Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wreaths Across American - Remembering Veterans

At the Wreaths Across America ceremony Saturday, with the icy wind blowing against my back, my thoughts drifted to memories of high school and friends whose names are now engraved in granite. The Veterans Book of Names Memorial across from the VFW on North Main Steet honors men from East Hampton who gave the ultimate sacrifice in combat fighting for our freedom. Listed were Clarence Treadway and Patrick A. Cavanaugh from WW I; Raymond Fowler, Herbert Dix, Raymond Jones, Russell Strong, and Thomas Park WW II; Milton E. Nichols, Korea; and James H. Banning, Jr., Bernd U. Bachleda and David M. Swan, Vietnam. My thoughts were focused on the those who died in Vietnam. EH is a small, close-knit town. In the 60s, we only had a population near 5,000 and most everyone knew everyone else. At EHHS even if you didn’t know all the kids personally, you knew there faces. But I knew these three.

Jimmy Banning, a year older than me, lived around the corner on Forest Street. We were in Boy Scouts together and had gone to summer camp at Camp Tadma. He was our paper boy delivering the afternoon Middletown Press. I remember him having a great sense of humor. After graduation in 1965, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp.

From EHHS Class of 1965 yearbook - the Oracle

Bernie Bachleda who lived on Main Street, moved to EH in 1964. Bernie’s favorite sport was football and he would be at the Center School Grounds kicking a football up and down the field waiting for others to join in a pick-up game. Bernie was a great athlete and a star fullback on our 1965 soccer team that went to the State Championship. Bernie enlisted in the Army shortly after graduation in 1966, intending to follow in his father’s footsteps as a career Army officer.

From EHHS Class of 1966 yearbook - the Oracle

David Swan who graduated in 1967 was drafted into the Army as part of the massive call-up for Vietnam. He grew up on Abby Road. We played Little League Baseball, he on the Braves and me on the Cards. It still makes me sad and angry that these men lost their lives at such an early age.

From EHHS Class of 1967 yearbook - the Oracle - courtesy of Jean Barton '68

I, as well as all of us in East Hampton, should thank Linda Wallace for the tremendous effort to organize the Wreaths Across America program. Special thanks to the VFW Color Guard and all who participated including fifers Jennifer Jansenski and Karen Johansmeyer from the 3rd CT Regiment Fife and Drum Corp and remarks by Kathy Barber, President of the Ladies Auxiliary, Chaplain Laura Schnactner and Quartermaster Bruce Wark, VFW Post 5095.

Placing Memorial Wreaths at the East Hampton Veterans Memorial Monument representing the seven branches of the armed services were: EH VFW Post 5095 members from WW II Donald Tedford and Dennis Erickson and from the Cold War Rolland Jackson; Joyce Chamis, Ladies Auxiliary of VFW, Chief of Staff, District 6; Jody Drumeer, VFW Auxiliary and VFW State Teacher of the Year 2007; Robert Hodeson, Retired Chief Petty Officer Coast Guard and VFW State Teacher of the Year 2008; Kathleen Payne of Glastonbury, a member of the Nathan Hale Memorial Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. A special memorial wreath was laid in honor of Gov. William A. O'Neill, a former East Hampton resident who passed away in 2007. O'Neill had served a a tail gunner in the Korean Conflict in the U.S. Air Force.

It was a moving and well deserved tribute. I invite you to stop by the Memorial and be a part of local history.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

When the Lights Went Out

Do you remember what happened in the early evening of Nov. 9, 1965? Better yet, where were you when the lights went out? On that fall evening, a goodly part of the Northeast US and Ontario Province in Canadian suffered what is arguably the largest electrical blackout in US history, throwing an estimated 30 million people and 80,000 square miles into total darkness. The cause, human error, happened days before the blackout, when personnel incorrectly set a protective relay on one of the transmission lines between the Niagara generating stations in Queenstown, Ontario. The safety relay, tripped if the current exceeded the capacity of the transmission line, was set too low. The overload cascaded throughout the Northeast in a matter of minutes.

I was a senior at EHHS, working that evening at my after school job at Thatcher’s Drug Store. Along with Donna Skinner, Carol Christopher and Fred Walton, one or more of us covered the soda fountain and front register.

Thatcher’s was a place you could get a cup of coffee, a sandwich and even a warm meal blue plate special. When the lights went out, so did the coffee pots. In those days, cash registers were electric but we often used the manual override so customers could still get a pack of cigarettes or the afternoon paper. Unlike today where we have immediate access to news, in 1965 all TV and radio stations were off the air.

Mainly we sat and speculated. Did the Soviet’s attack us? Did someone run into a utility pole? Not until the next morning was the extent of the disruption reported. Talk about a peaceful evening! Maybe a blackout now and then wouldn’t be such a terrible thing.

