Hayden Park Brings Back Fond Memories of Childhood

Dorothy A. Nagle 
91-3 Jepson Drive
Milford, Connecticut

Reprint:   Letter to the Editor of the Waterbury Republican-American

"There is only an empty field and a few scattered park benches."

The Sunday Republican Magazine section of March 27 showed a picture of the majestic steps leading up to Hayden park.
How dare you spoil my childhood memories of that precious oasis where my sisters Martha and Mary, and my brother, Eddie, spent some of the happiest hours of our young life?

We lived on (6) Glenridge Street.  The short path that led from there into the park was lined with pine trees.  The two homes bordering on the park were lived in by Miss Florentine Hayden, an artist and daughter of Hiram Hayden, and the Charles Kellogg family.

Let me tell you what Hayden Park was like then.

In the spring, golden forsythia spilled all over one side of the path that led up from Grove Street, almost hiding the fence that separated the park from the majestic First Baptist Church.  Daffodils and tulips sprang up each year further up the path. Mock orange blossom scented the air.

As the warm summer days began, the bank opposite the church was filled with glorious roses - that palest pink, almost ivory, bright ramblers of shocking pink and red.  The scent of their perfume filled the air on those hot summer nights, when our whole family would walk around the park.

We children waited for the first sign that the fountain in the center of the park would start running, filling up with the wading pool that was our cooling-off spot everyday.  It was always full of happy, screaming children yelling, "Look at me?  Look! I'm swimming!"  Mothers sat on the benches, often pushing a baby-carriage back and forth while watching out for the older children playing happily in the grassy field.

It was on this wading pool where for the first, and last time, I tried to walk on water.  I was wearing my first pair of rubber-soled sneakers which were "waterproof".

We never had any fear playing in Hayden Park.

In the winter we often sledded down the path into Grove Street.  One year I rammed into a tree, broke my left wrist and spent the rest of the winter with two boards bound up with yards of white tape helping to heal my arm.

My father, Edward Siebert, worked in Ansonia and commuted by train.  Every night while it was daylight, at least, I'd walk over to the top of the hill above Wilby High School and wait for him to come home.  Then we'd walk hand-in-hand through the park.   As a teenager, I remember walking around the circle with him, pouring out my troubles, crying about some now foolish thing.  In the quiet of that tiny bit of beauty, he solved many of my problems.

So many happy memories crowd my mind.

I remember pretending we were camping out there, bringing sandwiches and lemonade for our lunch.  There was a huge tree almost in the center (of the park) that divided at the base, forming a perfect spot to sit and read "Little Women" or one of the   many books I borrowed from the Bronson Library.  I remember playing dress-up with my friends, and walking around in my Aunt Martha's old high heel shoes and long dresses and pushing a doll carriage through the park.  I can remember hide and seek and tag and red light and all the games we played there.
In the fall, we found colored leaves to bring to school and wildflowers - asters and goldenrod - to pick.
Grandeur? Elegance? Oh, yes, Hayden Park had all of that and more stored away in the memories of all the families who enjoyed its beauty, it will remain forever a very special place.

How sad to think that today's children don't know it as well as we did!

NOTE: We thank Dorothy Nagle for this insight.  She passed away in 2006.







Other areas in Hayden Park:

History of the Park

Memories of Olde

Park Deed

Lilac Festival


Other areas of our website:

News Room
Hillside Historian

Shopping Centre
Hillside Consignments

NRZ Planning Room
NRZ Plan

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