By Sheila Mason Gale
In 1914, James Richard Aloysius Jones and his wife Christina set up a homestead in Canterbury in the area of Bopp Road and Water Street. They had eleven children. One of his sons, Andrew Jones, married Elina Larson from North Society Road. Andrew was a Railroad Engineer and had to go where the railroad needed him so Christine (Jones) Alliod was born in New York City. The family eventually moved back to the Canterbury homestead where Christine grew up and still lives today.
Christine’s parents did their part to serve the community during World War II. Elina was a spotter and would take her turn at the designated plane watch area across from where the Dr. Helen Baldwin School would later be built. If she saw a plane she would use a phone to report seeing a two or four engine plane. Andrew was the Engineer for trains that brought troops to their various destinations.
As a child, Christine liked to be outdoors and in the summer she and her friends would go swimming and fishing in Little River. There were a few floating logs and snakes in the river, but that didn’t stop them from diving in and having fun. Sometimes she would row out on the water and fish for Pumpkin Seeds (these are fish) and then her mother, who was a great cook, would make a wonderful Finnish soup with chunks of fish, onions, milk, potatoes and lots of butter.
The Jones’ house was built about the same time as the original Westminster Church and Christine remembers looking at the ceiling and realizing the carpenters didn’t use nails, but wooden pegs when they built the house. The Jones farm consisted of lots of land and also cows, sheep, chickens and a pig. They also had a very large garden that needed to be taken care of. Chris said taking care of the garden was hard work, but she gained a life-long love of the land from the experience.
Christine and her playmate had fun using their imagination and making up games. She also liked to ride horses and bikes. Christine’s closest neighbor, the Coombs family, was about a half mile away. Her playmates were Dick Coombs, Eugene Coombs, Phyllis (Coombs) Cary, Gloria (Coombs) Sharlack, Barbara (Dean) Thoma, Alice Dean and Eleanor Havel.
In the winter she like to go ice skating and sledding by the Utz and Orr properties. She always liked to hike through the woods and would sometimes come out about a mile and a half away on Bingham Road. Francis Bingham, wife of Newton Bingham, (her cousin) would invite her in for some hot chocolate.
One of the businesses she remembers in her neighborhood was the store at the corner of Water Street and Route 14 owned by Mary and Walter Papuga. Just down the road from Papuga’s store was the location of Canterbury Town Hall/Meeting house. It was across the street from the present municipal building where the Calvary Chapel parsonage is located today. All Town meetings were held at the Canterbury Meeting House until the Dr. Helen Baldwin School was built in 1947.
As a child and teenager, Christine was fearless. She tells of the times she and Cliff Williams would ride his motorcycle in US 95 and Route 1. “The faster the better and no one wore a helmet in those days.”
She met her husband, Martin Alliod, at American Thread in Willimantic. Shortly after they met, he went into the service. After they were married they set up their home in Canterbury. Marty became very active in Canterbury politics and was the Board of Finance Chairman for many years. I was privileged to be his secretary when he was Canterbury’s Probate Judge.
Christine is a member of the Eastern Connecticut Land Owners Association and she and Marty planted 3,000 Christmas trees on their property. Every year they must be fed and trimmed and she always enjoys the public coming to tag them for cutting during the Christmas season.
Christine’s favorite hobby was always drawing. After her son, Mark, was born she decided to get serious about her art and take lessons at UCONN. She also studied with nationally known artists Foster Caddell and Christopher Zhang. Her favorite medium is oils. She has won numerous awards throughout Connecticut, including the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival, Manchester Lions Club Fine Art Association , and the Willimantic Rotary Art Show. She has become very successful as an artist and also as a teacher. Her studio is in Canterbury where she conducts private art classes.
In Christine’ opinion, the biggest change in Canterbury is the land development. She would advise anyone who owns land to try and keep it in the family because it’s the best feeling in the world to walk in the woods on your own property and no one can tell you to get off the land.