Amatos Toy and Hobby – 70 Years in Middletown: A Look at a Man’s Hobbies and Some History of Railroading in CT

August 1, 2010

The photos in this post were made July 25, 2010 in Middletown CT at Amatos Toy and Hobby store on Main Street. (click to enlarge any photo) The event is described in an article in The Middletown Press:

“MIDDLETOWN — More than 150 members of the National Lionel Operating Train Society attended a private showing of a 3,000-square-foot train exhibit at the 70th Anniversary celebration of Amato’s Toy and Hobby Store Wednesday evening.

The train exhibit includes seven operating model train layouts and local railroad memorabilia along with the never-before displayed, extensive pre-war Lionel train collection of Amato’s owner and founder, Vincent Amato.

“The visual of what everyone has put together is really neat,” said Diane Amato, Vincent’s daughter and coordinator of the event. “When you see this room, you will be amazed….”
www.middletownpress.com/articles/2010/07/14/business/doc4…

Amatos Toy and Hobby is located at 395 Main Street; Middletown CT 06457

In addition to the wonderful layouts of operating model trains of various gauges there were showcases of Mr. Amato’s collections of trains and other toys. Also, much memorabilia and information about early railroading in Middletown. So, I have included some historical photos and information later in this post.

Vincent Amato, Prop. and Train Collector Extraordinaire

O'Rourke's Diner - Main Street, Middletown

One of the seven model train layouts

Model Train Layout with Winter Motif


Mr. Amato's Personal Collection of Lionel Standard Gauge Trains

Shipyard Scene in Miniature

A few words and photographs about early railroading in Middletown and central Connecticut: From the late 19th century and well into the 20th Middletown was a busy railroad center with several North/South and East/West lines passing through the city. In 1888, for example, 29 passenger trains passed through here on a daily basis. Even though all passenger service was discontinued by the middle of the 20th century there is still active freight service in the city. The most interesting reminder of the glory days of railroading in Connecticut Valley is the iron swing bridge connecting Middletown with Porland. This bridge was constructed in 1884 to carry the so called “White Train” of the New York and Boston Airline RR across the Connecticut River, and thence through the rolling hills of eastern Connecticut to Massachusetts and on to Boston. (see photo below)

The White Train commenced operations in 1891. Popularly known as the Ghost Train. It was made up of gleaming white coaches trimmed with gold. The parlor cars’ interiors were finished in mahogany and furnished with velvet rugs, silk curtains and upholstered plush chairs. The train’s schedule was so well advertised that people came from miles around to wait at stations or crossing to see it go by. The fast express was replaced in 1895 by the Air Line Limited.(see 2nd photo below) The Airline Railroad fell into decline because of the need for heavier equipment and longer trains which could not navigate the steep grades and numerous curves. Although the name Airline Route gives one the impression of a straight and level roadbed, this was not the case here.

Airline Railroad Swing Bridge Connecticut River-Middletown to Portland

The White Train or Ghost Train

Four of the early Middletown Train Stations (none remain)

Railroad Man and His Dog - Middletown Depot

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Happy Birthday America: Celebrate Our Liberty!

July 5, 2010

This post appeared a year ago on Steady Habits.

The Gadsden Flag

In some old dusty attic
Undisturbed for many years
There lies a tattered banner
That is stained with blood and tears
By men who knew that freedom
Must be fought for by the free
And died to save a ragged flag
That said Don’t Tread on Me

Don’t Tread on Me
I’m a rattlesnake with
Diamonds down my back
When other men retreat
That’s just the time that I attack
Because a dream that’s worth defending
Is a dream that’s bound to be
A ragged flag that said
Don’t Tread on Me

Two hundred years of glory
And the glory’s just begun
We may have lost some battles
But these colors never run
We drew the line at Valley Forge
We held at Bunker Hill
The cannon smoke is lifting
I can see that banner still

