Sunday, August 27, 2017

Joseph Guida, last of ‘salt of earth’ Middletown dairy farming family, dies at 94

Guida Conservation Area off Round Hill Road
Guida Conservation Area off Round Hill Road Cassandra Day / Hearst Connecticut Media
By Cassandra Day, Originally seen in The Middletown Press.

MIDDLETOWN >> Joseph Guida was one of the last of the city’s dairy farmers and milkmen whose fleet hand delivered fresh cow’s milk in reusable glass bottles right to his customers’ doors across the county for decades.

Guida, 94, who died at home Monday, was the 12th of 13 children. He had six brothers and six sisters. His parents, Alexander and Mary (Majewski) Guida immigrated from Poland and built a farm and a dairy business in 1911.

Guida lost his wife, Gertrude “Trudy” Breier, in late 2010.

He’s perhaps best known for being one of the first to sell a huge portion of his land on Round Hill and Coleman roads to the city for open space, which he did below market value. In 1991, Guida and his brother Tony sold 103 acres of Sunshine Dairy to the city of Middletown, and it was named the Guida Family Conservation Area.

“I thought those guys were going to live forever. He was the last of that family,” said Middletown Common Councilman Sebastian N. Giuliano. “He loved Middletown. There aren’t too many people who would pass up an opportunity to make a lot of money and they were willing to do that. Who does that?”

Paul L. Szewczyk, 61, who owns Szewczyk Excavating in Middletown, grew up on the farm. “I was raised by those guys — Tony and Joe,” he said. Guida’s brother Frank ran the Guida Dairy in New Britain and the oldest Frank worked for Borden Dairy Co. in Bridgeport, said Szewczyk, who has lived on Coleman Road his whole life. In fact, the Guidas were the first in the neighborhood and he was the second to live there.

“He represented over 100 years of what went on up on top of our hill,” he said. “As he grew up, he heard stories of what went on before he was born, because he heard stories from his brothers. If his oldest brother was alive, he’d be about 120 now,” Szewczyk said.

Guida’s brother Bill started the hot dog stand in Middlefield and before that he ran an oil and ice business, Szewczyk recalled.

When milk was still delivered fresh, each household would have a little milk box on the front stoop, which the milkman would fill every Wednesday morning, Giuliano said. Bottles were recycled — put back in the box every Tuesday night — and customers would place an envelope inside with payment.

“They were salt of the earth: nice guys. They were some of the last farmers in Middletown,” said William Warner, former city director of planning conservation and development, of the Guida family.

“He really liked working on his land. There wasn’t a blade of grass out of alignment in his yard, said Szewczyk, who would fix fences, check on livestock every day and perform other farm tasks.

He remembers going to Bradlees or Stop & Shop with his brother after working on the farm and “people couldn’t get out of our way fast enough.”

The odor was something that was impossible to escape — or wash out.

“The closet at home smelled like a barn but my mother and father put up with it because it was a great upbringing to be part of that.”

But he got used to it, Szewczyk said.

“The last thing he (Guida) was fond of doing was making pickles,” he said. Szewczyk’s brother would get the dill and Guida had his glass jars always at the ready.

“The jars were too heavy and I had to turn them upside down for him,” he said. “‘Paul, before you leave, take a couple pickles out of that glass jug there and put them in a plastic bag for me and put them in the refrigerator,’” Szewczyk remembered Guida saying to him.

Giuliano, who lives “a stone’s throw away from him” on Maple Shade Drive, remembers Guida
as a . . .

To read the complete story, please visit The Middletown Press, here.

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