December 13, 2019

Lyme Academy Welcomes Community to First Annual Holiday Tree Lighting This Afternoon; Enjoy Cookies, Crafts, Music and Merriment Galore!

This huge fir tree, which will be lit tonight, has been installed in front of the Chandler Center at Lyme Academy.

OLD LYME — The Lyme Academy of Fine Arts starts a new tradition this afternoon at 4 p.m. and invites the whole community to join them! With a fir tree towering high into the air in front of the Elisabeth Gordon Chandler Center, the Academy is hosting a tree-lighting the like of which Old Lyme has not seen for many years. All are welcome to attend this fun-filled evening and ring in the holiday season.

Stacey Leonardo, who serves as Executive Assistant at the Academy, explains that the idea for the event was conceived because, “The Academy wanted … to bring the community together to welcome in the holiday season.” As members of the Academy began to prepare for the event, they soon felt, in Leonardo’s words, at they, “Wanted to add in some additional family friendly activities to make the evening even more special.”

The result is that the original idea for just the tree-lighting has now turned into a much more extenive family-friendly event that will feature a musical performance by the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School Band led by Carrie Wind, who will play festive holiday classics in the Stobart Barn.

Lyme-Old Lyme High School and Lyme Academy College alumnus Rick Lacey assists with the tree installation.

Inside the Chandler Center, children will be able to make an ornament for their homes and also bring their Christmas lists to Santa’s Elves in the lecture room.  The Elves in turn may have a treat or two in store for the children in the form of candy canes and more!

Meanwhile, adults can enjoy the Hauthschild Exhibit of paintings of steam locomotives, which is on loan from the Valley Railroad Company in Essex and will be on display outside the Chauncey Stillman Gallery in the Chandler Building.

And to ensure no one goes hungry or thirsty, families can enjoy hot chocolate and cookies generously provided by Essex Savings Bank in the reception area.

The Academy has partnered with a number of generous sponsors to put on this , which include Essex Savings Bank, Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce, Beautigasm Makeup Artistry, and Doug Hampton Dowson Photography.

The Academy is collecting non-perishable food donations for the Shoreline Food Kitchen during the event.



Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Move Forward with Plans for $2.3 Million Artificial Turf Field

OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education is moving forward with a plan to build a more than $2 million artificial turf athletic field, a project school officials say will conserve groundwater without placing a burden on taxpayers.

Superintendent Ian Neviaser said last week that the board has almost amassed enough money in the district’s undesignated capital expense fund to build the field. For the past two decades, the district has typically funneled 1 percent of its annual budget into the fund to help finance larger projects and avoid budget increases or the need to bond, he said.

The fund balance is currently …

Read the full article by Mary Biekert and published on Dec. 9 at this link.


Cappella Cantorum Presents Christmas Concert at Valley Regional High School, Sunday

DEEP RIVER — Cappella Cantorum presents its annual Christmas Concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, at Valley Regional High School in Deep River.



Linderman Elected Chairman of the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Board of Education

Diane Linderman

OLD LYME — During Wednesday evening’s regular Region 18 Board of Education meeting, members held an election to determine who would hold the four officer positions. The results of the election were as follows:

Chairman: Diane Linderman

Vice-Chairman: Martha Shoemaker

Secretary: Steve Wilson

Treasurer: Jean Wilczynski

Linderman replaces Michelle ‘Mimi’ Roche, who did not run for re-election in the November 2019 election. Linderman was previously vice-chairman and Shoemaker served as Secretary.

Steve Wilson, who was elected to the board for the first time in November, takes on the position of secretary and Wilczynski continues in her role as treasurer.



See ‘Deck the Walls’ at Lyme Art Association in Old Lyme

‘Janray Thaw’ by John Caggiano is one of the signature works in the Lyme Art Association’s ‘Deck the Walls’ Holiday Show.

OLD LYME — The Lyme Art Association hosts an opening reception for its holiday art exhibition and sale, Deck the Walls, on Friday, Dec. 6, from 5 to 7 p.m. The show will be on view through Jan. 3, 2020. More than 200 original works of art by member artists will be on display and priced to sell as holiday gifts. The public is welcome at the opening reception and admission is free. All painting purchases from 5 p.m. on Dec. 6 through 5 p.m. Dec. 7 will be tax-free.

‘Winter Stream’ by Thomas Adkins of vermont is on view and for sale in the Holiday Show.

“For Deck the Walls, the Lyme Art Association features a wide variety of appealing subjects at affordable prices that are great for holiday shopping. We hope to help solve those gift giving dilemmas – a beautiful piece of artwork is always appreciated!” says Jocelyn Zallinger, Gallery Manager.

