Esco Picnic – 1940

Geriak Farm in Stamford Connecticut was one of my favorite childhood memories. This photo was taken in 1940 at a ESCO company picnic. My dad is in the front on the left with the cigarette over his ear. He started at ESCO as a teenager and worked there before and after WWII.

In the 1950s we would go to the company picnic and fill up on hot dogs and soda, There were games and lots of kids to play with.

We would also go there for an annual  church picnic sponsored by the Holy Name of Jesus in Stamford, CT. This is a Polish Church and there was plenty of kielbasa and even Polka Bands under the Pavilions on the farm.

The history of the farm via  Stonebrook Residential Community website

In 1920 Tessie and Macarie Geriak purchased 50 acres at the intersection of Turn of River Road and Intervale Road to start a local dairy farm. They started with two cows and a horse and buggy as there was no bus service until 1924. The roads were dirt trails as High Ridge Road was not yet built.
The Salt Box house they lived in was close to Intervale Road and was built in 1750. Prior to the construction of Phase five of Stonebrook, the foundation was exposed. There was evidence of three huge stone fireplaces and one fireplace for cooking and baking in the kitchen. This was all covered over to create the berm at the north side of our complex.
There were eight children in the Geriak family, five boys; John, Steve, Ted (Fetchi), Bill and Nicholas, and three girls; Ann (a teacher in the one room school), Mildred and Sonya.
Ted Geriak relates the story of attending the one room schoolhouse which was located where the jug handle entrance to the Merritt Parkway is now located. His family always called him “Fetchi”. On the first day of school, when the teacher called on Theodore, he did not know that she wanted him to stand up.
The one room schoolhouse was eventually moved to the Southeast corner of Geriak Road and Turn of River Road and remains to this day as a residence. Ted remembers the ringing of the school bell when it was placed on the new foundation.
One day the homestead caught fire from a burning ember in one of the fireplaces. The farmhands saw smoke and ran to the house, however it was locked. Mr.Geriak was on Vine Road at the feed store. The fireman ran to the feed store to get the boss, but by the time they got back the house was a total loss. The family then moved into a structure that was behind the milk house. Ted Geriak lived in the former bottling plant, which was located east of where Unit # 46 is now located.
Due to the declining health of Mr. Geriak, the farm shutdown. A pavilion was built for corporate and private picnics as well as hay rides, which were a source of income for the family for many years.
 An early photo of my dad soldering a motor at ESCO with an “old school” soldering iron. He used to use this when we lived in Stamford and would heat it up over the pilot light of the hot water heater. I still have one of these in my basement.

The history of ESCO – Mechanical Music Press website

Electric Specialty Company (also known as Esco) was located in Stamford, Connecticut, and made electric motors, generators, and motor-generator combinations. Its small motors are frequently found in early Duo-Art reproducing pianos, particularly in uprights, and in grand pianos with a remote pump mounted in a separate cabinet.

According to David Junchen in his book Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, Vol. II, “Electric Specialty supplied the vast majority of generators used in the golden age of the American theatre organ. Generators were often supplied along with organ blowers. Spencer, the country’s largest blower manufacturer, was located in nearby Hartford, Connecticut, and this proximity may partially explain the ubiquity of Electric Specialty generators.” (These small generators were often connected to the organ blower by a small flat belt, and they supplied low voltage direct current for operating the organ magnets and other electrical components.) Junchen goes on to describe their high quality, and describes how he once connected a coat hanger directly across the terminals of an Electric Specialty Co. generator rated at 15 amps. The output of the generator exceeded 100 amps and the coat hanger glowed red, but the generator never even got warm.

Unfortunately, some of the piano motors made by this firm don’t seem to measure up to the same high standard, as more examples seen by the author and his friends have needed rewinding than similar motors of other brands.

Discover more about the history of Stamford CT at Amazon.com

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