Saturday, July 26, 1986

1986 Hartford, CT (7/25-26/1986)

Friday, July 25, 1986
After work today, we packed and started our weekend trip. Kyle and Erich are in DC for a McCoy family reunion. We headed out US 44 and stopped for dinner at the quaint Stagecoach Tavern in Chepachet, RI. Had cups of thick clam chowder, and shared three stuffed quahogs. Then Fish and Chips with coleslaw with paprika sprinkled on everything.
We headed into Connecticut, and I thought the Essex Motor Inn was just across the border in Putnam, which coincided with Kent’s thinking it was just 30 minutes from Providence. We drove through Putnam not seeing any sign of the motel, which we assumed was a legitimate motel. We stopped at a drugstore and Kent checked the phone book to find it was in Manchester, near Hartford. We continued down I-395 to CT-101, which brought us back to US 44. Took CT-74 to I-84 into Manchester. Exited at the last exit for Manchester, which was US-44/Center Street, on which the Essex Motor Inn was located. Found the Inn right smack in the middle of town! Kent went to register and was given all kinds of choices. He chose the “Love Box,” part of the Japanese Garden Suite. Thus, I experienced my first waterbed. I did feel a bit queasy that night, but I don’t know if it was fried foods or seasickness! There were mirrors all over, and cable TV that was included. A steam room/bathroom with a liquid soap dispenser in the shower.

Saturday, July 26, 1986
Checked out of the Essex Motor Inn and stopped for breakfast at Friendly’s. Followed US-44 into Hartford, ending up on I-84 to cross the Connecticut River. We followed signs to the Mark Twain House, finding the unusual house on Farmington Avenue. The carriage house was the Visitors Center for both the Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens House and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Houses across the lawn. We bought a combination ticket for $6 each, and waited for the 10:45 tour.
The homes were built in an area called Nook Farm, said to be a literary community. Mark Twain moved here from Elmira, NY (where he had met and married his wife, from a coal family in Buffalo) because his publisher was in Hartford, CT. Twain had the house built, designed by Edward Tuckerman Potter in the stick style mixed with polychromy. It is said to be a riverboat-shaped brick house, with some of the bricks painted black and orange in patterns.
Mark Twain House
We first toured the Harriet Beecher Stowe House (1871), being the only two people on the tour! Followed a nice flower-bordered walk to the front of the house.
Tamiko on walk to Stowe's house (KSS)
A plaque states Harriet Beecher Stowe was born in Cincinnati, OH, but other sources say Litchfield, CT! The cottage was purchased when Calvin Stowe retired as a theology professor in 1873. Harriet continued to write, although Uncle Tom’s Cabin was long since written and had already made her famous. She lived here until she died in 1896.
Harriet Beecher Stowe's House
We saw various articles of furniture that belonged to Harriet, among many period pieces. Harriet was very much a housekeeper and gardener, as well as a writer. She liked to leave some windows without curtains, instead having plants, like ivy, to cover them (on the inside). She also played the piano, and some of her poems were made into hymns. She also painted, liking especially to do flowers showing the three stages of bud, opening, and full bloom. Harriet and Calvin had separate bedrooms, and a bedroom for their twin daughters who never married. We even got to see the bathroom, which large groups don’t get to see. There were many photographs. The fireplaces were of marbleized slate. We went out through the kitchen where several appliances were identified.
Kent mentioned to the guide about a house in Providence that was similar to Mark Twain’s grander house. The guide knew that the architect Potter retired to Newport, RI, but did not know of other houses he had designed. (NB, Potter did design the All Saints Memorial Church at 674 Westminster Street in Providence, but Providence does have houses built in a similar Queen Anne stick style. Also, the Mark Twain House was mainly designed with input from Mark Twain’s wife.)
Stowe's neighbor's house
We had to wait in the gift shop for the 11:20 tour of the Mark Twain House, and were joined by 10 others to follow guide Nancy, who used the same idioms over and over as she lisped through a gap in her front teeth. The Twains lived here during his writing years (1874-1891) when he wrote the majority of his books. It was a 19-room darkly Victorian house with extensive stenciling on the walls after a Louis Comfort Tiffany design. Tiffany also did the stained glass next to the front door, and assisted in the interior decorating. There was a huge foyer with a telephone booth, a large drawing room, dining room, and a family room with a conservatory where plays were put on by the three daughters. We were amazed by the dumb questions and the apparent obsession of one visitor as to how the daughters died. There was a guest room with a bathroom on the first floor. The master bedroom had a large gaudy Venetian bed where supposedly Mark Twain slept with his head at the foot of the bed so he could admire the carved headboard and get his money’s worth. There was a bedroom for the mother-in-law, a nursery, and children’s bedrooms. Upstairs was where the butler slept, and there was a men’s guest room and a billiards room. Down in the basement was a small museum of memorabilia, a sculpture depicting Twain characters, and a huge Paige typesetter printer.
Mark Twain House detail
We left the Mark Twain House and headed to downtown Hartford, passing Bushnell Park and the State Capitol. We found a parking space next to the Civic Center Mall (1974), supposedly one of the most attractive urban malls in the country. It was certainly large and surrounded the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum (1975). Hartford was originally called Suckiag by the Indians, then founded by Puritan Thomas Hooker. Insurance is now the major business, and we had passed the Aetna Life Building (1931, designed by James Gamble Rogers in Colonial Revival style) that looked like a college. Also saw Hartford Fire Insurance Co. (1921 in Classical Revival style). We walked through the mall and got ice cream. We walked over to Bushnell Park, passing several people selling items from their cars. Bushnell Park has a fountain in the lake, ducks, and sleeping bums. Saw the working indoor carousel of 1914 with a Wurlitzer organ the Putnam statue, the large arch war memorial, but not the Washington Elm; just many horse chestnut trees.
Bushnell Park Carousel
Bushnell Park Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch
Above the park was the Gothic turreted State Capitol (1871-1878, designed by Richard M Upjohn with modifications by contractor James G Batterson) with a gold dome.
Connecticut State Capitol
with statue of Israel Putnam
State Capitol detail
Once a statue called the Genius of Connecticut stood atop the dome. We walked east to Main Street, tiptoeing across a rotary that was being repaired. We passed some unique state buildings. We saw the Hartford Public Library (1957, designed by Schutz and Goodwin) straddling the highway, and the Municipal Building (1915, by Davis and Brooks in Beaux-Arts style). There was an Alexander Calder sculpture called Stegosaurus (1973). It started to rain as we approached the castle-like Wadsworth Atheneum (1842-1844, designed by Alexander Jackson Davis and Ithiel Town), now an art museum.
Wadsworth Atheneum
The tall Woolworth-like building (1919 in Neoclassical Beaux-Arts style) of the Travelers Insurance Company was once the tallest in New England. Down the street was the Phoenix Mutual Building (1961-1963 in Modernist style), the only “two-sided building” in the world.
Phoenix Mutual Building
Across the street was the Center Church (1807) and Ancient Burying Ground (1640) which were reflected in the golden glass of the Bushnell Tower (1969, designed by I M Pei) next door.
Ancient Burying Ground reflected on Bushnell Tower   
We saw the Old State House (1792-1796, believed to be designed by Charles Bullfinch) and the Romanesque Cheney Building (1875-1876, designed by Henry Hobson Richardson), now called Richardson’s Mall. We returned to the Civic Center Mall, noting that the police were busy giving out parking tickets. We ate at Margharita’s, a Mexican restaurant in the mall. Most of the other customers were here for the Republican State Convention.