Monday, December 7, 2009

East Hampton - West of Hampton

Several friends have inquired why “East” Hampton is so named since it is situated 35 miles west of Hampton. There is a certain oddity about this and begs the question, why? In 1748, the General Assembly granted the establishment of the East Hampton Society – the Congregational Church District. All the area on the east side of the Great River, the Connecticut River, was originally called East Middletown and included Portland, Middle Haddam, Cobalt and East Hampton and became Chatham. The Town of Chatham was incorporated in 1767. And that is where the problem begins. Hampton, which was divided off of Windham (Willimantic), became incorporated as a town in 1786.

As I had previously noted in September, our Town’s name was changed in 1915 from Chatham to East Hampton. So where did the East Hampton name come from? Shortly after settlers of Knowles Landing, later to be called Middle Haddam, petitioned for their own Congregational Society in 1738, a band of émigrés from Eastham, Massachusetts arrived. Eastham is a coastal town on Cape Cod and although many of these transplants remained tied to the shipbuilding industry that flourished in Middle Haddam, a goodly number moved inland, first to Hog Hill and then near Lake Pocotopaug, where ample acreage was available to farm. The ecclesiastical area or Society, initially took the name Eastham Town, eventually settling on the preferred two word spelling East Hampton.

Apparently the issue was never raised or questioned in 1915 when the Connecticut General Assembly changed the Town’s name after adoption at Town Meeting. Today there would be exhaustive studies and public hearings before action occurred to change a Town’s name. The fact that the area had been known as East Hampton since the 1740s evidently weighed heavily in the decision.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Big Commercial Real Estate Transactions 1945-46

The Village Center has witnessed quite a transformation throughout the past hundred years. Until the 1970s, the intersection of Main Street, Barton Hill, and Summit Street encompassed our business center that has since migrated to Rt. 66. Surrounding this Village Center retail district were mills and plants – Summit Thread, Starr Manufacturing, Bevin Bros., N. N. Hills Brass, the Gong Bell Mfg. Co. among others, many of which were the remnants of the fabled bell industry for which East Hampton was so famous.

In the mid 1940s two real estate transactions of significance occurred. In May 1946 the Carrier Block was sold by Mrs. Earl C. Hitchcock, Sr. (who had recently purchased it from the Estate of Mayo Purple, former President of the Gong Bell Mfg. Co.) to Spencer Jewell for $15,000. This building has seen both a fire and an explosion in recent years has been rebuilt and still remains as the 3 story building in the Center.
Mr. Mayo Purple in front of Carrier Block
In the 1940s it housed apartments, as it does today and 3 businesses – a First National Grocery Store, the Chatham Store - a hardware store operated by Howard Selden and the Chatham Pharmacy operated by the Hitchcock family.
The Carrier Block - First National, Selden's Hardware and Hitchcock Pharmacy and the O'Connell Block
Mr. Jewell constructed a plumbing shop that he occupied in an old section of the building in the rear on Barton Hill.

In January 1945, Stanley G. Warzecha purchased the O’Connell block and Purple garage in the Center for approx. $25,000 in what was then the largest real estate transaction in our history. The garage and two-story block were adjoining properties on the north corner of Main St. and Barton Hill. The garage had been a bus depot. Mr. Warzecha built a filling station and operated Steve’s Auto Sales – a Dodge and Plymouth dealership. The garage functioned as the Town’s Public Works facility from the 1960s to early 80s and today it is the parking lot for the Joseph N. Goff House.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Armistice Day

My grandmother always called November 11th Armistice Day for years and years after Congress in 1954 changed the Day of Recognition of those who served in foreign wars to Veterans Day. She had lived through that era of the Great War – the war to end all wars - which we now call WWI. Armistice Day was so named to honor those who had served, especially those who had died, preserving freedom. When America entered WW I, it shifted the stalemate that had mired Europe since 1914. The truce, or armistice, was the welcome surrender by Germany to the Allied American, British and French forces at Versailles outside of Paris where a cessation of fighting occurred at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

Today, an event of this magnitude would be instantaneously thrust in our faces with updates on our computer screens or broadcasts by every television news commentator or radio personality. In 1918 the news came via the transatlantic cable and was disseminated through a tried and true method of communication. The bells began to ring. Every church steeple and every citizen able rang their bells and everyone knew the war had ended. And I guess a certain pride occurred as East Hampton was known as the bell capital of the world.

Our community had not been immune to the war sending 139 men and 2 women off to the great battlefields of France. Four young men, Clarence Treadway, Nelson Tucker, Clarence Coe and Patrick Cavanaugh, were killed in action and several suffered wounds or the effects of mustard gas.

After the war, the creation of the American Legion first proposed by Lt. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. and 20 other Army Officers occurred. East Hampton veterans organized local Post No. 64 and honored their fallen comrades by naming it Treadway Cavanaugh Post No. 64, which stands today next to the Post Office on Main St.

Even though Armistice or should I say Veterans Day comes only once a year, we should all remember more often the sacrifices made by so many of our men and women to preserve freedom. I thank all our Veterans for what they have done on our behalf.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bill Dennehy Hall of Fame Inductee

The induction of William J. Dennehy into the E. H. Athletic Hall of Fame today, November 6th is a well deserved honor! Friends since childhood when we played on the same little league team - The Cards - and Bill and I graduated in the Class of 1966 from EHHS. His mom Peg and dad, Martin “Bub” Daly were great inspirations to him.

