A great way to tell the modern history of this town is to hear from its residents. This column will regularly highlight some of the interviews we have conducted during our centennial and beyond.

Our centennial celebration was a success in a variety of ways, and collecting 55 Windsor stories is an incredible accomplishment that we continue to be overjoyed about. By way of our “Story Sharing Tent” that traveled to five separate locations, we connected with a wide range of individuals, all of whom had a unique and significant Windsor story.

This innovative approach to oral history allowed us to paint a vivid picture of the Windsor experience and show how it varies from person to person. It also revealed one sentiment that remained constant for many interviewees: an overall appreciation for the town and how far it has come over the years.

Several individuals cited a strong sense of community within Windsor and an optimistic view of the direction it is heading in. Others recollected cherished memories of their childhood and shared why it was a great place to raise their families. The major takeaway from this endeavor was that every person has a story worth sharing, and by preserving these oral histories, we are giving future generations useful insight into what life was like during our time.

Each Windsor story is incredibly valuable, and we want to emphasize that by sharing impactful quotes from a few of our interviews. Here is some of what people had to say.

Nuchette Black-Burke

Nuchette Black-Burke, lifelong Windsor resident and Town Council member:

“…I wanted my children to grow up in a place like I did where yes, there were people of color, there were white people all coming together. And while yes, there were undertones of racism and other things that were at play, we still managed to play together on teams and go to school together, worship together. And so, I wanted that for my children. And I’m just so grateful now that as a town, I feel like we’re evolving and taking a moment, a pause, to really address some of the issues that have surfaced and may have been there for many years. But as a town, we’re trying to address it together.”

Maryam Khan

Maryam F. Khan, Windsor resident for 10+ years and vice president of the Windsor Board of Education:

“The Windsor Mosque that is on White Rock is actually the first mosque of Connecticut, so it’s a historical mosque. I’ve been going to that mosque since I’ve lived in Connecticut. And at one time, I tried to get involved in doing some kind of outreach work to get the community to come in and learn more about the mosque because it’s been there. But when I met people in town, a lot of people told me, ‘We don’t know anything about the mosque. We’ve never been in there.’ So, we held a couple events: an open house and an event during Ramadan, like an open fast with our neighbors. […] We had about 80 people come […] so that was well-attended.”

Lon Pelton

Lon Pelton, lifelong Windsor resident who has worked in the demolition business for over 50 years:

“Well, I started [scrap metal art work] in the 50s with silverware and I built a turtle for Kenny Lampson. And then later, I started to get into bigger things when Windsor quit the mosquito spraying. And where we live, it was just horrible there. So, I built that mosquito and put it on the front walk of the Town Hall in the middle of the night. And then I said afterwards, when they caught me for it, I said, ‘Well, now what are you going to do about your mosquito problem?’ Which they have adopted it and it went into the pond [behind Town Hall].”

Beverly Gayle

Beverly Gayle, Windsor resident for six years and design director for a clothing company:

“How we ended up here, my son had a traumatic brain injury, and he needed a calm environment. And we needed services for him, which we really weren’t getting where we were. […] In New York, I went into a meeting with like one person and teachers who were telling me that he was disruptive, or he wasn’t listening. And I come [to Windsor] and they understood it. And even if they didn’t understand it, they had resources to ask someone how to deal with it. So that was like lightyears. It was incredible.”

These oral histories provide an excellent opportunity for us to learn from each other’s experiences, and this can foster a stronger sense of community within Windsor.

If you would like to view some of the Windsor Stories in full, visit our YouTube channel. We will continue to upload more clips and interviews as we are able.

By Sulema DePeyster, community history specialist, 2021