1916: Refused to See Sights of City

Middletown (Conn.) Business Man Was Never Interested.

Resident Twelve Years.

Although Healthy, He Never Saw Wesleyan College or State Hospital Buildings and Only Once Went to Postoffice–His Reason Was He Wasn’t Much of a Traveler.

Middletown, Conn.– Alpheus W. Parsons, who some years since conducted a cigar store and news stand on Main street, south of Rapallo avenue, for more than a dozen years, died at the home of his sister-in-law in Easthampton, Mass., recently. In some respects Mr. Parsons was one of the most unusual business men on Main street. During his long business career in this city he went to the postoffice just once. He never in all the time he resided in Middletown went below the postoffice building on Main street. And yet Mr. Parsons was ablebodied and a normal man in every way.

He often laughed and said that he wasn’t much of a traveler. And his son, Bert, who usually had a pleasant twinkle lurking about the eyes, would look up at the old man when some one was in the store and ask soberly, “Goin’ down to the postoffice today, pop?” But that journey to the postoffice was taken only once, and why he went then Mr. Parsons never could tell.

He simply wasn’t interested in what the rest of the world was doing. When the west side trolley was built Bert said, “Now’s your chance, pop, to hop on the trolley and get a look at the college buildings.”

“Well, I guess I won’t try it today, Bert,” answered the old man, as though he really was afraid that he would have to be absent from his business long enough to see Middletown.

But he never tried it any day. Mr. Parsons never saw Wesleyan college nor the state hospital nor Main street below the postoffice. The only streets in Middletown he was ever on were Main and Grand and Clinton and Rapallo avenues. And yet he was a successful business man and walked back and forth from his house on Clinton avenue to his store on Main street every business day in the year. Try as he would his son Bert could not budge the old man. He didn’t care what the rest of the world was doing. He was not a traveler–and that ended it.

Still Mr. Parsons was the kindliest of men. He was interested in his fellows He was patriotic; he was upright; he was just in his judgments; he spoke kindly of every one and everything that was of good repute. He talked intelligently and interestingly, and when one knew him he was a delightful companion.

From the Belvidere Daily Republican (Belvidere, Illinois), Tuesday, March 21, 1916.


March 20 – Middletown 366


The Great Flood

Spring snow melt from the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont, combined with heavy rain caused the Connecticut River to flood, with the flood stage reaching 30 feet, six feet higher than the record set in 1854.  Seven hundred residents along the riverfront were evacuated and the displaced slept in the National Guard Armory on Main Street and in the Italian Club on Court Street for a month.  In addition, the flood had devastating economic effects, since many businesses on the first floor of buildings were flooded as well as factories, causing widespread unemployment.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

Thge Great Flood of 1936
William Street, looking east.


Allie Wrubel Wins Academy Award

On this day, Middletown native Allie Wrubel won an Academy Award for his song “Zip-a-Dee Doo-Dah,” part of the score for Disney’s Song of the South. Born in Middletown in 1905, young Allie Wrubel helped out in his family’s popular women’s apparel store on Main Street, but his main interest was music. After graduating from Wesleyan University, he went to Hollywood. From 1934 to 1946, he was under contract with Warner Bros. to write songs for movie musicals. In the late 1940s, he began writing songs for such movies as Jennifer Jones’s Duel in the Sun, and Burt Lancaster’s I Walk Alone. . He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. Wrubel died in 1973.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

Zip -a- dee- doo-dah [6054]


1959: Funeral for Heiress to be in Connecticut

muriel hubbard (2)New Haven, Conn., March 19 (AP)– Funeral services will be held Friday for Mrs. Muriel McCormick Hubbard, an heiress to both the Rockefeller and McCormick fortunes who served in the U. S. Women’s Army Corps during World War II.

She died Wednesday of a heart ailment at the age of 56.

Mrs. Hubbard was the granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller Sr. and Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the reaper. Her personal estate was estimated at 40 million dollars.

She died in Grace-New Haven Hospital, which she entered three weeks ago. Funeral services will be held at Holy Trinity Church in Middletown, Conn., where she maintained one of her five homes.

