NEWS&VIEWS by Jacqueline Bennett

Posts from the “American icons” Category

Closing of Howard Johnson’s in Bangor Maine Bittersweet

Posted on September 5, 2016

By Jacqueline Bennett   Another American cultural icon of the past is nearing extinction. On Wednesday, September 7, the last New England Howard Johnson’s restaurant located in Bangor, Maine is set to close. It is the second to last remaining in the United States, down from ‘HoJo’s’ “golden era” in the 1960s and 1970s when there were 1,000 across the country making it the largest restaurant chain in the country at that time, noted New England Living. The lone surviving restaurant is in Lake George, New York.   Howard Johnson restaurants have been fading from the landscape for years so what is so touching about the loss of the Bangor ‘HoJo’s’?   The Waitress  It was a summer vacation in my youth when Dad,…

26th Norman Rockwell Holiday Recreation on Main Street Stockbridge, MA

Posted on December 9, 2015

Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett   Travel the highway up into the Berkshire Mountains exiting onto secondary routes, and nestled in along the road going west from Lee is the village of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Home to renowned American illustrator Norman Rockwell for the last 25 years of his life, Stockbridge is where he created one of his most famous works. That famous rendering depicts Main Street in Stockbridge on Christmas Eve and was published by McCall’s magazine in a 1967 special section called “Home for Christmas”.   On Sunday, December 6, the clock was turned back in Stockbridge to the 1960’s era when Rockwell painted the Christmas Eve scene. Vintage cars “strategically” lined-up in the center of town recreating the Rockwell sreetscape…

America’s Love Affair with Original ‘Pony Car’ Continues – Ford Mustang 50th Anniversary

Posted on June 3, 2014

Story & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb

Twelve-year-old Cassidy Jacobs is shown with her grandfather's "1964 and a half" Ford Mustang June 1 at a Mustang Show in Manchester, CT. The model was introduced on April 17, 1964 at the New York's World Fair, the original "pony" car.

Photo by Jacqueline Bennett  Twelve-year-old Cassidy Jacobs is shown with her grandfather’s “1964 and a half” Ford Mustang June 1 at a Mustang Show in Manchester, CT. The model was introduced on April 17, 1964 at the New York’s World Fair, the original “pony car.” 

Mustang lovers gathered on June 1 in Manchester, Connecticut for a spring Mustang Show at Mustangs Unlimited where a “1964 and a half” model – the debut year – was among those on display. The Manchester venue is just one of car shows across the country where America’s love affair with the original “pony car'”continues as the iconic vehicle marks its 50th anniversary.

According to The History Channel ( named for a World War II fighter plane and introduced at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964 by Henry Ford II, the Mustang was an instant hit. Dubbed a “1964 and a half” model, some 22,000 buyers are said to have quickly “snapped up” the sporty looking vehicles with long hoods, short rear decks and powerful engines. With a price tag of about $2,500, by March of 1966 more than a million Mustangs had been sold and the Mustang had made appearances on the silver screen with Hollywood legends like Steve McQueen in the movie “Bullitt.” Today, new Mustangs reportedly have a starting price of approximately $22,500.

Symbolized by another American icon of the Wild West, the Mustang horse, it led the way in a line of  “pony cars” subsequently produced by other car makers, such as Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird and Chrysler Barracuda. Ford Mustang, however,  holds the distinction among “pony cars” of continuous yearly production including the 2015 Anniversary Edition.030


Jack Gahr of Broad Brook, CT retruned from Viet Nam to fulfill his dream of owning a Mustang. Shown with his 2004 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Ford Mustang Mach 1.

Jack Gahr of Broad Brook, CT retruned from Viet Nam to fulfill his dream of owning a Mustang. Shown with his 2004 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Ford Mustang Mach 1.


It seems that every Mustang lover has a story to tell. One especially touching story belongs to Jack Gahr of Broad Brook, CT. As a young man he enjoyed working on Mustangs with his buddies. Those days were brought to a halt for Gahr by a draft notice. Drafted to serve in the war in Viet Nam, he said he made a promise to himself to buy a Mustang when he returned home.

“I told myself when I got home I was going to get myself a Mustang,” Gahr recalled at the show on Sunday, “After buying a house, putting one kid through college and helping another start a business – it was my time.”

With support from his wife Gail, in the spring of 2005 Gahr said he set out to find the Mustang of his dreams. It was during a visit to a local dealership, Ray Seraphin Ford in Vernon, CT., that Gahr came across one tied to an emotional history of its own that pulled at his heart strings.

As detailed in a story written by Sarah T. Parker, provided to newsandviewsjb by Gahr, a 2004 Torch Red 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Ford Mustang Mach 1 had been acquired by Seraphin after the original owner, 18-year-old Eric Fries of Ellington, CT, “was killed in a tragic car accident in January of 2005.” Able to relate to how much that Mustang had meant to Eric, Gahr made an offer accompanied with a promise to Eric’s parents to maintain the Mach 1 “in a way that would make their son proud and honor his memory,” wrote Parker.

Five years and multiple trophies later, Gahr said at the Manchester show he believes he has honored that promise and plans to carry on doing so – in fact, his Mach 1 took home another first place trophy that day.

Erik Nielsen's dad had a Mustang and he grew up loving them.

