Dominick Dunne, author and former Hollywood producer, dies at 83



Dominick Dunne, author and former Hollywood producer, dies at 83

By Elaine Woo, Los Angeles Times



He was notorious for his skewering accounts of the trials of celebrities including Claus von Bulow, the Menendez brothers and O.J. Simpson. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer last year. Dominick Dunne, the bestselling novelist and Vanity Fair writer who chronicled the misdeeds of the rich and famous with wicked glee -- most memorably in his highly personal accounts of the trials of Claus von Bulow, the Menendez brothers and O.J. Simpson -- died Wednesday at his home in New York City. He was 83.
The cause was bladder cancer, according to the Vanity Fair website, where his death was announced. Dunne had recovered from prostate cancer in 2001 but was diagnosed with bladder cancer last year. Although ill, he covered Simpson's recent armed robbery trial in Las Vegas, which resulted in a pronouncement of guilt -- a verdict that Dunne awaited for more than a decade.
Covering the last Simpson trial capped an extraordinary career that had bloomed from tragedy. Dunne was a television and film producer for two decades until drugs and alcohol ruined him. He had started life over as a writer when his daughter, Dominique, was slain in 1982.
Dunne wrote an article for Vanity Fair magazine that raged at the injustice of the crime and the leniency of the killer's punishment. The story propelled its author into a new career reporting from the intersection of celebrity, society and scandal. He filled the niche with panache, becoming, according to the Cambridge History of Law in America, "one of the nation's premier popular chroniclers of notorious criminal trials and lawsuits involving celebrities."
He wrote a column, "Dominick Dunne's Diary" and hosted a Court TV program, "Power, Privilege and Justice." His absorption with money and privilege led one writer to call him the "Boswell of the bluebloods," while another less charitable critic dubbed him "the Jacqueline Susann of journalism."
What was indisputable was that Dunne -- with his silver hair, tortoiseshell glasses and Turnbull & Asser finery -- became a celebrity in his own right, sympathizing with crime victims, skewering the perpetrators and riding in limousines to his front-row seat at their trials.
He unabashedly declared his belief that Simpson was guilty of the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Lyle Goldman. He disparaged Erik and Lyle Menendez, the handsome brothers convicted of shooting their parents to death at their Beverly Hills mansion. Dunne slyly dissected Phil Spector, the eccentric record producer convicted of murder this year, calling him "a drama queen, albeit straight."
When Dunne wasn't covering a sensational trial, he was writing intimate profiles of movie stars, socialites and newsmakers -- "the only person writing about high society from inside the aquarium," former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown once said. Many of his subjects were friends from his previous life, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Gloria Vanderbilt. Others were highly placed friends of friends, such as former Philippines First Lady Imelda Marcos, who gave him an exclusive interview shortly after she and her husband took up life in exile, and Lily Safra, the international jet-setter whose banker-husband Edmond was killed in a suspicious fire.
Like Truman Capote, another social chronicler, Dunne often bit the well-manicured hands that fed him. A friend of Alfred and Betsy Bloomingdale of the department store fortune, he turned Alfred's relationship with his mistress, Vicki Morgan, into a roman a clef, "An Inconvenient Woman" (1990). Similarly, Dunne, who had been a guest at the 1950 wedding of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel, turned his theories about the culpability of Ethel's nephew, Michael Skakel, in a long-unsolved slaying into another novel, "A Season in Purgatory" (1993). Skakel ultimately was tried and convicted. His cousin, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., blamed Dunne for the conviction and told talk show host Larry King that the writer was "not a journalist. He's a gossip columnist."
If, as Capote said, all literature is gossip, Dunne was a believer. He loved to "dish," giving rumor equal time with news in his Vanity Fair reports. His story on the Safra slaying, for instance, was an engrossing brew of fact and rank speculation as only Dunne could produce. He repeated hearsay and used unnamed sources liberally, such as a "well-connected woman once married to a prominent figure in the film world" or "a waiter serving me risotto" at a dinner party. Dunne had everyone whispering in his ear.
His willingness to entertain nearly any source made him the target of an $11-million defamation lawsuit by former California Rep. Gary Condit after Dunne told a bizarre, unsubstantiated story on national television and radio programs that implicated Condit in the 2001 disappearance of Washington intern Chandra Levy. He apologized to Condit and paid an undisclosed sum to settle the lawsuit in 2005.
Born Oct. 29, 1925, he was the second of six children in a wealthy Hartford, Conn., family. One of his brothers was John Gregory Dunne, the late screenwriter and novelist who was married to another literary celebrity, Joan Didion.
His early life was marked by a poor relationship with his father, a prominent heart surgeon, who belittled his son for being a sissy. Dunne himself professed astonishment when he earned a Bronze Star during World War II for rescuing a wounded soldier at the Battle of the Bulge.
After earning his bachelor's degree at Williams College in Massachusetts in 1949, he moved to New York and found work as a stage manager for the "Howdy Doody Show" and later for "Robert Montgomery Presents."
In 1954, he married Ellen Griffin, an heiress. They had two sons, Griffin and Alexander, in addition to Dominique. Two children, both girls, died within days of being born. Ellen Griffin Dunne, from whom he was divorced in 1965, died in 1997. He is survived by his sons and a granddaughter, Hannah.
In 1957, Dunne moved to Los Angeles to work on the CBS showcase "Playhouse 90." Two years later he was executive producer of the ABC drama "Adventures in Paradise."
By 1970, he was producing films. His credits include "The Boys in the Band" (1970), "The Panic in Needle Park" (1971), "Play It as It Lays" (1972) -- based on the Didion novel of the same name -- and "Ash Wednesday" (1973).
He and his wife hosted lavish parties at their Beverly Hills home, most notably a black-and-white ball for their 10th wedding anniversary in 1964 with a guest list that included Nancy and Ronald Reagan, Natalie Wood, David Niven, Billy Wilder, Gina Lollobrigida and Capote, whose fame was about to peak as the author of "In Cold Blood." The party inspired Capote to give his own black-and-white ball two years later at New York's Plaza Hotel, a legendary affair that included 500 of the biggest names in literature, Hollywood and society. "He didn't invite us," Dunne noted whenever he told the story.
Another favorite Dunne story took place at the Daisy, a Rodeo Drive club popular with the Hollywood set. He was dining there one night in the 1960s when Frank Sinatra, with whom he'd had a testy relationship, paid a waiter to punch him in the face.
Although Dunne led a famous person's life, he felt like an impostor whose success did not match that of his peers. "Within me, I knew I would never be a first-rate producer. I wasn't tough enough," he wrote in Vanity Fair's 25th anniversary issue last October. His social ambitions ruined his marriage, and he began drinking excessively and abusing drugs. In 1969, he was arrested for possession of marijuana.
The final act in his self- destruction was when he told an offensive joke about the powerful Hollywood agent Sue Mengers and the Hollywood Reporter printed it. That was when he knew that "my demise as a film producer was imminent." He had no more work and was so broke he sold his dog.
"When you're down and out, there's no meaner place to live than Hollywood. You can get away with your embezzlements and your lies and your murders, but you can never get away with failing," Dunne said years later.
In 1979, he left Hollywood and drove to Oregon. He decided to stay, stopped drinking and using drugs, and contemplated his failures. One night he went to bed with a knife beside him, intending to kill himself, only to be jarred awake by a phone call telling him that his youngest brother, Stephen, had committed suicide.
After his brother's funeral, Dunne decided to start over in New York as a writer. He had gotten the idea a few years earlier, after a chance encounter in the Beverly Hills Hotel with a Washington Post writer who went to college with Stephen. The reporter came to Los Angeles to investigate reports that David Begelman, then head of Columbia Pictures, had been embezzling funds by forging the signatures of some of its top stars -- most notably Cliff Robertson -- on studio checks. No one in Hollywood would return the reporter's calls so he asked for Dunne's help.
"Nothing could have pleased me more," Dunne recalled in his 1999 memoir, "The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper." "I knew all the players. I knew all the phone numbers. I knew everyone's back story. And I was furious that I had become a reject." He found the investigative work exhilarating and told himself that he "could do what these reporters do."
His first assignment was to write "The Winners," a sequel to gossip columnist Joyce Haber's popular novel "The Users." Released in 1982, it was poorly reviewed but for Dunne it wasn't a bad start. Then came the tragedy that would define the second half of his life: His actress-daughter, Dominique, 22, was strangled by her boyfriend, John Sweeney, a chef at a tony West Hollywood restaurant.
The day before Dunne flew to Los Angeles for Sweeney's trial, he attended a dinner party where he met Brown, who had just taken over as editor of Vanity Fair. She asked him to keep a journal during the trial and come see her when it was over. "If I hadn't kept that journal, as Tina suggested, I would have gone mad," Dunne later wrote. "What I saw in the courtroom filled me with the kind of rage that only writing about it could quell."
The 1984 article that his journal became, "Justice: A Father's Account of the Trial of His Daughter's Killer," was a powerfully dry-eyed indictment of the legal proceedings that found Sweeney guilty of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.
Dunne signed a long-term contract with Vanity Fair but also tackled fiction again, this time producing a bestseller, "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" (1985), based on the sensational Woodward murder case in 1955. His last novel, "Too Much Money," is scheduled for release in December.
"He was unique," veteran Associated Press trial reporter Linda Deutsch told The Times recently. "He always said, 'I'm for the victims.' "
Dunne wore his sympathy for victims of heinous crimes like a badge of honor. "I made no pretense of doing balanced reporting about murder," he wrote in his memoir. "I was appalled by defense attorneys who would do anything to win an acquittal for a guilty person."
He reported the juicy details that others ignored -- how Menendez defense lawyer Leslie Abramson strode down a courthouse corridor giving the finger to the swarm of photographers following her and how fans sent bouquets to Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark. He also was a wily analyst of character, revealing mores, conceits and other flaws through well-observed details and scenes in which he was as much a participant as a reporter.
After Von Bulow's acquittal in a 1985 retrial on charges he attempted to kill his wife with insulin injections, Dunne interviewed the aristocratic former defendant at the opulent apartment on New York's Fifth Avenue that he was then sharing with the woman Dunne described as his "self-proclaimed" mistress, Andrea Reynolds. In a surreal scene, Dunne found himself following Reynolds into Sunny von Bulow's former bedroom, where Reynolds had expensive garments laid out on the bed. It seemed to Dunne the appropriate moment to ask about the rumors he'd heard: Was it true that as Sunny Von Bulow lay unconscious in a nursing facility Reynolds wore her clothes and jewels?
"Not true!" she told Dunne. "I have far better jewels than Sunny von Bulow ever had."
Dunne's stories were filled with revelations such as these. "He was a great listener," said New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin, who became friends with Dunne during the first Simpson trial. "People just loved to talk to him."
When the Simpson trial opened in 1995, Dunne's sympathy for the victims was so well-known that Judge Lance Ito assigned him a front-row seat in the courtroom. Reporters for major newspapers, including The Times, were relegated to the rear. One annoyed reporter called Dunne "Judith Krantz in pants."
Privileged or not, Dunne worked very hard, always arriving at the courthouse early and recording every wink and nod. Dunne's insider accounts of the Simpson trial for Vanity Fair and commentaries on Court TV elevated him to a new echelon of celebrity. He covered the proceedings by day and dined out on them at night, entertaining the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Nancy Reagan and Princess Diana with stories from the so-called trial of the century. "O.J. Simpson improved my social position," he told USA Today in 1997. His obsession with the case inspired “Another City, Not My Own” (1997), a "novel in the form of a memoir" based on his involvement in the Simpson murder trial.
Dunne felt it was fitting that Simpson's armed robbery trial should be the last one he would cover. The octogenarian attended the trial against doctors' orders, unable to resist what promised to be the final curtain in a protracted saga.
"I've lived this very dramatic life, with high points and terrible low points," he told a London paper as the trial drew to a close. "Nothing has been ordinary, and I want to have the experience of the last breath. I want a little drama to it. I don't want to die under anesthesia. I'd rather be shot to death in the Plaza or Monte Carlo by Lily Safra. I want something in the papers."