Don’t Tread on me
I’m a mountain lion
And courage is my name
I tamed a wild country
But I’m wild just the same
And from that rocky Boston harbor
To the California Sea
A ragged flag that said
Don’t Tread on Me

This nation isn’t what we’ve done
It’s what we’ve got to do
Remember that United States
Can only start with you
We better be recalling
What this country’s all about
And rally round that ragged flag
And hear the people shout
Don’t Tread on Me
I’m a grizzly bear
That’s not afraid to bite
I don’t look for trouble
But when trouble comes I fight
Because my daddy taught me freedom
Has no lifetime guarantee
A ragged flag that said
Don’t Tread on Me

The winds of change are blowing
And they’re sure to shake this land
We stood all we can take
And now it’s time to take a stand
Let’s tell the men who make the laws
In Washington D.C.
Unfurl again
That ragged flag that said
Don’t Tread on Me

Don’t Tread on me
I’m an eagle
Who is clawing at the sky
I want that banner waving up
Where eagles dare to fly
And blazing in the sunlight
So that friend and foe can see
A ragged flag that said
Don’t Tread on Me

Don’t Tread on us
We’re Americans
And we were born to lead
Our skin is every color
And our faith is every creed
We are 300 million people
But on one thing we agree
A ragged flag that said
Don’t Tread on Me

Michael O’Donoghue
© 1983 Least Loved Music, BMI

The Gadsden Flag

The Gadsden Flag

The Gadsden Flag History

Educational Paddle-Connecticut R & Boggy Meadows-Sat June 5

May 31, 2010

Jonah Center News

Educational Paddle

Saturday, June 5,

Launch time: at 9 a.m from Harbor Park near the boathouses.

Leader-Contact person: Beth Emery, ctladycyclist@gmail.com

Be part of the CT Trails Day Celebration and have a paddle! This event, co-hosted by the CT Forest and Park Association and The Jonah Center for Earth and Art, will take place in the lower Mattabesset and Coginchaug Rivers, as well as the Boggy Meadows where those two rivers converge. The tour departs from Harbor Park on the CT river in Middletown, Sat. June 5 at 9 a.m. Paddlers will return to the starting point between 12 and 1 p.m. Conditions permitting there will be 2 stops along a river bank. Paddlers need to provide their own boat, paddle, lifejacket, drinking water, snacks, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing.

River historian and environmental journalist Erik Hesselberg will provide us with a historical overview of how these rivers have been used, traveled and misused over the years. Trip participants will be encouraged to pick up plastic bottles, cans, and other debris as part of the Jonah Center’s ongoing effort to beautify and protect our local waterways.

This event is free and advance registration is not necessary. CT Forest and Parks requires that you sign a waiver form to participate.  Call (860) 984-6178 for more information or to learn about a possible last minute cancellation due to weather conditions or river waters above flood stage.

In the Mattabesset River,August 2008

Here we head upriver towards the two bridges

Samuel Wadsworth Russell House (1828)

May 9, 2010


Samuel Wadsworth Russell House (1828)

Originally uploaded by Steadyjohn

Samuel Wadsworth Russell House (1828)

High Street, corner Washington Street; Middletown, Connecticut. May 7, 2010.

This Greek Revival masterpiece was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2001. This house is frequently cited as one of the premier examples of Greek Revival Architecture in the Northeast. The house remained in the Russell family for five generations and was finally deeded to Wesleyan University in 1937.

Samuel Russell (1789-1862) became fabulously wealthy in the China trade in the early 19th century. He smuggled Turkish and Bengal opium into Canton and brought back fine porcelain, silk, and tea to Europe and the United States. In 1828 when his house was built Russell was in Canton, and his friend Samuel D. Hubbard worked with Mrs. Russell to supervise the building of the house. In 1831 Russell returned to Middletown and his new home where he resided until his death in 1862.