“During the holiday season, the Lyme Art Association is a great place to come for a gentle activity for children on school vacation or for visiting guests. Whether you have a few minutes or more than an hour, the gallery is a wonderful way to decompress, stimulate conversation, or simply enjoy yourself,” says Laurie Pavlos, Executive Director.

The Lyme Art Association is free and open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm, and by appointment. The Lyme Art Association is located at 90 Lyme Street in Old Lyme, at the corner of Halls Road. Please call (860) 434-7802 for more information, or visit


Former Old Lyme First Selectwoman Testifies at State Transportation Committee’s Public Hearing on CPA

CHRISTINE STUART/ CTNEWSJUNKIE PHOTO. Published with permission of  Bonnie Reemsnyder and Scott Bates, two former Port Authority board members, testify at Wednesday’s hearing.

HARTFORD, CT / OLD LYME — The massive stroke suffered by the Connecticut Port Authority’s former executive director, Evan Matthews, on May 26, 2017, took a toll on operations and contributed to the contracting issues at the quasi-public agency.

Matthews, who voluntarily testified Wednesday at the Transportation Committee’s public hearing on a second state audit of the organization, said some of the contracting issues “were related to the CPA reacting to this emergency.” He also said he was not given a chance to sit down with the auditors and explain to them the unique circumstances “to give them context for why some decisions were being made.”

However, …

Read the full article by Christine Stuart and titled, Former Executive Director Says His Health Contributed To Problems At Port Authority, published Dec. 4 on


Legal News You Can Use: Do You Know the True Purpose of Alimony?

Alimony is an important protection for some divorcees. If you are divorcing, it might be something you’re looking into seeking, too. Do you know how it’s determined? Do you have any idea about how much you need?

Here’s a little more about alimony, so you can understand what to expect.

1. Alimony is decided by the courts unless you and your spouse agree on an amount

Alimony is decided by the courts, but you and your spouse can decide on an amount yourselves in advance if you’d like. If you want to make up your own mind about how much you need, then you should sit down and budget. Find out how much you need in alimony to make ends meet, and then you and your spouse can talk about an amount that is feasible and how long it should be paid.

2. Alimony is designed to help a lesser-earning spouse and to “pay them back” for their support

Alimony has a few purposes. One purpose may be to help spouses who gave up their careers or who earn less and need time to make up the financial differences caused by moving out. Alimony can also be used as a way to pay them back for financial support while one spouse went to school.

3. Lump-sum alimony helps you avoid long-term obligations

Lump-sum alimony is a good way to avoid long-term obligations. With lump-sum alimony, the payer doles out the whole amount versus monthly installments. With lump-sum alimony, the recipient doesn’t have to worry about payments not being made, and neither the recipient nor payer have to stay in touch (unless for other reasons).

Attorneys at Suisman Shapiro can speak with you more about alimony and answer your questions on the subect. Visit their website or call 800-499-0145 — lines are open 24 hours a day.

Sponsored post on behalf of Suisman Shapiro.


Enjoy ‘The Magic of Christmas’ at Flo Gris Museum in Old Lyme Through New Year

There are now four palette trees to hold the more than 200 hand-painted palettes on display in this year’s ‘Magic of Christmas.’

OLD LYME — The holiday season is always something special to celebrate at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Conn. – after all, Miss Florence was born on Christmas Day, 1850. The Museum will be decked out in its holiday finery for the Magic of Christmas celebration from Nov. 29, 2019 through Jan. 5, 2020.

This year marks the 200th painted palette to be added to Miss Florence’s Artist Trees. Since 2004 noted artists from across the country have donated works to this one-of-a-kind holiday icon – so many that now four trees are needed to hold the works of art. The idea of contemporary artists creating paintings on artists’ palettes is a nod to the Museum’s history as the center for the Lyme Art Colony, and alludes to the door and wall panels the artists painted throughout Miss Florence’s boardinghouse over a century ago. The palette artists’ styles and subject matter are as varied as the individuals.

This palette by Kenney Mencher of Palo Alto, Calf., is one of the 2019 additions to the Palette Trees.

Oils, acrylics, watercolors, ceramics, glass, and collage are used to transform the palettes into traditional holiday scenes, delightful landscapes, and more than a few surprises! The palettes are displayed on four trees in the Krieble gallery, along with the current exhibition, “Nothing More American:” Immigration, Sanctuary, and Community—An Exhibition by Matthew Leifheit.

To commemorate the milestone of the 200th palette, the Museum published Miss Florence’s Artist Trees: Celebrating a Tradition of Painted Palettes, which showcases each of the works of art on its own page.