Gene Pitney


Gene Pitney hailed from Hartford but grew up in Vernon. Not only was Pitney a future member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2002), he was an accomplished songwriter, guitarist, pianist, and sound engineer. Pitney enjoyed much success as a performer, cranking out more than twenty Top 40 hits at a time when most other American acts were being pushed aside by the British Invasion.

He didn’t fight the trend, he joined it by working on several of the earliest recordings of the Rolling Stones. Pitney’s first hit came in 1961 with “Town Without Pity” from the film of the same name. He sang it at the Academy Awards ceremony, being the first pop singer to perform at the event.

His hits as a singer or songwriter continued with a vengeance. He can count the following as his own (as a writer or singer): “He’s A Rebel,” “Hello Mary Lou,” “Rubber Ball,” Today’s Teardrops,” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” He even gave songwriters Mick Jagger and Keith Richards their first Top 10 hit with his version of “That Girl Belongs To Yesterday.”

Pitney continued to record and perform throughout the rest of his life until he died of natural causes in his hotel room while on a tour of the UK in 2006. He was 66.

Noted in passing


Jack Lawrence (96) former podiatrist who wrote lyrics for songs, many of which became hits. Lawrence's biggest hits include "If I Didn't Care" (1939; first hit for the Ink Spots), "All or Nothing at All" (1943; No. 1 song for Frank Sinatra and the Harry James Orchestra), "Linda" (1947; commissioned by Lee Eastman, father of Linda Eastman, who grew up to marry Beatle Paul McCartney), and "Tenderly" (1947; a hit for Sarah Vaughan and Rosemary Clooney). Lawrence died of renal failure and complications from a fall, in Danbury, Connecticut on March 15, 2009.


Michael V. O'Hare (73) bookkeeper to former US Sen. Thomas J. Dodd (D-Conn., d. 1971), a whistle-blower whom the senator mainly held to blame in a case that ultimately led the Senate to censure Dodd, father of current Sen. Chris Dodd, in 1967 for using campaign money for his personal benefit. O’Hare died of a stroke in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on March 15, 2009.


Dave Mahan (61) member of an investors' group that owned 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide. Mahan was a Waterbury caterer and a principal of Sackatoga Stable. He owned a 20% interest in Funny Cide, the first New York-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby—and the first gelding since Clyde van Dusen in 1929. Mahan suffered from a brain tumor and had been hospitalized since Dec. 26. He died in Waterbury, Connecticut on January 14, 2009.

Hiram Bingham III



Hiram Bingham III, (November 19, 1875 – June 6, 1956) was an academic, explorer and politician. He rediscovered the Inca settlement of Machu Picchu in 1911. Later, Bingham served as a member of the United States Senate.Bingham is descended from Deacon Thomas Bingham who had come to the American colonies in 1650 and settled in Connecticut



Bingham was born in Honolulu, Hawai'i, to Hiram Bingham II (1831–1908), an early Protestant missionary to the Kingdom of Hawai'i, the grandson of Hiram Bingham I (1789–1869), another missionary. He attended O'ahu College, now known as Punahou School in Hawai'i from 1882 to 1892. He went to the United States in his teens in order to complete his education, entering Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, from which he graduated in 1894.



He obtained a degree from Yale University in 1898, a degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1900, and a degree from Harvard University in 1905. While at Yale, Bingham was a member of Acacia Fraternity. He taught history and politics at Harvard and then served as preceptor under Woodrow Wilson at Princeton University. In 1907, Yale University appointed Bingham III as a lecturer in South American history.




Bingham was not a trained archaeologist. Yet, it was during Bingham's time as a lecturer – later professor – at Yale that he discovered the largely forgotten Inca city of Machu Picchu. In 1908, he had served as delegate to the First Pan American Scientific Congress at Santiago, Chile. On his way home via Peru, a local prefect convinced him to visit the pre-Columbian city of Choquequirao. Bingham published an account of this trip in Across South America; an account of a journey from Buenos Aires to Lima by way of Potosí, with notes on Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru (1911).






Bingham was thrilled by the prospect of unexplored Inca cities, and in 1911 returned to the Andes with the Yale Peruvian Expedition of 1911. On 24 July 1911, Melchor Arteaga led Bingham to Machu Picchu, which had been largely forgotten by everybody except the small number of people living in the immediate valley (possibly including two local missionaries named Thomas Payne and Stuart McNairn whose descendants claim that they had already climbed to the ruins in 1906).

Bingham returned to Peru in 1912 and 1915 with the support of Yale and the National Geographic Society. Machu Picchu has become one of the major tourist attractions in South America, and Bingham is recognized as the man who brought the site to world attention, although many others helped to bring this site into the public eye. The switchback-filled road that carries tourist buses to the site from the Urubamba River is called the Hiram Bingham Highway.





Bingham has been cited as one possible basis for the 'Indiana Jones' character, His book Lost City of the Incas became a bestseller upon its publication in 1948. Peru has long sought the return of the estimated 40,000 artifacts, including mummies, ceramics and bones, Bingham had removed from the Machu Picchu site. On September 14 2007, an agreement was made between Yale University and the Peruvian government for the return of the objects. though on April 12, 2008 the Peruvian government stated that they had revised previous estimates of 4,000 pieces up to 40,000.

