Klondyke, Platt Street and High Street: Augusta’s life in Waterbury continues
As of yesterday, I’ve added a new page to this site to link the series of posts of Augusta’s memoir in one place. (Obvious, right? I can’t think why I didn’t do it long ago.) I’ve also added a couple of photos of her, the only ones I’ve got. You can find the new page here, or reach it from any other page by clicking on Augusta’s name just below the blog header.
Here is the next section of the memoir, which gives an idea of the frequency with which Augusta and her family moved around Waterbury during the early 1900s as they worked towards owning a home of their own. I’ve spent some time this evening trying to find out more about the housing fraud she mentions, or even anything about the Klondyke area, but with no success thus far. I did, though, find the map of Waterbury (1899) and view of Waterbury (1917) posted below, both of which can be found alongside lots of similarly good stuff at the University of Connecticut’s Map and Geographic Information Center site. Click and then click again for fabulously detailed large scans you can get pleasurably lost in, or visit their site.
In Waterbury there was an area called Klondyke on a hill a little way from where we lived. Here a man built a number of new houses that looked very attractive. Later we learned that they had been very poorly constructed. He sold these houses on an easy payment plan, $50 down and $30 a month thereafter. There was one we liked on top of the hill, and we walked by it many times when we were out with our son. We found it too tempting to resist. We were young and inexperienced, we couldn’t assess the house properly, and our $66 from Sweden was burning a hole in our pocket. And we decided to invest $50 of our $66 in the house, moved there, got settled, and loved it.
I remember that in moving there we had trouble with a much-loved rubber plant that was too tall to go into any room and had to stay in the front hall. A young man helping us move carried it into the house for us. This young man, named Eastlund, was a student from Yale University who was taking care of our church while we were waiting for a new minister. He was not far from our age, and became one of our best friends, a long friendship that lasted all our lives.
Our tranquil life had a rude awakening. We discovered that the man who had sold us our house and to whom we had paid our money had skipped town, taking with him all the money he had collected from the people who had bought his houses. It turned out to be a fraudulent scheme, and we all lost our money and our houses. Fortunately we had not had time to make many payments, so our loss was serious but not devastating. However, we had to move out of our new home.
We looked for a rent to move to, and found one on the second floor of a house on Platt Street for $16 a month. It was small but nice, and we could have chickens and a garden there. The owner’s name was Poulter. We moved there and liked it, continuing our life in this new setting.
Our little son was getting big, and started school, kindergarten, in Webster School nearby. We lived in this house for three years, then decided to move again. We found a very nice rent on High Street on the second floor of a large corner house for $20 a month. It was owned by a man named Stanley. He was the organist in a large church downtown. They had two daughters, Louise and Ada. Mrs Stanley had only one lung because of a sickness, but she was healthy and felt just as well with one lung as two, so she said. They were lovely people and we liked them very much.
We had a large living room, dining room, one room that could be used for a study, two bedrooms, and a kitchen. We also had the third floor where there was a large room with a closet. This room we rented out to two nice boys from the church. I don’t remember what they paid us, but they had board and room. The large room that was meant for a study we turned into a store where we sold Swedish books of all kinds. We ordered the books from a wholesale store in Brooklyn, and made quite a lot of money from this project. We saved it all towards buying a new house, our dream. I was also making quite a few dresses and other clothes, and every week I went to the bank and deposited all the earnings we could spare.