We drove back to Rhode Island to change and head to Barrington for Sergio’s going away party, held at Lilian H’ home. Even at 20-minutes late, we were one of the first arrivals. Others trickled in, and the PT department was well represented. Modern Brazilian music, some stolen from the US, was heard from speakers in an upstairs bedroom. Tables outside were spread with a generous buffet, and when Sergio came out, we began to eat! There was chicken and potatoes stewed in a spicy tomato-y broth, black beans and pork stewed with potatoes, a shrimp dish, potato salad, tossed green salad a salty beef and sausage dish, and dips for raw vegetables, nachos and corn chips. For dessert there was vanilla cake and a sweet concoction like flour drowned in Karo syrup (corn pudding?). The food was artfully laid out and there was plenty for the 80 or so guests. There were Elders from the Mormon Church, people with Down’s syndrome, and Portuguese people, but most of all Meeting Street School people!

Sunday, July 20, 1986

1986 Rocky Point (7/5/1986) and Rocky River (7/13-19/1986)

Saturday, July 5, 1986
We had Kyle yesterday for the Fourth of July concert at Roger Williams Park, and had to wait for Erich to be delivered this morning. We spent the morning looking for a mini-golf place. The one in Attleboro turned out to be a Pitch ‘n’ Putt. Then made three stops to buy a Megabucks ticket.
After lunch we were going to Rocky Point, and the kids were watching TV and did not seem ready to go when we first called them. So Kent and I dressed up as tourist nerds; he wore his shorts pulled down over his hips, high tube socks, cheap sneakers, a baseball cap and no shirt, with a camera around his neck. I stuffed my shorts to make them look tight and pulled them up to my crotch, stuffed my shirt so that my belly was exposed, and wore a head scarf. We went to ask Kyle and Erich if they were ready to go to Rocky Point now. At first they didn’t notice us! Then they asked why we were dressed that way…
We drove to Rocky Point and parked near what we thought was the entrance. We had to walk halfway around the park to the admission gate of the amusement park. Paid $1 for each adult (kids under 8 are free), then bought two $5.95 day passes for Kyle and Erich, and $3.75 worth of individual ride tickets for Kent and me. We first went to play mini-golf, which was an additional 95 cents each. Next the Alpine-like ride where the gondolas swung outward as you dipped and rose in a circle. The Flume required a long wait, especially since they stopped the ride a few times to bail out the logs. It was worth the wait as we zoomed down for the big splash at the end. Got soaking, dripping wet!
On to other rides, we let the kids go by themselves. We all went on a ride that we thought rocked upside down when you made it do so. We weren’t planning on making it go upside down, but when the ride started, over it went! No time to think about it! Everyone ended up enjoying it. The rides lasted a long time, longer than anyone’s attention span required! It was about 17:00 when we let the boys pick one more ride before leaving. I went to get a bag of clamcakes while the others got the car.

Sunday, July 13, 1986
Kent's parents were here for a visit since Tuesday, July 8. Now Kyle and Erich were going to Rocky River, OH with their grandparents, until July 19.
Erich, Bert, and Kyle at Cedar Pont
Kyle, Ada, and Erich at Jean L's pool
Saturday, July 19, 1986
Drove via the scenic routes of US 6 and CT 66, then I-84, I-380, I-81, and I-80 to Danville, PA, where we met Kyle and Erich with the grandparents at Best Western. Used the swimming pool until 17:30, then showers and dinner at Ben Franklin’s across the street. Kent’s dad treated. Later we played Frisbee until the sun set. One time the Frisbee sailed over a fence, and we had to toss Erich over to retrieve it, and haul him back over.

Sunday, July 20, 1986
We had the breakfast buffet, then left at 9:30 to head back to RI, while the grandparents headed back to Cleveland. In PA, we noticed the deer on the caution signs had red noses. In NJ, one MUST use a seat belt. Took I-80 to I-95, which is a few miles farther, but much faster.