Soon after Bingham announced the existence of Machu Picchu others came forward claiming to have seen the city first, such as the British missionary Thomas Payne and a German engineer named J. M. von Hassel.[4] Recent discoveries have put forth a new claimant, a German named Augusto Berns who bought land opposite the Machu Picchu mountain in the 1860s and then tried to raise money from investors to plunder nearby Incan ruins. An 1874 map shows the site of Machu Picchu

Bingham achieved the rank of captain of the Connecticut National Guard in 1916. In 1917, he became an aviator and organized the United States Schools of Military Aeronautics. He served the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps and the Air Service, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel. In Issoudun, France, Bingham commanded the primary Air Service flying school.

In 1922, Bingham was elected Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut, an office he held until 1924.
In November 1924, he was elected Governor. On December 16, 1924, Bingham was also elected as a Republican to serve in the United States Senate to fill a vacancy created by the suicide of Frank Bosworth Brandegee. Bingham defeated noted educator Hamilton Holt by a handy margin. Now both Governor-elect and Senator-elect, Bingham served as Governor for one day, the shortest term of any Connecticut Governor.
Bingham was re-elected to a full six-year term in the Senate in 1926.

Senator Bingham was Chairman of the Committee on Printing and then Chairman of the Committee on Territories and Insular Possessions. President Calvin Coolidge appointed Bingham to the President's Aircraft Board during his first term in the Senate; the press quickly dubbed the ex-explorer "The Flying Senator".



Bingham failed in his second reelection effort in the wake of the 1932 Democratic landslide following the Great Depression and left the Senate at the end of his second term in 1933. During World War II, Bingham lectured at several United States Navy training schools. In 1951, Bingham was appointed Chairman of the Civil Service Commission Loyalty Review Board, an assignment he kept through 1953

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee investigated an arrangement between Bingham, his clerk, and a lobbyist who agreed to pass information on to Bingham's office after executing a plan that was irregular, "even by the standards of his day." Bingham took his clerk off duty, and paid his salary to the lobbyist, thus allowing him to attend as a Senate staffer to closed meetings of the Finance Committee's deliberations on tariff legislation.

The initial ruling of the Judiciary Subcommittee was a condemnation of Bingham's scheme; but recommended no formal Senate action. Subsequently, Bingham decided to label the subcommittee's inquiry as a partisan witch hunt, provoking further Senate interest which eventually lead to a Resolution of Censure that passed on November 4, 1929, by a vote of 54 to 22 On June 6, 1956, Bingham died at his Washington, D.C. home. He was interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia

Delia Bacon



Actual historical evidence of the man William Shakespeare is meager and seems incongruous with the language and the art of the plays and sonnets attributed to his hand. Delia Bacon was one of the earliest to speculate publicly that the author and William Shakespeare might be two different people.

Could the man whose will mentions disposition of his second-best bed be the same man who adapted stories found only in Italian or Latin, who knew details of a 1580 visit of Marguerite de Valois and Catherine de Medici to Henry of Navarre's court?

Delia Bacon was born in Ohio and moved to Connecticut where she studied at Catherine Beecher's girls' school. She taught school for some years, unsuccessfully tried to start her own school, published a book, Tales of the Puritans, and a play, The Bride of Fort Edward, and had some success as a paid lecturer.

An affair with a minister led Delia Bacon to withdraw into private study and reading. She came to the conclusion that Shakespeare's writings were not the product of the "stupid, ignorant, third-rate player," in her words, but of a group of writers including Sir Walter Raleigh, Edmund Spenser, and most prominently, Francis Bacon.

Delia Bacon argued that the political content of the plays and even the sonnets made it safer for these notables to attribute the writing to the actor whose name was Shakspear (he spelled it differently in different records, but never signed his name "Shakespeare.")

Encouraged to pursue her theory by Ralph Waldo Emerson but few others, she traveled to England for further research. Nathaniel Hawthorne at one point rescued her from poverty and then helped her to publish her theories in The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare Unfolded (1857).

Almost immediately after the book came out, Delia Bacon, in the words of contemporaries, "went insane," and was returned to the United States. She died in Connecticut in 1859.

While Bacon's book was treated primarily as a crackpot theory and literary novelty, it opened up speculation into the authorship of Shakespeare's writings. That speculation continues today, although Delia Bacon's theory centering on Francis Bacon has met with considerable counter-evidence. The current "leading suspect" is, instead, Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford.

Stubby




World War I Canine Military Hero, College Football Mascot. He was America's first canine hero gaining this distinction during military service in France doing World War I.



Little is known about the scrawny stray puppy, a brown and white American pit bull terrier, until during mobilization of Connecticut National Guard units for deployment to Europe at the start of World War. He simply wandered into their encampment at Yale University in 1916 attaching himself to Private John Conroy.

The men were enamored by the animal and he soon became the Official mascot. The unit became the 102nd Infantry Regiment and shipped out for France aboard the troop ship S.S. Minnesota and with them the bull terrier, now known as Stubby, because of his short tail, having been smuggled on the ship in Private Conroy's overcoat. The young pit bull was oblivious to the noise of battle and quickly began to prove his mettle.




For eighteen months, Stubby carried messages under fire, stood sentry duty and helped paramedics find the wounded in "no man's land." He gave early warning of deadly gas attacks and then a little gas mask fashioned by the men of the 102nd was affixed.

He found and help capture a German spy who was mapping a layout of the Allied trenches. He received the honorary rank of Sergeant for his actions. When seriously wounded by shrapnel, he was sent to the Red Cross hospital for surgery. Once recovered, he was given the Purple Heart and promptly returned to his regiment for duty.

After the battle for the French village of Domremy, news of the little dog's heroism became known to the townspeople. The women prepared a hand-sewn chamois coat decorated with Allied flags and his name stitched in gold thread. The coat became his recognized trademark, becoming a depository for his service chevrons, medals, pins and buttons which he wore at parades for the rest of his life.

In the post war, Stubby literally led the "good dogs life." Starting with a Victory Parade in France, as the 102nd passed in review, the little dog in the lead, stopped, raising his right paw to his face and giving his trademark salute, taught to him by regimental members, to a delighted President Woodrow Wilson in the reviewing stand.

He was made a lifetime member of the American legion and marched in every legion parade and attended every legion convention from the end of the war until his death. He met three presidents of the United States, Wilson, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge and was a lifetime member of the Red Cross and YMCA where he stayed frequently while being fed royally.

He regularly hit the campaign trail, recruiting members for the American Red Cross and selling victory bonds. He was personally decorated for valor by General John J. Pershing in a post-war ceremony with a gold hero dog's medal that was commissioned by the Humane Society.

The Plush Grand Hotel Majestic in New York City lifted its ban on dogs and Stubby stayed there many times en route from John Conroy's residence in New Briton, Connecticut, to one of many visits to Washington. In 1921, Conroy along with Stubby, headed to Georgetown to enroll in law school.

The dog became a practicing Hoya serving several terms as mascot to the football team. Between halves, the dog would nudge a football around the field with his nose, to the delight of the crowd.

His performance is deemed the inspiration which started elaborate half time shows at football games across the country. Stubby spent his final years with John Conroy, his acknowledged master, who had rescued him so many years ago.

Upon his death on April 4 in the arms of John, from symptoms of a very old dog, the remains were preserved with technical assistance from the Smithsonian Institution. Then Stubby, his medals and personal effects were donated to the Smithsonian and then loaned with his medal-encrusted blanket to the National Red Cross Museum where the mounting was displayed for years. Stubby became shabby and the preservation was returned in 1956 to the Smithsonian where it was placed in storage.

It was resurrected a few years ago, refurbished and loaned to the State of Connecticut which featured the war hero at a statewide dog show. He is now on temporary display in the Hartford Armory, Hartford, Connecticut. Legacy...The bull terrier's fame was recaptured on April 1, 2001 when he was featured prominently, his photo on the cover and a story inside about military dogs in "Parade" the Sunday insert magazine placed in leading newspapers across America.

In 1978, he was the subject of a children's book titled "Stubby: Brave Soldier Dog." The bravery, loyalty and military usefulness of Stubby was instrumental in the creation of the U.S. "K9 Corps" during World War II. In 1925, he had his portrait painted by Charles Ayer Whipple who was the artist to the capital in Washington, D.C. and currently hangs in the 102nd Regimental Museum in New Haven. He tried his paw in show business appearing in a series of vaudeville shows during 1919 with Mary Pickford.

He is buried inside the Hartford Armory

Tapping Reeve


Reevewas the founder the first formal law school in America. In 1772, he set up a law practice in Litchfield, Connecticut. The following year he commenced teaching law to his first student Aaron Burr, who also was his brother-in-law. Demand for his expertise increased to the point Reeve needed to construct a one room school house next to his home in 1784. This school became known as Litchfield Law School.

He hired his former student James Gould in 1798 as his associate, and the two would command one of the most prestigious schools in the country until Reeve retired in 1820. Gould remained there until 1830, and the school closed in 1833.

