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Where to Buy Mystic Seafarer's Trail

Mystic Seafarer's Trail is available in the following Connecticut and Rhode Island shops and: Online as e-book or paperback: ( Amazon ...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mystic Puzzle Therapy--relax at Mystic & Noank Library

The Mystic & Noank Library offers visitors a restful spot overlooking the Mystic River Valley to add pieces to their ongoing community puzzle (photo of puzzle by Cindy Modzelewski).

Voted the "8th Wonder of Mystic," the following is an excerpt from the Mystic Seafarer's Trail:

With the publishing of “The 7 Wonders” on the website of the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce came the inevitable complaints from the community regarding why I didn’t choose their favorite spot. I was particularly scolded for not choosing the Mystic & Noank Library—where the very soul of Mystic finds respite and the ghost of Emily the Cat still roams.

The Mystic & Noank Library was built in an eclectic mix of Italianate and Romanesque styles by Captain Elihu Spicer, a wealthy sea captain and Noank native. Because he wanted it to reflect some of the interesting things he’d seen on his voyages, he chose materials such as Italian tile mosaics and Numidian (huh?) marble from Africa. The library is crowned by gables with one-of-a-kind terracotta reliefs—medallions of Roman deities Minerva, goddess of wisdom and science, and Apollo, god of the arts.

That Apollo and Minerva, with their heads popping out of the roof, were beginning to frighten me. I used to think they were looking out to sea watching for the safe return of ships, but once they heard their library hadn’t been chosen, I could swear they were looking down at me—and plotting.

[A public vote was held for the 8th Wonder]...

Although Gloria the goose was initially in the lead, residents urged their neighbors to vote for their library with its stained glass windows, comfy window seat overlooking the valley, ceiling shaped like an upside-down hull, and the scrap book of Emily the Library Cat, which is kept next to the ongoing group puzzle. Although Emily died several years ago, librarians still love to tell visitors about the resident cat who waited by the elevator for patrons so she could catch a ride to the next floor. A guardian of the night, Emily also kept the library bat and cricket populations at bay. Emily is still nearby, but the crickets can chirp happily once again because she is sleeping harmlessly  under a bush on the library’s property.  Her little grave marker is etched with four paw prints and “Emily, 1989-2006.”

In the end, the Mystic & Noank Library was overwhelmingly voted the 8th Wonder. The Mystic residents and Roman gods, Apollo and Minerva, were happy once again. The homes along Captains’ Row and Gloria the Goose tied for second, Mystic Waterfront Views and Railroad Swing Bridge tied for third, Denison Homestead Museum (built in 1717 and continuously owned by the same family for three centuries) and Mystic River’s Art Trail (my term for the art galleries located between the Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport and the Mystic Arts Center) tied for fourth.[i] There were several other sites suggested in comments, such as Clancy, the paraplegic dog who pulled himself around town in a little cart.[ii]

[i] http://polldaddy.com/poll/4338240/

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mystic Yankee Pot Roast

Mystic Yankee Pot Roast
by Cathy Mauritz

Mystic Yankee Pot Roast is an excerpt from "The Mystic Woman's Club Cookbook - Sharing Our Best" (page 61):

"The Mystic Woman's Club Cookbook - Sharing Our Best" is filled with favorite recipes from club members, their families, friends and even some local restaurants. All proceeds go to the MWC charitable grants and scholarships funds.

It can be purchased for $12 at the Mystic Woman's Club Thrift Shop in Pawcatuck or The Spice and Tea Exchange located near the drawbridge in downtown Mystic. For more information, write to: mwc1967@gmail.com

Last year, the MWC awarded a total of $13,000 in grants to 25 nonprofit local organizations such as Groton and Stonington Human Services Home Heating Relief. In addition, three scholarships of $1,000 each were awarded to graduating seniors at Ella Grasso Tech, Fitch HS and Stonington HS.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Dick Dixon Sets His Punch on Fire

Watch the short video below of Dick Dixon of Old Mystic setting his punch on fire! This punch, known as Feuerzangenbowle, is a German winter hot flaming punch made with red wine, rum and carmelized sugar. (See recipe below.)

I met Dick Dixon because the sign outside of his law office seemed to speak to me as I was about to embark on my ill-fated winter sea voyage. His sign is included in my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail. Excerpt:

15           Shanghaied Part III
I decided it was better for Jim and me to be safe than sorry, so I bought sailing harnesses at a marine consignment store.

While Bailey barked from my car at the store owner’s dog, Schooner, I told the woman our winter sailing plans. As she demonstrated how to wear the harness and tether and clip it to the boat’s life line, she said, "Wow, you are braver than I am—and I live on a sailboat!"

Was I brave—or just naïve?

Plopping my purchases in the car next to Bailey, I glanced back at Schooner on his leash out front to say goodbye. Suddenly, I caught sight of a sign posted next door at the Law Office of Richard D. Dixon. Dixon was offering this village of seafarers, which now included me, his estate services to “…chart a course for smooth sailing throughout your life’s voyage.”

When our lawyer son-in-law had learned of our sailing trip, he asked if our wills were in order. And now, only days before we were to embark on our epic voyage, was another estate reminder.  Why was I noticing this sign now? Was this sign “a sign?”
The above story about Dick Dixon was an excerpt from Mystic Seafarer's Trail by Lisa Saunders. Watch Dick set his drink on fire!

