June 17, 2021

Old Lyme Visiting Nurse Association Launches New Website  

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Visiting Nurse Association has announced the launch of its new website at this link

Holly Lyman, OLVNA President, told LymeLine.com exclusively, “We owe many thanks to our splendid website committee led by Carol Ridgway.  The site contains a wealth of historical information, thanks to Patsy McCook, Sarah Gleason, and our town’s indefatigable librarians.”

She added, “The site also links to local coronavirus initiatives, Town Nurse information and other health news.”

Noting, “I could write on and on about all the riches in our newest community resource, but this beautiful work speaks best for itself, she concluded with a chuckle, “We may be 99-years-old but we’re pretty hip!”

 

 

Old Lyme Partnership Launches ‘Witness Stones’ Project to Honor Lives of Local Enslaved Persons, Introduce Related Curriculum in Schools

Two ‘Witness Stones’ (center, foreground) installed on the pathway leading to the Guilford Savings Bank on the Guilford Town Green.

Project Will Install Historical Plaques Honoring Lives of Enslaved Individuals from Old Lyme; Introduce Educational Curriculum in Schools; Raise Awareness of Local History
Partnership Members are Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, Florence Griswold Museum, First Congregational Church of Old Lyme and Lyme-Old Lyme Schools 

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Witness Stones Partnership has launched a public education and engagement effort that will introduce an educational curriculum for seventh-grade students of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools that will raise awareness of the town’s history. 

The project will also involve the installation of small historical plaques on Lyme Street commemorating the lives of individuals, who were once enslaved in Old Lyme.

Each historical plaque – or “witness stone” – will include the name of an enslaved individual, along with important details about their lives and circumstances derived from land records, emancipation certificates and other available historical documents. Middle school students will research these historical materials to explore the experiences of these vital but forgotten members of the community.

Amy Kurtz Lansing, the Florence Griswold Museum Curator, notes that the Museum, “Seeks to broaden awareness of American art, history and landscape.”

Commenting on the Museum’s involvement in the project, she says, “Just as we have been expanding narratives and bringing alternative voices into our exhibitions and interpretations, we see the Witness Stones project as a framework for parallel efforts in the community.”

Kurtz Lansing adds, “By marking the sites where enslaved people lived, the Witness Stones project reveals hidden histories and broaden narratives about Old Lyme’s past.”

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools are introducing the Witness Stones project curriculum this semester to seventh-grade social studies and language arts classes and will continue to include it as part of the educational curriculum through 2026.

Ian Neviaser, Superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, comments, “The Lyme-Old Lyme Schools are pleased to bring history alive by partnering with our community members to help our students better understand the history of our area through this project.  The use of primary source documents helps develop in our students the ability to analyze and understand what life was like generations ago.”

It is anticipated that 12 witness stones providing the names of persons enslaved on properties along Lyme Street will be installed in late May to coincide with completion of the seventh-grade curriculum. The installation ceremony will feature projects designed by the local student-historians. 

The witness stones in Old Lyme will correspond to those installed in other Connecticut towns.  Each will consist of a four-inch square engraved bronze plaque installed flush with the ground.

Volunteers from the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme will maintain the plaques, which will be polished twice yearly by its Sunday School and youth group members. 

The Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library will install a sign that includes a map showing sites of enslavement on Lyme Street. Katie Huffman, Director of the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library says the library is proud to be a partner in the development and implementation of the Old Lyme Witness Stones Project. 

She remarks, “While the Library will not have a marker on its grounds, we are honored to help remember the history of enslaved individuals in our community in this meaningful and lasting way.  As one of the local institutions committed to preserving Old Lyme history, we recognize the importance of telling these untold stories.” 

“It is our hope,” she says, “that telling them will bring a new awareness and understanding of Old Lyme’s history to our community.”

The Witness Stones Project was started by Dennis Culliton, a retired Guilford school teacher, who modeled it after the Stolpersteine Project in Berlin, which commemorates the lives of individuals persecuted by the Nazis before and during World War II. 

Guilford, Madison, Farmington and West Hartford are among the Connecticut towns participating in the project. The Old Lyme Witness Stones Partnership will extend the project along the Connecticut shoreline.  

Steven Jungkeit, Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, explains why the church has joined the initiative in these words, “I’m so pleased that Old Lyme is participating in the Witness Stones project. And I’m grateful to partner with so many other organizations in town as we resurrect the memory of those who were enslaved in Old Lyme across more than 150 years.”

He points out, “Too often, we assume that New England had no relationship to slavery, and that the infernal institution only existed in the South. The Witness Stones help to correct that myth, and help us to see our past with greater clarity.”

Jungkeit concludes, “Together, we’ll learn to say the names of those who labored in bondage in Old Lyme: Temperance and Jane, Oxford and Moses, Nancy and Lewis, and so many more.  By remembering forgotten voices, we can help bring about the racial justice and healing that our world, our country, our state, our town, and our very lives so desperately need.”

Editor’s Note: i) The Old Lyme Witness Stones Partnership’s goal is to expand the understanding of local history and honor the humanity and the contributions of those formerly enslaved in the community. This new partnership is part of a growing regional coalition of organizations raising awareness of New England’s forgotten history that includes the Bush-Holley House in Greenwich, Historic Deerfield in Massachusetts, the Stopping Stones Project in Vermont and the Martha’s Vineyard African-American Heritage Project.

ii) This article was prepared from a press release sent by the Old Lyme Witness Stones Partnership.

