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From the pages of history


For many years, Lynne Turdin compiled “This Week in History” for the Record-Journal, which involved not only long hours of transcribing news items from blurry microfilm images of old pages, but also trudging down to the cobwebbed crypt where the paper clippings are kept. Although Lynne is no longer with us, I’d like to thank her for her efforts and present these timely items from her work:

MARCH 16, 110 Years Ago (1904): This winter will go down in history as one of the coldest ever experienced in Meriden. There were 34 snowstorms, the first occurring October 29 and the last on March 14. [Just in case anyone thought that long, cruel winters were something new, that year the snow season lasted from before Halloween to half-past March.]

MARCH 17, 135 Years Ago (1879): One can think of no valid reason why it should always storm on this particular day but it does and the light dawned this morning on a heavy snow storm. ... This looked bad for the procession but the Ancient Order of Hibernians are not frightened by a little mud and at the appointed time the procession began to form in front of Town Hall. After the line was formed, with an escort of police in front, the band second, followed by members of the Hibernian order and St. Rose’s T. A. B. society in uniforms and carrying banners, the procession moved through the principal streets, after which they returned to Town Hall. ... The day seems to be very generally observed by the Catholics. ... [Please note that “the Catholics” made sure to have the T.A.B. society — a total abstinence group — in their parade, probably to combat a certain stereotype about “the Irish.”]

MARCH 18, 135 Years Ago (1879): The flag which floated over Town Hall yesterday in honor of St. Patrick was found frozen to the flag-staff last night and consequently it had to remain there until it thawed out this morning.

MARCH 19, 60 Years Ago (1954): A 189-mile tramp along the route of the Old Chesapeake and Ohio canal from Cumberland, Md. to Washington, D.C. is being undertaken by a group of some 30 men led by Justice William O. Douglas of the U.S. Supreme Court. Among the party, which will leave early tomorrow morning from Cumberland, will be Warren F. Gardner, editor of The Record. [I always thought of Mr. Gardner as an ancient guy who used to work here, but apparently he was young once — only 45 back then.]

MARCH 20, 135 Years Ago (1879): The Y. M. C. A. have issued their new catalogue of the books in the library and copies are now ready for distribution. … There are 2,627 books in the library. … The growth of the Y. M. C. A. library has been rapid but the lamentable fact still remains that Meriden is still far behind other cities of its size in the matter of public libraries. [Not for too long: Augusta Curtis donated a building — now the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center — that served as the public library from 1902 to 1974.]

MARCH 28, 85 Years Ago (1929): Wallingford’s first aviation accident was a fortunate mishap for Lieutenant Charles F. Arnold, 25, pilot at the local airport, who escaped with minor injuries as the plane he was operating crashed upon landing on the South Plains field at 4:30 o’clock this afternoon. ... News of the accident spread throughout the town and several hundred persons were at the field before darkness to get a glimpse of the wrecked machine. ... [The good old days: no TV, no tweeting, just pure excitement.]

Reach Glenn Richter at grichter@record-journal.com.



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