From The Decatur Review (Decatur, Illinois), Thursday, March 19, 1959.
1938 photo:  Seymour & Phoebe Wadsworth, Carl & Anna Stillman, Catherine & Clarence Wadsworth, Dyer & Muriel Hubbard
1938 photo: Seymour & Phoebe Wadsworth, Carl & Anna Stillman, Catherine & Clarence Wadsworth, Dyer & Muriel Hubbard

1896: Renewed Their Early Love

Royal Grant, Aged 81, and Martha Galpin, Aged 71, United In Matrimony.

Middletown, Conn., March 18.–“Rev. Raymond Maplesden, the Baptist pastor, married yesterday afternoon Royal Grant, aged 81, and Mrs. Martha J. Warren, aged 71. Grant is an essence peddler and years ago met Martha J. Galpin, but his suit was not successful. Since then he has drifted around the country and married twice, she once, and now after several years of loneliness, they have met and renewed their early love.”– From the Middletown Daily Argus (Middletown, N. Y.), March 18, 1896.

March 17 – Middletown 366


Children May Not Have Body of Their Father

Middletown, Conn., March 17.–In a decision which looks far into the future Judge Curtiss S. Bacon of the Probate Court awarded to Wallace M. Tuttle and Lewis W. Tuttle the body of their brother, Willis M. Tuttle.

Judge Bacon’s decision is averse to Mrs. Katherine Stone Tuttle, whom Willis M. Tuttle divorced in October, 1900, and to their minor children, whom the divorce decree placed in their mother’s custody.

When Mr. Tuttle died his brothers buried him in his family plot at Indian Hill, Mrs. Tuttle and her children offering no objection. Later Mrs. Tuttle bought a lot in the cemetery, prepared a grave and got a permit to disinter her former husband’s remains. The disinterest was actually progressing under her direction when Mr. Tuttle’s brothers halted it by a court injunction.

The children joined their mother in the suit, claiming the right to their father’s body, which the law of Connecticut gives them.

From The Western Sentinel (Winston-Salem, N. C.), Tuesday, March 21, 1911.


Ready For Shad

Middletown, Conn., March 17.–Connecticut River shad should be available soon after April 20, this year, the legislature having shifted the date of the shad fishing season from May 1. The season will close June 10, in the future, instead of June 20. Residents in the heart of the shad district believe the yield this year should be a record one.

From The Evening News (Harrisburg, Pa.), Thursday, March 19, 1931.


1939: Carnival Workers to Die For Murder

Middletown, Conn., March 16.–(AP)–A sentence of death by electrocution hung today over Ira A Weaver, 35, formerly of King’s Mountain, N. C., and Vincent Cots, 32, who were convicted yesterday of murdering a storekeeper in an attempted robbery.

The two, both carnival workers, were tried by a tribunal of superior court judges. The judges decided both were equally guilty of the slaying January 21 of Joseph G. Dripps.

Weaver said Cots did the shooting while he waited in an automobile outside Dripps’ store. Cots denied committing the crime and asserted he had no knowledge of it although he admitted being with Weaver the night of the holdup.

From The Index-Journal (Greenwood, S. C.), Thursday, March 16, 1939

March 15 – Middletown 366


Vigorous Critic of A. M. A.

Veterans’ Hospital Care Defended by Legion’s National Chief.

Old Point Comfort, Va., March 15 (AP)– The national commander of the American Legion has attacked the American Medical Association for its official stand on veterans’ hospitalization and said he is “troubled” that the A. M. A. “should declare war on sick people.”

Arthur J. Connell of Middletown, Conn., spoke at the concluding session of the 2-day spring conference of the Virginia department of the American Legion at the Hotel Chamberlain here.

“In recent months the A. M. A.’s chief spokesmen have been telling the country that the veterans’ hospital program is a big mistake, that it is leading to socialism and worse, that the only solution lies in denying hospital care to patients who cannot prove that their disability is directly related to war service,” said Connell.

Connell said 5,000 patients in thirty-six VA hospitals were questions and less then 2 percent showed the slightest indication of being able to afford private hospitalization.

