Today's History Highlights Archive

Jackie O, Frigid Couples and Secession in Today’s History Highlights – 8.21.2013

Before she was Jackie Onassis, she was Jackie Kennedy, of course. But before that she was just Jackie Bouvier. And while Jackie aficionados may know the story, others will be surprised to know that Connecticut was near and dear to her in her childhood and adult life, according to the Connecticut Historical Society. Two highlights include her years at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington (Today’s Flashback Photo, from the Connecticut Historical Society) and her christening of the USS Lafayette in Groton. Connecticut celebrity biographer Christopher Andersen, whose latest book details Jackie’s last year with husband Jack and mines her life for stories of amphetamine use and details of her husband’s affair with Marilyn Monroe. Is there more to learn about those topics? Apparently so.

The charms of mill life are recalled in the Exeter Historical Society’s blog about the Exeter Manufacturing Company mill erected in 1829. In the 1800s, the place was dark in the winter and blazing hot in summer, with temperatures reaching above 100 degrees. The workers, mostly women and children, put in 12-plus-hour days. The place was a swamp of toxic chemicals. As millwork evolved in the 1900s, things didn’t improve much. Finally, in 1966 when the Deering-Milliken company bought the plant away from the local Kent family, things started to improve, with air conditioning, a lunch room and better wages. In 1981, Nike took a brief turn in running the plant before it converted finally over to housing.

It’s always sad when love grows cold. Maine Public Radio recently spotlighted the story of the “frozen lovers of Maine.” It’s the footnote to the tale of the three-masted schooner Anne Maguire, which wrecked just 150 yards from Portland Light on Christmas Eve, 1886. As the crew began abandoning the boat, three people were left behind to spend the frigid night trying to survive and hoping the boat wouldn’t completely break apart on the rocks. In the morning, the last crewmember was able to get ashore, and when he was brought into the lighthouse keeper’s house, he told of two remaining passengers on the vessel. When rescuers made it to the boat, they found the young couple on the deck, locked in an embrace and covered in ice. The story, however, didn’t end there.

Meanwhile in Vermont, the spirit of revolution remains strong. The people of the Green Mountain state, who during colonial times vacillated between wanting to be French, British or independent, are shopping around again for a flag. Late last year, the American Prospect reports, the Legislature hosted a group at the Statehouse in Montpelier petitioning to have the state jump ship from the union. The secessionist movement is only the latest in the long history of Vermont rabble-rousing, which this time includes a rowdy mix of isolationists, gun-rights advocates, and various agitators of all stripes. Obviously, the union is in no danger from the Vermont secessionists, but the history of the free-thinking state does make for interesting reading.

Today's Flashback Photo...

Jackie in Farmington

Jackie Bouvier with a friend at Miss Porter's School (Connecticut Historical Society)

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