A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to hang out with a bunch of “old” Cheshire. My good friends Tom & Susan had their yearly picnic and as always “old” Cheshire was there.
By “old” Cheshire I mean folks who were born and raised here, whose parents were born and raised here and whose grandparents were born and raised here. We “old” Cheshire folks know all the same people, because Cheshire back then was a small town. It was a tiny town of about 2000 people when my grandmother was born and 5000 when my mother was born. By the time I was born the population had exploded to 19,000, thanks in part to the interstate system. But even with all the new folks, “old” Cheshire tended to stick together.
My mom came to Tom’s for the first time this year, and met Ernie and Pat. Ernie was born and raised here, and Pat was too, though Ernie teases her because she’s only lived here since the 2nd grade (mind you she graduated Cheshire High School in 1963). In “old” Cheshire fashion, Ernie and I were talking about people we knew, and I mentioned my Uncle Johnny. Ernie laughed and told me he had been an altar boy at my Uncle Johnny and Auntie Judy’s wedding in 1953 at the original St. Bridget’s Church.
Next thing I know my mom, Ernie and Pat went headfirst down memory lane, pulling out names of people long since passed, places long since closed and memories long forgotten. Minervini’s Corner was the surprise in the conversation. According to Ernie, that was what they used to call the corner on Wallingford Road -that 90° corner to the left before the power lines – back in the day. This was due to the Minervini’s who lived in the house that used to stand on the right hand side of the corner. This was a new one to my mom, she always referred to it as “out on Wallingford Road” because when she was growing up it was the middle of nowhere. When I was a kid we called it “down the house” and it was still pretty rural. Now its built up with a new development, just like the rest of Cheshire.
Pretty soon Matt, Jon, Tom, Rick and I joined in as we lamented the passing of a restaurant in the Everybody’s plaza as Big Y prepares to take the space once occupied by Lums, Cas’ Place, Callahans and Yellowfins. We recalled the small town feel of places like the Green Dolphin, Richlins, WT Grants, and the movie theatre (not Cheshire Cinema – the one in Everybody’s Plaza) deeply missing “old” Cheshire.
All the while Susan and her family, coming from Hamden, watched the spectacle with amusement. Susan is used to this – we indulge in this nostalgia on a regular basis. But onlookers quickly realize just how small “old” Cheshire really is.