We traveled to Enfield, Connecticut for a two day Door-to-Door with the Enfield Public Library. Enfield may be a small place, but the residents, many of whom are natives, told wonderful stories about their home. Perhaps no other participant remembered the many changes in Enfield like Ruth E. Maylott.
Ruth spoke to her very good friend, Mary Ellen, who brought a toy phone to represent the many telephone conversations the two have shared. Ruth remembers the Cottage Green, the area of Enfield in which she has spent almost all her life. Ruth described her diverse neighborhood with yummy smells emanating from Italian, English, and Irish households and the Cottage Green wedding traditions in which all the neighborhood women could get a sneak peek of the bride’s wedding day attire. Even today, all you need to say is, “She’s from the green,” and an Enfield resident knows exactly what you mean.
On our final day of interviews here in Hartford, WNPR Vice President Kim Grehn came to the booth to interview his wife Deb. Thanks so much to both of them for making our stay in Hartford so great and full of wonderful stories. And thanks for the lemon cake, too.
On Thursday, middle schoolers Kristen Echevarria and Bill Kehoe came to the booth to interview Connecticut’s Governor Jodi Rell. When asked what she did for fun when she was little, Gov. Rell said that she liked to ride her bike and roller skate. Her favorite things about Connecticut are the four different seasons and the fine universities, and her favorite music is light rock and roll.
Here, proud papas Jose Echevarria and John Kehoe eagerly await the group’s emergence from the soundproof recording studio.
A few drips from the Nor’ester seeped through our trusty Airstream. But on hands and knees, facilitator Sarah Geis handled it deftly.
As facilitator Pat Estess arrived to join the tour, the sun arrived too. Pat likes to think that she had something to do with it.
An even brighter moment occured at the end of a booth session between George Virdokian and Katie Cappalla. After sharing vivid, painful, and often poignant stories about his time working with the Red Cross during the civil war in Lebanon, George had a question for Katie: "Will you marry me?" As far as we know, this was the first proposal ever to occur in the East Booth. (And in case you are wondering, George got the answer he had hoped for).
Riverside Park in Downtown Hartford, about ten feet under. See the goal post?
When asked what is what like to be Joe Cornelio, Joe Cornelio replied "It’s like being Winnie the Pooh." Joe, who suffers simultaneously from paranoid schizophrenia and ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, tries to remain positive and clearly has a sense of humor.
He visited us with his two friends, Pam Wagner and Karen Romaniello, who find inspiration and courage in Joe’s story. Pam and Joe became "the most important person" in each other’s lives when they met in a psychiatric ward in the 80′s. Joe came to StoryCorps because he wanted to other people to know what it was like to live with both a mental illness and a terminal disease. We applaud your courage, Joe.
In 1944, Maureen Krekian, at age 11, walked a few blocks by herself to see the Flying Wallendas perform at the Barnum & Bailey circus in Hartford. Little did she know she would be at the center of the Hartford Circus Fire, the most tragic event in circus history. The event became known as the Day the Clowns Cried, as 168 people died as a result of the fire, whose cause is still debated.
Maureen barely escaped the flaming tent thanks to the heroics of a young man who slit the tent and pulled her out. She shared her story with her two daughters, Lynn and Joanne. Their whole family stopped by the booth on their way to an Easter feast, thankful for the unknown young man who saved Maureen’s life over 62 years ago.
It has been a fretful opening week for the East Booth in Hartford, CT. After a lovely reception hosted by local public radio station WNPR, facilitators Mitra Bonshahi and Ryan Murdock were both tried for witchcraft.
The booth’s site, Connecticut’s beautifully restored Old State House, was also the site of the Hartford Witch Trials, the lesser known precursors of the Salem Witch Trials. Lucky for us, the stocks are no longer in use; her true wickedness discovered, Mitra was only sent home to Brooklyn, to work in the New York booths. Ryan, pure of heart, was spared.
Listen in as departing facilitator Nick Pumilia reflects on his time on the road: