PT Barnum was born in Bethel, Connecticut on July 5, 1810. He is buried in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he once served as Mayor. So he’s as much a son of Connecticut as anyone, but is mostly known for being that circus thing. He demanded attention, and is known still as the greatest showman. I have very little interest in the man… but my grandfather was fascinated with the circus, and so PT Barnum is a curiosity.
“Audentis Fortuna iuvat” (Fortune favors the bold) – Virgil
This morning I was sitting in a completely unremarkable diner in Connecticut. Bland food, horrible coffee, no soul. The kind of place Hollywood would use to show the bland existence of some poor character before they woke up and sought more in their life. When they asked me whether I wanted white or wheat toast I knew I had to get out as soon as possible.
There are parts of Connecticut that are lovely. I forever think of Kent fondly, not because of the private school, trendy stores, or a past relationship (gone horribly bad), but because of the stillness away from Route 7. There’s magic in those hills, and in the light buzz of crickets in the fields, and in the white water of the Housatonic River at Bulls Bridge. I made my way up there on my drive to Dover Plains. Some detours are more essential than others. The hills and crickets offer the same song, and there’s more Manhattan money than ever in this tiny town. We all seek solitude, some pay a premium for it. But the bridge looks about the same, and I drove through a 26 year time warp crossing it. On the other side of that time warp I appreciate where I am now.
The residents of Bethel put up a statue of old PT Barnum showing him in his most dynamic days. I drove by early this morning because I don’t like sitting in hotel rooms longer than I need to, or soul-suckingly bland diners. The statue was erected in 2010, not all that long ago, and its clear Bethel wants to celebrate their connection to Barnum. I stopped by, took a picture and got on with my day. A nod to my grandfather. He loved the vibrancy of the circus, and old PT offered an association with that vibrancy. Perhaps he was as grandiose as history suggests. But I’ll take crickets, thank you.