In the historic rooms of the Florence Griswold House, the special installation by artist Jennifer Angus, Silver Wings and Golden Scales, has been held over by popular demand. Visitors to the House will be able to delight in this dream-like scenario of Miss Florence’s home transformed into the site of an insect-themed masquerade party through Jan. 12, 2020.

Angus evokes the bohemian spirit of the Lyme Art Colony through her artistic compositions of preserved exotic insects, including textile-inspired wallcoverings, an elegant cape for Miss Florence, and whimsical vignettes. Through her art, Angus brings to visitors not only the beauty of insects, but their critical importance to our ecology as well. Upstairs, two artists, Betsy Barry and Carol Maynard have created Fantasy Trees, designed to delight and inspire.

All ages can enjoy the beautiful Palette Christmas Trees at the ‘Magic of Christmas’ exhibition

Many special events and programs are held in conjunction with the Magic of Christmas. Christmastime Teas are among the most popular events. Delectable scones with clotted cream, assorted tea sandwiches, and cookies prepared by Gourmet Gallery, a caterer known for their delicious flavors and impeccable presentations, are accompanied by “Miss Florence’s Tea,” a special blend from Sundial Gardens in Higginum.

Miss Florence’s Tea is a special blend of superior Ceylon and China black tea enhanced with a touch of delicate spices. The tea celebrates the camaraderie and creativity of the Lyme Art Colony with each cup. Teas are held Dec. 3 through 28 on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 3 to 5pm and Saturdays from 12 to 2pm and 3 to 5pm.

Other events and programs include special events for families, including a visit from Frozen sisters Elsa and Anna and hands-on crafts for children and adults.

Unique gifts from The Shop and memberships to the Museum make thoughtful holiday and hostess gifts.

Located on a 12-acre site in the historic village of Old Lyme, the Florence Griswold Museum is known as the Home of American Impressionism. In addition to the restored Florence Griswold House, where the artists of the Lyme Art Colony lived, the Museum features a modern exhibition gallery, education center, landscape center, extensive gardens, and a restored artist’s studio.

The Museum is located at 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT, exit 70 off I-95 and is open year-round Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday 1 to 5pm. The Museum is closed Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $8 students, and free to children 12 and under. On Saturdays between November 30 through January 5, admission is only $5 when visitors bring in a non-perishable donation for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens and Pantries.

For more information, visit the Museum’s website at or call 860-434-5542 x 111.

Magic of Christmas Activities

Sunday, Dec. 1 at 2pm
Book Event
Director of Education and Outreach David D.J. Rau speaks about the publication Miss Florence’s Artist Trees: Celebrating a Tradition of Painted Palettes, which was published this October to commemorate the milestone of the 200th palette added to Miss Florence’s Artists Trees this year. Please reserve your space in advance, $25 includes book. Register online at

Sundays, Dec. 1 through Jan. 5, 1-4pm
Joy in the Making
Each Sunday visitors can experience the joy of making a hand-made card or ornament during the weekly drop-in creative programs. Fun for all ages. This event is free with Museum admission and children 12 and under are free.

Dec. 1-24
Daily Specials in the Museum Shop
One day you might save on all books or art supplies, the next, maybe everything sparkly or all snowmen. Check for a calendar of items and days.

Dec. 3 through 28
Christmastime Teas
Tuesday through Saturday enjoy an elegant tea of savories and sweets overlooking the wintery splendor of the Lieutenant River. Catered by Gourmet Galley. Guests enjoy a 10% discount in The Shop. $40. Reservations required, please call 860-434-5542 x 111 for information and reservations.

Elsa and Anna are always popular performers at the Museum.

Saturday, Dec. 7
Elsa and Anna perform at the Museum
Visitors can enjoy holiday crafting between visits from the beloved sisters. Shows at noon, 1pm, and 2pm. This program is included with Museum admission, and visitors 12 and under are always free.

Thursday, Dec. 12, 5:30 to 7pm
Art•Bar Happy Hour
Combine creativity and cocktails! Enjoy an evening of Christmastime crafting. All materials provided. Get friends together or come make new ones! For adults 21+. $25. Register online at

Sunday, Dec. 15 at 2pm
Gallery Talk
Director of Education and Outreach David D.J. Rau speaks about Miss Florence’s Artist Trees in the Gallery. This event is free with Museum admission.

Sunday, Dec. 29 from 1 to 4pm
Miss Florence’s Birthday Party
Visitors share in this hands-on-creative celebration of Miss Florence’s Christmas Day birthday. Enjoy a piece of birthday cake while making an assortment of fun craft projects. Fun (and free!) balloon sculptures by April’s Balloon Creations. This program is included with Museum admission, and visitors 12 and under are always free.

Faith Leitner will play her harp Sunday, Dec. 29, in the Florence Griswold Museum to celebrate “An Ode to the New Year.”

