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Book Review: My Hartford of the Nineteenth Century by Helen Post Chapman

kerri provost

November 17, 2009

This book, copyright date of 1928, is the definition of quaint.

I happened across this at the library while looking for information on Hartford’s Dutch roots. Sure, I could use the card catalog, but I like to be surprised by what is on the shelves. The purpose of this book is nothing more than a place for the author to reminisce about “what old Hartford used to be.” It was inspired by letters sent to the Hartford Times, which she felt did not fully reflect her experience.

She rattles off the establishments and structures that, except for a few, no longer exist today, and some of which disappeared during her lifetime. The Hog River is referred to as the Meandering Swine and there was a French school located on the corner of Ann and Church Streets. She describes chasing down the old horse-cars on Asylum Avenue, an experience familiar to many who find themselves chasing after buses today. There is discussion of bike riding, and she bemoans the difficulties faced by women trying to ride:

Shortly the small bicycle came into fashion and joy of joys a two-wheeler for girls. The acceptance of this mode of locomotion took time for it required a divided skirt to ride it and there were those who gravely shook their heads at such an unseemly dress. (43-44)

This rambling collection of memories took under an hour for me to read. There are no illustrations or photographs.

Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford. To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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