Bill’s credentials and athletic skill as an EH athlete are well documented. He is one of thre 12 varsity letter recipients in EHHS history. Richard Wall EHHS 1948 and Paul Peszynski EHHS 1956 are the others I'm aware of and are Past Inductees into the Athletic Hall of Fame. That feat alone is sufficient support for his induction, but I would like to comment on other aspects of the man. In my mind, the most important characteristic that defines Bill is “sportsman.”
He exemplified the Greek ideal of an athlete in competition – using one’s skills and ability in pursuit of excellence without doing personal harm or injury to his fellow competitor. On and off the field he is and was a gentleman. A fierce competitor, Bill achieved success not at the expense of others, but through his own skill, determination and hard work as a team player.
In a sports world riddled with bad conduct and all too often drug induced enhancement, it is refreshing to have someone of Bill Dennehy’s character being honored.
If my recollection is correct, Bill only fouled out of one basketball game in his 4-years at EHHS. One might ask how he could have been a contributing part or factor of the game. That assumption would be absolutely untrue. The paradox really explains the man. He is a sportsman whose accomplishments resulted from fair play, fierce competition and a never say die attitude. His conduct and these attributes are a world apart from dirty play and poor character.
I applaud the EHAHF. Its action serves as an inspiration to our future athletes as an example to emulate.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Can Drive for Food Bank

During WW II, our citizens were called upon to make many sacrifices and contributions for the war effort. It’s hard to believe, but our small town, 13,000 people now but fewer than 4,500 in the 1940s, sent about 480 men and women to serve in our military. On the home front, nearly every city and town had scrap drives – organized to collect metal and materials that could be recycled to support our troops and the war effort.

Today, we face a different call to arms. These turbulent economic times have stretched to the limits many families and fellow citizens. Many of our neighbors, their children, our elderly or those unable to find employment, are in real and constant need. I’m asking you, as so many did during WW II, to pick up the challenge and contribute to a very worthy cause – our local Food Bank.

Please join my colleagues and me at Prudential Connecticut Realty to contribute canned good or other items that may keep a child or neighbor or friend from going to bed hungry. In a country where we have been so blessed there are still those in need.

I’m asking you to reach out with your heart. Contributions can be dropped off between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm week days or between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm weekends at the Prudential office at 42 East High St.
The current needs at the Food Bank are:

Peanut Butter
Laundry detergent
Canned meats
Canned meals (i.e. stew, ravioli)
Spaghetti sauce
Canned fruit
Fruit juices
Wouldn't it be fitting?

Tom Brokaw called the men and women of the WW II era the “greatest generation.” Wouldn’t it be a fitting tribute 60 years from now for someone to characterize us as the most humane generation?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Board of Selectmen Election 1973

With Election Day next Tuesday November 3rd, I’m reminded of the significant change that occurred in our Town’s form of government in 1973.

By Charter Revision a very different form of general government emerged from other Connecticut towns, one in which no candidate for First Selectman or Mayor headed the ticket to become Chief Executive. In the late 1960s our Town, in the words of Robert Frost, faced a situation where “two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

In 1973, we took the other road. EH voters elected a five man (no women were candidates that year) Board of Selectman, which was revised once again in the 1980s to a seven person Town Council. And the big difference, the Board of Selectman chose a Chief Administrative Officer – a professional with educational credentials who was experienced in all aspects of the management of a town. In the 1980s, we changed the title and role to Town Manager. Prior to 1973, the elected First Selectman had no specific experience or qualifications to manage municipal government. This is not to say our First Selectmen were not fine upstanding public servants. What the citizens of East Hampton believed was that the Town could be better served with a professional manager versed in grant writing, labor and personnel relations, budget preparation and public works administration.

That historic election pitted Democrats Eaton E. Smith, Lary Selavka and a 26 year old Robert "Red" McKinney against a Republican Team of William "Bill" Hughes, Robert "Bob" Ostergren and Charles "Charlie" Ottone. We all see campaign slogans in our current election. In 1973, the Democrats used “The Leadership Team- We Care!” which resinated with the electorate because of the problems with the Nixon Administration and the "Watergate Plumbers." These National antics from the 1972 election had a big impact on races throughout the Country. Our local Republicans played off the initials of the last names of the candidates – “Who’s HOO for Selectmen and the entire Republican Team – That’s who!”

From the Democrats campaign brochure .........

From the Republican's campaign brochure .........

We all see campaign slogans in our current election. In 1973, the Democrats used “The Leadership Team- We Care!” and Republicans played off the initials of the last names of the candidates – “Who’s HOO."

