By Sarah Pfeffer (Special Guest Blogger)
Does Gilmore Girls accurately depict small-town living in New England? Sarah Pfeffer, a local resident of Kent, Connecticut, compares her hometown (and the surrounding area) to Stars Hollow.
But, I’m a Gilmore (too)!I’m pretty new to Gilmore Girls, and began my binge of the series alongside my husband. We live in a rural Connecticut town and we both work at boarding schools. Naturally, we were curious. And, you may not believe this, but my sister’s married name is Gilmore and she has a young daughter. I quite literally have Gilmore Girls in my own family.
As we fell in love with Stars Hollow, I began to research the real town it might be based on, and that’s when I discovered this blog, Finding Stars Hollow. Amy’s posts were fabulous, creative, and well thought-out, and I began to comment with my insights. I started up some fun conversations with her and other fans, and here we are! I’m honored to be posting a guest blog post!
Let’s get right into it. Today, I’m going to talk about some comparisons between my hometown of Kent and Stars Hollow, as well as some similarities and differences between Chilton and real boarding schools.
If Luke’s Diner and Al’s Pancake World Had A Baby…The Villager Restaurant is the closest to Luke’s Diner in look and feel. Everything from the green and red motif, bar stools, and delicious breakfast options screams Luke’s. Interestingly, this is also a Mexican place so it has this unique juxtaposition of Mexican, New Englandian, and European decor. It’s one of my favorite spots. The food is on-point and the prices are great!
You’ll notice quickly that my husband is my willing subject for many of these photos.
Luke would probably NOT approve of the holiday decor.
(Sometimes) A Sleepy Town – No background actors here!Amy was absolutely right that in the winter, the streets are pretty quiet! Unlike in the magical, fictional town of Stars Hollow, people tend to want to stay inside most of the time in the winter because it gets VERY cold; however, during the fall, spring, and summer, there are people (including international visitors as well as weekenders from New York City) all around! In fact, this past summer, I even saw…
A Troubadour on the Green!Passersby enjoyed this guy’s tunes and even dropped him some tips (that’s more than the Stars Hollow troubadour got)! There is also a pop-up farmers market during the summer, quite like the one that was stationed right outside of Doose’s market (much to Taylor Doose’s chagrin)! The funny part is that the Kent farmers market is also pretty close to our small IGA grocery store.
Antique Shops – “You break, you buy!”There are plenty of antique shops in Kent. My favorite is the one that has a sign that says:
“Fun to look at…easy to hold…but if you or your child break it…consider it sold.” I can just hear Mrs. Kim in my head saying irritably, “You break it, you buy it!”
Quintessential White SteepleThere are SO many of these in the area. The left photo is a picture of the First Congregational Church of Kent and the right photo is of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.
Small Town Events – Like An Outdoor Book Sale!There are a lot of town events that bring locals together. Take the outdoor book sale, which goes from summer to early fall and benefits the library: it’s simple, but gets quite a bit of foot traffic from Kent residents and visitors. There are also annual events like the Pumpkin Run, Firemen’s Ball, and most importantly, ICE WATCH. When I first moved to Kent, I could barely believe Ice Watch was a real thing, and I knew then I was living in small-town America. Voting cards for Ice Watch are placed in establishments around town, and for $2, you can guess when the ice will freeze on the Housatonic River. If this is not a Stars Hollow type of activity, I don’t know what is. The New York Times even wrote about it in an article titled: Where Watching the River Freeze is Half the Fun.
Victorian Houses and Charming Historic BuildingsThey’re everywhere. The houses in the photos below really remind me of Lorelai’s or Sookie’s house. I swear the house pictured below looks exactly like the porch where Kirk found termites (from Season 2, Episode 11: Secrets and Loans)!
Everything’s cute here; even the pharmacy (photo below). It’s one of my favorite places to go; I can find anything from tchotchkes to necessities. This building reminds me A LOT of Miss Patty’s Dance Studio and where Stars Hollow holds their infamous town meetings!
Foliage: Better in Real LifeAutumn here is absolutely unbeatable and quite similar to the colors displayed on the Gilmore Girls credit sequence.
Lorelai rides her bike down a similar road in Stars Hollow.
Babette, Miss Patty? Yes, Everyone Knows Everyone.The everyone-knowing-you-thing is actually quite real. I have lived in several towns around the state, and Kent is the first place I’ve lived where this is really true. The girls in the coffee shop (Kent Coffee and Chocolate) learn your name and your favorite drink, and you become pals. Same thing with the market, the wine and spirit shoppe, and even the Post Office! These people are so friendly! It took me a little while to adjust to it, but I absolutely love it. It’s so personal. You always see someone you know and get a smile, a wave, and some friendly conversation.
Chilton vs. Boarding Schools in ConnecticutThis is the administration building where I work, originally built as a French-inspired honeymoon chateau.
Check out the uniform I wore (below) when I attended a small private elementary school in eastern Connecticut. VERY Chilton-esque, but in an uglier color!
A Real Life Max Medina?I think it’s fair to say that my husband may very well be a modern Max Medina. He teaches English (American Literature, to be exact) at a Connecticut boarding school, is a smart dresser, treats his students with kindness and respect, and most of all, he has the hair. Check him out on campus below!
The Puffs: Real or Not Real?There are no secret societies like The Puffs at the schools I am involved in…that I know of…but I suppose the whole point of these clubs is that teachers/staff would not know about them. There are certainly cliques based on interests, whether in sports, arts, technology, or media.
Not Quite The Franklin, But We’ll Always Have ParisIt’s a digital world now, so some things are a bit different from Gilmore Girls times, while others remain. Student-created digital newspapers are still very much alive at boarding schools, and regularly report on goings-on at the school. The reporters do not receive the same esteem as those on the newspaper staff at Chilton, however, and are often simply students who are interested in journalism and want to get credit and experience in that area.
Sports in Gilmore Girls vs. Real LifeHockey in prep school is huge, so watching the guys at our school duke it out with throngs of cheering fans is very reminiscent of Dean in his hockey days. I often think of the episode when Rory realized that Dean had a new girlfriend at his game.
Similarly, the tradition of golf is very much alive in boarding schools, for both boys and girls. One of my favorite episodes of Gilmore Girls is when Rory learns golf and gossips at the club with her grandpa. There are golf courses aplenty in this area of Connecticut, and when it gets cold, there are even indoor courses where students can practice in the off-season.
“George Washington rode past this place” and more obscure historyOn Rory’s graduation day, she talked about how the marble floors in the halls of Chilton were once walked on by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Well, my ears perked up when I heard this because I knew that Amy Sherman-Palladino had done her homework on local history. One of the dorms at the school where I work is called Beecher – it was once the original Harriet Beecher Stowe house but that was taken down piece by piece in the 1990s to be rebuilt as a museum. The current dorm is built in the exact footprint as the original.
A “Civil War Era Cannonball” that fell through the floor
According to Luke, “It’s a possible circa 19th century portrait of what we think may have been the founder of a school that possibly educated Ben Franklin’s cousins.”
There are almost endless connections between Kent and Stars Hollow. Every day, I find myself telling whoever is next to me: “That is totally a Stars Hollow type of person,” or, “This is such a Stars Hollow activity.” With all of its quirks, Kent is a beautiful place to live – nestled in the mountains yet still a train ride away from New York City – some might even say it is the perfect place to live.