Sunday, Dec. 29, from 1 to 4pm
Ode to the New Year: Harp Music by Faith Leitner
The harp was Miss Florence’s favorite instrument. Visitors can see the one her father brought back for her from England in the Florence Griswold House. Accomplished harpist Faith Leitner will perform in the gallery. A beautiful way to end the year! This program is included with Museum admission, and visitors 12 and under are always free.


Talking Transportation: 2020 Hindsight by Jim Cameron

Jim Cameron

As we review the details of Governor Lamont’s CT2030 transportation plan, I have a strange sense of déjà vu.  Haven’t we been through all this before?

Journey back with me to 1999 when the famous Gallis Report warned that southwestern Connecticut’s transportation woes were strangling the entire state.  If something wasn’t done, they warned, we would become “an economic cul-de-sac” in the burgeoning northeast.

The solution?  Yet another study, this one undertaken by Wilbur Smith Associates for SWRPA, the SouthWest Regional Planning Agency (now part of WestCOG). The report specifically looked at “congestion mitigation,” i.e., doing something about our traffic problems.

The $903,000 report was submitted in February 2003 and was titled “Vision 2020”.  You see the pattern … Vision 2020 morphs into CT2030?

Rereading the report, I am struck with its many good ideas, a few of which actually came to pass:

Land Use Review:  The idea of T.O.D. (Transit-Oriented Development) has been embraced throughout the state with towns and cities planning for dense (hopefully car-free) developments near transit hubs.

More Rail Station Parking:  Also some progress, though many towns still have a 6+ year wait for annual permits.  And 20 years ago, who’d have even imagined apps like Boxcar or Uber?

More Bike & Pedestrian Options:  We now have more sidewalks and bike paths as well as bike racks on buses and Metro-North.

But other “low hanging fruit” ideas still haven’t happened, like…

  • FlexTime, Staggered Work Hours and Vanpools to lighten the rush hour.  Next time you’re stuck in traffic look around:- it’s almost all SOV’s (single occupancy vehicles.)
  • A “Smart Card” universally accepted for payment on all public transit.  And free transfers from buses to trains.
  • A “Weigh-In-Motion” system to monitor trucks without long queues at seldom-open weigh stations.

But never addressed were the big (expensive) ideas like:

  • Ramp metering, like they have in California, to stop cars from piling onto I-95 at will adding to the crush.
  • Closing some interchanges to make I-95 a truly interstate highway, not a local shortcut.
  • Adding a “zipper lane” to I-95 heading west in the AM and east in the PM… with tolls!
  • Running BRT (bus rapid transit) along the Route One corridor.
  • Double-tracking the Danbury branch of Metro-North.
  • Start a “feeder barge” system to bring shipping containers from New Jersey to New England by water, not truck.
  • Resume rail freight service by adding a rail bridge across the Hudson River.
  • Widen I-84 and Rte. 7 to four lanes.
  • Study the idea of high speed ferry service along the coast.

Haven’t we heard all this before?  How many of these ideas are posed again Lamont’s CT2030?  A lot of them.

We are not lacking in ideas, just political will.  For decades the legislature has been unwilling to commit resources to our transportation infrastructure and economic future, instead wasting millions on more and more studies of the same problems.

All of these big ideas take money … big money.  But the “No Tolls CT” folks have tapped into residents’ cynicism that anything in terms of new revenue will be misspent.  And they’ve so intimidated lawmakers with threats of “Vote for Tolls, Lose at the Polls” that even the bravest members can’t muster the courage to do the right thing.

Posted with permission of Hearst CT Media.

About the author: Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own. You can reach him at  For a full collection of  “Talking Transportation” columns, visit


Lyme-Old Lyme HS Senior Builds Benches For OL Land Trust’s Lohmann Preserve as Eagle Scout Project

Old Lyme Land Trust Secretary Anne Galliher stands with Boy Scout Alec Russell during the dedication ceremony for the benches built by Russell as part of his Eagle Scout project.

OLD LYME — Anyone who has visited the John Lohmann CT River Preserve recently has undoubtedly noticed the two new cedar benches. These were built as the Eagle Scout project of Alec Russell of Boy Scout Association Troop 240. Alec is a senior at Lyme-Old Lyme High School.

Russell proposed and planned this service project, organized a work team, secured donations of material from United Building Supply and Laysville Hardware. He worked with his team of adults and fellow scouts to build the benches, using cedar for its weather, insect and decay resistance.

One bench is on the riverfront where it offers views of Essex and Lords Cove year round. The other is at the top of the path leading down to the river.

The inscription on one of the benches built by Alec Russell for the Lohmann Preserve in Old Lme.

