Updated: Feb 11
Photographs provided by Barbara Henderson-Davis
Mrs. Barbara Henderson was known as a Trail Blazer in Hartford, Connecticut. Who can say they have a bridge named after themselves? The Barbara Henderson Bridge in Hartford, Connecticut is named after her. As a young kid growing up in the projects we had to walk to Mary Hooker School two times a day, crossing the bridge four times during our journey to school. I remember the hole in the sidewalk of the bridge. My friends and I would stop and look at how fast the river water was flowing. Sometimes we would drop rocks through the hole into the river.
I knew some of the kids who died on the bridge. The bridge is located between the former Charter Oak Terrace Housing Project and the still standing Rice Heights Housing Project, which were both located in the southwest section of Hartford. Charter Oak Terrace was torn down in the late 1990's to make way for a Super Walmart Center along with other stores located in a plaza. The bridge still stands separating the D Side Section of the former Charter Oak Terrace Housing Project and Rice Heights Housing Project.
Today the bridge is under constant attack by the neighborhood kids who continue to write on it as soon as it's cleaned up. The younger generation needs to be educated on the history of their surroundings and the efforts and commitments fulfilled by Mrs. Barbara Henderson and other volunteers from the community during 1960's and 1970's.
The Henderson and Johnson Methadone Clinic which was located on Albany Ave, in Hartford, moved to Weston Street. The Youth Bowling Program was held with the Hartford Fire Department during that time period. My older brother and I went on many educational field trips with the Henderson family children Sharon, Melbra, Barbara, Michael, Felicia, and Jessie.
Mrs. Henderson became the first woman to receive the Phoenix Fire Fighter award! Over the years she continued to fight for the kids and the Hartford Community, especially the Charter Oak Terrace Housing Project while battling health problems. I'm honored to say that Mrs. Henderson had an positive influence on my life and many of the kids who lived in the Charter Oak Terrace and the Rice Heights Housing Projects.