Ruth Ann Heller Music Foundation Announces Lyme-Old Lyme Schools’ Scholarship Recipients

Photo by Marius Masalar on Unsplash.

LYME/OLD LYME — The Ruth Ann Heller Music Foundation Board of Trustees has announced that it has awarded private study music scholarships for 2020-21 to students from Lyme-Old Lyme High School and Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School.

Award recipients from the High School are:  Natalie Buckley, Delaney Nelson, Whitney Barbour, William Barry, Jacob Derynioski, Alexis Fenton, Karissa Huang, Phoebe Lampos, Marielle Mather, Eli Ryan, Austin Halsey, Quinn Kegley, Avery Wyman and Riley Nelson.

Award recipients from the Middle School are:  Ceciley Buckley, Zoe Brunza, Luca Signora, Warren Volles, Oliver Wyman, CJ Zapatka, Ava Gilbert, and Andrew Liu.

As a supporting organization for Region #18 schools, the Ruth Ann Heller Music Foundation awards scholarships to be used for private music instruction to students participating in Lyme-Old Middle and High Schools band programs.  

The 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation was formed in 1999 after the retirement of Ruth Ann (King) Heller from Lyme-Old Lyme High School, with a mission to strengthen and improve the instrumental music program in our schools.  

Donations to the foundation in any amount are gratefully accepted.  The mailing address is the Ruth Ann Heller Music Foundation, PO Box 298, Old Lyme, CT 06371, or folks may donate through Paypal @http://www.rahmf.org/#donate.

Old Lyme’s 2020 Citizen of the Year is Roger Smith, a ‘Selfless Volunteer,’ and ‘Humble Leader’

The 2020 Old Lyme Citizen of the Year Roger M. Smith stands between Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold and Selectman Christopher Kerr at Monday evening’s award announcement at the Annual Town Meeting. All photos by Michele Dickey.

OLD LYME — Noting at the Annual Town Business Meeting that announcing the Old Lyme Citizen of the Year is, “Always one of the most enjoyable parts” of his job, Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold told the in-person audience of five and some 35 attendees via Webex and phone that, “This year will be the same.”

The meeting was held Monday evening in the Old Lyme Town Hall Meeting Room in a “hybrid” format to allow residents to attend virtually.

He went on to say he was “very pleased” to announce the 2020 recipient as Roger M. Smith, who was, “Selected for his dedication and commitment to numerous, local nonprofit organizations.”

Explaining that he had  received nine letters of recommendation for Smith’s nomination, Griswold went on to read from the official Citation for the award, saying, “Roger has been a visionary who inspires those around him to do their best and to see beyond their self-limiting expectations.”

Pointing out that Smith, “Volunteers with several nonprofit organizations and has been described as one of the world’s best listeners, someone who is unafraid to ask the hard questions,” Griswold described Smith as, “A humble leader who will take on any task that will further the mission of the organization, and someone who is forward-thinking –  seeing problems and opportunities before others.”

Roger Smith, Old Lyme’s 2020 Citizen of the Year.

Griswold continued using examples from three non-profits where Smith has volunteered extensively for over 30 years. In the first case, Griswold mentioned High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc., where the organization described Smith as, “an individual with vision who is always prepared to ask hard questions in a manner that provokes constructive thought and facilitates growth. His quiet, supportive leadership has been key in creating an inclusive environment for the organization.”  

Adding that, “These sentiments are echoed by the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, who believe Roger’s greatest strength as a volunteer and board member is that he is grounded in his belief in people and their capacity to work together to make the world a bigger, brighter, and a more inclusive place,” Griswold emphasized, “Roger is not someone that merely talks about taking action, he consistently and tirelessly works to make things happen.”

Specifically regarding the recent library expansion, Griswold said that Smith’s involvement, “… has been significant, and generations will reap the benefits of the updated building.”

The 2020 Citizen of the Year Roger Smith (right) shares a smile with Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold.

Finally, Griswold quoted from the recommendation sent by the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, where Roger has served in several leadership capacities. church leaders describe Smith as, “Someone who is willing to take on responsibilities that others may avoid. As a member of the church for over 30 years, Roger helps wherever it is needed, including transporting the family pony, Neil, to the Christmas Eve services to be in the annual Living Manger.” 

The citation notes, “Roger’s face beams with joy as he makes sure every child has had a chance to get to know Neil.”

Summing up all the recommendations, Griswold stated, “A true leader is someone who inspires, listens, challenges others gently yet firmly, and believes he is not above any task. Roger has proven himself to be a gift to the Old Lyme community through his selfless devotion to volunteerism and it is our great honor to recognize him as our 2020 Citizen of the Year.”

Smith was present to receive what Griswold described as, “A handsome certificate,” and receive hearty applause from the members of the public in the Town Hall Meeting Room. Griswold said, “We thank you for all of these years [of volunteering] and explained that a gathering earlier in the afternoon* at Smith’s house has taken place to honor Smith and the announcement of his award.

Accepting the award, the ever-humble Smith said, “This is a very nice honor.”

Editor’s Note: *Visit this link to view a video of Roger Smith receiving the surprise news of his award at his home on Monday afternoon.

Lyme-Old Lyme Boy Scouts Hold Christmas Tree Pickup Fundraiser, Trees Will Feed Hungry Goats

LYME-OLD LYME — This year local Lyme-Old Lyme Boy Scout Troop 26 is hosting an additional fundraiser.

For only $10, you can have your Christmas tree picked up, taken away, and fed to some very hungry goats this winter.

