Doing the right thing

When I was growing up in Ansonia in the 1960s, every now and then I would go down to Ted’s market, a neighborhood place on the corner of North State and 5th streets, and buy a box of candy cigarettes. For those of you too young to remember candy cigarettes were just that; cigarettes made of candy.

I’ll pause here and give the PC crowd time to pick themselves up off the floor.

Were candy cigarettes a stupid thing? Yes of course they were, but placed in the correct historical perspective…well actually, now that I think about it in mid-sentence….even in historical perspective candy cigarettes were stupid, but in those days, the full facts of the dangers of tobacco weren’t yet known and were popular with our parent’s generation who smoked and smoked a lot actually.

And cigarettes were a part of daily lives. The road ways were lined with billboards that boasted about the flavor of one brand or another, elaborate cigarette ads were a staple of television and actors in movies and TV smoked on screen and off.

In all fairness I need to point out that not all parents found candy cigarettes charming and wouldn’t allow their kids to buy them.  Anyway, candy cigarettes have now gone the way of Ted’s and all other neighborhood markets.

What is still around Ansonia, however, is cancer.

An unusually high number of Ansonians, spread out over several generation are suffering and dying from what I suspect is “Smoke stack effect cancer.” And in this, I’m referring only to the unusually high number of cancer related deaths of Ansonians who didn’t work in the factories but lived close enough to them to possible die from the effects of smoke stack cancer and related maladies.

Bear in mind that in those days, the 1960s, factory pollution was a way of life, not only in Ansonia but across the state of Connecticut and particularly in the heavy industrialized Naugatuck Valley towns as far north as Torrington. And it was everywhere and in everything. Dyes dumped into the water further up the valley from Ansonia caused the Mad and Naugatuck Rivers to change colors. In a number of the mill towns the shops let out clouds of smoke into the night sky when they would go unnoticed unless there was humid weather and the smoke smelled like rotten eggs were burning. It was almost impossible to drive through, near or around the entire town of Naugatuck without being overpowered by the powerful stench bleaching out from the rubber shop.

The Naugatuck River in those days was highly polluted from factory waste and it looked it. The water smelled and changed colors depending on what was dumped in that week by one of the mills who made no apologies for what they were doing. In fact, I recall that for years Farrell’s had a large signed posted on the edge of the river just below the Maple Street Bridge that read, in effect, “We’ll pour anything we like into the river and if you don’t like it, too bad for you.”

And it wasn’t just Farrell’s, American Brass was another long time blatant polluter.

Almost every factory in the valley, including Ansonia, used finishing chemicals, usually arsenic and formaldehyde and God only knows what else, in their products. All of these by products and chemicals found their way into not only our water systems, but into the ground and the air for an unknown number of decades.  I remember asking a neighbor with a big yard why he didn’t have a garden and he replied that he was afraid of what would grow out of it.  (However, delicious blue berries grew wild in a place called Renahan’s wood between North Cliff, Summer and Johnson Streets and there was a fairly large corn field way up on Old Ansonia Road above Colony Pond, which is also polluted)

Younger readers need to know that it wasn’t always that way.  In the 1930s, Ansonians swam in the Naugatuck near Coe Pond and I swam in Colony Pond as a kid. The one body of water not polluted by the factories was the reservoir, which, oddly enough, was owned by the same guys who owned the foundries.  

I remember playing at recess when I was in the Assumption School and the factory on North Main and Liberty Streets, just below the school, would open its smoke stack and pour thousands of tiny black specs into the air and for a while the sky was covered in these specs to the point that it looked like a black snow shower. Whatever those black specs were, they rained down on us and permanently stained the white shirts we were required to wear as part of our uniforms.

