Best thing ever written by a CT Governor?

A small piece of poetry, at a very dark moment in this state.

If we think of it as a dark age, imagine November 1936. Unemployed men were selling apples in the streets. There was no unemployment check. Banks were failing, taking deposits with them.

During this difficult time, a Connecticut governor wrote a Thanksgiving message that is still read at some dinner tables. Forty years after writing it, Governor Ella Grasso called it “a masterpiece of eloquence.” His consoling words deserve to be meditated on in these times of pandemic.

Wilbur L. Cross had just retired from teaching English at Yale when, at age 68, he won the governor’s race in 1930. The following year he began writing short, poetic public announcements for Thanksgiving holiday.

This is how his 1936 Thanksgiving Proclamation begins—not as a list of the Depression’s awful hardships, but as a late afternoon stroll.

“Time flies”, he wrote, “in this season when the rustic oak leaves rustle in the wind and the frost pricks the air and the dusk falls early and the friendly evenings lengthen under Orion’s heel. , it seemed good to our people to unite in praising the Creator and the Custodian, who led us through a path we did not know at the end of another year.

Another Yale professor, William Zinsser, would include this 1936 proclamation in his best-selling book “On Writing.” Zinsser praised his “simple” words and said he “echoes the truths we know in our bones.” He thanked for the language “gracefully used for the public good”. U.S. too.

Once again, we are brought to the end of a year “by a path we did not know”. We have suffered the loss of loved ones to COVID-19. We are anxious and alone, sequestered too long in our homes.

And yet, in 1936, at an even worse time, Governor Cross proclaimed his gratitude for the blessings “which have been our common lot” and which “have placed our beloved state among the favored regions of the earth.”

Connecticut is indeed a privileged region of the earth. It can be difficult in this plague year to remember how favored we are. We are 72% fully vaccinated. Most of us have jobs, and those who don’t have government assistance. Older people receive social security benefits, which were not available until 1937, the year after this proclamation. Medicare benefits would take another 30 years to arrive.

And so this beautiful blessing — “a Thanksgiving classic,” the Pulitzer proclaimed, and he should know, because he judges a lot of trials — deserves a fresh look every Thanksgiving in Governor Cross’ beloved state, just like the oak leaves and Orion.

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