To ensure you do not miss out, text or call 8603338769 with your name and address and place the tree outside. The Scouts will then set up a time and pick up your tree with the payment

Reader’s support of your local Boy Scouts is appreciated. 

The funds raised help the boys go on camping trips, and buy much needed gear for the troop

 

SECWAC Hosts NYT, New Yorker Journalists Speaking on Their New Book About James A. Baker III, Jan. 27

LYME/OLD LYME — Join SECWAC virtually on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. for a presentation by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, New York Times and The New Yorker journalists, to speak on their book, ‘The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III.’ Register in advance. More information at http://secwac.org.

Old Lyme Says Poignant Farewell to the ‘Ever Thoughtful’ Mervin F. Roberts (Neel Roberts)

The firetruck bearing the coffin of Mervin F. Roberts begins its journey to the Duck River Cemetery. Photo by Gregg Jacobson.

OLD LYME — Mervin F. Roberts, 98, of Old Lyme, who passed away in the early hours of Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020 was laid to rest in a poignant graveside ceremony held Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021 at Duck River Cemetery in Old Lyme.

The Old Lyme Fire Department (OLFD), of which Mr. Roberts had been Chaplain for 50 years, played an integral role in the ceremony, transporting Mr. Roberts’s coffin down Lyme Street with an honor guard in front and a procession of firetrucks behind.

The procession of firetrucks passes the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. Photo by Gregg Jacobson.

This was the eulogy read by Mervin Roberts’s daughter, Martha Delana McNair, at the graveside service for Mr. Roberts. It was written Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020 in Chiang Rai, Thailand, by Mr. Roberts’s son Neel Roberts, who has been with the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) since 1987. Neel Roberts was unable to attend the ceremony in person due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Donations in Mr. Roberts’s honor can be made to OMF at this link. Neel’s wife, Chalor, works with the tribal Shan community in Mae Sai, Northern Thailand, where they cross over from Myanmar, often destitute after losing their farm and water buffalo to the Burmese military. Chalor uses donations to provide scholarships the children need to enroll in public school. She helps them register for school and buy books and uniforms, while taking nothing for herself since she is supported along with Neel by the OMF.

The firetruck bearing the coffin travels down Lyme Street. Photo by Gerry Graves.

I will not try to summarize an active life of 98 years in 10 minutes. Mervin Francis Roberts, whom I will call Dad for convenience sake, wrote several memoirs for family and friends. If you have come to the funeral, you probably already have a copy or can borrow a copy from someone who has one or two.

The earliest known quote attributable to my dad was, “I’m not Mervin, I’m obnoxious.” When he got older he claimed, “I am all charm.” Strictly speaking both statements demanded some poetic license.

He, like most people was multifaceted. He memorized the periodic table when it only had about 100 elements. In his 90s he could look at a stone or piece of porcelain or a fuel additive or solvent for glue and describe its qualities based on the molecular structure of its parts. This was a man who could count fish and differentiate what species they were as they poured out of the water-cooling discharge pipes at the Connecticut Yankee power plant. As an engineer / naturalist / scientist he was a stickler for details. When it came to personal history, he was a bit of an un-licensed poet.

He was an only child, but he grew up surrounded by cousins whose families were a major part of his life until the very end. He lived on the outskirts of New York City and later spent a fair bit of time under the city when he was chief ceramic inspector for the Port of New York Authority while the Holland Tunnel was being dug.

Alfred University was the university of choice for him. His father’s choice. Evidently, his father made the right choice for him. He learned much about ceramics and the care of horses, and while there he found his future wife, Edith May Foster. It seems that she was not as certain as he was about whether he was Mr. Right but he staked his claim by buying an army surplus jeep for $50 and parking it in front of her parents’ house and thus persuaded the other suitor that she was already claimed.

Together they established a home where love and respect reigned for 60 happy years of marriage. In her old age he would often buy her chocolates. My dad did not spare the rod, but I only saw him fly off the handle once. I once made the mistake of using the words mom and dumb in the same sentence. Very big mistake. Lesson learned.

A smiling Mervin F. Roberts of Old Lyme is pictured here Oct. 31, 2020 at his home in Old Lyme.

Dad was the most unsentimental person I have ever known. Therefore, I hesitate to use the word love in sentences like, “He loved the ocean.” He very much enjoyed the ocean and was especially attracted to those places where the ocean met the land. He was very interested in all the life forms that were to be found along the shore and especially in the marshes. So it was natural that when career choices allowed him to choose a place to call home, Old Lyme became the place. He spent nearly 60 years here. Old Lyme was the perfect setting for him.

It was not only that it was surrounded by water. It was also full of people who had time for people. I almost started to write about his friends and neighbors but realized that would be redundant. He made neighbors into friends. On some occasions he helped them to deal with snapping turtles that were laying eggs in their back yards. On other occasions he blessed them with his home-made snapping turtle stew. The friendships were mutual. When the family that had received the stew moved away 2 years later, they returned the stew to him in its original container.

He placed a high value on volunteerism. At the start of World War II, he volunteered for the Navy and as a reward picked up some friends for life. Years later he became a volunteer fireman and again gained lifelong friends.

For over 50 years he was the chaplain in the Old Lyme Fire Department. For the first 20 or more of those years, he was often one of the first responders, driving one of the trucks and blowing the horn if he passed our house for the benefit of his son, our brother, Billy. If you want to know how to volunteer, you should go up and ask a fireman today. Dad would certainly appreciate that.

