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…

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 leading…

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…

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 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…

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…

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 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 Canine Sole Mate 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…