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Digital Art

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DIRECT MAILED to 13,500 homes & businesses

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Remembering My Father By Bernadette Gentry .......... 3

May 1949 By Clifton J. (Jerry) Noble Sr ....................... 4

June 1949 By Clifton J. (Jerry) Noble Sr ...................... 8

Smith’s Beach By Elethea Goodkin ............................... 10

Sweet Retreat By Phil Pothier .................................... 13

We Are Here: Free Help for Local Businesses .......... 14

Country Cooking By Mary Kvarnstrom ....................... 18

Growing Roses By Ed Sourdiffe ................................. 22

Southwoods Bulletin Board ..................................... 23

Classifieds ..................................................................27

Through the remainder of this year, Southwoods will be running past articles retelling stories of Southwick’s past for the upcoming celebration of Southwick’s 250th Anniversary.


By Bernadette Gentry

As we are growing up, our fathers teach us many things and give us the love of their hearts. On Father’s Day we remember them and thank them for all the ways they have made us who we are today.

On summer evenings after supper, my father would play catch with me in the backyard. He also gave me his interest in baseball and taught me how to read the team standings in the Daily News - especially of my beloved Brooklyn Dodgers.

I loved working with my father in the yard and enjoyed painting the trellis where the sweet peas would grow come summer. When I was older, he taught me so many things like how to check the oil, the radiator, and the tires of our car. But, of all the things he taught or gave me, his love of flowers and gardens was the most treasured.

We had a tiny yard, but it was always filled with the colors of beautiful flowers. Most of our annuals we grew from seed, and with him I watched the miracle of a seed coming to life. To this day, the pungent smell of marigolds on my fingers brings me back to my childhood days.

I loved the daffodils he planted along the chain link fence the neighbor put up, and I loved the lavender irises we took to the cemetery on Memorial Day.

He loved driving the big Cadillacs he drove as a chauffeur, but sadly, he never had a new car of his own. That’s why he spent so much time teaching me how to take care of our older cars.

When he died, he was buried in a part of the cemetery where you could hear the traffic of the NY Thruway wheezing by. Everyone said he would have loved this spot.

Take time this Father’s Day to thank your father for all he has given you to enrich your lives.


My Father


By Clifton J. (Jerry) Noble Sr

My journal entry on May 16, 1949, says “I wish I might have written here before now as there is so much of which I would like a more complete record.” AND HOW! Memory will have to help..

In the spring of 1948 my mother (nicknamed Hester) and I had bought a disused schoolhouse from the Town of Montgomery for $800. New Year’s Day 1949 a flood brought the Westfield River just over the floor of our rented cottage in West Springfield. (That cottage went down river in the 1955 flood.) We would be wise to move to higher ground before our lease expired the end of April ’49.

I took vacation the last week of April and the first two weeks in May from my job in the Survey Section of the Massachusetts Department of Public Works. Though we had worked at every opportunity through summer and winter to make the schoolhouse liveable, there was still much to be

done when we moved in Friday, April 29. Now I may quote my journal with additions where needed.

May 16, 1949 Monday. From Sunday, April 24th, I worked feverishly to put plywood on walls and ceilings and build a wide kitchen shelf where Bryan Hardware’s man can set our gas cooking plate. That three-burner plate is well worth the $50 it cost. It is neat, clean and hot. With a sheet metal oven set over one burner we can bake.

The telephone was installed Tuesday. The phone sits on a wall box which has a crank. Turn the crank and phones ring. Our number is 6 (ring) 11. ( 11 is one long ring followed by a short ring.) Percy Helms is 6-2, and the Willistons are 6-3. We were told we would be on an eight party line. Except the single ring for Operator in her office in the house beside the Russell Church, these are the only rings we hear. Some days the phone hasn’t rung at all.

Friday, April 29, despite the mess, we are here to stay. A sofa, two chairs and a small maple table were delivered from Hadley’s (in Springfield) Wednesday. Hester got Tom William’s van to bring up the few things I hadn’t brought in our 1948 Crosley. Tom charged $17.

