growing up title final

An exhibition
May 24 – October 15, 2016



“What was it like when you were a kid?”

Every generation grew up facing challenges and opportunities and experienced the emotional highs and lows of childhood and adolescence: common experiences everyone can remember and share at any age. But unique circumstances and events shaped each generation as well. To promote cross-generational understanding and conversation, the CHS collected objects and stories about growing up in Connecticut. Many of the objects and stories appeared in the physical exhibit at the CHS, on view May 24 – October 15, 2016, and many can still be viewed in the gallery below.

Toy kitchen, early 1990s

Submitted by Christine Elizabeth (Daniels) Clement

Lives in Plainville, grew up in Bristol

Generation X / Millennial

When I was growing up, this object was important to me because…
It always enabled me to use my imagination and act like I was all 'grown up'. I was always playing "house" or "school" when I was not in the pool. It got to the point where I would drag it out of the basement and set it up by the pool. This was the toy for me and my friends. I love that it allowed me to not only play inside but out as well. Not to mention it was mine and mine alone to play with. With three siblings this was always hard to come by.

Photo: It is me playing with the kitchen. I even have a shirt on that says teacher on it 🙂

Underoos, 1980

Submitted by Kristen Stiefel Levithan

Lives in West Hartford, grew up in Wethersfield

Generation X

When I was growing up, this object was important to me because…
Underoos transformed my brother, my friends, and me into our favorite Superheroes. For me, that was Wonder Woman. What more could an almost four year old girl want than to run around in her underwear and look like Lynda Carter?

Photo: The Fantastic Four have nothing on Underoos-clad Michelle Godin, Kristen

Stiefel, Jeff Godin, and John Stiefel in this October 1980 photo

Tamagotchi, 1996

Submitted by Paige Ryan

Lives in Wallingford, CT


When I was growing up, this object was important to me because…
When I was a kid this object was important to me because in some ways it taught me responsibility. The Tamagotchi was a little digital pet stored inside an egg shaped device, that even had a chain at the end of it so you can attach it to your back pack or key chain and take it everywhere. Taking your Tamagotchi with you everywhere was almost necessary because it constantly needed to be taken care of; a series of tiny beeps would go off when your pet needed to be either fed, bathed or just wanted your attention. I can remember putting mine in my sock drawer at night to muffle the beeping noise because it would go off even at 2:00 in the morning.

Photo: My Tamagotchi looked like this one!

Star Wars T-shirt, 1976-77

Submitted by Jill Padelford

Lives in West Hartford, CT

Baby Boomer

When I was growing up, this object was important to me because…
I bought the book through the Scholastic book program in middle school. Later, I saw the movie with my dad and little brother. Star Wars was the best movie I saw that year although I did wonder why the book had scenes that the movie didn’t have! Where the heck was Biggs? Anyway, I started collecting Star Wars merchandise, trading cards because they were cheap. The t-shirt was special and the only item I kept over the years.

Polly Flinders hand smocked dress, 1961

Submitted by Barbara Austen

Lives in Meriden, grew up in Ridgefield

Baby Boomer

When I was growing up, this object was important to me because…
I always wore dresses, even when playing outdoors. I believe my grandmother used to buy these for me and my grandmother has been gone for a long time. The dress invokes for me an earlier time when little girls dressed like girls, not like today with nearly unisex clothing styles. I also equate the dress with white ankle socks and shoes--no sneakers back then!

Photo: Me and my baby brother in our big back yard in Ridgefield, CT, 1961.

Over-the-shoe roller skates, 1950-1959

Submitted by Judith Shor Kronick

Grew up in Hartford

These over-the-shoe metal roller skates were worn by Judith Shor Kronick in the 1950s in the Blue Hills Neighborhood of Hartford when she roller skated on the sidewalks near her home with her friends and sisters.

