Happy spring! Today is the first day of spring, and it sure looks like it in Easton. The sun feels good, flowers are beginning to push up from below after their long winter’s sleep, and maybe, just maybe, we’ve seen the last snow for the season. Somehow though, I can’t bring myself to put the ice scraper and snow shovel away just yet!
I was looking around my yard the other day to see what winter is leaving behind. Leaves and branches abound, and those branches, once dry, will be collected to get a start on next year’s kindling for the wood stove. Some of my neighbor’s yards already look pretty good. Will my yard measure up this year?
On the subject of measuring up, today I thought we might take a quick look at one of the most overlooked measuring tools in our collection: the common yardstick. Do you remember when these ubiquitous items could be found wherever you were? Each house, basement, sewing room, garage, or workshop always had at least one lurking somewhere. Many stores and lumber yards kept them handy too. The three yardsticks I share with you today came from three very different Easton businesses, all of whom chose to use them as advertising giveaways to customers.
First up is an old yardstick that was once found at Watt’s Hardware Store, 110 Center Street. In 1923, Robert G. Watt, a blacksmith and a native of Scotland, purchased the former Wheaton Carriage factory building. He ran a blacksmith shop there and added the hardware store, which he ran until he sold the building in 1949 to William Ladd. This yardstick, which probably dates to the early 1940’s, has the store’s phone number, Easton 500, and the store address printed on both sides.
Next is a much heavier duty yardstick from William T. Knapp & Sons Fuel Oil. Knapp had a business for many years at 76 Union Street, on the shores of Knapp’s (sometimes French’s) Pond. The old familiar CEdar 8 numbers are plainly printed, and the company also reminds the user that they provide burner service. On the back of the yardstick is a conveniently marked measuring stick used to check the oil level in your tank, as well as a special mark to remind you when to re-order your oil.
The third yardstick today is from Mitrano Chevrolet Company, which was located at 101 Main Street for many years. The building no longer stands. The familiar Chevrolet chevron logo is featured, but surprisingly no telephone number is given. On the back of the yardstick, in heavy black lettering, are the words “Putting you first in a big way!” Mitrano Chevrolet, owned by Paul Mitrano, was in business from the 1950’s (perhaps a little earlier) through the 1980’s, although they were located in Mansfield for a few years at the end. Mitrano also provided school bus service for Easton students, and I can remember Paul’s brother Dan Mitrano filling in as a driver from time to time.
At one time, these useful yardsticks were given out as a reminder of who to call when you needed something. Today, these yardsticks serve as reminders of Easton’s businesses. By the way, do you know of any business that still offers yardsticks to their customers? The last ones I can remember are Frugal Fanny’s or Freddy Farkel’s Fabric Warehouse (I am looking at one now!). I keep that one right here in the Museum office just in case. It still comes in quite handy!
Wishing you all good health and smiles as spring approaches,
Curator: Frank Meninno