Wednesday, September 20, 2017

One-Stop Barnstorming Tour

From Dave Brigham:

I've never smoked, other than a few times experimenting with cigarettes and stogies as a teenager, but tobacco is a minor theme in my life. I grew up in a Connecticut River Valley town that was once known worldwide for growing shade tobacco for the cigar industry. When I was a kid in the 1970's, local teens would rise early during the summer to pick tobacco alongside migrant workers. There were tobacco barns at the edge of my neighborhood and scattered throughout the town and others in the area. Some of those barns are still standing, although I don't think any of them are in use.

On a recent trip to visit with family in Windsor, Connecticut, I stayed in a hotel right off the highway. I'd stayed there before, and had a vague feeling that there was something worth exploring in the immediate area. As often happens when I sleep in a hotel, I awoke early. I left my wife and kids sleeping in their cozy beds and struck out on foot along the busy road heading west. There were no sidewalks, and although there wasn't much traffic on this Saturday morning, I felt ill at ease. After just a few minutes, however, I veered onto a side road.

My hotel was on Day Hill Road, a busy thoroughfare with other hotels, business parks and office buildings, so when I saw the side road sign said "Old Day Hill Road," I knew I'd find something good.

This is one of three old tobacco barns on this farm. There were crops all around, but I couldn't tell you what the farmers are growing. Seemed to be mostly vegetables. I would've explored more, but there was an SUV a short distance away that I'm guessing belonged to someone charged with keeping folks like me away.

The sun was already hot at 8:00, and I didn't have a hat or sunscreen, so I didn't walk too far on Old Day Hill Road. After returning home I discovered that there are some old potato barns just up the road a piece from where I stopped. Bummer....

Upon my return to the hotel, once my family was awake, I opened the curtains in the room. And got this wonderful view.

I wrote about another tobacco barn and the former church that served the little community of agricultural workers in East Granby, CT, last year (see July 19, 2016, "Tobacco Road").

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