Melville wrote that true places are not down in any map. The reverse is also correct. Some places that are down in maps are not true, they're barely even places. Which brings me to...Happyland! (The ! is not a part of the name, I just can't stop typing it. Happyland!) Happyland is an "unincorporated community" or village in the town of Preston. Though I live twenty minutes away, I never knew it existed until a few weeks ago. Twenty Minutes From Happyland. It sounds like some awful movie, like something Julia Stiles would be in.
When I first saw "Happyland" printed there on the map I didn't believe it. Then I looked it up and although I found very little information, there was enough to determine that this was in some sense a legitimate place. People lived there. And I could go there. So I did. Sadly, Happyland, which juts out between the Thames and Poquetanuck Cove, has no welcome sign. I understand why they don't; I wouldn't want people like me traipsing through the village looking for the sign either. It doesn't have much of anything, to be honest. There's a gas station, and a place called the Fish Connection. And there are houses - not fancy houses, as my brief attempt at Happyland internet research had suggested, but small-ish, average houses, houses that could be anywhere. Except that these ones are in Happyland. "Island In the Sun" came on the radio as I drove across the river, and Happyland does have a slightly isolated, island-y feel to it. It must be a very quiet place to live. I slowly drove its few residential streets and a cat, lolling in the road, jumped up in surprise as I approached.
So, I've been to Happlyland. And that's why there's a picture up there of where the road runs out at the edge of a perfectly ordinary-looking neighborhood with a pretty view.
Happyland was primarily a summer resort community that was known for its famous clambakes, dancing and bands. Civic organizations from New London County and beyond held many picnics there with varied activities. The nearby small homes were mostly summer cottages. The 1938 hurricane destroyed the dance hall and eating area but the land has remained in the Schulz family.ReplyDelete
there WAS a happyland regular town welcome sign. at least in the '80s. i was in norwich & needed to get to the ct. shore in no particular hurry so i looked at a map that didn't show happyland & took rt. 12 south. just a regular, green, town sign said "happyland" & i started laughing. i think i passed a soft-serve ice cream place but noticed nothing else along the road. i told some friends about this, but no one believed me in the late-'80s anyway & it sounded just like something i would make up as a joke. so a couple of years later i was in the area again & determined to explore happyland & brought a camera. but the sign was gone. i found a KFC on rt. 12 & stood in line just to ask directions. when i got to the counter i told this mean looking guy i just wanted to ask directions & he starts staring me down. i said "do you know where happyland is?" i guess he thought it was a prank that was wasting his time, so he starts yelling at me to get out. then i felt a gentle tap on my shoulder from behind & i spun around & this old lady with a HUGE smile says "I know where happyland is!" this was getting weird so i fled.ReplyDelete
I thought I might want to visit, now I changed my mine.ReplyDelete
Poquetanuck Cove is a great place to put in and kayak. You can then paddle around the Happyland penisula out into the Thames River and paddle up past the Mohegan Sun casino further upriver to Norwich.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure if I want to visit or not. I never new it existed, but since I live at the other end of CT it might be an interesting ride.ReplyDelete
It might be an interesting ride since I live at the other end of the state. By the time I arrive I'll certainly need gas.ReplyDelete