Wolcott Historical Society History for January 2015
By Florence Goodman
Last month I wrote about the historic village of Woodtick and included several pictures to help my readers better understand the development of this quaint section of town. I failed to give credit to one of the pictures that I included in that article. The photo of the "Old Nichols' Place" located on the corner of Red Fox Run and Nichols Roads was given to me by Deb DuBois whose grandparents, Chas E. & Isabel Myngheer lived in the house from 1932-69. We are fortunate to have residents who are willing to share family pictures because they preserve so much of our history. I always welcome these old photographs to add to the Society's pictorial history of Wolcott.
On that note, this month I will use some great old photographs from Elloise Packer, whose family history dates back to Ebenzer Wakelee who owned several hundred acres of land along the Wolcott/Waterbury border and was probably the first settler in that portion of town. Elloise has shared a wealth of information and pictures on the history and development of her family and over the years, I have passed it on to my readers.
As stated in previous articles, I have vivid memories of growing up in Wolcott in the early 1950s and somewhere along the way my teachers instilled in me a love of Wolcott history. I remember several elementary school field trips to various places in town, but a trip to a local bakery is etched in my memory. The bakery was located on Wolcott Road close to the town line; I thought it was called "Celinda Mayo's Bakery." but it was actually named "Country Home Bakery." This white, cinderblock structure was located on the corner of Nutmeg Valley and Wolcott Roads; today it is the home of Thomas Gianni & Sons Inc.
Each time I drive by that building I imagine the field trip from so long ago and the smell of fresh bread baking or cooling on the racks. I also remember a special treat from that day so long ago. At the end of our tour each student was given a little loaf of bread packaged in a small cardboard bread bank; I treasured the bank for many years, if only I had saved it.
Celinda W. Mayo started her bakery in 1952, but her bread baking began many years prior to that date, in the basement of their home on Prospect Street in Waterbury. In that very large basement, which had two exit doors, she had three rooms that were used for the bakery. She had two pizza ovens for bread rising and baking. Although her daughters, Elloise and Celeste could not work in the bakery, they learned the bread baking process in their family kitchen; cutting dough, weighing it and forming it into loaves. Elloise remembers that her mom always used King Arthur flour and she can still see the smile on her mom's face the first time she bought a railroad car full of flour instead of a few pallets.
This is what Celinda wrote about her inspiration to open a bakery. "It all started because home made bread smells so good. I always made bread for my family, as has been the custom of my ancestors for generations. The recipe was handed down from mother to daughter. When it got to the point that I was baking three times a week instead of once because of the demand from relatives and friends I decided to do something about it. I tried out my bread in one store on February 1, 1952. The sales of the first two weeks proved that it would be advisable to buy commercial equipment. My very generous financial backer (my husband) went along with me on this. At the end of three weeks I had installed small commercial equipment and found myself a professional baker. The business grew so fast that we were crowded for space and had to build a brand new bakery. We picked a pretty spot in Wolcott where I was born, and erected a building 60X100 which we moved into on Friday, May 29th, 1953."
Celinda employed six men inside the bakery, which included head baker, Frank lava; they prepared, baked and packaged the bread. They produced white bread, corn bread, oatmeal bread, dinner rolls and English muffins. She started out small, but at the height of her business she had five delivery trucks that covered Waterbury, New Haven, Hartford and surrounding towns.
Celinda's business was doing extremely well and her profits were soaring, but in 1957 she was hospitalized for over a month with meningitis. Once home, she realized that she could no longer work full time, which was necessary in order to run a thriving business. To her dismay, she sold the business, but not the building to four gentlemen who unfortunately changed her winning recipes and eventually lost the business. She kept the building for many years, renting it out to various businesses, but in time that was also sold.
About twenty years ago, Celinda's granddaughter, Jill spent a day with her to learn the art of bread making. Jill not only learned the ins and outs of the family bread recipe, but the proper way to use her thumbs and hands to knead the dough properly. Jill has been making her grandmother's bread every Christmas since then and shares these delights with other family members. This Christmas, Elloise Packer, Jill's mom, gave her daughter a "bread proof box" which keeps the dough in a warm environment, while it is rising. Looks like bread making is still in those genes as Jill carries on the family recipes and traditions.
I'm sure there is someone else out there who remember Country Home Bakery and the wonderful home made bread that Celinda Mayo and her bakers made in that old building; I know I still do!!
(All information and historical pictures for this article were from (Celinda) Elloise Packer, one of Celinda W. Mayo's daughters.)
The bakery was opened on May 29, 1953. It was located on the corner of Nutmeg Valley Road and Wolcott Road.
Owner of bakery, Celinda Mayo circa 1952.
Advertisement for Country Home Bakery
Bakery workers in new building on Wolcott Road.
First of five delivery trucks that were used to deliver bread all over Connecticut.
Today the building is the home of Thomas Gianni & Sons Inc.
Bread made by Celinda's granddaughter, Jill.
To view past installments of the Wolcott Historical Society News, click here.