Another Assumption alumni, who attended the school in the 1940s, recalled “The most significant memory that I have is that about 2-4 pm every day that Farrell's would vent their casting furnace which was just West of Assumption School. It was an immense plume of yellow/black smoke containing dissolved metals that had to be very toxic. Given the prevailing westerly wind it would come directly over the school and church. I am sure we all ingested some of that toxic stuff. I attended that school from 1941 to 1949, 8 years. Amazing that I'm still alive at 80”

“I used to clean the black soot off the snow before eating it” one resident who lived near the school recalled “Soot was on our window sills, cars, everywhere”

In the late 1960s, soot from the foundries was scraped off of the Eagle Hose Fire Company building, the Assumption School and the Library giving both historic building a new look. One long time Ansonia recalls “Webster and Fountain (Hose Co.) were cleaned too and I would think the school buildings were done too. They all looked like they had been in a big fire”

Today Ansonia has a nearly perfect clean bill of health as far as pollution is concerned but I think we need to pay attention to the last generation that grew up in an industrialized Ansonia, especially those who grew up within walking distance to the mills and foundries because an unusually high number of them seem to be dying off at relatively young ages from cancer, including my younger brother and my old friend Brian Browning who lived on the corner of North Main and 4th.

One North Cliff Street resident said “Just about every house on North Cliff Street was stricken by cancer. You can start with my Mom - breast cancer. Each house was affected by either breast cancer, lung cancer or leukemia. If you remember any of these families: Ventres, Reyer, Bennett, Skodian, Lionettie, Mahoney, Larkin, Soter, Renehan, Shay, all effected. I recommended a class action suit against Farrell Foundry 15 years ago when my mom was first diagnosed. If you check with older families on South Cliff, you will find the same thing.

How many death overall and how do their deaths compare to the national average?

I don’t know.

And that’s the point, I don’t think anybody knows. But they should know. I should know if I grew up in what was, in effect, a giant Petri dish gone wrong. A study should be done to look at the cancer rates within a half–mile radius of the big factories in town. If the numbers hold up than the offenders should pay the aggrieved. It’s the least they can do.    

Interesting article about an almost exclusively New England issue that effects the entire state and the New England region

