January 30: The Most Successful Rescue Operation in U.S. Military History

  Today  in 1945, Bridgeport native Lt. Col. Henry Mucci led a coalition of U.S. Rangers and Filipino allies in a daring raid deep into heavily occupied enemy territory to rescue over 500 Allied prisoners of war from a Japanese concentration camp. The mission, known as the Raid on Cabanatuan or simply “The Great Raid,”…

January 23: A Pie in the Sky Idea Takes Off

  In 1871, a Civil War veteran and baker by the name of William Russell Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He later built a large factory on the city’s east side to accommodate the growing demand for his pastries. Little did this simple but successful pieman know that one day, several…

January 20:The Wartime Plane Crash That Named an Airport

  At the start of 1941, though the United States had not yet formally entered World War II, the U.S. military was anxious to shore up defenses along the eastern seaboard, which some considered a vulnerable target for a German attack. Early in the year, the Connecticut General Assembly approved the purchase of 1,700 acres…

January 6: A Wartime Departure From an Ancient Tradition

  Long known as “the Land of Steady Habits,” Connecticut is home to scores of political and cultural traditions that span generations, including many that stretch back into the colonial era. One such tradition has been the Inaugural Ball, a ceremony filled with plenty of pomp and circumstance thrown for newly elected governors by the…

January 4: Connecticut’s First Woman Pilot’s Final Flight

  In the heady days of early American aviation, when tales of plucky pilots and ingenious innovators were a dime a dozen, few pilots stood out from the crowd as much as Mary Goodrich Jenson, the first woman to earn a pilot’s license in the state of Connecticut. Born in Hartford in 1907, young Mary…

January 3: Hunger Pangs – Glastonbury Grocery Stores Run Out of Food

  Today in 1943, concerned and sometimes panicky homemakers in Glastonbury flocked to area farms seeking potatoes, eggs, poultry and vegetables to feed their families. The food rush came following weeks of increasing food shortages  that had culminated in the sudden closure of several local grocery stores the day before, after  they simply ran out…

December 17: A Future President Earns His Dolphins

  Decades before he became President of the United States, a young James “Jimmy” Earl Carter, Jr. had his sights set on a lifelong career in the U.S. Navy. As a teenager, Carter dreamed of attending the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. After graduating from high school in rural Plains, Georgia at the age…

November 14: Paul Sperry (and His Dog) Invent the Boat Shoe

  Today in 1939, New Haven-born sailor-turned-shoemaker Paul Sperry received a patent for one of the most famous and enduring pieces of American footwear: the Sperry Top-Sider, or “boat shoe.” Born in 1895, Sperry’s life revolved around the sea; growing up along the Connecticut coast, he developed a lifelong love for sailing at an early…

August 27: “Substance X” Leads To the Nation’s First Chemotherapy Treatment

  Today in 1942, following top-secret research  on the effects of the war-poison mustard gas, physicians at Yale University made medical history as they  administered the first use of intravenous chemotherapy as a cancer treatment in the United States. This medical milestone was the culmination of  experiments aimed at defending against the horrors of mustard…

July 18: Connecticut’s Biggest Beach & State Park Welcomes Its First Crowd

  Hammonasset Beach State Park, Connecticut’s largest public beach and one of the state’s most popular attractions, first opened to the public today in 1920. Located in Madison, Hammonasset features a continuous two-mile-long stretch of sandy beaches lining a shoreline peninsula that juts southward into Long Island Sound. Before opening to the public in 1920,…

June 30: The Highest Honor a Civilian Can Receive

  On June 30, 1947, President Harry Truman awarded Dean Acheson the Medal for Merit, a special honor given to civilians for “exceptionally meritorious conduct” in service of the Allied powers during World War II. The Medal for Merit was awarded for a period of 10 years, from 1942 – 1952. It was the highest…

June 6: In the Skies of France, A D-Day Message From Mom

  In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, Private Robert C. Hillman became one of over 13,000 American paratroopers to leap out of a plane over Normandy as part of the “D-Day” invasion of occupied France — one of the largest offensives of World War II. A member of the legendary 101st Airborne…