Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Do You Call Someone From Connecticut?

Connecticutter? Connecticutan? Connecticutite?

No, as the joke goes: a commuter.

I'm learning why there isn't a name for people from or who live in Connecticut. No one thinks of it that way. You're from Stamford or Greenwich, Ridgefield or New Canaan, Milford or New Haven, Guildford or Branford. Town pride is central. Town history is paramount. Town divisions are clear.

As a Texan, I find it all rather strange. I come from a state that is all about the state identity. Sure, East Texas vs. West, the Valley vs. the Panhandle, and then there's Austin . . . . but everyone is a Texan. Sure, there are Houstonians and Dallasites, but you don't hear that a lot (what's a person from Austin? A Longhorn.) We fly the flag, we know the song. We remember the Alamo (each in his or her own way, of course). Don't mess with us.

I'm not sure I could pick the state flag of Connecticut out of a lineup. And is there even a song? I do know we're the Nutmeg State and that there was a Liberty Tree somewhere. That about sums up my state knowledge (though, granted, I wasn't raised here. But, unlike in Texas, kids do not take a year of their state's history here so they're not indoctrinated with state pride or info in the same way). But I do know my town's seal. And I now know my town's extensive history, as offered through the lens of its local historical society (every town has one), with all the local characters and important locales. But the next town up? or over? That was them.

Of course, I'm not an "us." I'm a new resident foreigner compared to people whose families have been here, quite literally, for almost 400 years. Seriously, a famous Revolutionary War hero is pictured in the historical society and one of his (albeit indirect, by marriage) descendants was the kiddos' preschool teacher. Sure, one of my relatives was a Yankee (if I remember correctly, Gommie's grandfather was born in Fall River, MA, which is pretty Yankee), but not from this town, so it doesn't count. Besides, I believe his parents were Canadians and he later hightailed it to Texas.

Anyway, I'm wondering, now, if this is somehow connected to secession, the Civil War, and states' rights. Are southern states more proud of themselves as states than northern states? My experiences living elsewhere skews my perspective--New Yorkers in the city think of themselves in burrough or city terms, if not racial or ethnic ones, often because most of them are not natives (I consider myself an honorary New Yorker); Chicago residents are "Chicagoans," not really Illinois . . . what's a person from Illinois called? Do you have any insights?

So, quirky as it is here in Connecticut, it's rather endearing to be so local. And I'm enjoying my local sense of history, which really connects me to this place and its people, as I learn that our house stands where the sheep once grazed and the peach trees (I know, seems wrong up here) grew, with the Tories having congregated just up the road.

1 comment:

  1. You sound as if your are improved already. In this olde worlde village of thatched cottages and a 900 year old church with 1500 year old yew tree new people (less than 35 years in the village) are called 'incomers'. The oldest known grave in the churchyard is only 400 years, one wonders what happened to the others! We are in the county of Hampshire and the locals are called 'Hampshire Hogs' The only thing you cannot eat from a dead hog is its squeak.