Historic Congregational churches struggle for survival and revival

Though Connecticut has changed dramatically over the centuries, one part of the landscape of virtually every city and town endures: the Congregational Church on the green or main street.
The graceful and handsome “meetinghouses,” many with soaring white steeples, may be the state’s most enduring image, both for their beauty and their significance. They were central to the founding and development of the state, espousing values — civic duty, education, local autonomy — that laid the groundwork for today’s society.
But though these quietly majestic edifices and the communities they represent seem timeless, alas they are not, and keeping them going in the 21st century is becoming a challenge. Aging buildings and graying congregations, competition from Sunday youth sports and other diversions, as well as a general distrust of institutions are draining resources and worshippers.
These issues are not limited to Congregational churches; many denominations face them. A Pew Research Center study in 2014 found weekly adult church attendance in Connecticut at 28 percent, down from 31 percent in 2007. But no other religious body held the status of the once “established” church.
Though still the state’s largest Protestant denomination, the United Church of Christ, of which most Congregational churches today are a part, has seen a decline from 110,000 members just two decades ago to about 63,000 today.  The number of churches in the state has fallen from 267 to (a still-impressive) 237 over the same period, but a fourth of those cannot support a full-time pastor.
While the long-established and well-endowed Congregational churches continue to prosper, some less well-off churches are struggling. The response being urged on the churches is one that is antithetical to their long tradition of independence and local autonomy: to work collaboratively with other churches and community institutions.
In some ways, the church’s challenges reflect the public debate between those who promote the advantages of regional cooperation to keep costs down and those who are reluctant to yield local autonomy.
It is hard to overstate the Congregational influence on Connecticut. The churches trace their lineage to the Puritans who settled the colony in the 17th century. The church communities in Hartford, Windsor and Wethersfield were founded in the 1630s. Representatives of the three met at the Hartford meetinghouse in 1639 to draft the Fundamental Orders, the rudimentary constitution that is said to have influenced the U.S. Constitution and inspired the “Constitution State” nickname.
The Fundamental Orders “clearly expressed the democratic principle of government based on popular will,” historian Albert Van Dusen wrote in “Connecticut,” his 1961 history of the state. This sense of participation, along with the common-law principles and sense of individualism brought from England, began to shape the character of the colony.
 The problems of travel in the early days led to the creation of new churches. Farmers in, say, North Branford would rather have a local church than make an hours-long wagon ride. Over time many of these church communities became towns. They assumed the self-governing spirit of the Congregation churches — run by the congregation — giving the state what Trinity College historian Andrew Walsh calls “the cult of the town.”
The Congregationalists founded dozens of colleges, notably Harvard and Yale, to provide an educated ministry. Congregational leaders were, and are, at the forefront of social justice, from the abolition of slavery in the 19th century and subsequent civil rights movement to LGBT and immigrant rights today.
For nearly two centuries, until a new state constitution was adopted in 1818, the Congregational church was the state’s official or “established” church, meaning it was supported by the civil authority and, for part of that time at least, attendance was mandatory. So strong was the Congregational tradition that Connecticut was the last state to separate church and state.
Iconic Buildings
The earliest meetinghouses were simple log structures, but in the 18th and especially 19th centuries these were replaced by structures that today are considered architectural gems. Hartford’s lovely Center Church, the fourth iteration of the original meeting house, was completed in 1807 and for decades was the city’s tallest building.
After “disestablishment” in 1818 came many of the Federal or Greek Revival churches we see across the state today, with Grecian columns, arched Palladian windows, multi-stage belfries and tall steeples, many listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The magnificent First Congregational Church of Litchfield, built in 1829 in the Greek Revival style, is said to be the most photographed church building in New England.
The church endured theological disputes and changes over the years. The UCC was created in 1957 by the merger of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches, though most that had the name “Congregational” kept it.  The UCC/Congregational churches remained at the center of Connecticut life well into the 20th century.
Though no longer the established church, the Congregational churches maintain a civic mindset, said Trinity’s Walsh, who is associate director of the school’s Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He said the Congregational/UCC congregations still include many local leaders, and that the churches sponsor civic activities such as scout troops, AA meetings and soup kitchens.
Still, the era when the prominent families bought pews by subscription and spent much of Sunday in them, when a pastor could fill the church simply by opening the doors, is now behind us.
The position of privilege afforded to the church on the green is no more: “It’s over,” said Rev. Kent J. Siladi, the conference minister of the Connecticut Conference of the UCC, the state association of UCC/Congregational churches.
