Olde West Haven: 1894
This week your Historian defers once again to the late Harriet C. North, who is warmly remembered as West Haven’s City Historian. The following is from a newspaper column called “Olde West Haven,” that she wrote in 1980:
If you were to pick up your paper in West Haven in 1894, you would find that it was printed by the “Knox’all” Weekly Times of West Haven on Washington Avenue, just above Elm Street.
The column of interest was called “Talk of the Town.” The following were some of the news items:
“Don’t forget the Graham Hooks Fair.”
“Dressmaking done at 73 Richards Street.”
“Try the Milford Donuts, very fine, sold at West Haven Cash Grocery.”
“Pure horseradish left at your house. Send postal to Wm. G. Hayes, Box 90.”
“Mrs. McClelland is having an addition built to her house on Union Avenue. Wm. Lettney is doing the work.”
“Go to Weirs Green House on George Street between Washington Avenue and Campbell Avenue for your Easter Flowers.”
“The town officers have moved into their new quarters, and any citizen having business with them will find them in their new offices.”
“Manure for sale—suitable for lawn or cemetery lots, apply to W.E. Thomas, Washington Avenue. Teams to deliver and spread when required.”
“The West Haven Buckle Company started on ten hour time last Tuesday morning and shut down Thursday night for Fast-day and Saturday, but will start again on Monday.”
“Selectman Charles F. Smith has purchased Wm. B. Brown’s place on Center Street which he will occupy as his residence shortly, having retired from farm life in North Orange.”
“The widening of the railroad bridge at Wagner’s Crossing has made a bad mud-hole there again.”
“Charles Davis nearly severed his fingers from his hand while shingling a house on Second Avenue yesterday.”
Then to the social and personal column. Can you imagine a reporter of today giving this description? West Haveners doubtless “ate it up.”
“The opera ‘Four Leaf Clover,’ which was given at the Town Hall, was one of the best, if not THE best operatic performances ever given in West Haven. Long before the curtain rose, every seat was occupied. The pretty costumes, graceful dancing and bright faces of the chorus did much to the success of the production. All the principals did so well it would be hard to particularize. One of the prettiest numbers was the Gypsy Dance. The singing of Miss Nellie Lamb, who possessed a good stage presence, was one of the most pleasing features of the opera. Mrs. Edwin Lettney accompanied in an admirable manner. During the acts Gates Orchestra rendered several selections in a most admirable manner.”
I don’t believe this was rated “R.”
Before Armstrong Rubber Company built its factory on Wagner Place and Elm Street, there was an old house there that belonged to a family named Wagner. The mud hole mentioned in the column was where the railroad bridge is now. At one time there was a big furor about it; politicians were embroiled in all kinds of name-calling. History repeats itself.
You will note that postcards had to be sent for things you wanted, as telephone service was in its infancy. No, we didn’t have “Felicia” then, nor was she even thought about. Indeed, we’ve come from simple times to complex ones.