Finally. I was getting somewhere. I hurried through New Haven where Route 1 jags and twists, more an obstacle course built to confuse than a road, and East Haven, which the Guide describes ambiguously as "receiving the overflow from many of New Haven's expanding activities." I glimpsed Lake Saltonstall, where a gentleman of that venerable Connecticut family once spent an angry day stranded by the tide after a dispute with a ferry-woman. I passed into Branford, always nicer than I remember it being, always inexplicably merging with Westbrook in my mind. (Branford was named for Brentford, England, because...who needs spelling?) Then on to Guilford, where Route 1 passes north of the picture-perfect center of the town.
This was the part of US 1 that I knew and loved.
And about those houses:
"Many Madison houses include one of Connecticut's usual domestic features, the cat-hole. The Yankee, always thrifty, deplored the necessity for holding doors open on cold wintry nights for the house cat to go out and in. Some early craftsmen cut a round opening in the lower panel or rail of a door, fitted a swinging cover over it and solved the problem by teaching the family tabby to push her own door open. Some cat-holes have a little peak-roofed portico to protect them from the weather."I have never seen one, but I've never carried through with my plan to sneak through all the backyards of Madison looking for one, either.
I've driven this road many times, but this was the first time I took time find out what exactly this brick building is. It's called "Old Brick" or the Elisha White House, and belongs to the Clinton Historical Society. It was built in 1750 and is "the oldest brick house on the shoreline from New Haven to New London." The Guide doesn't mention it, possibly because the length of this Tour was giving the writers a headache. (It gave me a headache.) They do mention a milestone placed along the "highway" by Benjamin Franklin, and a detour down a road "lined with tiny fisherman's cottages" which today leads to the Town Beach.
Old Saybrook, which then had a population of just 1,643, was conspicuously left out of the itinerary, and mentioned only as the place where US 1 - not yet I-95 - crossed the "broad stream" of the Connecticut River.
On the other side, the Guide told of an Old Lyme invisible to the modern eye. There was something called the "Mile of Roses," which I thought an ephemeral thing to include in a guidebook; the "hamlet of Laysville...once the center of a small woolen industry"; and the Stone Ranch Military Reservation, which is still there (and called Stones or Stone's Ranch) but, appropriately for a Department of Defense training site, not exactly advertising its presence.
In East Lyme, there were white fences and apple trees, each with a different-colored fruit.
Waterford was more egregiously snubbed than Old Saybrook; there was no mention of the town at all. Waterford is rather large to ignore completely, and in doing so you run the risk of looking like you've forgotten it, which would be embarrassing. I wondered if someone there had been unusually rude to the writers.
And then I was home, in my "historic maritime town" of New London. But there were still a few miles left to go.