Saturday morning we each took the hundred yard walk out the forest path to the sumac limb I’d fixed between two trees. Until later that day when I completed the neat two-hole backhouse on the corner of this lot our sanitary convenience was primitive in the extreme.

Since moving I’ve replaced sashes in window at north end of living room, put plywood, molding and baseboards on our walls. Hester has applied wood seal and varnish to all surfaces, even ceilings. All but one of the window boards is off. It was these matched boards which supplied siding and roof for our new backhouse.

Aunt Florence and Uncle Sam Boyce were pleased with what we have done when they made a short visit Sunday May 8th.

(MEMORY kicks in here.) Although a high tension power line crossed the mountainside a few hundred yards above the schoolhouse, no home on Carrington Road had electricity and wouldn’t have for five years. We gladly get along with kerosene



May 2009

Back by popular demand:


lamps, lanterns and a battery radio, but we’re specially thankful for the telephone.

On one of my hot vacation days in early May I noticed smoke rising from the valley to the west. I ran across neighboring fields to the top of the bank. At the foot, along the railroad leaves were burning. I had thought diesel engines were safer than steam about setting forest fires until I saw showers of sparks billowing from a diesel stack as a freight engine labored uphill.

At home I cranked for the Operator. Fire trucks and crews arrived from Montgomery, Russell and Huntington. Meanwhile the fire had roared up the bank and was crossing fields toward road and farmhouse. I hung around in case I could help and was promptly outfitted with an “Indian” tank. The tank full of water was heavy. A slight youth like me had to lie on the tank, fasten straps over my shoulders, and roll forward to use leg strength to get up.

The fire was out. Indian tank was returned to Montgomery truck. I would receive a check that covered the cost of replacing my soot-spoiled sneakers. (BACK to journal.)

Saturday we had a kitten for a day from the New England store in Russell. Our house, with wall tops open at the upstairs floor, isn’t safe for kittens so we took him back.

I carry wash water and some cooking water from the brook, but there is a fine spring at the Russell town line where we fill jugs for drinking water.

We have set out a maple sapling which may shade the house from afternoon sun.

Working outdoors in briefs I’m getting as tanned as a Tahitian. I do love it here. God’s will has made it possible for us to own a home again.

May 30, 1949, Memorial Day, Monday - For the last three days the weather has been a mixture of clouds, sunshine and blustery northwest wind.

Hester has done all the painting, wood seal and varnish.

Chipmunks are getting tame. They run for the foundation wall or the woodpile when we go out, but will sit and watch us. This morning as I sang “When I Was a Lad” from the backhouse, I heard them romping in the leaves outside.

On the way to Westfield, we stopped to take a picture near Peckham’s barn. I crossed the road to inspect an old cellar hole. A slithery rustle made me aware of a presence I’d suspected. On a concrete slab lay a black snake over four feet long.

Today we saw the tan “dog” on the slope by Duggan’s barn. Last time I saw it in the meadow I thought it moved more like a cat than a dog. At closer range I could see the sharp nose,

pointed ears and bushy tail. Our “dog” is a fox.

This morning I lit the fire at 5:30 and took a run up Russell Mountain (about 2.6 miles round trip) at 6:00. Temperature was probably 55 degrees, but in shorts with long sleeved shirt only my hands were cold.

I am working with party chief Louis Johnson again. Last weekend Whitey was on a binge. He worked with us Monday in Belchertown and messed things up with his half-blind rod readings. We got word Tuesday that he was wanted in Greenfield to replace someone on vacation. Whitey was missing till Wednesday when Louis got hold of him and we took him to Greenfield. Monday evening he had gone back to Springfield to see his bookie friends, got drunk and spent the night in jail.

Last night when we got home from evening service at the Adventist Church in Westfield, we found a Model T Ford broken down on Herrick Road. The young driver needed a bolt to repair the damage. I had no bolt so drove him and the older man with him to the garage in Russell to get one. Their wives and two little boys stayed at the schoolhouse with Hester. We were soon back, repairs made, and they were on their way.

