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John L.
Democrat CT 1

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  • In Honor of Lois ``Pauline’’ Nolan Larson

    by Representative John B. Larson

    Posted on 2013-01-25

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    LARSON ______ HON. JOHN B. LARSON of connecticut in the house of representatives Friday, January 25, 2013 Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, Thoreau famously said most men lead lives of quiet desperation. My mother led a life of quiet inspiration. Thousands gave witness to that and stood in line for more than three hours to pay their final respects to Lois Nolan Larson, affectionately known as Pauline. My family was deeply touched by the outpouring of the community. It was a great tribute to my mother's lifetime commitment to her community. Several kind statements of appreciation were made by elected officials--from the President of the United States to the Governor of our state; from Senators to House Leaders in Congress and members of the Connecticut General Assembly. It was, however, two articles--one by Tom Condon of The Hartford Courant, the other by Bill Doak of our hometown paper, The East Hartford Gazette, that captured the sentiment, feeling and appreciation of an everyday mom who gave to her community and set an example to emulate. The following are those two articles: [From the Hartford Courant, Oct. 12, 2012] East Hartford Mother Left Legacy of Involvement and Action (By Tom Condon) Democracy works because good people give their time and get involved. At the municipal level, few epitomized the ethic of participation quite like Lois Pauline Nolan Larson of East Hartford, who died this week at 87.



    For decades starting in the 1960s, Mrs. Larson, known to all as Pauline, served the town in most of the ways it is possible to serve. She was a member of the town council and the Democratic town committee, on which she served as vice chairwoman and treasurer. She served on the town's parks and visiting nurse association boards and the cemetery commission. The community center in the Mayberry Village neighborhood where she lived is named in her honor.

    She volunteered her time while she and her husband were raising eight children, and while she was battling multiple sclerosis. She inspired two of her children to go into public life. Her son Timothy Larson was mayor of East Hartford for eight years and is now a state representative. Her son John Larson is the seven-term U.S. representative from the 1st District.

    John Larson spoke of his mother's battle with declining health in a televised speech at the recent Democratic National Convention, and how she wanted not to be a burden to her family. ``Mom, you're not a burden,'' Larson told the convention crowd. ``You're an inspiration.'' Many in East Hartford nodded.

    ____ [From the East Hartford Gazette, Oct. 18, 2012] Pauline Larson: `The Lilly of Mayberry Village' (By Bill Doak) Mayberry Village is many things. As Congressman John Larson points out, the former apple orchard laid out with a tight- knit net of streets was a federal housing project, cinder block and wood-frame coal-heated homes needed to power The Aircraft with a supply of workers, then returning veterans from World War II. Emigrants from the Canadian provinces and Maine settled in Mayberry along with workers from other factory towns all over Connecticut and Massachusetts, attracted by steady, well-paying work here in East Hartford. Others came displaced by massive highway redevelopment projects right here in East Hartford where Route 2 plowed through the flimsier wood-framed East Hartford Estates located down by the Riverfront and took two-thirds of the town's large mobile home community which extended from Pratt & Whitney to the river, and the wooden, barracks-style homes in what is now McAuliffe Park.

    Above the then-new, modern Mayberry Village, roads and homes covered the top of the hill where Laurel Park, a rustic entryway over a bridge across the Hockanum River greeted trolley car day trippers. Homes and families replaced apples and arcades. One constant solidified Mayberry Village: its moms.

    One of those fell from the tree of life last Wednesday. Lois ``Pauline'' Nolan Larson. Yes, she is known to the thousand or so who waited outside D'Esopo's East Hartford Funeral Chapel Sunday as the mother of Mayberry Village, and East Hartford's, only United States Congressman John Larson; former East Hartford Mayor Timothy D. Larson, the first mayor to come out of the Village. But for the other 500 she was also Pauline Larson, the grand dame of East Hartford politics for the past 50 years. Indeed, without her example, Congressman Larson acknowledged from the pulpit of St. Isaac Jogues church Monday, he would not have become the person he is--not the politician he has become--today. And how proud East Hartford would be to hear our John give a ``shout out'' to his hometown of East Hartford, to Mayberry Village and to his mother specifically on the national stage of the Democratic National Convention last month.

