January 20: Windsor Locks’ Army Air Base Becomes “Bradley Field”

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: Connecticut’s First Female Pilot’s Final Journey

  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: Ensign Jimmy Carter 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 29: Connecticut’s Presidential Portrait Painter

  On this day in 1982, a very special delivery was received at the White House: a stunningly photo-realistic portrait of President Jimmy Carter, painted by Connecticut artist Herbert E. Abrams. The painting was President Carter’s official White House portrait, and after viewing it, White House curator Clement Conger declared Abrams the best contemporary artist…

November 14: Paul Sperry Invents 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…

September 4: The USS Everett Larson Honors A Brave Connecticut Marine

  Born in Stamford, Connecticut in 1920, Everett Frederick Larson was one of thousands of young Connecticans who answered their country’s call to service during World War II. In January 1942, Larson enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and, several months later, participated in the Guadalcanal Campaign, a major offensive by the Allied…

August 27: First Chemotherapy Treatment in the United States

  Today in 1942, 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  top-secret experiments aimed at defending against the horrors of mustard gas that a handful of Yale doctors conducted for the…

July 18: Connecticut’s Largest Shoreline Park Opens to the Public.

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

June 30: Middletown’s Dean Acheson Awarded Presidential Medal of Merit

  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 ten years, from 1942 – 1952, and during that time…

June 29: Governor Baldwin Signs Bill Requiring History in Schools

  Connecticut history made history on this day in 1943, when Governor Ray Baldwin signed a law setting new standards for citizenship education in Connecticut schools. The new law required that any college or grade school that received state funding — public or private — include a comprehensive study of American history and government in…

June 6: Seconds Before Jumping, A D-Day Message From Home

  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…