Friday, August 31, 2012

Remington Arms Munitions Factor

Connecticut has a history of gun manufacturing.  This may be related to the brass industry in the State and maybe not.  I, personally, had never owned a gun until I was living in Albuquerque, NM, (United States) on a full-time basis a few years ago.  In modern New Mexico, which was the land of Billy the Kidd and numerous other 19th Century gunslingers, just about 50% of the population seemed to own guns.  I recall that there are no specific restrictions in New Mexico or requirements for carrying a gun around town.  On New Years Eve at midnight, the "tradition" of firing guns in the air was fashionable. Years later in Connecticut, somehow some of the "citizens" picked-up this New Years Eve habit.

Some States including Connecticut require a permit "for carrying".  I started on this blog subject due to the high volume of illegal firearms in Bridgeport, CT and the related street gun violence in Bridgeport the last few years.  A city, once proud of its Remington munitions factory which supplied ammunition to Allied troops during the war, has become consumed by illegal gun violence.

Living in New Mexico full-time was a treat for me since I love the outdoors.  Many of the people that I spent time with on the weekend had and carried guns.  Weekends were spent with the Brittany Club training our dogs on the mesa for field trialing and hunting.  A life of horses and dogs suits me.  I spent so much time out in the desert and mountains that I went and legally purchased my first firearm, a Remington 870 Pump Wingmaster shotgun.  Used the gun primarily for Trap Shooting at the Range not really for hunting birds.  I use a starter's pistol which fired blanks for field dog training.  The shotgun was a little fancy with nice engravings on the stock so I always kept it shined and polished.  The connection between my Remington shotgun in New Mexico and my place of birth, Bridgeport, CT did not click at the time. I had forgotten that  Bridgeport, CT was the home until 1986 of the Remington Munitions Factory.  Since 1986 the empty factory building has been decimated by vandals and arson.  The television series Ghost Hunters or Paranormal Investigation filmed an episode in the old factory building a few years ago:

Weeks after purchasing my first shotgun, I went and legally purchased a Browning
9 mm Practical.  Learned how to load the magazines with efficiency and became a fairly good marksman with practice at the Range.  The mesa was so deserted at that time, that I could prop a soda or beer 6-pack cardboard box on the top of a cactus and take target practice.  Always set the cardboard target at the base of a hill so the bullets would not stray.  I was not trying to emulate Annie Oakley, however, I became proficient at shooting the pistol right- and left-handed   I was not in a quandry about legally owning guns and keeping them at home safe with trigger locks.   The trigger lock keys were always tucked in a safe location.

When I returned home to Connecticut, I brought the guns with me, unloaded and packed in their cases with the trigger locks. I had called some of the local Connecticut gun shops to determine the legal and best way to  transport the firearms back home.  Back in Connecticut, I kept the guns locked at home and where no one else could access the trigger lock keys.  I was aware that a permit was required in Connecticut to carry firearms, so I kept the guns at home and owned them for a number of years without any problems.   After 9/11 in 2001, I had a difficult time finding ammunition for the firearms even for personal protection at home.

Ultimately, as a result of some illegitimate complaints, I had a telephone call from a Bridgeport police detective who asked me to come in and talk to him.  I had no idea what the reason for the call was at the time.  A week before, a teenager from a house next door was arrested for shooting another young adult in the leg in some other neighborhood.   I thought that this may be related to the detective's telephone call and request.  So the next day I went to the station and met with the detective.  The teenager's arrest next door turned-out not to be the reason for the telephone call.  There were some other issues including with 1 or 2 neighbors about me a woman having personal firearms with trigger locks at home.  One neighbor has friends and family on the police department and  .... has had more than one criminal in and out of her house for the last few years.  I do not speak to this neighbor who has demonstrated a few years of overt cocaine-use combined with marijuana odors wafting from the neighbor's house in the summer months among other things.   I do not use drugs or smoke marijuana and do not allow the stuff around me.   Another neighbor, openly brags about his gun permit and his guns including an automatic rifle of some sort.  Yet, this neighbor has been openly drunk many days of the week and goes out and drives after drinking sometimes carrying his handgun.

