Let me reset this series: This is from day 4 of my family’s Rhode Island trip, and it’s going to be a long one. Either get comfortable or just scroll down real fast and enjoy the pictures.
He’s a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
I knew my siblings had plans to visit our home state of Connecticut (although my brother Bob was born in Pennsylvania) on this day. My plan was to sit this trip out and my reasoning was that we moved to Texas when I was 5 years old. My memories of my time in New England are relegated to a few snapshot images in my brain and not much more. I only had one friend there that I even remember, and I didn’t start school until after our move south.
The previous day, on the way to my mom’s service with Bob and Glenn, the Wednesday plans got brought up. Glenn said “You know, we think you should go to Connecticut with us tomorrow. We all started this trip together, and we think we should continue to spend time together.”
I replied “Only if you promise me we’ll look for places to buy some postcards.”
Glenn looked at me in the rearview mirror and said “Wow – I didn’t expect it to be that easy.”
But the truth was that I was having a blast with my family. When you’re a kid, 5 years seems like a huge age difference between siblings, and that was the gap between my age and Glenn’s – the second youngest. My oldest sibling is 10 years older than me. But, as the youngest, I am now 46 years old. As we get older, that gap seems to shrink. And my siblings were always larger than life figures to me. But now we almost all seemed to be at the same stage of life, where 5 to 10 years is not that big of a deal.
So on Wednesday, I found myself in the now familiar position of traveling with my brothers Bob and Glenn, only this time we were following the eldest on the way to my birth state.
Doesn’t have a point of view
Knows not where he’s going to
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?
The first main town we came to in Connecticut was Willimantic. This is the town I was born in. I looked around in awe, sensing that I was seeing the stereotypical northeast town. This is the town I took my first breath in, the town where my four older siblings first saw my sorry ass. The long town name that will forever grace my birth certificate.
And, whoa – they certainly love frogs.
We didn’t stop in W-town, but instead soldiered on to Mansfield – the town that we lived in just prior to the move to Texas. Our first destination was the house on Browns Road, a house my family shared with another family when I was born. The siblings never came to a true consensus of when we moved from Browns Rd, but it is safe to say it was during the first year of my life and no longer.
Such a typical New England structure. Boxy building, no fenced yard, but a stonewall present thus making it difficult to find a discreet place to pee – especially since the lot was on a corner and faced two streets. I managed to pull it off, though. (Hmm. Probably a poor choice of words.)
And for my friends in the same industry that I am in, you might notice a winterization sticker in the front window at the lower left of the above photo. That’s right – this house is somewhere in the foreclosure process. So obviously my first thought was “Where is the lockbox?” because if I could get my older siblings in this house, it might just make their trip.
Some in our group of Leemings said this house was not in foreclosure, but the signs to me were obvious. The winterization sticker, the posted signs in the other front window, and a peek through the kitchen window revealed the vendor sign-in sheet as well as the servicer responsible for maintaining the property. The HUD-spec board up on the detached garage window was also a clue.
And then I found the lockbox. But it was a numeric box (I was hoping for alpha) and I had no idea what the code might be. (Many times, it is the last 4 digits of the loan number, and that would require information that I had no way of obtaining.)
So I called and texted a friend of mine in New Jersey who works for a heavy hitter in the REO industry. He had never heard of the servicing company, so he couldn’t help with the code. But, after we left to head to our next destination, he reminded me that I should try a window because “no one ever remembers to lock those”. Too late, dammit.
Here are some more pictures of that house and lot, just because.
Nowhere Man, please listen
You don’t know what you’re missing
Nowhere Man, the world is at your command
We drove through our old town on the way to the University of Connecticut. The school is located in Storrs, and true to Rhode Island tradition, in Connecticut it took less than 10 minutes to get there.
Our only plan while at UConn was to go to the bookstore to buy some souvenirs, and maybe to get something to eat for lunch. I spent way too much at the bookstore (even while avoiding the shirts with the Nike swoosh on them that doubles the markup) but I should have spent 50 more cents. Because I didn’t see the postcards until after I’d paid.
Thankfully my brother Bill was in line at this time and I handed him a postcard and asked him to buy it for me with the promise that I would pay him back. (Knowing my luck, he will ask for that half dollar when I am inevitably down to my last.) Postcard #1 had thus been procured.
I only bought one there, even though my plans were to send Jen a postcard for every day of the trip. Six UConn postcards would have been a little weird for what was being billed as a trip to Rhode Island. But I did feel better having finally purchased at least one postcard.
Then we ate pizza for lunch. Sadly, none of us tried the clam pizza. In fact, none of us knew it was an option until after we had already ordered. Based on our clam experience on this trip (except for all the chowdahs) it was probably fortuitous that we didn’t get adventurous with the pie.
UConn segment photos follow, including my first glimpse of a true Fall scene.
He’s as blind as he can be
Just sees what he wants to see
Nowhere Man can you see me at all?
Our next stop was the Connecticut house that I actually remember. My sister was actually there a few days before and talked to the woman who currently lives there. This woman moved there from the DFW area of Texas. It’s almost like we traded!
Driving down the street didn’t bring back any visual memories, but it did inspire other reminisces, mostly names. R Higgins (he of the pig nose, hence the abbreviated first name), the Debettadetos (probably really butchered that spelling), and my best friend Stacy (girl who lived next door and ignored my Facebook friend request 40 years later).
