Not much has been happening in the Manchester area since the COVID Quarantine started in mid-March. Absent are the MCC Band Shell Concerts, Yard Goats Baseball Games, Senior Center classes, recreational opportunities, and TheaterWorks and LTM productions.
Even with a partial reopening in the state, we have felt the need to continue being cautious about social distancing and wearing a mask. We haven’t visited any indoor dining establishments or attended summer social gatherings. When we were out for our nightly walk around the block with Esther earlier this week, we were surprised by a sign advertising a concert at Center Memorial Park.
A quick look at the Beller’s Music website revealed this flyer.
We decided to check it out. Most people arrived wearing masks and kept them on until they were seated safely. There was a big sign letting us know how far apart to sit.
The weather was perfect. A socially distanced audience, relaxing music, and plenty of shady spots to sit created a joyful, soul-nourishing and much appreciated night out. The five-piece band, Autumn Mode, played selections made famous by Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Marvin Gaye, and Steely Dan, to name a few.
We eagerly anticipate attending more Beller’s Music Thursday Night Concerts during this pandemic summer!
Pictures of Caleb, Liana, Rhea, Isabella, and Rose discovering storytime with Coriander (Andy) a R.E.A.D. Certified Golden Retriever. The program was held at Mary Cheney Library on Wednesday after school.
Author Cynthia Parzych of Glastonbury was at the Manchester Public Library in late November to talk about her new book Connecticut Made.
She began her talk by sharing some interesting facts about the entrepreneurial history of CT. Apparently, CT has been a center for invention, manufacturing, and innovation and has had an entrepreneurial spirit since John Winthrop, Jr obtained a charter from the British Government to establish a colony here in 1662. He encouraged scientists and alchemists to join him and the iron industry and manufacturing began.
Some other innovative businesses from CT include:
First tissue paper
Oldest continuously operating newspaper
One of the first banks
First phone exchange set up in New Haven
Friction ignited matches
Mickey Mouse watch, Waterbury clock co
Mounds & Almond Joy
Peach & chicken breeds
Ms. Parzych launched her writing journey by returning to her hometown of New Britain. She had grown up in the “Little Poland” section. She took a nostalgic walk re-tracing the steps her family took each Saturday morning 50 years ago on their weekly food shopping trips. She recalled fond memories of visiting the various shops on Broad St. which unfortunately no longer exist. She was excited to discover that Martin Rosol’s and Avery’s survived. Visiting them helped her to clarify something:
“Both these New Britain businesses offer something I think we have all lost and what we may all be looking for in our communities today – good quality products, made by real people we know, products that get us excited or remind us nostalgically of the good things from our past that we owned and/or ate when life was a bit simpler. Social interaction, friendly people who are informed about their product and what goes on in the community around them, who possess a generosity of spirit and offer a social context for our daily lives from interactions with those shopkeepers, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances we run into and who support these businesses. Businesses like this are the glue which keep a community together and gives a town or city pride and these are the kind of businesses I wrote about generally in my book.”
Ms. Parcych chose businesses for her book which:
“All had interesting stories behind their success intertwined with a lot of local history. They all produce excellent locally made product, have friendly and informed customer service and attract customers who care about these businesses, customers who engage with each other because of their enthusiasm for the products….”
I have enjoyed reading the book. The research about the history of the owners and products have inspired me to plan trips to check out some new places in the state.
Two Manchester businesses made the book:
Divine Treasures at 404 Middle Turnpike, West
The Spicemill at 191 Adams St.
I have been to Divine Treasures and agree with Ms. Parzych’s assessment of the products in her book where she describes “heavenly hand-made chocolate treats”. I am planning to visit The Spicemill and report back.
In my mind, there are many more Manchester establishments (new and old) which could be included. Readers of this blog may even have their own favorites.
On Tuesday, my granddaughter Rose and I attended a program at the Manchester Public Library called Toddling Tots. The children attending were in the age range of 12-24 months. The parents and grandparents were older. We had a great time singing songs, playing with scarves, listening to a story and looking at a book. The program was downstairs in the Howroyd Room.
We arrived a little early and stayed a little bit after the program was over. In the children’s section of the library there were two chairs just the right size for Rose to sit in, puppets to play with and lots of books to look at. The Children’s Department at Manchester Public Library is staffed by four librarians with Master’s of Library Science Degrees. They choose books, read reviews and prepare and present programming with an emphasis on encouraging a love of reading. What could be better?
What do the towns of Greenwich, Stamford, Fairfield, West Hartford and Manchester have in common?
Did you guess?
GREAT LIBRARIES is the correct answer!!!! That’s right, in Manchester, the library circulation numbers are just below the numbers for Greenwich, Stamford and Fairfield and comparable to West Hartford. However, Manchester has a much smaller library and only 25 parking spaces! Must be a lot of motivated readers in town.
Did you know that the Manchester Public Library got its start in the Cheney Mills in 1840? At that time the mills were smaller wooden structures, not the large brick buildings which dominate the west end of Manchester today. The women who skeined the silk worked in a large room together. The work was monotonous and they decided that while working they wanted someone to read to them. That was multitasking in the good old days! So, they pooled their money and started buying books. In all, they bought 150 books of which the library today still has 125 original copies. We saw a couple of them at the Manchester Government Academy Meeting last Thursday.
In 1850, these women decided they would like to have a circulating library and petitioned the town. All of the books previously purchased by the mill workers had been non-fiction. Some people wanted to add fiction to the collection. There were discussions and disagreements because another group thought non-fiction was all that should be allowed. You could call it fiction friction. But, eventually, it was agreed that both fiction and non-fiction books would be purchased. The books were first housed in the office of the Cheney Brothers and later moved to the basement of Cheney Hall. In 1880, the books were moved to a house on Wells St where they remained until the fire of 1913. During the fire, many of the books were saved using a bucket brigade in reverse or book saving brigade. The books were then moved to a house on Main St. Circulation increased with this more central location.
In 1937, labor was cheap because of the depression. Skilled craftsman worked for a dollar a day using WPA funds and matching town funds to construct what today is known as the Mary Cheney Library or the Main Branch of the Manchester Public Library. The Whiton Branch is a smaller building located in the north end of town. With a budget of $3 million and a full-time staff of 25, the library offers books, ebooks, audiobooks, downloadable movies, museum passes, kits for teachers and families, CDs, DVDs and lots of programs.
One interesting program is the Silk City Board Game Group which was mentioned in the Money Magazine write-up of Manchester’s #1 ranking. There is also a Read in the Park Day, Author Talks, a Mystery Book Club and a Cookbook Club to name a few. There are children’s programs that focus on literacy and a love of reading. Stay tuned for a follow-up library post on the Toddling Tots Program which I attended with my granddaughter, Rose.