June 24, 2022

Old Lyme’s Parade Fills Air with Pride and Patriotism, Music and Merriment

Mary Dangremond lit up the parade with her wonderful smile as she cheerfully portrayed Phoebe Griffin-Noyes. Dangremond was representing the Old Lyme Library, which bears the name of her character. Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

OLD LYME — UPDATED 6/2: The sun shone brightly as the traditional Old Lyme parade proceeded down Lyme Street and McCurdy Rd. to the Duck River Cemetery. Mirth and merriment along with pride and patriotism filled the air as the colorful parade made its way down to the route to resounding cheers from all the onlookers.

Old Lyme’s firemen marched proudly. Photo by Troy Christopher.

 

The marchers spanned the ages. These youngsters are all members of local baseball teams. Photo by Ellen Cole.

 

A  C-130 flyover by the Air National Guard preceded the parade. Photo by Troy Christopher.

 

The band played … Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

 

Dancers from the Lymes’ Senior Center gave an extremely enthusiastic and popular performance as they traveled down Lyme Street and McCurdy Rd. Photo by Michele Dickey.

 

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen (BOS) marched in the parade accompanied at second from left by State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd.) The BOS are, from left to right, Matt Ward (R), First Selectman Tim Griswold (R) and Martha Shoemaker (D). Photo by Troy Christopher.

 

The Deep River Fife & Drum Corps played a lively tune as they marched. Photo by Michele Dickey.

 

The banner on the side of this firetruck says it all! Photo by Troy Christopher.

 

The Lyme-Old Lyme Lions proudly stated their mission as they marched down Lyme Street. Photo by Bridget Compagno.

 

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1467 organized and marched in the parade. Photo by Troy Christopher.

 

A wreath was laid at the memorial in the Duck River Cemetery to honor all our fallen heroes. Photo by Cheryl Poirier.

Editor’s Note: Due to family commitments, we have not yet had time to review and edit all the photos we have received. We thank sincerely the numerous readers, who were kind enough to share their photos of the parade and cemetery ceremony with us. We will add many more photos and copy to this article shortly.

Death of Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Barbara Gonci Announced, 105; Mother of Don Gonci of Old Lyme

Elizabeth “Betty” Barbara Gonci

WINDHAM, CT — UPDATED 5/31 WITH FULL OBITUARY: Elizabeth “Betty” Barbara Gonci of Windham and formerly of Coventry and Hebron, Ct., passed away on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 at St. Joseph`s Living Center in Windham at the age of 105. She was born on May 11, 1917, in Bridgeport, Ct., daughter of the late Michael and Julia (Varga) Pollansky. She was the oldest of nine children and grew up on the family farm in rural Coventry.

In 1936, Betty married Alex Gonci sharing over 65 years of marriage together until his passing in 2002.

In 2012, Coventry celebrated its 300-year anniversary and Betty, at age 94, was highlighted as part of the parade and other festivities. As part of that celebration, she was asked to describe some of her childhood memories which were later published. Those memories included the start of her education in the one room little red Brick Schoolhouse on Merrow Road in Coventry. It still stands.

Betty learned to speak and write English on the front stone steps of that schoolhouse while classmates had recess. Eight grades were taught at the school. Later, as an upper classman, she shared teaching responsibilities or tasks. One frequent task, she enjoyed describing, was to organize the preparation of a communal lunch soup, cooked on a multi-purpose wood stove. Classmates would pool whatever ingredients they had to create a hearty winter lunch.

She also helped her younger siblings learn English at home. Hungarian was the spoken language at the homestead. Her parents, her husband, and her parent’s in-law were all born in Hungary. Consequently, her children were raised with a quite strong ethnic heritage, expressed in delicious cooking, festive music and large, boisterous family gatherings. As a matter of fact, her married name was originally spelled Gonczy before being `Americanized` at Ellis Island.

Betty took close interest in each of the dozens of nephews and nieces that resulted from the merging of two very large families as well as the grand- and great-grandchildren.

Betty enjoyed sharing her life experiences and challenges, from the very long walks to school (miles) in rural Coventry to taking a horse and buggy to meet a bus en route to Windham High School.

Until the final days of her life, she continued to absorb the news of the day and placed it in context of her whole life experience. During that lifetime, she lived through two pandemics, two world wars, and the Great Depression. In addition, she narrowly escaped, with her young family, from the 1944 Hartford circus fire.

She is survived by her children Robert and his wife, Mary-Ellen of Hebron; Donald and his wife Doina Lavoie-Gonci of Old Lyme; sister Helen Chaponis of South Windsor; grandchildren Robin, Russell, Rob, Brian, and Jeffrey (Gonci) and Mike Lavoie: great-grandchildren, Dallas, Teo, Jackson, Alysa, Declan and Dawson, and numerous extended family.

In addition to her husband, she was predeceased by her siblings, John, Frank, Ernest, Andrew, Charles, and Emil Pollansky and Emma Saunders.

Betty had a private interment at the New Hebron Cemetery. Care of private services was entrusted to the Aurora-McCarthy Funeral Home of Colchester.

For online condolences, please visit www.auroramccarthyfuneralhome.com.

In lieu of flowers, family and friends may consider a donation to the Coventry Historical Society at P.O. Box 534, Coventry, CT 06238 (please be sure to specify the Brick School in memory of Elizabeth Gonci or the Hebron Fire Dept., at 44 Main Street. Such donations, in her memory, would be appreciated.

“Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the rest of my lifetime. And I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it onto future generations.”

Laurie Pavlos to Retire as Lyme Art Association Director, Elsbeth Dowd Named as Successor

The current Director of the Lyme Art Association Laurie Pavlos (left) sits with the newly-appointed Director Elsbeth Dowd, who will take over from Pavlos after her June 30 retirement.

OLD LYME:  The Lyme Art Association is the oldest of what has evolved into a vibrant collection of art and culture institutions in the heart of Old Lyme. It is flourishing in a way that is perhaps only rivaled by its early years when the renowned Lyme Art Colony artists formed the Association back in 1914.

It is from this firm base that the Association is undergoing a change in leadership.

After 12 extremely successful years at the LAA, Laurie Pavlos is planning to retire June 30 from her position as Executive Director. She joined the staff in 2010 as business manager and later became part of the Executive Team, which led the Association from 2014. That team also comprised Gallery Manager Jocelyn Zallinger and Development Director Gary Parrington.

Pavlos was appointed Executive Director in 2018 and from that time through the present has been a consistent and enthusiastic supporter of LAA’s mission and values. She has guided the organization through significant growth, construction, and the both unexpected and challenging disruption of the pandemic.

As of July 1, Elsbeth Dowd will succeed Pavlos as Executive Director.

For the past two years, Dowd has been the LAA’s Development Director. Pavlos comments, “Upon joining the Association staff in early 2019, she [Dowd] wasted no time in enhancing our communications, starting with social media.”

Pavlos adds, “Elsbeth worked with me to help our broader community become more familiar with our organization and mission. She continues to build relationships with community partners, sponsors, members, and donors.”

Prior to joining the Lyme Art Association, Dowd was the Executive Director of the Oysterponds Historical Society in Orient, N.Y., and before that was Museum Registrar at the Sam Noble Museum in Oklahoma. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in art and archaeology from Princeton University and her Doctoral Degree in anthropology from the University of Oklahoma.

A number of other appointments have also been announced at the LAA. Paul Michael, a graduate of Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, has taken over the role of Gallery Manager from Jocelyn Zallinger, who has also retired. Jolie Collins is the Association’s new Communications Manager, and Sarah Kentoffio and Franceska Nebel are assisting in the gallery and staff office respectively.

May 29 COVID-19 Update: Slight Reduction in Number of CT Case Rate Red Zone Towns, NL County Reclassified as ‘Medium’ by CDC for ‘Community Level’; Old Lyme Reports 10 New Cases Since Monday, Lyme Has Three

This map, updated May 26, 2022 shows the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks. Both Lyme and Old Lyme remain in the Red (highest) Zone. One hundred and fifty nine towns (representing a total of 94.1% of the state) are now found in the Red Zone. Only cases among persons living in community settings are included in this map; the map does not include cases among people who reside in nursing home, assisted living, or correctional facilities. Map: Ver 12.1.2020 Source: CT Department of Public Health Get the data Created with Datawrapper.

LYME/OLD LYME — The Daily Data Reports issued Tuesday through Friday, May 24-27, by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) shows a total of 10 new, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Old Lyme and three in Lyme compared with May 23 numbers.

These cases raise Old Lyme’s cumulative case total to 1266 from 1256 on May 23, and similarly Lyme’s to 312 from 309 on the same date.

The daily cases reported were as follows:

Tuesday, May 24: OL-2, L-0
Wednesday, May 25: OL-4, L-2
Thursday, May 26: OL-2, L-1
Friday, May 27: OL-2, L-0

April 5, 2022 was the most recent day on which no new cases were reported in either town.

Prior to March 25, Lyme had gone for 23 consecutive days with no new cases being reported. Two new cases were reported in Lyme on March 25.

Prior to April 5, the most recent day on which no new cases were reported in either Lyme or Old Lyme was March 24. There were also no new cases on March 9 and 4, and Feb. 24. The previous date prior to Feb. 24 when no new cases were reported in either town was Dec. 12, 2021.

Statewide Situation – Weekly Update

On Thursday, May 26, the (CT DPH) also released its latest weekly COVID-19 Alert Map (pictured above), which indicates that 159 municipalities are now in the Red (highest of four) Zone for case rates. These towns in the Red Zone include both Lyme and Old Lyme.

This number has decreased by three over the 162 towns recorded in the Red Zone last week,  thus  decreasing  the number of towns in the Red Zone to 94.1% of the state.

This total of 159 Red Zone towns indicates the first slowdown in several weeks compared with the Jan. 27, 2022 number, when the total was 168 out of 169 towns.

As of May 26, 2022, all nine towns in the Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) remain in the Red Zone. The LLHD is no longer issuing reports with updated Case Rates and other metrics.

The CT DPH will issue an updated map of the zones Thursday, June 2 — the map is updated weekly on Thursdays.

The color-coded zones on the map above are:

Red: Indicates case rates over the last two weeks of greater than 15 per 100,000 population
Orange: Indicates case rates between 10 to 14 cases per 100,000 population
Yellow: Indicates case rates between 5 and 9 per 100,000 population
Gray: Indicates case rates lower than five per 100,000 population

CDC Reduces ‘Community Level’ to Medium for New London County, All Other CT Counties Remain ‘High’

May 26 Community Transmission levels. Map courtesy of CDC.

The map above shows that on May 26 all counties in Connecticut except New London are categorized as ‘High’ for COVID-19 Community Level. New London is now categorized as Medium. These levels are updated weekly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursdays.

Ledge Light Health District Deputy Director of Health Jennifer Muggeo sent out the following email Friday, May 27, “Last Friday we shared that the CDC Community Level for New London County had moved to “High.” CDC updates these data each Thursday and last night moved New London County to “Medium.””

She continued, “Community members are advised to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, get tested if they have symptoms, and wear a mask when they are around others if they have symptoms, are positive or have had an exposure.”

Muggeo added, “People with symptoms should be tested and people with a positive test should isolate per guidelines. Masking remains an effective method for reducing the spread of COVID-19 and people may choose to mask even though our region is not designated as “High.””

She concluded, “You can find the latest CDC Community Level, schedules of vaccination clinics and community testing events, and isolation/quarantine guidance on our website and, as always, we are here to answer any questions or provide support for community members.