Glenn drove down to the cul de sac to turn around and I asked him to stop because there was a house there that I wanted to look at. I don’t remember the name of the couple that lived in that huge house, but they were young, childless, had a large library with books everywhere, and also had no problem letting 4 year old me browse their book collection.
I am almost certain that I’ve written about this before, but I’m feeling lazy about looking it up, and it would also defeat the flow of this story. So I’ll just paraphrase it here: We moved to Texas before I had ever gone to school of any kind. And the first thing I told my mom that I wanted to do once we arrived in our new town was to write the aforementioned Stacy a letter. Mom handed me a pencil and paper expecting gibberish. What she got was an actual letter with words that made sense. She always wondered how I was able to do that, and I didn’t even know of this event until my teenage years (or maybe later).
I tend to give credit to the unnamed couple in the cul de sac. I don’t know why, but that feels right. No one in my family remembers their last name, but my sister said that my dad might know their first names, though that wouldn’t really lead me to finding out who they are. So here is their house, complete with the foliage cover in front so common to the northeast.
(It really is a crappy picture. But I felt I needed to honor them somehow.)
The same problem arose when we drove to my first home (rather, the first that I remember). Not only was the house set far back from the street, but it was shrouded in trees at the road and not very forgiving for an Android camera. But I tried and probably had better success than I did with the home of my reading tutor.
Our next stop was Mansfield Hollow State Park. In true Rhode Island fashion (“10 minutes away” – get caught up on previous entries), in Connecticut this was about 4 or 5 minutes from my childhood house. We hiked down to the lake, all the while with me looking for a trash can to dispose of two empty Diet Coke cans and a Drake’s cake wrapper (Yodels, yo). They eventually found their way into a trash can in the port-a-potty, but not after a pit stop in a grill while we walked down to the lake.
If you can’t tell, I was really bothered by putting those items in a camp grill. (I was also surprised that the only trash cans available were actually in a portable john. I’ve never seen a trash can in one of those before.)
Again, we skipped stones on the water (Glenn won) and took lots of pictures. Yet another place in Connecticut that I don’t remember.Even as I try to get back to my roots.
Oh, you don’t like visual pun humor? Then here are some other photos from the park.
This is where and when what I called the “prisoner exchange” happened. My oldest brother and his daughter were flying out of Hartford this day, so my sister and her husband transferred their stuff to the Nissan the rest of us were in. We have hugs and safe travel wishes to the two leaving, and then the five of us remaining were on our own. So of course we ended up at The Hoot. No – not Hooter’s (spare!), but The Hoot.
I can’t believe I made it out of that store without spending any money because there was this one New England cook book that really caught my eye…
Nowhere Man, don’t worry
Take your time, don’t hurry
Leave it all till somebody else lends you a hand
Anyway, it was time to plan for dinner. We all wanted seafood again – big surprise, right? So while the five of us that remained were crammed into a Nissan something (I can’t remember the model, only that Glenn like to peel out as often as possible and then high five) I was on Google looking for a place to eat.
We ended up in Naragansett again (about 10 minutes away, 30 minutes later) at Iggy’s. Our first choice was open for (drinking) business, but only served food on the weekends. And, as much as we would have liked to see our sister run the table on the fools playing pool, we decided to eat instead.
Everything except for the fried clams was excellent here. (We had the worst luck with fried clams on this trip. Maybe we have become accustomed to how they are served in the south? Maybe fresh clams aren’t our jams? Hell, my introduction to fried clams was at a Howard Johnson’s in Houston. Or maybe we just should have stuck with “clam strips” instead of “fried clams”. The latter comes with the belly, which mom loved, but also seems to be an acquired taste.
After dinner, Bob and Glenn and I drove to the lighthouse for photo opportunities. Unfortunately, a fence made pics a failed venture. So we just parked at the shore and attempted to take some shots. But it was raining, cold, and as windy as a presidential debate. We still managed to get a few clicks, though.
When the wind and cold rain became too much for us, we started to head back to our respective lodging. But first we decided that we should stop for a beer since Iggy’s inexplicably did not have any available. And, get this – we ended up at an Applebee’s. So much for my “when in Rome” mantra.
The three of us had one beer each, and then it was really time to call it a night. But this day really stuck with me.
While riding through Connecticut I had a thought that I actually broached with Bob and Glenn.
I think I regret not growing up in Connecticut.
I know, I know… Butterfly effect and all. But damn, it is beautiful up there. And I see photos of my cousin’s son getting ready for Boy Scouts (yes, that is available in Texas and one of my nephews is involved, but it wasn’t commonplace in the 70s), and I think of my affinity for forestry, and I think about how much more fun fly fishing is than rod and reel fishing, and I think maybe I wouldn’t be such a cold weather sissy if we had never moved to Texas.
Bob and Glenn’s early formative years were filled with town festivals in which they showed off their artwork, learned how to tie kick ass knots in the Scouts, and played soccer within shouting range of a state park.
I have always said that I’m a Texan, but now I wonder. I mean, I guess I am since I’ve been here for 41 years. But now I find myself much less married to this state than I was just a few short weeks ago. If it weren’t for the winters…
Doesn’t have a point of view
Knows not where he’s going to
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?
– The Beatles, “Nowhere Man”