National Geographic : 1962 Aug
This was a Mr. Griswold, a grim old gentleman, nasal, acerb. His friendliness jolted me. There had been Griswolds in these parts for three centuries, but I had moved in only about sixteen years before, so that I might well be thought a Johnny-come-lately. But apparently not. "It is," I replied. "One of my favorite trees." Immediately around us lay the silence of an old New England town. The new Con necticut Turnpike crossed above The Street several hundred yards to our left, but the whine of its traffic was faint. Any one of those motorists, had he but turned his head, might have seen the steeple of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, surely one of the loveliest buildings in the land (page 211). But you don't turn your head when you are driving on the Connecticut Turnpike. You don't dare. "Just think," pursued Mr. Griswold, "Bissel himself must have ridden right under this tree, nearly two hundred years ago." That Mr. Griswold had burst into history was not startling, for to men like him-and there are thousands left, tucked away in unlikely corners of the countryside-the past is at least as alive as the present. But the name was strange to me. "Bissel?" "Haven't you heard of Israel Bissel?" "I'm afraid not." So he told me. ON THE MORNING when minutemen at Concord fired the shot heard round the world, one Col. Joseph Palmer of Braintree, on his way to the scene of hostilities, hailed a courier and scribbled this message from Watertown, Massachusetts: Wednesday Morng near io0of the Clock To all friends of American Liberty, be it known that this Morning before break of day a Brigade consisting of about iooo, or 1200 Men... found a Company of our Colony Militia in arms... and killed 6 Men and wounded 4 Others.... The bearer Israil Bissel is charged to alarm the Country... and all persons are desired to furnish him with fresh Horses, as they may be needed.... "GLEASON'S PICTORIAL DRAWING-ROOMCOMPANION"(1854) - - -- ' " ' Spanking carriages, - . promenaders, and a yoke '.. . of plodding oxen share the shore road beside /-'the Thames River below Sif New London, Connecticut. Steamboat and sailing .. . craft ply the estuary on a summer's day. Today . ' nuclear-powered submarines >put to sea from Groton at far right (page 219). New London has had a stormy past: Traitor Benedict Arnold burned the port town in 1781, and British ships block aded it for 21 months inthe War of 1812.