Tag Archives: wotm

Hidden History of Stamford

Welcome one and all to this, the fifth installment of my Halloween Lost Legends series and most notably, the final post of What’s on the Menu?. 

I’ve already explained in my previous post here about the ending of this site after 11 years, so I won’t bore you with it again. However, my one promise was that I would end the site on Halloween posting what I love to write about most, the Lost Legends of Stamford.

I started this series in 2015 as a way to get folks interested in the city’s history in a much different way. I thought maybe by making it less ‘school-like’ and more fun (and twisted), it would get you the reader to want to learn more about where you live…and get involved in preserving what’s left of our dwindling history.

I put months of research into each of these pieces and love every minute of it. For me, the biggest problem is that I end up with SO much material, that narrowing it down to just a few stories and then having to consolidate those into just few paragraphs for a blog post is very hard. I don’t want to leave anything out and what you see here is but a fraction of what I’ve discovered. However, I’ve decided that while I can’t post every detail of every story here, since this IS the final post of this site, making this particular post a bit longer is ok…so that’s what I did!

As a writer, I like to tell the WHOLE story. And because of this, the goal has always been to take these posts and my notebooks full of other findings, expand on them and put them into book form. That has been a dream of mine for some time now. Plus, just because I’m ending this particular site doesn’t mean I will stop writing about Stamford. Not at all. The time has come to end WOTM but I will be adding these pieces and more to a future site of mine and I’ll put a link to my social accounts below to keep you updated on its progress. 

Before I close this out (so you can get to the good stuff), I cannot end this piece without thanking all of you. It is because of you that I’ve continued to keep this site up and because of you that has kept me going with these pieces in particular. When I reached out to the community for story ideas, feedback, etc, the support I received was overwhelming. I’ve been here in Stamford for almost 30 years now, more than half of my life, and as established as I have gotten here, I still worry when I present my work to those who were born and raised in this town. You have shown me such incredible heart and community spirit and for that, I am truly grateful.

So now, let us get to it! Again, I had a hard time deciding what would go into this post. I went from the truly morbid to the strange to a bit more light and fun. Let’s see where I landed shall we?

