Hear this … Here:
EXIT 41 I-95s to Marsh Hill Road, Orange CT and Milford, CT
OK kids. Get ready for a Road Test. If you get the correct answer to the Road Test you get 15% off Nikes at the upcoming Dick’s Sporting Goods off the Next Exit. So you may want to ease over to exit. Exit 41 is coming up in a mile.
Quick aside: Nike originally was the name for the Greek Goddess of Victory. Not a bad name for an athletics company or some other things — as we will now learn.
First the fast facts: You are passing Orange Connecticut. Orange, Connecticut is just what you would expect from a sleepy historical New England village. Orange Connecticut boasts white clapboard churches, red brick schools, and hidden batteries of surface-to-air missiles.
Yup you heard right. During the Cold War, Orange served as a location for the permanent deployment of Nike surface to air missiles. These Nike missiles were for the defense of Greater New York City area against aerial attacks from our enemies. Quick aside.
I bet you always wondered if there was just such places around important cities -- and now you know. In fact, there is another missile site on the other side of New York City between Newark and Philadelphia defending that greater metro area. Allegedly, the missiles are no longer located here but it makes you wonder where such defenses exist today. They must be somewhere, right?
Speaking about invasions, way back in 1639, the area that became Orange was purchased from the local Algonquin tribe. British settlers paid the Native Americans an assortment of useful tools and trinkets.
The cost was six coats, ten blankets, one kettle, twelve hatchets, twelve hoes, two dozen knives and a dozen small mirrors. The local tribe was called the Paugussets.
The town of Orange was not named for the fruit. The Puritan Settlers from Massachusetts named the village after William III of England, who was Prince of Orange from birth. Orange was an area in Holland which was King William’s birthplace.
A Protestant, William is remembered for succeeding Catholic King James II and supporting the rights of all Englishmen -- both Protestants and Catholics. Catholic King James is today considered a tyrant in Connecticut. That’s because Catholic King James had appointed Edmund Andros to seize Connecticut's Constitution. The Catholic King felt the list of human rights and laws in Connecticut Colony’s constitution did not obligate the settlers enough to his majesty. The settlers were enjoying more liberties than they were due. When Edmund Andros tried to physically abscond with the list of rights and laws, the settlers famously hid the so-called charter inside a tree. That tree went down in history as the Charter Oak.
Fast forward now. Today, Orange is the home of the North American headquarters of Pez candies. It was the United States headquarters of Saab Cars until 1992 when the company relocated to Norcross, Georgia.
Pez Candies was invented in Europe as a cure for smoking. Pez does not cure smoking, but regardless the candies and their plastic dispensers that potrayed animals or cartoon characters took off. Unlike Saab, the Pez headquarters is still here. That cannot be said for Saab. It is no longer in business.
Orange is also the home of the first American computer camp. It was hosted at the local Amity Junior High School in 1977. The Orange School System is still a blue banner school system.
So you see, from Algonquins to English Kings to Nike Missiles to smart kids, nothing much happens in these sleepy New England hamlets.
Now the Road Test: How many kettles were in the price to buy Orange from the Local Native Americans? You have three seconds. Three and two … and one. If you said one kettle, you get 15% off Nikes. Now pull over Dear Driver and get that winner a missile. I mean a pair of sneakers. Just tell then the Spoken Road sent you.
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