Among the other notable students of the school were Vice President John C. Calhoun, 101 United States Congressmen, 28 United States Senators, 6 Presidential Cabinet Members, 3 Justices of the United States Supreme Court, and 14 State Governors.

The current poet laureate of Connecticut


John Hollander was born in New York City on October 28, 1929. He attended Columbia and Indiana Universities and was a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows of Harvard University.

He is the author of more than a dozen volumes of poetry, including Picture Window (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003), Figurehead: And Other Poems (1999), Tesserae (1993), Selected Poetry (1993), Harp Lake (1988), Powers of Thirteen (1983), Spectral Emanations (1978), Types of Shape (1969), and A Crackling of Thorns (1958), which was chosen by W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets.

His seven books of criticism include: The Work of Poetry (1997), Melodious Guile (1988), The Figure of Echo (1981), Rhyme's Reason (1981), Vision and Resonance (1975), Images of Voice (1970), and The Untuning of the Sky (1961).

He has edited numerous books, among them Committed to Memory: 100 Best Poems to Memorize (The Academy of American Poets and Books & Co./Turtle Point Press, 1996); The Gazer's Spirit (1995); Poems Bewitched and Haunted (2005); Animal Poems (1994); The Library of America's two-volume anthology Nineteenth Century American Poetry (1993); The Essential Rossetti (1990); Poems of Our Moment (1968); Selected Poems of Ben Jonson (1961); and The Wind and the Rain: An Anthology of Poems for Young People (with Harold Bloom, 1961). He was co-editor of The Oxford Anthology of English Literature (1973) and Jiggery-Pokery: A Compendium of Double Dactyls (with Anthony Hecht, 1967).

He has also written books for children and has collaborated on operatic and lyric works with such composers as Milton Babbitt, George Perle, and Hugo Weisgall.

About his early work, the critic Harold Bloom said, "Hollander's expressive range and direct emotional power attain triumphant expression. I am moved to claim for these poems a vital place in that new Expressionistic mode that begins to sound like the poetry of the Seventies that matters, and that will survive us."

Hollander's many honors include the Bollingen Prize, the Levinson Prize, and the MLA Shaughnessy Medal, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and the current poet laureate of Connecticut, he has taught at Connecticut College, Hunter College, the CUNY Graduate Center, and Yale, where is currently the Sterling Professor emeritus of English.


The Ninth of July
by John Hollander


In 1939 the skylark had nothing to say to me
As the June sunset splashed rose light on the broad sidewalks
And prophesied no war after the end of that August;
Only, midway between playing ball in Manhattan and Poland
I turned in my sleep on Long Island, groped in the dark of July,
And found my pillow at last down at the foot of my bed.
Through the window near her bed, brakes gasped on Avenue B
In 1952; her blonde crotch shadowed and silent
Lay half-covered by light, while the iced tea grew warm,
Till the last hollow crust of icecuhe cracked to its death in the glass.
The tea was hot on the cold hilltop in the moonlight
While a buck thrashed through the gray ghosts of burnt-out trees
And Thomas whispered of the S.S. from inside his sleeping-bag.
Someone else told a tale of the man who was cured of a hurt by the bears.
The bathtub drain in the Old Elberon house gucked and snorted
When the shadows of graying maples fell across the lawn:
The brown teddybear was a mild comfort because of his silence,
And I gazed at the porthole ring made by the windowshade
String, hanging silently, seeing a head and shoulders emerge
From the burning Morro Castle I’d seen that afternoon.
The rock cried out “I’m burning, too” as the drying heat
Entered its phase of noon over the steep concrete
Walls along Denver’s excuse for a river: we read of remote
Bermudas, and gleaming Neal spat out over the parapet.
In the evening in Deal my b.b. rifle shattered a milkbottle
While the rhododendrons burned in the fading light. The tiny
Shot-sized hole in the bathhouse revealed the identical twats
Of the twins from over the hill. From over the hill on the other
Side of the lake a dark cloud turretted over the sunset;
Another lake sank to darkness on the other side of the hill,
Lake echoing lake in diminishing pools of reflection.
A trumpet blew Taps. While the drummer’s foot boomed on the grandstand
The furriers’ wives by the pool seemed to ignore the accordion
Playing “Long Ago and Far Away.” None of the alewives
Rose to our nightcrawlers, wiggling on the other side of the mirror.
She was furrier under the darkness of all the blanketing heat
Than I’d thought to find her, and the bathroom mirror flashed
White with the gleam of a car on seventy-second street.
We lay there just having died; the two of us, vision and flesh,
Contraction and dream, came apart, while the fan on the windowsill
Blew a thin breeze of self between maker and muse, dividing
Fusing of firework, love’s old explosion and outburst of voice.


This is the time most real: for unreeling time there are no
Moments, there are no points, but only the lines of memory
Streaking across the black film of the mind’s night.
But here in the darkness between two great explosions of light,
Midway between the fourth of July and the fourteenth,
Suspended somewhere in summer between the ceremonies
Remembered from childhood and the historical conflagrations
Imagined in sad, learned youth—somewhere there always hangs
The American moment.
Burning, restless, between the deed
And the dream is the life remembered: the sparks of Concord were mine
As I lit a cherry-bomb once in a glow of myth
And hurled it over the hedge. The complexities of the Terror
Were mine as my poring eyes got burned in the fury of Europe
Discovered in nineteen forty-two. On the ninth of July
I have been most alive; world and I, in making each other
As always, make fewer mistakes.
The gibbous, historical moon
Records our nights with an eye neither narrowed against the brightness
Of nature, nor widened with awe at the clouds of the life of the mind.
Crescent and full, knowledge and touch commingled here
On this dark bed, window flung wide to the cry of the city night,
We lie still, making the poem of the world that emerges from shadows.


Doing and then having done is having ruled and commanded
A world, a self, a poem, a heartbeat in the moonlight.

To imagine a language means to imagine a form of life.



For “Fiddle-de-de”
“What’s the French for fiddle-de-dee?” “Fiddle-de-dee’s not English,” Alice replied gravely. “Whoever said it was,” said the Red queen ...
by John Hollander

What’s the French for “fiddle-de-dee”?
But “fiddle-de-dee’s not English” (we
Learn from Alice, and must agree).
The “Fiddle” we know, but what’s from “Dee”?
Le chat assis in an English tree?


—Well, what’s the French for “fiddle-de-dench”?
(That is to say, for “monkey wrench”)
—Once in the works, it produced a stench


What’s the Greek for “fiddle-de-dex”?
(That is to say, for “Brekekekex”)
—The frog-prince turned out to be great at sex.


What’s the Erse for “fiddle-de-derse”?
(That is to say, for “violent curse”?)
—Bad cess to you for your English verse!


What’s the Malay for “fiddle-de-day”?
(That is to say, for “That is to say ...”)
—...[There are no true synonyms, anyway ...]


What’s the Pali for “fiddle-de-dally”?
(That is to say, for “Silicon Valley”)
—Maya deceives you: the Nasdaq won’t rally.


What’s the Norwegian for “fiddle-de-degian”?
(That is to say, for “His name is Legion”)
—This aquavit’s known in every region.


What’s the Punjabi for “fiddle-de-dabi”?
(That is to say, for “crucifer lobby”)
—They asked for dall but were sent kohl-rabi.


What’s the Dutch for “fiddle-de-Dutch”?
(That is to say, for “overmuch”)
—Pea-soup and burghers and tulips and such.


What’s the Farsi for “fiddle-de-darsi?”
(That is to say for “devote yourself”—“darsi”
In Italian—the Irish would spell it “D’Arcy”)


Well, what’s the Italian for “fiddle-de-dallion”?
(That is to say, for “spotted stallion”)
—It makes him more randy to munch on a scallion.


Having made so free with “fiddle-de-dee,”
What’s to become now of “fiddle-de-dum”?
—I think I know. But the word’s still mum.


The Night Mirror
by John Hollander

What it showed was always the same—
A vertical panel with him in it,
Being a horrible bit of movement
At the edge of knowledge, overhanging
The canyons of nightmare. And when the last
Glimpse was enough—his grandmother,
Say, with a blood-red face, rising
From her Windsor chair in the warm lamplight
To tell him something—he would scramble up,
Waiting to hear himself shrieking, and gain
The ledge of the world, his bed, lit by
The pale rectangle of window, eclipsed
By a dark shape, but a shape that moved
And saw and knew and mistook its reflection
In the tall panel on the closet door
For itself. The silver corona of moonlight
That gloried his glimpsed head was enough
To send him back into silences (choosing
Fear in those chasms below), to reject
Freedom of wakeful seeing, believing
And feeling, for peace and the bondage of horrors
Welling up only from deep within
That dark planet head, spinning beyond
The rim of the night mirror’s range, huge
And cold, on the pillow’s dark side.