Happy Halloween Stamford and Thank You for 11 Years. 🙂

~~~

“Ghosts are history demanding to be remembered.” – Jeff Belanger

Newfield Cemetery Stamford, CT (personal photo)

Forget the Third Rail…Beware the Cut & Crossing: Stamford became part of the NY/New Haven/Hartford railroad system in 1848. It was a big move for the up and coming industrial city with goods manufactured here now being able to be transported more easily to New York and other areas. But with the good, came the dangerous…

In the early days of the rail system, the tracks were flush with the streets. And while trains certainly did not travel at the speeds they do today, crossing them with a horse and carriage or by foot, could prove to be deadly. At times, one could not hear a train coming and the inevitable would take place. Just as today we have train gates that lower to signal an oncoming train, back in the day, they put flagmen at certain areas to let folks know when a train was coming. However, they were human and accidents still happened.

There are two sections of tracks that saw so much death and anguish, that they were legendary throughout the railroad community. Both in Stamford and known as Taylor’s Crossing and  Selleck’s Cut, they were unfortunate examples of the dangers of early rail travel. Add to this, while other towns had speed limit laws regarding the trains, Stamford did not. As an example, Bridgeport had a limit of 8mph while trains in Stamford could go as high as 25mph. Express trains in particular took full advantage of this to make up the time lost in other cities.

One particular and tragic death at Taylor’s Crossing, an area that as far as I’ve been able to tell is towards the Greenwich border, happened in December of 1880. 17 year old Harriet Davenport who was travelling with her uncle John L. Davenport and the daughter of Rev. J. W. Hyde, was killed when the carriage they were in was struck by an oncoming train. They had been waiting for one train to pass but did not hear the second coming from the other direction. Miss Davenport was thrown from the carriage and her head struck a rock and she was killed instantly. Miss Hyde was thrown down an embankment and injured but both she and Mr. Davenport, who himself suffered some cuts and other injuries, survived.

Due to over a dozen deaths in a 10 year span, in 1888, an arrangement had been made between the town of Stamford and the Railroad Company to abolish the Taylor’s Crossing site. It was considered a ‘grade crossing’, (where railroads and roads cross at the same level) and due to the risks, the company was determined to get rid of all grade crossings along their routes. By the mid 1890’s, iron bridges were built for vehicles over the tracks so that they could avoid contact at the busiest and most dangerous points.

Selleck’s Cut, which crossed with Selleck Street, was the other spot known for its trail of death. For this length of track, what added to its danger was the sharp “S” curve that really, when you look at the map of its layout, one can’t help but wonder if they could have avoided this danger from day one. It was noted that between 1901 and 1903 a dozen people had been killed in those two years alone in at the Cut. 

Two tragic examples of folks trying to cross the tracks on foot at Selleck’s Cut include the 1887 deaths of both local confectioner, Mr. J. H. Ficken and his 14 year old son and later in 1903, when Mrs. Patrick King had every bone shattered by a train while walking home with groceries and crossing the tracks. The medical examiner made a point of saying that there was “not one whole bone left in her body.”

This area saw it’s share of train deaths over those early years. The suidcide of 35 year old Michael Nevins was particularly gruesome. In 1903, he was walking near the tracks not far from Selleck’s Cut and timed it so that when the train came, he jumped in front of it just in time and to be decapatated and his body mangled on impact.

Selleck’s Cut was also the target of sabotage on several occasions with both rocks and railroad ties left loose as well as secured on the tracks to promote derailments. This happened a few times with some placed by vagrants, some by pranksters and one time by workers who were protesting working conditions.

While Stamford had many deaths in the first 50+ years of having a rail system, (in 1884 alone there were 9 deaths along its tracks), Taylor’s Crossing and Selleck’s Cut were the two spots that were the scariest. It is a tragic part of our history that was brought on by the advent of a new era of progress.

I think the question here is this…with so many sudden and tragic endings in such a concentrated area, are there spirits left behind? It is my understanding that a school that used to be near the tracks years ago (no longer there) had been haunted. Perhaps other locations in this area may also be feeling the effects of wandering souls taken oh so quickly and wondering exactly what happened to them all those years ago.

Selleck’s Cut 1868 Map of Stamford (personal collection)

Hidden in Plain Sight: With so much of our town’s history being lost to overdevelopment, if you really take a moment to look, you just might find that there is still some of older Stamford all around. Subtle reminders of our past with ghost signs on the sides of buildings; historic barns that are still standing; small family cemeteries of those who came before us; small dedication plaques on bridges, in parks, on benches, things you may never have taken notice of before, but now, may start to seek them out and find there’s more out there than you ever realized.

One part of our history that has intrigued me through the years are the schools that are no longer around. When I moved to Stamford in 1994, I noticed that some of the homes on our street didn’t look quite like regular homes. I had done some research and found that there was once a rather large school here and the homes were part of the property. After that, I began to look more carefully at places around the city to see if I could spot other out of place objects and that is how my love of this city and it’s history began.

So let’s go back a bit…

While Stamford was founded in 1641, the first public school wasn’t built until 1671. When the original meeting house was torn down to make way for a larger one, some of the wood was used to build the first school across the way on the property of what is now our Town Hall. Originally a one room, unheated schoolhouse, they didn’t get heat until 1685 when a new school was built to accommodate the growing number of students. Over the years as the town grew and expanded, more schools were added to be closer to where the families were in different parts of the area.

The evolution of the Stamford school districts has ebbed and flowed with the times. Schools have come and gone, some having outlived their usefulness, some torn down because of age or because districts consolidated and a couple even burned down. However, some of the older structures are still with us as reminders of a time long gone by.

There are a couple that are quite obviously still noticeable as former school buildings. The first that comes to mind is the former Glenbrook School on Crescent St. which is now home to the Glenbrook Community Center. The other is the former Willard then Martha Hoyt School built in 1914 which now houses the Stamford History Center. Both are imposing stone structures that are now being repurposed for such good works and keeping the history alive!

Now of course while these two examples are right out there for all to see, there are a few that aren’t as obvious. There are several former one room school houses, eight in all, from Stamford’s past that thankfully unlike other historical burildings, were not torn down but rather continue to be used and their histories added onto in the process.

Four of these former schools: Roxbury, High Ridge, North Stamford and Bangall Schools are have all been repurposed for the public to see and use. Roxbury School is now a Real Estate office at the meeting of Roxbury and Long Ridge Roads; the old High Ridge School building is part of the side hall structure of the old Korean Methodist Church on upper High Ridge Road; the former Bangall Schoolhouse is part of the Grace Church facility at the corner of Roxbury & Westover Roads; and the old North Stamford School moved to reside across from the historic North Stamford Community Church to become their Guild House. Once you see them, you can completely see the original schools and visualize how they must have looked many years ago.

The other four one room schools have been turned into additions of private homes. For these, I will not be giving specific addresses but rather just the streets they now reside on…

The old Hunting Ridge School building has been added on to a home on Dannell Drive; On Riverbank Road, you may just spot the old Farms School; The Scofieltown School was moved to Brookdale Road and The Turn of River School was moved a bit and now resides a little more south on Turn of River Road. 

Knowing that these one room buildings still exist in a city that is constantly evolving is really quite something. That they have survived the wrecking balls all around us and have lived to let their stories continue is something we need to more of here. That they were once schoolhouses and we continue to learn from them makes this even better.

