Cutting Estate Oral History 1
When Cuttings ran Westbrook Farm, they sold potatoes to people around town, to private estates and to their own employees. Employees bought milk from the Cuttings, who had a herd of Jersey cows with pedigree names. Employees received three tons of coal each year and a load or two of long heavy tree limbs, which the employees had to cut up themselves. In the early years, Cuttings had a large orchard where grew apple, pear, plum and peach trees. I remember my father saying that when he first worked for the Cuttings, the trees never had to be sprayed for Insects or disease, as they have to be nowadays to have clean fruit.
My father delivered milk to many of the private estates in the early years of this century. He used a horse and wagon and in the winter when snow was on the ground, he used a sleigh. My father said that one Sunday, he gave a ride to a friend who was walking to church. Someone told the Superintendent about it, and he fined my father One Dollar (This was a day's pay at that time.)
Later on my father became the poultry-man. The cuttings raised chickens ducks, turkeys for their own use. At one time, the men were forbidden to smoke on the job. But later the order was rescinded. The men used to smoke on the sly. At first the outdoor men worked from sunup to sunset (in the old days). Later on they worked from 7AM to 5PM with an hour off for lunch. Some years later the hours were cut to 8AM to 5PM. There were six cottages on the estate at Westbrook for the outdoor employees to live there. Each man had enough land where he lived to have a large-sized garden.
The Cuttings grew hay for their cows and horses. Also some mangle beets carrots for their horses to feed on during the winter. A Root Cellar was maintained for the storage of root crops during the winter months. Corn was also grown for silage. A silo was filled each year and the silage was mixed with some blackstrap molasses for cow feed. We caught crabs during the summer from Locust Bridge. The Cuttings did not bother us as long as we did not damage anything. We were permitted to swim in Westbrook Pond and skate in the winter when the ice was thick enough. The Cuttings had two icehouses for storage of ice for summer use. The Ice was cut on Westbrook Pond and hauled in wagons to the Ice houses. Hay was spread on top of the top layer of Ice to keep it from melting. The Ice was carted to the Main House and let down a chute to a room that served as a huge icebox.
When I worked for the Cuttings we worked six days a week. In the 1940's we were given off every other Saturday afternoon. We were paid once a month, in cash.
Each Thanksgiving we received a turkey. Mrs. James and her mother came around to see the employees in their houses once a year.
When Great River Railroad Station was first built, Mr. Cutting had the lands around the station landscaped. This is no longer in evidence as things were let go by the L.I.R.R.
There are only three of us left, who worked for the Cuttings. Joseph Klasek, myself, and Ambrose Bazeley Jr, who now lives In Farmingdale.