The older man told me that years ago he lived in the now-deserted house at the top of Herrick Road. I asked him how he got out in winter. He said, “In the morning you’re up there so it’s easy coming down through the snow, By the time you go home they’d have the road open.” His wife told Hester they are coming up for a weekend while he does some work for Mr. Williston. The boys sat quietly on the bench by the stove. Unfortunately the ladies smoked so our little house stunk till late.

Mr. Peckham has been in bed for a week with heart trouble.

We went up to Whitman Hill tonight and had supper with the Boyces.

The laurel is budded and blooming in some places.

Even though we have no running water and no electricity, our little house is a COSY HOME. I’m so grateful for it and all our other blessings.




By Clifton J.(Jerry) Noble Sr.

April 29, 1949, Friday, my widowed mother, Minnie E. Noble, and I had moved into a former country schoolhouse. With no experience at carpentry, we had converted it into a three-room dwelling with an upstairs attic bedroom for me. I had nicknamed her “Hester.” She was 52. I was 23. We had a “crank” telephone, the old schoolhouse stove for heat and a three-burner gas plate for cooking. There was no running water, and poles for electricity wouldn’t march down Carrington Road for another five years. Once again, however, it was a home of our own, and my journal tells how we managed in those early months.

While I was at work with a Massachusetts Department of Public Works survey party, Hester took a walk a half mile north to visit Louis and Mary Rivard on their farm. Then she continued up Pomeroy Road past Williston’s and down Herrick Road home. She also walked the two miles to Russell and back for the newspaper and bread. There is a nest on the bank beside Herrick Road where she has watched four blue eggs change to

scrawny young thrushes.

June 9, 1949 Thursday. Sunday’s weather: hot, muggy, thundershower. Monday and Tuesday: clear and warm with northwest breeze. Wednesday, scattered clouds with strong northwest breeze. Today: scattered clouds, warmer. I stood on our doorstep to watch the thundershower. Lightning hit the telephone pole 500 feet north at the top of the hill. A fireball came down the line, followed the wire to our house and down the wall to the ground rod beside where I was standing.

Yesterday we worked in Southwick staking the lower end of Sheeppasture Road for reconstruction. Since Friday we were on South Chesterfield Road in Goshen. Tuesday we went to Morgan Street, South Hadley.

Last Saturday we had Minnie and Mel Finney and Vera up to dinner and supper. I cut and extended woodland paths on our two and a half acres in afternoon.

Hester went with me to Westfield today to make a few purchases. She visited her brother, Ralph Emerson, at his watch repair shop.

There is a lake in Goshen near our job. With about 400 acres of surrounding land it belongs to Anne Hammond and is posted against hunters, fishers, and trespassers in general. She has a commodious summer house at the south end of the pond with boat dock. A sign at the entrance says “Guests only.” Bill Robinson, our other rodman, says that Anne is the widow of Judge Hammond. She is along in years and was a friend of Bill’s grandmother. Attempts had been made to have the lake surveyed. If it is large enough, the owner would have to open it to the public. During his lifetime Judge Hammond thwarted all such efforts. At lunch time, transitman Bob Fay, made a hook from a bent pin and fished from the bridge where our road to be surveryed crossed the pond’s north end. He actually caught a fish. Party Chief Louis Johnson watched.

June 22, 1949 Wednesday. Yesterday’s official temperature was 96 degrees.

Mel Finney had a heart attack last Wednesday. Minnie, who had been trying to run the house and take care of him day and night, had to go to bed herself yesterday.

Louis Johnson started a two-week vacation Monday. Bob

JUNE 1949

CJN digging “cold cellar”

June 2009


Fay is substituting. Hugh A. Corr has come to work as rodman for the summer. Bob makes a fine party chief. We are a congenial party, and none of us smoke. Supervisor Tattan told Bob he will have a party and equipment of his own in July. I’m supposed to become transitman at the same time. We heard that Greenfield crews had half a day off yesterday because of the heat. We worked right through it.

