The History of Waterbury Is Built on Brass
I remember the Waterbury of the 1970's. As you drove through along I-84, huge smoke stacks belched out clouds of white smoke into the Naugatuck Valley.
The smoke stacks were attached to massive brass factories that were slowly dying off.
As a kid, you don't really know what jobs your parents and grandparents had. I knew my grandfather drove a semi, and delivered products up to Mass and NY. Turns out, he was driving brass for Scovill.
Scovill Manufacturing, an industrial giant, called Waterbury home from 1802 until 1991. Most of my family worked for them in the 1900's.
I was going through my grandfather's stuff over the weekend and found a beautiful little brass pin with the Scovill logo on it. Mixed into the box were tons of little brass buttons, fasteners, and plugs of the golden metal. I found a small brass rabbit, plugs of pure brass, keys, chains, and other surprises, including a couple of bullets and casings, which scared the hell out of me!
My grandfather was a retired auxiliary state trooper, who picked up a job doing short-haul deliveries for Scovill. My grandmother, dad, and mom, also worked for the giant over the years.
I didn't pay much attention to the news in the early 80's. I'd hear my grandparents grumbling about "Where was their pension going to come from, Georgia or Connecticut?" , "Did you see what they did to the factory?", or, "Sanita just called, they finally got rid of her after 28 years"
Scovill finally shut down their Waterbury facilities in 1991 when they acquired TRW, Inc, and consolidated their manufacturing operations with a move down to Georgia.
The giant stretch of land and factories once occupied by Scovill was basically left to rot for a couple of years. Windows were broken, bricks tumbled from tired walls. Developers then came in, removed tons of the contaminated soil, and built what is now the Brass Mill Center Mall.
I still see the occasional Scovill logo, on a mug at the thrift shop, or stamped on a brass lantern at a friend's house. Fewer and fewer times though.
I would suggest a visit to Waterbury's Mattatuck Museum if you're feeling nostalgic like me. They have preserved Waterbury's brass heritage for all to see.