"Before I forget ..."
by ROY VAIL
(THE WARWICK VALLEY DISPATCH is again honored to have been selected to publish excerpts from Roy Vail's current book, "Before I Forget." The anthor is a noted collector, historian and gunsmith whose previous articles were quickly sold out on all news stands. We will prvent Mr. Vail's article with their many valuable items of local history in installments in the coming weeks. THE EDITORS.)
When I was young I wanted to visit some of the iron mines in the Warwick area so I asked Mr. Bahrman what part of New Milford mountains the Layton mine was located in and he gave me explicit directions. I asked him how deep it was and he said at the mine they were about eighty feet deep but in New York where they sold stock they were down over two hundred feet and had hit an ore bed of several hundred feet with no end in sight. It was remored on the street that the ore was of pure quality and they had also located some silver there. Most of the Eastern mines folded when pure iron was found in the Mesabe Range in the Midwest where they scooped in up with early steam shovels and transported it on oar barges on the Great Lakes to the smelters and manufactures near the West Virginia and Pennsylvania coal fields. The local ore costs too much to mine, cart to the railroad and ship to the smelter. But this part of the Appalachian chain is loaded with ore and one day when the easy to mine fields are depleted in the nearby foreseeable future there will be modern mining in the Eastern mountains again, probably smelted right in the mines and pure iron delivered direct.
At the foot of the Iron Mountain Road where it level off one of the ore wagons broke down and the ore was shoveled off at the side of the road. As a boy I collected about forty pieces of it. It was black and real heavy and somewhat shiny. It seemed to me much freer from sulphur than ores from the Raynor and Forester/Dean mine. I have some of it around yet and about forty years ago I purchased the ore bucket used at the mine. I suppose I better take it to the old mill or give it to the Historical Society where it will be preserved. I am told there was a little settlement around the Layton mine which was called Mount Tabor and there was a church there. Just how large this settlement was I have been unable to find out. This was just about on the New York/New Jersey line. In my wanderings up there and hunting I've run across several foundations.
While we are on the subject of the Layton mines, Dad and Mr. Carey bought the farm of Mr. William Wallace, Charles Wallace's father. They sold the farm to Dr. Willis Boughton, Paul Boughton's father. Paul had a Model T Ford and one Sunday he taught by brother Harry, Melvin Kreymer, and me to drive it. We had a about 15 minutes each on an old country road and that was all the lessons we ever had. They call them pleasure carts but actually they are the most destructive instrument ever invented by man. The past July 4 weekend, over 700 people were killed and no one knows how many thousands were crippled and injured for life which is worse.
There were four big hickory trees in the back of the house and I'd go there about twice a week in the fall to gather nuts. They were large and crack so the meats would come out in halves. I bought a girl's bicycle from Elsie. It was a small 24 inch wheel bike and had outgrown it. It was green and had enamel plate on the front marked Earl. No coaster brake - I had to use my foot on the tire as a brake. One time coming down Iron Mountain Road with about twenty pounds of nuts I was going too fast and my foot got so hot I had to change and the use of the other one. I was going too fast to make the turn at Twin Bridges in Jockey Hollow and ran into the stone bridge wall and nearly went over the bridge and into the creek, smashed the front wheel and blew out the tire. I walked home with blisters on both feet. I ordered a new wheel and tire from Charles Williams' store in New York.
The Charles Williams' store was similar to Sears Roebuck and Wards. And while I am on the subject of the catalog store in New York I must mention an incident that took place.
The Lehigh and Hudson Railroad had a shack of a house just north of the New Milford mill where some track workers lived. One of the women went to the agent, Arthur Berger, and had him order a hat for her. When it came it wasn't quite up to expectations. She went to Berger and said, "Write a letter: Mr. Charlie Williams, son of a bitch. Hat looks nice in picture, looks like hell on head. Send money."
The Earl bicycle I got had small 24" wheels, not the standard 26". It was painted in a grey green baked on enamel and was a very hard durable finish. After I got it I put kerosene on a rag and polished it all over. The kerosene cut the old oil off the frame and hub and spokes which were nickel plated. The rims were of natural wood maple color and they were finished in varish in red stripping. After I cleaned it I waxed it all over with beeswax and turpentine, mother's furniture polish so it looked nearly new. When I blew the front tire out at the Twin Bridges, the one I ordered from Charles Wlliams' store in New York was a different make, U.S. Rubber Company, with small 1/4" square treads with a light blue thin rubber trim circling the sides. It was pretty. It cost me four dollars and forty-five cents. The parcel post was eighteen cents or one cent per ounce. I never left the bike out in the rain like today's kids do. One of the Weymer boys had a bike and it had a leak in one of the tires. Someone told him to pump a can of condensd milk in it and it would seal up the leak. In going down a hill he hie a sharp stone which enlarged the hole and it spewed the condensed milk all in the street, up and down his back, and in his hair. What a gooey mess that was. I doubt if he ever got the gooey mess out of his hair, as he soon came to school with his hair clipped short. After I got the bicycle I'd go to post office about every other day for the mail and so forth.
Twin Bridges at Jockey Hollow
This is a transcription of an article from the Warwick Valley Dispatch, dated August 23,1978. Used with permission.
Many of the transcriptions found here are now in published form. They have been published by the Orange County Genealogical Society (in Goshen, New York). Volume 3 includes my Volume 3 and Volume 5. Volume 4 includes my four parts of New Milford history. There is a planned Volume 5, which will include my Volumes 6, 7, and 8, Part 1, which is about 250 transcriptions. They can be purchase through the Genealogical Society. Just Google them and print out the order form. Or they can be purchased from the Warwick Historical Society. They are also on sale at the gift shop at Baird's Tavern. I would like to thank the Genealogical Society and Dan Burrows for their efforts. Started a new blog for images of Warwick. Go to: www.imagesofwarwicknewyork.blogspot.com.