Last Saturday morning, while I was washing the car under the maple tree and Hester was reading to me, three deer galloped across the upper end of the meadow. This morning when Hester walked out to the brow of the hill a deer approached within 25 feet of her and grazed in an abandoned garden patch. We’ve seen the fox several times.

Sunday I put the other small window in the attic gable on the side toward the road. My bedroom is lighter and much pleasanter now.

At night it is like a reflection of stars to see fireflies twinkling from to tall grass clear up into the tall trees.

I seldom wear a shirt at work and have got a fine tan. Bob took us to Westover Field today to get a benchmark description and elevation for our Granby job. We met Harry Karp the Chief Engineer, but he didn’t have much information.

June 25, 1949 Saturday After clear days with low humidity, today was hot and muggy with a thunderstorm.

We worked in Westhampton yesterday. Having money left over from bridge construction, the road supervisor has bulldozed a new route for Island Pond Road fifty to a hundred feet about the old road. It connects at the bottom with a long, straight, but steep grade. Our Greenfield District Office thinks the grade is too steep. If our profile shows it is too steep the town will be refused State financial aid for the work. If the job succeeds, it will be the cheapest road built in this decade since the bulldozer is the only equipment used. Our work was hampered by the bulldozer pushing down trees in the path of our baseline and by the fact that Bill Robinson didn’t arrive early with the survey books. Thus it was six o’clock before we reached Holyoke. After a stop for groceries I arrived home about seven.

We went down to see the Finneys last night. They are

both better. Was too tired to go today. I spent a pleasant hour in the brook this afternoon. Only the rush of water and chirp of a chipmunk broke the hush of the approaching thunderstorm. There has been only enough rain to lay the dust.

June 27, 1949 Monday Two or three deer have been picking up apples in the orchard across the road. They are so pretty.

This morning I trimmed maple branches away from our roof. Also gave the upstairs window casings an extra coat of paint. Carried water and mowed grass. My legs are getting tanned from wearing shorts.

I started to dig a “cold cellar.” If there should turn out to be water in the cold cellar—WELL!

Bugs are out this weather. We found a sugar bag full of black ants. This noon, when she set the table, I heard Hester shooing a fly. “It’s probably fresh from the backhouse,” she said, “and I don’t want it walking on my plate.” Indifferently I said, “Oh, I don’’t think so.” Then as ideas struck home, I added, “Don’t let it walk on mine.”

Someone has a novel idea for walking their dog. With one hand on the steering wheel and the other out the window holding the dog leash, they drive slowly along our road letting the animal trot beside the car.

I met the youngest Rusin boy (Stanley) at the town line spring this evening. He says his vacation from Texon starts next week.

A young fellow stopped here tonight to inquire if this was the schoolhouse and if it were for sale. Folks are thinking of country homes, but places are scarce.

Minnie Finney at schoolhouse


Our next stop on the Southwick History Tour is at a fairly recent historical site. Although we don’t usually think this way, we are actually making history every day, and what is commonplace in our time may be just the stuff that later generations and histo-rians revel in. Who knew in the days of the ice houses in Southwick that later generations, growing up with refrigerators, would be fascinated with details of the town’s ice industry?

In that same vein, who thought that when the late Charlie Baiardi began buying property on Southwick’s South Pond in the late 30s, he would develop a family beach and entertainment area that would still be in use by families today as the town beach?

June 1995

To get to this spot, turn left off Routes 10-202 at Gillett’s Corners onto Route 168 (CongamondRd.), and drive east to-ward the lakes. The first right after Berkshire Avenue (on the left), is Barbara Drive, a one-way street. Turn here, and you will come out directly across from the new South Pond Park Beach located on Beach Street, a one-way street leading back toward Consamond Road.

This property was known as “Smith’s Beach” when Charley Baiardi purchased it from the late Harmon Smith, Sr. in the late 30s. According to Har-mon “Pat’’ Smith, Jr., when his father bought the property in the early 30s, it was called “Roxie’s.” The elder Smith, an athletic direc-tor at Agawam High School, and his wife, Evelyn E. Smith, also employed by the school system, worked summers at Miller’s Beach on the Connecticut side of South Pond for a few years before they purchased the prop-erty that would become “Smith’s Beach.”