The bench commissioning celebration was held on a blustery riverside day but that did not deter a hardy group of Old Lyme Land Trust members, scouts and the Russell family from enjoying the views and warm beverages. The neighbors at Long River Farm loaned their ATV to bring in the provisions.

The benches are located in an area that is being reforested with pitch pine, a species used extensively in early days for ship building and railroad ties. Pitch pine has become scarce in Connecticut and has a particular preference for its habitat. On advice of the Connecticut River Gateway Commission and forest managers, about 20 hardwood trees were removed by Yankee Tree to encourage growth of the pines.

The John Lohmann Preserve and all other Old Lyme Land Trust preserves are always open and available for public use for hiking and enjoying the outdoors in Old Lyme.


Senator Murphy’s Vote Was Not Counted in Old Lyme Election

OLD LYME — It was one of the most hotly-contested local elections in the state, but not everyone’s ballot was counted.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy voted by absentee ballot in the Nov. 5 election, but his vote was not counted because — unbeknownst to the senator — his name had been moved to the inactive voter list.

Shortly after his election to the U.S. Senate …

Read the full article written by Christine Stuart and published Nov. 26 on at this link.


Happy Thanksgiving! We are Thankful for You …

We wish all our readers a very Happy Thanksgiving. We want to take this opportunity to say how thankful we are to all our readers for supporting independent, local community jouralism and we especially would like to give thanks to all our advertisers, who continue to make this publication financially possible.

We are proud to say that we have been publishing for more than 16 years and in the coming weeks, we will talk more about the challenges — some new, some old — that we face in this task and how we believe we can solve them together.

But for now, enjoy this special day and be thankful with us for family, friends, and oh, so much more!


State Rep. Carney Named Environmental Champion by Connecticut League of Conservation Voters

State Rep. Devin Carney (R- 23rd)

HARTFORD – (from a press release) The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) have recognized State Representative Devin Carney (R-23), naming him an Environmental Champion for his efforts and support of proposals that focus on various green initiatives throughout the state.

Each year, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters release an Environmental Scorecard and names “Environmental Champions,” legislators who advocated for particular pro-environment bills. Only 16 legislators received this designation and Rep. Carney’s leadership on clean energy legislation was highlighted.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by the League of Conservation Voters as an Environmental Champion,” saidRep. Carney. As the State Representative for an environmentally precious district, I was proud to advocate for and support many pieces of legislation to improve and protect Connecticut’s environment. As the Co-Chair of the Clean Energy Caucus, I was proud of the work I was able to achieve, particularly involving solar net-metering. I look forward to continuing making environmentally-friendly legislation a priority.”

The organization stated Rep. Carney was “instrumental in passing the temporary fix for solar net-metering that became part of the Green Economy Act (HB 5002) and that “he also argued for a more comprehensive set of clean energy policies to grow our economy and address our climate crisis.”

In addition, Rep. Carney also co-sponsored two other environment-related bills during this legislative session. SB-753 expands the statewide fracking ban to apply to all gas and oil extraction activities and HB-7156 to authorize the procurement of energy derived from offshore wind. Both bills passed and were signed into law by the governor earlier this summer.


Legal News You Can Use: Mothers Against Drunk Driving Remind Drivers to be Safe This Year

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash.

As the holiday season approaches, it’s important that people understand the dangers of drunk driving. That’s why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has taken a stand again this year in Connecticut.

The Connecticut branch has spoken out to remind people to be safe on the roads this season, stating that 39 percent of the fatal crashes that took place in 2018 involved drugs and alcohol. The state ranked third in the nation for the highest rate of crashes involving drugs and alcohol.

In recent weeks, two people passed away as a result of drunk-driving crashes. In one case, the driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.137 percent, well above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

MADD wants to remind people that it’s still possible to celebrate without driving drunk. You have options, such as limiting how much you drink on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day or other holidays, calling a ride-sharing service, staying the night wherever you plan to drink or walking to and from events. Whatever you do, you should not be getting behind the wheel of your vehicle if you’re intoxicated because it could put your life, and the lives of others, on the line.

What should you do if you are involved in a traffic accident with a drunk driver?

The most important thing to do is to get support for your injuries. You need to go to the hospital and go through a medical exam, so you can begin the process of recovery. With the right support, you can take the time to heal, and the other party can be held accountable for their actions.

Sponsored post by Suisman Shapiro.


Volunteers From Old Lyme Open Space Commission, CT Hiking Alliance Join Forces to Remove Fencing on McCulloch Farm

A veritable army of volunteers from both the Old Lyme Open Space Commission and the Connecticut Hiking Alliance worked together on Nov. 9 to take down and dispose of the old fences on the McCulloch Farm property , which was recently acquired by the Town. Photos by and published with permission of the CT Hiking Alliance.

