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Saturday, 1 January 2011

Burringham to Boston-My 2003 World Trip-Part10-USA (Bridgeport)

I decide to miss Providence Rhode Island and head along Interstate 295 and the scenic Route 6 joining Interstate 395 and back onto Interstate 95 at New London.
                The drive is pleasant. In the USA there is so much more listening choice on the car radio. It just a case of seek and ye will find. I’m listening to lots of Middle of the road, oldies and country. One song’s been following me round the world, it’s Dobie Gray’s ‘Drift Away’. Maybe the spy satellites have a recording somewhere of me singing along.
         Past New Haven on I95, traffic begins to build up. This is the main artery into New York city from the east and driving habits change and become more aggressive.
(Travelling with Phil on I95 sometime later I asked him about road rage and I quote his reply, ’Road Rage!, I ******* invented it’).
    I get slightly lost in Bridgeport, but eventually find my way to Phil and Anne McGovern’s house.
        I’ve already mentioned a little about Phil and Anne. I’ve known all the brothers since first visiting Ireland in the 60s.Phil should be settling down to a quiet retirement, but he’s like a fuse about to go off(he was a drummer in a band in his youth) and always has some project on the go
        Anne is from Rooskey, Roscommon, Ireland. Phil and Anne ran the Hotel Shalamar there for a number of years. Anne has been described by some of her sister-in-laws as an angel. Phil calls her Mother Theresa.
      Anne or Annie is the best organiser the McGovern’s have in their midst and she really does have a heart of gold. After Peggy died she was brilliant with her words and letters of comfort to me and my family. She’s organising the party.
I don’t know if I already mentioned this, but three of my four daughters Michele, Sarah, Marie, Michele’s husband Steve and my grandchildren Callum and Erin will be coming over for my birthday party. Lynn wont be making it since her and Dean are expecting their first child shortly.    
            I’ve got a nice big room upstairs till the rest of my family get here, and I’m soon settled in and well fed.
               Phil and Anne like to go long walks on Bridgeport beach to keep in shape(I want some of what they’re on),and I can’t keep up. I use the videoing as an excuse to lag behind. It’s certainly a lovely waterfront with playing fields, kids play parks a wide promenade, statues, old cannons and lighthouses. There’s a very imposing statue of P.T.Barnum, who was mayor of Bridgeport as well as one of Christopher Columbus. Tom Thumb and Robert Mitchum are amongst Bridgeport’s other notables.
We’re on Long Island Sound so there’s plenty of ships boats and yachts about, and it’s a beautiful evening.
Christopher Columbus Bridgeport CT
           Tuesday 9th September. I’ve got a niggling problem with a tyre going down, but having it checked out finds nothing.
         Phil and Anne have one daughter Maureen. Maureen’s married to Bobby Dragonetti and they have three great kids Jessica Sean and Brendan. We’re visiting them today at their lovely house in Danbury. It’s great to see them again, Sean and Jessica have grown up so quick, I think they’re both over 6ft now, and Brendan who once modelled toddler clothes for catalogues is big into racing his quad round the neighbourhood.
                  It’s great to catch up, and it’s great to see Bobby looking good considering he’d had half his bowels cut out this year. Maureen child minds 6 or 7 kids every day but that doesn’t stop her from cooking us a great meal today. I’m well supplied with liquid refreshment.
    Brendan takes me out as a pillion passenger on his quad, and I’ve got to hang on for dear life. I have a go myself afterwards at a fraction of the speed.
Brendans Quad
           Wednesday 10th September. At breakfast this morning Anne gets me to show her how I like my microwaved scrambled eggs, bless her.
                     It’s time for me to see if I can remember where the rest of Peggy’s brothers and sisters live and I set off down I95.My first stop is Byram located on the Connecticut side of New York city limits where Pat and Bridie live.
                 Bridie’s been a widow for a number of years now, with her four kids Michael, Kathleen, Sheila and Eddie long since grown up and left.
                     Pat’s a confirmed bachelor though he’s been linked to a number of very nice ladies over the years. To tell the truth, having holidayed in Ireland with him in August 2002 it seems he’s still considered to be a very desirable catch, so my assumption of his bachelorhood could be wrong.
           Pat’s out doing some of his charity work. Bridie and me have tea and discuss the injustices of life.
       I find my way up to Greenwich town centre and make my way to Guild Antiques where Ann may be working. Ann lives in Greenwich and has worked for the Rich family for a long time, In 1997 while her employers were at their Martha’s Vineyard residence, and with their blessing they allowed their magnificent house in the back country to be used for mine and Peggy’s 30th anniversary party. Ann isn’t in but I say hello to Gina Rich, who remembers me from a visit to the UK.
     Now I drive over to Stamford and find my way to Johnny’s house. Johnny is the youngest of the brothers and is married to Angela, they have three children Johnny, Mikey and Maureen. Mikey’s engaged to Melissa and they’re getting married 2005.  
