Earlier this summer, my childhood neighbor posted “10 Ways to Know You Are From Simsbury” in his Facebook feed. This upset me in more than one way, not only because I lived and grew up in this Connecticut town that strives to maintain its prestige as both suburban enclave of the well-to-do and rural outpost that’s beyond the fray, but also because I interned at The Hartford Courant, and my hometown newspaper could have done so much better than this halfhearted attempt to Buzzfeed its way into our feeds.
So here is a much more representative list that should cover just about anyone who lived in Simsbury between its founding in 1670 and the dawn of the 21st Century.
Happy 345th Birthday, Simsbury!
WAYS TO KNOW YOU ARE FROM SIMSBURY, CONNECTICUT
- You fought King Philip for pillaging and burning everything in town during King Philip’s War in 1676, and you can point out his cave in the “mountain.”
- You minted the first American coins. In which case you were Dr. Samuel Higley, who first made copper coinage in 1737 before the colonies were authorized to do so.
- You love forests so much you made it your mission to conserve them nationwide (you were Gifford Pinchot, born in Simsbury in 1865 and the first U.S. Forest Service chief from 1905-1910, and later governor of Pennsylvania).
- You were the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — he spent two summers as a young man in Simsbury working in the tobacco fields and realized there was a dream to be had far beyond Alabama.
- You trained or have trained someone else to win Olympic figure skating medals. The International Skating Center of Connecticut has served as home ice for Viktor Petrenko, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Sasha Cohen, Michelle Kwan, Shizuka Arakawa, Oksana Baiul, and Alexei Yagudin
- You stayed local to buy a car because NHL all-stars advertised for it and lived as your neighbors (remember those Mitchell Saab and Volvo commercials with Ulf Samuelsson and Kevin Dineen?!).
- You probably played hockey, too.
- No matter whether you played sports or not, you’ll correct anyone in a Trojans gear that the colors are supposed to blue and gold.
- You remember a sad period in town history when to see a movie on the big screen in a theater, you had to travel to desolate places like East Hartford, Enfield or even for a time, Avon.
- You have a weird townie on townie relationship with neighbors who chose elite prep schools Westminster or Ethel Walker’s over your state’s own top public high school.
- You hiked to Heublein Tower for field trips and other day trips, but never tried hand gliding off the mountain, although you may once have flown a remote-control plane — what olds called drones — from the field below.
- You know where to find backward EGGS sign (see above, at Flamig Farm).
- You know where to find the state’s tallest tree.
- You can identify if someone is from West Simsbury, Weatogue or God forbid Tariffville instead of Simsbury.
- You met Hilton Kaderli in person at least once while he was Connecticut’s friendliest weatherman for Ch. 3, WFSB-TV. Bonus points if he taught you in Sunday School, because he really was that friendly.
- You had your hair cut by Ray, and probably still go to the little white shack looking for a quick fix for your hairdo from the boutique stylist who took over Ray’s Barber Shop after he died.
- Your school literally is now a jail. The Horace Belden School, Simsbury’s first high school built in 1907, later an elementary school, closed in 1980 to become Simsbury Town Hall and home to the police department and jail.
- You and your family grew up with strong opinions when it came to preferences along Hopmeadow Street for local pizza (Apollo’s vs Antonio’s), grocery stores (Andy’s vs Fitzgerald’s) and casual family dining (Farm Shop vs A.C. Petersen Farms), but no matter which side of those debates you were on, you definitely shopped at Leaders for everything.
- You’ve won a goldfish from Emmons.
- The Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows is great and all, but you remember when the biggest entertainment event of the year was St Mary’s Carnival (or the volunteer firefighters’ carnival)!
- You can tell a ghost story about the Chart House. Do the people at Abigail’s Grille know these stories still?
- You either worked at The Hartford or have a plan for what do with the insurance giant’s HQ.
- You knew Gary Craig wasn’t joking when the longtime morning DJ referred to your town as Simsboring.
- You waited to cross the Drake Hill Bridge with your car and feel funny using the new one.
- You ate Molly Malones at One-Way Fare.
- You remember where you where when Ensign-Bickford exploded. You probably spent every other day before and after that wondering what it was Ensign-Bickford did.
- You’ve biked or walked a State Park trail to get to school.
- You’ve cross-country skiied through McLean Game Refuge.
- You can finish the classic jingle, “The Bank That Works For The Valley…” (hint: it was your bank and trust before it was Fleet Bank before it was Bank of America)
- You’ve seen and heard the Hartford Symphony Orchestra more than anyone in Hartford has (they summer in Simsbury), but you’ve seen Max Creek more in concert than any other band, and probably saw them at Gemini’s (now called Old Well Tavern).