Community Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID cases in a specific geographical area. CDC recommends taking precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID based on Community Levels in your area.

You can view the new tool by following this link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html

LLHD continues to focus its vaccination efforts on homebound populations and providing initial vaccinations and boosters to individuals who were vaccinated previously. Information about vaccination opportunities can be found at https://llhd.org/coronavirus-covid-19-situation/covid-19-vaccine/.

COVID testing opportunities can be found at COVID-19 Testing | Ledge Light Health District (llhd.org)

The following link provides centralized access to Connecticut COVID data: https://data.ct.gov/stories/s/COVID-19-data/wa3g-tfvc/.

An explanation of the CDC Community Levels tool by Thomas Gotowka can be found at this link.

Statewide Situation – Daily Update

The state’s COVID-19 Daily Positivity Rate broke the 10% watershed on May 4 at 10.32%. It has now broken the 14% mark with the May 20 Rate of 14.19%, but encouragingly, the May 23 Positivity Rate fell to 12.3% and has continued to fall overall for the next four days as follows:

May 24: 12.13%
May 25: 12.05%
May 26: 11.77%
May 27: 11.83%

On May 27, the number of COVID-related hospitalizations increased to 363 from the 348 recorded on May 23.

In contrast, on Jan. 12, 2022, the number of COVID-related hospitalizations was 1,939.

Of those hospitalized on May 27, the number not fully vaccinated was 107 (representing 29.48%).

The total number of COVID-related deaths in Connecticut rose to 10,941 on May 27, according to The New York Times.

The next Daily Data Report will be issued by CT DPH Tuesday, May 31, around 4 p.m. No report will be issued on Monday, May 30, due to the Memorial Day Federal Holiday.

Increase in Cases in Lyme & Old Lyme Since August 2021

The cumulative total of confirmed cases for Old Lyme has now increased by 823 since Wednesday, Nov. 10, when the total stood at 443 — that number had stood unchanged for a week since the previous Thursday, Nov. 4.

On Aug. 26 — which was the day Lyme-Old Lyme Schools started the new academic year — Old Lyme’s cumulative case total stood at 372, meaning there have now been 894 new cases there since that date.

Meanwhile, Lyme’s cumulative total on Aug. 26 was 114 indicating 198 new cases have also been confirmed there during the same period.

Fatalities Due to COVID-19 in Lyme, Old Lyme

There has been one COVID-related fatality of a Lyme resident: a 57-year-old male passed away Nov. 16, 2021. On Nov. 30, the state finally included this fatality in its data

Four COVID-related fatalities have now been reported in Old Lyme. The first two fatalities from Old Lyme, which were reported in 2020, were a 61-year-old female and an 82-year-old male.

Details of the third and fourth fatalities, which were reported respectively in 2021 and on Feb. 4, 2022, have not been made available.

COVID-19 Situation in LOL Schools

Under new state protocols for schools, Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools are no longer required to carry out contact tracing.

LOL Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser explained the latest developments in LOL Schools COVID protocols in an email dated April 1 to the school community, saying, “As noted in my email of February 17, 2022, beginning April 1, 2022 we will no longer report daily COVID-19 cases in the schools.”

He then stated, “For the remainder of this school year, that information will be complied on a weekly basis and will be available on our website at the following link: https://www.region18.org/parents/covid-data.”

Details published to date show the following number of positive cases in LOL Schools by week.
April 3-9: 0
April 10-16: 0
April 17-23: Spring Break
April 24-30: 7
May 2-7: 27
May 8-14: 41
May 15-21: 30
May 22-28: 23

The total number of cases recorded in Lyme and Old Lyme for the week May 22-28 was 25, indicating the vast majority of cases (23) had a connection to Lyme-Old Lyme Schools.

For a summary of cases in LOL Schools between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2022, visit this link.

View a full listing of cases between 8/26/21 – 12/23/21 at this link.

Op-Ed: Are We a Civilized Country?

Lest we forget … then Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal  led a group of local citizens including former Old Lyme Selectman, the late Mervin Roberts (in foreground) to Newtown, Conn. to offer Old Lyme’s sympathies in respect of the 26 teachers and students killed Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. File photo published Dec. 2012.

Editor’s Note: Tom Soboleski of Ivoryton, Conn., submitted a powerful op-ed to LymeLine.com after the Sandy Hook massacre. We published ‘Proposed Path to a Safer Society’ on Dec. 20, 2012. In light of yesterday’s tragic events in Uvalde, Texas, Soboleski contacted us yesterday to ask if we would consider re-publishing it and we immediately agreed. He has added a new introduction.

Are We a Civilized Country?

Eighteen school children murdered in Texas. What kind of society do we live in? What kind of society tolerates school children being slaughtered; not to forget the hundreds of others in Buffalo and numerous other cities? Clearly we are an uncivilized society; one that is disintegrating more by the day.

Ten years ago I wrote the following in reaction Connecticut’s own incomprehensible nightmare.

Nothing has changed. We’ve become numb and routinely tolerate the slaughter of innocents. I stand by every word.

Proposed Path to a Safer Society
(First published on LymeLine.com Dec. 20, 2012)

Sandy Hook School is an earthquake that shakes the soul of human decency. My response:
I acknowledge the right to have a hunting rifle and a pistol for self-defense. The right to self-defense is a root of liberty. Equally important is a coincident right of people who choose not to own a gun: the right to live in a safe and secure society.
This right is an indisputable expectation.
While I realize this is an ideal that will be difficult to fulfill, we must, for the sake of human decency, respect, and compassion, strive to create such a society. To not strive for this goal is disrespectful and inconsiderate to all people who want to live in peace.
My proposal to create an environment that begins to lead our society down this path is as follows:
1. A gun is not sporting equipment. To equate a gun to sports is akin to saying it is no different than a tennis racquet or basketball. This is an insult to humanity. There is no comparison because their designed purposes are so different – fun and games versus a killing implement.
2. Any weapon that is capable of firing multiple rounds in rapid succession should be outlawed to anyone other than military, law enforcement or security personnel. No one in a civil society should have such a weapon, for its sole designed purpose is to kill. For hunting and self-defense, there should be no need for anything more than a single-shot pistol or rifle.
3. Any weapon that uses multiple round magazines or any type of device that loads more than six bullets at a time should be outlawed. Reasons stated in item 2.
4. Anyone caught in possession or ownership of these outlawed weapons and ammunition would be in violation of the law and should be punished with extensive community service or imprisonment.
5. Anyone who currently owns such weapons described in item 2 should be paid to turn them in. They should not be grandfathered.
6. Extensive background checks should apply to 100% of sales in any form for the purchase of legal pistols and rifles.
7. A permit is required to fish. A permit should be required to purchase ammunition.
8. Internet sale of any weapon and ammunition should be illegal.
I urge everyone with a strong opinion on this subject to voice their opinion to their representatives and senators. Time is of the essence. Do not let this moment and these memories fade.

A la Carte: Got to Grill? Try Chicken with Peach BBQ Sauce for a Tasty Change

Lee White

I spent a lot of time in the past couple of weeks driving. I wasn’t going long distances; rather I had errands so I did a couple, got home for lunch, and finished the rest a hour or two later. 

While my husband and I frequently went out for breakfast (always on weekends), now that I am husband-less (and have been for more than a decade), I do most of my reading, writing and thinking in the morning. Sometimes I look at the mantel clock and notice it is 11 a.m. Well, I wonder, is it going to be late breakfast or an early lunch? 

It is usually an early lunch. I often have enough leftovers from dinner the night before.

Today I have some leftover chicken salad (made from a roast chicken a couple of days ago), so I plate the chicken salad with some lettuce, sliced grape tomatoes and, to drink, an enormous glass of V-8.

And I muse about dinner. 

It will be chicken again, mostly because I love chicken and I’d thawed some skinless, boneless breasts this morning. (I really do not like boneless, skinless chicken, but this is what I found first in the freezer.)

Over the weekend, I took the cover of my Weber, cleaned the grills, found the tongs I left last fall and looked to make sure there were no squirrel nests in the lava rocks. I have plenty of propane.

I love this recipe. 

Photo by photo_ reflect on Unsplash.

Grilled Chicken with Peach BBQ Sauce
Adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow’s “My Father’s Daughter” (Hachette Book Group, New York, 2011)
Yield: serves 4

1 cup chopped peeled fresh peaches (I used canned, without added sugars), chopped
½ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ teaspoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles in adobo or 1 teaspoon soy sauce*
Kosher (or sea salt) and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Vegetable oil

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan. Season lightly with salt and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, simmer until peaches are very soft and flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat; let cool.

Pour peach mixture into a blender and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place half the sauce in a medium bowl; add chicken and turn to coat.

Let marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes, or cover and chill for up to 8 hours, turning occasionally. Cover and refrigerate remaining sauce.

Prepare a grill to medium-high heat. Brush grill rack with oil. Grill chicken until browned and almost cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Slice crosswise.

Serve with remaining sauce alongside.

* I have at least four cans of chipotle in adobe in my pantry. I sometimes make omelet or scrambled eggs with cheese cream and a mashed chipotle. It is a bit on the spicy side, but it’s delicious.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years but now lives in Groton, Conn. Contact Lee at leeawhite@aol.com.

Lyme DTC Urgently Calls for US Senators to Take Action on Guns

LYME – The Lyme Democratic Town Committee (DTC) today, May 25, issued the following  statement:  

“The Lyme Democratic Town Committee today urgently called on Connecticut Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, as well as Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, to bring forward federal  gun legislation in the U.S. Senate that would help stop the ongoing plague of gun violence killing  children and adults in communities across this country – noting that the legislation has been  languishing in the Senate since being passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.”

The statement continues, “The committee commended Senator Murphy for his comments yesterday on the Senate floor urging his fellow senators to take action, and expressed its hope that enough U.S. senators would stand up for Americans and work to put an end to mass shootings.”

Old Lyme’s Fenton, Bass Win Shoreline Doubles Championship, OL’s Hunt Girls Are Runners-up

Lyme-Old Lyme High School’s Alexis Fenton (left) and Livie Bass are 2022 Shoreline Girls’ Doubles Champions!

In a remarkable turn of events, two Lyme-Old Lyme Girls Tennis doubles teams faced each other in yesterday’s Shoreline Championship match. After a thrilling contest, #1 seeds Livie Bass and Alexis Fenton defeated their team-mates and #3 seeds Aggie Hunt and Beatrice Hunt 6-2, 6-4.

This was the second year in a row for Fenton to win a shoreline doubles championship.

The two Old Lyme teams in the final of the Shoreline Doubles Championship stand with their coach Lauren Rahr (center) after the match. Livie Bass and Alexis Fenton (left) defeated Aggie Hunt and Beatrice Hunt 6-2, 6-4.

Pulling off a major tournament upset, the Hunt girls had defeated the #2 seeds from Westbrook 7-5, 6-3 to reach the finals,

Demonstrating their prowess in the field, Lyme-Old Lyme had a representative in every semifinal match played (singled and doubles) in the tournament.

In the singles games, Abby Sicuranza and Sam Tan both lost respectively in their semifinals. Tan was defeated by the #1 seed from Coginchaug 0-6, 1-6 while Sicuranza fell 1-6, 6-3, 5-7 to the #2 seed from Westbrook in a fiercely-contested match.

Callie Bass lost in the semifinals to the #3 seed from Westbrook 2-6, 2-6.

Elaina Morosky won the ¾ singles tournament in an extremely close and exciting match 2-6, 7-6, 7-6.

