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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dad's Arrival in Connecticut

As soon as my father arrived in Connecticut, his first objective was to find somewhere to stay. He had crossed the Mason-Dixie Line, the line that signified that he was no longer in the South. It was 1941. He did not have to sit in the rear of the bus, which was required below the Mason-Dixie Line. Can you imagine how thrilling that must be, to be finally free from racial segregation?

Source: Greyhound

The sense of independence and a new mission was overwhelming. Dad and his friend Columbus searched for a room to stay for a night before they could seek permanent lodging. They walked the streets of Downtown Hartford, where a Black doorman at a hotel surreptitiously told them, "Hey, these places are for whites only, you need to go somewhere else." The Negro doormen pointed them in the direction of the small colored community section in Hartford. So much for the end of segregation.


My Dad stated that upon disembarking the bus that they were people seeking factory workers. Hartford had Royal and Underwood Typewriter factories, plus other major manufacturing plants. Dad was so excited about getting a job at Hartford Machine Screw Company (Now Stanadyne, Inc.) that he worked as many hours as he could. He sent money back home to his mother, Lily Primus, whom as you will recall was a cook.

Clifford made so much money that his mother chided, "Now, son, I don't know what you are doing up there but I raised you to be a respectable man!" Grandma thought my father was doing something illegal! She had never seen that much money before and my father quickly surpassed the earnings of both of his parents. Dad earned 57 cents and hour and his father, a landscaper for a wealthy man as I mentioned ealier, earned 12 dollars a week. For the rest of my Grandmother's life, my father sent money to his mother.


Hartford Machine was  a company that was considered a defense plant. The factory was located in Windsor, CT, Connecticuts's first town. Windsor was established by English settlers from the Plymouth Colony in 1633.  It  is considered a suburb of Hartford, CT. Of course, Windsor is named after a town in England and Hartford is derived from the English town named "Hertford". In any event, after a brief stint in Hartford, Windsor became my parent's permanent hometown for six decades.

Dad also did maintenance work for both Windsor Federal Savings and the Windsor House. "When did you have time to sleep dad?", I inquired. "Sleep?! Didn't have time for it." This was in addition to weekly family trips to New York and any other organizations he belonged to. With his younger brother some years later, my father had a trucking company, called the Clifford H. Primus Company. The H stands for Hamilton, his adopted middle name. Dad even got his real estate license in order to sell houses and property.

Source:  Typewriter Museum

In 1941 The United States entered World War II and defense plants were extremely busy. Strong men and later women, were needed to run factories efficiently and to keep up with orders. Dad was working long hours and saving his money. For all intents and purposes, he was exempt for serving in the military. So how did Clifford Primus end up being a Montford Point Marine?
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