1949: Dean Acheson Assumes Office

Dean AchesonWashington, D. C., Jan. 21–(UP)–Dean G. Acheson was sworn in as secretary of state Friday and immediately put his shoulder behind Pres. Harry S. Truman’s “bold new program” for fighting world communism and human misery.

The suave, 55-year-old diplomat succeeds Gen. George C. Marshall, who resigned, effective Thursday, because of his health.

Top Officials Attend

Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson administered the oath at 11:13 a.m. (EST) at ceremonies in Mr. Truman’s office. Members of Acheson’s family, cabinet officers, other top-ranking government officials, and congressional leaders of both parties were among the 84 guests.

First to congratulate the new secretary of state was the president himself. He stepped nimbly around his desk to shake Acheson’s hand. Acheson told newsmen he would issue no public statement. Asked when he planned to take over his post, he replied:

“I’m going over right now.”

A native of Middletown, Conn., the tall and distinguished secretary stands solidly behind Mr. Truman’s world-wide program to stop communism.

From The Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah), Jan. 22, 1949.

1916: 83, He Cuts Figure Eights

Connecticut Man’s Tippet and Mitts Interest Middletown Skaters.

Middletown, Conn., Jan. 20.–The cold weather which was predicted by Uncle Horace Johnson, the 92-year-old Middle Haddam weather prophet, has brought such fine skating to this section that Albert J. Hotchkiss, who will be 83 years old on his next birthday, appeared upon the ice on Pameacha pond this week, cutting as fine figure eights as any of the boys.

He wore an old-fashioned tippet and mitts. Mr. Hotchkiss vows he will have more skating this winter if the weather lasts. — From the York (Pa.) Daily, Jan. 21, 1916.

Ice skating on the Pameacha

January 19 – Middletown 366


“Hartford, Jan. 18:–Crowded far past its capacity is the Connecticut State Hospital for the Insane at Middletown, and this condition is viewed with considerable alarm by Dr. Roy L. Leek, superintendent in his biennial report to the governor.

So crowded is the hospital, Dr. Leek pointed out, that it is necessary to mix the criminal insane with the civil insane, a condition which is fraught with grave consequences.” –From the Bridgeport Telegram, Jan. 19, 1923.


On this day in 1974, the Sawmill Brook Racetrack proposal went to the Planning and Zoning Commission of Middletown, what would become one of the most controversial local issues in Middletown history. Ronald H. Mooney of New York sought to build a $50 million horse race track on 480 acres of prime industrial land in the Westfield section of Middletown. The public hearing that began on March 13 brought heated emotions for and against the track, and would last over 17 hours in total. Eventually approved in April, Sawmill Brook would suffer from financial trouble from the start, and after years of fabrication and disappointment, Mooney eventually lost his option on the land, as well as his gaming license. The track died for good. A brief from the Middletown Press in 1978 reads: “Arab money, Los Angeles money. It is time for Ron Mooney to put up and show the State Gaming Commission he can build his $55 mil. race track and he can’t.”

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

1936: Speed Girls Triumph!

Speed Girls, 1936On this day in 1936, the Middletown Speed Girls triumphed over the Nutmeggers of Tulsa Business College, the national champions of the previous two years. The Speed Girls of Middletown were a semiprofessional basketball team that played during the Great Depression and into the 1940’s. Their center, ‘Pat Wotszsk, scored 20 points that day in the Speed Girls’ 28 to 15 victory, which the Hartford Courant exclaimed, “shifted the national capital of girls basketball from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Middletown, Connecticut.”

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

1928: Six New Cases of Smallpox Are Reported

Four of the Day’s Total in Middletown, One in Moodus, and One in Cromwell — Few More Expected.

Middletown, Jan. 17 (Special) — Six new cases of smallpox were reported today by the health authorities, who continued the work of investigating all suspected cases.  Four of the new cases are in this city, one in Moodus and one in Cromwell.

The authorities again said that the epidemic, except for a few cases still to be investigated, is practically at a standstill here, with the large number of vaccinations aiding in checking the disease, which threatened last week to assume alarming proportions.

A public clinic was held at the Town Hall this afternoon from three to five o’clock and several hundred persons, most of them children, were vaccinated. Local factories also reported today that a majority of their employees had been vaccinated. …

From the Hartford Courant, Jan. 18, 1928.

1943: Middletown Veteran is Twice Injured

Middletown, Jan. 16 (Special): Gerald McCarthy, veteran court performer, ran into double trouble the past week that threatened to put a halt to his basketball days. Tuesday night in the YMCA-Alumni game, he suffered an injury to his instep which forced him home for a few days, and Friday night he slipped on Main Street while walking up town and two stitches were needed at the Crescent Street Hospital to close the wound in the back of his head.

From the Hartford Courant, Jan. 17, 1943.