Though many UCC/Congregational churches continue to do great work, the signs of contraction are unmistakeable.
In Waterbury, the Bunker Hill Congregational Church has announced that it will close, Siladi said. In New Haven, the Church of the Redeemer and the United Church on the Green are merging into a new church. In New London, the Second Congregational Church gave its grand stone building to another church in 2013 and moved to neighboring Waterford to share space with a Presbyterian church.
A number of congregations have similar shared-space arrangements. Some churches, such as Waterbury’s South Congregational Church, are sharing a pastor with another church, in this case a church in Bethany. Also, dozens of congregations are relying on part-time or bi-vocational ministers, those who have another full-time job and are sometimes known as “tentmaker ministers” after the evangelist Paul’s day job while he preached in Corinth.
The “tentmaker” ranks include a college mathematics professor, a high school guidance counselor, even an attorney. The newest is one of the state’s top trial lawyers, James K. Robertson Jr., who is being ordained next month and will preach in Watertown, where he lives, while maintaining his practice with the Waterbury firm of Carmody, Torrance Sandak Hennessey.
His church and several others are creatively augmenting their incomes by renting steeple space for cell phone towers.
Time of Change
The Congregational churches have seen difficult times before and been able to reawaken themselves and grow stronger. Siladi and others think such a change is underway now, a year shy of the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. To midwife the change, he is urging churches to work together, to innovate, and to focus intently on community engagement.
There’s a theological nuance here. The UCC churches have a long and strong tradition of autonomy, but also a tradition of “covenant and being bound to one another,” Siladi said. In urging voluntary coordinated activity he is addressing the latter tradition without disparaging the former.
Though churches are independent and don’t have to take his advice, some are. The two Congregational churches in Middletown are collaborating on youth ministry, Bible study and other activities. Some 45 churches are working together to help settle Syrian refugees in the state.
 Hartford’s Asylum Hill Congregational Church is a national model of community improvement; its members built a Boys & Girls Club, started a tutoring program, support a soup kitchen and have helped build neighborhood housing.
On the innovation front, the UCC and other mainline Protestant churches are trying more modern music, block parties, informal “sandal Sundays;” a few are even experimenting with weekday services.
Robertson said he thinks the church will thrive — though possibly in a different form, that could involve smaller weekday meetings, possibly even social media — and never waiver in its commitment to social justice.
But if the evolution of the UCC/Congregational churches involves less use of their landmark buildings, what happens to them?
Maintaining old churches is somewhere between a serious problem and, in some cases, a crisis. Some are more than 200 years old — the Abington Congregational Church in Pomfret, the oldest active house of worship in the state, was built in 1751, centuries before building codes and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
For the past two years, the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation has dedicated its entire Maintenance and Repair grant program, funded by the Community Investment Act, to historic houses of worship of all denominations “because the needs are just overwhelming,” said Jane Montanaro, who administers the program.
The funds, a total of nearly $600,000, have gone to stabilize steeples and bell towers, repair roofs, upgrade electrical systems, and the like. Montanaro said some congregations are victims of their own altruism, putting their resources into their activities rather than their buildings.
Many churches will muddle through. The UCC does not have a hierarchy, as the Catholic and some Protestant churches do, so no one can order them to close a church. And, said Walsh, some churches with small congregations can hang on for a very long time.
 Nonetheless, Siladi said his churches have “more buildings than we need,” and that he expects some smaller churches to close, merge or strike up new partnerships with neighboring congregations in coming years. So what happens to the buildings?
If churches cannot be transferred to other congregations, they are difficult to reinvent, said Brad Schide, a circuit rider for the Connecticut Trust. Smaller churches have become homes, nightclubs, art galleries, offices. Larger churches are more challenging. Three handsome 19th century buildings – the state’s oldest synagogue building in Hartford, a former Methodist church in New Britain and a former Baptist church in New Haven – have become the Charter Oak Cultural Center, Trinity-On-Main theater and the Yale Repertory Theater, respectively. But, there is only so much demand for performance space (though a church in Bristol, UK, is being used as a circus school — the high ceilings allow room for trapezes).
The challenge of reusing religious properties might be evidenced by the fact that lists 11 religious properties for sale in Connecticut and another 100 or so, of all vintages, that were recently sold or taken off the market.
The Trust hopes to do a survey of historic religious properties to understand the scope of the problems.
So, as with most other denominations, there are challenges on all fronts for the UCC/Congregational churches, but also opportunity. If the churches can revive themselves through coordinated community service, such as the efforts by 45 churches to settle Syrian refugees, who knows, they may inspire more coordination by cities and towns.

