2,369 Miles of Adventure on Route 1 From Ft Kent, Maine to Key West, Florida
Does that sound crazy or what? Two thousand three-hundred sixty-nine miles – a lot of it on a two lane roadway. (That means one lane going south and one lane going north, not two lanes in each direction to make a whopping four!) It may be different in other states, but here in Connecticut Route 1 is as described through most of its tour through the coastline – one lane in each direction. It’s a bear to drive in the summer when shoreline traffic can bring it to a standstill, but quite lovely in the spring and fall (even in winter) when the peak beach season is over.
Strangely, Route 1 just does not seem to have captured the American imagination as has Route 66. You can’t get your kicks. You don’t imagine yourself a rebel without a cause. There is no TV series named after it. Poor Route 1 is a little stodgy and a lot ordinary, probably because it is so very ubiquitous in the eastern states. It’s just there and we use it all the time because it’s part of the fabric of our lives. There’s not a lot of mystique associated with it and hardly anyone makes a special trip to say they’ve seen Route 1. But, just because we see it all the time doesn’t mean that Route 1 doesn’t have some memorable highlights along its 2,369 miles.
That’s the focus of the Route1Reads project. Connecticut Center for the Book and our friends in Centers for the Book to the north and south of us have strung together some of the stories, sites, tastes and smells of our very own parts and parcels of Route 1. A website that highlights all of the books selected by each state is available on the Route 1 Reads website.
This year’s theme is biography, autobiography and/or memoir and Connecticut Center for the Book has selected The Logbooks by Anne Farrow. When Ms. Farrow started researching the logbooks of the Africa, a sailing ship owned by an affluent Connecticut merchant which in 1757 sailed from New London to the tiny island of Bence in Sierra Leone in West Africa to take on fresh water and slaves, her mother had been recently diagnosed with dementia. As Farrow bore witness to the impact of memory loss on her mother’s sense of self, she also began a journey into the world of the logbooks and the Atlantic slave trade, eventually retracing part of the Africa’s long-ago voyage to Sierra Leone. As the narrative unfolds in The Logbooks, Farrow explores the idea that if our history is incomplete, then collectively we have forgotten who we are—a loss that is in some ways similar to what her mother experienced. The multiple narratives combine in surprising and effective ways to make this an intimate confrontation with the past, and a powerful meditation on how slavery still affects us. The Logbooks reminds us why losing memories, whether personal memories or among groups of people, is so painful and how important it is to remember the past.