Extract of pilfery
Sunday, April 26, 1998
By Abby Pratt
WEST STOCKBRIDGE -- Jacqueline H. "Jackie" Moffatt was sure it was an
April Fool's Day trick when on April 1
she found a sign she knew had been stolen at least 20 years ago propped against the door of her shop, Charles
H. Baldwin & Sons on Center Street.
'I thought I was on 'Candid Camera,' " Moffatt said recently. "I thought
my husband's cousin Henry was setting
me up." Henry Baldwin runs A.W. Baldwin & Co., the hardware store across the street.
But it wasn't a prank. Someone -- owners Jackie and her husband, Earl,
also president of the West Stockbridge
Historical Society, still don't know who -- had simply returned the sign, which Earl's father, C. Richard Moffatt,
confirmed by phone from Arizona had been made by a local man and mounted on the building a couple of
Three days later, Dick Moffatt recalled, it disappeared. Where it has been since then is anyone's guess.
"Some parents must have found it when they were going through a grown
kid's room, or maybe someone had a
guilty conscience," Jackie Moffatt said. 'But I don't care who took it, now. I just want to say thank you."
Baldwin's extracts, as the Moffatts' business is called to distinguish
it from Baldwin's hardware, was founded
110 years ago by Henry M. Baldwin, who started out making sarsaparilla and vanilla extract in what the family
calls "the lab," now Sidney W. Smith's house, across from the Baldwin family farm on West Center Road.
He sold his products door-to-door, using a horse and buggy to get around.
"When I was a kid, I sometimes went over there, where they bottled the
extract," said Edna B. Garnett of West
Center Road, the town historian, who is 85. "I can remember sitting on Charles Baldwin's lap, playing with this
long white beard."
Charles was the long-ago Henry's son; Earl and Arthur were the next
generation, with Earl taking over the
extracts business and Arthur running the hardware store. Dick Moffatt married Earl's daughter Elaine; and the
present Earl is their son.
The extracts business expanded through the generations. Besides its
prized vanilla, which has a bouquet
worthy of the most discriminating nose, the shop carries extracts of almond, orange, lemon, anise and
peppermint, rum flavoring, and cherry heart, for which Earl found his grandfather's recipe not long ago.
Baldwin's Table Syrup -- 35 percent pure maple syrup and 65 percent
pure cane sugar -- can be found in
grocery stores throughout the area.
For conspiracy theorists, the return of the Baldwin's sign is an eerie
reminder of the return a few months ago of
the Williamsville sign, which had been stolen about a year before. (Williamsville, like West Center, is one of the
town's five hamlets.)
A man walked into the Williamsville Inn with the sign one evening, dropped
the sign at the desk and told the
innkeeper he would return for payment (he was asking a couple of hundred dollars). But he did not offer his
name and never came back for the money.
It was Earl Moffatt, then town highway superintendent, who rehung that
sign, just as he plans to rehang the
one lost and found at the extracts shop after 20 years.
Back to Charles H. Baldwin & Sons