1947: Crashed Car Sold on Spot

MIddletown, Jan. 15 (UP) When Gordon Price’s car skidded into another machine on the icy highway, the accident turned out to be a profitable one.
A spectator took one look at Price’s 10-year-old car, figured it was worth fixing, and offered to buy it on the spot.
Price snapped at the offer.

From the Naugatuck Daily News, Jan. 15, 1947

1863: A Steam Fire Engine

Some time since the subject of a Steam Fire Engine was brought to the notice of our citizens. It received considerable attention, and we believe one would have been purchased before this but for war matters which have since engaged public attention to the exclusion of almost everything else. But the purchase of such a machine is of great importance now, especially on account of the crippled condition of our fire department. Should a fire break out some night in a central part of the city, the consequences would probably be most disastrous, for we have at present no adequate means for meeting such an emergency. Ought not such an engine to be purchased? We publish the following communication on the subject :

Editors of “The Constitution” :

Several months since, the large fire on the corner of College and Water streets demonstrated the inefficiency of our Hand Fire Engines, and the necessity of having a Steam Fire Engine, in Middletown. You, through the columns of your paper, called the attention of our citizens to this want, and endeavored to induce them to take some interest in this matter. I believe that some few did talk about it, and that some one commenced collecting statistics relative to Steam Fire Engines ; but since that we have heard nothing about it and as yet we have no machine of this kind. Is a matter of so much importance to be allowed to rest here? The past has proved to us that our city with its streets full of wooden buildings, is not sufficiently protected against fire ; and perhaps a few months more may prove it more fully. If we look back a short distance, we will see that for quite a number of years, not a winter has passed without our having a destructive fire in some part of the city. This winter we have had none, and we are not prepared for one. Many of our old firemen are off in the army, and what few are left would make a poor display, should a fire break out on Main street, or on any street where the buildings are near to each other. We need a Steam Fire Engine. I know that our expenses are great, but ought we not to endeavor to prevent their being greater by securing ourselves against loss by fire? Will not the proper authorities attend to this? We do wrong to neglect it longer.     H. W. F.

–From the Middletown Constitution, Jan. 14, 1863.

1912: Wesleyan Freshmen Boxed on Ears by Angry Chorus Girls

(Special Dispatch to the Inter Ocean)

Middletown, Conn., Jan. 13.–“Seven Wesleyan freshmen received the surprise of their lives this afternoon when their ears were soundly boxed by five members of the pony ballet in a musical comedy company, appearing at the local opera house this week.

The company had been repeatedly annoyed by the students, but the climax came this afternoon, a holiday at the college. As the ballet girls left the stage to run through the audience as part of their business, the seven student held them up for kisses.

One of the girls quickly dealt a resounding smack, but not of the sort expected. Her four companions followed suit, and the dazed students got away as best they could. The affair has caused a sensation at the college.”– From The Inter Ocean (Chicago, Ill.), Jan. 14, 1912.

January 12 – Middletown 366


On this day in 1801, proMiddletown Bank noteminent gentleman, merchants, traders, and others of Middletown met in Mrs. Sarah Goodwin’s Tavern to vote on the establishment of the Middletown Bank. The bank began with $100,000 in capital, and was first established in the home of Nehemiah Hubbard Jr. on Main Street. It was just the eleventh bank to be organized in the United States, and the fourth oldest in Connecticut. In 1813 the bank built its first branch on the site today occupied by Bank of America on Main Street. The first and largest bank in Middlesex County under national charter, the bank was nationalized in 1864, and thus became the Middletown National Bank.

From The Hartford Courant of Jan 3, 1926:

“The signers of the Declaration of Independence were still living, and the heroes of the Revolutionary War were still being feted by the people of the country that had so recently won its battle for independence when the doors of the Middletown National bank were opened to the public for the depositing of savings and making of loans.”

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.


Coasting Accident on College Street

Wesleyan Student Thrown from Ripper Is Now Suffering From Concussion of the Brain.

Middletown, Jan. 12
“Harold Rogers of Meriden, a Wesleyan freshman and a nephew of Cephas B. Rogers of Meriden, one of the Wesleyan trustees, is at the Psi U. house on High street suffering from concussion of the brain as a result of a coasting accident on College street about 10 o’clock last evening. Near the corner of College and Broad streets a lot of students on a “ripper” were going down the street with John M. Davis, 1905, at the steering gear. As Broad street was reached the ripper began to swerve and finally crashed into the curb in front of James Longworth’s residence. Most of the students were thrown off, Rogers among them. He landed on his head against the curb. Dr. Calf was called and found concussion of the brain. Today when the doctor called theire was not sign of paralysis or hemorrhage, so that the outlook is favorable for complete recovery. Rogers is a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity and is being cared for at the chapter house.” –From the Hartford Courant, Jan. 13, 1905