Dick Dixon of Old Mystic is otherwise known as:
Richard D. Dixon
Attorney at Law
15 Holmes Street  Mystic, CT  06355
Phone (860) 536-0066    eFax (888) 213-7527

Captain Wolfe's Epic Escape from a Confederate Prison

Mystic's Captain Wolfe, the Civil War and the North Star

The North Star--Don't leave home without knowing how to find it.
Lisa Saunders
Embarking from Mystic on an epic voyage? Don’t forget to bring your GPS, but be prepared, a GPS can--and does—die.

Before you set sail or even head out by car, consider learning the basic celestial navigation skill that aided the likes of Mystic’s long-dead seafarer, Captain Thomas E. Wolfe. During the Civil War, Captain Wolfe escaped from a Confederate prison and trekked through rivers and woods under the cover of darkness using the North Star as his guide.

The last time he arrived in Mystic, however, was by steamer—and in a coffin. You can find him among the other “Who’s Who” of 19th century sea captains buried at the Elm Grove Cemetery. Just follow the elm tree-shaped avenues to Captain Wolfe’s grave along the Mystic River. He is buried at the tall obelisk etched with the steamship that brought him to a fiery end in November of 1875. He was 44 when his ship exploded into flames and sank. His body was found two miles away. He literally died with his boots on—a dramatic end to a man who led a dramatic life.

Born January 20, 1830, Wolfe’s life of adventure began at age 14 when he went out to sea as a ship’s boy. A year later, he embarked on a whaling voyage to the Indian Ocean for nearly two years. During the California Gold Rush, Wolfe caught gold fever with two Mystic buddies and sailed around Cape Horn to California in 1850. Probably realizing more died of scurvy than found gold, they started for home. But it took nine grueling months to make it back. Embarking from California by steamer, they were unable to find passage together on another ship when they reached the area where the Panama Canal was later built. Wolfe and one friend trekked 90 miles to the other side of the coast where they found passage on a ship. The other friend died of tropical fever in Chagres.

During the Civil War, Captain Wolfe transported supplies from New York to New Orleans. When his ship was captured by Confederates and burned, Wolfe and his crew were taken to prison where they were starved and ill-treated. Over a year later, on the rainy night of Dec. 18, 1864, Wolfe made a daring escape with four companions from North Carolina’s Salisbury Prison. During their grueling, 340-mile trek through enemy territory that included the Blue Ridge Mountains, the emaciated men faced sleepless nights on frozen ground, barking Confederate dogs, pneumonia, frostbite, hours hidden under damp fodder, and one companion’s snoring that put them at constant risk of discovery. Although Wolfe could barely limp along as a result of his sprained ankle, he provided some comic relief with his stories of past adventures.

One of the escapees, New York Tribune reporter Albert Richardson, wrote in his book, The Secret Service, the Field, the Dungeon, and the Escape, about one 12-mile section of road that crossed a frigid stream 29 times with only foot logs, rather than bridges, for pedestrians. “Cold and stiff, we discovered that crossing the smooth, icy logs in the darkness was a hazardous feat. Wolfe was particularly lame, and slipped several times into the icy torrent, but managed to flounder out without much delay.”

It was the food, warmth and guidance offered by slaves and Union sympathizers with secret handshakes, plus Wolfe’s knowledge of celestial navigation, that brought them to safety.  Richardson recalled, “We walked about a mile through the dense woods, when Captain Wolfe, who had been all the time declaring that the North Star was on the wrong side of us, convinced our pilot [guide] that he had mistaken the road, and we retraced our steps to the right thoroughfare.”

Captain Wolfe finally made it back to Mystic on his 35th birthday--Jan. 20, 1865. He eventually recuperated and went back to sea. When his steamer named City of Waco burned and sank 10 years later on November 9, 1875, everyone perished. Wolfe left behind a wife and two sons.

Anyway, the main lesson we can learn from his life is to learn how to locate the North Star (Polaris). No matter what time of night or year, the North Star stays in virtually the same position. Located at the end of the little dipper, it’s near the bowl part of the big dipper.
Frank Reed of Conanicut Island, R.I., a celestial navigation instructor, says that the best backup for a failed GPS is another GPS. However, if all electronics are out but you have the current year’s Nautical Almanac, “then the stars can get you across an ocean just as easily as they did 150 years ago.”


The above story about Captain Wolfe was an excerpt from Mystic Seafarer's Trail by Lisa Saunders. Where to Buy Mystic Seafarer's Trail 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Saunders of Mystic, Connecticut, is an award-winning writer and author of several books,  including Ever True: A Union Private and His Wife and Mystic Seafarer's Trail.
Here books:
  • Shays' Rebellion and the Hanging of Henry Gale
  • Ride a Horse, Not an Elevator!
  • Anything But a Dog!
  • Surviving Loss: The Woodcutter's Tale
  • Ever True: A Union Private and His Wife
  • Mystic Seafarer's Trail

  • Wednesday, March 5, 2014

    Where to Buy Mystic Seafarer's Trail

    Mystic Seafarer's Trail is available in the following Connecticut and Rhode Island shops and:

    Author (will give discounts for bulk orders of five or more and/or will autograph copies)