A Terrific Day in New Britain
A Terrific Day in New Britain
Those who are native to this central Connecticut city may find my surprise at a terrific day in their hometown unremarkable. They have seen plenty of terrific days in the town Stanley Tools has lately made famous... by being there, threatening to leave, and then staying. But in my imagination from my earliest years at the football stadium of "dear old S. H. S." New Britain was the arch rival, the other breeding ground for great gridiron heroes, a city like my own with a wonderful melting pot of ethnic families from which issued children with bulging muscles and fleeting feet.
Until yesterday, however, I had never (well, hardly ever) driven down its main street or visited its green fields of athletic competition. Or sampled its spiritual offerings. For the terrific day in New Britain began at South Church (UCC and Baptist) at the corner of Walnut and Main. You can read my very positive assessment of that experience posted under Reviews, summed up in a phrase borrowed from Mark about Jesus, that they did "everything well."
We spent too much time at Coffee Hour and couldn't find a diner for an omelet, so we drove down Glen Street to New Britain Stadium, the home of the Minneapolis Twins' minor league club, the New Britain Rock Cats. Three frankfurters and two hot chocolates later we watched the West Hartford Little League celebrate its inaugural season with four hundred players parading around the playing field in spanking new uniforms, boys and girls six to twelve years of age. Including, of course, two of our grandchildren, Henry and Robert, and their friends.
The proceedings, speech-making and skill drills, lasted two hours. Then the raffle drawings began. And who do you think won the big prize, a brand new mountain bike? Right, lucky Robert. Terrific!
We packed the bike in the station wagon I drove to New Britain, gave the keys to Betsy, and sent her forth on her first excursion in the Taurus, the twins accompanying her for the journey home, where, you guessed it, the remainder of the afternoon was spent riding bicycles.
Barbara and I had, however, another destination and New Britain experience ahead of us, a chamber music concert at South Church. For two hours we sat in pews more than a hundred years old (and creaking with every movement of a muscle) enraptured by the sounds of strings, piano, and clarinet playing the compositions of Brahms (mostly) and Bartok. Terrific!
I spied only one small hint of the immigrant city of my imagination... in the parlor of South Church during the reception following the concert. The walls were covered with pictures of past pastors. Three of them had a distinctly Mediterranean look to them. Closer inspection revealed they were Assyrian... as in Mesopotamian... as in Iraqi.
The day has a way of defying our expectations and, more often than we have celebrated, delivering us to something better than we had imagined. I mean, I never would have thought New Britain could be terrific. But, by God, it was.