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Tales from a Townie: Town water comes to 12 Claflin Ave.

by | Aug 18, 2021 | Featured

This story was told to me by my mother, Evelyn M. Simmons Hamilton Swenor (1916-2010), who was born at 12 Claflin Ave. — as was her mother, Ethel Wood Simmons (1889-1972).

The main character in this tale is my great-grandfather, Alfred “Pout” Wood (1845-1935). Alfred was a machinist who worked at local factories. His great passion in life was horn pout fishing. His favorite haunts were Ice House Pond, Duck Pond and Lake Maspenock.

The three generations of this family lived at 12 Claflin Ave., and finances were “tight.” Being able to catch many horn pout, and the neighbors wanting them, was a good thing. However, selling freshwater fish was illegal. So, what to do?

It was decided that when Pout came home with his fish late at night, he knew what nights to leave off the right number of pout at which neighbors’ homes. At a later time, the same neighbors would give him some money to help with family finances.

Now to the main story: In his retirement years, Alfred would sit in his rocking chair (which I have to this day in my living room, having been beautifully restored) and read paperback Westerns.

Before 1925, the only running water in the house was a hand pump in the kitchen sink to draw water from the well. All toilet facilities were in the outhouse behind the barn. Around 1925, the town installed water down Claflin Ave. The day they put water into his house, Alfred sat in his rocker, observing what was going on. Then, in a large closet on the first floor, the plumbers installed a tub, sink and toilet.

After the plumbers left, Alfred asked my grandmother, “Let me get this straight, we’re going to do WHAT in the house?” That was the end of their outhouse use!

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