Source 1: Historic Buildings of Connecticut

Source 2: Wikipedia

Additional Photos from the site:

Iron Gate and Shadows

Samuel Russell House (1828)

Some Recent Photos From Around Middletown CT

February 14, 2010

First Year Hawk
First year hawk, most likely Red Tail, seen Coginchaug River vicinity

Wetmore-Starr House (1752)
The Wetmore-Starr House (1752) Washington St

Kid City Children's Museum
The Kid City Childrens Museum; Washington Street

Little House in the Graveyard
Graveyard scene; Vine Street

Wesleyan U. College Row fm High Street
College Row Panorama; High Street

Note: You may click on the photos for more information and image sizes; you will be redirected to my Flickr page.

Middletown Honors The Greatest Generation: Our WW II Vets

May 25, 2009

(this post also appears today at Right of Middle)

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The 2009 Middletown Connecticut Memorial Day parade and ceremonies were dedicated to our World War II veterans, The Greatest Generation.

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Marty Reardon Sr., (pictured below) commander of the 7th District of the American Legion, will speak. After 15 years as commander, Reardon is stepping down.

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The keynote address was given by U.S. Army Captain Gluth, who heads the recruitment services office in New Haven.

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Am enthusiastic crowd lined both sides of Main Street to watch the hour long parade. There were contingents of marching bands, little leaguers, boy and girl scouts, fraternal and service organizations, military formations, farm tractors, and of course, a selection of fire apparatus, old and new, from Middletown and several nearby towns. Our mayor, Sebastian Giuliano, and the Connecticut Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz, and Rep. Rosa Delauro were on hand as well as other local politicians.

Joy Ride Middletown Ct Memorial Parade

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The last photo is from the ceremony at the South Green where the wreath laying took place. Pictured are two vets in colorful biker regalia. Mayor Sebastian Giuliano is visible (grey suit) on the platform, between the men.

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And finally, a video of some of the parade:

Climate of Extremes: Patrick J. Michaels

May 9, 2009

Patrick J. Michaels: Cato Institute

Patrick J. Michaels: Cato Institute

This article appeared in National Review Online’s Planet Gore page (Jan 30, 2009)

Al Gore’s Climate of Extremes [Patrick J. Michaels]

Ho-hum. On January 28, in the midst of a pelting sleet storm, Al Gore told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the end is nigh from global warming.

He told the Senate that “some scientists” predict up to 11 degrees of warming in the next 91 years (while failing to note that the last 12 have seen exactly none), and that this would “bring a screeching halt to human civilization and threaten the fiber of life everywhere on earth.” Hey folks, this is serious!

Besides having a remarkable knack for scheduling big speeches on remarkably cold or snowy days (it’s known as the “Gore Effect” in journalistic circles), Gore has been incredibly ineffective in bringing his message home.

According to the New York Times, Gore told the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco last November, “I feel, in a sense, I’ve failed badly. . . . [T]here is not anything anywhere close to an appropriate sense of urgency [about global warming]. This is an existential threat.”

And fail he has. The Pew Foundation recently asked Americans to choose which of 20 prominent issues is of most importance. They included the economy, crime, education, and, of course, global warming, which came in dead last….(read the rest here)

The video above is part 1 of 3 (be sure to watch all three parts) in which scientist Patrick J. Michaels is interviewed by Jon Caldara, president of The Independence Institute, a Colorado think tank. Patrick J. Michaels and Robert C. Balling, Jr. are the authors of Climate of Extremes, published by The Cato Institute in Jan 2009. Patrick J. Michaels is Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies at The Cato Institute in Washington D.C. Michaels is a research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and visiting scientist with the Marshall Institute in Washington, D.C. He is a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists and was program chair for the Committee on Applied Climatology of the American Meteorological Society. Michaels is a contributing author and reviewer of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change….

In the Preface to Climate of Extremes former Virginia State Climatologist Michaels describes how he and other state climatologists were stripped of their titles, and jobs, and told by their governors to “shut up” about the global warming hoax. Something about, in the case of Oregon’s Climatologist, contradictions interfering “with the state’s stated goals to reduce greenhouse gases.’’