May 23 COVID-19 Daily Update: 15 Cases in Old Lyme Take Cumulative Total to 1256, Two in Lyme Raise Total There to 309

LYME/OLD LYME — The Daily Data Report issued Monday, May 23, by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) shows a total of 15 new, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Old Lyme and two in Lyme compared with May 20 numbers. A reminder to readers that the CT DPH does not issue reports over the weekend so Monday’s numbers reflect three days results rather than the usual single day.

These cases raise Old Lyme’s cumulative case total to 1256 from 1241 on May 20, and similarly Lyme’s to 309 from 307 on the same date.

April 5, 2022 was the most recent day on which no new cases were reported in either town.

Prior to March 25, Lyme had gone for 23 consecutive days with no new cases being reported. Two new cases were reported in Lyme on March 25.

Prior to April 5, the most recent day on which no new cases were reported in either Lyme or Old Lyme was March 24. There were also no new cases on March 9 and 4, and Feb. 24. The previous date prior to Feb. 24 when no new cases were reported in either town was Dec. 12, 2021.

Statewide Situation – Weekly Update

This map, updated May 19, 2022 shows the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks. Both Lyme and Old Lyme remain in the Red (highest) Zone. One hundred and sixty two towns (representing a total of 95.9% of the state) are now found in the Red Zone. Only cases among persons living in community settings are included in this map; the map does not include cases among people who reside in nursing home, assisted living, or correctional facilities. Map: Ver 12.1.2020 Source: CT Department of Public Health Get the data Created with Datawrapper.

On Thursday, May 19, the (CT DPH) also released its latest weekly COVID-19 Alert Map (pictured above), which indicates that 162 municipalities are now in the Red (highest of four) Zone for case rates. These towns in the Red Zone include both Lyme and Old Lyme.

This number has increased by four over the 158 towns recorded in the Red Zone last week, thus increasing  the number of towns in the Red Zone to 95.9% of the state.

This total of 162 Red Zone towns continues to move rapidly towards the Jan. 27, 2022 number, when the total was 168 out of 169 towns.

As of May 19, 2022, all nine towns in the Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) remain in the Red Zone. The LLHD is no longer issuing reports with updated Case Rates and other metrics.

The CT DPH will issue an updated map of the zones Thursday, May 26 — the map is updated weekly on Thursdays.

The color-coded zones on the map above are:

Red: Indicates case rates over the last two weeks of greater than 15 per 100,000 population
Orange: Indicates case rates between 10 to 14 cases per 100,000 population
Yellow: Indicates case rates between 5 and 9 per 100,000 population
Gray: Indicates case rates lower than five per 100,000 population

CDC Updates ‘Community Level’ to High for New London County

May 19 Community Transmission levels. Map courtesy of CDC.

The map above shows that all counties in Connecticut except Fairfield and Tolland are categorized as ‘High’ for COVID-19 Community Level.

Ledge Light Health District Director of Health Stephen Mansfield issued the following press release Friday, May 20, “Based on surveillance data available in a new tool created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called COVID-19 Community Levels, the municipalities within Ledge Light Health District are currently classified as High.’

He explains, “Community Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID cases in a specific geographical area. CDC recommends taking precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID based on Community Levels in your area.”

All New London County residents are advised to:

You can view the new tool by following this link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html

LLHD continues to focus its vaccination efforts on homebound populations and providing initial vaccinations and boosters to individuals who were vaccinated previously. Information about vaccination opportunities can be found at https://llhd.org/coronavirus-covid-19-situation/covid-19-vaccine/.

COVID testing opportunities can be found at COVID-19 Testing | Ledge Light Health District (llhd.org)

The following link provides centralized access to Connecticut COVID data: https://data.ct.gov/stories/s/COVID-19-data/wa3g-tfvc/.

An explanation of the new CDC Community Levels tool by Thomas Gotowka can be found at this link.

Statewide Situation – Daily Update

The state’s COVID-19 Daily Positivity Rate broke the 10% watershed on May 4 at 10.32%. It has now broken the 14% mark with the May 20 Rate of 14.19%, but encouragingly, the May 23 Positivity Rate fell to 12.3%.

On May 23, the number of COVID-related hospitalizations also decreased to 348 from the 354 recorded on May 20.

In contrast, on Jan. 12, 2022, the number of COVID-related hospitalizations was 1,939.

Of those hospitalized on May 23, the number not fully vaccinated was 125 (representing 35.92%).

The total number of COVID-related deaths in Connecticut held at 10,926 on May 23, according to The New York Times.

The next Daily Data Report will be issued by CT DPH Tuesday, May 24, around 4 p.m.

Increase in Cases in Lyme & Old Lyme Since August 2021

The cumulative total of confirmed cases for Old Lyme has now increased by 813 since Wednesday, Nov. 10, when the total stood at 443 — that number had stood unchanged for a week since the previous Thursday, Nov. 4.

On Aug. 26 — which was the day Lyme-Old Lyme Schools started the new academic year — Old Lyme’s cumulative case total stood at 372, meaning there have now been 884 new cases there since that date.

Meanwhile, Lyme’s cumulative total on Aug. 26 was 114 indicating 195 new cases have also been confirmed there during the same period.

Fatalities Due to COVID-19 in Lyme, Old Lyme

There has been one COVID-related fatality of a Lyme resident: a 57-year-old male passed away Nov. 16, 2021. On Nov. 30, the state finally included this fatality in its data

Four COVID-related fatalities have now been reported in Old Lyme. The first two fatalities from Old Lyme, which were reported in 2020, were a 61-year-old female and an 82-year-old male.

Details of the third and fourth fatalities, which were reported respectively in 2021 and on Feb. 4, 2022, have not been made available.

COVID-19 Situation in LOL Schools

Under new state protocols for schools, Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools are no longer required to carry out contact tracing.

LOL Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser explained the latest developments in LOL Schools COVID protocols in an email dated April 1 to the school community, saying, “As noted in my email of February 17, 2022, beginning April 1, 2022 we will no longer report daily COVID-19 cases in the schools.”

He then stated, “For the remainder of this school year, that information will be complied on a weekly basis and will be available on our website at the following link: https://www.region18.org/parents/covid-data.”

Details published to date show the following number of positive cases in LOL Schools by week.
April 3-9: 0
April 10-16: 0
April 17-23: Spring Break
April 24-30: 7
May 2-7: 27
May 8-14: 41
May 15-21: 30

The total number of cases recorded in Lyme and Old Lyme for the week May 22-28 was 57, indicating the majority of cases (23) had a connection to Lyme-Old Lyme Schools.

For a summary of cases in LOL Schools between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2022, visit this link.

View a full listing of cases between 8/26/21 – 12/23/21 at this link.

Gardening Tips for May from ‘The English Lady’, ‘One of the Most Enchanting Months’

Color is bursting out all over in the Merry Month of May.

Maureen Haseley-Jones is “The English Lady.”

“The darling buds of May” is such an apt phrase for one of the most enchanting months, bloom on spring bulbs and flowering trees, the Amelanchier, the Dogwood and the Cherry to name a few and the new awakening foliage on trees winking in the sun.

By now, you have probably removed most of the winter debris, pruned broken branches and re-edged borders. However, do not apply the composted manure before the soil warms up to 60 degrees.

The soil needs to reach that temperature for the soil organisms to work with the bacteria of the manure which produces nutrients for the roots of the plants.  I suggest, when shopping for garden supplies, pick up a soil thermometer to check soil temperature as I am sure the soil temperature will reach 60 degrees in a few weeks.

As I walk around my garden, I am noticing our old nemesis — weeds — emerging everywhere.

Pull these up by hand, without breaking them together with the roots.  Using a tool breaks the weeds, and as a result, the broken weed pieces will take root and you will face hundreds more of these creatures to get rid of.

Follow on the weeding with an organic corn, gluten-based weed pre-emergent by Bradfield Organics; this product will keep weeds at bay for quite a few weeks.

When the soil warms to 60 degrees, apply composted manure around daffodils and other spring bulbs so that soil organisms will produce nutrients to feed the bulbs for next year’s bloom. Also, a reminder to not cut down the Daffodil foliage as the nutrition from the foliage is absorbed into the bulb for bloom next spring.

Also in a few weeks, when the soil has warmed up, apply composted manure and a light layer of fine bark mulch to all maintained areas of the garden, again in July, and before putting the garden to bed in October.  The manure and mulch will begin to build the humus component.

Regarding types of mulch … only use the natural brown wood mulch of natural, do not use the colored mulches, which contain chemicals, and do not use rubber mulch.

A word of caution on Cocoa Mulch. This product is highly toxic to dogs and cats.  It is manufactured by Hershey and sold in many large garden centers.  It is made from the residue of chocolate products and other ingredients and contains a lethal ingredient that has resulted in the reported deaths of cats and dogs that are attracted by the chocolate odor. This mulch contains Theobromine, which is a Xanthine compound, with similar effects to those of caffeine and theophylline.  The symptoms, which animals experience, are seizures and death within hours.

I wrote about the carbon component in my April tips, but wanted to emphasize its importance by stating it again to build the humus component in your soil .

All living things, including us, are all carbon-based creatures. Humus brings carbon from the air into the soil.

Humus acts like a sponge and holds 90 percent of its weight in water. Because of its negative charge, plant nutrients stick to humus bringing nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus and other important elements to the plant, preventing these nutrients from washing away, acting like nature’s slow- release fertilizer.

Humus improves soil structure making it loose and friable, which helps plants to root in this environment with better access to nutrients, water and oxygen. Humus also helps to filter toxic chemicals from soil, much like carbon-based water filtration systems filter toxins from your water.

I also recommend that you go online to Scientific American.com/article/Weed-Whacking Herbicide to check out the dangers of Round-Up. This is the most dangerous herbicide not only because of Glyphosate, which is on the list by the WHO as a chelating agent that causes cancer, but also because of its inert ingredients. I ask that you are not swayed by the word ‘inert’ as the ingredients are anything but inert and those ingredients combined with Glyphosate are deadly to human cells.

A yellow burst of color is offered by Forsythia in May.

Forsythia is in bloom, lovely fresh yellow blossoms.  If the bloom on your shrub is not as prolific as in previous years, prune out the old sparse wood after bloom ends.

A favorite native tree of mine is the Amelanchier with its creamy panicle blooms, followed by small green leaves and within weeks, red fruit, which is a delicious treat for our feathered friends. Before the birds eat all the fruit, you may want to pick some of the fruit which makes a delicious jelly for your morning toast.

“The graceful Dogwood.” Photo by Tabitha Turner on Unsplash.

Here in my town of Old Lyme, the Magnolias, Cherries and Eastern Redbud are vying with one another to show their finery together with the graceful Dogwoods.  Following the recent rains many of these trees are blooming at the same time or within a few weeks of one another. Their bloom will soon be over then we can look forward to rhododendrons, azaleas and followed by mountain laurel in early June.

Another favorite of mine is the Carlesii viburnum (also known as Korean Spice) is showing pink buds, opening to white flowers and their delightful fragrance fills the air outside my kitchen door. This viburnum grows to about five feet and can be tucked into many a border particularly in an area where you walk by and can enjoy the fragrance.

Covering the barn wall and scrambling up to the barn roof is my climbing hydrangea – bright green leaves emerging with hundreds of buds indicating that this beautiful climber will be laden with blossoms in summer.

Tulips, creeping phlox, forget-me-nots, primroses and candytuft are bringing much needed color to borders and rock gardens.

