Tag Archives: Stonington Historical Society

Rum Running During the Prohibition

by Mary Beth Baker

The Stonington Historical Society offers a talk and slide show about the days of Prohibition in Eastern CT on Friday evening, July 25, at the Richard W. Woolworth Library. The talk begins at 5 p.m., and there will be time for questions. Refreshments, including rum brought in legally, will be offered afterward outdoors, if weather permits.

The speakers are Steve Jones and Bob McKenna, proprietors of Flat Hammock Press in Mystic, who published six recent books on rum-running. Steve and Bob will sell three of their books concerned with Prohibition: “The Real McCoy” by Frederic Van de Water, about a bootlegger named Bill McCoy who often hung out on the local Rum Row, just outside federal jurisdiction; “The Bahama Queen,” an autobiography by Gertrude Lythgoe, and “The Diary of a Rum-Runner” by Alastair Moray.

An exhibition of artifacts from this wild era will be on view in the library during the talk. It will include a list of places raided for selling liquor, and a new acquisition of the society, a beautifully preserved hand-painted door from a stylish speakeasy in Stonington. Information about where in town one went to say “Joe sent me” will be part of the exhibition.

Admission is $10. The library is at 40 Palmer Street, between North Water Street and North Main Street (Route 1A) in Stonington. Space is limited, and reservations are recommended. Call 860.535.8445.

Stonington Historical Society Fourth of July Celebration

by Betsy Wade

The Stonington Historical Society will start its annual July Fourth celebration with a parade assembling in Wadawanuck Square in Stonington Borough at 9:45 a.m. Friday, July 4, with everyone, local people and visitors, encouraged to join. The march will end with a reading of the Declaration of Independence at Wadawanuck Square.

The grand marshal of the parade is Andrew Perry, a Navy veteran of World War II and long-time proprietor of the family business, Stonington Lumber. Andy, a past commander of the James W. Harvey Post 58 of the American Legion, sells copies of the 16-star, 16-stripe Stonington Battle Flag, a reminder of the Stonington militia’s victory over a British fleet in August 1814.

Senator Andrew Maynard will be among the state and local officials. At 10 a.m., the grand marshal, the color guard and people of all ages, some on bikes and trikes, motorized chairs, in strollers and wagons, some in costumes, some with dogs in full regalia, will march through the Borough. Everyone is encouraged to wear red, white and blue.

Kazoo and Hum Corps joins the parade with a unicycle, a bicycle built for two, and a calf, as a reminder of the event when the British tried to steal Stonington’s cattle during the Revolution. No one is ever sure who will join the parade. Local fire trucks and ambulances usually end it.

The parade will make its way down Water Street to Cannon Square, home to the cannons of 1814, and back up Main Street to the Free Library. There invited guests, veterans of World War II, will read the Declaration taking turns. The readers so far are William King Hooper, an Army veteran, and former Coast Guard SPAR Fran Edlund.

At the end of the reading, to honor the custom of a late president of the Historical Society, Victor T. Boatwright, the crowd will hail the new nation, shouting “God save these United States!” following with “A pox on King George!”

Andy, the grand marshal, is a familiar figure in town although Stonington Lumber, a fixture on Main Street near the viaduct, was closed in 2006 after 73 years in business. Andy graduated from Stonington High School in 1945. He joined the Navy and was out in a year. Soon he became one of the Perrys everyone consulted about how to fix the house, the yard or the fence. Andy is a long-time volunteer fire-fighter for the Pioneer Hook & Ladder Company.