(this crayon diary is dedicated to the Facebook Group:I Remember New Britain)
It was the kind of autumn day adorned in scarlet and gold that could make you believe the world smelled of pumpkin spice and cinnamon. On this particular morning a drawing of mine had resurfaced on the internet, a warm colored pencil depiction of the World War I memorial at Walnut Hill Park in New Britain. In an instant it brought to mind the bright roses in bloom that now accompanied the memorial, encircling the walkway as a crown atop the city and I wanted to visit the park again. Maximizing our adventure, we decided to travel to a number of locations in this industrious city, and thus began our New Britain adventure.
By the time we reached the “Hardware city” our stomachs insisted that it was lunchtime so we stopped by the Capitol Lunch for their famous hot dogs. The team behind the counter was a courteous and efficient group and our food was devoured in near record time.
Armed with a library pass, our next visit was to the New Britain Museum of American Art. I always liked the Pulp Magazine artwork that faces the coat room and I was able to explain to my kids who “The Shadow” was when we had the opportunity. The artwork of Thomas Hart Benton, NC Wyeth, John Singer Sargent, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollack, Grant Wood, Robert Henri and Maxfield Parrish particularly appeal to me and we were able to see them all there.
The beauty of an art museum is that each individual piece in a collection is worth discussing, each one could take up a “crayon diary” of its own. For instance my daughter, like many children I imagine, marveled at a realistic sculpture of a security guard and spent a good amount of time trying to see if he was real. Much to my surprise there was a wonderful illustration by Harrison Cady in the gallery. Harrison Cady created the artwork for the Thornton Burgess animal stories. If you haven’t seen either of their work, it’s worth googling. Harrison Cady was an inspiration for my own artwork when I was my children’s age.
Later on, my son made art in the “Art Lab” and a gentleman was kind enough to let the kids peek inside their library that was being prepared for a volunteer orientation. We enjoyed a walk around the buildings as my daughter insisted on exploring further and we finally made our way back to the car.
The New Britain Museum of Art is advantageously located at the entrance to Walnut Hill Park. As we drove slowly along the pathway, I said to my daughter, “Look over there, honey. They’re playing a game called ‘cricket’!” and in that one sentence exhausted the sum total of my knowledge of the game. There were families and friends playing tennis at the courts, families at the play ground areas and when we reached the top, we arrived that the majestic World War I memorial. A powerful eagle sits atop a giant platform that rises to the heavens. The roses were in bloom and we enjoyed a symphony of color as we made way around the park.
Our next stop was to the New Britain Youth Museum near the library but a well attended art class was going on in the dinosaur room so our visit was short and sweet. Instead we parked in one of the downtown structures and visited AMATOS toy store. It was like Santa Claus had stored all his treasures there until Christmastime for it was expansive and well stocked. I’m sure the children would have loved to have “lost” themselves in the aisles of toys but we had the rule of sticking together!
The children held their new found treasures tightly as we drove home. We listened to some “pop music” the kids enjoyed. And when I had the chance I stole a glance at my son in the back seat. He was happily playing with his new toy. I glanced at my daughter and saw that she had a happy, quiet smile on her face and I knew that somehow or at some point during the day, I had gotten something right and I was happy too.