Just one more thing…I’ve heard inklings that one (or more) of these old school buildings may be haunted! Again won’t say which ones, but really, don’t all schools have a ghost or two in them? 

Grace Church (Google Earth)

One House, Three Artists and a Monster: There is house in North Stamford that at different times, had many special residents. And while all different in character, there are three in particular that had one thing in common…they were all artists in their own right.

One was a sculptor who gave this county the majestic stone carving of presidential heads on the side of a mountain. One gave us laughs in the comics section of the newspaper. And one gave us monsters and zombies in Stamford…oh my!

The first to reside at the home on Wire Mill Road was the sculptor Gutzon Borglum. The gentleman artist who created and sculpted Mount Rushmore was a resident of North Stamford from 1914-1924. He bought the original property with a borrowed $40,000 in 1909 and then proceeded to buy up many more parcels of land to create his compound later named “Borgland”. (Ironically at the time of this writing, the house went up for sale during the research of this piece and is pending for $1,099,000.00.) 

Part of the estate included a studio for the artist to create works and later, this studio would house two other artists.

Mort Walker, a Stamford icon, was the third in this trio to own the house and work in that studio. Mr. Walker created the great comic strips Beetle Bailey and Hi & Lois which are still loved by millions of folks today thanks to his sons Brian and Greg who continue to produce them. Mr. Walker also gave us the National Cartoon Museum, once housed in Greenwich and now located in Florida and was a veteran of World War II. We lost Mr. Walker in 2018 at the age of 94 when he passed in the house of pneumonia.

So much can be written on both Mr. Walker and Gutzon Borglum and of course, a lot has already and for good reason. However, what brings us here today is the “middle child” of this trio of artists who resided in this North Stamford home. This actor, writer and director of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s gave us the perfect gift for Halloween cult movie lovers everywhere…two horror movies that well, make Plan 9 from Outer Space seem like Oscaar worthy pieces of art. They are in that lovely genre of “so bad they’re awesome” and what makes these films even better was that they were filmed right here in Stamford!

Del Tenney was a renowned actor in theatrical productions from Broadway to the Washington DC area. He and his wife, actress Margot Hartman gave Stamford the Hartman Theater on Atlantic Street (Part of the SCA — now known as the Palace and Rich Forum theaters. According to newspaper ads in the 70’s and 80’s, the address shows where the Rich Forum is however, they also had works done where the Palace is now. Will happily correct this information if clarified in the future). 

Known as “the B-movie King of Connecticut”, in 1964, Mr. Tenney gave us two ultra campy 60’s movies. One had that oh so perfectly beachy vibe of the times. The Horror of Party Beach not only embodied the films of the era but also celebrated our city at the same time.

The beach scenes were filmed on Shippan Point; High Ridge Road was featured with familiar businesses that (thankfully) still stand, but under different names. The shop scene was filmed at what is now Fusaro’s Deli, but was known then as K’s Market. To give a nod to his home where the movie was produced, Tenney also mentions Wire Mill Road as well as shows the street sign for the area. And to make this whole thing even better, Stamford residents were used in the filming for extras throughout the movie.

The plot is one of legends…radioactive waste leaks from a drum that was on a boat that sunk in the water off the coast and the waste just happens to land on a skeleton underneath the water. The skeleton then transforms into a monster that was once described by another late great Stamford resident, Gilda Radner in the movie “It Came from Hollywood” as “a big monster with a lot of hot dogs in his mouth.” Lots of murders happen and of course, there is dancing on the beach. You can’t make this stuff up. Well, maybe you can!

Known as both one of the worst movies of all time as well as one of Stephen King’s favorite movies, this take-off of 1960’s beach musicals is a gem that whether you watch the original or the MT3K sendup of the film, it is one that Stamford locals should see at least once. 

Party Beach is not the only one Tenney filmed and produced here by the way. In fact, his other 1964 film, The Curse of the Living Corpse has an added bonus to it’s classic-ness! This movie is the film debut of none other than Jaws legend Roy Scheider! 

Another gem that the American Film institute labeled as “generally scathing”, this is another one that cult movie lovers need to add to their bucket list of must see films. Set in 1892, a series of murders happens after the patriarch of the family, a man with a fear of being buried alive, passes away. Is it his corpse that comes back for revenge or could it be something more sinister? Like sands through the hourglass, these are the zombies of our lives.

Which leads us back to that house on Wire Mill Road…

These three gentleman who lived there with their families all gave us something special. And whether it was a giant stone cutting, a few laughs on a Sunday morning or movies that will live in infamy, we should never take for granted the history our homes and properties have. The beautiful log cabin style house that was built in 1877 is a rare gem in Stamford. Not only that it is still standing, which these days is a miracle, but one that if those walls could talk, would scream out stories for years and years. What they must have seen over the last century and a half has truly been fascinating and it is homes like this that must be preserved.

As a wonderful addition to this particular piece, this house has for years, been rumored to be haunted! Is it the spirit of Gutzon Borglam who never got to see Mt. Rushmore finished before he passed or did the monsters of Del Tenney’s movies decide they wanted to come to life? 

Anyway you look at it, that one house has a history unlike no other…and may it live on for generations to come.

“…a lot of hot dogs in his mouth”

That’s all folks!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these pieces as much as I’ve enjoyed bringing them to you and it is on this note that I take my leave of my site of the last 11 years. 

What’s on the Menu? aka. WOTM (wha-tum) has been a true labor of love. But one that opened doors for me I never knew I could walk through and for that, I am truly grateful.

I can’t thank you all enough for your support over the years and have been so overwhelmed with the response to this series. It has been an incredible experience and one that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Thank you for coming along on this ride with me and I wish you all a very happy and safe Halloween. 

I can’t leave without one more thing… Keep it Local Stamford!!! 🙂

~

~

~

To read my previous Halloween posts here on WOTM:

Legends and Lore of Stamford (WOTM Halloween 2019)

Twisted Tales of Stamford (WOTM Halloween 2018)

The Stranger Side of Stamford (WOTM first in series 2015)

Featured in Ignacio Laguarda’s Halloween piece for CT Insider in 2019!

For all of my links including my shops and writing pages (which will be updated when my new site gets going and new Stamford history posts added):

Linktr.ee/StuffWeFind

~

~

~

#wotm #keepitlocal #stamford #halloween #lostlegendsofstamford #hiddenhistory #stamfordhistorycenter #stamfordhistory #hauntings #movies #localhistory #bmovies #railroads #trains #legendsandlore

The Time Has come…


Hey guys,

Well, I don’t even know how to start this. In a nutshell, I’ve decided that after almost 11 years of running What’s on the Menu? (Aka WTOM) I will be stepping away from the site. My last post will be my fifth and final installment (for this site anyway) of my Lost Legends of Stamford series. The piece will be posted at its traditional time of the stroke of midnight on Halloween!

I’m sure this news isn’t exactly a shock. Due to issues with my health and other personal and professional reasons, I’ve pulled away from WOTM quite a bit over the last few years. Frankly, what started out as a labor of love…just became labor. 

WOTM started out as a small site and thanks to word of mouth, grew to be something quite special. I wanted to make a place that supported our city, the businesses and the special places like the library, the museum and nature center and of course, the Stamford History Center. As the city started growing more, so did the happenings lists that I’d post daily. What began as lists of just five or six spots grew to dozens of places at any given time. 

At its peak, I was able to take part in and cover local events, make wonderful friends and contacts and grow to love the history of Stamford even more.

