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Travel Log - New York and Connecticut
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New York and Connecticut:  May 3

Speed on the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River is 45 mph much to my great relief so I wasn't eaten alive by rushing New Yorkers.  Joined up with the Merritt Parkway and it is now my favorite highway.  Ups and downs are gradual, curves are graceful, everything is well marked and more importantly there are TREES on either side, close to the road blocking the horrendous wind.  A very civilized highway. 

Bridgeport, Connecticut--very sunny, very pretty and monumentally gusty. I was cruising Main Street looking for the Barnum Museum when I came across this amazing building.  I had to stop and get it on film:  it looked like 4 or 5 styles of architecture made of Oklahoma red clay collided and landed in the middle of a modern main street.  And, of course, it WAS the Barnum Museum because P.T. himself had a hand in the design.  And like Tina Turner, he didn't do anything "nice and easy."

How would you like to have the job doing Public Relations for the P.T. Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut?  IMAGINE the possibilities!  Well, I got to meet the lucky lady who has this job.  Her name is Arvis and she is also Ruffles the Clown.  She told me about clown colleges, the clown association and clown chapters.  (And you thought your professional group was a bunch of clowns!)

Ken Blinn, director of programs, with a great radio voice and academic award-winning wife (Stacy, I think it was) gave me the royal treatment--the boardroom, coffee and a stainless steel whistle with an engraving of the museum building on it.  The building itself is over the top!  Check out: www.barnum-museum.org

I figured that P.T. Barnum was just the first major advdertising shyster but, as usual, when you get to know somebody, they aren't all they appear.  He was, among other things, mayor of Bridgeport.  His life was influenced by his grandfather who pulled a practical joke on P.T. over a piece of swamp land.  And after a stint at retail left him bored, he bought a museum and started in.  Now 150 years ago the only form of family entertainment was museums.  P.T. was the first P.R. genius but then you knew that.  He had musicians play outside his museum and play so horribly that people would come inside to get away from the noise. 

But P.T. Barnum is a source of inspiration too.  For 2 reasons.  He experienced some major set backs (business going up in flame, etc.) that would have crumpled anyone.  He really lived his religious faith which was the Universal Church's teaching of "all things ultimately are for the best." 

The second reason ya'll should know about P.T. Barnum is that no matter how old you are or how old you think anyone else is--you're NOT too old.  P.T. Barnum retired for 1 year and then went into the circus business.  And that's why you remember him, right?  He was 60 years old when he started his new career.  He's been called the Shakespeare of Salesmanship but I think I'll remember him differently now.

MariAn Gail Brown, reporter for the Connecticut Post, arrived at the museum to interview me and get photos of Seno parked outside the red building.  Well, she and Ken and I had a fine old time, more like camp mates around a campfire there in the boardroom swapping stories.  SHE was an inspiration to ME--she recently lost 78 pounds (that's pretty great) but she told an amazing story about why it was such a good idea to get in shape.  She and her photog had to run for their lives in downtown Manhattan on September 11 when the third building collapsed.  She probably wouldn't be here if she hadn't shaped up for that important run.

I took 8, then 15, then 5 to I-91 and went headlong into Hartford rush hour.  I did shoot out the other side of town and make it to I-84 but I missed two exits and therefore two youth hostels.  The wind was so strong it blew trees down in Central Connecticut and I read in today's paper that the gusts were up to 55 mph.  Exhausted, I crossed the Massachusetts state line and pulled into the first place I could find.  The desk clerk recommended a restaurant and I was off down a country road to find it.

What I found some people come to Connecticut for PERIOD!  What luck!  Around the corner I came and pow!  there was the Publick House, built in 1771 (231 years ago!) and still serving the Yankee traveler.  And they had my two favorite words:  BAKERY OPEN. 

Take an old car to Sturbridge, Massachusetts and you'll be warmly welcomed by Brad Areoite who had a small bevy of cars himself and made his boss look at Seno and come meet me.  Albert Cournoyer, Innkeeper, has a '62 Vette and he told me that the Publick HOuse was used during the Civil War as a troop training area.  Even my waitress Kim, very pretty and very efficient, has a dad with old iron in HIS garage! 

I've got to tell you--both Brad and Albert win the best dressed category in the men's division so far--both had great suits.  Albert looks like a TV actor whose name I don't know.

If you visit the Publick House in winter they will make a hot buttered rum for you after your sleigh ride and their brochure is so elegant that it is suitable for framing (not kidding, folks!).  www.publickhouse.com What a remarkable surprise this place was and I left with a bag of cornbread sticks.
 

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Vincent Brown THE man in Atlantic City who helped direct us to the Chamber of Commerce. Christina and Irving of Chestnut Ridge, New York who stopped everything to take me to dinner, find rubber pants, get me to the library, even washed my duds and laughed at my jokes.
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Sir Beasley and Mao-Me, buddies and cat hosts. Not shown: the elusive Tony the Tiger, Smokey Rose and the much chewed Ebony who loses all his fights. "I came, I purred, I conquered." Irving got me out of the car & off to Manhattan for lunch -- doesn't he look like Cary Grant?
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The table where Woody Allen had lunch. Great Pyrennes dog in Central Park -- note the New Yorker patient disdain for tourists.
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The west facade of the funky Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, CT. Avril with Seno outside the entrance -- remember she is also Ruffles.
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The unexpected surprise in Sturbridge MA -- Publick House where Brad, Albert & Kim go to great lengths to make you feel welcome.
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