My Beginings

Viola, Verna and Roger, you have heard about my birthplace and have seen pictures of it, but you ten grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren (one, finally, a girl!) haven't heard and some of you are still too young to hear or read. Hazel West with parents and grandmother on porch of birthplace

On June 15, 1905, I was born in the same bed and same house in which my mother had been born, in Mt. Carmel, Connecticut. If you look at my birth certificate it says I was born in Hamden. Mt. Carmel is part of Hamden. The house had been built by my grandfather, Orrin Root, after he was discharged from the army after the Civil War. One wing he made into a store where he refused to sell alcohol and it was stated so on his bills. At the time we lived there the street was called Roots Hill. Now it is Todds Hill.

Mother and Dad were married after Grandfather died so I never saw him. When I was two years old I attended my first birthday party there. I don't remember it, but just a week ago I found a clipping from a newspaper telling about it. Two of the children at the party were a brother and sister, Clarence and Julia Joyce (1). The last time I was in Connecticut, about 1979, a cousin gave me their names as people who might remember my grandfather. We spent one afternoon with them and Clarence told of going down the hill to the store and Grandfather would always give him a piece of candy. I wish I had known then that we three had been at the same birthday party over seventy years before that.

Mother suffered terribly with asthma so we were advised to leave that climate. Everything was auctioned and we left Connecticut for Defiance, Ohio, where Mother's Aunt Orpha(2) lived, as well as several cousins. On the way we stopped in Cleveland to visit Charles and Sadie Root(3) and their family, more cousins. To this day I remember an act in the vaudeville they took us to. The dancers were dressed in Dutch costumes and looked like the girl pictured on the Dutch Cleanser
cans. And we sat in the upper balcony. Over the years I've had dreams about being in that upper balcony and running down the steps. Just as I got to the railing and was about to fall over, my dream ended and I'd awaken with a pounding heart.

The Stoners(2), more cousins, lived on the next street in Defiance and I could run across the alley to their home. Letha was a little older than I, but always included me when the neighborhood boys and girls played outside.

Editor's notes:

(1) Clarence and Julia Joyce are also distant cousins, descended from Eliza (Hitchcock) Joyce, sister of Hazel's great-grandmother, Emeline (Hitchcock) Root.

(2) Aunt Orpha (Thomas) Bowers was the sister of "Jennie" (Thomas) Root, Hazel's grandmother. The Stoner's were descendents of another sister, Sarah (Thomas) Stoner. (There were a total of 15 children in the Thomas family! Maybe that is why Jennie (Thomas) Root firmly believed in a one child only policy.)

(3) Charles Root's father, also a Charles Root, was the brother of Orrin Root, Hazel's grandfather.

Dedicated to "one, finally, a girl!" Kali.