The late Lawrence F. (Larry) Powers was a compendium of village knowledge, and a master teller of stories about villagers at work and in mischief, at rest and at play.
Below is an audio interview of Larry Powers recorded in 2008. Larry ranges widely over the history of the village, reflects on its distinctive character and recounts stories about fellow villagers. This is a good weekend morning listen. The interview lasts 1 hour and 23 minutes.
Below are two of Larry’s stories about life in North Bennington in the mid- 20th century.
Konick Howe, the Engineer
Tom Howe had four sons who were characters in the village. They were day laborers and always seemed available. Konick had a part time job at the freight House and if they needed help he was available. Most of the time he was hired to unload freight cards with a two-wheeled dolly.
One time when he was working at the freight house he spied a small key of whiskey for a customer in White Creek. When some freight arrived the station agent would send a notice to the customer that his package had arrived and he could pick it up. When Konick noticed what was in the keg he bagan planning a shrewd move to free that barrel of its contents. He paced off the exact location of the barrel and that night he crawled up under the freight house. It was built on pylons so that the floor was just even with the freight cards. He had with him a large auger and several pails. He drilled right through the floor of the freight house and into the barrel and when the whiskey started to drip through the floor Konick was there with his pails.
The next day when the man came for his barrel they noticed that it was very light so someone started looking for the culpret. Every bum in the village was drunk and when they asked where they got the whisky they all said Konick Howe had it.
The upshot of the story was poor Konick, who should have for a medal for his calculation went to jail and lost his job at the freight house.
Aunt Mary and the Money
This story takes place sometime in the 1950s. We worked until five o’clock on Saturday evening and it always seemed like a long day. One time we were invited away for a weekend so we were in a big hurry to get away.
We lived in a duplex on Mechanic Street that was owned by my Aunt Mary and Uncle Leo Keough. As there was no night depository at that time we had to take home the day’s receipts and hold them until the bank opened on Monday. We asked Aunt Mary if she would keep the money for us while we were away. Aunt Mary thought the washing machine would be a good place to store the money.
She always did a wash every morning so Sunday morning she started the washing machine and its sounded funny. It made a clunking sound. All of a sudden she thought of the money. She stopped the machine and got the bag of money out of the machine. She strung up several lines in her kitchen and hung the money up to dry. There were over a thousand dollars in cash and several hundred dollars in checks.
Francis Nash, a teacher at Albany Academy, came to visit them after Mass and when he walked into the kitchen he ran into all of this money on lines. He said, “What the hell is going on here?” Aunt Mary, never at a loss for words, said, “Oh, you know that Larry. He likes to have clean money on Monday morning.”
Photograph and recording by Rob Woolmington. Konick and Aunt Mary stories © Lawrence F. Powers.