In any event, this is not the same neighborhood that I grew-up in years ago.   I often wondered why I even bothered to return to Connecticut with this neighborhood that has evolved into a commune style, war lord hang-out.  Briefly, the detective asked me for my pistol.  I explained that the pistol was legally purchased and that I did not carry the firearm, but kept the gun at home with a trigger lock?  The detective had no warrant to take the pistol.  He said when I questioned him that it was "TEMPORARY" .  Two years have elapsed and the pistol has not been returned to me.  My understanding is that the pistol should have been legally returned to me after 1 year. 
I was never contacted about my pistol and the prospect of having this $1000 piece of property returned to me.   I had owned this pistol for a number of years without any problems.

Hence, Bridgeport has innumerable illegal guns on the streets and almost weekly gun violence.  Yet my legal, personal home-defense weapon which I had for many years disappeared.  I have yet to hire a legal specialist to determine the whereabouts of my pistol since I do not want to get shot by my own missing pistol by an armed robber.

Yesterday, there was a report on a local television news station that there were 60 break-in attempts in the month of August in the area.  Probably, a majority percentage of those break-ins would be by armed robbers which has been the pattern in the neighborhood and adjacent neighborhoods.

Needless to say, there is serious irony when a legal and trigger-locked weapon is confiscated and termed "TEMPORARY",  while there are a large volume of illegal guns all over the City of Bridgeport.

The miserable fate of the Remington Arms munitions factory on the other-side-of-town is symbolic of the drastic alteration in the Bridgeport lifestyle from industrial boom town to slobville status of illegal guns, shootings, drugs, and a haven for all sorts of criminals.   

Who says you can't go home?

Ives Manufacturing Company, Holland Street, Bridgeport, CT (1868-1932)

"The largest American manufacturer of toy trains between between 1910 and 1924 !!!"  The "Ives toy trains" were a wish on many Christmas holiday lists.   Ultimately Lionel Trains and American Flyer bought the financially struggling Ives toy company.   

See the following link for photos and details from the historical survey of the original Ives building on Holland Street:  

Ives Manufacturing Company, Bridgeport, CT

Years ago, when the North End Boys and Girls Club on Madison Avenue was a 
hang-out for the youth of the 1950's and 1960's,  there was occasionally a toy train show held at the club.  Toy train hobbies certainly were more popular during that era than they are today.    

Bridgeport was and still is an industrial town.  The Ives toy trains are another example of the industrial past of the City of Bridgeport.  

The value of antique trains varies by type and brand.  However, the original Ives toy trains appear to be rarely found by antique train hobbyists.  Lionel and American Flyer are antique toy trains which are more readily available on the antique toy train market.  
Ives also manufactured toy boats for a few years.  These toy boats were discontinued due to lack of sales.  There was a blurb on Wikipedia that the one of the Ives family company owners dumped the casts for the original Ives toy trains in the Connecticut River.   Would be interesting to confirm or refute this historical blurb.  

While reviewing some of the content of historical books written about the Connecticut brass industry, I discovered that the magazine "Popular Mechanics" can provide some insight into the evolution of the toy train industry.  This 1925 Popular Mechanics issue displays an advertisement about Ives toy trains and boats:  Ives Manufacturing Company featured in Popular Mechanics, 1925

Apparently, Ives Manufacturing Company did not make any toys for girls.  Perhaps there is an unknown doll factory hidden in the depths of Bridgeport's ................. history................ to be continued......

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mark Twain and Bridgeport, Connecticut????

In the 8th grade at Blackham School in Bridgeport, CT,  Mrs. Tripoli who was the English Teacher assigned the class to read Mark Twain's book:  Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.   Until that time, I had never really enjoyed grammar school or middle school including English class:

