Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mudville History Detectives

So I am riding my bike on an obscure back route in the Massachusetts Berkshire mountains. I see an ivy covered brick dealership with a 1930's Ford neon sign. I wheel around to take a pic. As I am pressing the shutter, an old dude pops out of the side door and says something. I couldn't hear him with my lid, so I took it off and went inside.

"Nice sign, I was just taking a picture of it", I said.
""Building has been here sine they sold Model T's. They used to drive them off of the train across the street."
"Where ya from?" asked the old Yankee.
"Manchester, CT', I replied.
"Holy Moses, I was born there in 1943, right in the Memorial Hospital."
"So was I, but in 1966."

We talked back and forth and he had some foggy details of his childhood. He said his father was Leonard Brown and was a mechanic at a place on Main Street. He came down from Vermont during the war and married a girl working at "The Aircraft", Pratt & Whitney. Says his dad got drafted in 1944. I suggested Brown's Tire/Amoco, but not the right place. It was also a bit strange that his name is Victor J. D'Aneillo.

I told him I would stop by the Historical Society and check the town directory for 1943.

I rode over today, but they didn't have the directories I needed. They were in the archives, located in the former Lutz Museum on Cedar Street. The historians got buzzed about the story and we found a Victor Dannielo, mechanic in the 1947 book. The buzz was so strong that Dave Smith, head curator, took me over to the archives on his lunch break and gave me full access to the records.

I found that Victor A. D' Aniello was a mechanic at Vic's Service Center, 415 Main Street. There is a dance studio there now.
Leonard J. Brown worked at Main Street Service Station & Garage, 575 Main Street, across from the library where Dynamic Percussion was located.

So there seems to be a mechanic mystery between his biological father and his namesake. I also went and took pictures of the house addresses. Maybe that will spark up his memory.

 I called Marty Hansen to help the historical society out with this motorcycle picture from the early teens.
 Mr. Smith was quite helpful. He showed me a display about Manchester native Christopher Spencer inventing his famous repeating rifle. He also built a steam powered car in the 1860's. Mudville's first car!
Going to take another ride up to the Ford dealer and give Victor the photocopies of what I dug up. Hopefully he will give me a tour though the 90 years worth a junk piled up inside that vine covered castle in the Berkshires.
Manchester Historical Society


2 comments:

Jeff Stockton said...

Cool stuff Ray.

The Crazy Horse Flame Shop said...

Very cool. Did not know places like that still existed.

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