Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Nothing To See Here

Mostly I write about things that are. Sometimes the things I want to write about are...not. For example:

-The Great Wall Of Sterling. I read about this in an obscure book on old Connecticut mills. It sounded so cool: an 800 foot stone wall in Oneco in Sterling, built around the time of the Civil War with waste stones from a nearby quarry. It took 20 years to complete, and in the book there was (I think? Did I imagine it?) a black and white photo of the wall looking very imposing. I almost thought I saw it on Google Maps. But then I went to Oneco (which is really out there, I mean Rhode Island could probably invade and occupy it and no one in the rest of Connecticut would notice for months) and drove along the road from whence it is supposedly visible. And it was not visible. Either you need to be on foot, in people's yards, or up in a plane/balloon/glider to see it, or it is no more.

-The Russian Bear Tea Room in Thompson. I looked for it when I did this trip to Thompson. I wasn't expecting to find anything, and I didn't, but for some reason I really want this place to be there. The proprietors were the Mamedoffs. Mrs. Mamedoff was the sister of Anastase Vonsiatsky, a White Russian who moved to the area after fighting the Communists back home to marry a wealthy Thompson woman. The Mamedoff's son, Andy, was one of a few American pilots who broke American laws of neutrality in the early years of WWII and fought with the British against the Nazis. And he might, apparently, have been Jewish, maybe. Which would mean that his mother was Jewish, which would mean that Vonsiatsky was Jewish, which would mean that there's a whole Jewish/Thompson thing that no one Jewish (except me) is paying any attention to. Also he, Vonsiatsky, was arrested for spying for Germany by the FBI. Maybe the Feds had been hanging around Thompson since the Thomas Dorr incident in my link above. (By the way Colin McEnroe did a show about this.) I don't know what the German spy thing does to the Jewish theory. Anyway, the Russian Bear looked like a regular house. So I keep thinking maybe if I went back and drove down Route 21 again, I'd spot it.

-The Bradley Edge Tool Company Historic District in Weston. OK, this does technically exist. But you can't find any evidence of it except, as I recall, a very tasteful little white sign. I wanted so much to be able to see remnants of this mid-19th century factory village that - one imagines - once filled the now-hushed Saugatuck River Valley with clanging. Bradley Edge Tool wasn't Weston's first so-un-Weston-y industrial enterprise by any means. It was opened in an abandoned comb factory, and the town was known long before that for manufacturing metal implements. There had been an iron forge here in the 1700s. The area was full of foundries, mills, and factories by the time Bradley Edge Tools arrived. But Bradley gives its name to the small linear historic district along the river, and I went there half-deluding myself, wishing that some mini-Collinsville would pop up from amid the Colonial Revivals. But any obvious signs of industry here are long gone. Oh well. Sometimes Connecticut is full of non-surprises.

2 comments:

  1. Pssssst....The Great Wall is still there, right next to the road. Not sure what road you were on, but it's definitely still there on Pine Hill Road.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Megan - Thank you for the comment! I'll have to look again...

    ReplyDelete

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