Wicked, weird and wily sto­ries com­ing your way

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - Your Weekend - Con­trib­uted story

ES­SEX — Stephen Gen­car­ella shares some of his fan­tas­tic sto­ries of the prophets, vagabonds, for­tune-tell­ers, her­mits, lords, and poets who shaped New Eng­land, June 19 at 5:30 p.m., at the Con­necti­cut River Mu­seum.

New Eng­land has been a lot of things — an eco­nomic hub, a cul­tural cen­ter, a sports mecca — but it is also home to many of the strangest in­di­vid­u­als in Amer­ica. “Wicked, Weird, & Wily Yan­kees” ex­plores and cel­e­brates the ec­cen­tric per­son­al­i­ties who have left their mark in a way no other book has be­fore.

Some folks are known and oth­ers not so much, but the mot­ley cast of char­ac­ters that emerges from the pages of his book rep­re­sents a fas­ci­nat­ing cross-sec­tion of New Eng­land’s most pe­cu­liar denizens. Lis­ten as Steve tells the tales of the Leather Man and the Old Darned Man, who both spent years criss­cross­ing the high­ways and by­ways of the north­east, their ori­gins and mo­ti­va­tion to re­main for­ever un­known. Delve into the mag­nif­i­cent homes of Wil­liam Gil­lette and Madame Sherri, famed so­cialites who con­structed enor­mous cas­tles in the New Eng­land coun­try­side. Learn of Wil­liam Shel­don’s apoc­a­lyp­tic prophe­cies and wild claims in­clud­ing that the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion had has­tened the end of the world and that he could, through his mas­tery of the “od-force” pre­vent cholera across the eastern United States. And find out about the mys­te­ri­ous for­tune-teller Moll Pitcher whose pre­dic­tions, some say, were sought by Euro­pean roy­alty and whose fame made her the sub­ject of po­ems, plays, and nov­els long af­ter her death. Stretch­ing back to the colo­nial era and cover­ing the de­vel­op­ment and evo­lu­tion of New Eng­land so­ci­ety through the be­gin­ning of the 21st cen­tury, this book cap­tures the rebel spirit, prickly de­meanors, and wily at­ti­tudes that have made the re­gion the hot­bed for odd­ity it is to­day. This event is free and the pro­gram be­gins at 5:30 pm.

The Con­necti­cut River Mu­seum is lo­cated at 67 Main Street on the Es­sex wa­ter­front and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. The Mu­seum, lo­cated in the his­toric Steam­boat Dock build­ing, of­fers ex­hibits and pro­grams about the his­tory and en­vi­ron­ment of the Con­necti­cut River. For a full list­ing of Mu­seum pro­grams, visit www.ctriver­mu­seum.org or call 860767-8269.

Con­trib­uted photo

Stephen Gen­car­ella will share some of his fan­tas­tic sto­ries of the prophets, vagabonds, for­tune-tell­ers, her­mits, lords and poets who shaped New Eng­land on June 19 at the Con­necti­cut River Mu­seum.

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