When the votes were tallied shortly after 8 pm, the Democrats had emerged victorious with a clean sweep – their first local victory in six years. As the very young Democratic Town Chairman, I was especially pleased to have masterminded this great victory.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Middlesex County Baseball Champions - 1928

With the World Series looming, I’m reminded of our Town’s own substantial history with baseball. The other day, Jay Hansen lent me a picture of the 1928 East Hampton Baseball Team who played in the Middlesex County League. Only able to identify one of the 12 men pictured, Jay asked me if I could help find the players names. With one glance, I smiled. Sitting at the end of the bench was my grandfather, Percy Markham. I knew my grandfather had played baseball in several leagues but didn’t realize he was still playing at the ripe old age of 30. When in the Army during World War I and in the Marines in the Nicaraguan Campaign from 1918-20, he played on a Marine Corp team and competed against major league players from the Washington Senators hitting against the fabled Walter Johnson.

Intrigued and always up to solve a good mystery, I talked to a few people around town but only found one other name – Paul Garvey – Director of Wall’s Funeral Home located across from St. Patrick’s Church. I'm not sure if Paul was a coach or team sponsor. Considering the fact that the picture was taken 81 years ago, there aren’t many around who saw these “boys of summer” play.

My next stop, Russell Library, provided microfilm copies of the Middletown Press with box scores of the Middlesex County Baseball League. It seems our Bellringers started the season with an amazing 14 straight wins. At one point in July, there was talk by the rest of the teams in the league to award EH the Championship and split the season in two -essentially starting anew. The East Hampton team, which had some tremendously talented players and dominated the league, which apparently was not the first time this occurred. One of the articles referred to East Hampton dominance back to 1884. One of the pitchers, Big Gil Jones, was unbeaten during the season.

Front L to R: Percy Markham, Dutch Longmore, Ray Cassette, Willse Moore, Gil Jones, Martin Flynn; Back row L to R: George Kilray (likely from Hartford), Edward Beyle, Paul Garvey, Ed Payne, Herm Schroder, and Harold Bransfield.

I also found I’m not the only Markham to write Letters to the Editor. It seems that in response to bellyaching by Middletown’s team supporters, my grandfather chided them for the criticism of East Hampton and poor play.

The County Baseball games were also a highlight of Old Home Day. 1928 was the fifteenth celebration of Old Home Day. On that August Saturday afternoon, East Hampton took both sides of a double header. Finishing the season with an amazing 20-3 record, they even beat a team of County League All Stars and a Championship Team from Hartford.

The players that summer included William Bransfield, 3rd base, Harold Bransfield, 2nd base, Irish Moore, 3rd base, George Kilray, SS, Ed Beyl, 1st base, Ed Paine, Left Field, ___ Cosette, Catcher, Percy Markham, Manager and Center Field, ___ Ferrigno, Right Field, Frank Fernald, Center Field, Tom Sipples, Right Field and Charlie Barber Left Field. Marty Flynn, Gil Jones, Chet Nichols, Charlie Commer, (a local policeman), Herbert Kegler, (from Willimantic), ___ Longamore, ___ Mantelli, and Jack Curtis all pitched.

It is likely several players were recruited from other Towns by Percy Markham. He worked for Summit Thread and made contact with players in other thread mills in Connecticut. Also, three of the players, Irish Moore, Ed Paine and George Kilray (from Hartford) were on leave from the Army. They were called back to duty in Panama during the season which is why you see so many players listed but only 11 plus Paul Garvey in the picture.

I would greatly appreciate any help from viewers of this blog if they recognize any family members in the team picture. I’ve identified a few and have listed all the players from box scores. With a bit of luck, maybe we can make this complete and we can have it included in the East Hampton Athletic Hall of Fame.

Friday, October 9, 2009

East Hampton's Oldest Home

I’m often asked what the oldest house in East Hampton is. For purposes of answering this question, I am assuming it relates to the settlement of the Three Mile Division which encompasses the East Hampton section of the original Township of Chatham. Not wishing to offend my friends in Middle Haddam, which was settled first at Knowles Landing in the late 1600s, I will discuss those early homes and its settlement at another time.

The last tract east of the Connecticut River was purchased in 1674-75 from the Mattabeseck Indians by agents for the General Assembly of the colony of Connecticut and granted in 1683 to the township of Middletown which extended East Middletown (subsequently named Chatham) by the area called the Three Mile Division, taking the territory to the present day town line with Marlborough, Colchester and East Haddam. The name Three Mile Division referred to the even width of three miles and a length of nine miles laying between Glastonbury and East Haddam and Colchester to the east.

The initial land owner in East Hampton was James Wright. Wright purchased 640 acres from Terramuggus, an Indian of Wethersfield, which included present day Spellman’s Point of 40 acres on the east side of the pond called “Poocatoobock”, two little islands in said pond and 600 acres on the west side running from present day Sears Park to Pocotopaug Brook running to the foot of Miller Hill where our Town's Library and Senior Center is located.

The original Wright homestead was located “butting on Pocaktabogg Pond on the other side surround by common.” The likely position of this first house is where the tennis courts are located next to Sears Park and probably included a small living structure and a barn. The second Wright house, a more permanent structure, built circa. 1726 stands at 34 North Main Street and is owned by Mrs. Dorothy Lawson., this being the oldest in the community.