Tom Condon writes about urban and regional issues for the Mirror, including planning, transportation, land use, development and historic preservation. These were among his areas of interest in a 45-year career as a reporter, columnist and editorial writer for The Hartford Courant. Tom has won dozens of journalism and civic awards, and was elected to the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2016. He is a native of New London, a graduate of The University of Notre Dame and the University of Connecticut School of Law, and is a Vietnam veteran.



Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
The Cider House Rules by John Irving
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Faith by Jennifer Haigh
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
Strong Motion by Jonathan Franzen
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Summer by Edith Wharton
House Rules by Jodi Picoult
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Edinburgh by Alexander Chee
It by Stephen King
Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Europeans by Henry James
Mercy by Jodi Picoult
Island Girls by Nancy Thayer
Blowback by Bev Prescott
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
God’s Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
The Wedding by Dorothy West
The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
The Narrows by Ann Petry
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
The Bostonians by Henry James
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
The Mortifications by Derek Palacio
The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth
X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz
The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter
The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken
Shelter by Jung Yun
The Hopeful by Tracy O’Neill
See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid
The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
Nantucket Nights by Elin Hilderbrand
Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III
The Pearl of Orr’s Island by Harriet Beecher Stowe
The State We’re In by Ann Beattie
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve
The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
The Virgins by Pamela Erens
Boston Noir, Edited by Dennis Lahane
The Island by Elin Hilderbrand
The Good House by Ann Leary
The Edge of Winter by Luanne Rice
Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve
Karma and Other Stories by Rishi Reddi
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
Fasting, Feasting by Anita Desai
The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich
The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate
The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
Northern Borders by Howard Frank Mosher
The World Below by Sue Miller
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Blind Stitches by J.B. Chicoine
All Souls by Michael Patrick MacDonald
Black Mass by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill
Townie by Andre Dubus III
John Adams by David McCullough
The Witches by Stacy Schiff
Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbrick
Black Ice by Lorene Cary
Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick
The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
The Maine Woods by Henry David Thoreau
The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser

The capitol


Montville is in New London County. The villages of Chesterfield, Mohegan, Oakdale, and Uncasville are located within the town; (the latter two have their own ZIP codes.) The Mohegan Sun casino resort is nearby.

For defense against the Pequot, the Mohegan sachem Uncas had established a fortified village on a promontory above the Thames River within what is now Montville. The Mohegan village, now known as Fort Shantok, was protected on the inland side by palisades first built in about 1636 at the time of the Pequot War, rebuilt during wars with the Narragansett people circa 1653–1657, and rebuilt again at the time of King Philip's War (1675–1676).

Connecticut State Representatives of the past

Samuel B. Wilcox of Cromwell Ct. 1871

Edward C Hungerford Chester Ct. 1871

 Giles Potter Essex Ct. 1871

David S. Purple,East Haddam-1871

William Wallace Eaton

William Wallace Eaton (October 11, 1816 – September 21, 1898) was born in Tolland. He moved to Columbia, South Carolina for a while and then returned to Tolland, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1837, and began practice there. He was a clerk of courts of Tolland County in 1846 and 1847, a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives 1847–1848, then a member of the Connecticut state senate 20th District in 1850.
In 1851, he moved to Hartford, and was clerk of courts of Hartford County in 1851 and 1854, as well as city attorney in 1857 and 1858. He was chief judge of the city court of Hartford in 1863 and 1864, and from 1867 to 1872, and was a delegate to Democratic National Convention from Connecticut in 1864 and 1868.
Eaton was again a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1853, and again was a member of the Connecticut Senate in 1859. An unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1860, Eaton again served as a Representative in 1863, 1868, 1870–1871 and 1873–1874. He served as speaker in 1853 and 1873.
Appointed as a Democrat to the United States Senate, Eaton served from February 5, 1875, to March 4, 1875. Elected for the full term beginning March 4, 1875, he served until March 4, 1881. While in the Senate, he was chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations (Forty-sixth Congress).
He was also elected as a Democratic Representative to the Forty-eighth Congress (March 4, 1883 – March 4, 1885), and was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1884.

Eaton resumed the practice of law until he died in Hartford, on September 21, 1898 (age 81 years, 345 days). He is interred at Spring Grove Cemetery, Hartford, Connecticut.