From the Kansas City Times (Kansas City, Missouri), Tuesday, March 16, 1954.


Main Street Civil Rights March

Over 400 protesters marched on Middletown’s Main Street to stir attention about the Civil Rights Movement in Middletown, Connecticut. This demonstration was preceded by a three-day conference at Wesleyan University, wherein members of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Northern Student Movement gathered together along with hundred Middletown citizens.

Story contributed by Kimberly Singh.

March 14 – Middletown 366


The Deaths of Comfort and Sarah Sage

Beginning at the Battle of Lexington, when he marched his militia troops to Boston, Comfort Sage (1731–1799) served with the Colonial army during the first years of the Revolutionary War. Later, he was elected a representative to the Connecticut General Assembly and, in 1784, he became brigadier general of the 2nd Brigade. Comfort Sage’s service also included being stationed with George Washington at Valley Forge. The wife of Gen. Comfort Sage, Sarah Sage (1730–1799), is best known for the time she protected the two small sons of Benedict Arnold in her Cherry Street home. It was 1780, and the story of Arnold’s traitorous acts was spreading through Connecticut. When a crowd of townspeople rioted in Middletown and hanged Arnold in effigy, Sarah made sure that the boys were protected from the mob and that they were not made aware of the reason for the violent protests. When her husband died on March 14, 1799, his body was laid out on his bed. Sarah Sage entered the room and lay down next to him. Sometime later, family members went into the room and found her dead. They believed that her death was caused by a broken heart.

The Mortimer Cemetery mausoleum holding the remains of Comfort and Sarah.
The Mortimer Cemetery mausoleum holding the remains of Comfort and Sarah.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.


New Buildings Planned

Wesleyan University Will Expend a Million Dollars This Year.

(By Associated Press.)

Middletown, Conn., March 14.–At Wesleyan university it was announced that the board of trustees have voted to build an astronomical observatory, a new dormitory, a new library, a new chemical laboratory and a fraternity house. The buildings call for an expenditures of about one million dollars.

From the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin), March 14, 1914.


Labor Board Rules in Union Fight

Remington Rand, Inc., Ordered To Take Back 4,000 Employes In Strike Last May

Strike Still Continues

(By The Associated Press)

Washington, March 14.–The Labor Relations board ordered Remington Rand, Inc., today to take back 4,000 employees the board said had lost their jobs in a strike that started last May in six of the office equipment company’s plants.

After recounting, in a 100-page decision, developments in the strike that the American Federation of Labor says still continues, the board said:

“From the thousands of pages of testimony in this proceeding, there may be distilled two very plain facts: The unwavering refusal of the respondent (Remington Rand) to bargain collectively with its employees and the cold, deliberate ruthlessness with which it fought the strike which its refusal to bargain had precipitated.”

The Board’s decision followed closely an invitation from Secretary Perkins to James H. Rand, Jr., company president, to meet her here Thursday to consider renewal of negotiations with an A. F. of L. union. A company official said Rand would be glad to talk with her.

Yesterday, John P. Frey, president of the A. F. of L. metal trades department, criticized the Social Security board for awarding a $57,500 contract to Remington Rand.

Arthur Altimeter, chairman of the Social Security board, said in a statement today that Frey was “correct in his understanding that it is the policy of the Social Security board to avoid making purchases from the Remington Rand company so long as it engages in practices” charged by the labor board.

“As regards the contract for photographic records,” Altimeter said, “the Social Security board was advised by its technicians and its lawyers that under federal regulations governing purchases had no other choice in the matter.

“However, the Social Security board has directed that the entire question be reconsidered for purposes of determining whether any other course is now open to the board.”

In its decision, the board said that if the provisions of the Wagner National Labor Relations Act “ever required justification, one need go no further than the facts in this case.” It added:

“Over 6,000 employees, with their families and dependents, are subjected to the miseries of a prolonged strike, the people of six communities experience the economic hardships that inevitably result when an accustomed source of income is suddenly withdrawn, these same communities are turned into warring camps and unreasoning hatreds are created that lead to abuses alien to a sane civilization–all because the respondent refused to recognize the rights of 6,000 employees.

