WOODBURY — For 25 years, from 1988 to 2013, Addis “Bud” Morgan wrote a column for Voices, sharing stories about growing up in his beloved hometown of Woodbury. The column was called Echoes, and it appeared every other week on page 4 of the newspaper. In 1991, Bud gathered a collection of those columns, along with other writings, and published them in a book of the same name. Nearly three decades later, Bud’s daughter, Janice Morgan Scruggs, is re-issuing “Echoes,” having discovered a supply of the books in her basement along with a growing curiosity about the town among folks who might not have lived here when “Echoes” was first published.
Earlier this fall, Janice attended a talk by Liz Computzzi, co-author with Bill Monti of the book “Town of Woodbury History Walk,” written 10 years ago to commemorate the town’s 350th birthday.
When Liz asked if anyone in the audience had any further stories to tell, Janice shared a few anecdotes from her father’s book.
“People really seemed to enjoy them,” she said. “It made me realize that there’s a new group of people who are interested in some of the fun, historical facts about Woodbury.
“When Dad originally wrote the book, there was a tremendous amount of interest from people in his own age group,” she said. “Now, younger people are getting a kick out of hearing his stories. They’re about Woodbury, but they can relate to life in any small town.”
Bud Morgan was born in 1921 in Woodbury, and except for his Army years, he lived his entire life here. He spent most of his childhood in a house on Pleasant Street, just off Main Street and the North Green.
The anthology is comprised of three books in one volume, and the first, “The Boy, The Man, The Town,” will be of particular interest to those curious about life in Woodbury in days gone by.
That section focuses on local families, the businesses that lined Main Street, town “characters” and more.
Bud wrote about huge bonfires set every year to celebrate the Fourth of July; about the old Mitchell School, which housed kindergarteners through high school; about the eccentric resident who harvested ice from the pond by the present-day Emergency Services Building and sold it to housewives throughout the summer.
He wrote about winters spent sledding down the middle of Pleasant Street, which was safe at that time as long as one child remained at the bottom of the road to listen for cars.
In a highly relatable passage, he wrote about the day in the spring of his senior year that he and seven other classmates (four boys, four girls) skipped school to climb the tower at Orenaug Park. They got caught because at that time, the tower and anyone climbing it were clearly visible from Main Street.
“My dad was such a great storyteller,” said Janice. “It’s so much fun to sit and read and envision what life was life back then.”
Bud wrote about playing baseball and other sports on the North Green, and having to scrimp and save to buy the necessary equipment.
He wrote about how his grandmother spent considerable time removing lace from the collar of one dress and sewing it onto another, in an effort to make her wardrobe look fresh.
“My dad grew up in the Depression era, but as a child, he wasn’t particularly aware of that,” said Janice. “He loved growing up in Woodbury. He really felt he had an ideal life.”
Book II deals with Bud’s Army days, from his induction in December, 1942, to his service in France and Germany and subsequent return home on a “victory ship.”
Book III offers his “Observations and Opinions” on a number of topics, with chapters on Patriotism, Yankee Talk, Kicking the Habit and more.
“My dad always said ‘I’m not a historian,’” said Janice. “He said he wrote stories about things that happened during his own lifetime. He just liked to write about what he observed himself.
“He really appreciated the life he was living,” she said. “When he died, he told me, ‘I just can’t believe what an amazing life I’ve had.’”
In addition to his semi-monthly columns and the “Echoes” anthology, Bud Morgan wrote a novel called “Plaster Saint” and a volume of poetry. He was also adept at public speaking.
“Dad did quite a few presentations back in 1991, and soon thereafter, when his book was first printed,” said Janice. “Local clubs invited him to read excerpts from the book and Woodbury’s ‘History Bites’ had him do a segment for them.”
Janice noted that she is available to speak to groups as well.
When Bud Morgan passed away on May 20, 2013, at the age of 91, he left many tales left to tell.
“I intend to do another compilation of his stories in the future as I have bins full of his stories that he never got to publish,” said Janice. “As he got into his late 80s and on, he was still producing lots of material.”
“Echoes” is available in limited supply for $10 at Canfield Corner Pharmacy and Woodbury Pewter, both in Woodbury.
Proceeds from sales of the book will go to the Woodbury Cemetery Association’s ongoing stone restoration project, currently focusing on South Cemetery — the town’s oldest — on Main Street South adjacent to St. Paul’s Church.
That’s fitting, considering a passage Bud wrote about his visit to “the old cemetery” not long after the death of his mother in 1988:
“It was to my parents’ graves that I went today, to see whether Mother’s headstone had yet been put in place. As I walked in through the old burial ground, I was struck by the same feeling that I have experienced many times before; one of awe and reverence in the presence of the relics of this, my beautiful hometown.
“The markers go back to the very beginning of this peaceful settlement in the valley of the Pomperaug. Many of the stones are so aged and weather-worn that it is next to impossible to read the inscriptions, but there are many which are legible and which trace our history back to the time of the Pilgrims.
“The old names show faintly through the eroded and moss-encrusted surfaces — Minor, Strong, Curtiss, Atwood, Judson, Drakeley, Bacon — these were the families who would let nothing deter them in their determination to establish a permanent home.”
“Graves in the South Cemetery date back to the 1700s and older,” said Janice, who is the Woodbury Cemetery Association’s secretary-treasurer and office manager. “We want to salvage the stones before history dissolves into the ground.
“My dad would be happy to know that sales of his book are helping to save Woodbury history.”
Those seeking additional information may call Janice Morgan Scruggs at 203-510-9905 or email to email@example.com.