OLD LYME — The Town of Old Lyme purchased 300 acres of the McCulloch farm in September, and the Old Lyme Open Space Commission has been working since to prepare the property for public access.  Coincidentally, the Connecticut Hiking Alliance (CHA) was at the same time looking for worthwhile volunteer projects.

It was a perfect match for both organizations and thus the McCulloch Farm horse-fence removal project became the CHA’s Act of Kindness #76. 

The CHA is an active group with three trademarks – day’s activities end with an “Après-hike” social period; they graciously provide “Acts of Kindness,” whether that be muscle power/manual labor, cash donations, in-kind donations, and goods donations; and they love photo memories, taking lots of pictures and posting them on their website. Volunteers from the group take on trail work around the state.

Hard at work, volunteers take stock of the day’s job ahead of them.

Amanda Blair, Open Space Commission Co-Chair, and Bill Ruel, of CHA, put Saturday, Nov. 9, on the organization calendars.  Ruel and about two dozen volunteers from all across Connecticut showed up early that morning at The Bowerbird in Old Lyme to meet with Open Space Commission members, and everyone car-pooled to the McCulloch property (where construction of parking areas hasn’t yet started.)

The day’s job was to dismantle and dispose of old McCulloch Farm horse-fencing. According to a McCulloch family member, rubber strips strung between cedar posts were cut from old factory conveyor belts and installed some 40 years ago to keep prize-winning Morgan horses in the fields.

According to Blair, “Taking down the fencing was a big step as the property transitions from a farm to a beautiful hiking property.  McCulloch open space and the Old Lyme Land Trust’s neighboring Lay Preserve will be an expansive 450-acre ‘Green Corridor’ with great hiking trails to connect one property to the other.”

The fencing pictured above, which was removed by the volunteers, is believed to have been cut from old factory conveyor belts some 40 years ago.

“We’re so, so grateful for the help from the Connecticut Hikers Alliance to do some of the needed grunt work.  It’s been all volunteers from both groups working together for a good cause.”

In a preview of the future, after the fencing take-down, Hiking Alliance volunteers trekked from the McCulloch property through the Lay Preserve to Lord’s Meadow Lane, and back.  Keeping it an all-Old Lyme event, the volunteers enjoyed their “après-hike” social period at the Hideaway Restaurant and Pub.

Photos of the day’s activity can be found @

For more information about the Connecticut Hiking Alliance, visit this link.

For more information on the Old Lyme Open Space Commission, visit this link.


I See Great Things in Baseball – Part 3: The Movies

Photo by Jose Morales on Unsplash.

Editor’s Note: This is the third and final essay by Tom Gotowka on the subject of baseball. We apologize for the delay between the second and third essays, but we made the choice, in consultation with Tom, to hold the latter as it arrived in our Inbox very close to election day. We did not wish it to become lost in all the excitement of our election reporting … and so now that the dust has settled, here it is finally for your reading pleasure.

I said in in the first essay that, “It’s that time of year when many of us start thinking about how well the Red Sox will undoubtedly do next year”. As expected, the New London Day recently had the headline: “A year after World Series Win, Red Sox Looking to Rebuild – finished the season out of the playoffs for the first time since 2015”.

I’m discussing baseball in the movies in this third and final essay. The following “anthology” is a representative list of what I believe are key examples of that genre. These movies are arranged chronologically and not by any sort of ranking. However. I have viewed each of these at least once – some in the theater, and many on DVD. I’m not going to do a play-by-play on any of these, but only highlight some of the scenes that made me occasionally watch them more than once. You will notice that these early movies relied heavily on sentimentality and heroism.

The Pride of the Yankees (1942) is a tribute to Yankees’ first baseman, Lou Gehrig, who was known as the “Iron Horse” during his 2,130 consecutive games played. Released early in WW2, it is a reflection on baseball, strong family values, and the “American way of life.” The movie follows Gehrig from his childhood in the German immigrant Yorkville neighborhood in Manhattan’s upper east side, through his recruitment by the Yankees from Columbia University (leaving the engineering program, much to his mother’s disappointment) and ending with his courageous “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth” speech at his farewell day in 1939.

Gehrig tragically succumbed, at age 37, to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a deadly nerve disease, which now bears his name:- Lou Gehrig’s disease. Gary Cooper’s performance as Gehrig was much more convincing off the field than on the field. Nevertheless, watch this movie if you want to see what “acting presidential” really looks like.