Home of Mrs. Dorothy Lawson - view from North Main St at gable of original Cape Cod James Wright house

The original Cape Cod style structure has had other additions throughout the years, but its unique position facing south rather than west toward North Main Street was constructed so that it faced the highway (Rt. 66) which ran from east to west when the home was built. It was obviously open fields then.

Southern exposure of original James Wright house.

The second oldest house in East Hampton is the John Clark house at the crest of Clark's Hill, currently owned by Ms Carla Cataldi. A photograph of this 1737 house taken circa. 1900 appears below.

John Clark House

There are approximately 35 homes standing constructed prior to 1799 here in East Hampton.
Although many of these properties were know as the home of another prominent citizen of the community such as 31 South Main as the Bailey, Skinner, Purple House, I have attempted to reflect the original builder as best I could determine.

Circa. .... Address ...............Builder ..............Current Owner

1726 ..... 34 North Main St ... ......James Wright ....... Dorothy Lawson
1737 ..... 87 Clark Hill Road ....... John Clark .......... Carla M. Cataldi
1740 ..... 140 Chestnut Hill ........ Henry Snow ...... Martha R. Weigel
1745 ...... 146 Main St. ............ Benjamin Stillman ... Patricia J. Powers
1747 ...... 31 South Main St. ..... Ezekiel Spicer ..... Don & Phylis Martin

1750 .....95 Young Street......Clement Bates.....Barbara Doherty

1750 ..... 127 Waterhole Road ..... Nicholas Ackley ... John & Anna Dill
1754 ...66 Old Marlborough Road .. John Markham .. Steven Kissinger
1755 ..... 17 Summit Street ........ Bryan Parmalee ........... White Estate
1756 ...... 7 Barton Hill .... James Johnson ... Guy & Christine Gustafson
1757 ...... 53 Barton Hill ....... William Bevin .......... Mary Hall

1758 ..... 164 Young Street ....... John Giddings ...... Layne O. McClennan
1759 .... 54 Smith Street ...... Isaac Smith, Jr. .. Richard & Holli Adelkopf
1760 ... 55 South Main St. .... Benjamin Goff ..... William & Jacki Reardon
1765 ..... 25 Barton Hill ......... James Johnson ....... Kimberly Widman
1765 ..... 49 Waterhole Road ...... Samuel Brainard ...... Roger Lawson

1770 ...... 52 Main Street ....... Unknown ......... 52 Main St. LLC
1770 ... 82 Young Street .. Nathaniel Freedman .. Rbt. & Allison Walck
1772 ..... 295 Young Street ..... Lemuel Daniels .... Robert J. Zajack, Jr.
1772 ... 52 Smith Street ... Isaac/Sparrow Smith .. Chris & Kathleen Koziel
1775 ...... 35 East High St. ....... Abijah Hall ........ Edward Jackowitz

1779 ..... 28 Old Chestnut Hill .. Daniel Hubbard ..... Richard R. Dickerson
1780 ... 64 South Main St. ... Elisha Cornwell .... Bruce & Barbara Shepard
1780 ..... 27 Edgerton St. ......... Amos Clark ....... James & Jill Swindel
1780 ..... 51 Cone Road .......... Nathaniel Cone ....... Scott & Nancy Foley
1785 ..... 59 White Birch Road ... John Welch ... Scott & Lynn MacDonald

1786 ... 245 Old West High St. .. Jesse Swadle .. Thom. & Michelle Keegan
1790 .... 1 Middletown Avenue ....... Andrew Carrier ....... Messier Estate
1790 .... 131 Lake Drive ........... James Bill ...... Benjamin & Donna Hall
1792 .... 103 Mott Hill Road ........ Othniel Brainard ...... Jeffrey Schleidt
1794 ..... 83 Mott Hill Road ......... Moses Cone ........ Ralph Strong

1795 ..... 2 Bevin Boulevard ........ Apollas Arnold ...... Helen DiPace
1795 ..... 115 Tartia Road ..... Martin Kellogg .... Frederick T. Fitch, Jr.
1797 ...... 81 White Birch Road ...... Samuel Arnold ...... Daniel Loos
1798 ..... 14 Main Street ............ Seth Alvord ........ Troy Kaufman

This information is substantially complete. There remain several properties that I am researching to determine their date of construction and provenance, which I hope to add to this list soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Walk for Sunshine Kids

Many thanks to this wonderful group of friends who graciously donated to sponsor me on the Sunshine Kids walk .

Linda Denton Arlene Thompson Maryanne Costerella
Larry Byron Chris Brown Joan Colaccino
Marcia Vecca Claire Kavanagh Dr. Bo Subbarao

My Prudential colleagues joining on the walk raised over $600 today are pictured as we begin the walk on the Air Line Trail - a walking and bicycling trail beginning at Cranberry Bog in East Hampton.

Carl Guild, Tammy Jones, Lori Ducat, Renee Dumaine, Susan Canedy, and Dean Markham.

The stalwarts walking for Sunshine Kids.

Susan Canedy, Office Mgr., Renee Dumaine, Tammy Jones, Lori Ducat (hidden) and Carl Guild.

As you can see, I wanted to trudge on, but I was outvoted as we reached the half-way point.

