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A couple of years ago, two sisters down at Tom’s Place Diner in South Meriden, April and Cheril, began asking me about “old time” South Meriden.
This was back in 2009. They seemed fascinated by my tales of what the Village of South Meriden was really like back in the 1940s and early 1950s. I was telling them how lucky I felt to have lived in such an era, even though times were tough and we were in the middle of World War II.
I felt, and still do, very fortunate to have maintained so many memories of years past. Believe me when I tell you, 83 years on this earth seems like a long time.
Because of the sisters’ enthusiasm over what I was telling them, I decided to write a book on my “South Meriden Memories.”
I got started on the book. It was edited by my Darlin’ Edna and then went off to the printers to be published. The first printing was a success. We sold out.
Initially, I had decided not to do another printing. However, requests for the book kept popping up. So we decided that another printing was in order and it is now available for the public.
If interested, you can purchase “South Meriden Memories” at Tom’s Place on Main Street, South Meriden for $15. One dollar from each sale will be donated to Christmas in the Village, the annual Christmas holiday event that takes place each year in South Meriden.
You can get an autographed copy by sending a check for $15 to Mike Roberts, 102 Dogwood Lane, Meriden, CT 06450.
The book is not a history of the Village of South Meriden, but my recollections of what it was like growing up in a small village where everyone knew everyone on a first-name basis. South Meriden was basically a farming community, dotted with small dairy farms. There was Godek Farm, Ives Farm, Raven’s Farm, Philippi Farm and Slomkowski Farm — and this was just in the village.
Although the book is not a historical writing, many found the brief history chapter very interesting and much of the credit for this has to go to Allen Weathers and the Meriden Historical Society.
In today’s world one would have a hard time imagining what it was like back in a time when TV was just a thought, wireless phones were nonexistent, there were no computers and the main source of entertainment was listening to the radio or going to a movie theater.
It was also a time when there was no drug problems, no drive-by shootings and the S.W.A.T. team was not called out if someone was seen on the street carrying a firearm. Yes, I know that seems to be hard to believe, but it is the truth.
As kids, we were taught firearm safety very early in life because almost every family owned a firearm or two. Just about all of the violence we were aware of was happening in WWII.
Here in the United States, the war brought air raid warnings during the night hours. The countryside would turn black when all of the lights were turned out. Yes, it was very scary.
Gas supplies were turned into the war effort and gas stamps were needed to purchase gas. There were also shortages on certain foods and meat rationing. Much of the vegetables we ate came from our own gardens called “Victory Gardens.” And, through it all, we survived.
“South Meriden Memories” also tells of early means of transportation by bus and of some of the small businesses that thrived even in a small place like the Village of South Meriden.
Adults and kids turned to the great outdoors back then, both for recreation and (even more so) for food in the way of wild game and fish. Trapping was and still is a viable means of controlling certain animal numbers, but then animal activists were nonexistent.
Because there were no TV, computers, iPhones, tablets and all of the other electronic hoopla, kids turned to the Quinnipiac River for entertainment in the form of fishing, swimming and ice skating.
There were no organized sports for kids other than the summer playgrounds and sandlot sports like baseball and football according to the season.
Many of the kids back then worked part-time on one of the farms, mostly bringing in hay and helping out at milking time. The work was hard, the pay small, but appreciated. Imagine being able to drive a farm truck loaded with hay at ages 12 to 15? Yes, life was good back then.
During the war years, a military plane would land every once in a while at what is now Markham Airport. Such landings brought out many residents to admire the planes and the pilots.
“South Meriden Memories” is all about another time in the Village of South Meriden. It contains memories of the South Meriden Volunteer Fire Department, holidays and the new Village. This printing is limited and will be the last, so if you want to learn a little about the Village of South Meriden in an earlier and more tranquil time, “South Meriden Memories” is for you.
Wharton Brook recently received 350 rainbow trout in the 9-to-12 inch category. There are reports of some nice catfish being caught at Silver Lake.
Also, a reminder: Any Atlantic salmon caught in the Shetucket, Naugatuck or Housatonic rivers have to be released until Sunday, Dec. 15. It should be noted that some nice salmon are being caught in the Naugatuck River.
There will be turkey shoots at the Meriden Motorcycle Club on Stantack Road (a left off of Westfield Road just past the L. Suzio Companies) the next two Sundays, Nov. 17 and Nov. 24.
This Sunday’s shoot will include a breakfast. The shoot starts at noon on both days.
For further information, contact George Eddy at 203-886-6900.
That’s it gang, gotta run. See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving this great country of ours.