The Babe Ruth Story (1948) was the first movie about the life of Babe Ruth. This movie relied more on sentimentality than historical accuracy. My guess is that it was rushed into release after news broke that Babe Ruth was dying from cancer. The film presents his life, from his early and incorrigible childhood as a budding juvenile delinquent on the streets of Baltimore, and then to his “exile” by his parents to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, where the Xaverian Brothers provided direction and discipline … and introduced him to baseball.

The movie includes his “called shot” in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series at Wrigley Field. The Babe is played by William Bendix, who certainly bears a slight resemblance to him. Some trivia: Bendix had actually been a bat boy at Yankee Stadium during the 1920s, and had regularly seen Babe Ruth play. He was fired from that job after fulfilling Ruth’s request for an order of 15 hot dogs and sodas before a game.

The Stratton Story (1949) follows Texas farm boy and future baseball star Monty Stratton as he rises from the minor leagues to the majors. Stratton was a great right-handed pitcher for the Chicago White Sox in the 1930s, compiling a 37-19 won-loss record in three seasons. His major league career ended in 1938, when a serious hunting accident forced doctors to amputate his right leg. The story shows how Stratton, through incredible determination and the support of his family and friends, walked and pitched again. Amazingly, he continued to pitch in the minor leagues with a wooden leg through the late 1940s and into the 1950s. James Stewart plays a believable Monty Stratton.

The Pride of St. Louis (1952) presents the life story of Jerome Herman “Dizzy” Dean, who is billed, in the opening credits, as “one of the most colorful characters of our time”. This is another “feel-good” baseball movie that provided Americans with an alternative to the “film noir” and some of the sci-fi films of the day covering “atomic energy mutations.”

Dan Dailey plays the charming “hick” Dizzy Dean, taking him from his discovery at a “very local” game in the Arkansas Ozarks, through the Texas League, and then on to the St. Louis Cardinals roster – winning the World Series and breaking some major league pitching records along the way. An injury leads to the early end of his career, and his re-emergence in radio broadcasting. Richard Crenna plays his brother Paul “Daffy” Dean, who was also a major league pitcher.

Damn Yankees (1958) is a movie adaptation of the 1956 Broadway musical about the pennant race between the dominant New York Yankees and the hapless Washington Senators. Like the German legend of Faust and his deal with the devil, an aging and ardent baseball fan, Joe Boyd, seizes an opportunity provided by a devilish man named Applegate to lead his beloved Senators to the pennant; mysteriously joining the team as superstar Joe Hardy, This is an interesting departure from the heroic ball players of past movies and is included because it is so unique.

Bang the Drum Slowly (1972) is another sentimental baseball story, covering the strong friendship between a star major league pitcher and a developmentally delayed (my diagnosis) catcher, as they cope with the catcher’s terminal illness. This movie is worth seeing, not only because it has such a wonderful title, derived from the cowboy song “Streets of Laredo”; but because it’s also an opportunity to see Robert De Niro in one of his earlier roles, playing the catcher, Bruce Pearson.

The Natural (1984) Roy Hobbs, played by Robert Redford, is a farm boy with “an amazing gift for throwing a baseball.” As a rising star on the pitcher’s mound, he strikes out the “Whammer” (i.e., Babe Ruth) in three pitches in an exhibition. He is shot and seriously injured by an insane woman who apparently targets champion athletes. Hobbs is forced to drop out of play for an extended period. He finally returns as a middle-aged rookie and powerful hitter to take a losing 1930s baseball team to the top of the league.

Along the way, he encounters gamblers, suspicious reporters, purveyors of fake news, loose women, and finally … the love of his life. Hobbs’ bat, which he had hand-hewn from a lightning-struck tree and engraved “Wonder Boy,” has an ongoing presence in the more meta-physical aspects of the movie. Like Red Sox Hall of Famer, Ted Williams, Hobbs’ goal was for people to say, “There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived.”

For me, the final few baseball sequences make the first two hours more than worthwhile. Hobbs finally breaks “Wonder Boy”, and then turns to batboy Bobby Savoy: “Pick me out a winner Bobby”, who hands him his own hand-hewn bat, “The Savoy Special”. Hobbs homers into the lights in his last time at bat, unleashing a huge display of sparks and fireworks. Redford is believable as a major league baseball player.

Bull Durham (1988) Kevin Costner plays a perennial minor league catcher reassigned to the Durham Bulls to help mature, mentor, and “protect” a young pitching standout (from the local women and all the other distracting temptations). Susan Sarandon plays Annie Savoy, whose goal in life seems to be developing a romance each season with a team member. The movie tracks these three characters through the season and, of course, pitcher and catcher each strikes up a romance with Annie, who is considered the team’s “mascot”, and refers to baseball as her “religion”. Although largely a comedy, Bull Durham has some excellent dialogue and treats the game with a bit of reverence.