Adam’s Task
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field ... GEN. 2:20
by John Hollander

Thou, paw-paw-paw; thou, glurd; thou, spotted
Glurd; thou, whitestap, lurching through
The high-grown brush; thou, pliant-footed,
Implex; thou, awagabu.


Every burrower, each flier
Came for the name he had to give:
Gay, first work, ever to be prior,
Not yet sunk to primitive.


Thou, verdle; thou, McFleery’s pomma;
Thou; thou; thou—three types of grawl;
Thou, flisket; thou, kabasch; thou, comma-
Eared mashawk; thou, all; thou, all.


Were, in a fire of becoming,
Laboring to be burned away,
Then work, half-measuring, half-humming,
Would be as serious as play.


Thou, pambler; thou, rivarn; thou, greater
Wherret, and thou, lesser one;
Thou, sproal; thou, zant; thou, lily-eater.
Naming’s over. Day is done.

The origins of Yankee Doodle



Yankee Doodle" is a well-known British song, the origin of which dates back to the Seven Years' War. It has been widely adopted in the United States and is often sung patriotically today. It is the state anthem of Connecticut.



There are lots of versions comprising hundreds of stanzas. Maybe one of them refers to London, but I'm betting you're thinking of a different song altogether--more on that in a moment. First, though, some background on the song and the misconceptions surrounding it.



The origins of the words and music of "Yankee Doodle" aren't known exactly, despite massive scholarly research. They appear to be pretty old. Some trace it to a Spanish sword dance, others to Dutch peasant song or a work song from the French vineyards, or to a tune from the Basques or the Hungarians or the Irish. Perhaps the most likely origin is an English nursery rhyme, "Lucy Locket."



Regardless of its origin, we know that the British used the tune to insult Americans before the Revolutionary War. A popular story traces the origin of the song back to the French and Indian War (roughly the 1750s) and a Dr. Richard Shuckburgh, a British army physician. He was so amused at the sight of the disheveled and ragged colonial soldiers that he allegedly decided to mock them by setting some nonsense lyrics to a familiar English tune. "Yankee" of course refers to New Englanders; the origin of "Doodle" is unknown. Which words were used originally isn't known, since none made their way into print until much later, and as I say there were many versions.

The British had a pretty superior attitude towards the colonists, so it's not surprising that the song (whatever its origin) was popular with British troops. They used it to taunt the colonists for the next twenty years, sometimes by singing it loudly outside church services. The first attention in the press was in 1768 when the Boston Journal of the Times commented about a British band that "that 'Yankee Doodle' song was the Capital Piece of their band music." Parodies appeared as early as 1770.

Again, we do not know the lyrics at that time, but a sheet music version was published in London in 1775 (the subtitle says "NB. The Words to be Sung thru the Nose, & in the West Country drawl & dialect"). These lyrics are thought to have been derived from earlier narrative versions that might have been sung as early as the 1740s or 50s, but there is no surviving documentation. The 1775 version begins:

Brother Ephraim sold his Cow
And bought him a Commission;
And then he went to Canada
To fight for the Nation;
But when Ephraim he came home
He proved an arrant Coward,
He wou'dn't fight the Frenchmen there
For fear of being devour'd.

If that's an example of what the British sang during the occupation of Boston in 1768, I'm not surprised to learn that the tune alone, without the words, would have been offensive to the colonists, who were proud of their brave showing in Canada.

Still, there was no denying "Yankee Doodle" was a catchy tune. In 1767, the melody appeared in an early American comic opera, The Disappointment, as a nonpolitical, slightly naughty ditty. During the Revolutionary War, the Americans appropriated the tune and embraced it, making it their own, turning the insult into a celebration of their defiance. A newpaper account about a month after the fighting at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, reported that "Yankee Doodle" was played by the fife and drums; and added with glee, "Upon their return to Boston [pursued by the Minutemen], one [Briton] asked his brother officer how he liked the tune now,-- 'D--n them,' returned he, 'they made us dance it till we were tired.' -- Since which Yankee Doodle sounds less sweet to their ears."


A pro-British ballad was published in June 1775, just after the Battle of Bunker Hill, presumed to be to the tune of "Yankee Doodle." The first stanza:

The seventeen of June, at Break of Day,
The Rebels they supriz'd us,
With their strong Works, which they'd thrown up,
To burn the Town and drive us.

After the colonists' performance at Bunker Hill, these "doodle dances" became less amusing to the British. There are a number of different versions, and it's not known which came first or when. With a variety of texts, it became the principal American battle theme of the Revolution, and eventually a greater symbol of humiliation to the British than it had been to the Americans. Oscar Sonneck, the great musicologist, writing around 1909, quotes Thomas Anburey, a British officer: "The name of Yankee has been more prevalent since the commencement of hostilities. The soldiers at Boston used it as a term of reproach, but after the affair at Bunker Hill, the Americans gloried in it."

When George Washington was appointed commander in chief, he was ridiculed to the tune of Yankee Doodle by an anonymous Tory in a loyalist ballad:

Then Congress sent great Washington,
All clothed in power and breeches,
To meet old Britain's warlike sons
And make some rebel speeches

Washington's camp became the locale for the "official" text, so that's how we finally get around to your original question of what the "town" is--it's Cambridge, Massachusetts, the camp's location in the early days of the war. Edward Bangs, a sophomore at Harvard who had served at Lexington as a Minuteman, is often cited as the author of this version. The text, with variations, was often reprinted during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Here are the first few stanzas of one early version:

Father and I went down to camp,
Along with Captain Gooding,
And there we saw the men and boys
As thick as hasty pudding.

Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy

There was Captain Washington
Upon a slapping stallion,
A-giving orders to his men,
I guess there was a million.

Yankee Doodle &c.

And then the feathers on his hat,
They looked so 'tarnal fine, sir,
I wanted pockily to get
To give to my Jemima.

Yankee Doodle &c.

And then we saw a swamping gun,
Larde as a log of maple;
Upon a deuc-ed little cart,
A load for father's cattle.

Yankee Doodle &c.

And every time they shoot it off,
It takes a horn of powder;
It makes a noise like father's gun,
Only a nation louder.

Yankee Doodle &c.

It goes on for another eight or ten verses. I can understand why they're not often sung today.

Now for the misconception. A popular story has it that the term "macaroni" in the verse we know best today ("stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni") was intended to poke fun at the unsophisticated colonials. In the early 1700s, the term "macaroni" was applied derisively to English dandies who affected foreign mannerisms and fashions, particularly French or Italian, which most British regarded as outlandish. Associating the term with the American colonists was a double insult. Not only were the Yankees putting on airs, they thought the way to do it was to put feathers in their caps, the rubes!

Just one problem. We are far from certain when Yankee Doodle first came riding on his pony (rhymes with macaroni). That version didn't appear in print until 1842. Sonneck wrote that in the heyday of Oliver Cromwell (early 1640s to 1658), there was a ditty called "The Roundheads and the Cavaliers" that resembled "Yankee Doodle" in words and meter though not in tune:

Nankee Doodle came to town
Upon a little pony
With a feather in his hat
Upon a macaroni.

Did "macaroni" mean "fop" in this context? Beats me. But if Sonneck is to be believed, the pony/macaroni thing was around long before wiseguy Brits began writing smart aleck lyrics about their American cousins.

Histories of American song list plenty of other versions and verses. I suggest Music for Patriots, Politicians, and Presidents by Vera Brodsky Lawrence, which includes photos of some of the old sheet music and broadsides. One that I found amusing arose in the South during the Civil War:

Yankee Doodle had a mind
To whip the Southern traitors,
Because they did not choose to live
On codfish and potatoes.

Yankee Doodle, fa, so la,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
And so to keep his courage up,
He took a drink of brandy.

So that's the story of Yankee Doodle--but still no London. Patience, I'm getting to it. Totally separate from all this is the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy" by George M. Cohan (sung and danced wonderfully by Jimmy Cagney in the movie of the same name). The song is a takeoff on the original "Yankee Doodle" and features the well-known verse:

Yankee Doodle went to London
Just to ride the ponies
I am that Yankee Doodle boy.


The first verse and refrain, as often sung today, run thus:

Yankee Doodle went to town,
A-Riding on a pony;
He stuck a feather in his cap,
And called it macaroni.

The song's origins were in a pre-Revolutionary War song originally by British military officers to mock the dishevelled, disorganized colonial "Yankees" with whom they served in the French and Indian War. The word doodle first appeared in the early seventeenth century to mean a fool or simpleton, and is thought to derive from the Low German dudel or dödel, meaning "fool" or "simpleton". It is believed that the tune comes from the nursery rhyme Lucy Locket. 'Macaroni' was a contemporary slang for foppishness. One version of the Yankee Doodle lyrics is attributed to Doctor Richard Shuckburgh, a British Army surgeon, who wrote the song after witnessing the unprofessional appearance of Colonel Thomas Fitch, Jr., the son of Connecticut Governor Thomas Fitch, who arrived in Albany in 1755 with the Connecticut militia.