Dad was not a politician, nor did he have much interest in politics. He had a great interest in the well-being of the town and therefore gave much time to both appointed and elected roles.

Old Lyme Fire Department (OLFD) Chaplain Mervin Roberts pictured in his OLFD uniform at home in May 2020.

One of his big causes was sewer avoidance.

When he was 91, he was sounding a bit discouraged in his crusade to have each householder take responsibility for his own ground water. I told him that at his age he could pass the baton on to someone else. Seven years later, a few months before his death he was still fighting the good fight for sewer avoidance and Connecticut River oysters that would be safe to eat. So he didn’t take my advice but I am proud of him for the fact.

I should note here that he stuck with the various boards and committees in large part because he had friends who were equally concerned in the community. It was part of his core philosophy which I think he picked up from reading about Ancient Athens: that the well-being of a community is the responsibility of its citizens.

It is to be hoped that at this memorial service this sense of responsibility will not become a mere passing note but might be imparted in fuller measure to all who wish to honor his memory.

He wrote many books about pets and never grew attached to any particular snake, turtle, ferret, lovebird, gerbil or guppy. His key to success in writing and making the photographs for these books was that he showed respect for the experts. Those who knew more than he did would be given due credit in his books and therefore they not only freely shared their own hard-earned knowledge, but also made lasting relation with him as well.

As an author, whether of “The Tidemarsh Guide to Fishes” or of a letter to the editor of a local newspaper regarding some inane behavior of a bureaucrat in a corner office, he never shot from the hip. He thought, wrote a draft, corrected the draft and then always handed it to someone else to check the grammar, content and tone of voice. The final products showed his confidence in his statements precisely because he valued the input of others. On the other hand in a normal conversation where differences of opinion appeared, he might close with “bunkum”, or “you’re all wet” but he never said that until he had given the other party time to express their opinions.

Old Lyme Fire Department Chaplain Mervin Roberts reads what turned out to be his final Homily at the 2020 Memorial Day Service held in Duck River Cemetery.

While Dad was not sentimental, he did love people very intentionally. I never saw him shed a tear. He may have, but I never saw one. Love was a conscious decision and required much thought. And he was ever thoughtful.

In his later years he was involved in charitable activities in India and South America. Here he combined his scientific knowledge with his people skills. His background was aquaculture – the art of raising fish for food. But in some cases, he realized that the expressed need was not the real need. He would take time, days in reading the technical literature, days in contacting experts in other places, days in travel. He knew that a problem like hunger or poverty could not be solved by simply throwing money at it.

One of the last projects he was involved with began as a fish project but in the end, it was changed into a goat project because he as the fish expert, after careful study, came to realize that goats and not fish would help the people of that particular community in Southern India. Even here he did not simply recommend goats. He invested much time in learning how families in that community functioned, what laws existed about grazing animals, and how to address communal issues that delayed the original success of the project.

It was not enough that something had been done for the poor. He stuck with the people who were promoting the project until it became clear that the real people in need were the ones benefiting from it.

Dad had a sense of humor. Growing up in New England I never experienced an earthquake until one day in my teens the windows began to rattle. I rushed downstairs only to discover that my dad was watching a Peter Sellers Pink Panther movie on TV and was laughing so hard that the house shook. He didn’t tell jokes about in-laws but it was not infrequent that he would hear a good joke at the barber shop and come home to make a long-distance call to one of his brothers-in-law so that they could hear it too.

Dad was definitely an evolutionist. His ways of expressing his theology or views about God evolved too. We strongly suspect they have evolved considerably more over the past few days than in all his previous 98 years.

There were however a few core principles in his theology that went back to his college days when he joined the church in Alfred. One was that through prayer the peace of God would guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. I was on several occasions amazed when tragedies struck that he appeared unshaken. He was not unfeeling. He did feel pain but it did not cause him to forget that others needed his strength and clear headedness in the crisis. His heart was guarded. His actions proved that his mind was on how he might help others, be they family, neighbors or even strangers in their times of need.

The second principle which was merely another aspect of the first was expressed at our dinner table several thousand times in prayer. He would often end a mealtime prayer with this phrase, ‘help us to be mindful of the needs of others, around this table, around Old Lyme and around the world.’

It was a prayer that he saw answered in his own life on countless occasions and I believe we are all the beneficiaries of that prayer.

The Old Lyme Fire Department formed an honor guard at the head of the funeral cortege. Photo by A firetruck proudly flying the Stars and Stripes in Mr. Roberts’s honor stands at the entrance to Duck River Cemetery. Photo by Gregg Jacobson.

This is Mr. Roberts’s official obituary:

With his wife, the former Edith May Foster, Mervin Francis Roberts first came to Old Lyme in 1960. He and Edith May became active in church, government, fire department and town life.

Merv was born in New York City in 1922. He was a Naval Officer during WWII. He served in the Navy for four years, and then in the Reserve. He was awarded 4 campaign medals, two with Combat Stars. After his service, he returned to complete a degree in Ceramic Engineering at Alfred University.  He served as a Merchant Marine Officer, Scout Master and Commissioner, Town Shellfish Commissioner, Water Pollution Control Commissioner, Sunday School teacher, Counselor to the Governor of Connecticut for Marine Resources, Selectman of the Town of Old Lyme, Chaplain of the Fire Department and Justice of the Peace. He also was a Consultant of Aquaculture, worldwide, and a Counselor to two bishops in South India, concerning animal husbandry for women to alleviate poverty. For years he was the Tender of the Gate at the Old Lyme Cemetery. He was awarded Town of Old Lyme Citizen of the Year, and American Man of Science, American Legion’s Legionnaire of the Year, 2015-6. He was a teacher and lecturer, gunsmith, inventor, pioneer photographer of high-speed animal movement, waterman, duck hunter, and last but not least, he got his haircut at Seckla’s Old Lyme Barbershop.