Continuing from the Preface:

David Legates, at the University of Delaware, was told by Governor Ruth Ann Minner (D) that he could no longer speakon globalwarming as State Climatologist. His faculty position is a regular tenured line in the geography department. He’s free, as State Climatologist, to say anything about the weather, so long as there’s no political implication…..

Out West, things got even uglier. The Assistant State Climatologist for Washington, Mark Albright, was fired because, despite his boss’s orders, he refused to stop e-mailing—to journalists, to inquiringcitizens, to anyone—the entire snowfall record for the Cascade Mountainsrather than the cherry-picked one. For e-mailing that record,the assistant state climatologist in Washington lost his job.What had started with Oregon’s George Taylor had migratedacross the Columbia River.

For a further account of these shenanigans see NBC & Global Warming Jihad

Patrick J. Michaels and Joh Caldara

Patrick J. Michaels and Jon Caldara

For some comic relief listen to Paul Shanklin as Algore singing “Ball of Fire” (courtesy Rush Limbaugh show:

Carbon Dioxide NOT a Pollutant! ‘Tis Necessary for All Life

May 4, 2009

Science has now proven the following very important points:

  • CO2 is definitely not a pollutant. It is a friendly trace gas necessary for all life.
  • Human-produced CO2 is a miniscule fraction of a percentage of greenhouse gases.
  • 96.5% of all greenhouse gases emit from the oceans, naturally.
  • Without CO2, vegetation dies, herbivores die, you die.
  • CO2 levels used to be much higher many times in the past.
  • Higher temperatures from the sun result in CO2 levels rising long afterwards.
  • Rising CO2 is an effect of global warming, not a cause.
  • Global warming and cooling is a natural phenomenon.
  • The higher the CO2 levels in the atmosphere, the greener our planet becomes.
  • Forests and plant life growth has increased by approx 40% over the last 50 years, thanks to CO2.
  • Increasing CO2 yields larger food crops. This is beneficial to a growing population.
  • The Earth is not currently warming, it is in fact cooling.
  • Temperatures in the past have often been much warmer than today.
  • Even if it were to happen, a warmer Earth is far better than a colder one, for all life.
  • Many scientists believe we are on the brink of another ice age.
  • When the planet warms and cools it is purely due to the sun. Not your car.
  • Polar ice is now at record levels and still growing.
  • Climate changes happen all the time, and have occurred much faster than anything in modern times.
  • There has been no increase in extreme weather. In fact, records show the exact opposite.

Read the whole article at I Love Carbon Dioxide

Also see Michell Malkin, June 2008: In Praise of Carbon Dioxide
Here is a You Tube interview with Ann McElhinney, producer and director of “Not Evil Just Wrong”, a feature length documentary now in release:

CO 2 NOT a Pollutant

Lots of Tea and a Drop of Life

April 13, 2009

After the various Tax Day Connecticut Tea Parties you might want to check out this free Earth Day  presentation at Wesleyan:

https://i1.wp.com/h1.ripway.com/johnbrush/Earth%20Day%20Event.jpg

More information about film maker Shalini Kantayya

From Kantayya’s blog (4/11)

To mark World Water Day, I am launching the a DROP of LIFE Campus Tour, to bring attention to the world water crisis. Designated in 1992 by a United Nations General Assembly resolution, World Water Day is an international observance and call to action to bring attention to the problem of insufficient access to clean, safe drinking water. Using my film a DROP of LIFE as a spark to inspire discussions about the world water crisis, the tour celebrates World Water Day, Earth Day, Women’s History Month, and Asian American History Month.

Shalini Kantayya

Shalini Kantayya

Recent Middletown CT Photographs

February 23, 2009

Seen lately around the city:

(mouse over for titles, click for full size and description)

Middletown Alms House (sign) R

Middletown Alms House (1814) R

Middletown Alms House (1814) R

Middletown CT Alms House (1814)
Indian Hill Cemetery Chapel, Middletown CT

Laurel Grove Rd, Middletown CT

Coginchaug River  (Winter)