“Summer was a very special season for children in the 1950s. Most of the day and evening was spent outside playing with neighborhood friends. In addition to roller skating, children would jump rope, bounce balls as they chanted rhymes, try to scoop small metal ‘jacks’ in one hand before a small ball they had bounced hit the ground, and enjoy hours of hopscotch games drawn in chalk on driveways. Pretending with paper dolls and collecting trading cards were popular pastimes. For many children, a summer free of school allowed them to walk four blocks to the Blue Hills Branch of the Hartford Public Library (no air conditioning!) and borrow numerous books of their choice (no school books) to read in hammocks in their backyards.”

Apple basket, 1950s-60s

Submitted by Susan Barlow

Lives in Manchester, grew up in Manchester

Silent Generation

"I loved going to Pero’s orchard with my parents in the 1950s. It gave me a sense of excitement, because I loved the smell and taste of the crisp apples."

Globe, 1930-1936

Submitted by Leonie Goodfriend

Lives in Avon, grew up in Hartford

Silent Generation

"Often used it for school projects. Useful now also due to the countries of the world changing."

Rodriguez for State Rep Campaign Poster, 1976

Submitted by Antonio (Tony) Rodriguez

Lives in Bloomfield, grew up in Waterbury

Baby Boomer

Entering young adulthood, I wanted to make a difference in my hometown of Waterbury. This poster represents my 1976 run—at 24 years old—for the 75th District seat in Connecticut's General Assembly. As the first Hispanic to run for office in the state as a Republican, my campaign was one event that began to open the door for Hispanics to represent their cities and towns. And while I lost that election, the experience continues to help me serve my clients and my community.

Smurf Collection, early 1980s

Submitted by Laura A. Macaluso

Lives in Lynchburg, VA, grew up in Norwalk and Naugatuck

Generation X

The Smurfs were very popular, because the company who made them created a whole world of collecting which got kids excited about the newest additions to the Smurf line-up, which can be seen in the bookletçprobably some of our first experiences of full-fledged consumer/collecting culture! Smurfs were inspired by fairy tales—they lived in mushroom houses in the forest and fought with an evil man named Gargamel who had a nasty cat who sat on his shoulder.

Wethersfield Elm, 1953

Submitted by Roger Press

Lives in Exton, PA, grew up in Wethersfield

Silent Generation

Growing up on the Broad Street green we were surrounded by Elms but none mightier than the Great Elm that stood at the end of the street that we all played around. When it finally succumbed to Dutch elm disease I was able to read my poem at a 1955 Arbor Day planting of one of its' offspring. A proud day for me. Worthy competition for the Charter Oak.

My Beatles scrapbook, 1964-1967

Submitted by Elizabeth Abbe

Lives in Glastonbury, grew up in Wethersfield

Baby Boomer

My world changed when the Beatles came to the US in February 1964. Their look, persona and music was completely different from anything I had ever heard before . Suddenly I found myself reading and clipping anything I could find about them, buying record albums for the first time (starting with Meet the Beatles) and listening to their music on WDRC through my little transistor radio all day long. I have kept this scrapbook of clippings and Beatle cards for many years and many moves!

Family photograph, 1957

Submitted by Diane Alverio

Lives in New Britain, grew up in New Britain

Baby Boomer

The four Alverio kids. The Alverios were one of the first Puerto Rican families in New Britain and in Connecticut. We lived on Lafayette street in New Britain.

Whalers T-Shirt, 1984/85

I started playing ice hockey when I was 6 years old for Central CT Youth Hockey. The biggest thrill for Connecticut kids like me was to go to a Whalers hockey game in Hartford. My parents bought me this Whalers T-shirt in the Whalers store in the Hartford Civic Center. My next door neighbor, Bruce Franklin, owned a record store in the Civic Center with his dad. They offered to get Whalers members to sign my T-shirt when they visited the store. Captain Ron Francis wrote " Best of luck, Reed!"

Avon Butterfly Necklace, 1980s

Submitted by Stephanie Messina

Lives in Portland, grew up in Danbury

Generation X

It made me feel grownup to have my own jewelry. Feminine and older simply because I believe I chose it from a catalog that I considered to be for adult women.