It is because of its history that I have been outspoken about the overdevelopment of Stamford and decided a few years back to create the Lost Legends series for Halloween. My hope was that by getting folks interested in the history of the city in a more unusual way, we could help save what’s left of it. Whether or not that will happen, I’m very proud of the work I’ve done on it so far and the hope is to one day get the years worth of work published…both what you see on the site and the many pages off site I have written on these subjects.

That is why I have decided that the piece I’m working on now for this year’s installment will be my last post for What’s in the Menu?. Although I won’t be continuing to update this particular site, I won’t taking WOTM down and will keep it up as a kind of archive. I will however be reposting some of my work from here to a new personal site in the future where I hope to continue to add to not only this series but my other writings as well.

As for WOTM, while the posts on the actual website had dwindled from one and sometimes two a day down to once or twice a year and the Instagram posts have declined as well, the Facebook page has continued. However I will be pulling back even more on that but I’m sure a post here and there may still turn up!

To the DJs, KJs and bands that always had my back; To the managers and owners of local businesses who would come through with gift cards for local events; To the event organizers who recognized my work and invited me to the party; To my friends and family who lent a hand and helped me out when I needed it…and of course…to my followers…I am so eternally grateful for the love and support I’ve had over the years. For without you, there would not have been a site at all!

It has been a wild ride and one that I’m immensely proud of and I thank you all for taking the journey with me. I hope my upcoming final post will live up to the last few and hope that you will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed bringing them to you. 

Thank you Stamford for the last decade plus and may you all stay safe, stay healthy and continue to Keep it Local!

Most sincerely,

Christie 🙂

—-

Lost Legends of Stamford 2020: https://onthemenuct.com/2020/10/31/lost-legends-of-stamford/

Links to my sites, shops, social and more: linktr.ee/StuffWeFind 

Help Save Our History Stamford!

Thanks to Typewriter Collector on YouTube

Hello all, if you have been following WOTM over the years, you know of my deep love of Stamford’s history. I’ve written about it numerous times here and I’ve been a big supporter of the work that the  Stamford History Center does for our city.

So when there is a call for help from them, I must share it.

Once again, BLT/Harbor Point is planning to demolish historic buildings in the South End to build yet more towers that we certainly do not need.  The buildings on the chopping block in question are on National Register Historic District and if you go to the page dedicated to listings in Stamford, you will see that quite a few are no longer with us…and how sad that is. We need to save what few we have left!

BLT has a history (pun intended) of tearing down historic buildings and landmarks  acting first and answering questions later.

THIS NEEDS TO STOP!

BLT is now planning to destroy even more historic buildings to put more ugly towers blackening out the sun to the South End and blocking the views to those who used to have them. Knowing first hand how they operate, I’m thinking they are also hoping that we will all be so distracted by current events, that they can fly under the radar and destroy even more of what’s left of Stamford’s  history.

Here is just part what we are in danger of losing: This building, the old Blickensderfer Typewriter Factory is where, after George Blickensderfer invented a new and popular portable typewheel typewriter in his home on Bedford Street, he grew out of his original small factory and moved into this large one in the South End on Atlantic Street. The  pictures here will give it more of a personable experience than just reading about it: Blickensderfer Factory

Better yet, to see it in action, check out this YouTube video by user:  Typewriter Collector

(The image for this piece is from a screenshot from this video. Stamford, CONN clearly marked on the typewriter.)

Please sign the petition to help stop BLT and show those in Stamford Government that’s we are sick of the Harbor Point group just doing what they want without caring for our city.  SIGN THE PETITION

If you’d like to learn more about the Blickensderfer Typewriters and Stamford History, please head to: George Blickensderfer

Thank you all for reading, following and as always Keeping It Local!

Be safe Stamford!

 

~ ~ ~

#wotm #keepitlocal #learnwhereyoulive

#SAVEOURHISTORY #stamfordhistorycenter #blickensderfertypewriter

For Movies & More, Think Majestic!

The ribbon is cut, the drinks were served and the guests were fed…it was a great night at Stamford’s  Bow Tie Majestic 6 theater! 

The Majestic on Summer Street has upped its game recently with luxury renovations that have turned it into more than just a movie destination, they’ve turned it into a full night out venue and more.

Now you can not only grab some popcorn and a soda to go watch the latest Dwayne Johnson movie in the newly added recliner seats, but you can also grab some food and drinks at the in house Majestic Bar and restaurant area as well!

The menu is a nice variation of small bites and appetizers like the usual sliders, nachos and chicken tenders you find in most bars…but then they kicked it up a notch. This menu has a great and unusual mix of food that will have everyone in your group feeling full and happy (including the kids).

The night of the grand opening, we got to sample quite a bit of goodies and before I continue with that, I’d like to first give a shout-out to the wonderful servers they had that night. Every one of them was so nice and really went out of their way to make sure we all had a chance to try everything. And if we happened to mention we liked something in particular? The next round they’d make sure to come and see you first. So thank you to all of them!

Back to the food…I had the opportunity to sample a good mix and my personal favorites were the fried pickles, NY style pizza with pepperoni and sausage and the chicken and waffles. Although my only suggestion for that dish would be to ask for the honey syrup on the side as there were many of us with sticky hands. However, the one thing you heard from those who had it was how good it was. (It really was.)

They have a nice selection to choose from including breakfast items served all day,  to hot sandwiches like chicken parm, burgers and dogs, artisan pizzas and flatbreads and vegetarian/plant based options like Korean BBQ veggie meatball steamed buns, Beyond burgers and buffalo cauliflower (which was another favorite of mine.) 

Aside from the food, they have a nice bar setup with fantastic signature drinks, large screen TVs where they will be varying the programming from sports to movies and more. They also plan to meld into the downtown bar scene with karaoke and trivia nights, happy hours and even a Sunday brunch! 

So let me paint you a picture…imagine a Sunday funday where you go and have a nice Sunday brunch while enjoying a mimosa and a Belgium waffle. Head over to the bar and have a beer and some pretzel bites while watching your favorite team on one of the TVs. Then when the game is over, grab a ticket, some gourmet popcorn or candy and an Icee and go watch a great movie in a cushy recliner, then come out for dinner and music all without leaving the building!

I would also like to add (from their press release so I don’t get it wrong): In addition, Bow Tie Cinemas has added a brand new BTX – BOW TIE XTREME® large format auditorium with giant screen presentation and DOLBY ATMOS® 13.1 digital surround sound. (Think IMAX-esque for size comparison.)

In an era of ever changing storefronts in the downtown area, it was so nice to see a venue that has become a staple, not only remain, but upgrade into something special as well. For those who live downtown, this will be a perfect spot within walking distance where you’ll have the opportunity to do so much all in one space.

I’d like to thank the Bow Tie Cinemas group and MaxEx PR for hosting such a great night and already looking forward to visiting the new Majestic again soon!

#wotm #keepitlocal #knowwheretogo

#stamfordct #bowtiecinemas #maxexpr

Legends and Lore of Stamford

Stamford, CT. Founded in 1641 this city is worthy of the legends that came from its historic past. Like most stories, they were born out of fact and have only grown into folklore as the years have rolled by. Whether they lead to hauntings or spooktacular events is clearly beside the point. It’s the story that gets me interested in learning the history behind the legend and I hope that it will for you as well!

I’ve done two of these “twisted tales” pieces in the past and have had so much fun with them, I wanted to do more! This year proved to be difficult in that I had accumulated so many different stories that I had a hard time trying to narrow down what I would actually post here and what I would save for another time. I wanted to not only tell the stories, but try to add some life back into them as well. We need to remember our past so we can preserve what’s left of it and this is one way I’m hoping, we can do just that.

