know about our childhood haunts and bringing back some great memories.

  5. I wonder if you remember when Ray Barrow and I rented your leaky wooden rowboat for $2.00 to go fishing on Konolds Pond, I know I will as I caught the biggest Largemouth bass of my life (6 3/4 lbs). The best $2.00 I ever spent.

  6. Great article Simon… I cherish my roots and it will make me proud to show this to children. Great memories of growing up with people who were more like family than neighbors. It was the safest place in the world to me!

  7. Wonderful presentation Simon…you’ve always been one of my favorite friends, dating back to when we were alter boys…I’m wondering if ‘Valerie is still going to the garden to pick escarole?!!
    Hope to see you soon…

  8. Simon—What a wonderful research! It was great to see the old photographs as well. With all the new cameras etc. there won’t be many of that kind any more. We watched the Feast fireworks from the curve on Bond Rd. and enjoyed many good times along Litchfield Turnpike during the Feast days. My “kids” are always reminiscing about those good old days.

  9. Thanks so much, Simon, for researching, writing and sharing this slice of Woodbridge history. I never realized that Konold’s Pond was manmade although thinking back I do remember the dam that was visible from the eastern side of the pond from what we referred to as “crusher road.” Your sister Laurie, Donna Luciani & I spent many a wintry afternoon skating until dark, learning to spin, skate backwards, and occasionally streaking through the boys’ pick up hockey game to annoy them! My Dad & Mom, Tony & Rose Mastromarino, would have loved this article. My Dad spoke often of your visits with him on the farm. He was tickled that you were so interested in his stories.

    Rosemary Mastromarino Zehntner

  10. Hello Laurie! I’ve been thinking of you since I read Simon’s historical write-up. I remember you so vividly from childhood.
    ..Renee Rausch..

  11. Thanks Simon for your great research. A “good read”. For years, I have thought about doing a history of “ah-vest” by interviewing the “old timers”, Such as Pat Perrotti, Danny Raucci, and Dorothy Martino. You have done a great job, and a service to the history buffs of Woodbridge. I hope you’ll post this history on wikipedia.org for all to see. I was just fortunate enough to have found it via Facebook today, in a roundabout manner!

  12. Simon, my father-in-law told me they had the go cart races on Amity Hill. You might want to talk to Frank he has a lot of good memories and stories Janet

  13. Do you know anything of the R.H.MacFarlane Dairy Farm, Far-Lane Jersey milk Woodbridge, CT? I found a 1/2 pint milk bottle bearing their name and my searches have not turned up any information. Thank you!
    Susan

  14. What a great article, brings back so many wonderful childhood memories. A time when life was simple and always time for our family and friends! Thank you Simon for taking the time to write this.

  15. WOW Simon this brought back some memories and more history then I’d ever know. I recall some of the stories you’ve mentioned here. The many trips down to the flats as a child (from Bethany) to the Amity shopping center. The once in a while visit to the original Assumptions church, (we went to the Center Rd newer church most Sunday’s) with Father Salmone (spelling). The fresh apple ciger at Perrotti’s nursery (now People’s bank) I recall one fall helping make the cider placing the jugs to be filled then the labels for a few dollars pay. I also recall working for 10 cents per tray of seedlings transplanted into 6 packs to be sold by a different Perrotti family on Litchfield Turnpike. I remember the original Amity shopping center and recall being able to hear (from 7 miles away) the band practice. Mom would hear it and say the band is practicing and we’d stop to listen. I bet those living in the flats never knew the sound carried all the way to the Bear Hill Rd part of Bethany. Those where the days… The Flats was a family, they watched each others backs, they knew each other as if family. Once you became part of the family you where in. The bowling alley, Amity shopping Center and the field where the place to hang out in my day. The cops left you alone as they turned there heads – Cap – LOL – Cindy Shaboo

  16. I remember the day John F. Kennedy drove by in a convertible……such crowds of people……
    I remember the feasts and how Junie and I were stuck on the bridge leaving Manila Ave. because so many people were coming into the Feast grounds. I remember Papa Marcucci laying his FIG tree down sideward, burying it for the winter…..on Manila Ave. Such good memories.
    Really Enjoyed the history of Woodbridge. Good work.
    Angela Marcucci (Mrs. Frank Junie Marcucci)

  17. The band you could hear was the Emerald Cadets drum and bugle corps. They practiced for a while at Amity Center. I was in the flag line in the late ’60’s. Father Peter Mitchell, who came to Our Lady of the Assumption from St. Aeden’s, was the Director.

    • Thank you for clearing up my two comments above. I remembered my mother saying it was the church band after I sent in my posting and the same with Father Mitchell, I had him mixed up with the other priest at Center Rd.

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