His dad had a Mustang and Erik Neilsen grew up loving them.

Erik Nielsen of Massachusetts grew up admiring the Mustang his dad owned. “Mustangs had bold, new body styles,” said Neilsen. Over time, he said, they came to be known as “muscle cars” – high performance two door coupes with powerful engines. Nielsen points to the fifty year uninterrupted production of Mustangs as a testament to their endurance. As well, he spoke of the fortitude of Ford Motor Company which in contrast to other car makers, did  not accept bail-out money from the government during a recent economic crisis in the American auto industry.

“Ford never took a penny,” he said.

Erik Neilsen shows photos of his friend's Mustnag before restoration.

Erik Neilsen shows photos of his friend’s Mustang before restoration.

When his friend Michael Rinaldi bought a Mustang in need of restoration, Nielsen said he was happy to help. Five years and thousands of dollars now invested by Rinaldi, looking at the vehicle one would not have a clue the shiny, blue convertible ever looked anything less than showroom condition.

Fil Ferrauto, CT State Director of Mustang Car Club of New England, Inc. pictured with one of four Mustangs he owns.

Fil Ferrauto, CT State Director of Mustang Car Club of New England, Inc. pictured with one of four Mustangs he owns.

Connecticut State Director of the Mustang Car Club of New England, Inc., that sponsored the Manchester show, Fil Ferrauto of Somers, CT owns four Mustangs – a 1968 convertible, a 1979 Indy pace car, a 1994 and the 2001 California special convertible.

“Like apple pie, it’s an American icon. Everybody recognizes the Mustang,” said Ferrauto.

Does he have a favorite among those that he owns”

“The one I’m driving at the time,” Ferrauto said with a smile.


Photo Gallery:006

A girl can dream.....

Baby Blue Mustang Convertible – ah, a girl can dream…..







“LEARN THE ADDRESS” Project Ongoing for 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg Address

Posted on November 21, 2013

By: Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb As the nation marked the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address delivered by President Abraham Lincoln on November 19,1863, a project by documentarian Ken Burns titled “LEARN THE ADDRESS” continues. For the project, Burns is encouraging all Americans to video themselves reading or reciting the Gettysburg Address then upload it. His PBS documentary -“The Address” – is slated to air in the spring of 2014. Considered by historians to be perhaps the greatest speech in American History, it was delivered by President Lincoln for the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania just four and half months after the Union Army defeated the Confederacy in the Battle of Gettysburg. Noted for its healing tone, Lincoln is said to have…

Congrats to George Strait as CMA Entertainer of the Year

Posted on November 10, 2013

George Strait is a classic. I missed the Country Music Association Awards (CMA) on November 6 but am so pleased Strait, one of my favorites, was honored with the Entertainer of the Year award as he prepares to finish out “The Cowboy Rides Away Tour” – his farewell to touring. Wednesday night’s 47th annual CMA win marks the third time Strait has taken an Entertainer of the Year trophy home. According to his on-line bio, Strait was born on May 18, 1952 in Texas. Among his long list of ever popular tunes are – “All My Exes Live in Texas”, “She’ll Leave You With A Smile”,  “Living and Loving Well”, “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind”,  and of course, “Amarillo by Morning” –…

Pitch Hitting A-Rod Displays Poor Sportsmanship

Posted on August 22, 2013

Commentary & Photo by Jacqueline Bennett Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster’s nailing New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez with a pitch last Sunday while he was at bat was a disappointing display of poor sportsmanship as far as this Red Sox fan is concerned. It’s no secret that many Major League Baseball players are disgruntled over A-Rod continuing to play as he appeals a 211 game suspension for alleged use of performing enhancing drugs (PED). Nonetheless, trite as the ole’ saying may be, two wrongs do not make a right. The PED mess which goes beyond A-Rod is already a cloud hanging over MLB. Dempster’s poor judgement is one more black eye on the sport which, arguably, more so than other any is representative of…

National Hot Dog Day is Tuesday! July 23, 2013

Posted on July 22, 2013

Write-Up & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb Long, short, plump, skinny, all-beef or not, hot dogs are an American favorite. So much so that the iconic food has its own day – National Hot Dog Day will be celebrated on Tuesday, July 23. Virtually every American community has a special spot where a unique version of the hot dog is served. In Connecticut, one of the best can be found at Bart’s Drive In Restaurant at 55 Palisado Avenue in Windsor, located on the banks of the Farmington River and just a few miles from the capital city of Hartford. Bart’s Famous Hot Dogs are prepared on the Magic Grill that has been pleasing palates in Central Connecticut and beyond for more than sixty-five…

Tooting My Own Horn

Posted on May 24, 2013

Yes, I am going to unabashedly toot my own horn. I am quite pleased to have my work recognized again by the Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. One of my feature photos won second place in its category in the 2012 Excellence in Journalism Competition. Announced last night, this marks the fifth time my work has been recognized by CTSPJ – previously with three awards for writing and another for photography. This most recent winning photo is of the woman who posed for famous American illustrator Norman Rockwell’s iconic “Rosie the Riveter.” Rockwell’s “Rosie” appeared on the cover of the May 29, 1943 edition of The Saturday Evening Post.  I took the photo, which ran in the local newspaper for which…