The Boston Journal of the Times wrote about a British band declaring "that Yankee Doodle song was the Capital Piece of their band music."

The earliest known version of the lyrics comes from 1755 or 1758, as the date of origin is disputed ("Yankee Doodle Turns 250—Maybe", Associated Press, 4 July 2008):

Brother Ephraim sold his Cow
And bought him a Commission;
And then he went to Canada
To fight for the Nation;
But when Ephraim he came home
He proved an arrant Coward,
He wouldn't fight the Frenchmen there
For fear of being devour'd.
(Note that the sheet music which accompanies these lyrics reads, "The Words to be Sung through the Nose, & in the West Country drawl & dialect.")

The Ephraim referenced here was Ephraim Williams, a popularly known Colonel in the Massachusetts militia who was killed in the Battle of Lake George. He left his land and property to the founding of a school in Western Massachusetts, now known as Williams College.

The tune also appeared in 1762, in one of America's first comic operas, The Disappointment, with bawdy lyrics about the search for Blackbeard's buried treasure by a team from Philadelphia. It has been reported that the British often marched to a version believed to be about a man named Thomas Ditson, of Billerica, Massachusetts. Ditson was tarred and feathered for attempting to buy a musket in Boston in March 1775, although he later fought at Concord:

Yankee Doodle came to town,
For to buy a firelock,
We will tar and feather him,
And so we will John Hancock.

For this reason, the town of Billerica claims to be the "home" of Yankee Doodle, and claims that at this point the Americans embraced the song and made it their own, turning it back on those who had used it to mock them. After the Battle of Lexington and Concord, a Boston newspaper reported: "Upon their return to Boston [pursued by the Minutemen], one [Briton] asked his brother officer how he liked the tune now, — 'Dang them,' returned he, 'they made us dance it till we were tired' — since which Yankee Doodle sounds less sweet to their ears."

The British responded with another set of lyrics following the Battle of Bunker Hill:

The seventeen of June, at Break of Day,
The Rebels they supriz'd us,
With their strong Works, which they'd thrown up,
To burn the Town and drive us.
Also on February 6, 1788. Massachusetts ratified the Constitution by a vote of 186 to 168. To the ringing of bells and the booming of cannons, the delegates trooped out of Brattle Street Church. Before many days had passed, the citizens sang their convention song to the tune of "Yankee Doodle." Here are the lyrics to their song...

The vention did in Boston meet,
The State House could not hold 'em
So then they went to Fed'ral Street,
And there the truth was told 'em...
And ev'ry morning went to prayer,
And then began disputing,
Till oppositions silenced were,
By arguments refuting.
Now politicians of all kinds,
Who are not yet decided,
May see how Yankees speak their minds,
And yet are not divided.
So here I end my Fed'ral song,
Composed of thirteen verses;
May agriculture flourish long
And commerce fill our purses!

Thorton Wilder in Hamden



Arguably, the most underappreciated literary home in the state is the one built by Thornton Wilder at 50 Deepwood Drive in Hamden. Wilder, author of the place-obsessed "Our Town," made Hamden his town from 1929 until 1975.




According to the Wilder biographer Gilbert A. Harrison, after graduating from Yale, Mr. Wilder lived with his family in New Haven, using their home on Mansfield Street as a base while he traveled extensively.




In late 1927, his novel "The Bridge of San Luis Rey," was published. Within two months, the book had earned $20,000 in royalties; within a year it earned $73,375 and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Mr. Wilder was now famous and at least rich enough to look for land in the New Haven area to build a house where his parents, sisters and he could live. He bought the property in Hamden in March 1929. According to Mr. Harrison, the Wilders referred to their Hamden haven as "The House the Bridge Built."

Though he was a tireless traveler, speaker and teacher, Mr. Wilder, who never married, shared the house for the rest of his life with his sister Isabel, who served as his executive secretary. He died in his bedroom in December 1975.
"He traveled a great deal from the time he left Yale, but Hamden was the center of his life," said Patricia Willis, curator at Yale's Beinecke Library, where Wilder's papers are housed. "It's always been thought that "Our Town" was based on Peterboro, N.H., where he stayed at the MacDowell Colony, but like most of his writing, this play was not site-specific and could have some of Hamden in it, too. "Our Town" was intentionally nonspecific."


Mr. Wilder's home continues to follow his quiet, low-key example. It is still a private residence with no official connection to the author's legacy, no historic plaque to commemorate its famous owner. The unprepossessing, two-story, brown wooden structure rambles like a ski chalet onto the edge of a panoramic promontory, from which Wilder could see New Haven and East Rock, which he called "my dolomite."
"The owners were kind enough to allow Yale to feature the house during Wilder's centennial in 1997," Ms. Willis said.

A separate book could probably be written to explain why Connecticut has been and continues to be a scribbler's Canaan. John Ryden, former director of publishing at Yale University Press, lives just over the New Haven line from Wilder's home. Mr. Ryden once hosted a reading of one of Mr. Wilder's incomplete plays at the press and published a book of poetry by Amos Wilder, Thornton's brother.

"I believe the proximity to New York and Boston attracted many of the writers here initially," said Mr. Ryden, who moved to the state in 1979. "And because they came up here when the area was hardly discovered, they got hooked by the landscape and just could not leave. It's lovely country." Asked what keeps him here now that he's retired? Mr. Ryden said: "I'm doing some writing."



Wilder is buried in Mount Carmel in Hamden

Eli Terry Sr.




Eli Terry Sr. (April 13, 1772 – February 24, 1852) was an influential inventor and clockmaker in Connecticut. He received a United States patent for a shelf clock mechanism. He introduced mass production to the art of clockmaking, which made clocks affordable for the average American citizen. Terry occupies an important place in the beginnings of the development of interchangeable parts manufacturing. Terry became one of the most accomplished mechanics in New England during the early part of the nineteenth century. The village of Terryville, Connecticut is named for his son, Eli Terry Jr.

Terry was the son of Samuel and Huldah Terry, born in East Windsor, Connecticut and began his career as an apprentice under Daniel Burnap ("the forerunner of manufacturing"). It is also likely that he received limited instruction from Timothy Cheney, a clockmaker in East Hartford. Cheney specialized in the making of wooden clocks, which was fairly unusual at the time. The use of wooden components would show great influence in Terry's later career.




Terry's apprenticeship to Burnap ended in 1792, and he quickly established himself as both a clockmaker and a repairer of watches in East Windsor. His earliest clocks were fitted with silvered brass dials, which were engraved for him by Burnap. The movements of the clock were made of brass or wood, depending on the requests of his customers. Brass was more commonly used for movements, but it was also considerably more expensive and difficult to work with. Terry moved to Northbury, Connecticut where he continued his business on a smaller scale for several years. In 1801, Terry was granted a patent on an equation clock. This was the first patent for a clock mechanism that was ever granted by the United States Patent Office.

Soon after 1800, Terry's production of wooden clocks grew considerably. Like other Connecticut clock makers, Terry knew that apprentices could cheaply rough-cut wooden wheels for more skilled journeymen to shape precisely into clockworks, making clocks slightly more cheaply. And Terry was one of a number of Connecticut clock makers who began to substitute water-power for apprentices in the production of these rough-cut wheels. In 1802 or 03, Terry purchased a mill to produce wooden clock wheels, which still had to be finished by hand by skilled journeymen clock makers. He purchased a grain mill and used the water wheel and main shaft to run saws and lathes, which helped speed the production of parts. He later created jigs and fixtures to produce a large number of interchangeable clock parts. This allowed for the rapid assembly of clocks, freeing Terry from the task of fitting and modifying each individual piece of each clock. Using his own ingenuity and inventiveness, Terry was able to speedily cut wheels, pinions, and other important clock parts accurately.

In the year 1806, Terry signed a contract to produce 4,000 wooden clock movements (other shops would make the cases). According to historian Diana Muir writing in Reflections in Bullough's Pond, at that time a skilled craftsman could produce six or ten clocks a year. Muir writes that Terry spent the first two years of the contract inventing and perfecting machinery that could turn clock wheels with enough precision to require relatively little shaping by skilled craftsmen. In the third year he produced 3,000 wooden clocks. He sold his manufactory to two of his assistants Seth Thomas and Silas Hoadley and retreated to his workshop to create the first machine in the world to be mass-produced using interchangeable parts.

According to Muir, Terry designed a new kind of clock, intended for mass production from machine-made parts that would come from water-powered machines ready to go into clocks without any additional cutting by skilled workmen. Terry's great innovation was the design of an escapement and verge adjustable by a skilled craftsman to allow for the slight differences in the mass-produced wooden clock wheels.

