121 Clifton Street

1925: A home to call our own!

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The home of Julia and Konrad Posluszny at 121 Clifton Street in Wallingford was the place to be.  But how did they end up there?  They both arrived in Yonkers NY to family – Konrad in 1902 and Julia in 1903.  They were married and had 4 of their five children in Yonkers.

Sometime between the 1920 Census recorded in January and 1922 they moved to Easthampton Massachusetts which lies just west of the present day 91-North and south of Northhampton.  I don’t know the reason but the only surviving family member, Aunt Judy, says she thinks it was to look for work.  She also told me “Gram hated it so much she wouldn’t unpack and didn’t push him on finding a job!”

When that didn’t work out they moved to New Britain Connecticut where my mother, Elizabeth was born in April of 1922.  They appear in the 1923 and 1924 New Britain City Directory as living at 15 Derby Street same residence as Joseph and Agnes Ingram (although some of us might recognize better the names of his son Lou and wife Felice aka the New Britain Ingrams).  The 1925 directory shows them “removed to Wallingford”.  Perhaps they decided to move to Wallingford because by 1914 John and Caroline and the rest of the family were living there.

Pos and Wirth Girls
Betty and Pauline Wirth in front; Katherine Wirth and Judy in back.

121 Clifton Street was a brand new house when they moved there.  Aunt Judy says that Caroline and John Bonk loaned Konrad and Julia the $500 down payment needed for the house.  It was a simple very square house – in the front downstairs were 2 living rooms separated by a cased opening.  The left one took you to the staircase upstairs, the one on the right lead to the kitchen in the back of the house which would lead you into the dining room.  There was a door from the kitchen to the back yard.  Upstairs were four bedrooms and a bathroom in the front of the house between two of the rooms.  Every room was fully furnished as long as I can remember.

There was a chicken coop and Grammy had gardens of vegetables and flowers.  She had a very green thumb.  There was a dirt floor basement that had a toilet there so (as I was told) she could use the bathroom without having to track through the house.  One of our favorite parts of the house on Clifton Street was the set of train tracks which shot off from the tracks along Colony Street and ran along the side of house to the steel mill.  Whenever we slept over a train would slowly rumble by.

From Clifton Street it was a short walk to the two family house on East Street where Caroline and John lived along with Walter Bonk.  By the time they moved to Clifton Street, Caroline Bonk, Konrad’s mother, had been diagnosed with stomach cancer.  Aunt Judy remembers going to their house with her mother (Julia) to take care of Caroline.  I imagine my mother as a toddler would have been with them – or maybe she was home with Tootsie!  Unfortunately Caroline passed away in March of 1925 but she’ll get her story told another time.

I’m sure the house was pretty crowded with five kids and two adults!  But not for long…by the 1930 census Louis was listed as a farmhand for James and Mabel Cook on North Elm Street and in 1939 Judy married Malcolm Bellafronto.  Mal Jr was born in 1942 and when “Big Mal” was off fighting in WWII, Judy and Mal moved home to Clifton Street.

betty easter
Betty at Easter

Through the years, the house was the gathering place for holidays and Sunday dinners.  We kids loved running around the yard, smashing up the red berries on the bushes in front of the house, walking on the train tracks, or creeping around the now decrepit chicken coop.  The pictures I’ve collected of events taking place years ago – communions, confirmation, weddings – all have the familiar backdrop of the inside or outside of 121 Clifton Street.

Aunt Tootsie sold the house in 1989 when she moved the Judd Square.  It was bought by a family who’s daughter was the same age and went to school with Gail’s daughter Charlene and my son Cody!  The lived there for quite a few years, it was sold again and maybe again.  We found a listing for it online a few years ago and the homeowner had put a passthrough in the wall between the dining room and kitchen and I think cut through the wall to be able to reach the staircase from the dining room (correct me if that was always there!).

group_1985
Judy (Posluszny) Behme, her mom my Aunt Irene,  Aunt Judy, Aunt Tootsie (kneeling); back row: Bill Behme, Jim Posluszny (Judy’s brother), Uncle Ma, Catherine Wirth Blair, my dad John Jakiela.  Day after Gail and Marty’s wedding 1985

Mal Bellafronto was in town a couple of years ago and we went to the house.  It was in foreclosure and there had been a burst pipe and flood inside during very cold weather.  Someone was working on the outside and the back deck that had been added was torn off and the exterior was in very bad shape.  More recently it’s been sold and painted blue and looks nice from a distance.

I noticed in the pictures over the years the very large tree to the left and the wood steps and pillars turned to black wrought iron eventually painted to white.  The garage in the last picture was added with Uncle Lester or Uncle Andy and it might have taken the place of an older shed and the chicken coop.

I don’t drive down the street very often but when I do, I drive by very slowly, looking for memories of the people who lived there.

Please – share your memories of 121 Clifton Street!

 

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