Carl Guild, Renee Dumaine, Tammy Jones (leading) Susan Canedy and Lori Ducat. (When you are taking the pictures, you don't have to be in them.)

All in all, a beautiful day that will put smiles on the faces of some beautiful kids.

Thank you!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Never Too Busy for You

As a Real Estate Agent with Prudential Connecticut Realty practicing in East Hampton and surrounding communities such as Marlborough, Glastonbury, Portland, East Haddam, Colchester, Haddam and Middletown and eastern Connecticut, I want you to know, I'm never too busy for any of your referrals.

New Telephone Technology

Today it seems as though almost every teenager and certainly most adults have cell phones, and rapidly I-phones or Blackberries are replacing these as talking is just one limited method of communication. New technologies let you text, email, even pay your bills and as the ads say, do about 75,000 other things. But in 1953, the new technology was the rotary telephone. Do you remember the round 10-holed dial and a local telephone number with only 5 digits? Our local exchange was “7” followed by your 4 digits. The “AN” or”26” was not added until the 1960s and our area code only used for out of state dialing.

But the new technology allowed you to dial yourself. Heretofore, an operator placed your call. An operator station and office was located on the2nd floor rear of the East Hampton Bank & Trust Co at 66 Main Street. Operators such as Beverly Fuller Beecher and Ruth Jacobson Hollings handled the calls patching you through to your party.

With the rotary telephone, you could directly dial the person to whom you wished to talk. But this new fangled self-dialing came with some minor issues – party lines! Back in the 1950s, multiple households shared a single telephone line. You would distinguish whether the call was for you by the number of rings. If two rings were for your house, then you answered. If three occurred, your neighbor answered. It also made for some tense situations where your neighbor listened into your telephone conversation. Of course, you would never listen to theirs.

We take for granted the mobility of telephone and communication services now. Up until the 1970s, telephones were hard-wired and owned by SNET Co. Litigation in the late 1960s deregulated telephone service which allowed us to purchase our own phones. I can remember comedians joking about telephone service in foreign countries such as France where installation of a home telephone could take up to nine months. Here it was usually a few days.

In 1996, on a business trip to South Korea, cell phones, with immediate activation – something we’ve all become accustomed to - were the rage because land lines took a year to install. As the saying goes, “we’ve come a long way baby!” and I have no doubt we will be going a lot further yet.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Alice Conklin Bevin - East Hampton - Artist of the World

As I was driving over Barton Hill the other day, I was struck by the wonderful restoration of the Philo Bevin 3 story Second Empire style mansion constructed in 1872 situated at the crest of the hill. I grew up across the street in the 1960s, where my parents owned the Dutch colonial gamble roofed home built circa 1770 owned by William Barton, the founder of East Hampton’s Bell Industry. But what I remember fondly was my neighbor and friend - Alice C. Bevin.

Philo Bevin House at 26 Barton Hill owned by Ms Franciene A. Lehmann

Alice Bevin was an East Hampton Born Parisian Artist who painted throughout the world from the Arctic Circle to the boarder of the Sahara Desert. In her own words from a 1940 Hartford Courant article, she stated “The people I have painted throughout the world .... have not only impressed me by the contrast of their various types but they have shown me many sides of life hitherto unknown. What knowledge of life one gains painting people. From all the portraits and studies I have done how much more I have learned beyond mere composition and the bare technique of painting that each new subject teaches us.”

“Much has been written about the artist’s ability to read the souls of his sitters. He does so undoubtedly, whether consciously or not. Invariably, the sitter becomes confidential while posing in much the same way the patient confides in his doctor. The artist, listening with only half an ear as he mixes the flesh tones, gradually gains a knowledge of the character of his subject. Sometimes it has happened that in painting portraits of friends whom I thought I knew intimately, I have to my great surprise, suddenly discovered that I never really knew them at all.”

From 1940 Hartford Courant Article by Alice C. Bevin

Some of Alice’s noted subjects were Yamina, the Arab-dancing girl in Bou-Saada, a Lapp fisherman guide sketched in Finland, Hada, a drummer from the desert regions of Bou-Saada in Algeria, or the Sardine Fishermen of Concarneau.

Her home was this incredible art gallery which housed a number of her paintings not on display in noted museums such as the Louvre in Paris.

Reprint of the 1940 Hartford Courant article written by Alice C. Bevin

I met Mrs. Bevin, as we addressed her, through her grandsons, Granger and Nathaniel Benson who lived in New York City, but spent numerous weekends and summers here with their grandmother. We had wonderful times exploring the massive garage and barn that housed her studio, and a spectacular room that depicted a stadium. The four walls were painted with the spectators of a bull fight as if watching a matador challenge a bull in the center of the barn. I believe Alice's daughter, Betty Benson, painted this scene.

In my later high school years, I would do gardening and odd jobs around the property, replace burnt out electrical box fuses, and on occasion, house sit. One Valentine's Day, she presented me with a gift of one of her paintings - a winter view of our house painted from the 3rd floor of her home. The painting below was accompanied by a note that I still find amusing.

