There are many traditions unique to New England, perhaps none as original as the measurer of wood.
The measurer of wood is an official town position dating back to at least the 1800s. And Easton has two measurers of wood: Irving Snow and Michael Sabia Sr.
What exactly does a measurer of wood do?
“So basically, if you live in town and you get a cord of wood delivered that you think you’ve been shorted on, the measure of wood we will come to your house and measure it,” said Sabia, the owner of Sabia Tree Farm.
How often is he needed?
Sabia said he’s called upon once every two years.
The title is so antiquated that Bruce Nelson, the director of research at the Historical Society of Easton, wasn’t aware the town still had a measurer of wood, let alone two.
“I did not even know the town still had a ‘measurer of wood and bark,'” Nelson said.
The measure of wood is an appointed position just like any appointment to local boards and commissions. Snow and Sabia have held the position for a combined 30 years.
First Selectman David Bindelglass said the position is kept for tradition’s sake. “The purpose was to settle disputes, like ‘Joe said you sent me a cord and half of wood, but I got less.’”
Snow had a hard time remembering the last time someone needed him to measure wood. He’s been on the job for at least two decades.
Maybe six or seven years ago he got a call from town hall about someone questioning if the cord they purchased was really a cord. A cord is a unit of measurement of wood.
“It’s like a gallon of gas,” explained Snow, who owns Snow’s Farm. “A cord measures 4 feet wide by 4 feet high and 8 feet long.”
Snow said today most disputes are handled between the customer and the supplier, and there is a credit card involved. Nonetheless he keeps getting reappointed to the position.
“It’s looking like a life appointment,” Snow joked.