Four members of the Hartford Whalers hockey team stood out on Trumbull Street testing their resistance to Hurricane Gloria.
"Whew, that was a big one," one gasped with delight after he had been driven 15 feet before regaining his balance. Nearby, an older man stepped out of his house and looked skyward in obvious enjoyment of the wind and rain.
His wife, overhearing a question about his sanity, commented, "He really isn't crazy. We're from Florida, and we went through Eileen. It's almost like being home."
A heavy-set man flailing a woman's umbrella in front of his face forced his way down the street, the inside-out implement affording little protection. A couple with larger umbrellas found them equally useless as the frames turned inside out simultaneously.
A skateboarder in bright yellow pants took advantage of the unusual situation to travel uphill, with no effort on his part.
A man driving an Isuzu pickup truck came to a sudden stop when the rear shell blew into the middle of the street. He parked, shifted his cargo to the cab, left the shell on the sidewalk and drove away.
These were the exceptions today in Hartford. For the most part, the residents of the insurance capital of the world heeded the advice they pass out so freely and stayed indoors. People arriving for work this morning found themselves assigned to put masking tape on glass windows, then quickly dismissed and homeward bound. Downtown streets were virtually deserted by 12:30 p.m., when a curfew covering all but emergency vehicles went into effect.
"It was difficult for people to work, worrying about the storm, and nobody was doing anything anyway," a woman said as she left the IBM Product Center.
In the Civic Center Mall, normally bustling with hundreds of shoppers, one store remained open at noon -- the liquor store, where the owner reported an incredible morning business that cleaned him out of some items. After filling shopping bags for two procrastinating customers, he, too, shut down in response to the curfew.
Nearby, the sign in a closed camera store read, "Gone hurricane hunting."
A few security guards roamed the huge mall. At the information desk, a woman remained to warn any idlers to stay away from the area beneath a huge skylight. The roof of the nearby sports arena collapsed a few years ago, so folks hereabouts are conscious of such things.
The electronic doors of the Sheraton-Hartford Hotel were blown open by the wind, which swept knickknacks from the shelves of the lobby gift shop. On the hotel's 21st floor, the wind whistled eerily threw a slight gap in an emergency door, prompting a maid to say, "It feels like it's going to eat you up."
To the west a postcard scene developed beyond the gold-domed Connecticut State Capitol, where the edge of the storm could be seen with clear sky beyond.
Throughout Connecticut, almost one-half of the population was without power, as falling trees snapped power lines, and coastal flooding caused heavy damage. In downtown Hartford, however, Gloria was just a topic of conversation. Nobody was complaining.