Across the pond with Rex Wailes: The Sullivan Machinery Co., Claremont

December 17th 2019 by Nathanael Hodge

Part 14 of a weekly series of blogs about Rex Wailes' 1929 trip to the USA and Canada.
Poster Image

Rex Wailes' telegram to New York


Wednesday 15.5.29

Next morning I collected my mail at the E. S. U. sent a telegram to the Sullivan Machinery Co., at Claremont, and another to Mr. McClelland at New York. I left Boston on the 12.30 and had an enjoyable trip. I read my mail for the first part of it - my first mail with three letters each from F.W. R.P.W and E.

At Nashua the Meumac river is reached and followed to Concord and the county is more pleasant from there onwards. The river is by no means deep, and rocks shew all over its surface. Most of the passengers left the train at Manchester, which seems to be a textile town. There was one huge mill marked Amos Keag.

At Concord I changed and got into the local train to Claremont - single track line. From Concord the country gets hillier and more rocky. It follows some river called I believe the Ketucket, and the chief obvious industries are stone – quarrying (granite) and lumbering. The country got more and more hilly, and resembled from now onwards, both Derbyshire and Wales, except that it was all entirely wooded. The summit was reached at Newbury and the prettiest part was at Lake Sunapee – a glorious part. The lake is very much larger than can be seen from the train and is wooded to the waters edge - a favourite spot for campers.

Here we have been following the Warner River. Now we follow the sugar river down to Claremont. At 3.25 at Claremont, Mr. Fry, Secretary to the Sullivan Machinery Co., met me in his car and took me to his house for tea. His wife and one daughter were there. We had China tea with lemon slices - in stuffed olives, crackers with cheese and sugar toasted on, and plum cake (like bride cake) all in very many small quantities. They were all very charming and after tea I went out again in the car, to Windsor, where I saw the old house where the Constitution Vermont was signed in 1777, on July 8th. The country is wonderfully fine, well wooded and mountainous.

His daughter - who is just engaged - talked about her engagement party, to which all friends invited are expected to bring the bride engagement gifts.


Thursday 16.5.29

I dined at the hotel and wrote all the evening, and next morning Mr. Fry called for me at 8 a.m. He handed me over to Mr. Lincoln, the Sullivan Machinery Co. works manager, who shewed me round. Details of the works, like windmill details, must be written up separately.

Interior of top floor of the Pattern Shop in the Foundry Complex, Sullivan Machinery Company. Image from the Library of Congress


Friday 17.5.29

I had about 2½ hours in the works on the Friday with two of the designers, or engineers as they call them, Mr. Holmes, and Mr Osgood, and Mr. Lincoln took me and my baggage to Claremont Junction and put me on the Pullman Car of the 11.30 Eastern Standard Time - for New York.

For a start the country was extremely pretty, we followed the Connecticut river to Hartford. I saw cornfields unploughed for the first time. Little tufts stick out of the ground about 12" apart. The grass is so large bladed that it looks like young wheat.

The country continued to be very pretty to Putney, where trees came down to the waters edge, and the hills were a picturesque feature until we left them behind at Easthampton, when the country at once became uninteresting. South of Springfield grape fields begin. The grapes are grown by Italians for their home-made wines. Meriden is a great silverware town and I was told that the town depends for its prosperity almost entirely on this trade. South of this town the land became like a piece of India. Short shrubby grass on sand and a number of stumpy trees.

As we approached N.Y. there were big blocks of 3, 4 & 5 room flats - about 6 floors height and about as wide as high, with fire escapes down the sides. Mr. McClelland met me at the Grand Central table and took me to the Hotel lunch room, where we had supper as the train - 7.25 p.m. summertime - was too late for dinner at the Hotel Holly. We took a taxi to the Hotel and there was Mrs. McClelland. It was topping seeing them both again. I have a nice room on the 3rd floor – 309 the same as my first room at the Boston Y. It has a bathroom, I'm glad to say. The Hotel is a wee bit old fashioned after the Viking at Newport R.I., but compared with most of the English ones in the same class, it’s a palace.

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