Merv wrote 50 books and pamphlets on pets, natural history, and animal husbandry. 

He and Edith raised 6 children: Edith Ann Main, Robin Frances Roberts, Martha Delana McNair, Nancy Jean Briggs, Neel Foster Roberts, and William John Roberts. He is survived by a multitude of beloved nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

In his words, “Don’t mourn my death but rather celebrate my life for surely I’m glad to have been around.” 1997.

The firetruck bearing the coffin enters Duck River Cemetery. Photo by Gregg Jacobson.

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold gave the following tribute to Mr. Roberts exclusively to LymeLine.com:

With the passing of Merv Roberts, Old Lyme has lost one of its most remarkable citizens. He was a Town Citizen of the Year, a Town Selectman, Chaplain of the Old Lyme Fire Department and active in so many other ways.

As his body became more frail, I think his mind became sharper. Just last September, Merv, as a Shellfish Commissioner, wrote a letter to the National Railroad Corp. asking whether any toxic ingredients would be used in the concrete, paint or steel used to build the new railroad bridge over the Connecticut River.  Not bad for a 98-year-old.”

We shall miss his interesting speeches at the Memorial Day Parade observances. I feel privileged to have known Merv and thank him for all he did for Old Lyme.

Mervin Roberts (first from right) attended the funerals of the children murdered Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn.

Michele Dickey of Old Lyme, who was in the same grade as Mr. Roberts’s daughter Martha through their time together at Old Lyme Schools until they graduated together in the Lyme-Old Lyme High School Class of 1970, sent us these personal recollections of the graveside ceremony for Mr. Roberts:

I attended with my husband, Mike; we were joined first by our daughter, then my cousin-in-law, Dorie Smith, who is a friend of Edie’s, and her daughter, Meghan. We were joined for a while by friend Diane Losea Roeder, another classmate of Martha’s and mine, who came down from Northampton, Mass.

Mike noticed the wide range of people in attendance: lots of young people and lots of oldsters as well, many using  canes and walkers or requiring some assistance, even elderly fire fighters on the arms of friends. 

A firetruck proudly flying the Stars and Stripes in Mr. Roberts’s honor stands at the entrance to Duck River Cemetery. Photo by Gregg Jacobson.

 It was significant that a ladder truck with a huge American flag suspended from its raised ladder was outside the gate of Duck River Cemetery, where Merv acted as “gatekeeper” for many years and has since passed the torch to son-in-law, Ken Main. (Should you ever get locked in after dark, as we did just last week, don’t worry—the gate is held closed by a bungee cord, not a chain and padlock.)

Shortly after we gathered at the grave site, a color guard entered, followed by family members in front of the fire truck bearing Merv’s coffin. The rest of the Old Lyme Fire Department (OLFD) marched behind.

After the coffin had been taken off the truck and situated, contrary to the details in the program, military honors took place immediately by a Navy color guard: rifle shots, taps, the removal and folding of the flag draping the coffin and presenting it to the family.

Following this was a sweet young girl’s rendition of “The Sailor’s Hymn”; the program attributed this simply to Elle, of Duck River Lane.

Martha McNair read a long eulogy for her father written by brother Neel Roberts, a missionary in Thailand whom the pandemic prevented from attending. This eulogy was so complete! Informative, poignant, funny at times. Unless you were an immediate family member, you probably learned something about Merv when you heard this.

And when the fire whistle rang in the middle, Martha stopped reading to ask, with a little laugh,  “Does anyone have to leave?” No one did, which was surprising because the town’s whole force seemed to be there paying their respects.

We heard later that a truck each from Lyme and East Lyme took part as well.

Robin Ritze, Merv’s granddaughter and daughter of Edie Main, sang “Amazing Grace” and was joined by many present, whether we were supposed to sing along or not.

Skip Beebe of the OLFD next offered, “Reflections on a Life Well Lived.”

All present were asked to join next in the reciting of Psalm 23.

This moving, hour-long service concluded , as would the service of any firefighter, with the ringing of the bells. Skip explained that firefighters are called to a fire by the ringing of a bell, and when all is over, the bell is rung again to signify that the emergency is over.

Therefore, at the conclusion of Merv Roberts’ funeral, the OLFD bell was rung three times to indicate that a job well done [Mr. Roberts’s life] is now completed.

At the cemetery. Photo by Gerry Graves.

Olwen Logan, publisher of LymeLine.com, commented:

I feel so privileged to have known Mr. Roberts. Both “a scholar and a gentleman,” he was an extraordinary man and such a mine of information. He wrote several op-ed’s for LymeLine and was never hesitant to give his opinions on a wide range of topics. Mr. Roberts led a truly amazing life and wrote many books. He gave me an autographed copy of ‘The Tidemarsh Guide to Fishes’ and it is one of my most treasured possessions to this day.

Michele Dickey wrote a wonderful article about Mr. Roberts in May of last year in which he reflected on his 50 years service as Chaplain of the Old Lyme Fire Department. We also published an article including a video of Mr. Roberts reading his final Memorial Day Homily aloud.

