Historical society book talk stays close to home

–photos by Erik Trautmann/Hearst Connecticut Media

A traveler does not have to go far to experience new places. In a state like Connecticut, they can literally be right around the corner.
That’s the message author and historian Marty Podskoch delivered when he gave a presentation Thursday, Feb. 21, on his new book at the Wilton Historical Society.
Titled “The Connecticut 169 Club: Your Passport and Guide to Exploring Connecticut,” Podskoch’s new book details all 169 towns, cities and villages in Connecticut. The inspiration came from a similar group in Vermont, Podskoch said. That group, called the 251 club of Vermont, hosts annual meetings and encourages members to visit the 251 towns in the state.
“If it wasn’t for that book, there wouldn’t be the 169 club,” Podskoch said.
The Connecticut guide book, which is Podskoch’s ninth book, involved nearly two years of collaborative effort. He said he worked with writers, historians and officials to put it together.
“I asked them to write 500 to 600 words about their town,” he said and added this could give readers a chance to learn some information about each town they visit.
The 169 club is an informal group where owners of Podskoch’s book can travel around Connecticut getting signatures from a location in each town, city or village. Since publishing the book, Podskoch has already checked off 109 locations. The book encourages readers to be interactive in learning about locations around the state.
“Make sure to stop and get photos,” he added.
On Sept. 7, the “club” will gather at Baltic Restaurant at 237 New Britain Road in Berlin. The dinner does not require that members have visited all 169 towns. Readers are encouraged to share their stories on traveling the state. The “Leatherman Award” will be given to those who have completed visiting all 169 towns, Podskoch said.
Historical society co-director Allison Sanders, who contributed the chapter on Wilton, said the award was named after the Leatherman, a traveler first seen in the late 1800s. The Leatherman led a hermit-like existence and traveled a route of 365 miles.
“He would stay in caves he found,” Sanders said. “He was well- documented as going through Wilton.”
People would leave food out for him and it was considered lucky if he were to take your food, she added. Students would be let out of school if the Leatherman walked by to wave hello.
“He was embraced by the community,” Sanders said.
Podskoch said he encourages all readers to get out and learn about the state. While speaking in Warren he met the wife of Scott Peck, author of “The Road Less Traveled.”
“That’s what I’m going to ask everyone to do,” Podskoch said. “Take the road less traveled.”