If you have not had the opportunity yet, for another couple of weeks you can still prune your roses.  Pull back the old mulch from around the base of the roses and in two to three weeks apply manure about six inches from the trunk of the plant. Then a week later reapply a layer of the brown natural mulch on top of the composted manure.

As well as building the humus component, these layers keep the roots cool, keep weeds at bay and help retain moisture. Do not mulch right up against the base of any plants as this encourages rodents to nest and gnaw on the plants.

Beware of fungi that look like weird mushrooms in your mulch; this is a sign of Artillery fungus, which can adhere to the walls of your home and cause problems.  If you notice this fungus, you will need to remove all the mulch and get it off your property.

Apply lime and manure around the lilacs, they like sweeter alkaline soil, thus the lime. By now, you may have already applied lime to the grass, which also enjoys sweeter soil and organic grub control to kill the Japanese beetle larvae – less food for moles.

If you are making an organic vegetable garden this year; a garden measuring 16 x 24 ft. can feed a family of four for a year; but keep the size within your needs and capability.  Don’t work the soil if it is too wet or too dry.

Double-digging is the best way to go; it takes time and effort but its well worth it – dig down about one foot and remove the topsoil, put the soil to one side, then dig down and loosen the next six inches of soil and add about three inches of composted manure then put back the topsoil and add another three to four inches of manure.

Do not rototill the vegetable garden, as this will destroy soil structure. Gently loosened, aerated fertile soil will give an excellent yield of fruits and vegetables in the garden.

I prefer 6 x 4 ft. beds rather than rows; beds produce a larger yield of crops. In addition, beds make for ease of weeding and harvesting by having narrow compacted soil or grass paths (having removed lawn from the area) in-between the beds.

Vegetable gardens are hard work but bring great joy … and produce!

The vegetable garden should be situated on the south or southwest side of the property for maximum sun exposure.

Make sure you remove as many weeds as possible by hand, before you even begin digging.

You need a water source close by as vegetables require lots of water, particularly annual fruiting vegetables like tomatoes, which are hydroponics which means they are (mostly water).

Rotate crops, by that I mean, do not plant the same vegetables in the same place as the previous year.  With this method you are preventing any soil born diseases from occurring.

In the loosened soil, plant the vegetables plants so that they are touching, this forms a natural canopy, shading out weeds and helps retain moisture.

I prefer to mulch the vegetable garden with composted manure, the reason being that manure, as mulch, does not cap. Capping is when mulch forms a crust, which does not allow water or air to penetrate to the roots of the plants.

Fence in the vegetable garden with a tall fence to keep animals out. At the base of the fence, install eight inches of fine mesh chicken wire above ground and eight inches below ground to keep out the digging and burrowing animals.

Organic insect control

Insects do not like fragrance so plant fragrant plants like marigolds, nasturtium, lavender, nepeta and honeysuckle and roses to name a few.

Encourage lacewings, which feed on aphids, by planting marigolds and sunflowers,

Attract ground beetles by laying a log or a rock on the earth, under which the beetles can hide. These useful insects are nocturnal and eat slug and snail eggs, cabbage maggots, cutworms and even climb trees to feed on army-worms and tent caterpillars.

“A vibrant shade of green. Photo by Chris Zhang on Unsplash.

Grass is now a vibrant shade of green so when mowing keep the blades of grass at about three inches; the taller blades attracts sunlight, promoting a healthier lawn. The taller blades also shade out weeds and help to retain moisture in the grass.

When mowing, leave grass clippings on the lawn, the clippings are a natural source of nitrogen. If you have clover in the grass, clover is an added benefit as clover takes nitrogen from the air and fixes it in the soil, as additional nutrients for plant growth.

After flowering is over, prune flowering shrubs by 25 percent – do this task immediately before new buds set for next year.

On a rainy day, go shopping for any garden supplies that may be needed, then when the weather is dry, you can be outdoors doing what you love and not indoors shopping.  Buy good hoses, cheap ones will bend and crack.

Peonies need plenty of water to produce flower buds.  I had a 30-foot-long stand of Peonies in my field. The Peonies have been in the ground for over 40 years and are a sight to behold when in bloom.  I gave them lots of loving care with a light dressing of aged manure in early May.  In a few weeks, I  pinch off the side buds while they are still small, leaving the terminal flower bud on each stalk, which will develop into a large main bloom.

Hydrangeas are a wetland plant and require plenty of water during the season, also applying manure and mulch around the base. If you have blue Hydrangeas and want a deeper color of blue, add some peat around the base of the plant, the acidity in the peat produces the bright blue color.

If you need to prune a Hydrangea, which has become too large, then prune it immediately after flowering, in early September, prune by about 1/3 of the old wood and the weakest shoots. Do not wait, as Hydrangeas begin to develop bloom buds for next year later in September.  If you wait to prune it is likely that you will not have bloom for next year.

The beloved Lily of the Valley is such a sweet-scented flower,

My maternal grandmother’s favorite plant, the Lily of the Valley soon will bloom, these lovely flowers are tucked on the small hill on the west side of my apartment, and I am so looking forward to gathering a few fragrant blooms for indoors.

When the lilacs have finished blooming, pinch off the withered flower clusters, and do the same on the mountain laurel and rhododendrons in late June to ensure good blossoms next year.

In mid May, apply composted manure, a light application of peat and fine bark mulch around all evergreens and rhododendrons, mountain laurel and azaleas; these plants are shallow- rooted and the mulch will keep the roots nourished, protected, warm and moist.

Some annual seeds that may be planted outside in mid May are: Calendula, Coreopsis, Marigold, Nasturtium, Nicotiana and Zinnia.

If you purchased annuals on Mother’s Day weekend, place them in a sheltered spot on the south side of your home. Plant them no earlier than Memorial weekend as we can still get a late frost.

Tuberous-rooted begonias, caladiums, cannas and elephant ears can be moved from porch or cold frame to a part shade area as the weather becomes warmer and there is no sign of frost in the forecast.

If you staked trees, when they were planted last year, cut the stakes off at ground level do not pull them out of the roots as you could tear and therefore damage the root system.

Aphid tip: squish a few in your hand; dead aphids release a chemical that causes other aphids to drop off the plants.

Another ants and aphids tip – if you drink mint tea, any leftover tea sprinkle on the bugs, as they do not like the smell of mint.

A word of caution on mint – plant mint only in containers, mint is tremendously invasive and can take over your garden.

When planting annuals, perennials, vegetables, trees, shrubs or evergreen keep them watered.

Houseplants can be moved outdoors for their summer sojourn at the end of May.  However, do not put your African Violets outdoors as they will burn, move them to a porch that is covered and shaded, or keep them indoors in a window that does not receive direct rays from the sun.

Wait until the soil warms up at the end of May to set out Dahlia tubers.

Roses are not troublesome creatures after all! Photo by Bailey Chenevey on Unsplash.

Roses are not the troublesome creatures you have been led to believe.  I like to plant David Austin roses; these shrub roses are repeat bloomers with lovely fragrances.  Roses need at least four hours of sun per day, good air circulation, and excellent drainage.

During their growing period from the beginning of June to mid August; add a little extra composted manure each month; it may be applied over the mulch.  Stop adding the manure in August so that the roses can go into a slow dormancy.

Roses like the same growing conditions as Clematis and can be planted together in a companionship planting, growing well together, with feet in the shade and head in the sun. Before you top up the soil around the roses when planting, add water and check if the soil drains, roses need good drainage.  Deep watering is recommended at least once a week.

Plenty of stuff to keep you hopping, folks, and remember to keep your eye out for any pest trouble and when you spot it get on the ball immediately to avoid further problems. Carefully discard all herbicides and pesticides; these poisons have the same effect on your health as second-hand smoke.

Your garden offers an anchor for peace and quiet enjoyment.  Enjoy the warmth, the gentle breeze, the earth’s fragrance and bloom and please remember to breathe and stretch before any garden labor.

Enjoy and I will see you in your garden next month. If you would like, my son Ian of LlandscapesbyIan will be happy to talk to you and answer gardening questions or you may have him visit your home for a consult.  The apple does not fall far from the tree and in my humble opinion Ian is more talented and creative than me.

About the author: Maureen Haseley-Jones is a member of a family of renowned horticultural artisans, whose landscaping heritage dates back to the 17th century. She is one of the founders, together with her son Ian, of, The English Lady Landscape and Home Company. Maureen and Ian are landscape designers and garden experts, who believe that everyone deserves to live in an eco-conscious environment and enjoy the pleasure that it brings. Maureen learned her design skills from both her mother and grandmother, and honed her horticultural and construction skills while working in the family nursery and landscape business in the U.K. Her formal horticultural training was undertaken at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in Surrey.

May 20 COVID-19 Daily Update: Eight Cases in Old Lyme Take Cumulative Total to 1241, One in Lyme Raises Total There to 307

Photo by CDC on Unsplash.

LYME/OLD LYME — The Daily Data Report issued Friday, May 20, by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) shows a total of eight new, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Old Lyme and one in Lyme compared with May 19 numbers.

These cases raise Old Lyme’s cumulative case total to 1241 from 1233 on May 19, and similarly Lyme’s to 307 from 306 on the same date.

April 5, 2022 was the most recent day on which no new cases were reported in either town.

Prior to March 25, Lyme had gone for 23 consecutive days with no new cases being reported. Two new cases were reported in Lyme on March 25.

Prior to April 5, the most recent day on which no new cases were reported in either Lyme or Old Lyme was March 24. There were also no new cases on March 9 and 4, and Feb. 24. The previous date prior to Feb. 24 when no new cases were reported in either town was Dec. 12, 2021.

Statewide Situation – Weekly Update

This map, updated May 19, 2022 shows the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks. Both Lyme and Old Lyme remain in the Red (highest) Zone. One hundred and sixty two towns (representing a total of 95.9% of the state) are now found in the Red Zone. Only cases among persons living in community settings are included in this map; the map does not include cases among people who reside in nursing home, assisted living, or correctional facilities. Map: Ver 12.1.2020 Source: CT Department of Public Health Get the data Created with Datawrapper.

On Thursday, May 19, the (CT DPH) also released its latest weekly COVID-19 Alert Map (pictured above), which indicates that 162 municipalities are now in the Red (highest of four) Zone for case rates. These towns in the Red Zone include both Lyme and Old Lyme.

This number has increased by four over the 158 towns recorded in the Red Zone last week, thus increasing  the number of towns in the Red Zone to 95.9% of the state.

This total of 162 Red Zone towns continues to move rapidly towards the Jan. 27, 2022 number, when the total was 168 out of 169 towns.

As of May 19, 2022, all nine towns in the Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) remain in the Red Zone. The LLHD is no longer issuing reports with updated Case Rates and other metrics.

The CT DPH will issue an updated map of the zones Thursday, May 26 — the map is updated weekly on Thursdays.

The color-coded zones on the map above are:

Red: Indicates case rates over the last two weeks of greater than 15 per 100,000 population
Orange: Indicates case rates between 10 to 14 cases per 100,000 population
Yellow: Indicates case rates between 5 and 9 per 100,000 population
Gray: Indicates case rates lower than five per 100,000 population

CDC Updates ‘Community Level’ to High for New London County

May 19 Community Transmission levels. Map courtesy of CDC.

The map above shows that all counties in Connecticut except Fairfield and Tolland are categorized as ‘High’ for COVID-19 Community Level.