I have an affinity with Angela since both of us are Scottish. Young Johnny’s in on his own ,so we have a gas and he sets me up with a drink.
     Now I’m trying to find Mary’s house in Rowayton. Mary is Terry’s widow. Terry died in 2000 and I have the fondest memories of him. They had two children, Eamon who’s my golfing and drinking buddy and still lives at home, and Eileen who’s married to Tim Quinn.
     I’m looking for Crooked Trail Rd, and I remember having trouble finding it on a previous visit. After passing it about six times I eventually find the house, but there’s no one in. At least I shouldn’t have as much trouble the next time.
   Back in Bridgeport cousin Noel is visiting. Noël was one of the main organisers of the two reunions and is from the ‘Terry ‘The Widow’’ side of the McGovern clan. I may have mentioned he and Phil founded and hosted an Irish radio show for a great many years, so whenever the two of them get together the world is put to rights, and many an anecdote told.(No I don’t think blarney would be the right word)
          Thursday 11th September. Me and Anne are out to lunch today, we’re going down to Norwalk where we’re meeting up with Anne sister Kitty and her husband Tom.
We get to Norwalk and park up at Stew Leonards, who claim to be the world’s largest dairy store and are featured in Ripley’s ‘Believe it or not’. It certainly looks big and they’ve even got their own mini farm complete with live animals.
      Tom and Kitty pick us up and we drive to a beautiful seafood restaurant on the waterfront. The fish and chips are very tasty but of course they’d only be second best to the haddock and chips at the Peacock Inn, Newhaven, Edinburgh. After lunch we take in the millionaire mansions. (Mine is still being built).
   Tonight we’re invited to Noel’s. Noël, his lovely wife Sharon and their son Terry live in the town of Trumbull, just north of Bridgeport. Their house is located in a nice wooded glade with a river close by. Beautiful food, throat kissing nectar and lots of light hearted discourse make for a wonderful evening.
    Friday 12th September. I keep Phil Company this morning as he goes out to Easton to weigh up a flagstone job he’s taken on. Nice area.
       This afternoon I take a run down to Rowayton to visit Mary. Eileen is visiting with her twin boys Tommy and John. Mary and I talk about Peggy and Terry and how losing them has affected us. We share a lot of the same feelings and wonder how two of the kindest people in the world could be taken away too soon.
         Tonight I accompany Phil to the Gaelic American club in Fairfield for a drink where we meet up with Noel and Sharon. This will be the venue for my forthcoming birthday party.
    Saturday 13th September. I’m taking Anne down to Greenwich today for a meeting with more of the family for party planning.I95 is a total mess today and we have to come off somewhere round Darien and get on to the Post road but we’re still going at a snails pace. We call in on Bridie at Byram before going up to Ann’s house. Ann, Angela and her Maureen are there so I get lots of hugs and kisses before getting kicked out.
  I go to the Horseneck Tavern where I strike up a conversation with one Anne Marie McGrath who’s the barmaid. Later I get talking to a friend of Phil’s who is a Scotsman by the name of Tommy Beddington.
   A much easier drive back to Bridgeport.
   Sunday 14th September. Very humid today, I’m suffering from Sciatica and Neuralgia today. Went to Maureen and Bobby’s with Phil and Anne and later to Molly Darcy’s, a big Irish pub at Danbury.
This evening Phil and me watched a great game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears.
     Monday 15th September. Still having problems with a deflating tyre and the lights have been giving me problems. Telephoned Patriot Motors and I’m on my way up to Boston to change the car. I decide to stick to I95 all the way and only going through Providence Rhode Island did I encounter any real volume of traffic.
I’ve now got a Buick Century, it’s an older car but lovely and comfortable with great suspension and big tyres, this is a real American car.
Aggie’s at home to make sure I’m fed before heading back.
This time I go the scenic route and find myself on Route 66 (ok its not the one of the song fame, but in my Buick it feels like it) going past the interestingly named Lake Porotopaug, over I91 and onto the Wilbur Cross and Merrit Parkways.
Tonight Noel calls in for a beer.
              Tuesday 16th September. A run out in the Buick today where I take in Ridgefield then Salem, and nearly get arrested for videoing the Titicus reservoir. Heading west through Purdy’s and Somers and lovely scenery, then through Yorktown to the Hudson at Peekskill.
The Hudson
I’m just down and the other side of the river from the Military Academy at West Point and now I head south to the town of Ossining. This is where the infamous prison of Sing-Sing is located. Here the townsfolk have built a memorial to the victims of September 11th.
Down through Tarrytown close to where the Tappan Zee Bridge crosses the river. I remembered crossing here when me and Peggy on our first visit were heading west to Cincinnati and having fun at the toll gates in New Jersey.
