Stories captivate audience at library
WILTON – People love to tell and listen to stories, especially about people or places they know.
On Oct. 30, the Wilton Public & Gregg Free Library rotunda was filled to overflowing by residents who came to listen to stories of Mischief Night goings-on while enjoying a light supper. The event was co-sponsored by the Wilton Community Center.
A half-dozen longtime residents shared their memories – without mentioning any names, of course. There were the usual pranks, the soapy windows, toilet paper over the light wire, teenage boys daring each other to stay over night in a reputedly haunted vacant house. (That escapade was foiled by a police visit, however). The famous Blue Lady who is said to haunt Vale End Cemetery came up several times.
Then there were the church bells.
"The altar boys knew how to get in," the storyteller recalled. "With a one-man police force, they kept him busy between the churches. He never did catch the bell ringers."
Many stories, however, had nothing to do with Halloween – they were just great stories.
Prior to World War II, there was a footbridge across the Souhegan River from the Abbott Machine Co. on Howard Street and the Abbott Worsted Mill on The Island.
"So the workers didn’t have to walk all the way around" by the bridge near the dummy, Charlie McGettigan recalled.
Back then, he said, a lot of people in the village kept carriage horses – he noted the many attached barns on village houses – "and even a couple of cows for fresh milk."
A local boy was hired to take a cow to pasture on Abbot Hill each morning.
"He decided one morning it would be quicker to take the cow across the swinging bridge," McGettigan said.
The cow objected, however, and midway across, refused to move. That forced very annoyed people going to work to walk the long way around. Eventually, of course, a group of men poked, pulled and prodded the cow off the bridge.
After the formal presentation, attendees were asked to contribute more stories. Others taking part included Gary Crooker, Robin Schoen, Stanley Young, Joan Tuttle and Doug Nelson.