A Fan

I’m sorry that I did not learn of the celebration of Old Saybrook’s 375th birthday until it was over. Based on various reports, “A Step Back in Time” seemed to capture the essence of the Saybrook Colony.

Even the dinner at the Bushnell Farm, which was the residence of the Oliphant family when I lived in town, would have been fun even if I couldn’t eat most of the food.

Herb Clark, who sponsored the event and is the guiding light behind the farm’s restoration to its colonial glory, always provides the best in quality and I know this event was no exception.

Anyway I received a token of the event from Barbara Prymas, an incredibly knowledgeable and gracious volunteer at the Family History Center in Middletown. She gave me an old-fashioned fan – the sort that funeral homes and the like handed out at every event in the days before air-conditioning. She had attended the dinner where the fans served in place of any electric power. Since it was mid-August in the hottest summer on record, I’m sure they were needed.

It won’t photograph because of the antiquing, so I’ll describe it. Under the title Old Saybrook Historical Society, there are pictures and brief text describing the sites of historical significance. The first two, the General William Hart House and the Frank Stevenson Archive building, represent the holdings of the historical society. The Yale College Boulder marks part of the site of the school before it moved to New Haven. Next is James Pharmacy, more about that below. The other side has Lady Fenwick’s Grave, the Lion Gardiner statue, the Parker House, the Castle, North Cove Road and the Dickinson House. The grave marks the spot of “the first white woman to die on Connecticut soil”; Gardiner, attired in armor, gazes toward his island in Long Island Sound; The Parker house dates from the seventeenth century and is an anomaly being one of the few frame structures to survive. It is believed to be the oldest building in O.S. The Castle had a reputation when I was a kid for having been built over an underground access, which allowed liquor to flow into town during Prohibition. (That part’s not mentioned on the fan.)

I’m not sure which of the many large houses on the North Cove is the Dickinson House but the builder was a dealer in rum and molasses, which means he was part of the Triangle Trade.

And once again, I’m so sorry that facts about my family’s store are wrong. My mother spent many years trying to correct the record and I guess I’ve inherited the mantle. So once more, for the record, my grandfather, Peter C. Lane, opened the store in 1900, not 1895.

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