Just as I’ve said in previous posts, these are but snippets. Edited down from a tremendous amount of hours of research that will hopefully get you excited to Learn Where You Live!

So let’s get to it…Happy Halloween Stamford!!!

-Thomas Reed-

1776 – Age 78

Though Death be potent as a king

And wounds with his envenomed sting

Yet Faith fresh vigor will impart

To rob the tyrant of his dart.

Stamford Harbor Ledge Lighthouse: There is something about this lighthouse that just speaks to me. It has an air of mystery and solitude to it that is quite different from other lighthouses. While Stamford Harbor has seen a great deal pass over its waters through the years, from Privateers in the Revolutionary War to ships built for military use in our now lost boatyard, it wasn’t until February 10, 1882 that our Harbor was graced with its own lighthouse. The Stamford Harbor Ledge Lighthouse was commissioned for $30,000 in 1881…put into service on Chatham Rocks in 1882…and decommissioned in 1985 just over 100 years later. In its time there were 22 light keepers and two assistants. 

One of the 22, Keeper John J Cook (k.1907-1909) loved spending Christmas at the light saying, “what more soul-stirring music could there be than that of wind and wave as they whistle and roar or moan and swish past our little home?”

As is almost a tradition of old lighthouses, the Stamford Ledge is said to be haunted by one of the old keepers. Which exact one is a mystery, but I would like to offer my  own theory. There are stories of Keeper Raymond F Bliven (k.1930-31) who never made it back to the lighthouse one night after having dinner with a friend on shore. Though separated from his wife, the keeper left the mainland for the lighthouse on August 13, 1931 to go back on duty and was found two days later by the crew of The Spruce about ¼ mile away from the lighthouse but ½ mile away from where his boat was found. His body was badly bruised including a major head injury. 

There are two versions of this story that I was able to find: 1) that it was ruled an accidental drowning after slipping off the ladder to the lighthouse and back into the boat which then capsized or 2) that it was foul play as speculated by the head trauma. Bliven was an accomplished swimmer so it was never thought that his swimming abilities could be at fault for his drowning.

However he passed, it makes it all the more curious if he is in fact the lost soul who haunts the house now? That he felt so compelled to make sure he finished his duty that he never left the area? If it is Keeper Bliven, I’m sure he, like many of us are hoping that the lighthouse gets a much needed face lift and is saved for all to see it light up our harbor once again!

-Thankful Weed-

1757-Age 15

Her blooming youth and lovely form

Could not impede the fateful storm.

The Forgotten: Deep in a wooded area of North a Stamford there lies a place, approximately 225ft by 225ft that is thought to house HUNDREDS of former Stamford residents. Known by several names in the town’s death records: Town Farm Cemetery, Town Poor Farm, Sunset Home Cemetery and Sunset Farm. But to many who live in the city, it is simply…Potter’s Field.

While the dedication stone stated it dates from 1870-1970, that is the only marker that indicates just what lies behind it, or rather, who lies behind it. 

Having stumbled upon this sacred place with a friend a number of years ago, I had no idea it was there. It lies in the woods at the edge of Bartlett Arboretum and when we were there it was overgrown with brush, trees and the like. Deciding to look further, it wasn’t until I tripped on one of the numbered marker stones that it truly hit us what this place was. Sure dedication plaques are everywhere, but when you begin to see the markers and then more, and then take note of their rising numbers well, it is both eerie and incredibly sad at the same time. The woods suddenly took on a heavy air quality, there was incredible stillness and yet you could hear every leaf that fell around us. We tried to clear as many markers we could of debris but had no idea just how large the area was and much of it (again at the time) was inaccessible.

I was so moved by this place I wanted to learn more. I wanted to know their names and give them some dignity and what I’ve learned is tragic. While there are records with some named individuals, right now, there are no complete records of all of the burials in this lot. It is also believed that some were piled on top of one another and just wrapped in a cloth or blanket as was the case with many infant deaths of the times.

When going through the causes of death of those recorded, you will find victims of accidents, “exhaustion” (perhaps an early name for heart ailments?), influenza and even a murder or two. Some were folks who had no family to care for them and no money for a proper burial and so would end up in the Field. And of course the saddest of them all, the little ones. So many babies and children now lost under the numbers.

An unsolved murder from 1976 also plagues the land adding to its mystery and unsettled feeling in those deeply rooted vines. And most unfortunate, many of the markers are now lost due to those looking for souvenirs found in the woods by those not understanding what it was that they took.

Are these lands haunted by those looking for recognition? Are their souls resting or waiting for their time to sleep in peace? All I can say is that while I was there, there was an uneasiness to the air, a silent scream of many underneath my feet that seemed to pierce the quiet air with “please don’t forget us.”

During my research for this piece I was so happy to find that this year, some folks began a project to bring closure to the lost and discarded souls. To clean up the area and give them proper stones and put names to all the numbers…as much as is humanly possible. How wonderful it is that after all these years there are those who still care to help those they never even knew?

Maybe when it has been completed, those ‘forgotten’ can finally rest easy knowing that they are now being remembered.

Personal Photo

-Sarah M. Bishop – William H. Bishop-

1853 – Ages 33 & 42

Wrapt in the shades of death

No more that friendly face I see

Empty, ah empty every place

Once filled so well by thee

The Clawman of Stamford: On August 28, 1933, Army Air Corps Pilot Captain Ernest Emery Harmon took off from Washington D.C. headed for Long Island. Due to heavy fog in the area, he was set off course and wound up in coastal Connecticut over Stamford. He was last seen circling low over Turn of River area before the aircraft went down in a group of trees. Captain Harmon was thought to have been thrown from the plane as his body was found ⅛ of a mile from the wreck which was about 300 ft from Long Ridge Road. Captain Harmon was 40 years old.

A seemingly straightforward obituary of a soldier, yes? An accomplished pilot who passed away too young due to the weather and instruments of the time. But the story takes on a stranger turn…

Just like in the movies, urban legends live and breathe and become great tales to tell at sleepover and around fire pits. And this one is no exception! Hooked yet? You will be!

For out of this plane crash was born the legend of…The Clawman. This story made its way to Stamford decades ago and from what I understand, the crash aspect was thought to be fiction. The story goes that a plane had crashed in the 1930’s and a possible survivor was never found. However there were rumors of sightings of a man walking along the streets in the area who had a makeshift hook for a hand who would go around and claw at doors at night. This story has a second version in that if young couples went up to the reservoir to make out, they were targets for the clawman. There were reports of the sound of scratching on car doors during make out sessions and one couple took off so quickly after hearing it that when they got home, they found a claw stuck in the door handle having ripped off the offending arm in their haste!

Being me, I had to look this up and that was when I found the actual crash story. The true urban legend born out of a factual story is itself part of the folklore that makes us who we are.

Now I’m not saying there is or isn’t a Clawman…who am I to judge? But maybe, just maybe the next time you decide to go up towards the reservoir or the dark North Stamford roads at night for a drive with your best girl, you stop. Turn around. And  maybe hit a movie at the Avon or show at the Palace instead. Because they are not spooky places…or ARE they???

1950’s Postcard

Those are stories for another time kids! Thank you so much for reading and please see the links below for some extras you might be interested in.

Special note: The epitaphs I’ve included between stories are genuine poems taken off of the stones of those buried here in a few of Stamford’s 47 cemeteries!

My thanks especially to the residents of Stamford who once again gave me enough story ideas to last through the next decade and to Ignacio Laguarda for including WOTM in his own Halloween piece for CT Insider!

Until next year…Keep it Spooky Stamford! 

