Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Yankee in Connecticut

We left Providence this morning and drove through Connecticut, stopping in Hartford to see the Mark Twain House and adjacent museum. Once again, I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside the house, but it was interesting hearing how Twain’s 17 years in that house were the happiest and most productive of his life. Twain’s later years were sad. He outlived all of his family except one of his daughters, Clara. Fortunately Clara lived into her 90s, long enough to be able to help as a consultant for the house restoration project; she was able even in her old age to remember with clarity where every piece of furniture and painting was in the house. The museum was also very well done and had a very nice exhibit of paintings (I’m guessing by modern local artists) along the wall going up the long gradual staircase. Some of them depicted very New England-y scenes. It also included some famous Mark Twain quotes engraved in the walls. Mark Twain is so eminently quotable that often when a witty aphorism's attribution isn't known, it is assumed to have been his.

This day has been the longest drive we’ve had thus far, and the foliage is really getting amazing. The reds and oranges are still patchy amidst the green, so I expect more to come, but today has been sunny and glorious, and the views of the trees spectacular.

We continued on from Hartford along rural roads, directing the Google Maps lady to help us avoid highways. We stopped for a few brief photo ops along the way. First was the home where Jonathan Edwards was born (1703), in South Windsor, CT.
Next was Anderson House (1702) in Enfield, a beautifully restored Colonial house. George Washington might have once slept in this house. Directly to the right of that was a stone marking the site of the church in Enfield where Jonathan Edwards preached his famous “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon on July 8, 1741.

Next we passed Enfield’s Old Town Hall (1775, Greek Revival), and Enfield Congregational Church (1849, Greek Revival).

In the evening we had the most amazing serendipitous discovery. We were dining in Hadley at Alina’s Italian restaurant (turned out to be delicious – I highly recommend it), and as we parked the car we noticed a tree-lined double-wide street with very old houses along it. We decided to walk its length and back. Many of the houses were marked with dates in the 18th century. We knew we had stumbled on something special. I had not known anything of Hadley other than the strip of Rte 9 with malls and movie theatres, and some farmland on a parallel road. But a quick Google search revealed that this was West Street Common, the original center of town and the longest public green in Massachusetts. Hadley was settled in 1659 and became a town in 1661.

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