Saturday, September 28, 2013

Puppetry in Connecticut

Puppetry in Connecticut

Who doesn’t like a puppet show, even when we grow up and become boring adults.  I saw in one of the travel books that I refer to about the areas where we camp that there was a Puppet Museum only 10 minutes drive from us in Storr, Connecticut.  When we arrived at the museum my heart fell right to the bottom of my shoes.  It was a little house that was surrounded by not so nice buildings with broken windows and peeling paint.  Found out at the museum that the University of Connecticut acquired this old campus (about one mile from new campus) from an old school and is in the process of tearing down old buildings with asbestos walls.  We were the only car in the parking lot but being brave and adventurous, we walked to the door that had an ‘open’ sign in the window.  As we walked in and the young lady at the front desk welcomed us, my spirits started soaring as I looked around the rooms filled with colorful and magical puppets.

Turns out that this little museum was started by a gentleman named Dick Myers.  Apparently he saw a puppet show when he was a child and decided that he wanted to learn how to do that.  He learned how to do puppetry and then decided to make his own puppets in a new way.  After many trials and errors he came up with a design that let him move the puppets in a way that he could move their heads up and down and sideways.  Attached is a picture of the bare bones and insides of the puppets he designed out of molded plastic.  



 I found his puppets to be so cute and adorable and unique.  He went on to do many performances including Cinderella (1968) Beauty and the Beast (1970) and Divertissement (1978).  He also became a teacher at University of Connecticut teaching puppetry (only puppetry class in the USA) until he retired.

There were several rooms filled with examples of puppets, mannequins and even a room with artwork that had a ‘puppetry’ theme to them.  One of the rooms had a video of a puppet show that was put on by  a gentleman who I didn't write down his can't tell you.  I loved the video because it was of two puppets, one had polka dots on his head and the other had stripes on his head.  The little play starts with them realizing that they are ‘different’.  The as the play goes on they become enemies as they let their ‘differences’ separate them more and more.  Finally at the end they both have built this wall of blocks and each feels that nobody loves them, the puppeteer shows himself and tells both of them that they were both created by him and he loves them equally.  Then he shows them that they are both attached to him through his arms and body.  They suddenly realize that each one of them is attached to the other and therefore the same.  Of course, it has a happy ending with both of them being friends and embracing their differences.  What a nice story to tell children growing up…or even some adults!

The young woman from the college who was manning the museum was delightful and told us that the 20 or so students that take the puppetry course each year at the University of Connecticut have gone on to work for Jim Henson Productions, video production, film, stage productions, started their own companies and greatly expanded the art form into the 21st century.  My heart was leaping with joy at such a great form of creativity that has delighted children and adults since the beginning of time to the fact that it isn’t gone and is continuing with the next generation that is taking it beyond where it has ever been before.

Peter and the Wolf

These are puppets that were put up on other side of a white piece of fabric
 so you only saw their shadow image

Notice the hair curlers in puppets scarf and their heads are made out of tennis balls

After visiting the museum we drove through the University of Connecticut campus and were so delighted to see what a wonderful, new, beautiful and HUGE campus it is.  Both George and I commented that there is definitely money up in Connecticut for such an immense college.  It is in the middle of nowhere, the closest big town being either Hartford, CT or Providence, RI an hour’s drive away.  I was definitely impressed by the college.

Surprised, delighted, inspired, grateful, pleased and entertained by such a fun happening….life is good.

Happy Travels,


P.S.  The Puppetry Museum is moving in Sept to the main campus of the college, so it will have a much bigger and nicer home for all those delightful puppets.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cape Cod Area

One of my favorite things I did in my earlier life was spending one month on Cape Cod in a rental house with my husband and two children (ages 11, 8).  I felt I really got to see Cape Cod and experience everything it had to offer.  So, with that being said I was a little worried that the trip to the Cape with George would be boring.  Boring wasn’t a word that even came through my mind for the two weeks we were there.