Grammar school years Kindergarten and Grades 1-6 at Madison School in Bridgeport were tumultuous for me, personally.  Perhaps I had a hidden learning disability.  Yet, kindergarden was marked by a teacher who criticized me for my lack of artistic ability.  Get that!   In 1st Grade, the teacher kept me after school every day for a few weeks because I could not grasp phonetics.  This 1st Grade teacher even spanked 1 or 2 other students in front of the class.  I was amazed, believe me.   It was around that time that I was tossed out of the school's girl scout Brownie troop for being a nonconformist.   Years later in my adult years, the thought did occur to me that this bunch of teachers at Madison School were left-over nazis or communists from the 1940's.  All of them were at retirement age by this time which was the 1960's.  In 6th Grade at Madison School, I had trouble with mathematics.  Turned out this was the time that I had to get my first pair of glasses for myopia because I could not see the blackboard.   In any event, when I questioned the 6th Grade teacher about my math grade on my report card, she showed me her personal grading book.  Her original grades were erased and she had entered lower grades over the original erased scores.  I never said that I noticed.  Later, in college, I successfully completed 4 semesters of Calculus including a summer session of advanced mathematics with Fourier Analysis.  So, this was my rebuttal to the 6th Grade mathematics problem.  What a gross year of school 6th Grade was and I was glad to move over to Blackham School for 7th and 8th Grade middle school.   Mrs. Ray, my 5th Grade teacher at Madison School, was a saving grace in grammar school.  She and her husband lived in a house across the street.   She was an old time school teacher, however, she understood grammar school kids and something about learning and motivation in city schools.

At Blackham middle school with modern teaching techniques, Mrs. Tripoli had a way of teaching literature and grammar that got my attention. Those were the years when strict, traditional teaching methods were being replaced by a modern teaching style.  Mrs. Sullivan was the first modern mathematics teacher in 7th and 8th grade and for the first time I enjoyed mathematics.  Mrs. Carroll was the ever present science teacher in 7th and 8th grade and she was another important influence in my middle school years.  Occasionally, I was a substitute newspaper delivery girl to the old apartments on Main Street (across from St. Vincent's Hospital) in Bridgeport where Mrs. Carroll and her husband lived.

While reading Mark Twain's book Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court during Mrs. Tripoli's class, I was amused by style of verbiage which was used in the book from the knight's era.  I realized even in middle school that there was a jocularity and intended humor in the witty use of the author's period language style.  There is one reference in the book to Bridgeport...(see page 7) in the following book link:

when the protagonist awakens from an unconsious state after hitting his head.

In late 2009, I went for a walk with my dogs, Sassy and Montana, to an area of a local city park that had been closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic since the late 1960's because of construction in the early 1970's of a highway connector (Rt. 25/8).   For many years, I had avoided walking my dogs into this closed-off, barricaded, original park area.  There was no particular reason for avoiding this off-limits area and I often saw other people walking down the barricaded road.  It is not as if this was Area 51.   So one Sunday morning, Montana, Sassy, and me went walking down the closed-off road.  I had my cell telephone with me and took some photos.  They are found in the following Flickr photo stream which include the river photos and the old castle style stone building:

Additional photos can be viewed in the following two separate Facebook photo links:!/photo.php?fbid=106530006029534&set=a.103869086295626.9396.100000176060762&type=3&l=d39ef6c910&permPage=1

Although Mark Twain lived at Stormfield in Redding, CT and died there in 1910 coincidentally during the appearance of Halley's Comet (1909 Thomas Edison video of Samuel Clemens at Stormfield in Redding, CT), my theory is that he traveled between New York City and Hartford, CT frequently in the earlier years and traveled through this park area.  The park area is located on old, now abandoned passenger railroad lines, as well as, old carriage travel roads.  One of my photos is of the old castle style stone pump house along the Pequonnock River in Bridgeport, CT which was present when Mark Twain lived.  This is located in the closed-off section of what used to be part of the city park before the 1970's and proximal highway construction.  An old stone castle building in Bridgeport and some fanciful creative writing:  "is that Bridgeport in the distance?".

Although there is no connection nor could anyone find any, I was canoeing on the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park during the 1986 perihelion of Halley's Comet.  My canoe and camping partners and me awoke at 1 am from our tents and pulled-out telescopes and binoculars to view the tail-end appearance of the comet.   Sitting in this beautiful desert along a lonely stretch of the Rio Grande River and with no lights except the stars, Halley's Comet was easy to see.  Bridgeport, CT was just about the last thing on my mind that night.  The comet appeared slightly smaller, dimmer, and more distant than this photo of the comet in a southwestern desert environment: 

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) Stormfield, Redding, CT in 1921 for sale/lease by Bridgeport Land and Title Company Bridgeport, CT.  Stormfield is still in Redding, however, the estate has been renovated through the last few decades.