Archive for the ‘connecticut’ Category
In December 2010 I posted about the Bevin Brothers bell factory in Connecticut, last of its kind in the United States. Alas the East Hampton, CT factory burned down on Saturday. The factory was built in the 1880s. In the past there were over 30 bell factories in the area, which came to be known as “bell town.” Owner Matt Bevin, descended from the founding brothers, is cautiously optimistic about rebuilding but only if it is cost effective.
At the heart of the general store is the community. Tourists may come to see the New England fall foliage and stop in to buy a souvenir but these stores may also be the local post office, coffee and donuts gathering spot, soda fountain, penny candy store. As this A.P. article points out, one of them sells guns and wedding gowns.
If you search for news about “wiffle ball” you’ll find a healthy population of amateur league players who aren’t just hitting with the kids in the backyard. Several regional and small-town papers have stories about wiffle ball tournaments, usually put on as charity events. Wiffle Balls were first produced in 1953 in Shelton, Connecticut and the company is still there. The ball, perforated on one side, curves easily and doesn’t travel too far, saving pitching arms and making it ideal for street and yard games. The official rules state that a broom handle can be used if a Wiffle bat is not available.
East Hampton, Connecticut was known as “Bell Town, USA” years ago when the town produced 90% of the world’s sleigh bells. The bell companies benefited from a law mandating that all sleighs, which run silent in the snow, use bells to warn pedestrians. With manufacturing shifted overseas, what’s left in East Hampton out of what used to be over 30 bell foundries is the proud sixth generation of the Bevin Brothers who’ve been making bells in Connecticut since 1832. If you’ve heard a Salvation Army bell ringer, you’ve heard a Bevin Brothers hand bell. The product line includes cow bells, mechanical door bells, prize fighter bells, and of course the classic sleigh bells. They say they’re the only company in the U.S. manufacturing just bells and they’ve stayed inventive by looking out for new business opportunities like supplying the bells for Poochie Pets (dog doorbells), another Connecticut company. I own a tiny Bevin Bill, pictured here (sorry for the fuzzy snapshot) which advertises Guida’s Milk, a New England dairy. It became our family “sick bell” for the bedside table and my mom handed it over to me when I was recovering from my c-section. Now that I’ve seen its model on the Bevin Brother’s website our little bell carries even more sentimental value. I think I better shine it up!
Metro-North, the commuter rail line that runs from New York to Connecticut, is ordering a new fleet of cars to replace the 1970s models now in service. That’s great news, until you talk to the regulars in the bar cars that are unique to the New Haven line. The rolling lounge, with its leather benches, stools, cup holders, and of course a bar, may not be a part of the new fleet. It’s an expensive customization that Metro-North will not commit to yet and the existing bar cars can’t be hooked up with the new cars. For passengers more interested in a nap and pleasant environment, the new cars finally have the headrests and improved restrooms that other lines have been enjoying for years. There will also be power plugs, but alas no Internet access.