Ledge Light Health District Director of Health Stephen Mansfield issued the following press release Friday, May 20, “Based on surveillance data available in a new tool created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called COVID-19 Community Levels, the municipalities within Ledge Light Health District are currently classified as High.’

He explains, “Community Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID cases in a specific geographical area. CDC recommends taking precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID based on Community Levels in your area.”

All New London County residents are advised to:

You can view the new tool by following this link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html

LLHD continues to focus its vaccination efforts on homebound populations and providing initial vaccinations and boosters to individuals who were vaccinated previously. Information about vaccination opportunities can be found at https://llhd.org/coronavirus-covid-19-situation/covid-19-vaccine/.

COVID testing opportunities can be found at COVID-19 Testing | Ledge Light Health District (llhd.org)

The following link provides centralized access to Connecticut COVID data: https://data.ct.gov/stories/s/COVID-19-data/wa3g-tfvc/.

An explanation of the new CDC Community Levels tool by Thomas Gotowka can be found at this link.

Statewide Situation – Daily Update

The state’s COVID-19 Daily Positivity Rate broke the 10% watershed on May 4 at 10.32%. It has now broken the 14% mark — the May 20 Rate of 14.19% is up from the May 19 Rate of 14.0%, and is now the state’s highest recorded COVID-19 Daily Positivity Rate since Jan. 19, 2022 when the Rate stood at 16.55%.

On May 20, the number of COVID-related hospitalizations decreased to 354 from the 369 recorded on May 19.

In contrast, on Jan. 12, 2022, the number of COVID-related hospitalizations was 1,939.

Of those hospitalized on May 20, the number not fully vaccinated was 110 (representing 31.07%).

The total number of COVID-related deaths in Connecticut rose to 10,926 on May 20, according to The New York Times.

The next Daily Data Report will be issued by CT DPH Monday, May 23, around 4 p.m.

Increase in Cases in Lyme & Old Lyme Since August 2021

The cumulative total of confirmed cases for Old Lyme has now increased by 798 since Wednesday, Nov. 10, when the total stood at 443 — that number had stood unchanged for a week since the previous Thursday, Nov. 4.

On Aug. 26 — which was the day Lyme-Old Lyme Schools started the new academic year — Old Lyme’s cumulative case total stood at 372, meaning there have now been 869 new cases there since that date.

Meanwhile, Lyme’s cumulative total on Aug. 26 was 114 indicating 193 new cases have also been confirmed there during the same period.

Fatalities Due to COVID-19 in Lyme, Old Lyme

There has been one COVID-related fatality of a Lyme resident: a 57-year-old male passed away Nov. 16, 2021. On Nov. 30, the state finally included this fatality in its data

Four COVID-related fatalities have now been reported in Old Lyme. The first two fatalities from Old Lyme, which were reported in 2020, were a 61-year-old female and an 82-year-old male.

Details of the third and fourth fatalities, which were reported respectively in 2021 and on Feb. 4, 2022, have not been made available.

COVID-19 Situation in LOL Schools

Under new state protocols for schools, Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools are no longer required to carry out contact tracing.

LOL Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser explained the latest developments in LOL Schools COVID protocols in an email dated April 1 to the school community, saying, “As noted in my email of February 17, 2022, beginning April 1, 2022 we will no longer report daily COVID-19 cases in the schools.”

He then stated, “For the remainder of this school year, that information will be complied on a weekly basis and will be available on our website at the following link: https://www.region18.org/parents/covid-data.”

Details published to date show the following number of positive cases in LOL Schools by week.
April 3-9: 0
April 10-16: 0
April 17-23: Spring Break
April 24-30: 7
May 2-7: 27
May 8-14: 41
May 15-21:

The total number of cases recorded in Lyme and Old Lyme for the week May 8-14 was 51, indicating the majority of cases had a connection to Lyme-Old Lyme Schools.

For a summary of cases in LOL Schools between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2022, visit this link.

View a full listing of cases between 8/26/21 – 12/23/21 at this link.

Scouts Enthusiastically Learn About Solar System, Dark Skies from Lyme Land Trust Astronomy Members

The Scouts listened and observed attentively during the astronomy presentation.

On Friday, May 6, Alan Sheiness, Scott Mallory and Parag Sahasrabudhe, who are all members of the Lyme Land Trust Astronomy Group,  went to Camp Claire in Lyme, Conn. to introduce basic concepts of astronomy to a den of Cub Scouts. The evening program consisted of three activities.

The face says it all! This Scout was clearly amazed by what he saw through the telescope.

The first topic was an introduction to the instruments used for astronomy. The scouts were able to see through an astronomical binocular, and two types of telescopes: a refracting telescope and a reflecting Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.

They learned how lenses and mirrors are used to focus and magnify the light coming from stars and planets to gain larger and clearer images of these objects. As it turned out to be a cloudy and rainy evening, the telescopes were trained on distant objects across Hamburg Cove instead of the Moon or stars.

The second activity involved creating a peppercorn model of the inner solar system at the playground with the help of some parents. The scouts gained an appreciation of the vast distances and all the empty space between the Sun and the planets. They also were able to observe the planet Venus in the model using one of the telescopes.

If Venus had been up in the sky that evening, it would have looked similar to the Venus model seen through the telescope.

The final activity required everyone to move indoors and Sheiness used a model of the Sun, the Earth and the Moon to demonstrate how the phases of the Moon appear. Each scout then had the opportunity to be the Earth and see how the Moon covers the Sun when a solar eclipse happens.

The Scouts were all eager to find out more about what they were seeing through the telescopes.

It was clear from all the questions they asked that the scouts were very interested and engaged in these activities . Some scouts mentioned that they own telescopes and Sheiness invited them to bring their telescopes to the next astronomy group outing and participate in real viewing of astronomical objects.

Editor’s Note: This article was sent to us by Alan Sheiness of Lyme. He explained that he had submitted it as part of the Lyme Land Trust’s Astronomy Group’s, “continuing goal to educate the public about astronomy and the importance of dark skies.”

A la Carte: Summer Means Picnics; Picnics Mean Cole Slaw & Potato Salad! Lee Shares Favorite Recipes for Both

Lee White

I have a friend who lives in Noank and she asked me some time ago why she should keep her large Cuisinart. I literally blanched. 

There are two reasons to keep your kitchen counter appliances. One, of course, is because you use them fairly often enough that you want them close to you. The second is perhaps you adore them, as I love mine, and consider them — if not as pets — but as best friends in the kitchen. 

On the other hand, if you have a terrific yet very small kitchen, sometime things have to go.

I have just a galley kitchen, but it has a bay window a shelf below it. That shelf was utilitarian but incredibly ugly, covered with the same humble tiles on the floor.

I asked woodworker Josh Friedman in New London to make maple board the exact size as the shelf. Now the shelf holds large and small Cuisinarts, a 6-quart KitchenAid mixer, an Instant Pot, a Slow Cooker, a Ninja Pro blender and two tiny grinder (one for spices, one for coffee).

I use all of them the gadgets constantly. I keep them shinier than my desk. They are my own pieces of art.

This weekend I was asked to make cole slaw and potato salad for an indeterminate number of friends. Using my big Cuisinart thin slicing disk for the cabbage and the grater disk for the carrots. I used my Instant Pot for the potato salad. Both dishes were ready for the refrigerator within half an hour.

With summer coming, my counter appliances will keep my kitchen cool. 

Zimny’s Cole Slaw
Yield: serves 10 to 15. 

Photo by Jacques Bopp on Unsplash.

1 cup good store-bought mayonnaise
5 ½ (one-half) tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice (or celery spice, if you don’t have five-spice)
One-half teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly white pepper to taste
About 6 to 8 cups green and red (Savoy) cabbage, shredded in a food processor
2 carrots, shredded in food a processor*

Using whisk, blend mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, five-spice, salt and pepper.

Combine cabbage and carrots. Pour dressing over vegetables and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours. It is even better on the second or third day. 

Lee’s Favorite Potato Salad
Yield: Serves 6 to 8

2 pounds of potatoes (I love The Little Potato Company’s tiny potatoes; no need to peel them)
1 small onion, thinly diced
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
About 3 to 4 tablespoons bottled Italian salad dressing (I love Wish Bone brand, full fat)
Salt and pepper to taste
About 4 tablespoons Hellman’s mayonnaise (full fat) 

In a large pot of water, bring potatoes to a boil and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.

Drain water and, in the same pot, toss potatoes with onions and celery and stir. Wait a few minutes before you add the Italian dressing and mayonnaise and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cool on the counter at room temperature before covering and refrigerating.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years but now lives in Groton, Conn. Contact Lee at leeawhite@aol.com.

A View from My Porch: The Shady History of Connecticut Tobacco — The Finale

Tom Gotowka digs deeper into The Shady History of Connecticut Tobacco. Photo by Shaun Meintjes on Unsplash.

It’s been a little while since the publication of Part 1 of The Shady History of Connecticut Tobacco , but during that hiatus, there has been other remarkable news covered in the media.

Decisions regarding COVID mitigation were moved to municipal leadership, including school superintendents. Judge Ketanjii Brown Jackson, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Biden, was confirmed by the Senate, and became both the first African-American woman and native Floridian to serve on the “highest court” in the U. S. Federal Judiciary. 

Without provocation, Russia brutally and relentlessly attacked Ukraine; arousing support for the courageous citizens defending their homeland by nearly the whole of the free world, and the emergence of President Volodymyr Zelensky as a leader somewhat reminiscent of a wartime Winston Churchill.

Locally, Old Lyme announced the availability of American Rescue Plan economic recovery and community initiative grants for small businesses and non-profits.

Finally, and much closer to my home, my son landed in Bahrain on an extended U.S. Navy mission with a multi- national coalition task force charged, “to provide reassurance to merchant shipping in the Middle East.” On some days, reciting the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain …” is a good distraction for his parents, along with, “Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?”

Part 1 Redux:

The prior essay provided some historic context for the development of tobacco farming in Connecticut. I reviewed the initial stages of the international tobacco trade, beginning with the early voyages of the Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the “Age of Discovery”. I considered how the English developed their insatiable appetite for what King James I called a “noxious weed.”

I reflected on England’s dependence on Spain as their primary source for tobacco; which resulted in a substantial trade deficit that has been cited by many historians as a precipitating factor in the decision by King James to establish a permanent colony in the Americas in 1607.

Unfortunately, the Jamestown, Va. colony was nearly doomed to fail when the settlers disembarked onto a swampy and infertile peninsula infested with malaria – carrying mosquitos; and absent the wealth and riches that the Spanish brought home after looting the Aztec empire; nearly became a financial disaster for investors.  

The colony was on the brink of disaster by1610, when John Rolfe arrived in a convoy with additional settlers and supplies. Rolfe began cultivating tobacco and developed the colony’s first profitable export. His tobacco proved immensely popular in England; and by 1617, the colony’s tobacco exports had broken the Spanish monopoly, and strengthened the colony’s economy. 

In this essay, I review the expansion of English settlements into New England, focusing on how tobacco developed as an important cash crop in Connecticut; and discuss how Martin Luther King, Jr.’s experience on a tobacco farm in Connecticut’s Farmington River Valley in the 1940s so remarkably impacted his life.

I’ll consider both the key features of the tobacco farms landscape that we observed near West Simsbury; and the romanticization of Connecticut tobacco in literature and cinema. 

The Connecticut Colony:

Connecticut began as several separate settlements by the English separatist Puritans (the “Pilgrims”) from Plymouth, Mass. and England; all of which united under a single royal charter as the Connecticut Colony in 1663. 