Finally, through a recent fortuitous series of events, LymeLine.com helped connect a boat named the ‘Mervin F. Roberts’ with the Wood Island Life Saving Station Association (WILSSA) in Kittery Point, Maine. The President of the WILSSA, Sam Reid, came to Old Lyme to meet in person with Mr. Roberts. The boat has now been transported to Maine to be restored in the WILSSA Maritime Museum and we know Mr. Roberts was very happy with that outcome.

A fundraising campaign is underway locally to assist with the expense of moving the boat. Read our article covering the whole story of the boat, why it is so named, and why it is such an important find for the WILSSA at this link.

The flag flies at half-mast in Duck River Cemetery in honor of Mervin F. Roberts, a scholar and a gentleman. RIP, Mr. Roberts.

 

Christ The King Church Resumes In-Person Masses

OLD LYME — Christ The King Church is once again open for in-person attendance at Mass with the usual Covid safety restrictions in place, including face masks, sanitizer, and physical distancing. Masses will be on the usual weekend schedule with services this morning at 8 and 10:30 a,m.

Visit the church website to read the guidelines for attending mass in the church.

All masses will continue to be live-streamed.

If you are ill, have been exposed or possibly exposed to the virus, or if you are just not comfortable coming to church, you are requested to join the service from the safety of your home. Links to join the services on Zoom are available on the church website.

Winners of Inaugural Old Lyme Holiday Home Decorating Contest Announced

OLD LYME — The Town of Old Lyme Kindness Committee held their first Holiday Home Decorating Contest during the month of December. The idea was brought to the committee by a resident as a way to spread joy in a socially-distanced way during a difficult holiday season.

“We were excited to have 21 homes sign up to participate,” said Michelle Noehren, chair of the committee. “We heard very positive feedback that residents enjoyed driving around town to see the displays, and then voting for their favorites.”

The winners of the contest were announced to day and are:

1st: Stephanie and Nicolas Evankow (26 Whippoorwill Road)

2nd: Gloria Dimon & Scott Courtemanche (4 Berberis Drive)

3rd: Mary Ellen Jewett (9 Grassy Hill Road) 

 “As a first responder Respiratory Therapist, I wanted to spread joy and create that inner child feeling of Christmas magic and hope, not only for myself, but for the community,” said Stephanie Evankow, first place winner.

“Words cannot express how thrilled we are to have won the first Holiday Home Decorating Contest in Old Lyme. A big thank you to those who visited our home and voted for us. I would like to thank my partner, Nicholas, who is a talented electrician and is the person responsible for making this year’s display possible and to continue to shine on without a glitch.”

Each winner will receive a certificate and a gift card from either The Hangry Goose, The Chocolate Shell, or The Bowerbird.

Dan and Gail Stevens Receive Old Lyme’s December 2020 Kindness Award

Dan and Gail Stevens have been named as the recipients of December’s Old Lyme Kindness Award. Dan is pictured above with the award.

OLD LYME — The Town of Old Lyme Kindness Committee has awarded this month’s Kindness Award to Dan and Gail Stevens, owners of Nightingale’s Acoustic Café on Lyme Street in Old Lyme.

Dan and Gail were nominated by a resident in recognition of everything they do to provide opportunities for young  people to express themselves through music. Their café, which is similar to an Open Mic coffee shop, empowers young people to develop the self-confidence they need to perform. 

Both Dan and Gail are constantly nurturing, encouraging, complimenting, and congratulating everyone who enjoys making music. They are consistently spreading kindness by providing a safe place for musically-inclined residents to be seen, heard, and supported.

“Gail and I are passionate about bringing live music to our local community and building a strong, local music scene that contributes to the spirit of this special place,” said Stevens. “Nothing gives us more pleasure than to provide opportunities for our talented young people to grow and experience the joy that music brings.”

If you would like to nominate someone for a Kindness Award, complete the form at this link.

Christmas Services in Lyme, Old Lyme Churches Today

Christmas Eve candles

LYME/OLD LYME — The churches in Old Lyme are holding the following services during the Christmas season:

CHRIST THE KING
This weekend’s Masses (Dec 26–27)  will be ZOOM-only, with no in-person attendance allowed. Read Fr. Joe’s Christmas Eve message for more information.

Click here for links to join on Zoom.
Mass times are as usual:
Sunday 8 & 10:30 a.m.

FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF LYME

Sunday, Dec. 27

Join the church online for their weekly services at 10 a.m. by logging into the Zoom link on the church website.

FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF OLD LYME

Sunday, Dec. 27

At 11 a.m., the church will livestream their weekly worship service from the Meetinghouse on YouTube. The YouTube link for the livestreamed service has not been established yet; when it is, LymeLine.com will post the link or it will be available on the homepage of the church website.

For those who are unable to watch the livestream, a recording will be posted to the church website, Facebook page and YouTube page – along with a written version of the sermon and the Order of Worship for the service.

A recording of the Christmas Eve Worship Service is posted to the church website, Facebook page and YouTube page – along with a written version of the sermon and the Order of Worship for the service.

The YouTube link for this livestream is https://youtu.be/rNGfs4IIvmA.

SAINT ANN’S PARISH

Saint Ann’s Parish invites you to join in the continuing celebration of Christmas with a schedule of events on Zoom.  