Onto I287 and back to Bridgeport. It’s been a nice cruisin’ day.
      Wednesday 17th September. I take a run up to New Haven today. This is the home of Yale University. A look round the town and I’m at the main entrance to Yale. The quadrangle of Yale University has been the setting of a many a Hollywood movie scene and suddenly I’m transported back into some classic movies. Fantastic!
A run up to Hampden and I come across East Rock park with fantastic views over New Haven. Really nice sunny day.
Overlooking Yale University
This evening we’re at Noels for a drink. Noel’s just received a book in which he features, I think it’s called ‘We lived with a mountain’ or ‘We lived a mountain’ by John Mcgourty, and is about the writers early experiences around the Cuilcagh Mountains in Ireland, the home of the McGovern’s.(There are many songs and stories of the Cuilcagh mountains, the area has such a wealth of history and character).
Noel is very generous with the ‘Uisquebar’, I may have to go on a detoxification programme back in the UK.
  Thursday 18th September. Took Anne shopping to Milford this morning. She went to the Honey Roast Ham Company and Bedbathandbeyond amongst others. If it sells in the US there’s a shop for it.
                Went labouring for Phil today. My level of fitness became quite apparent as I struggled moving flagstones for him. I blame it on all my world trip hosts who thought I was under nourished.
    We went down Bridgeport beach this evening where we saw rough seas and tree boughs bending in the wind caused by the edges of Hurricane Isabel.
    Friday 19th September. A round trip today saw me and Phil take Anne up to Danbury, and call in at Molly Darcy’s. Then down to the Elks club in Stamford and meet up with Johnny and a colleague Frankie Lynn.
 A trip to Fairfield club this evening and we meet up with Noel and Pat and an interesting gentleman by the name of Larry McQuade.
     Saturday 20th September. My twin daughters Sarah and Marie arrive in NY today. They’re staying in the Bowery in Manhattan for the first few days.
    Drove up to Danbury to pick up Anne and Brendan. She treated us to a lovely lunch at a Chinese restaurant. Back in Bridgeport took Brendan to the beach.
                   Maureen and Bobby are taking me up to Danbury to stay the night. Maureen’s kindly agreed to pick up Steve, Michele, Callum and Erin from JFK Airport tomorrow in her beautiful four tracker.
           We stop at Trumbull High School on the way. Sean’s in Danbury High School’s marching band and they’re in competition tonight.
This was a brilliant slice of the American way of life, with twirling flags and banners, percussionists, drummers, trumpeters and flautists in colourful uniforms really putting their hearts into their performances. There were 65 musicians in Sean’s Band alone and even the odd thunderstorm couldn’t dampen their spirits. The spectators couldn’t cheer loud enough. Bobby and myself were nearly arrested when a jobsworth decided to fetch a policeman to move us from under the stands while sheltering from a particularly heavy downpour. Mind you, Bobby did say to the guy ‘what are you going to do-have us arrested’. Fantastic!
A couple of beers and a chinwag ends another very entertaining day.
    Sunday 21st September. Breakfast at Bagelman in Danbury before we set off for JFK. Brendans along for the ride. It’s a nice cruise to the airport and the traffics not bad, we pass a few notable landmarks like Yankee stadium, Shea stadium and Flushing Meadows and get there with time to spare.
We get ourselves to the arrivals hall and I’ve got my video camera trained down the aisle, eventually they’re coming and as they get closer Callum spots me and shouts ‘Grandad’ and runs over to give me a big hug. Erin who couldn’t talk before I left home and now copies everything Callum does follows suit. It’s great to see them after four months.
    A lot more traffic on the road back to Bridgeport, with lots of motorcycles descending on New York city. Maureen copes well with the traffic though, with only the odd moment sounding like her father. Only kiddin’.
  At Bridgeport Anne’s got a welcoming feast fit for royalty and the family are soon settling in. Maureen and Brendan are heading back to Danbury.
It’s a beautiful day so Anne suggests we head for the beach, which we did and had a lovely afternoon.(The weather never got as good as this the rest of the trip).
Callum and Erin-Bridgeport beach
A bit of a panic when I convinced myself I’d lost my credit cards in the sand and my bank account would be emptied, only to find them on the bedside table later.
My jetlagged family with their extra five hours to their day opt for an early night.
   Monday 22nd September. A look round Westfield Mall(Michele and Steve love shopping) before heading for Danbury.
It’s not so warm today, but we’re determined to make use of Maureen’s swimming pool. Maureen got junior lifejackets for the kids and we’re soon splashing and fooling around. Erin’s shivering with cold but she’s not going to come out, she’s having too good a time. Callum’s busy pushing his Dad
off the diving board. Great fun.

Steve and Callum
A brilliant day, and with Maureen’s help I’ve got us(Me, Michele, Steve and the kids)booked into a Days Hotel on 8th Avenue for our trip to Manhattan.

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