Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Old Postcard Wednesday--Greetings from New Milford, Connecticut

Postmark Aug. 11, 1955
Dear Nellie,
You may think I've forgotten you but I haven't. Am enjoying being with this branch of the family awhile. There is company here from Beiruit Lebinon [
sic] for few days. A lady and 3 children 18-14-12. As with Bud's two it is a lively bunch. We hope the hurricane reported heading towards the shore doesn't decide to visit us. I've enjoyed the thunder storms we've had as they have been mild. Love & take care of Nellie. -Jennie

With the holidays upon us, accompanied by varying degrees of sensory, emotional, financial, and time overload, I selected this postcard as more-or-less a joke because it's the most boring old postcard in my grandmother's collection. It's the most lackluster postcard I've ever seen. Then I looked at the note on the back and thought that it packed a punch with its reference to visitors from the middle east and an impending hurricane. Of course I had to do some research to find out if a hurricane hit New Milford in August of 1955, and I learned that Hurricanes Connie and Diane were horrors in the northeast that year. Using the map you can see the areas described in the narratives below.

Of note: New Milford is green pin A, 19 miles from Waterbury at green pin B.
isn't pinned, but you can find it 30 miles due north on Highway 8 from Waterbury.

Hurricane Connie - Category 4 - formed Aug. 3, 1955 and dissipated Aug. 15, 1955

Although Connie moved northeast of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, moderate to heavy rains fell across those island groups. Once it struck the United States, Connie caused extensive flooding in the Mid-Atlantic states and New England. When Hurricane Diane {Note: See Below} struck five days later, the rainfall from Connie contributed to Diane's flood-related destruction and loss of life. Rivers and streams throughout Connecticut rapidly overflowed their banks on August 19, 1955. Downtown Winsted, Connecticut was half destroyed when the Mad River flooded. In Waterbury, Connecticut, the Naugatuck River carried away entire tenements. Eighty-seven people died in Connecticut, twenty nine of them in Waterbury. Damage is uncertain, but is estimated at $3.3 billion (2005 USD). Damage between Connie and Diane combined is between $700 million and $800 million (1955 USD).

Hurricane Diane - Category 3 - formed Aug. 7, 1955 and dissipated Aug. 20, 1955.

When Diane brought heavy rain through New England, flooding was immediate and devastating. Compounding the problem was the fact that Diane was, and still remains, the wettest tropical cyclone on record for the Northeast. Many small rivers rose above their banks from mountain run-off and flooded towns throughout New England. Flood records were numerous throughout the northeast, and damage was high. Many areas in Connecticut were flooded once more, including Winsted and Waterbury, as well as East Granby, where a former housing subdivision sitting where Grandbrook Park is today was completely swept away by the floodwaters.
The Waterbury Flood of 1955
In Connecticut, it's simply known as the Flood of '55. Others remember it as "Black Friday". On 11 August 1955, Hurricane Connie, which had already dumped a great deal of rain in the NorthEast had brushed the NorthWest tip of Connecticut and saturated the grounds in Winsted and surrounding towns. Less than a week later, Hurricane Diane arrived in Connecticut after damaging Washington D.C. and New York City. The water was too much for the ground to hold and set the stage for one of the worst disasters ever to hit the state of Connecticut.

New Milford's website is excellent and obviously has been developed and maintained with care and attention. It has an impressive Chronological History of New Milford, where the entry for the year of the floods indicates costly damage (for those days) but no loss of life in the town:
1955 - John Pettibone School, Pickett District, dedicated. Flood caused $250,000 to $300,000 damage to roads and bridges in New Milford. Power project of The Connecticut Light & Power Company named "Lake Lillinonah"

The town profile includes the following information:
LOCATION: New Milford is located in Litchfield County on the western border of Connecticut in the beautiful Housatonic Valley. To the west is the Town of Sherman and Candlewood Lake. To the south are Brookfield and Danbury. Kent and Warren are north; Washington, Bridgewater and Roxbury are east.
For you astronomers, New Milford is located at 41:35N, 73:24W.

AREA: New Milford is the largest town by area in the state, consisting of approximately 40,321 acres or 64 square miles.

POPULATION: Approximately 28,000

TRANSPORTATION: New Milford is a few miles north of I-84 and is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes from Manhattan.

The website offers a view of some old postcards that are much more picturesque than the one I'm featuring today!

I was impressed that the website has added a new section concerning the rich African American heritage in New Milford.

You can get an idea of how pretty this town is by clicking here for a panorama of New Milford's Green 2 in October 2000. And for a view of what the town looks like during the holidays, there is a panorama of New Milford's Green at Christmas 2000. Charming. I wish the Town of New Milford happy holidays and hope that any residents who may read this will forgive me for posting this plain and boring shot of your town!



Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Hi Lydia - sorry i haven't commented on your other recent posts...things are a bit hectic here.

It's a funny postcard sure enough -because it could almost be a view of anywhere in the world: the picture tells you so little...maybe it was the only one on sale? Perhaps the choice of postcard tells us something about the sender? Someone practical or straight-forward?

But what i like is that you take this seemingly dull postcard and open up an interesting world that's locked behind.

dmarks said...

Another great ost.

Lydia said...

It's ok about not commenting so much this week. You have a lot going on and I appreciate any time you give to reading my blog and leaving comments. As always, thanks for that. :)

I do wonder if the postcard was the only available. Did you notice that the sender used a PO address at the top? She must have been a resident, or part-time resident - and maybe that explains why she didn't necessarily have that "tourist's eye."

Thank you so much.



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