Greenwich travel writer shares CT’s quirky history in new book
What do the country’s first president, Indiana Jones and Helicopter, have in common?
For starters, everyone shares a Connecticut connection.
When the COVID-19 pandemic stalled Greenwich travel writer Anastasia Mills Healy, she began grappling with the history and curiosities in her own backyard. Since then, she has published her findings in her new book, Secret Connecticut: A Guide to Weird, Wonderful, and Dark, released March 15.
The book contains 84 stories about the eclectic history of the state. Connecticut is home to an occult museum, a Stonehenge-like structure, and a boom box parade. Canine World War I hero Sgt. Stubby, the pediatrician Dr. Spock, Martin Luther King Jr., and author F. Scott Fitzgerald all share a relationship with the nutmeg state.
“I know a lot about this condition, having lived here for most of my life, and if something made me say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know,’ I put it in the book,” Healy said.
Speaking of which stories will surprise people the most, Healy said that many people were shocked to learn that Martin Luther King Jr. had spent time in Simsbury.
“He worked on a tobacco farm as a teenager, Healy said. “It was his first time outside the separated South, and it was also the first time he ever preached. I found it so wonderful and interesting to learn that a lot of people don’t know about it. “
Healy said she was surprised to learn about Bridgeport’s “amazing community” in Little Liberia, a 19th-century enclave made up of liberated Blacks and Native Americans. Mary Freeman, whose brother started the ward, was the second richest person in Bridgeport at the time. (The first was PT Barnum.)
Lewis Latimer, a black engineer who worked with Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison, also lived in Little Liberia. “These are some stories that Connecticut is a part of,” Healy said.
Healy, a fan of The Great Gatsby, said she was surprised to learn that the F. Scott Fitzgerald spent time in Westport.
Healy said she hopes people enjoy the state’s rich history and know that Connecticut is more than the “preppy, white, and wealthy” stereotypes.
Even more quirkily, Healy said she loved learning about the boom boxing parade at Willimantic that began in the 1980s.
“It all started when the parade organizers couldn’t find a marching band for the July 4th parade. They said, ‘Just take your boom box and turn on the radio so we can all play the marching band music.’” Healy said . “Then it became tradition, and now I really want to go.”
For more information about Healy and her book, visit stashastravels.blog.