Charley Baiardi died on April 29, 1992, but his wife, Alice Baiardi, still lives in the house they built in 1948 across from the beach. She has handwritten receipts made out by Harmon Smith, Sr. to her husband for payments on the land. One of the receipts is dated September 6, 1938 and is for $5.00 for a partial payment on Lot #1. Smith says lots in those days were only 50’ by 100’.” The ones on the waterfront sold for $500 but the ones in the back went for $200 or less, he says.

Baiardi was born in Agawam, but his father came from northern Italy and arrived in the area in a horse-drawn wag-on, according to Billy Jenkins of Southwick. Jenkins, a history teacher and enthusiast, moved next to the Baiardis in 1975. He says he and Baiardi were “fence buddies,” and he loved to hear Baiardi’s stories of the old days.

Smith says Baiardi first learned about land for sale on South Pond when visiting Miller’s Beach as a salesman for Country Club Soda. Baiardi put a trailer on the first land he bought and used it for a weekend and vacation getaway, according ro Alice Baiardi. It did not include the beach front. At that time people


were still calling the lakes the “Congamuck” or “Congamond Ponds.” The area was very wooded and secluded, Jenkins says.

Baiardi planned to build houses on the swampy section of the property, each with its own boat canal leading to the lake. However, this plan didn’t materialize because inland wetland regulations tightened up after the Second World War. The swamp is still there at the ends of Beach St. and Barbara Drive, the latter named for Baiardi’s oldest daughter.

Baiardi did build a number of houses on the drier areas of the property all the way to Congamond Rd. When the beach property came up for sale, he purchased it as well, and his plans for it flourished. Smith says he worked for Baiardi at the beach when he (Smith) was in high school and before Baiardi was married. He did everything from tending the bath house and renting boats, to cooking, cleaning up, and being the life guard, he says.

After their marriage in 1942, Baiardi and Alice worked to-gether over the years to develop the beach. They were helped later by their three daughters including Charlene as well as the two already mentioned. Facilities at the beach included the swimming area, bathhouse, boat rentals, the clam shed, picnic grounds, bar, and a restaurant.

Baiardi was drafted into the war in the middle of the sum-mer, and Alice kept the beach establishment open without him until the end of the season. She lived in a cottage at the end of Beach St., and kept a loaded gun and a big, white German Shepherd dog. She says that at closing time, “l walked at night to the cottage with the money, and I was afraid of the gun and the dog.”

There was a recreation camp for troops on the Connecticut side of the lake, she says. They used to come across on boats to the beach, and they helped her including doing “K.P.” After rationing was instituted, food was scarce, and she closed the restaurant, working at Pratt and Whitney sharpening tools.

Baiardi trained paratroopers in this country, but after being injured, returned lo Southwick in 1943. He and Alice continued to run the beach until Charley retired in 1964, selling the prop-erty to “Tancridi” and “Basile.” Ernie Lombardi purchased it from them and eventually sold it to the Town of Southwick for the public beach.

Patricia Baiardi remembers the clam shed, located at the north end of the beach near the water, had a wooden canopy overhead for shade and protection from the rain. She says that whole factories would come to the beach for their factory picnic. A clambake ticket cost 1 or 2 dollars, she says, and with it, you got all the clams you could eat, a whole lobster, a baked potato, a half chicken, watermelon, and beer. Individual meals were wrapped in cheesecloth so everyone got the same amount, and

the food was all cooked in special, underground ovens. There were benches and tables on each side of the shed.

They did not use refrigerators at the beach, depending in-stead on ice brought in gigantic chunks from the nearby ice house. Patricia says her father had an air-conditioned car to bring the ice to the beach, and this was quite unusual in those days, Later, Baiardi closed the clam shed, making it into 2 apartments, and he and his family lived in one of them until their house was built.

The bathhouse where people changed into their bathing suits was on the south side of the clambake shed. Patricia says beach patrons were given a key to their lockers on an elastic. There was a fence around the beach, and patrons had to pay to get in. They received a tiny ribbon of material to tie on their belt or bathing suit, a different color every day, to show that they had paid. Patricia remembers nights spent with her mother and sisters cutting the cloth into strips for the next day.

