Sledding Down Drive A

1988_133_73

Fifty years before I was born, children of the Cheney family enjoyed sledding on the Great Lawn in Manchester. My grandparents and great grandparents worked in the Cheney silk mills. The Connecticut Historical Society, 1988.133.73

When I found Drive A on a map last summer, when we were in the middle of our map project, “Finding Your Place in Connecticut History,” I knew that I had found my place. There it was on a map of Greater Hartford from the 1950s: Drive A in the housing complex known as Silver Lane Homes in Manchester. Like most of the streets in Silver Lane Homes, Drive A ran steeply downhill. Our house was located near the top of the hill; there was a big pine tree near the bottom and right after that the street curved sharply to the left. I’d forgotten about that, but the map showed it plainly. The houses were flimsy things, built for workers at Pratt & Whitney during World War II. I lived there until I was eight years old. When the houses were torn down, I moved only a block away, and the abandoned streets were fantastic places to go sledding in the winter, smooth and straight (except for that big curve) and no cars. We ran races and set up obstacle courses, jumping our sleds over hillocks and maneuvering around and under trees. My sled was a Flexible Flier, one of the fastest and best. We never complained about the snow in those days. Those wartime housing complexes don’t appear on many maps. We don’t have any pictures of them in the graphics collection at the Connecticut Historical Society (how I wish we did). Finding Drive A on a map was a special experience for me that brought back a special period in my childhood. Funny how a map can do that.

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