If you have fond memories of New Britain and want to discuss it, see old-time photographs of the City, answer City trivia or just talk to present or past residents, there is a group on Facebook hosting such a page.
It is called “I Remember New Britain” (IRNB).
The brainchild of John Pater, a former city native who now lives in Plainville, the group has grown to close to 2,700 members with 20-100 and more posts daily.
“It started as a lark. I didn’t think we were going to go this far,” said Pater. “I told two friends and they told two friends and so on and so on.”
Some people on the page have never even lived in the City, but find the information fascinating. People who join live as far away as Hawaii and California.
Pater began finding photos and information in various books and sites such as the New Britain Industrial Museum and the New Britain Public Library and put them on the site.
The first photo he put on the site was of Walnut Hill Park in the 1970s. It was the wading pool. Now he has 2,675 photos and growing.
“People put up albums and old family photos,” said Pater.
Almost anything New Britain that is not offensive or political is allowed on the page.
“If it is fun and it is of New Britain it can go up,” said Pater. “If I find it is inappropriate I remove it.”
Some people talk about things like The Strand and its velvet curtains and magnificent balcony. Others talk about shopping downtown at stores like Lifshutz, Raphael’s and D&Ls.
“Basically, it has become a big family reunion,” said Pater. “Everybody somehow knows somebody. We are all tied in.”
In fact, Pater met people who lived in the same house he grew up in on Booth St. He was reunited with people he worked with 35 years ago. And, he is not alone. Others find lost friends and neighbors as well as make new friends on a regular basis.
“I remember a lot and the way things were,” said Pater. “I paid a lot of attention to my parents.”
Group members can also post photos and start topics such as local recipes of golombki’s, winter soup, potato pancakes and more.
There are also several videos that show what New Britain was like and is like now. Pater even made a video set to music.
“We try to do things, a group of us, in real life,” said Pater. “We attended the Walnut Hill Park Fountain Head concert and collected food and coats for Salvation Army. About 50 of us got together for lunch at Capitol Lunch and I am planning a Spring get together in March.”
Pater said, on the Facebook page people have a good time and joke with each other.
Pater runs it alone, but a lot of people who have gotten into the whole idea, help him out. Pater, who works full time for the New Britain Education Department, said he spends every free moment working on or thinking about the page.
His knowledge of the City is tremendous and still growing.
“Come back every day and you are sure to find a new picture,” said Pater. “We can give you a history lesson and fun time. It’s just a fun page. People enjoy it.”
To become a member, you must first be a member of Facebook. Once you do that, search I Remember New Britain. Go to the page and then press on join. Pater will approve you probably that same day. From there you can view all the photos, posts and videos. You can also post your own.