One of the earliest of these adventurers was William Holmes, who in 1633 brought a party of traders from Plymouth aboard the colony’s “great new barke.” After sailing up the Connecticut River and past a hostile Dutch fort downstream from what is now Hartford, he established the first English settlement in Connecticut at the convergence of the Farmington and Connecticut rivers at present-day Windsor. 

Despite the challenge of smallpox and some sporadic combative relations with local native Americans, the Windsor settlement succeeded, and eventually contained what later became the “daughter towns” of Barkhamsted, Bloomfield, Enfield, the Granbys, Litchfield, Simsbury, Suffield, and others. 

Connecticut’s Tobacco Valley:

When the first settlers came to the Connecticut River Valley, tobacco was already being grown and consumed by native Americans (i.e., the Podunk peoples), who used it in pipes. The Windsor area’s exceptionally fertile sandy loam soil and hot, humid summers were perfect for growing tobacco; and, in less than 10 years, the settlers had imported tobacco seeds from Virginia and harvested their first tobacco crop.

The earliest Connecticut tobacco variety, ‘shoestring,’ was mainly for use in pipes, but, given the settlers’ English heritage, was also brewed and consumed as a tea.  

By 1700, tobacco was being exported to European ports; and in the mid-19th century, Connecticut’s Tobacco Valley, which runs from Hartford to Springfield, had become the center for tobacco agriculture in the state. Note that tobacco farms also flourished in Connecticut’s Farmington River Valley towns, westward from Windsor to Simsbury.  

Cigars:

Photo by Alexandre Trouvé on Unsplash.

The origin of cigars has been traced back to the 10th century Mayan civilization in Central America. There is no record of the Mayans trading with the early Windsor settlers.

Connecticut folklore credits General Israel Putnam, of Brooklyn, Conn., who fought with distinction at the Battle of Bunker Hill, with increasing the popularity of cigars in New England when he returned from an expedition to Cuba in 1762 with thousands of Havana cigars.

“Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” is often attributed to Putnam at Bunker Hill.

‘Shoestring’ was replaced with ‘Broadleaf,’ a variety from Maryland, favored because the leaf was much larger, produced greater crop yields, and was suitable for cigars — although used primarily for the two outside layers, the binder and the wrapper.

Note that most cigars are comprised of three separate components: the shredded filler, the binder leaf that holds the filler together, and a wrapper leaf, which is often the highest quality leaf used.

Connecticut ‘Broadleaf’ was grown in direct sunlight, which toughened the leaf and produced a more rugged look — much rougher in texture and appearance. This eventually put Connecticut farmers at a disadvantage against others producing a more pristine leaf for cigars. 

The Origins of Connecticut Shade Tobacco:

By the turn of the 20th century, cigar makers were using tobacco from Sumatra, which competed fiercely with Connecticut-grown wrapper tobaccos, and threatened the livelihood of Connecticut growers.

Science:

W. C. Sturgis, a Connecticut botanist, had already grown Sumatra tobacco from seed in 1899, reproducing the thinner leaf. During the initial trials, natural sunlight scorched the leaves. Learning that the tobacco-growing season in Sumatra occurred predominantly in overcast weather or under jungle shade, however, he erected cheesecloth tents over the experimental crops to block direct sunlight.

Botanists from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also began experimenting with tropical tobacco varieties. 

Marcus Floyd, the USDA’s leading tobacco expert at the time came to Connecticut to oversee the first crop of this experimental tobacco, now known as “shade tobacco.”

Results exceeded expectations; the tobacco leaves were more refined, and a golden leaf emerged after curing and aging; and today is considered the gold standard of cigar wrapper leaves.

Connecticut appropriated $10,00 in 1921 (over $158,000 today) for the Tobacco Research Station in Windsor to investigate cigar wrapper tobacco production and disease control. 

Note the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the first such operation in the United States, had been established in 1875.  

Connecticut’s Transition to Shade:

Connecticut farmers were accustomed to the simple cultivation process and single harvest of broadleaf tobacco. In contrast, Connecticut tobacco historian, Dawn Byron Hutchins estimates that each shade tobacco leaf is handled 12 times before it becomes part of a cigar.

She describes the cultivation of shade-grown tobacco as more labor-intensive and more complicated. To wit, the growing season begins in May with weeding and transplanting seedlings. As the plants grow, they are fastened to guide wires, and then cloth tents are spread over them to increase humidity, protect the tender plants from direct sunlight, and maximize the short New England growing season. 

The remainder of cultivation takes place by hand. Field workers spend weeks in high humidity and extreme heat moving among the rows, pulling off shoots and tobacco worms. Multiple harvests of leaves are brought to barns, where workers sew the leaves together to string on wooden lath. The laths are then hung in the rafters of barns to cure.

After curing, the tobacco is moved to sorting sheds and warehouses, where processing continues throughout the rest of the year.

“Working Tobacco”:

Prior to the First World War, the Greater Hartford-Springfield area was able to fulfill the need for seasonal tobacco workers with residents and immigrants. When war broke out, however, many workers were drafted, while those remaining home took jobs at munitions and other defense-related plants, which promised higher wages.

Consequently, Connecticut’s tobacco farms began to employ migrant laborers from the South and the Caribbean. 

The Connecticut Tobacco Company advertised in the New York World in 1915 for “500 girls to work as sorters”. The planters “gathered up 200 girls of the worst type, who straightaway proceeded to scandalize Hartford” (sic). The blunder was managed and Emmett J. Scott, secretary-treasurer of Howard University, included the incident in his 1920 book, “Negro Migration During the War”.

The Company then sought assistance from the National Urban League (NUL), who already served as a clearinghouse and civil rights advocate for African American migrants to the North. They placed advertisements in African American newspapers like The Chicago Defender, which was circulated in the South. Unfortunately, this program was similarly unable to produce a reliable labor force. 

Marcus Floyd (see USDA above), president of the Connecticut Tobacco Company since 1911, then began investigating recruitment of a special group of Southern workers: college or college-bound students. At that time, students from historically black colleges were already accompanying their professors north to work seasonal service jobs at New England resorts.

College students provided Connecticut growers with an English-speaking, educated work force, “who, as seasonal workers, would have only limited impact on the local communities”. 

The NUL introduced Floyd to Dr. John Hope, the first black president of Morehouse College. A deal was struck, and Floyd recruited the first Morehouse students for the 1916 season at Hazelwood plantation on the Windsor/East Granby border.

The Hartford Daily Courant reported in August 1916 that “students were paid $2.00 per day, and, in turn, paid $4.50 per week for room and board. Students could clear $100 for the entire summer,” which is equivalent in purchasing power to more than $2,500 today. Roundtrip transportation was covered for those who completed the entire season.

Recruiters also sought student workers from other historically black colleges, including Florida A&M, Morris Brown College, Howard University, Livingstone College, and Talladega College. Growers minimized their labor problems by developing residential camps or building dormitories on their tobacco farms and providing religious and social opportunities.

A Morehouse dormitory was built in 1938 in Simsbury, and was expanded in 1946. 

Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Martin Luther King, 1964. Photo by the Nobel Foundation. Public Domain.

After qualifying for early admission to Morehouse College, MLK left the South to work the summers of both 1944 and 1947 on the Cullman Brothers tobacco farm in Simsbury to earn money for tuition. 

“For him and a lot of the students, it’s their first time out of the South and away from segregation,” said Clayborne Carson, senior editor of “The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr.,” which included MLK’s teenage letters home describing the liberating experience of escaping the segregated South.

He was struck by the distinction between the segregation on the train ride from Atlanta to Washington D.C. and the freedom he experienced after changing trains for Connecticut. “After we passed Washington, there was no discrimination at all,” he wrote to his father; adding that up North, “We go to any place we want to and sit anywhere we want to.” 

He wrote in his autobiography, “It was a bitter feeling going back to segregation after those summers in Connecticut. It was hard to understand why I could ride wherever I pleased on the train from New York to Washington and then had to change to a Jim Crow car (i.e., racially restricted) at the nation’s capital to continue the trip to Atlanta. I could never readjust to the separate waiting rooms, eating places, and rest rooms; partly because the “separate was always unequal”; and partly because the very idea of separation did something to my sense of dignity and self-respect.”

Corey Kilgannon wrote in the New York Times that the dream of equality that MLK first glimpsed in Simsbury helped reshape his world view. He adds, “It was during those summers that King began his path to becoming a minister. He decided to attend Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, and explained in his 1944 application that he felt, “An inescapable urge to serve society.”

He was ordained as a minister at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1948. 

Literature and Cinema: 

The 1952 novel, East of Eden, by John Steinbeck is set primarily in the Salinas Valley, although an early portion of the novel is set on a Connecticut tobacco farm.  This is a very cruel story and describes the overlapping fates of several generations of two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons; and the toxic relationship of bible-thumping Cyrus with his sons, Adam, and Adam’s violent half-brother, Charles.

Many reviewers cite East of Eden as Steinbeck’s best work and an allegory for the story of Cain and Abel. The 1955 movie, which is based on the fourth and final part of the novel. starred James Dean and Raymond Massey. 

The 1958 novel, Parrish, by New London native, Mildred Savage, tells the story of the shade tobacco industry in the Connecticut River Valley in the 1940s and 1950s, and the violent conflict between the established growers, who had owned vast farms for generations, and a ruthless outsider, Judd Raike, who threatened them through hostile and underhanded acquisitions of their farm lands.

Parrish McLean and his mother work for the Sala Post tobacco farm, which is engaged in a brutal conflict with Raike. Mrs. McLean marries Raike, who then insists that the recalcitrant Parrish learn the business from the ground up; and the story proceeds from the point of view of Parrish, who still has a relationship with Sala. 

The 1961 movie starred Troy Donahue (as Parrish), Claudette Colbert, and Karl Malden. It was filmed in Windsor and includes some amazing aerial panoramas of the shaded fields and farm landscapes of the time (available via Phoebe.)

I can’t close the book on Windsor without mentioning the 1941 Joseph Kesselring Broadway play and 1944 Frank Capra movie, Arsenic and Old Lace, starring Cary Grant. Arsenic was based on events at the Archer Home for Elderly People and Chronic Invalids on Prospect Street in Windsor, Conn. Sixty men died between 1907 and 1917 while in the care of Amy Archer-Gilligan. Most were proven to be victims of arsenic poisoning.

Tobacco Farms Landscape:

I mentioned last time that I was first introduced to tobacco farming when I did several years of active duty in the late 1970s at a Naval Hospital in Southern Maryland. I “mustered out” to Connecticut, and we settled in West Simsbury. We had anticipated dairy farms, and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, but we also got fields of shade tobacco. I reminisce a little on our initial impressions in what turned out to be our final stop in an unplanned odyssey amongst the tobacco-centric regions of the eastern United States.

Making the Shade:

Tobacco fields are arranged in a grid pattern, set with posts and connecting wires. Cheesecloth was stretched across the top and along the sides. Currently, nylon mesh is used in lieu of cheesecloth. The shade diffuses sunlight, encapsulates heat and humidity, and creates an environment whose temperature is much higher than outside the shade. 

Tobacco Barns:

Tobacco barn in Simsbury, Connecticut used for air curing of shade tobacco. By Sphilbrick – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11530818

Adjoining the fields are very distinctive, vertically-sided weathered barns, raised for curing tobacco, which is hung on stalks in the barn’s rafters. The barns are constructed with long narrow boards, which are hinged at the top. Called “Yankee hinges”, they are designed to swing open when needed in order to lower the temperature and increase air flow in the barn.