~~~

Bonus Story Links for you:

Twisted Tales of Stamford (WOTM Halloween 2018)

The Stranger Side of Stamford (WOTM first in series 2015)

Unearthing the Mysteries at the Hoyt-Barnum House  (WOTM archaeological dig of the oldest house in Stamford 2016)

Want to learn more? Need a gift idea? Help support WOTM?

Clark’s Hill Cat

Stamford Sports (Images of Sports)

Stamford ’76: A True Story of Murder, Corruption, Race, and Feminism in the 1970s (referred to in Potter’s Field segment above)

A Maritime History of the Stamford Waterfront: Cove Island, Shippan Point and the Stamford Harbor Shoreline (American Chronicles)

Story of the Early Settlers of Stamford, Connecticut, 1641-1700, including Genealogies of Principal Families

#wotm #keepitlocal #learnwhereyoulive #halloween2019

#stamfordct #stamfordlighthouse #pottersfield #clawman

WOTM in the News!

Hey  guys!  I’ve been busy getting this year Halloween piece ready for you. But to get you in the mood for the big day you should check out this article in the CT Insider section of the Stamford Advocate. (Don’t worry, it’s free and only takes a quick email signup to see the whole piece.)

Scary Stamford Stories to Tell On Halloween

Not only does this have some great local tales in it for you but myself and WOTM  are in the piece as well!

This is is a fun article that will get you in the Halloween spirit and I’d like to thank Ignacio Laguarda for speaking with me. I’m honored to be a part of this piece.

Hope you all enjoy it and stay tuned for this year’s Halloween installment of some twisted tales of Stamford!

Until next time…

#wotm keepitlocal #stamfordct #learnwhereyoulive

Hauntings and History at Hoyt-Barnum is Back!

Get in the Halloween Spirit and “Learn Where You Live” Stamford by heading to the Hoyt-Barnum House for the annual  Hauntings and History event!

Tonight and tomorrow with three opportunities each evening, you can learn more about the house, Stamford’s past and the former residence who may still linger within its walls. (Man I love this stuff!)

Space is limited, so head to the Stamford History Center’s site for tickets and info: http://stamfordhistory.org/event/hauntings-and-history-at-hoyt-barnum/

Keep it Spooky a Stamford!

#wotm #keepitlocal #learnwhereyoulive

#stamfordct #stamfordhistory #hauntings

 

National Day of Healing

With thanks to Jane L. Love for the following…

On Sunday August 25 at 3:00 p.m., First Presbyterian Church of Stamford will be ringing the Carillon Bells to commemorate the National Day of Healing for the 400th anniversary of the first landing of enslaved Africans in English occupied North American. The bells will toll 4 minutes, one for each century.

The first landing of enslaved Africans was at Point Comfort in Hampton, Virginia, now part of the Fort Monroe National Monument, a unit of the National Park System. The anniversary will be commemorated at Fort Monroe as a day of healing and reconciliation. The park and its partners have invited all 419 national parks, NPS programs, community partners and the public to come together and ring bells simultaneously across the nation.