The mass produced wooden clocks manufactured from interchangeable parts that poured from Terry's factory beginning in 1816 were the world's first mass produced machines made of moving parts. They were also the first mass market complete machine to be offered to American consumers, or consumers anywhere on this planet. Terry's first clocks were offered in plain wooden box cases. Terry is also credited with the design of the pillar and scroll case for which he also received a patent. In his autobiography, History of the American Clock Business for the Past Sixty Years and Life of Chauncey Jerome Terry's employee and assistant Chauncey Jerome, later a great clock maker and owner of the world's largest clock factory, mentions building the first pillar and scroll in Terry's workshop with the master's design and under his direction. The pillar and scroll case provided a large, clear dial in a wooden case about three feet tall and six inches deep. The upper part was the clock face, the lower part was either a mirror or a picture back-painted on glass. Despite the small size of the clocks compared with traditional long case clocks, Terry was able to provide sufficient power through gearing for the clock to run a full thirty hours before it needed to be rewound. Anticipating a successful product Terry had the foresight to patent his arrangement of clockworks. At least five patents were issued to him through the years up to 1825 in order to protect his invention.

According to Diana Muir in Reflections in Bullough's Pond, within a few years, several hundred men worked in two dozen factories in the Naugatuck Valley producing virtually identical Terry-style thirty-hour wooden clocks. Salesmen innovated such now-familiar marketing devices as installment-plan purchases and model changes of the cases to induce consumers who already owned a functional clock to buy a more fashionable model.

As noted Terry was granted many patents for his advances in clock making, most of which were immediately infringed upon by local competitors eager to participate in satisfying the demand for an affordable clock. Many competitors would note "patent clocks" on their label in order to prevent litigation. One lawsuit did develop as noted below.

Terry also produced wooden-movement tower clocks, such as those found in the steeples of churches and meeting houses, one of which is still operational today in the town of Plymouth.

Between 1808 and 1833, Terry focused the majority of his time and effort on the production of standardized wooden clocks, which helped him accumulate a modest fortune. By 1833, he was sufficiently satisfied his material success. At this point, he abandoned involvement in quantity production, and returned to clockmaking as the world had known it before his innovations, focusing on the production on a few high-end special clocks and the development of original clock mechanism. He also spent considerable time helping along the businesses of his sons. He continued with this small-scale clock production until his death on the last day of February in 1852.

His achievements place him in an unusual position in the history of clockmaking, leaving him as one of the last of the clock craftsmen, but also as the first of the true manufacturers. His shop represents one of the last Connecticut clock shops (of which there were many) in which there was both pride in workmanship and a high level of personal skill and aptitude.

Terry's brother Samuel (1774-1853) was also involved in the production of wooden-movement clocks, and for several years he worked as Eli's partner, manufacturing improved pillar and scroll clocks after his brother's design.
Most of Terry's sons also became clock makers. His son Eli Terry Jr. was the most famous, as the village of Terryville in Plymouth, Connecticut was named after him; he purchased the lock making equipment that would eventually be used to form Eagle Lock Company, which for a long period of time was Terryville's biggest employeer.
His son Andrew Terry began a very successful malleable iron foundry that later became OZ/Gedney, which has since moved to Mexico. That business was in operation for more than 150 years just down the stream from Andrew's brother Silas's clock shop.

Silas had many financial difficulties in his time, but was eventually a founding member of the Terry Clock Company.

Eli Terry's success in mass producing and selling an affordable shelf clock for the public drew much inspiration from other entrepreneurs in Connecticut and beyond. Immediately Terry's former partners Seth Thomas and Silas Hoadley began making similar clocks. Others in the Bristol and Plymouth communities manufactured movements, cases or other clock parts for others to assemble and sell complete clocks in order to compete with Terry. Terry was forced to continually update his patents.

Paradoxically his updated patents became very narrowly described and this enabled competitors to make slight changes to their design and evade patent infringement. In 1826-7, Eli Terry filed a lawsuit in Litchfield district court against Seth Thomas for patent infringement. Judgement was in favor of Terry but it is unclear if he ever collected compensation. Contemporary historians believe the suit was staged between the two principals in order to dissuade others from competition, but it is highly unlikely that this is correct since Terry, unlike Thomas, was the least interested in the business side of mass clock production.

As an example of the frenzy at the time to copy Terry's designs, in the 1820s Reeves's & Co. made clocks in the United States to the Eli Terry design. These clocks faithfully copied the scrollwork and wooden movement of the original Eli Terry clocks. However, since the designs of these clocks were infringements of the Terry patents, Reeves's & Co. were forced out of business and were also forced to destroy their stock of unsold clocks. Very few genuine Reeves's & Co. clocks still exist. One excellent example of an operating Reeves's & Co. mantle clock, built to the Eli Terry design, is in the Basmajian clock collection, in Altadena, CA. Due to its rarity is extremely valuable.

Ted Knight


Ted Knight (December 7, 1923 – August 26, 1986) was an actor best known for playing the comedic role of Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Henry Rush on Too Close for Comfort, and Judge Smails in Caddyshack.

Born Tadeusz Władysław Konopka to a Polish American family in Terryville, Connecticut, Knight dropped out of high school to enlist for military service in World War II, He was a member of A Company, 296th Engineer Combat Battalion, earning five battle stars while serving in the European Theatre. In 1948, he married Dorothy Smith, and eventually had three children, Ted Knight. Jr., Elyse, and Eric.

During the postwar years, Knight studied acting in Hartford, Connecticut. He became proficient with puppets and ventriloquism, which led to steady work as a television kiddie-show host. In 1955, he left Hartford for Albany, New York, where he landed a job at station WROW-TV (now WTEN), hosting "The Early Show" featuring MGM movies and a kids variety show, playing a "Gabby Hayes" type character named "Windy Knight".

He was also a radio announcer for sister station WROW radio. He left the station in 1957 after receiving advice from station manager (and future Capital Cities Chairman) Thomas S. Murphy that he should take his talents to Hollywood

Knight spent most of the 1950s and 1960s doing commercial voice-overs and essaying minor television and movie roles (he was the cop guarding Norman Bates at the end of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). In the 1962-1963 season, he appeared as "Haskell" in the short-lived drama and situation comedy The New Loretta Young Show on CBS.

Knight's distinctive speaking voice brought him work as an announcer — he narrated several animated television series, including Super Friends — and he appeared frequently in television shows such as How to Marry a Millionaire, The Eleventh Hour, Bonanza, The Man and the Challenge, Combat!, Get Smart, The Twilight Zone,The Wild Wild West and The Love Boat. (In one Love Boat episode, he guest starred as a rival cruise captain opposite Mary Tyler Moore co-star Gavin MacLeod.)

His role as the vain and untalented newscaster Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show brought Knight widespread recognition, and his greatest success. He received six Emmy Award nominations for the role, winning the Emmy for "Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Comedy" in 1973 and 1976.
Ted Knight was a social conservative who often disagreed with former co-star Ed Asner. While the two were political opposites, they remained friends. Coincidentally, both Knight and Asner had played villains on episodes of The Wild Wild West.

A few months after the end of the Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1977, he was diagnosed with cancer for which he received various forms of treatment over several years. In 1985, he was diagnosed with colon cancer which, despite rigorous treatment, eventually began to spread to his bladder and throughout his lower gastrointestinal tract. He died on August 26, 1986, from complications due to surgery. He was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. His grave marker bears the name Theodore C. Konopka.

Daniel Bissell


Daniel Bissell (30 December 1754 – 5 August 1824) was a soldier and spy for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He was born to Daniel and Elizabeth Bissell in East Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut in 1754 and enlisted on 7 July 1775, as a fifer in the 8th Connecticut Regiment, and on 1 April 1776, signed on for the duration as a corporal in the 5th Connecticut Regiment. He became a sergeant on 1 September 1777, and ended the war with the 2nd Connecticut Regiment.

Under the direct orders of General George Washington, Bissell posed as a deserter in the city of New York from 14 August 1781, to 29 September 1782. He realized that to get the information Washington needed, he would have to join the British Army: for 13 months, he served in the British Infantry Corps led by Benedict Arnold.

Bissell memorized everything he was able to find out and then made his way back to friendly lines where he was placed under arrest until Washington verified his story. Sergeant Bissell was able to furnish valuable information including detailed maps he drew of the enemy's positions. He was to become the last recipient of the Badge of Military Merit in June 1783, one of only three awarded by Washington himself.

The award was lost in a house fire in 1813, and Bissell died in Richmond, New York, in 1824. He is buried at Allens Hill Cemetery in Richmond, New York. His tombstone is inscribed, "Daniel Bissell, Died August 5, 1824, Aged 70 Years, He had the confidence of Washington and served under him."