Cape Cod Canal
We started off by going to Plymouth, MA to see the famous Plymouth Rock Memorial.  I didn’t say a thing to George because I wanted to see the look on his face when he saw this little rock (about 4 x 4 ft in size) in this huge covered memorial.  First time I saw it I said ‘where’s the beef?’ (for you older people- you will remember that commercial).  I was expecting this ROCK…not a small stone.  George’s reaction was about the same.  They say at the museum there that it probably isn’t even the rock that the Pilgrims touched when they unloaded off the ships in 1620.  At least we didn’t pay any money to see it….whew!

Plymouth Rock
Peggy in front of Plymouth Rock looking disappointed

Next day we went to Provincetown on the very northern tip of Cape Cod.  On the way we stopped at the Cape Cod National Park Visitor Center.  What surprised me from the film they showed us, is that the island is slowly disappearing at the rate of three feet per year.  I guess my great, great grandchildren will be seeing a very different Cape Cod than I am seeing today….kinda sad.

Provincetown, which is at the very top tip of the island, is such a crazy and diversified little town.  It was first a Portuguese fishing village then in the 60’s it became an artist spot with the gays & lesbian communities settling there.  

Downtown Provincetown

The community came together in 1907 and decided to build a monument to the pilgrims.  The monument is the tallest all-granite structure in the USA.  President Theodore Roosevelt laid the cornerstone and then President William Taft led the dedication ceremony in 1910.  It is 252 ft tall and quite impressive.

Peggy on her way to Woods Hole
Woods Hole main street

Another day we decided to ride our bikes on the numerous bicycle trails across the island.  We picked the one that went from Falmouth to Woods Hole.  After peddling for about 4 miles we came to Woods Hole which has the ferry that goes to Martha’s Vineyard Island.  It's a very small town with just a few shops and restaurants, but still very picturesque.  Had our sack lunch on someone lawn and got back on bikes to peddle back to Falmouth.  Lovely sunny day, warm weather and fairly easy riding…really enjoyed the day.
Another day we went on the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard Island.  What a special island for such rich people.  Yes, I said rich AND famous.  The land & houses there are really beyond an average person’s budget.  Went into Vineyard Haven first and walked around enjoyed the two blocks of shops and restaurants, docks, fishing and sailing boats and had a nice lunch at a cute restaurant.  Then it was off to the bus tour of the island for 2 ½ hrs.  Most of the homes of the rich and famous that were pointed out by the tour guide were hidden behind lots and lots of trees and bushes….darn.  They let us out for half an hour at Gay Head Point Lighthouse that is on Wampanoag Tribe land and all the little shops there are run & owned by the tribe.

Oak Bluffs
When we finished the tour we got dropped off at Oak Bluffs.  I loved that little town with its cute houses, one of the oldest merry-go-round, ice cream shops and restaurants, and tourist shops.  The one place on the island that really interested me were these small and very Victorian small houses that were built in the early 1900’s by Methodists that came to the island for camp revival meeting in the summer. 

One of the oldest Merry-Go-Rounds
Revival Camp Meeting
They first started out with tents, and then they poured 11’ x 17’ slabs of concrete so they could put their tents on a more permanent foundation.  Then a company in NJ designed and built these little rectangle houses to go onto those slabs of concrete.  So, the campers had more permanent places to stay when they came to the island.  Over the years owners have added to the little houses, painted them all kinds of colors, added a second story, combined two units together or tore down the whole house and rebuilt on the small piece of land.  In the center of this complex is a large open air, round outdoor giant meeting building that they still use every summer.  What is really funny about this whole setup is the Methodists still charge for the spot that the cottages are built upon every year.  They won’t take a payment over one year, the people have to pay each year, no more, no less.

After the ferry trip back and the drive back to our campground…exhausted, I dreamed of small cottages in yellow, pink, purple, blue….etc, etc. and what fun it would be to own one of them.  Future question for George:  which color cottage do you want to trade the RV for?

Happy travels,