    We have heard it suggested that East Hartford would be better off demolishing Mayberry Village. Could happen. East Hartford is far from being a sentimental place. You only have to look at every Redevelopment proposal to see that demolition is right [[Page E69]] at the top of every suggested improvement here. Preservation is treated as if it were a disease one might catch by spending too much time in South Glastonbury, South Windsor or admiring a covered bridge. Bucket loaders are on speed dial at Town Hall.

    And yet Mayberry Village, problems or no, survives--and, to those who attended Monday night's Mayberry School Literacy Night, thrives.

    Perhaps that is because ``The Village'' is very much still a village of moms. Pauline and her husband Ray raised 8 children, moving three times in Mayberry, settling into what Mayberry residents still call ``The New Village,'' on Chandler Street. Mayberry School, named after a well-known East Hartford family doctor, Dr. Franklin F. Mayberry, replaced the Little Red Schoolhouse first organized in the Community Building, now the Lois Nolan Larson Community Center.

    It was moms such as Pauline Larson who kept the children occupied. Moms organized the PTA for the Little Red Schoolhouse located where St. Isaac Jogues is today. Mrs. Miles, Mrs. Jordan, Mrs. Larson; moms such as Mrs. Korngiebel and Mrs. Jamo and Mrs. Mazolli. They kept an eye on all the children, not just their own. They called one another when someone was playing not where they were supposed to be, or would be late for dinner. They exchanged clothing that was outgrown, chipped in to help a family in need, shared venison or fresh Maine potatoes just picked by local children returning back from the fields up north. The school and the church are central to Mayberry Village, not politics. More families pay attention to what is going on down Cannon Road than to happenings at Town Hall.

    But Pauline Larson realized the political process was and is vital to the lifeblood of a community. She taught her children that it was important for them to get involved, to participate, to take part in the system their father, Raymond, fought for in the Navy, his ship torpedoed by a kamikaze attack 30 miles off the coast of Japan near the end of World War II. Call it divine intercession of a girl from Lawrence, Massachusetts versus the divine wind of the Japanese, but John became a history teacher, state senator and is now one of the country's top leaders as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. This did not happen by magic but by dint of hard work and never forgetting where you are from; by staying humble and remembering to pray and to give thanks and credit where credit was due. All values instilled by a Mayberry Village mom, by all the neighborhood moms as well, an army of mothers reminding you to wipe your shoes and wash your hands and do your homework.

    The Larson family lost Ray Larson 24 years ago. Pauline found herself with multiple sclerosis, and battled this debilitating illness for the last third of her life without complaint. She still stayed involved in her beloved Democratic party, in her town and in her growing family's lives. David Larson became her caregiver for which he earned the enduring appreciation of his family until she had to move from Chandler Street to the Riverside Health Care Center where she also received great and loving care, the congressman said, in a eulogy that was a tribute not just to one woman but to a place and time where an ordinary mom could make a difference, and an extraordinary difference in terms of raising a mayor and a congressman--not to mention the rest of the Larson clan, all contributing, hard-working citizens in our society.

    A Jesuit missionary might have his name on the church-- October 21 Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Jogues guide and the bronze statue on the eastern corner of the church on Home Terrace will be canonized in Rome as the first American Indian saint in the Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI--but Mayberry Village's moms also deserve a place of honor. And it is no small coincidence that an Ave Maria was sung inside St. Isaacs so close to the day 356 years ago--October 18, 1646-- when Jogues was martyred and when Kateri, who died in 1680 at age 24, ``The Lilly of the Mohawks,'' will be canonized Sunday, an event of significance for native tribes in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

    Women have a significant role in keeping the faith of Mayberry Village together. Far too many haven't any other choice, somehow making ends meet. As our ongoing poor economy continues to plague us, places such as Mayberry feel it, but are accustomed to it. They know hard times are one check away. Indeed the Monday stop by the Foodshare truck, which typically sees a line of hundreds lining up for free food, was cancelled Monday, a hand-written sign under the gaze of Blessed Kateri's statue stated.

    Being a true Mayberry Village mom, Lois ``Pauline'' Nolan Larson would likely have hated being a cause of such an inconvenience.

    That is a Mayberry Village mom.

    ____________________

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