Sunday, Dec. 27:
Christmas Lessons and Carols
9:30 a.m. (Zoom link from ECCT)

ECCT will be offering a virtual worship service, A Festival of Christmas Lessons and Carols. The service, featuring lectors, lay participants, clergy, and musicians from across ECCT has been pre-recorded at Christ Church in Hartford, and will premiere on ECCT’s YouTube Channel at 10 a.m. See how many faces from Saint Ann’s you recognize in the choir and the lectors.
Note: This service is offered in lieu of a Sunday recording from Saint Ann’s.  

Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021:
Lessons and Carols
9:30 a.m.
Zoom link. Meeting ID 882 7651 9047 Passcode 340562
Note: This service is offered in lieu of a Sunday recording from Saint Ann’s. 

There will be a return to Sunday morning recorded services on Jan. 10, 2021.

 

Beware! Avoid COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

LYME/OLD LYME — Ledge Light Health District have requested that we make readers aware of a new spate of scams related to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

As vaccine distribution begins, here are signs of potential scams:

  • You are asked to pay out-of-pocket to get the vaccine
  • You are asked to pay to put your name on a vaccine waiting list or to get early access.
  • Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, emails, phone calls, online or from unknown/unsolicited sources.
  • Marketers offering to sell or ship doses of the vaccine for payment.

Protect yourself. Do not give out personal information to unknown sources.

If you believe you have a victim of COVID-19 fraud, immediately report it to:

  • HHS-OIG Hotline: 1.800-HHS-Tips: tips.hhs.gov
  • FBI Hotline: 1-800-CALLFBI: ic3.gov
  • CMS/Medicare Hotline: 1-800-Medicare

Other tips include:

  • Avoid online offers for coronavirus-related vaccines or cures.
  • Be wary of emails, calls and social media posts advertising “free” or government-ordered COVID-19 tests. Check the FDA website for a list of approved tests and testing companies.
  • Don’t click on links or download files from unexpected emails, even if the email address looks like a company or person you recognize. Ditto for text messages and unfamiliar websites.
  • Don’t share personal information such as Social Security, Medicare and credit card numbers in response to an unsolicited call, text or email.
  • Be skeptical of fundraising calls or emails for COVID-19 victims or virus research, especially if they pressure you to act fast and request payment by prepaid debit cards or gift cards.
  • Ignore phone calls or emails from strangers urging you to invest in a hot new coronavirus stock.

 

Everybody Loves a (Santa) Parade!

Santa waves to well-wishers on Flat Rock Hill Rd. in Old Lyme.  Photo by Michele Dickey.

OLD LYME — UPDATE: Video now added! Santa traveled through the streets of Old Lyme yesterday atop an Old Lyme firetruck, bringing smiles to all of the folk, who turned out to clap and cheer him.

Visit this link to view a great video by Amanda Jewett of one section of the parade. Thanks for sharing your video, Amanda!

Here he comes … Eddie, Grantley and Audrey Bauer are so excited! Photo by Mark Bauer.

Old Lyme Police and First Responders traveled ahead and behind the firetruck with sirens sounding making a joyful parade for all to enjoy.

Santa had a generous supply of candy canes to give out to eager parade-goers.

And a seasonal touch was added in the form of a light snowfall … but not a reindeer in sight!

Cecilia Girasoli and mom Lauren watch Santa drive by on Flat Rock Hill Rd. Photo by Michele Dickey.

There was universal appreciation of the OLFD and all the Old Lyme Emergency Responders, who put on the great parade — and Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau, which helped coordinate the event and handle donations received.

These youngsters were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa at Marion Rd. Photo by Mark Bauer.

Voting Now Open in Old Lyme’s Holiday Decorating Contest

Voting is now open for the inaugural Holiday Decorating Contest launched by Old Lyme’s Kindness Committee.

OLD LYME — Voting in the the holiday decorating contest hosted by Old Lyme’s Kindness Committee is now open.

A list of all participating homes has now been published on the Town of Old Lyme website at this link.

After you have viewed the decorations at all the participating homes, select your top three and use this online form to vote. Voting will be open through Dec. 30.

The top three winners in terms of votes received will be announced shortly after voting ends on both the town website and LymeLine.com.

The Hangry GooseThe Chocolate Shell, and The Bowerbird have each generously donated a $20 gift certificate as contest prizes. The first place winner will choose the gift certificate of their preference, the second place winner will follow suit, and then the third place winner will receive the remaining gift certificate.

Join the Trex Challenge! Recycle Plastic Film in Lyme, Old Lyme; Win Benches & More for LOL Schools

LYME/OLD LYME — Led by the sustainability committee of the Region 18 Board of Education, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools are participating in the Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge and invites the community to participate.

The Trex Challenge pits schools against one another in a friendly competition to collect the most plastic for a chance to win Trex benches or other products for schools. Trex Company is a manufacturer of wood-alternative decking and railing made in-part from recycled plastic film.

There is now an easy way to recycle all these plastic bags right here in Lyme and Old Lyme.

The Trex Challenge began in November and runs through April 15, 2021. To date, over 300 pounds of plastic film has been collected.

Community members without students in a school can find collection bins at Lyme Town Hall (just inside the entrance)  and Memorial Town Hall in Old Lyme (immediately inside the door to the Meeting Room, to the left of the main entrance), as well as near the main entrances of each school.

Plastic films must be clean, dry, empty, and free of food residue. Remove air from pillow-pack bubble wrap. Plastic-like film that is labeled as “compostable” cannot be accepted in the Trex Challenge, because the material may not contain any plastic.

