An Enhanced Vision

The year was 1974. Barry was eleven years of age, and was a student in the fourth grade, attending an elementary school, and residing in the small industrial city of Waterbury, Connecticut.

Barry’s life experience up to this point consisted of the atmosphere and environment of his home and school. He really had little first-hand exposure or knowledge pertaining to what existed out in the world at large.

Barry’s father, Hank, decided to become a member of the American Automobile Association, or the AAA. Hank desired joining the AAA because of the wealth of benefits AAA membership included. Among the benefits were emergency road breakdown assistance, free towing services, special discounts at realtors and special privileges at businesses that provided related services.

Barry was in the local AAA office with his father Hank, and saw literature on tourist attractions in Connecticut. He became fascinated, because it brought a certain color to his life, something more than what he was generally accustomed to.

Barry picked up much of the literature from the AAA office and brought in home. He was very much intrigued and interested in what the literature had to offer and found a great deal of pleasure reading through it. He decided to approach his father about him experiencing these tourist attractions first hand.

“I really love everything that I read and see in these tour-books. It amazes me just to look here and read, plus according to what it states, I can experience and see these places first hand and in person,” Barry said to Hank.

“I agree. It can become a regular activity between us, something to do on a monthly basis, to make and set dates to go to many of these attractions and see them personally,” Hank responded.

It became up to Barry, to decide which places he would like to visit. He would read through the brochures and decide which attractions appealed to him and interested him the most.

Among the attractions Barry chose were the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, Hubbard Park, The children’s museum, the Hill-Stead Museum, the Grove Street Cemetery and Putnam Memorial State Park.

A regular routine would come into play in which Barry and Hank would get into their automobile and travel to the attractions he selected, each one on a monthly basis. The selection involved themes and topics of interest which varied from place to place and month to month.

Barry initially selected the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum located in Wethersfield, Connecticut, as their first venture. This attraction comprised three 18th Century homes which hold importance to the history of the Birth of the United States as a nation.

The Dean House is elaborate and elegant and its luxury truly shows. It was the home of Silas Deane, who was the first U.S. Diplomat. The Webb House was the site where General George Washington held a conference meeting with the French General Rochambeau to discuss plans to march to Yorktown, Virginia, where America would end and win the American Revolutionary War. The Stevens House dates from 1820, and is typical of a household dating from the Industrial Revolution.

“Dad, I’m actually seeing the room where Generals Washington and Rochambeau met during the Revolutionary War. I think it’s amazing that everything in the room they met in is the same today as what it was back then,” Barry said to his father.

“This is a terrific and significant place, and I’m glad we came here. There’s the place to see, and so many more to come. Enjoy them,” Hank replied.

Barry made his selection for an attraction to visit the following month. It would be to Hubbard Park, which is located in nearby Meriden, Connecticut.

Hubbard Park lies at the base of the impressive and majestic Hanging Hills, which at its highest point reaches an elevation of 1,007 feet. The park’s design is very attractive, and has been done tastefully and well thought out. The park features Castle Craig, located on the summit of West Peak of the Hanging Hills, which offers outstanding views of the entire region. Merimac Reservoir and Mirror Cake are located at the base of the Hanging Hills. Drives, paths and nature trails are available. Hubbard Park is an appealing and pleasant place to visit.

On this trip, as Barry stood atop Castle Craig, he had an outstanding view that spanned many far reaching miles in every direction. This is the most he had ever seen for more than just the atmosphere and environment of his home.

“Dad, I feel like I’m in an airplane far above the ground, flying and soaring in the sky, with everything to see which lies below,” Barry said.

“Yes, it’s very much like an airplane. It has the same effect, only we’re not moving,” Hank replied.

Another month went by, and Barry made his next selection from the literature about their next destination.

It would be to the Children’s Museum in West Hartford, Connecticut.

The biggest thing that captivated Barry was the Gengras Planetarium which is located in the Children’s Museum. The ceiling of the Gengras Planetarium is like a movie screen. Chairs are placed in a rotunda in a circular spaced room. There is an instrument which moves that can project and duplicate the nighttime sky according to specific dates and seasons of stargazing.

Planetarium shows became one of Barry’s deepest interest and passions, and he found much enjoyment and satisfaction in attending this show, as well as the several more planetarium shows he would attend in the future.

“Dad, being here is just like being in the backyard at home and looking at the sky at night. Only here, at the Planetarium, there is a narration which accompanies the sky show. Also, the projector can be set to the nighttime sky of specific dates and seasons throughout the year. It is a great way to learn about the stars,” Barry said.

“I’m so glad that you are interested in what you’re seeing here. It really is something that can give a person satisfaction and enjoyment, especially when experiencing it for the first time,” Hank replied.

A month went by, and Barry chose as their next destination to the Hill-Stead Museum located in Farmington, Connecticut. It consists of a 36 room house designed and built in 1901 by Theodate Pope, the first female to practice architecture in the United States.

The Hill-Stead Museum is a mansion, lavishly and luxuriously furnished, and is highlighted by paintings from the Impressionist school of art. The artists include Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas and James McNeill Whistler.

The mansion of the Hill-Stead Museum is a destination in itself to see, but the paintings on display add so much more to the fun.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s like an art gallery in a private home. There are furnishings in the room, it makes up living quarters, yet there are priceless paintings tastefully arranged on the walls,” Barry said.

“It’s something like this I would like you to see. There are places like this that can give you the experience of much positive things the world has to offer,” Hank replied.

Another month went by, and it was up to Barry to choose his next destination to travel to. It would be the Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven, Connecticut.

There is a gate with an Ancient Egyptian design which stands at the entrance to the Grove Street Cemetery. The tombstones and markers all bear a resemblance of the style of the era they were placed there.

The gravesites and gravestones of such notables as Charles Goodyear, Roger Sherman, Noah Webster and Eli Whitney are scattered throughout the cemetery.

It amazed Barry that he could personally see and come so close to the final resting place of such outstanding personalities.

“This cemetery has such significance and importance. It should rank with the Liberty Bell and the Old North Church. I personally find it hard to believe that the final resting places of so many notable figures lie in this cemetery, and that I can personally stand in front of them,” Barry said.

“Being here is a history lesson in itself. There’s people who had a vision to save something for prosperity. That includes the people who arranged this cemetery. That’s why you’re standing here today and seeing this,” Hank said.

A month went by and it would be time for Barry to choose his next destination. It would be to Putnam Memorial State Park, in Redding, Connecticut.

The park was the 1778 winter encampment of the American General Israel Putnam and his New England detachment of American troops during the Revolutionary War. Traces of buildings, which consisted of the encampment are visible, such as the lines of stones laid out in rows which served as the chimneys of the living quarters. Much of the site has been restored.

“Seeing all the places we’ve been to, including this, is like putting together the pieces of a puzzle. The world is made up of things which are different from each other, but when put together creates a whole which relates to each other,” Barry exclaimed.

“That’s exactly why we go on these trips. I want you to be fascinated and interested. This is a way to go out and experience the world in a positive manner which can provide memories which will last a lifetime,” Hank explained.

What occurred here was just the start of what would be a new vision and outlook to Barry whereas previously his entire world was only his environment and atmosphere at home, his ventures out with his Father. Hank exposed him to more of what was actually out in the world. Barry became more whole and complete. Barry truly was beginning to see that there’s a whole world out there.

Richard F.Adamski
Waterbury, CT ©2012

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