125 Lebanon Ave, Colchester, CT, probably around 1940s

The Very Last Howard Johnson’s

The once-ubiquitous iconic American diner is down to just one store, but the legacy of its success can be seen nearly everywhere.
 Were there ever to be a canonized checklist of Americana, the very last breakfast rush at New England’s very last Howard Johnson’s on Tuesday covered most of the bases. Local police and firemen dropping in to deliver farewells? Check. A wistful waitress of 50 years? Check. Longtime regulars settling into counter seats for a final plate of eggs? Check. Check. Check.
The writing has been on the wall—er, the orange roof—of Howard Johnson’s for several years now. After Tuesday’s closure, the iconic chain, which boasted more than 1,000 outlets in the 1970s, is down to just one location, in Lake George, New York. And while nostalgists mourn the looming end of the vaunted HoJo, its legacy is ubiquitous in the American landscape that it inspired.
Howard Johnson opened his first store in 1925. It was a generally unremarkable soda fountain with an orange roof in the Boston suburbs. After discovering that ice cream produced with high butterfat content was popular with his customers, he set up stands on beaches and roadsides, lending his name and trademark orange roof to evince a sense of familiarity and continuity. At the time, chain restaurants were still relatively rare. Johnson eventually expanded his empire in 1929 with a full-service restaurant, which he found to be more lucrative than just selling ice cream.
In 1935, however, Johnson found himself at an impasse. Having stumbled upon a prime venue for a second full-service store and lacking the finances to open it himself, he decided to franchise his business. The first franchisee was Reginald Sprague, a yacht captain and an old school friend of Johnson’s, who launched the store on a popular tourist route on Cape Cod. Sprague ran the shop and used Johnson’s name, trademark look, and products with considerable success. Five years later, there were more than 130 Howard Johnson’s outposts scattered across the East Coast, managed under similar arrangements.
While the restaurant franchising system in America was hardly new—a chain called Harvey House became fixtures in railroad terminals in the late 1800s—Howard Johnson did it particularly well. “These were conspicuous restaurants,” the writer Philip Langdon wrote in his book, Orange Roofs, Golden Arches. “Johnson had a knack for selecting sites that would be visible from a great distance. They stood at major intersections, at traffic circles, along gradual curves—wherever they were sure to be noticed.” Langdon adds that in an era when billboards were considered gauche, Johnson “set out to make the building its own advertisement.”
The stores were clean, the parking lots were paved and well-landscaped, and eventually the designs were standardized, made to appear as symmetrical as possible. Hot dogs were rebranded to the more grandiose “frankforts” and highfalutin chefs like Jacques Pépin and Pierre Franey were poached from the ritzy New York haunt Le Pavillion around 1960 to help build the menu.
“I worked a few months as a line cook at one of the largest and busiest Howard Johnson's restaurants at the time, on Queens Boulevard in Rego Park,” Pépinwrote in a 2005 lament after the closing of the Times Square location. “I flipped burgers, cooked hot dogs and learned about the specialties of the house, among them tender fried clams made from the tongues of enormous sea clams whose bodies were used as the base for the restaurants' famous clam chowder.”
Eventually, the competitors and imitators spawned by Howard Johnson’s success bested it as the franchise and its old-fashioned sensibility and formality, asdepicted in Norman Rockwell’s 1958 painting “The Runaway,” became passe. In the fifth season of Mad Men, a trip to Howard Johnson’s came to emblemize a generational divide between Don Draper and his wife, Megan. The flash point: A sundae glass of orange sherbet. Howard Johnson’s may not be a staple of the American roadside anymore, but the visually similar franchises it helped popularize go on as far as the eye can see.
ADAM CHANDLER is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he covers business.

To know New England, know our food: Coffee Cabinet

What's In That Coffee Cabinet? A Delicious Taste Of Rhode Island History

Even if you've never heard of the "coffee cabinet," chances are you've probably tasted something like it. And you might have called it something else, like a coffee milkshake.
The ice cream beverage with the quirky name is a Rhode Island staple, dating back to the World War II era. Its ingredient list is pretty simple: It's just coffee syrup, ice cream and milk. But despite its popularity, the origins of the drink – and its name – remain a mystery.
"It's my understanding that the coffee syrup probably came first, owing to the large Italian immigrant population in the area," says Peter Kelly, a professor of culinary arts at Johnson and Wales University. For the uninitiated, coffee syrup is usually just a concentrated mixture of coffee water and sugar, used for flavoring and baking.
At the turn of the century, Italians were fast becoming Rhode Island's largest immigrant population. "And like a lot of Europeans, the Italians are absolutely crazy about their coffee," says Kelly.
Rhode Island soon became home to several coffee syrup manufacturers, including Autocrat, which still has its headquarters in the Ocean State. Today, coffee milk is Rhode Island's official beverage. (In case you ever order one, that's just coffee and milk, and nothing else.)
And coffee syrup just happened to find a home in a state that was once well-known for its dairy production, says Kelly. "There are records going back to colonial times that show that Rhode Island had huge, massive cheese and milk production," he says.
Kelly says the coffee cabinet was probably the lucky creation of happenstance. The state had plenty of milk and ice cream, and plenty of coffee syrup-loving Italian Americans. And reliable refrigeration was becoming more common by the '30s and '40s. Someone was bound to put them all together and "make a really delicious combination that everyone sort of takes for granted," says Kelly.
These days, coffee cabinets remain a staple in Rhode Island – not just for tourists but locals, too, says Eric Delekta, owner of Delekta's Pharmacy in the town of Warren. An old-school silver soda fountain sits atop a stone bar. You can still fill prescriptions in the back.
Delekta's has been serving up coffee cabinets since before World War II – Eric is the third generation in his family to man the counter. He says he has regular customers, some daily, just for the beverage. As customer Justin Riley, who's been coming here for years, tells me, "It's Rhode Island. It's the drink you've got to have, and you've gotta have 'em here."
As for the beverage's idiosyncratic name? Eric Delekta has a theory: "I've heard that they used to keep the machine [the blender] inside a wooden box or a cabinet, but I don't definitely know for sure."
As long as Delekta's keep churning out these coffee cabinets, perhaps it's fine to just let the mystery be.

