We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
When Sipp and I exchanged emails about the charming house on the blog this morning, he decided to find out a bit about Moodus (where that house is). Here's the Moodus Wiki. (Moodus is a village in East Haddam, with a pop c. 1200 - depending on who is in jail or court-required rehab at a given moment).
What he discovered that was interesting to me was that Moodus was the smallest town in the US to receive federal urban renewal money in the 1960s. The old town center (pic below) was demolished.
The quaint village center, dubbed "Downtown Moodus", formerly located at the intersection of routes CT 151 and CT 149, was a popular destination for guests. However most of the village was razed after the citizens of East Haddam controversially voted in 1967 to accept Urban Renewal funding to rebuild Moodus commercial district a quarter mile east along CT 149.
The citizens immediately regretted their decision, but it was too late for the Dem-controlled Feds with their bulldozers and their developer allies.
The genius central planners had something more modern in mind (ie up-to-date strip malls), to be built 1/4 mile up the road. The soul of the village was killed. It's just one example of why we at Maggie's are so distrustful of genius government planners of anything. This ex-farming village, ex-middle-class resort village, is now a frequent hangout of ex-cons and cons-in-training, young gals without cars with too many tatts walking down the road to the minmart for chips, cigs, and beer, scruffy immigrants whose language one cannot identify, people on various dubious disabilities (as in nearby Middletown, CT), and abandoned or tumbling-down once-gracious homes with rooms for rent. Nobody goes to Moodus anymore, except to fill their gas tank.
Well, those "modern" renewal government-subsidized strips malls are now emptying, shabby, and falling down. Like, as I imagine it, "Pearly Nails" - boarded up. "Uncle Tsao's Quickee Chinee Takeout" - boarded up. "PIZZA POUR VOIS" - boarded up. (I'm sure there must be something good about Moodus still, but it's just a place on a map now, and not my sort of Yankee village anymore).
Thanks a lot, Uncle Sam, for modernizing Moodus. And thanks to you expert geniuses in DC who think you know better than us. See Detroit. And shame on the Connecticut Yankees who bought into such government baloney. The Feds rarely get anything right except through their military - thankfully, their main responsibility.
Once the town opted for urban renewal funds, fixing up the town was no longer a viable solution. "With the influx of federal dollars, you had to play their game," explains Jim Gibbons, an urban planner with the UConn Extension Service in Haddam. "In order to accomplish smaller goals, you had to follow federal regulations and guidelines and at the time of the Moodus project urban renewal was oriented to demolition. To many critics of the program at the time, the correct title was ‘urban disruption.’ As an outsider, I think this was part of the problem with the Moodus project: It disrupted the neighborhood."
Here's a pic I took last weekend of an abandoned and boarded up church in (once) central Moodus.
Evweryone has heard or heard of "The Speech" --Ronald Reagan's clarion statement of the new conservatives opposition to Communism. That speech was in 1964, at the GOP convention which nominated Barry Goldwater. But LBJ won, won all but a handful of states, and kept enough of the Kennedy Kommunist Kulture Kidz around to --following Gramsci's featured dictum about national cultural demoralization thru coarse uglification of the public discourse and spaces --popped thru that Act, and murdered in Penn Station one of the world's highest architectural expressions of the Art Deco 'thrill of the future' motif.
When I was there 10 years ago the locals were still telling the story of the President of Connecticut College, at the edge of town, hustled the Great Society into town. That included importing welfare receiptants from NYC into new public housing towers, much like the imfamous Pruitt-Igo ghetto.
I thought California government was iffy but the New London city council was the biggest bunch of fools I've ever seen in positions of authority.
I live in Moodus. Where the old town center stood is a shabby strip mall and what can only be described as brown space. Except for about twenty years spent in the South, I've lived in CT for forty-five years, and remember the multiple idiocies of (so-called) Urban Renewal of the '50's and '60's.
The central delusion underlying the destruction of every city of any size here is that urban settings are so much architecture and herringbone brick rather than organisms.
There was the usual corruption - graft, nepotism, gangsterism and outright theft in the mix, but it's amazing to me that the resulting brutalist wastelands in this state are still favored by the chattering classes over the old and familiar...over continuity and sensible, economical preservation.
Even Orwell could comprehend in Wigan Pier that the process of urban renewal replaced one form of domestic poverty with emotional dislocation, ennui and emptiness..
In re Penn Station (styled after The Baths of Caracalla), I passed through it regularly in those days, on my way to and from college by train. I witnessed the destruction, and even then I knew it was a ghastly mistake.
This makes me just so incredibly sad- my family used to go to Moodus every summer when I was a little girl to Klar Crest and later Frank Davis AKA Sunrise Resort...I have such wonderful memories it breaks my heart knowing that its gone..:( I remember the Ben Franklin store in Colchester, the Dairy Queen, the Nathan Hale shopping Center, the schoolhouse- every summer when we would drive by the Goodspeed Opera House my family would clap wildly- Does anyone know the best way to get to Moodus/ East Haddam without a car? Either by Bus or train?