April 8: The Distinguished University Professor Who Was Once America’s Greatest Child Star

    When Joel Kupperman died of the COVID-19 coronavirus today in 2020, the mild-mannered, Cambridge-educated, retired academic was a distinguished university professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut and one of the world’s leading authorities on Asian philosophy. A much-honored and visionary philosopher of ethics, aesthetics, and Eastern philosophies, colleagues hailed him as “a…

April 1: A Political Cartoonist for the 20th-Century Woman

  As the first political cartoonist ever to win a Pulitzer Prize, Clarence Daniel “C. D.” Batchelor thought having been born on April Fool’s Day (in 1888) was appropriate to his calling. The cane-collecting (he died owning more than 500), dapper, Kansas-born, self-styled “character” – “It was just as easy to be a character as…

March 29: Catholic Immigrants Unite to Protect & Support Each Other, & Their New Country

  Late-19th century Connecticut was marked by growing hostility toward a massive recent influx of Catholic immigrants from Europe, dangerous working conditions in factories that left many families fatherless, and a marked increase in the formation of fraternal benefit societies. In response to these societal pressures, Father Michael J. McGivney, the 29-year-old Irish immigrant and…

February 14: Survivor of A Great Industrial Meltdown

  In the rural town of East Canaan, along the banks of the Blackberry River, there stands a curious rectangular tower. It is constructed of massive slabs of marble and reaches 40 feet high, with walls 30 feet wide at its base. The isolated tower is the last surviving example of the 19th century blast…

January 25: A Building Built for the Battles to Come

  Today in 1940, nearly 3000 people came to East Hartford to go on a three-quarter mile walking tour of a brand new two-million-dollar factory expansion at the Pratt and Whitney Aircraft company. The 280,000 square foot expansion, for which planning had begun the previous February and ground had been broken and construction started only…

January 23: A Pie in the Sky Idea Flies Off the Shelves

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 decades…

January 20: An Airport Named By a Plane Crash

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 of…

January 6: The Inaugural Ball That Didn’t Happen

  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: A Girl with Soaring Ambitions.

  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…

December 17: A Future President Finishes Submarine School in Groton

  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…