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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New London - Groten, Connecticut

No visit to Connecticut would be complete without visiting the submarine museum in Groton. Groton is on the East bank of the Thames and New London is on the West bank. New London is home to the Navy's submarine base while Groton holds the "submarine factory."

Since we were staying in Baltic Connecticut, just a few miles from Norwich, it was only a twenty-minute drive down the Thames river to the New London/Groton area. Groton is home to the Electric Boat Company, currently a General Dynamics division. Wander around the www.gdeb.com website for a bit and you will soon get the idea that they take security seriously:

Q: How can I get information on submarines - facts, photos, etc.?

A: Our web site provides photographs and basic public information. For security reasons, we do not release additional information.
I'd love to have taken a photo of the "No Photographing" signs that are posted on the fence along the road beside the E.B. facility. I was outvoted by the passengers in my vehicle, however. So the best I can do for you is to show you this shot captured on the Internet from Google's Street View:

And note that this is what the sign looked like when the Google Van drove by:

Fortunately, there is a public Library and Submarine Museum right on the harbor. And the museum serves as the entrance to the submarine, Nautilus. This, you may recall, was the first Atomic powered submarine. For that matter, it was the first Atomic powered vehicle of any kind. Just up the road (East, toward Rhode Island) there is a great place to stop for a picture of the Nautilus.

While we had the bad luck to arrive at a time when the Nautilus was closed for a few days, we did get to tour the museum.
Groton-1-1 Groton-2-1

Inside, I ran into a very helpful submarine veteran. He and I got to chatting and he was telling me about Mamie Eisenhower christening the Nautilus in 1954. I told him I recalled the event from the newsreel pictures that I saw as a kid. He, of course topped that by pointing to himself in one of the pictures of the event. He claimed that Ike wasn't too happy about Mamie coming up to do the christening since it was only an "experimental" vessel.

Well, that only leaves us one more item of Connecticut culture to discuss. Everywhere we went, we saw signs advertising "Grinders." Take this shop, for instance:

Wikipedia redirects "Grinder Sandwich" to Submarine Sandwich. Do more exploring and you can find some folks that claim a grinder should be a hot sandwich and should have crusty bread to distinguish it from a sub. There are even some suggestions that a "grinder" was a slang term for an Italian dock worker. I'll leave it for others to explore the origins of the term but let's just note that this is the area with the submarine factory. It also holds a lot of people of Italian background. Odds are good that one of the jobs the Italians held involved grinding the welds on submarines. Make up your own story from there.

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