A guide to some of the best lesser-known leaf-peeping spots in New England

The Northeast’s fall foliage dazzles locals and draws millions of tourists, but many flock to the same tired vantage points.
Those willing to venture off the beaten path will be rewarded with stunning and comparatively uncrowded autumn vistas — and some killer selfies.
Here’s your guide to the best corners of New England and upstate New York for leaf-peeping:


The Heublein Tower in Simsbury, Connecticut sits at the top of Talcott Mountain State Park.
The 165-foot tower was built in 1914 by liquor magnate Gilbert Heublein as a summer home and offers spectacular views that on a clear day extend north to the Berkshires in Massachusetts and south to Long Island Sound.
Getting to the tower involves a relatively easy 1¼-mile hike up a foliage-filled trail that winds up the mountain with plenty of overlooks of the Farmington River Valley. There’s also a nearby pumpkin patch where visitors can enjoy hayrides and pumpkin picking.
—Pat Eaton-Robb

To know New England know our food: Table Talk Pies

A Massachusetts success story: How the love of pie and family brought Table Talk back from extinction

By Noah R. Bombard |

When Table Talk Pies owner Harry Kokkinis was just 3 or 4 years old, his father took him one weekend to the family factory in Worcester's Kelley Square. There, in an office, Kokkinis' grandfather, Greek immigrant and company founder Theodore Tonna, and his business partner Angelo Cotsidas would often have a sampling of pies from the day's production.
"They had a pumpkin pie there and I still remember them offering me a piece," Kokkinis recalls.
He quickly gobbled it up.
"They said, 'Oh, you like it that much? Have another piece.'"
He had another piece. And then another.
"All of a sudden my father turned around and said, 'You ate the whole thing!'"
It was Kokkinis' first piece of a much bigger pie that he would one day inherit -- a multi-million dollar family business that today produces a whopping 3.6 million pies a week and employs more than 300 people between its Canal District production plant in Worcester and another location it recently opened in Shrewsbury. The company also just announced plans to build an additional production plant in the long-vacant South Worcester Industrial Park where it will hire 50 more employees. It is opening a retail store on Green Street -- the first Table Talk retail store in more than 20 years.
The pie business in New England's second largest city is booming. Table Talk Pies anticipates pulling in $100 million in revenue this year for a product that (in its 4-inch version) costs about a buck.
But it was almost all lost.
Having built a successful pie business that began in 1924 with horse cart deliveries on the streets of Worcester, Kukkinis' family sold Table Talk Pies to Beech-Nut in the 1960s. Kokkinis' father, Christo Cocaine (the Americanized version of the family name), continued on with the company to help run it until 1977 when he left the pie business behind.
The company went through a couple of other corporate changes until 1984 -- when the then-owners closed the doors on Table Talk. The factory was shut down.
And that could have been the end of the story.
"Ultimately, the subsequent owners ran it into the ground," Kokkinis said. "I don't know what happened. There were a lot of changes in the marketplace at the time -- the rise of in-store bakeries in supermarkets, the falloff of diners, although diners have since come back."
But Kokkinis' father, Christo, couldn't let the family legacy die. With the help of an investor, he bought back the building, the Table Talk name and a couple of pieces of equipment. About a year later, Table Talk Pies reopened.
The new business plan: Own the snack pie market.
If there's a good example of Worcester's recent renaissance being more than just a surge in downtown development and trendy dining and coffee shops, Table Talk is it -- although its story of rebirth stretches over more than 20 years.
It started with that 4-inch snack-sized pie.
What has been a core product for Worcester-based Table Talk Pies for decades started off as simply a way to get customers to return pie plates.
Faced with trying to rebuild a shuttered business, Christo Cocaine concentrated on doing one thing and doing it really well.
"My father came back focusing on the 4-inch and really building that snack business back up," Kokkinis said.
The company may not have invented the 4-inch pie, but it quickly owned the concept -- filling supermarket aisles across the region with it's snack-sized apple, blueberry, lemon and about nine other flavors of pies, including seasonal favorites like pumpkin.
"It was just a great lunch pail desert," Kokkinis said. "So many people would talk about how their mothers would put the junior pie in their lunchbox every day. As my son often tells me, 'Dad, I don't believe you're selling it for as cheap as you are. You can't buy a candy bar for under a $1.50.'"
MassLive found 4-inch Table Talk pies in area stores ranging from 75-cents to a $1 a pie.
It took time, but the company went from a shuttered factory to a thriving business.
Kokkinis had since moved away, but in 2003, his father invited him to come back and help run the pie businesses together as it grew.
"Dad was looking to buy out the investor who helped him grow the business," Kokkinis said.
With the 4-inch pie in just about every major supermarket in the area and starting to stretch across the country, the company took the next big step -- a return to making larger pies.
"Some opportunities came up in the marketplace that we took advantage of," Kokkinis said.
Eight-inch pies began rolling out of the company's ovens. Now, the business long known for the 4-inch snack pie, takes in about 50 percent of its revenue from the larger 8-inch pies it bakes.
The output is impressive. Table Talk produces about 180,000 4-inch pies every day in it's Worcester plant, Kokkinis said. Another 80,000 8-inch pies are produced daily there.
"We've been growing by leaps and bounds," he said. "Our 4-inch pies are growing out across the country."
In fact, the 4-inch pies are now being sold in California. They've even been spotted in a store in Puerto Rico. And even though the larger pies have become an increasingly larger part of the business, it's those smaller snack pies that have really fueled the growth and are the force behind the company's plans to build a plant in the South Worcester Industrial Park -- a once-bustling manufacturing center of the city that for years has been a post-industrial wasteland.
"It's going to create some jobs in that particular neighborhood," Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. told MassLive last week. "People who live right in that neighborhood could potentially work at those jobs."
That's been the attraction at Table Talk's Canal District plant for years.
Kokkinis says the company has a low turnover rate of workers with many of them living in the neighborhood and either walking or taking public transportation to and from work.
That's a recipe the city has been trying to replicate in its ongoing renaissance -- getting more people to both live and work in the city.
For Central Massachusetts, the growth of a brick-and-mortar business like Table Talk shows that although the area economy has moved away from manufacturing, it's far from dead, says Greater Worcester Chamber of Commerce President Timothy P. Murray.
"In 2013, the chamber put out a report studying the Central Mass. economy," Murray said. "Manufacturing played an important role, but the manufacturing base has shrunk from [number] 1 to [number] 4. But it's still hugely important."
Although the product itself is important to success, Murray said family ownership of businesses like Table Talk is also key.
"They've had deep routes in this community for years in lots of different ways," Murray said.
In fact, Christo Cocaine was on the chamber board for years.
"And because of that, they understand the importance and significance that their jobs provide."
Kokkinis' father passed away in 2015 at the age of 90. He continued to work seven days a week until the time of his death.
"I'm just sorry he's not able to see this," Kokkinis said. "We were growing a lot, but just [to see] the continued growth [in the past year], the new facility we have in Shrewsbury and now South Worcester."
As for the company's success, Kokkinis says he recalls a newspaper interview his father did in the 1950s.
"The [reporter] asked 'what's your most important product?' 'Quality. Quality is our most important product,'" Kokkinis recalls his father responding. "He always said pies have to be made with romance -- or as some people say, with a little love."
"He was a great man."