A note accompanying a gift of her painting of our house on Barton Hill.

Alice Bevin passed away 40 years ago, but the paintings that graced her home, still touch my soul. I remember standing in her living room, which was a gallery of her paintings, surrounded by a dozen or more of her subjects. Two things struck me about these many varied portraits. First the lifelike detail and second the eyes. The eyes of each always seemed to sparkle reflecting a certain contentment of the individual. But second, the subjects eyes always seemed to follow me as I moved around the room - almost as if the captured image brought a little of the subjects spirit along for eternity in the portrait she painted.

From her exhibit August 5, 1967 Celebrating East Hampton's Bicentennial.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Air Line Trail over the Rapello & Lyman Viaducts

As summer simmers down and we await New England bursting into its hues of red, orange and yellow, I’m reminded of my annual hikes as a Boy Scout walking the rail road tracks to the viaducts. Every fall, Troop 47 would take a day long hike along the rail line, reaching the Lyman Viaduct where we would climb down the cinder facing and camp by the “diving” pool created from the stream running through the culvert under the viaduct.

Dickinson Creek cascading under the Lyman Viaduct near Bull Hill that forms the "diving pool"

Now converted into the Air Line Trial, he 13 mile route, beginning at Cranberry Bog, passes over the viaducts, Bull Hill, the Salmon River on through Colchester, and traverses the bed of the former NY, New Haven and Hartford Rail Road. It is one of our Town’s great assets. Where else could your walk, jog or bike, or just find a great place to take the family and the family dog and best of all – it’s free!

A few facts about the Air Line Trail and viaducts: Leaving Cranberry Bog, you walk through Linkpot Cut, 1,800 feet in length with an average depth of 40 feet. Next you cross Flat Brook on the Rapello Viaduct, an iron structure of 1,378 ½ feet in length and 60 feet high.

The Rapello Viaduct over Flat Brook as it looked circa 1890 when it was an open trestle

The trail continues winding through numerous cuts until it reaches the 1,600 foot long Lyman Viaduct that is over 200 feet high.

The original open frame of the Lyman Viaduct as it appeared after construction in 1867

The original open iron frameworks of both viaducts have been filled with gravel and old coal cinders and I’m told old rail road cars.

The top of the Lyman Viaduct Rail Road Bridge structure appearing through the fill

From the top of the Lyman Viaduct one gets panoramic views of the Salmon River Valley.

The pristine waters of the Salmon River

The Salmon River near the fly fishing area

Take a Walk with Me

If you are interested in doing something good at the same time you walk the trail, my colleagues at Prudential Connecticut Realty will be walking to raise funds for one of our favorite charities – Sunshine Kids – national foundation raising money for kids with cancer. These kids could use your support, so if you’d like to join me on October 6th or pledge towards the miles I walk, please call me at 860-918-4400.

Sunshine Kids

The Sunshine Kids Foundation provides exciting, positive group activities for children with cancer so that they can do what children should do – have fun and celebrate life. Thousands of children from hospitals across the country benefit from the foundation’s programs and events.
Corporations, foundations and individual donors fund The Sunshine Kids Foundation. The foundation’s programs and activities are free to children, families and hospitals.
Prudential Connecticut Realty adopted The Sunshine Kids Foundation as their company charity in 2002. Since then, we have raised more than $1.3 million through charity events and donations. Young cancer patients at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center have enjoyed trips to Hawaii, Washington, D.C., New Orleans and New York City.
Visit The Sunshine Kids Foundation Web site at to learn more or to show your support. See the Sunshine kids video.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Changing the Town's Name from Chatham to East Hampton

The Town of Chatham, formerly a part of Middletown, had an original grant 3 miles in breadth east of the river and in 1673, a 2nd grant, extended another 3 miles east to what is now the Marlborough and Colchester town lines. Surveying and partitioning of this 2nd grant began in 1721 with the lots awarded primarily to Middletown Property owners.

Chatham was incorporated in 1767 at the October session of the General Assembly as a town of the same name in England, noted for it shipbuilding, and its boundaries embraced the whole of the ecclesiastical parishes of East Middletown (present day Portland) a part of Middle Haddam, the whole of East Hampton and a small portion of Pine Swamp (Westchester).

The first large group of settlers emigrated by sea in 1739 from Eastham, Mass., up the Connecticut River to Middle Haddam Parish. Led by Isaac Smith, some of those early settlers left Middle Haddam to push on to the seven hills near Lake Pocotopaug on which the town of East Hampton now stands. In 1746 the settlers named their growing community Easthampton parish in honor of their original home of Eastham, Mass.

On April 10, 1915, the Town changed its name and by virtue of long usage decreed the divided name of East Hampton, establishing the two word version over the original spelling Easthampton.

Old School House until 1915, then served at Town Hall until the mid 1970s. Currently serves as the Board of Education Administrative Building.

Unlike today where a full transcript of Legislative Hearings or Town Meeting actions occur, the official record in 1915 was quite sparse. The special town meeting held in the Old School House in the Village of East Hampton on April 3rd was adjourned until Saturday the 10th of April because of significant opposition and a late winter storm.

