Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New London Visitors Information  I grew up in this little city by the sea.  Everyday I walked through its beautiful streets and along its breath-taking rocky beach.  Wonderful shingled houses and old lighthouses sang to me songs of hardy sailors, witches of lore lurked within the haunted old buildings and cottages, and Nathan Hale's Little School house fascinated me with legends of the Revolutionary War.  I would visit Ocean Beach Park every weekend, eat freshwater taffy, swim in the ocean with my friends, the hermit crabs and jellyfish, and listen to Barbra Mandrell and polka bands on the boardwalk stage.  Lights of yachts twinkled beneath the stars; sometimes the P's and I would drive along the misty shoreline, often to visit Mystic or Harkness Mansion.   Anything seemed possible, all was wonderful, and nothing out of grasp.  It was, by far, the happiest time of my life. 

New London is in my blood, in small way.  Although I did not live there for very long,  my childhood there, where I saw "Jaws" and "Star Wars", where I saw fantastic Trident nuclear submarines at the General Dynamics base in Groton where my Dad worked, where part of me still plays in the sands of the beach. 

The woods of Connecticut's inland are numerous, and I knew them to be full of strange wonders.  Here, to my boyish imagination, were certainly Indian chiefs, headless horsemen, vile witches, and ancient architectures.  Streams bursted with cat-o-nine tails, the sweet scent of the nearby Atlantic lulled in the boughs.  If I rode my bike down the avenue (Gardner Ave, Ocean Ave), I'd see funky beachcombers heading down to the water.  On other trails, imagined (?) ghosts of the Colonists would haunt the north forty, amidst old antique ruins of baby carriages and painted rocks. 

     Such an idyllic and storied place drove my dream-filled head to great heights.  Paul Simon sang "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover" over the booth jukebox at the little Italian pizzeria we went to every Friday night for dinner.  "Let Me Be There" by Olivia Newton-John blared from the lit jukebox and my sister Debra, then three or four years old, would dance on top of the wooden table of our booth in the same corner of the restaurant, where we would always sit.  A happy older woman who owned the place would wait on us most of time (I wish I could remember her name, she was so great), and would smile from ear to ear while bringing out the round metal pizza trays loaded with sliced Italian sausages (not the crappy kind you get on most pizza nowadays), and we would eat the best meatball subs while we boogied to old country songs.  I remember the joyful times my family always had at that place, and if I could, I'd go back in time and give the proprietors of that Mom-and-Pop joint a ten minute-long zombie hug, they were so all that. 


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