After the 4 minute bell tolling, carillonneur Marietta Douglas will give a short concert commemorating the occasion. The carillon at First Presbyterian Church stands 260 feet and contains 56 bells weighing from 15 to 6,820.

#thefishchurch
#RingtoRemember
#400years

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/partnerships/bell-ringing-for-400th.htm

#wotm #keepitlocal #stamfordhistory #knowwheretogo

2019 Greenwich Wine & Food Announces Lineup!

THE 2019 GREENWICH WINE + FOOD FESTIVAL ADDS ACCLAIMED ARTIST MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD TO MUSIC LINE-UP

Franti to Open for Music Headliner Little Big Town

2019 Annual Event Benefitting Food Rescue US 

Tickets Now On Sale

Greenwich, CT – The Greenwich Wine + Food Festival presented by PepsiCo today announced the addition of acclaimed group Michael Franti & Spearhead to the musical line-up for this year’s festival.  Known for his efforts to spread positivity through music, Franti will open for GRAMMY award-winning band Little Big Town, closing out the festivities for the ninth annual event.

“We could not think of a better act to kick off our musical performances that close out an amazing few days celebrating the best of food, drink and community,” said Suni Unger,founder and CEO of Unger Media, the parent company behind Greenwich Wine + Food andSerendipity magazine.  “The combination of Michael’s inspirational and upbeat lyrics, coupled with the gorgeous stage set on the shore of the Long Island Sound with a glass of wine in hand, sounds like the perfect Saturday night in September to me!”

The main beneficiary of this year’s festival is Food Rescue US, a non-profit organization based in Connecticut, that is a leader in reducing both hunger and food waste in America.  Through its proprietary mobile app, Food Rescue US connects volunteers with companies that have excess food and organizations feeding the food insecure.  Now available in 12 states and the District of Columbia, this celebrated organization completed more than 25,000 rescues in 2018, equaling over 6.8 million meals delivered.  The Town of Greenwich Parks and Recreation Foundation is also a beneficiary for this year’s event.

“Food Rescue US is honored to be the beneficiary of the 2019 Greenwich Wine & Food Festival to further our mission of reducing food waste and hunger,” said Carol Shattuck, CEO of Food Rescue US. “There are important synergies between our organizations, and we look forward to working with the GWFF to showcase excellent food prepared by premier chefs while focusing on the importance of sustainability by reducing food waste.”

“After the GWFF, our team of volunteer food rescuers will ensure the unconsumed food will be delivered to Fairfield County social service agencies feeding the food insecure throughout the community. Also, we will also be on-site during the Festival to share how anyone can easily be part of our smart solution to reducing hunger and food waste using our proprietary app,” Shattuck added.

This year’s festival kicks off with an intimate Opening Night Master Chef Wine Gala on Friday, September 20, showcasing the culinary and music scene of New Orleans.  The evening, hosted by Gary Dell’Abate (Executive Producer of The Howard Stern Show “Baba Booey”) and Rob Burnett (Five-time Emmy Award-Winning Writer- Director), will honor this year’s class of Serendipity Most Innovative Chefs and feature their cuisine, as well as select Ambassador Chefs (names TBA).  The evening will include performances from GRAMMY award-winning Rebirth Brass Band and Kermit Ruffins & The Barbecue Swingers.

The Culinary Village, the heart of the annual event, takes place on Saturday, September 21, and features the Grand Tasting Tent, where guests can enjoy tastings and demonstrations from more than 150 of the area’s finest food, wine and spirits experts, as well as areas devoted to the best in burgers, BBQ, tacos and more.  The 8th Annual Burger Battle and 6thAnnual Top Bartender Showdown will also return, providing friendly competition between area restaurants and bars.  Guests will experience sommelier, mixologist and brew master presentations, celebrity book signings, cooking demos with Special Guest Chefs, a celebrity green room with live interviews, an exclusive Meet the Masters panel discussion, The Tailgate Party with The Ultimate Taco, Burgers & Beers, and Grill Masters & BBQ. VIP ticket holders will also be treated to an exceptional dinner, prepared by Festival Ambassador Chefs in a special waterside tented area.  Confirmed celebrity talent includes Emmy Award-winner Valerie Bertinelli (Food Network’s Valerie’s Home Cooking), Geoffrey Zakarian (Chef/Partner The Lambs Club at The Chatwal and Point Royal at The Diplomat Beach Resort, Co-Host of Food Network’s The Kitchen and Judge on Chopped), Margaret Zakarian (President of Zakarian Hospitality), Marc Murphy (Food Network’s Chopped), Jessica Tom (Food Network Star season 14 winner), David Rose (Food Network Star season 13 finalist) and caterer to the stars Mary Giuliani (Mary Giuliani Catering & Events).  Michael Franti & Spearhead and Little Big Town will close out the 2019 event with live musical performances on the Pepsi stage.

Tickets for the event are available via www.greenwichwineandfood.com or by calling 203.588.1363.  Ticket options include the All Weekend Pass ($700), Friday’s Opening Night Master Chef Wine Gala ($275), Saturday All Day Pass ($200) and Saturday VIP Pass ($500).  On-Stage and Lawn Dinner Tables are sold out, but to be added to the waitlist, please call 203-588-1363.

The Festival weekend will be held rain or shine, and anyone under 21, including infants or children in strollers, will not be admitted. Pets are also not permitted.