Regardless of one's views, our Town Meetings have a long and noble tradition of full and open debate that allows every citizen the opportunity to express his view. Because the storm impeded the opportunity for all citizens to participate, our Town's Selectmen choose to adjourn a week to enable everyone who desired to attend this important meeting.

The opposition came chiefly from the Middle Haddam area, “they thinking that the upstreet crowd were getting too much benefit by the change.”

The minutes for the adjourned special town meeting as recorded: “Resolved that it is the since of this meeting that the name of the Town of Chatham be changed to East Hampton. Vote stood – 126 in favor and 42 opposed.” On May 4th, the Connecticut General Assembly adopted HR 273 changing the name of the town to East Hampton.

The Summit Tread Building on Summit Street circa 1910.

Accounts in the Hartford Courant give the reason for the change as economic. After Portland separated from Chatham in 1841 the primary business and industrial area of the town was in the village of East Hampton. Confusion arose when Cobalt renamed its Post Office Chatham which interfered in the local commerce since much of the mail was routed to Cobalt and not the Village Post Office in East Hampton.

I believe knowing the history of East Hampton is an important component to provide the best service possible as a Realtor. I'm never to busy to take your call or assist you with real estate needs.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Premiere Wine Producing Region

Of all the superb wine producing regions of the world – Bordeaux, Napa Valley, Tuscany – I’d probably floor you putting East Hampton among them! No not the Easthampton at the tip of Long Island – the other East Hampton. Yes on water like that Easthampton, but more like a lake – Pocotopaug - than an ocean or sound.

Anyways, at least in 1962, we gained notoriety with a tremendous but limited production of wine. Throughout that hot summer, it was my job to weed the family garden. I grew up on Barton Hill in the house owned by the first sleigh bell maker in America, William Barton.

Our house on Barton Hill currently owned by Ms Kimberly Widmann

An over abundance of our Burpee Big Boy tomato crop had my parents perplexed on what to do with the surplus after the obligatory gifts to family, friends and neighbors. Even after my mother’s numerous culinary creations of tomato casserole, sliced tomatoes and cucumber salad, etc. etc. etc., Julia Child would have been taxed. In short, the harvest bounty became overwhelming in the days before farmers markets. What to do?

Burpee Big Boy Tomatoes introduced in 1949

Apparently our neighbor Graydon Rich had the perfect solution. He produced an old family recipe and the Markham’s became wine producers!

After commandeering an old 40 gallon ceramic crock, we cleaned and cut and crushed what seemed like a ton of tomatoes, putting the mix in our cellar covered with cheese cloth and the secret ingredients. There the concoction sat, bubbling away, fermenting. After several weeks, the vintage was ready for bottling. Filtered through new cheese cloth, the nectar was hand ladled into assembled RC Cola bottles. A hand crank capping machine sealed the light amber fluid and typed labels were affixed to the bottles. The results – tomato wine!

1962 Barton Hill Tomato Wine bottled in an RC Cola Bottle

I still possess several bottles of vintage 1962 Barton Hill Tomato Wine. One might think this has the consistency of Campbell’s Tomato Juice or V8, but oh contraire. The wine is actually quite nice. After 47 years, it is now mostly dark amber with a little sweetness that probably emulates a brandy or desert wine.

Oh I almost forgot to explain why we had so many tomatoes in the first place. Two reasons! The previous summer, my father replaced the aging and leaking asphalt roof shingles of our 1775 gambel roofed Dutch Colonial with cedar shakes. Desperate to dispose of them, and certainly not “green” or “environmentally conscious” as today, he burned them in the garden. The billows of black smoke covered our neighborhood skies for a couple weeks, much to our neighbor's chagrin. The ash residue, however, became a magnificent fertilizer. And as for the tomatoes – the previous fall when we cleaned up the garden, my brother and I had rotten tomato fights.

Burpee Big Boy Tomatoes first introduced in 1949

Today kids or not so grownup adults might go to a paint ball range, but in the early 60s you made your own entertainment with whatever you had available. The seeds from those Big Boys spread all over the garden. The next summer, combined with the unusual fertilizer, saw an overabundance of plants and what I believe a very edible use of the produce. As an old New England Yankee family, nothing ever went to waste!

Since those days of my youth, I feel like I've been in a Frank Sinatra song - a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king. In my case however, I've been a CPA, a State Representative, a Lobbyist, a Financial Consultant, a Business Manager with an Indian Tribe, but now am enjoying life as a Realtor in East Hampton and the Central Connecticut Area affiliated with Prudential Connecticut Realty.

Our recipe for Tomato Wine

6 lbs. - sugar
6 lbs. - tomatoes cut up small
1 lb. - seedless raisins
1 yeast cake (dissolve in warm water)
2 Oranges cut up
1 gal. Boiling water

Mix and let stand for 15 days. Then put in jars and in about 3 weeks siphon into bottles and cap.

Makes about 2 gallons which can be doubled, tripled, or 20 times the quantity ( like us! )depending on size of crock or pot mixed in.