The true story of Bissell’s Ride


The true story of Bissell’s Ride in 1775
By Lion G. Miles


The town of Hinsdale celebrates its 200th anniversary this year and that is a cause for joy, a statement of the enduring qualities of Berkshire County history. The town naturally wants to honor the prominent citizens of its past, including a man named Israel Bissell, whose grave rests in the local cemetery. For some 70 or 80 years now, Hinsdale has believed that Israel Bissell was a Revolutionary War hero who carried an alarm message to Philadelphia in 1775 after the battles of Lexington and Concord. It is unfortunate that no one has found any documentary evidence to support that claim, so it has become necessary to mount a search of the records to determine the facts.

There are 345 miles from Watertown, Mass., to Philadelphia, and the newspapers of the day show that the news of Lexington was carried that distance in five short days. Some, but not all, of the messages copied along the way show the name “Israel Bissell,” while others have a distorted version of “Train” or “Trail Bissell,” suggesting errors in the copying of the name as it passed through many hands. There is no evidence that a man named Bissell actually accompanied each of the messages. In fact, it would have been physically impossible for a single horseman to travel such a distance in five days at the standard express-rider’s rate of 2 to 4 miles an hour. Only by using relays of fresh riders and horses would such a ride have been possible, and no doubt regular post riders carried the message to Philadelphia in that manner.

Israel Bissell’s name appears in the early versions of the message that a series of riders carried south, all the way to New York, Philadelphia, Annapolis, Williamsburg and Charleston, but he himself did not go with those papers and was safe at home in Connecticut. Not one of the recipients of the message has left us with any remarks to support the claim that a man named Bissell actually delivered it in person.

New evidence from Massachusetts archives shows clearly that the initial rider’s name was not Israel Bissell at all and that he rode only from Watertown to Hartford, while other riders took the news south. On the morning of the Lexington battle, Col. Joseph Palmer of Watertown gave a message to the post rider and charged him “to alarm the Country quite to Connecticut.” He did not give an order to ride to Philadelphia, which would have been much too far and of little use as an alarm. From Connecticut, the contents of the message became simply an important news item to be circulated throughout the colonies.

The horseman was a post rider named Isaac Bissell and he lived in Suffield, Conn. He rode off and spent the next six days traveling through Connecticut, doing what he was ordered to do. Which is proof enough that he did not continue on to Philadelphia. His account in the Massachusetts Archives is quite clear about this.

In July 1775, Isaac Bissell petitioned the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts for his six days of expenses “to Hartford,” claiming two pounds and one shilling (Massachusetts Archives, vol. 138, p. 191a). The Congress approved payment and then adjourned, leaving Bissell unable to collect his money. So, in March 1776, he petitioned Col Palmer for help and wrote, “Sir you may Remember when Lexinton Fite was you gave me an Express to Cary to Hartford in Connecticut which I did,” adding, “I think I Earn my money.” He signed with the clear signature, “Isaac Bissell of Suffield.” (Massachusetts Archives, vol 303, p. 162.)

Col. Palmer, who had given the original message, verified the rider’s identity as Isaac Bissell and petitioned the government on his behalf. On April 23, 1776, the Massachusetts House of Representatives ordered payment to Isaac (not Israel) of two pounds, one shilling “in full for his Riding Express to Hartford iin Connecticut in April Last past” (Massachusetts Archives, vol. 283, p. 159). The House published the resolution in its Journal for all to see (Journal of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, vol. 51, part III, p. 165), a volume available at the Berkshire Athenaeum.

No one named Israel Bissell appears in the official record. The story of his remarkable ride was unknown until the 1920s and 1930s, when it surfaced in the secondary writings of several historians who invented the tale without providing any corroborating evidence. There is no account or petition from him, no record of payment for services, no document anywhere that attests to his being in Philadelphia and no statement from anyone who may have seen or known him. He is an unknown cipher. His fame rests solely on an error in copying the name of Isaac Bissell of Suffield and the subsequent theories of historians who wrote their accounts before doing thorough research. If there was a man named Israel Bissell involved, some primary documentary source would be needed to prove it. So far none has been found.

In the meantime, we should wish Hinsdale the best of fortune in her next 200 years. She may well continue without the myth of Israel Bissell’s ride to Philadelphia, but, knowing how stubbornly persistent these legends can be, I would not bet any money on it.

Lion G. Miles of Stockbridge is a historian who specializes in Berkshire County history of the 18th century.

Israel Bissell

Israel Bissell (1752-1823) was born and raised in East Windsor and was a post rider in Massachusetts who alerted the American colonists of the British attack on April 19, 1775. He rode for four days and six hours covering the 345 miles from Watertown, Massachusetts to Philadelphia along the Old Post Road, shouting "To arms, to arms, the war has begun," and carrying a message from General Joseph Palmer which was copied at each of his stops and redistributed:

Wednesday morning near 10 of the clock - Watertown.

To all the friends of American liberty be it known that this morning before break of day, a brigade, consisting of about 1,000 to 1,200 men landed at Phip's Farm at Cambridge and marched to Lexington, where they found a company of our colony militia in arms, upon whom they fired without any provocation and killed six men and wounded four others. By an express from Boston, we find another brigade are now upon their march from Boston supposed to be about 1,000. The Bearer, Israel Bissell, is charged to alarm the country quite to Connecticut and all persons are desired to furnish him with fresh horses as they may be needed. I have spoken with several persons who have seen the dead and wounded. Pray let the delegates from this colony to Connecticut see this.
J. Palmer, one of the Committee of Safety.

At the end of Bissell's first leg, in Worcester, his first horse collapsed and died from having been driven so hard. At each town along the way, church bells were rung and muskets fired to spread the word; when he reached Philadelphia, the pealing of the Liberty Bell caused a crowd of 8,000 to assemble to hear the news. Bissell then returned to Connecticut, where he joined the army alongside his brother, Justis. After the war, he moved to Middlefield, Massachusetts. Bissell died in 1823 and was buried in the Maple Street Cemetery in Hinsdale, Massachusetts.

Although Paul Revere is better known due to the epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Bissell was the subject of the less well known "Ride, Israel, Ride," an epic poem by Marie Rockwood of Stockbridge. According to Syracuse University professor of television and popular culture, Robert Thompson, this is not representative of the relative importance or heroism of each feat; rather, "Paul Revere rhymes with a lot more than Israel Bissell". Bissell's place in history was even further smudged by several historical documents which refer to him as "Trail Bissel". Nevertheless, there were an unknown number of other riders whose names are now completely forgotten.

Bissell's exploits have been noted in magazines, newspaper accounts, and an anthology of Revolutionary era documents published during the U.S. Bicentennial celebration in 1976. Bissell was first honored in the Berkshires by Hinsdale historian Marion Ransford, who drew upon historic documents in the archives of Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland. At the behest of Mrs. Ransford, the Daughters of the American Revolution installed a special marker at Bissell's grave. Realtor Isadore Goodman donated the Bissell homestead site on Plunkett Lake Road to the town in 1972.

John Warner Barber





John Warner Barber (February 2, 1798 – June 1885) was an engraver whose books of state, national, and local history featured his vivid illustrations, said to have caught the flavor and appearance of city, town, and countryside scenes in his day.



He was born in East Windsor, Connecticut, and learned his craft from the East Windsor printmaker Abner Reed. In 1823 he opened a business in New Haven, where he produced religious and historical books, illustrated with his own wood and steel engravings.





He traveled around Connecticut, creating ink sketches of town greens, hotels, schools, churches, and harbors and collected local history as he went. He also delved into the works of historians. From all this he produced the book now commonly called Connecticut Historical Collections. The full title is Connecticut Historical Collections, Containing a General Collection of Interesting Facts, Traditions, Biographical Sketches, Anecdotes, Etc., Relating to the History and Antiquities of Every Town in Connecticut with Geographical Descriptions.




The book has been called "the first popular local history published in the U.S.". The book sold well -- 7,000 copies in its first year even though it cost three dollars, then an average week's pay. Twelve years later it was reissued and again sold well.

"Today, though his wood engravings are well known, few copies of the book [Connecticut Historical Collections] remain," according to the Bibliopola Press Web site, which, as of August 2006, was selling a reprint version. "Antique dealers unfortunately do a brisk business selling the woodcuts from volumes they have 'broken
Barber started with rough pencil sketches and developed them into more detailed wash drawings. He then transferred the drawings directly to small blocks of boxwood on which he engraved the designs.



"He talked with townspeople, gathered local documents and made quick sketches everywhere he went," according to a New York Times article from December 10, 1989, quoted on a print-selling Web site. "The illustrations depict each town center, with its homes and churches, academies and courthouses sailboats plying a river or harbor, an occasional factory belching puffs of smoke and always a tiny figure or two, often the artist in his top hat, sketching the scene or pointing to the view."
He died in New Haven in June 1885.