Note that there are barn designs other than the “Yankee hinges,” which are also used for curing tobacco. They include horizontal siding with top-hinged vents and gable-end doors, or a series of large doors along one of the long sides of the building with the other sides of the building vented.

Epilogue:

Tobacco production in Connecticut today is a fraction of what it was at its peak in the 1930s, when 30,000 acres of farmland grew tobacco; reflecting an overall decline in cigar smoking from a century ago, and greater public awareness of smoking-related disease.  At present, just over 2,000 acres are dedicated to tobacco production. 

The method of growing tobacco under shade is now common in many areas, including the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Cuba.

Connecticut seed tobaccos are also grown in a number of other countries; most notably, Ecuador.

The three-story Morehouse dormitory, mentioned earlier, which originally housed hundreds of tobacco workers, was still in service when we arrived in West Simsbury, but was weathered and in the early stages of disrepair and dilapidation. It was destroyed by fire in 1984 as part of a training exercise for volunteer firefighters.

In spring 2021, the vacant 288-acre site of the 1940s Cullman Brothers tobacco farm in Simsbury, then called Meadowood, was slated for a development of hundreds of homes. As noted above, MLK worked the summers of 1944 and 1947 on the farm.

Richard Curtiss, a history teacher at Simsbury High School, initiated a student project to investigate what was then a local legend. Research not only included books and old newspaper articles, but gathering oral history from people like 105-year-old Bernice Martin, who said that MLK attended her church in Simsbury, The First Congregational Church; and had been recruited to sing in the choir.

The students put their findings in a video, Summers of Freedom, which was covered by the CBS Evening News and other major outlets; and residents then followed with a grassroots citizen petition process and special town meeting that put the question of the Meadowood purchase on a referendum in May 2021.

Residents authorized $2.5 million for the purchase and preservation of the 288-acre Meadowood property by a resounding 87 percent. The property has since been nominated for historic designation.

The stage had already been set for that referendum on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January, with the unveiling of a permanent MLK memorial. The memorial was made up of five glass panels representing the different stages of MLK Jr.’s life. It was made possible by groups of Simsbury High School students, who raised $150,000. It will now be listed as a destination on Connecticut’s Freedom Trail. 

If you have read any of my past columns, you know that I enjoy reading history; and especially enjoy ferreting out instances of the unique. I anticipate expanding on the folklore that surrounds the life of General Israel Putnam, cited above as an “influencer,” who played a significant role in increasing the popularity of cigars.  

A prominent member of the expat community and chronicler of the local zeitgeist lamented, after publishing the first essay in this series, “The British role in the whole [tobacco] business is not a glorious one”! 

All that said, I have never used any tobacco product.

Sources: 

  • Connecticut Valley Tobacco Historical Society
  • Connecticut Valley Agricultural Museum
  • Preservation Connecticut
  • Simsbury and Windsor Historical Societies
  • The Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station
  • Holt’s Cigar Company
  • Cigar Aficionado
  • New York Times,  Nov. 12, 2021; article by Corey Kilgannon

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Thomas D. Gotowka.

Tom Gotowka

 About the author: Tom Gotowka’s entire adult career has been in healthcare. He will sit on the Navy side at the Army/Navy football game. He always sit on the crimson side at any Harvard/Yale contest. He enjoys reading historic speeches and considers himself a scholar of the period from FDR through JFK. A child of AM Radio, he probably knows the lyrics of every rock and roll or folk song published since 1960. He hopes these experiences give readers a sense of what he believes “qualify” him to write this column.

Death Announced of Edward John “Ed” Sopneski of Old Lyme; Lifelong Environmentalist, Joined Other Pioneers Who Led Successful Restoration of Ospreys in OL

OLD LYME — Edward John “Ed” Sopneski passed away peacefully April 12, 2022, after a recent cancer diagnosis …

He was born at St. Raphael Hospital in New Haven, Feb. 27, 1935 …

In 1961 Ed married June Kensel. They bought a home in Old Lyme, where they raised their three sons. The family loved living near the ocean, the Connecticut River and the tidal wetlands …

From his youngest days, he was keenly interested in nature, conservation and the environment …

In the mid-1970s, Ed and friend Jennifer Hillhouse joined with other pioneers who led the successful restoration of the Osprey population in Old Lyme, and the lower Connecticut River. In 1974, there were only nine osprey nests in Connecticut …

Preserving open space was another of Ed’s keen interests. He participated in the purchase campaign for the Watch Rock section of the Old Lyme Land Trust Preserve spending years and untold hours removing invasive plants that were endangering native trees and plants in this preserve …

He cleared an incredible three acres of invasive plants by 2016, and was named the Trust’s Steward Extraordinaire. Quietly, working with hand tools and a bow saw, Ed worked diligently and methodically until recently, when cancer took its toll …

He also worked part time for Roger Tory Peterson and his wife Virginia, as a gardener. Ed designed, installed and maintained a beautiful butterfly garden for them.

Ed’s greatest love on this earth was his family …

Funeral service will be held at 11:30 a.m. June 4, at the Deep River Congregational Church, 1 Church Street, Deep River. Relatives and friends are kindly invited.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Old Lyme Land Trust, Box 163, Old Lyme, CT 06371, or to www.oldlymelandtrust.org …

Visit this link to read the full obituary published May 15, 2022 in The Day.

Needleman Unanimously Endorsed to Run for Third Term Representing State Senate 33rd District, Includes Lyme

State Senator Norm Needleman

ESSEX/LYME — State Senator Norm Needleman this week received unanimous support for re-election to a third term in the Connecticut State Senate, representing the 33rd District, which includes Lyme, Conn.

Sen. Needleman was originally elected to the State Senate in 2018 and won re-election in 2020.

As Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, Sen. Needleman led the “Take Back Our Grid Act,” which requires the companies to provide reimbursements and credits for extended power outages after serious weather events.

In that same role, he also led passage of legislation adding hours of wind power and battery storage along with an increase to the amount of solar resources authorized to be built in the state, bringing Connecticut closer to generating all electricity from renewable resources.

Additionally, Sen. Needleman helped pass a bipartisan two-year budget investing in education, municipal aid and focusing on Connecticut’s future, and an adjustment to that budget supplying the state with $600 million in tax cuts.

He also supported workforce pipeline training to promote regional manufacturing job growth, and voted to expand recycling programs and ban use of PFAS “forever chemicals” in several industries.

In addition to his work as State Senator, Sen. Needleman also serves as First Selectman of Essex, currently in his sixth term in the role, and is founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories in Essex, the largest producer of effervescent products in the United States.

Old Lyme Boys’ Tennis Crush Old Saybrook 6-1, Advance to Six-Game Winning Streak; “I’m So Proud of Them All” (Coach Tyrol)

Freshman Andy Sicuranza prepares to make a shot in a recent match, when he played as part of the #2 doubles team.

OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) Girls’ Tennis team has been having an extraordinary season but let’s not forget the boys, who, thanks to Friday’s 6-1 win over Old Saybrook and Thursday’s 7-0 victory over Portland, are now on a six-game winning streak.

In rookie coach Andrew Tyrol’s enthusiastic words, “We’re making a run toward the state tournament!”

Tyrol, who is a 2013 graduate of LOLHS and now has returned to is high school as a Special Education teacher, comments, “We have a match Friday against Old Saybrook, then our Senior Night against Waterford on Saturday, followed by HK [Haddam-Killingworth], Morgan, and Stonington to round out our regular season prior to the individual and state tournaments.”

The Lyme-Old Lyme Boys’ Tennis team has been enjoying a strong end to the season.

Asked how he felt about his team’s improving form, Tyrol responded by email, saying, “The boys have found their stride in the back half of the season and it really came after a couple of tough losses to HK and Valley. After the HK loss, I saw the Old Lyme boys rally together and start to gain traction with a new competitive and positive team culture.”

He noted, “Practices raised their intensity and I saw a desire and motivation to get better every day. We’ve been talking all season about growth-mindset and I’m so proud of them all for understanding the true meaning of failure–as an opportunity to get better.”

Senior Co-Captain Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum serves in a recent match.

Tyrol stressed that he wished to acknowledge the leadership of senior captains Mike Klier and Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum, and sophomore captain, Griffin McGlinchey on, “… pushing everyone on this team to continue to improve, especially after losses.”

After losing to Valley (who are undefeated and the #1 team in the state) in a tough third set with a score of 3-4, Tyrol said, “We saw the potential that this team has. Every member of our team, has been playing an integral role from practice to game days.”

He concluded, “We are excited to close out the regular season and improve our chances on making a run in the state tournament.”

The boys’ four previous wins to Thursday’s over Portland were Cromwell (7-0), Westbrook (4-3), Coginchaug (7-0), and Waterford (6-1).

Old Lyme would actually be on an eight-game streak if they had defeated Valley on April 29, but they came home with a 3-4 loss instead. In Tyrol’s words, “It was an absolutely incredible match from Griffin McGlinchey [of Old Lyme] and Tomas Dahl,” which went to a nail-biting three sets, but which Dahl ultimately won.

Here are the full results from April 18 to date:

May 13
Old Lyme (H) Defeats Old Saybrook 6-1
Singles:
1. Charles Hinckley vs. Logan Medbury: 6-0, 6-0
2. Griffin McGlinchey vs. Victor Fuda: 6-0, 6-3
3. Will Danes vs. Daniel Steindl: Forfeit Loss (Illness)
4. Aidan Kerrigan vs. Brent Ling: 6-0, 6-3

Doubles:
1. Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum & Micah Bass vs. Jack Forrestt & Mike Kapij: 6-2, 6-3
2. Mike Klier & Andy Sicuranza vs. Zach Nichols & Joe Maselli: 6-0, 6-3
3. Alis Bicic & Leland Hine vs. Forfeit Win
May 12
Old Lyme (H) Defeats Portland 7-0
Singles:
1. Charles Hinckley vs. Ryan Kerr: 6-0, 6-0
2. Griffin McGlinchey vs. Ben McGrew: 6-2, 6-0
3. Will Danes vs. Cooper Rettich: 6-2, 6-3
4. Aidan Kerrigan vs. Elliott Rowland: 6-2, 6-3
Doubles:
1. Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum & Micah Bass vs. Yusuf Kadrich & Patrick May: 6-0, 6-3
2. Mike Klier & Andy Sicuranza vs. Forfeit Win
3. Alis Bicic & Leland Hine vs. Forfeit Win
May 11
Old Lyme (H) Defeats Cromwell 7-0
Singles:
1. Charles Hinckley vs. Tyler Daniele: 6-2, 7-5
2. Griffin McGlinchey vs. Zach Daniele: 6-1, 6-3
3. Will Danes vs. Darragh McNeil: 6-4, 6-0
4. Aidan Kerrigan vs. Gowrish Sriramalinga: 6-3, 6-2
Doubles:
1. Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum & Micah Bass vs. Thomas Garcia & Quentin Shorter: 6-0, 6-1
2. Mike Klier & Andy Sicuranza vs. Forfeit Win
3. Alis Bicic & Leland Hine vs. Forfeit Win

May 10
Old Lyme (A) Defeats Westbrook 4-3
Singles:
1. Charles Hinckley vs. Joey Caslin: Win–Scratch
2. Griffin McGlinchey vs. Elliot Koplas: 0-6, 1-6
3. Will Danes vs. Jonah Freund: 7-5, 5-7, 7-2 (3rd set tiebreak)
4. Aidan Kerrigan vs. Josh Davey: 6-2, 6-3