For further information, contact volunteer coordinator Karen Taylor at Taylor.karencharlotte@gmail.com.

Lyme Library Hosts Zoom Presentation on ‘Multicultural Book Readings & Discussion This Afternoon; All Welcome

LYME — Tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 12, at 2 p.m., Lyme Public Library will host a Zoom presentation by May Reitz and Carol Wheeler-Flood titled, Multicultural Book Readings & Discussion, with an ‘Author Focus’ on Jacqueline Woodson.

Themes of cultural barriers, differences and finding  the courage to connect will be explored. Jacqueline Woodson’s books, The Other Side and The Day You Begin will be highlighted.

Book reading and discussion for children, families and teachers will be led by two  exemplary New London teachers, May Reitz and Carol Wheeler-Flood.

The books  that will be shared are by Jacqueline Woodson who is the recipient of a 2020  MacArthur Fellowship, the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 2018 Astrid  Lindgren Memorial Award, and the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award.  She was the 2018–2019 National Ambassador for Young people’s Literature.  

All are welcome to join the library for these engaging stories and timely discussions. Strategies for  classroom teachers will also be discussed

This program is free and open to all. You will need to register via email at programreg@lymepl.org to receive your invitation to the ZOOM Program.

For more information call the library at 860-434-2272.

There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you
There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.
Clover’s mom says it isn’t safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship, and get around the grown ups’ rules by sitting on top of the fence together.

Saint Ann’s Parish Awarded Level 2 Recognition by Green House of Worship 

Saint Ann’s Church of Old Lyme.

OLD LYME — On Nov. 24, the Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church Environment Committee announced that Saint Ann’s Parish in Old Lyme had been awarded “Level Two” recognition for their achievements in implementing eco-friendly processes. The award was made by the Green House of Worship program of the Connecticut Interreligious Eco-Justice Network (IREJN). 

Letitia Naigels, a board member of IREJN, wrote congratulating the Environment Committee, saying, “You folks at St. Ann’s  have successfully made it to level TWO of our Green Houses of Worship program!”

She added, “Under ‘normal’ conditions, I would come to St. Ann’s to make the award, complete with personalized framed certificate . . . but under COVID-19 times, I am holding off on the personal visits.” 

Mother Anita of Saint Ann’s commented, “Since I arrived as Provisional Priest in Charge at Saint Ann’s, I have been delighted and energized by the parish’s commitment to creation care through action, education and worship.  Our Community Garden annually gives hundreds of pounds of food to address food insecurity in neighborhoods.“ 

Environment Committee members Dave Carter, Jim Norden and Steve MacAusland, as well  as parish Sexton Dan Ivy, assisted in the preparation of the application to IREJN.  

Green Houses of Worship is a three-tiered, environmental stewardship program sponsored by the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network that grants certificates of achievement for implementing eco-friendly measures in church buildings and within congregations. The Green  Houses of Worship has three levels, each signifying a deeper level of commitment and effort. 

Editor’s Note: Saint Ann’s is an Episcopal parish in Old Lyme, CT that invites and welcomes all visitors. Our mission is to enrich the  community and introduce visitors to the parish. Saint Ann’s is located at 82 Shore Road (Rte. 156), two miles from I-95, Exit  70. Parking is adjacent to the church.

For information about the parish, contact Kathy Rowe at 860-434-1621, via email at office@saintannsoldlyme.org, or visit Saint Ann’s online at www.saintannsoldlyme.org.

Old Lyme Historical Society’s 2021 ‘Then & Now’ Calendar on Sale at Local Venues

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Historical Society’s 2021 Then & Now Calendars are now on sale at

  • The Bowerbird
  • The Chocolate Shell
  • Florence Griswold Museum

The calendar is also for sale on the Society’s Website Shop at OLHSI.org.

The calendars, which make a great holiday gift, are $12 each.

Lyme Church Urges Community to ‘Light a Candle for Hope’

LYME — Light a candle for hope!

As the days get shorter, and life during a pandemic gets more and more wearisome, many of us are looking for signs of hope anywhere that we might find them. Lyme Church would invites all residents of Lyme to join what is hoped will be a community-wide celebration of hope by lighting a candle for hope throughout the month of December.

You might light a candle inside your home, but church leaders would also like you to consider lighting a candle outside, so that others driving or walking past might take comfort in your hope, as well.

Don’t have a luminary? Check out the simple directions to make one with common household items at this link: https://youtu.be/TmAON87-KaQ. These tin-can luminaries can be lit with battery powered candles or even fairy lights to make them more fire-safe.

Lyme Church leaders hope you will join in sharing the light of hope all over the community, and hope that, in turn, you will feel growing hope in your own hearts in the weeks to come.

Lyme Ambulance Members Help Brownies Earn First Aid Badge

Brownie Girl Scout Troop 67074 members listen attentively to Lyme Ambulance Deputy Chief  Ariana Eaton and EMR/Driver Erik Eisensmith during a presentation related to the girls’ efforts to obtain their First Aid badges. Photo submitted.

LYME — Members of Lyme Ambulance Association met with Brownie Girl Scout Troop 67974 from Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) to teach the girls about first aid, 911 calls and how to act in case of emergencies.

Erik Eisensmith, EMR/Driver, and Ariana Eaton, Deputy Chief, had an ambulance on hand to show the tools and equipment ambulances carry to help the LOL community and what the different colors of lights mean in emergency vehicles.
This training session, during which all COVID protocols were followed, helped the Brownie Girl Scouts earn their First Aid badges.