by Ray Bendici
Oct 29, 2012
11:02 AM
Unsteady Habits

Here Was Connecticut


Note: I understand that Hurricane Sandy is a very serious situation, but the Bendici family has long been known to deal with stressful situations via humor. Hope you all enjoy this.

To you future archaeologists who now have uncovered the northeastern part of the United States that was wiped from the map and most of history by the mighty storm known as “Hurricane Sandy” (or by your era simply as “Frankenstorm” or “The Big One Back in ’12″), and have now stumbled upon this, I say greetings!

While others around me scrambled to stockpile survival supplies such as durable goods, bottled water, batteries and the blu-ray release of Magic Mike, I decided that given my skill set, it would be more productive to preserve a record of my beloved state of Connecticut so you can know more about it as I assume Frankenstorm undoubtedly altered the events of humankind as we know (or knew) it. Or so I'm guessing—as I type this, the rain and wind has just started to batter us.

For the record, Connecticut used to look like this in 2012:

But now post-Frankenstorm it probably looks like this, as you’re well aware:

Chances are that you there in the future may only have fragments and scraps of our history culled from the memories of survivors and the pieces of detritus you salvaged from the high storm tides and fierce gales that obliterated our way of life. You may have read about our fair land from one of those old flat things made of paper that contained words and pictures—we call them “books,” you probably call them “the senseless murder of trees for crass entertainment purposes”—or you may have learned about us from whatever electronic records managed to withstand the wrath of Frankenstorm.

As the colossal weather system bears down on us, I have precious little time, but I thought I might at least record some of the key things you should know about Connecticut that may not be obvious.

• We didn’t come up with the name “Connecticut”—it was here when we got here. And by “we,” I mean the European explorers who first arrived in the 1600s and then systemically took the land away from the Native Americans. “Quinnehtukqut” (various spellings were used) means “by the long tidal river” in Algonquian and referred to the lands on either side of the large waterway that bisected the state from north to south. We never really came up with anything catchier or shorter, or even a really cool nickname—sometimes we were called “the Nutmeg state,” but it wasn’t exactly a compliment, and "the Constitution State" is impressive but nothing you'd really want on a t-shirt.

• Connecticut was also referred to as “The Land of Steady Habits,” except that had nothing to do with nuns who wouldn’t embrace fashion trends and everything to do with early European Puritans having very strict moral codes. In 2012, however, we now allow progressive social ideas such as gay marriage, the use of medical marijuana and—only after 200 years of quibbling and handwringing—the devils’s fire water (aka “alcohol”) to be sold on Sundays.

• Speaking of the Puritans, Connecticut was known for its infamous “Blue Laws,” an allegedly strict code that contained rules such as:

- Men-stealers shall suffer death.
- Married persons must live together, or be imprisoned.
- Every male shall have his hair cut round according to a cap.
- Fornication shall be punished by compelling the marriage, or as the Court may think proper.

As it turns out, these were all complete fabrications, whipped up by the vengeful Rev. Samuel A. Peters, a British loyalist during the American Revolution. Peters, angry that he was essentially run out of his country of birth by those who wanted to tar-and-feather him for spreading his pro-British views when the young nation was in the process of declaring its independence, wrote A General History of Connecticut, a satire mocking the colony that many people subsequently have mistaken as truth. It was not, although there were plenty of bad haircuts and fornicators who were punished by marriage.

• Although you may have uncovered numerous dinosaur-themed attractions in the state, we did not actually exist at the same time as these giant thunder lizards. We did have plenty of lounge lizards cruising our numerous night clubs and restaurants on any given Saturday night.

• Professional wrestling was not invented in Connecticut, although the biggest “sports entertainment” organization in the world was based here. The owner of the company twice ran for U.S. Senate and if the state hadn’t been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, it may have been buried under mountains of her campaign mailings.

• The southwest stretch of the state was called “The Gold Coast” due to the high concentration of extraordinarily wealthy people who lived there. First off, there was no actual gold. Second, it was not representative of the entire state as there were many low-income and impoverished people throughout the state who never even tasted Grey Poupon. Finally, if anything came out of the destruction of the East Coast, at least the rich were smited along with the poor. Or so I hope.

• Yale University in New Haven was one of the finest institutions of higher learning in the entire United States. Unfortunately, by 2012, very few people from Connecticut actually attended it.

• The state was home to a number of influential writers over the years—Noah Webster, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Philip Roth, Wally Lamb, Suzanne Collins, Stephene Meyer, Ray Bendici, Maurice Sendak, Arthur Miller … you get the idea. Mostly all geniuses, from I what remember.

• Finally, autumn in Connecticut was an idyllic time in the state—terrific foliage, wonderful weather and tons of fall activities. At least if we went out in October, it was at the top of our game.

Okay, the storm is bearing down on me, so I have to go. I hope this gives you a better picture of what you’ve lost . . . .

Here Was Connecticut

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About This Blog

Connecticut may be one of the smallest states, but it's also one of the most diverse. No one knows this better than content manager Ray Bendici, who is always ready to learn more about our eclectic home, be it by exploring a roadside oddity, discovering a new book or uncovering a bit of little-known state history.

For comments or feedback, email Ray.

Or follow him on Twitter @RayBendici.

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