Doubles:
1. Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum & Micah Bass vs. Mason Malchiodi & Ryan Engels: 1-6, 4-6
2. Mike Klier & Andy Sicuranza vs. Enzo Adorno & Jon Freund: 6-4, 6-1
3. Alis Bicic & Leland Hine vs. Dev Patel & Justin Tapia: 6-0, 6-2

May 3
Old Lyme (A) Defeats Coginchaug 7-0
Singles:
1. Charles Hinckley vs. Zack Ryer: 6-1, 6-1
2. Griffin McGlinchey vs. Luke Charest: 6-0, 6-0
3. Will Danes vs. Will Fournier: 6-0, 6-0
4. Aidan Kerrigan vs. Forfeit Win

Doubles:
1. Micah Bass & Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum vs. Liam Ullman & Cole Wright: 6-0, 6-0
2. Andy Sicuranza & Jed Arico vs. Nick Piscatelli & Yusha Hossein: 6-3, 6-0
3. Alis Bicic & Leland Hine vs. Forfeit Win
April 30
Old Lyme (A) defeats Waterford 6-1
Singles:
1. Charles Hinckley vs. Ian Balfour: 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
2. Griffin McGlinchey vs. Enzo Guarnieri: 6-0, 6-1
3. Will Danes vs. Peter Colonis: 3-6, 3-6
4. Aidan Kerrigan vs. Noah Westkott: 4-6, 6-1, 6-0
Doubles:
1. Micah Bass & Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum vs. Gabriel Povent & Corey Sewndoru: 6-4, 6-7, 6-2
2. Andy Sicuranza & Mike Klier vs. Max Whitlock & Quinn LeBelle: 6-4, 6-2
3.  Alis Bicic & Leland Hine vs. Alistair Wayland & Andrew Bertrond: 6-0, 6-1
April 29
Valley Defeats Old Lyme 4-3
Singles:
1. Charles Hinckley vs. Nick Wyszkowski: 1-6, 4-6
2. Griffin McGlinchey vs. Tomas Dahl: 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
3. Will Danes vs. Hayden Lombardi: 4-6, 6-7
4. Aidan Kerrigan vs. Jack Whittacker: 1-6, 2-6
Doubles:
1. Micah Bass & Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum vs. Kaid Matesky &Aidan Garrity: 6-4, 6-1
2. Andy Sicuranza & Mike Klier vs. Sawyer Joy & Peter Fitton: 6-1, 6-0
3. Alis Bicic & Nevin Joshy vs. Charlie Whelan & Shep Whitney: 6-1, 4-6, 4-6
April 27
Old Lyme Defeats Morgan 5-2
Singles:
1. Charles Hinckley vs. Joseph Morse: 3-6, 2-6
2. Griffin McGlinchey vs. Steve Kinser: 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
3. Will Danes vs. Matt Lopez: 6-4, 6-2
4. Jed Arico vs. Nick Bausch: 2-6, 1-6
Doubles:
1. Micah Bass & Nikolai Stephens Zumbaum vs. Tarik Hasic & Damian Sevieri: 3-6, 6-3,  6-3
2. Andy Sicuranza and Mike Klier vs. Nate Kinser and Ryder Watson: 6-2, 6-4
3. Alis Bicic and Leland Hine vs. Page Cuptill and Ryan Mansfield: 6-1, 7-5
April 22
Old Lyme Defeats Portland 4-1
Singles:
1. Charles Hinckley vs. Ryan Kerr: 6-1, 6-2
2. Andy Sicuranza vs. Ben McGrew: 6-4, 6-1
3. Ryan Clark vs. 6-2, 1-6, 4-6
4. N/A
Doubles:
1. Micah Bass and Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum vs. Yusuf Kodric and Pat May: 6-0, 6-2
2. Leland Hine and Will Danes vs. Forfeit
3. N/A
April 18
East Hampton Defeats Old Lyme 6-1
Singles:
1. Griffin McGlinchey vs. Pat Gavrylchuk: 6-1, 1-6, 2-6
2. Will Danes vs. Konrad Piech: 7-5, 6-1
3. Ryan Clark vs. Ben Fields: 1-6, 0-6
4. Owen Ingersoll-Bonsack vs. Reilly Howard: 0-6, 0-6
Doubles:
1. Micah Bass & Nikolai Stephens-Zumbaum vs. Matt Piela & Roman LeFloc’h: 2-6, 0-6
2. Andy Sicuranza & Leland Hine vs. Anthony Miro & Chris Anderson: 6-2, 5-7, 4-6
3. Nihad Bicic & Alis Bicic vs. Ben Maynard & Ethan Fields: 2-6, 2-6

It’s Prom/Summer Party Season! Let’s Work Together to Stop Teen Access to Alcohol

LYME/OLD LYME — With Prom and summer just around the corner, it’s a great time to focus awareness in Lyme and Old Lyme on underage drinking. Remember alcohol continues to be the number one substance used by youth. 

One way we can work to prevent teens from drinking is to prevent easy access to alcohol and recognizing that teen drinking is not inevitable.

The Lyme-Old Lyme 2021 Youth Survey reports that 62 percent of high school seniors do not drink alcohol regularly.

Unfortunately, 70 percent of 12th graders report that it is easy to get alcohol. Most teens who drink get alcohol without having to pay for it. They obtain it from friends (83 percent) or family members, at parties, or by taking it without permission.  

The 2021 Youth Survey shows that nearly 50 percent of students, who report drinking, take it from their parents with and without permission. Underage drinkers, who pay for alcohol, usually give money to someone else to purchase it for them.

Here’s what you can do to reduce access to alcohol:

  • At home, make sure teens can’t access alcohol without your knowledge. Unmonitored alcohol, including alcohol stored in a cabinet, refrigerator, basement or garage, can be a temptation. When in doubt, lock it up.
  • Liquor stickers can be a helpful tool and are available at Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau.
  • Exercise your influence. Data shows that teens continue to care what their parents think, even while they are in high school and college – 63 percent of students choose not to drink because they feel their parents would disapprove. Let your teen know that you don’t want them to drink and that most teens, in fact, don’t drink.

  • Speak up, because silence can be misinterpreted. It may have happened already. A neighbor announces she is hosting a teen party, but you shouldn’t worry — she’s taking the car keys from every kid who comes in. Or a colleague says he’s serving alcohol to his high school son’s friends so they can “learn to drink responsibly.”
  • If you hear about a situation, say that you don’t want other people serving alcohol to your teen or condoning teen drinking. Let your friends, neighbors, and family members know that the minimum drinking age is a policy that protects teens, and that you don’t want your teen to drink.
  • Take action before a situation arises. Start talking to the parents of your child’s friends early — as early as 6th grade. Tell them about the risks of teen drinking and let them know that you don’t want anyone to allow your teen to drink alcohol.
  • Talk to adults, who host teen parties. Let them know that the overwhelming majority of parents support the legal drinking age and agree that it is not okay to serve alcohol to someone else’s teen — and not okay to turn a blind eye to teen alcohol consumption.
  • Let local law enforcement know that you encourage active policing of noisy teen parties that may signal alcohol use.
  • Tell local alcohol retailers that you want them to check ID’s before selling alcohol. Limiting alcohol sales to legal purchasers is an important goal and well worth the time it takes.
  • Consider joining the Lyme-Old Lyme Prevention Coalition.

For more information on how to help your teen make healthy choices surrounding drugs or alcohol, visit www.lysb.org/prevention or contact Alli Behnke, Prevention Coordinator, abehnke@lysb.org

Alli Behnke

About the Author: Alli Behnke, MSW, MA is the Prevention Coordinator at Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau. She has been a Social Worker for 20 years working in the fields of prevention, therapy, youth leadership, and health coaching. Alli believes strongly in providing accurate information, education, and tools for success when empowering the Lyme/Old Lyme Prevention Coalition and REACH Youth Coalition to work together on strengths-based campaigns. The Coalitions address substance abuse and other risky behaviors challenging our youth and families. Contact her at abehnke@lysb.org or visit  www.lysb.org to become involved in this important community work.

A la Carte: Can’t Imagine Grilling a Salad? Then Try This, But Don’t Forget Blue Cheese & Basil!

Lee White

When I was little, my mother used to call me Sarah Bernhardt. I had no idea who Sarah Bernhardt and she told me Bernhardt was a famous actress in the early 1900s. 

I think today my mom would call me a drama queen. She also suggested I not wish my life away, that someday I would wish I could get those years back.

I thought about this again as I was reading my newest food magazines, wishing it were summer again so I could write about late June strawberries, July’s sweet corn, August’s tomatoes, and earthy fall squashes.

Look, I’m doing it again, and it is only mid-May.

On the other hand, it is time to fire up the grill. I saw a recipe for grilled kebabs of cake and fresh pineapple on skewers tossed with brown sugar, vanilla and little salt. I have a fresh pineapple on the counter and a few slices of pound cake. 

I also have romaine in the crisper and some blue cheese, too.

I can wing the dessert, but here is a recipe for the entrée.

Photo by Petr Magera on Unsplash.

Grilled Romaine Salad with Blue Cheese and Basil
From Food magazine, May/June, 2022
Yield: serves 4 to 6

Dressing:
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon capers
Kosher salt
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoons hot sauce
6 oil-packed anchovy fillets (or a teaspoon or two anchovy paste)
½ to ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:3 romaine lettuce hearts, halved lengthwise
Extra-virgin olive oil for tossing
Kosher salt
1 lemon, halved
20 fresh basil leaves
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
Sliced rotisserie chicken (optional)

Preheat grill to medium. Make dressing: in a blender combine lemon juice, vinegar, capers, 1 teaspoon salt and the garlic. Blend until smooth. Add Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, anchovies and ½ cup oil until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Blend in up to ¼ cup more oil if needed. Set dressing aside.

Make the salad: In a large bowl, toss 4 of romaine halves with a little olive oil and season with salt, put them in a single layer on the grill and cook 3 minutes per side (the romaine should feel slightly warm and tender). Spoon a little dressing on each of 4 to 6 plates.

Finely chop rest of the romaine and add to a medium bowl. Add remaining dressing, a touch of lemon juice and the basil leaves. Toss to coat.

Top the grilled romaine with the remaining dressing. Garnish with blue cheese and serve immediately, topped with diced chicken, if desired.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years but now lives in Groton, Conn. Contact Lee at leeawhite@aol.com.

Death Announced of William Haynes Kelly, Jr., 53; Son of Haynes & Sally of Old Lyme, Member of LOLHS Class of 1986

MELROSE, MA — It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of William Haynes Kelly Jr. (Will) [on April 21, 2022], 53 years old, of Melrose, MA. Will is survived by his two  children, who were the center of his world, Alex and Paige Kelly, as well as his parents, Haynes and Sally Kelly of Old Lyme, CT, his former wife Stacey Arrigo Kelly, also of Melrose, MA, his sister Kim Gray, brothers Scott and Chad Kelly …

Will grew up in Old Lyme and graduated from Lyme-Old Lyme High School in 1986. He studied biology & economics at Tufts University & then entrepreneurship at Babson College.

He was a member of Zeta Psi Kappa Chapter at Tufts …

A Memorial Service will be held at 10AM, Tuesday, May 24th at Bellevue Golf Club, Melrose, MA. To leave an online condolence, visit www.ruggieromh.com East Boston-Peabody.

Visit this link to read the full obituary published by the Ruggiero Family Memorial Home.