Archived Topics

Happy Memories

Posted By: Jean Manter
Date: Wednesday, 24 January 2001, at 10:56 p.m.

Hi Tom! You gave me a lot of memories with your article last week, 1/20/01. I must say, however, I do not remember the Cameo theater, but I do remember the Strand which was on a little street from Valley to Union Street which was later called the scratchhouse!... I didn't go there but once or twice when I was very very young..I recall my father took me to see perhaps Laurel and Hardy. Perhaps the name was changed to the Cameo later on but I don't remember it at all.

And then Santa Lucia's!...they had the best grinders indeed!...and when Remy Handfield married one of the girls he kept up the tradition.

I recall Tom Brainard's mother as being a music teacher at Natchaug I wrong about that?

However the Connecticut School of Music was indeed located on Prospect Street at the corner of Turner Street but was begun by the Blanchette sisters, Albina who was a pianist and Mary Rose who taught the violin, and who later went on to form a community orchestra which I believe she, Mary Rose, conducted. The house was a big sprawling house with the mentioned red barn in the back which was in back of the house that the Congdon's lived in on Turner Street...where I lived until I was around three years of age. When I was in grammar school I took piano lessons from Bina as she was called....took for about 8 years, and didn't enjoy it one bit! I wanted to have voice lessons....The Blanchette's had extensive contacts in the musical world and were responsible for a lot of the music culture that came along from the "outside world." Among them was a Mr. Smith (can't remember his given name) who was a baritone. He gave several concerts at the Windham High School which they arranged when his schedule brought him either from Boston or New York where he had studios. He came regularly for singing lessons and I was one of his students. Later I had lessons not only from him but from an associate of his, Madge Fairfax, as well. I did later sing with the Connecticut Opera Association for a short time which was a lot of fun....only in the chorus of course. I didn't have the courage to become a soloist.

The Blanchette's also had a dancer, Grace DeCarlton, who was a friend of theirs with studios in Boston. She gave dancing lessons to a lot of us which was called aesthetic dancing...the forerunner of today's modern dance. Our lessons were in the ballroom of the Hotel Hooker and periodically there would be recitals to attend. I also remember being one of the selected few to present a short program at her studio in Boston. That was quite an experience and a lot of fun, but we were scared our of our wits!

Getting back to Turner Street, we returned to Turner Street when I was in the 5th grade. My father bought the little white cottage (#84) on the left close to Summit Street. At that time there were interesting people living on it........The Frosts lived upstairs over the Blanchette sisters. There was a Pulse family living where I did when I was a baby, next door was the home of the Snows, down across the street and next door to our garden (the space is still there) lived the Rivers and on the corner of Turner and Summit beyond us were the Picketts. There were others of course but I thought these names were quite a variety for the short block! By the way between our house and the Picketts was a beautiful garden which was on the west and north side of our house, and gave our house a lot of space. It had a fountain and was beautifully landscaped and was the property of the Bugbee's who lived on Bellevue Street.

Thanks again for more memories. 


Posted By: William Brainard <>
Date: Thursday, 25 January 2001, at 9:40 a.m.

In Response To: Happy Memories (Jean Manter)

Hi Jean-- great memories you have! My maternal grandmother, Ruth Welles, taught music in the Windham school system back in the late 1920s and '30s. She was also music supervisor for Coventry and Columbia. I understand she had a music studio (voice and piano) across from the footbridge on Main Street. 


In Response To: Re: Happy Memories (William Brainard)

Hi Willi Threadies:

I was nonplussed to see the fine Chronicle run down of my comments on this page, which certainly does bring back 40/s/50/s memories. Tom Beardsley certainly knows his stuff!

Random thoughts...remember Jordan Auto....believe they sold Studebakers..on the site of the current Benny's? Lincolns were sold at Wayland Motors across from the Shell Chateau in what later became Gillette Company. My folks bought a 53 Navy Lincoln Capri there in September 56 when my kid brother William was age 2.5 years. The Lincoln was a coupe...and billed as the Mexican Road Race Lincoln. ----The music teacher Jean was grandmother Ruth T. Welles, ex-New York showgirl. She did not disclaim her theatrical background however, but was the so-called "prima donna" of Gus Hill's Broadway production of "Bringing Up Father" in 1914, 1915 and l916. She and grandfather Welles were married in L.A. in March l916 and she traded a promising theatrical career for life in the country and a well heeled husband. After marriage she and Tom Welles Sr. drove from Los Angeles to Hartford, and bought the old home where William and I live. She was a suffragette and later was elected (1943)as lst female legislator ( Democratic ticket) from Tolland Count. She did teach music in the 20's for both Tolland/Windham couties. Her great political pals were Jesse Greer, Mrs. Chase Going T. Woodhouse and Vivian Kellems(industrialist). ----The current Welles Agency was started by Ruth in her South Coventry kitchen(1932)...later sold various life insurance lines, navigated her 52' yacht from East Haven to Palm Beach. There were quite a few tuff-minded Windham/Tolland county gals in the '20's who didn't know that they had not been liberated. Gramma Ruth had a great relationship w. the old Willi Trust and was noted for quick real estate turnovers around Coventry Lake...

Well, I've spilled too many beans! But it's fun. Tom Brainard

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