She laughs about the concession stand that she and her sis-ters operated. It was a small building, only 5 feet by 10 feet, near the entrance where they sold penny candy, kids’ shovels and pails, and other beach articles. “My father bought the items,” she says, “but we kept all the money.”

“There was not one cigarette butt or match on it (the beach),” Patricia says. “You could walk out (in the water) to about 6 feet, but then it suddenly dropped off to 20 feet. My father put the raft out that deep, and the game for kids was (jumping off the raft) and trying to hit bottom,” she says.

The deep spot was where the old New Haven-Northampton Canal had been dredged, she says. The early 19th century ca-nal ran along the western edge of South Pond and past Smith’s Beach. Smith says he remembers when he was working for Baiardi that they walked what remained of the canal towpath on the shore to a little restaurant on 1st St. for supper.

Besides the raft and a pier that ran parallel to the shore, there was also a ski jump in the water. In the 50s the Congam-ond Water Ski Club held ski shows at Smith’s Beach, Patricia says. At the south end of the beach was the boat jetty. Baiardi built and rented the 23 oversized, wooden rowboats. Patricia remembers it was her job to bail out those boats.

The restaurant was located about where the present town beach building is. There was an outdoor concession that sold hot dogs, hamburgers, and popcorn made in a machine. The


beer garden or patio was originally open but had to be en-closed because it became illegal to sell liquor outdoors, Patricia says. There were large glass windows, however, that could be opened very wide in the summer, and the tables came from the Lake House, a hotel across from Saunder’s Boat Livery that burned down in 1925.

The restaurant also had the old type of pinball machines and a juke box. Patricia says she and her sisters tried every spring to persuade the juke box salesman to put in Elvis Presley records, but they never did. Inside the restaurant included a bar and eating area with a dance floor, stage, and player piano. A band played every Saturday night, according to Alice Baiardi. The drinking age was 21 then, Patricia says, and her father was very strict. The beach catered to families, she explains, and he sent anybody who was rowdy home.

Smith’s Beach was very popular in the 40s, 50s, and early 60s, according to Jenkins, with people coming about equally

from Connecticut and Massachusetts. Maud Etta Gillett Davis in her book, Historical Facts and Stories about Southwick, com-pleted in 1951, mentions it in one line: ‘’On the South Pond is the ‘Ovids’, an eating place. There are ‘Smith’s Beach’ and ‘Miller’s Beach.’ “The “Ovids” was located north of Smith’s at the cause-way between South and Middle Ponds where the Round Up Restaurant is today. It didn’t have its own beach, however.

The beach property was evidently popular in earlier times as well as a gathering and camping place for Native Ameri-cans. Alice Baiardi remembers workmen taking home arrow-heads and other artifacts they found along the beach road, and a friend of Jenkins found arrowheads in the old picnic grove. This was a hilly area shaded by trees behind the restaurant in the south west corner of the property. It was called “the moun-tain” and had individual picnic tables and a lovely view of the lake. Later owners leveled it to make a parking lot, and this upset Baiardi, Alice says, because he thought it was the most beautiful spot on the whole beach.


I sit here on the river’s bank

Where oak and maple stand.

The sun and breeze caress my face,

A book is in my hand.

The cares I face are left behind,

This is my place of rest.

Of all my shadowed calm retreats

I like this one the best!

The rippling waters slowly pass,

They neither rush nor care.

I have retreated from the world.

I find no solace there.

My world is calm, my thoughts are free.

There is no fear nor pain,

And when at last I must go back,

I’ll surely come again!

Here in this peaceful, quiet place

I read my book in peace.

I am transported far away,

My mind has found release.

Oh, what adventures grace my way,

What wond’rous friends I meet!

Far from the bustling, troubled world,

I love this sweet retreat!

Alas! Too soon I must depart,

The world calls me away.

My family and my work cry out!

I know I cannot stay.