“In the language of the average person, the respondent, through Rand, its president, has exhibited a callous, imperturbable disregard of the rights of its employees that is medieval in its assumption of power over the lives of men and shocking in its concept of the status of the modern industrial worker.”

The board said the strikes involved in its decision occurred in plants at Syracuse, Ilion and Tonawanda, N. Y.; Middletown, Conn., and Norwood and Marietta, Ohio.

Remington Rand protestors
Strike-breakers at Remington Rand


No Beatles

Middletown, Conn.–Barbers have served notice that the Beatle haircut is out.

They said, “We tolerate ‘ducktails’ and ‘Detroits,’ but this Beatle is too far out.”

From The Times (San Mateo, California), March 14, 1964.

March 13 – Middletown 366


Bill Eliminating Hubbard From One of Posts Passed

Middletown Democrat Must Quit Trusteeships or Board of Finance.

Opposition Baffled.

Trumbull Amendment Confuses Legislators, and Wadhams is Saved.

(By Telegram Staff Correspondent)

Hartford, March 13.–The Republican state organization baffled all potential opposition in the Senate today, on the “ripper” bill framed to remove E. Kent Hubbard, Middletown Democrat, from either the State Board of Finance or from his positions as trustee of the Connecticut Agricultural college and as director of the State Reformatory at Cheshire. An amendment to the bill as originally passed by the House, was offered by Senator John H. Trumbull, and was interpreted by those who had been planning to oppose the measure as removing the discrimination contained in the original language of the bill, saving John M. Wadhams, chairman of the board, but eliminating Hubbard.

Senators Confused.

Under this interpretation, the bill was passed by the Senate with Senator John N. Brooks, and Senator Ralph L. French as the only dissenters. It was only after the bill had been passed, that senators discovered the wording of the amendment did not affect Wadhams, but only eliminated Hubbard. When the bill reached the House, for concurrent action as amended, House Leader Buckley said: “This amendment wipes out the exceptions in the bill,” and said that the Judiciary committee had no objection to its passage. The amendment and the bill were passed without a dissenting voice even on the part of the Democrats.

Had Row With Clark.

The passage of the bill, under the terms of which Mr. Hubbard must either decline reappointment to the State Board of Finance, or withdraw from his trusteeship in the Connecticut Agricultural college and his directorship in the Cheshire reformatory, was accompanied by a report in capitol corridors that the move against Hubbard had its inception originally in a row between Charles Hopkins Clark, editor of the Hartford Courant, an “elder statesman” of the Republican state machine, and Mr. Hubbard. Both are directors of the Cheshire reformatory, and it is said that the disagreement arose over the superintendency of the institution, on which the two disagreed violently.

The bill passed is as follows:

‘No person shall hold office as an appointive member of the State Board of Finance while such person is an appointee by the Governor as a trustee, director, commissioner or member of the board of managers of any state institution or any institution receiving aid from the State by specific appropriation by the General Assembly.”

From the Bridgeport Telegram (Bridgeport, Conn.), March 14, 1923.


Middletown High Wins State Championship!

Led by Cornelius “Corny” Thompson, the Middletown High School basketball team won the Class M State Championship, defeating Ellington High School by a score of 63 to 38.  The team, coached by Thomas LaBella, himself a member of the 1964 championship team, went on to win the 1977 and 1978 state championships.  Thompson went to the University of Connecticut and led the team in scoring for all 4 of his years there (1978-1982) with 1,810 points and 1,017 rebounds.  He was drafted into the NBA and played for the Dallas Mavericks and for top teams in Italy and Spain.

Story contributed by Deborah Shapiro.

1896: A New Anchor Invented

A new sea anchor has been invented by Michael McCarthy, of Middletown, Conn. The anchor is filled with oil in such a way that the oil is diffused over the waves as the anchor is tossed up and down, and so a comparative calm is created in which the vessel may ride out a storm in safety.

From The Wyandott Herald (Wyandott, Kansas), March 12, 1896.