Rubber Bracelets, 1980s/90s

Submitted by Stephanie Messina

Lives in Portland, grew up in Danbury

Generation X

When I was a kid, this object was important to me because of the cool factor.

Photograph of the Lead Mine Brook in Thomaston

Submitted by James Glines

Lives in Bristol, grew up in Plymouth

Baby Boomer

A photo of the Lead Mine Brook in Thomaston

This was a place where I could be myself, to swim in the cedar-infused, black-flecked water, and to jump from the bridge on a dare. The things you do when you're a child in Connecticut has, for many of us, included a swimming hole that was a magnet when August came, there was no air conditioning and you had to walk wherever you went. It was here that I would come to just be a Connecticut kid.

Friendly Ice Cream Waitress Uniform, 1966

Submitted by Connie Reder

Lives in West Hartford, grew up in West Hartford

Baby Boomer

50 years ago I got my first job as a waitress at Friendly Ice Cream in West Hartford. By the end of each shift that apron would be covered with coffee, ketchup, ice cream and chocolate stains! I was hired for $1.10/hour + 15 "tip" cents to bring it to the minimum wage of $1.25. I fondly remember many of my customers and co-workers from that era and I'm so glad my late mother kept this piece of my past. I wore it to a Nostalgic Apron event a few years ago and am happy to report it still fits!

American Girl Doll (Samantha 1904), 1998

Submitted by Danielle Johnson

Lives in Wethersfield, grew up in Wethersfield


When I was a kid this American Girl doll was my favorite toy. I loved that it came with a book and I could learn about Samantha and how it was like to grow up in 1904 in NYC. I truly believe that this doll and all the Little House on the Prairie books is where my love for history comes from. I would save up my money to send for the accessories in the American Girl catalog. Sometimes for my birthday all I would get was a couple of things from the catalog and that's all I ever wanted.

Old Tobacco Gear and Photos of Working on Tobacco

Submitted by Mark Sullivan

Lives in Windsor, grew up in Broad Brook

Silent Generation

When I was a kid, turning 14, you started "working on tobacco." It was the only job you could get at that age. It was tough, dirty work, but thousands of Connecticut kids did it. Not just small town farm kids, but kids from cities like Hartford. Several thousands kids worked the shade tobacco fields every summer from the 1930s until very recently. A handful still do.

Photograph, December 25th, 1950

Submitted by James F. Roche Jr.

Lives in Windsor Locks, grew up in Hartford

Silent Generation

When I was a kid one of my heroes was Hopalong Cassidy. I watched many of his movies at the Webster Theater in Hartford on Saturday mornings. This photo shows our family at my Grampa Jim's house, 333 Blue Hills Avenue, where we went every Christmas. I had gotten the 100% bona fide Hopalong Cassidy outfit from Santa. My mom is absent because she was in the hospital that day, having suffered a miscarriage, and it shows in my dad's demeanor.

G. Fox Hatbox, 1960s

Submitted by Rachel D. Leclerc

Lives in Wethersfield, grew up in Hartford

Baby Boomer

This object belonged to my neighbor who dressed to the nines and had a bedroom filled with hat boxes from various stores in Hartford. Each outfit she had, had a matching hat and gloves. I acquired a few of her hats and hat boxes after she passed away in 1990.

While this item is important to me because I also worked at G. Fox from 1972 through 1980 in the downtown Hartford store, my story is more about my south end neighborhood the belief in full inclusion.

Photograph of My Dale Evans Costume, 1957

Submitted by Nancy Osgood

Lives in West Suffield, grew up in Hartford and Newington

Baby Boomer

When I was a kid, my Dale Evans costume was important to me because as the only "girl" among all the western heroes of the 1950s - Zorro, Sky King, Roy Rogers, the Cisco Kid, etc. - she was my role model. Spunky and smart, she could match the boys any day. My brother and I got new cowboy and cowgirl outfits every Christmas in the mid-50s. This photo was taken in our apartment on Barbour Street in Hartford.