ABOUT MICHAEL FRANTI

Michael Franti believes that there is a great battle taking place in the world today between cynicism and optimism, so he made his most recent album, Stay Human Vol. II, to remind himself and anyone else who’s listening, that there is still good in the world and that it is worth fighting for. The album has seen extensive critical acclaim from USA Today, Billboard, the Associated Press, Relix and many more, and soared to the top of the charts, reaching #1 on the Billboard Independent Album Sales chart and the iTunes Top Albums Singer/Songwriter (in the U.S. and Australia). The songs on Stay Human Vol. II were inspired by Franti’s new self-directed documentary Stay Human, which recently won an array of awards on the film festival circuit. Stay Human features “heroic everyday people” whose stories have inspired the singer, activist and yoga practitioner during his travels around the world. Stay Human Vol. II is the 10th LP from Michael Franti & Spearhead, following three consecutive albums that climbed into the top 5 on the Billboard Rock Albums Chart. Franti has also charted five singles in the top 30 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart and had eight songs reach the top 25 on the Triple-A Chart. His hit, “Say Hey (I Love You)” has accumulated more than 2 million downloads worldwide. Franti also had a #1 hit single with his 2010 song “The Sound of Sunshine.” The most recent album and film are both part of a multi-pronged effort to spread positivity through Franti’s music, the Soulshine Bali hotel that he built as a home for yoga destination retreats, and Do It For The Love, a non-profit he and his wife, Sara Agah Franti, founded in 2013 to bring people living with life-threatening illnesses, children with severe challenges and wounded veterans to live concerts. To date, Do It For The Love has granted more than 2,000 wishes with the support of more than 100 artists.

ABOUT GREENWICH WINE + FOOD

Greenwich Wine + Food celebrates community, charity, food, beverage and more in the Connecticut and New York area with multiple events throughout the year, including the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival presented by PepsiCo, the GWF Golf Classic presented by Pure Leaf, and the GWF Fun Run presented by Aquafina. 2019 beneficiaries include Food Rescue US and the Town of Greenwich Parks & Recreation Foundation.  Greenwich Wine + Food is a part of Unger Media. For more information, visit www.greenwichwineandfood.com. 

ABOUT THE GREENWICH WINE + FOOD FESTIVAL

The Greenwich Wine + Food Festival presented by PepsiCo is a multi-day event celebrating the area’s rich culinary landscape and showcasing innovation in the food and beverage industries. Previous participants include chefs Daniel Boulud, Scott Conant, Mary Giuliani, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy, Adam Richman and Marcus Samuelson as well as musical artists Tim McGraw, Train and Ziggy Marley. This year’s festival will benefit Food Rescue US; previous beneficiaries include Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, the Town of Greenwich Parks & Recreation Foundation, and Ment’or. Sponsors to date include Pepsico, LifeWTR, Pure Leaf, Bubly, Jeep, Compass, Monogram, Aitoro Appliances, Westy Self Storage, Yale New Haven Health Greenwich Hospital, NuKitchen, Rudy’s Limousine Service Inc., Barbara Zaccagnini, Whistle Pig Whiskey, 90+ Cellars, Delamar and Stamford Marriott.* The Festival was created by Suni Unger, founder and CEO of Unger Media, the parent company behind Greenwich Wine + Food and Serendipity magazine. For more information, visit www.greenwichwineandfood.com, or the event’s social media channels:  Facebook (@Greenwichwineandfoodfestival) and Instagram (@greenwichwineandfood).

(*As of 6/17/19)

ABOUT FOOD RESCUE US

Food Rescue US, a non-profit organization, is a leader in reducing both hunger and food waste in America. Through the use of its proprietary mobile app, Food Rescue US easily connects its  team of volunteers with companies that have excess food with organizations feeding the food insecure. Founded in Fairfield County in 2011 and still operating as its largest location, it has now expanded nationally to 13 states and the District of Columbia where its volunteer food
rescuers quickly deliver the food from its donors to the receiving organizations. In 2018, Food Rescue US completed more than 25,000 rescues equaling over 6.8 million meals delivered.

Americans waste 40% of its food supply, ending up in landfills, which creates methane gas and warms the planet. At the same time, there are more than 40 million individuals, including 12 million children, who are food insecure in America. Food Rescue US transforms a negative, food waste, into a positive by delivering fresh, healthy food to millions of people who are food insecure through a community of dedicated volunteers.

For more information, visit foodrescue.us and download the mobile app.

#   #   #

Press Contact:

Shelley Kapitulik

Splash PR for Greenwich Wine + Food

shelley@splashpr.us

203.898.1501

Best of the Gold Coast 2019 Ticket Giveaway

The  time has come WOTM followers! Time for us to get ready to give away two (2) sets of two (2) tickets for this Thursday’s Best of the Gold Coast 2019 event!

This year’s bash is being held at the Greenwich Hyatt and details on the event as well as a 25% off ticket discount code can be found on our site at: bit.ly/BOGC2019

Remember, this is a FACEBOOK ONLY contest.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. You MUST be a WOTM follower on Facebook.
  2. In the comment section of the contest post ON FACEBOOK, let us know your favorite thing to do in Stamford that doesn’t involve bars or restaurants. (Ex. Go to the beach, balloon parade, nature center, etc.)
  3. You can only comment ONCE. No tagging, images or gifs allowed. Just looking for a simple comment.
  4. You have until 6pm Monday to leave your comment.
  5. The names of those who participated will be collected and checked (to make sure you are in fact a follower) and then drawn at random. It won’t matter if you are first or last to comment, everyone will have the same chance.
  6. Winners will be announced at 9pm Monday on Facebook and will be contacted privately on how to collect their prizes.
  7. Any questions can be direct messaged to me on FB, PLEASE do not ask questions in the comments. Comments are reserved for entries only!
  8. Remember, comments done on WOTM’s site, Twitter or Instagram will NOT be eligible. The only comments that will be considered as official entries will be the ones on the contest’s Facebook post.
  9. This is a 21 and older event, so only those 21 and older may participate in the ticket giveaway.
  10. Be sure to share the contest post with your friends! If you don’t win but they do, maybe they will take you!!

There you go! Now all you need to do is to head to our Facebook page (see link on right hand side of this page) or go to: http://facebook.com/onthemenuct and hit the almighty “like” button and comment on the contest post.

Good luck and remember, even if you don’t win, you can still get tickets through WOTM at 25% off when you order online with discount code: MOFFLYFRIENDS at checkout.

#wotm #keepitlocal #knowwheretogo #BOTGC2019