Recording made at Savin Rock with my Dad, 1950

Submitted by Tom Callinan

Lives in Norwich, grew up in Middletown

Baby Boomer

This was my first recording, and although I had a 3-year-old's "brain-freeze" in midstream, it ended with my Dad's prophetic comment, "Ah, someday you'll be a good singer ..." This recording, in essence, was the tiny acorn, from which an oak has sprouted.

In 1977 I left a full-time teaching job to pursue my musical ambitions. And in 1991 I was designated Connecticut's first Official State Troubadour via legislation passed by the CT General Assembly, and signed by then-Governor Weicker.

Phone Book, 1954

Submitted by Elaine Williams

Lives in Winsted, grew up in Winsted

Baby Boomer

It is a local phone book from my town dating a year before the big flood.

License Plate, 1969

Submitted by Lara Green-Kazlauskas

Lives in Winsted, grew up in Derby

Generation X

When I was a kid, this object was important to me because it was the plate that was on my dads first car. Dad bought his car the year I was born. He had TWO babies. Me and the 1969 Pontiac Catalina, purchased at Cherney Pontiac in Ansonia. My dad LOVED that car and being from England, it was a big deal to have that huge car! That Pontiac , with dad driving, took us all over the place. Sunday drives and loads of vacations. Such a sad day when "Douglas" was taken to the scrap yard. Memory Lane..ah

Chocolate moulds, 1920s

Submitted by Thompson Chocolate

Lives in Meriden, grew up in Meriden

Located in Meriden, Connecticut, the Thompson Chocolate factory has been an integral part of the community since 1879, producing elegantly wrapped chocolate specialties. Shoppers that first visited Thompson with their grandparents are now bringing their own children, remarking “My mother used to bring me here as a kid; I used to think the Easter bunny lived here.” Here are a few chocolate moulds from the Thompson factory dating back to the 1920s.

Ovation Guitars, 1968/1972/1977/1979

Submitted by Ken Barlow

Lives in Tavares, FL, grew up in Bozrah, CT

Generation X

When I was growing up, this object was important to me because I was able to visit the Ovation Factories in New Hartford & Moosup.

Class Book, 1947

Submitted by Janice M. Carpenter

Lives in Westmoreland, NH, grew up in Bayview Section, Milford, CT

Silent Generation

The children were my classmates for 8 years through Elementary School.

WWII items, 1942

Submitted by Janice M. Carpenter

Lives in Westmoreland, NH, grew up in Bayview Section, Milford, CT

Silent Generation

The I.D. necklace and ration stamps and tokens were part of our lives.

Photographs, late 1940s

Submitted by Dennis Sullivan

Lives in New Britain, grew up in Hartford

Silent Generation

This photograph was taken in the north end of Hartford (Irving Street) in the late 1940's and depicts (left to right) Dennis and Eileen Sullivan and cousin with pocketbook little Claudia Testa Weicker, the future First Lady of Connecticut.

Poem: Elvis the Wrecker ~ Summer 1960

Submitted by Elle Fagan

Lives in Hartford, grew up in Fairfield

Baby Boomer

When I was growing up, this object was important to me because it changed our lives - I have more stories of those days in Fairfield - "Saga of A Little Whitehouse" the history of "The Chief" big Jim Smith and his tiny wife Elsie Agnes Robinson Smith and their seven sons and one tiny daughter ; "Albina the Southport Belle" about my Mother orphaned in the Great Depression and her iconic American story of work and love; one about fashion and beauty and women's world "in the day" ; and the one here, because it is a summertime story "Elvis the Wrecker".

The poem can be found here:

My Mother, Beauty Queen, 1945

My Mother, Beauty Queen, 1945

Submitted by Robin L. Doiron-Yorke

Lives in Windsor Locks, grew up in Enfield

Baby Boomer

My Mother, Sylvia (Ogushewitz) Shaw was a participant in the Ms. America pageant, as Ms. Connecticut

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