Eight Men Out (1988) is the story of eight players on the 1919 Chicago White Sox, who were banned from the game for life by the Baseball Commissioner for their role in a scandal involving gambling and the “throwing” of World Series games. These baseball stars were depicted in this movie as naïve working men, who made some awful decisions, and were treated in the film with some compassion.

Field of Dreams (1989) Kevin Costner plays Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, who hears a voice in his corn field tell him, “If you build it, he will come”. In this movie, adapted from W. P. Kinsella’s “Shoeless Joe,” for some reason, Ray interprets the message as an instruction to build a baseball field in the cornfield on his farm. The ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other seven Chicago White Sox players banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World Series all appear on the field.

As the voices continue (i.e., “Ease his Pain”), Ray seeks out a reclusive author to help him understand the meaning of the messages. As noted in my second essay, “this is a mix of fantasy, mysticism, and historical facts to demonstrate the importance of baseball in America’s memory”.

Major League (1989) is not a sentimental look at America’s game. Rather, it is John Belushi’s “Animal House”, set in a baseball stadium. The movie follows the exploits and shenanigans of a roster of misfits – some very talented – playing for a fictionalized version of the Cleveland Indians. The team’s new owner, a former showgirl, put together this purposely horrible team so that they’ll lose badly and she can then move the team to Miami to warmer weather and a new stadium.

When the plot is eventually uncovered, the team starts winning just to spite her. This movie and its whacky cast of oddballs is worth a view or two. Bob Uecker is outstanding as the team’s play-by-play announcer. The movie actually spawned two spinoffs; neither of which is worth seeing.

The Babe (1992) is a more detailed review of the life of Babe Ruth than the 1948 film. “All the boxes are checked” in this movie biography. John Goodman plays a pudgy and somewhat “clownish” Babe Ruth. The story begins in Baltimore, early in the twentieth century, where a troubled and undisciplined boy is sent to the St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. There, Brother Matthias introduces him to baseball and is stunned by Ruth’s power.

Over time, he continues to excel as a powerful hitter and a gifted pitcher on an organized team. As the movie progresses, Ruth receives some attention from major league scouts, who sign him to a contract with the Orioles. Ruth is sold to the Boston Red Sox and begins to gain wide attention for his home runs. Unfortunately, after Ruth demands more money, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sells him to the New York Yankees to finance his Broadway shows. This sale then becomes, and is forever known in Boston as “The Curse of the Bambino”.

In 1932, during the World Series against the Cubs, Ruth points to center field and hits a towering home run, “calling his shot” on behalf of a boy dying in a hospital bed. Moving ahead, the movie shows Babe in decline. He wants to pursue his ambition of managing a baseball team, and the Yankees release him from his contract. He signs with the Boston Braves as a manager, but his presence on the team is more comedic than anything else.

The film ends with a broken Ruth, walking through the entrance tunnel where he is confronted by the “dying boy”, who, now healthy and an adult, tells him “You’re the best; the best there’s ever been”.

A League of Their Own (1992) is a fictionalized and almost farcical account of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League AAGPBL), which was founded by Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley during World War II to keep baseball in the public’s eye while many of baseball’s male players were in military service; and women took on many roles that had historically been handled only by men. The league operated between 1943 and 1954. The movie is a “flashback” by a former player, who is attending the opening of the AAGPBL exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The movie includes Tom Hanks, who plays an alcoholic former major leaguer serving as team manager; and Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, and Lori Petty, and Megan Cavanaugh as core team members.

Cobb (1994) is the story of sportswriter, Al Stump, chosen by Ty Cobb to ghost-write his “authorized” autobiography. The writer meets a mortally ill and aged Cobb in his Lake Tahoe home, and finds a drunken, cynical, racist man, who tries to manipulate both him and the facts. The grand house sits without heat or electricity because Cobb is battling the utility companies. His domestic staff has also left him. As Cobb tries to “set the record straight” about his life in and out of baseball, Stump must either present an accurate picture of a terrible man, who happened to be both an American sports hero and the first man inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, or candy-coat his life.

This dilemma plays out through the end of the movie, and Stump’s indecision on whether to write a tribute to a legendary player, or a confirmation of what is an almost anti-social personality. Tyrus Raymond Cobb is well-played by Tommy Lee Jones, who presents him as an unsympathetic, and utterly vicious character.

Money Ball (2011) is the account of the Oakland Athletics’ 2002 season and the methods used by their general manager, Billy Beane, to pull together a low cost, but competitive team.

Beane, played by Brad Pitt, has been saddled with the lowest player salary budget in the major leagues. So, he recruits Peter Brand, a young Yale economics graduate with some radical ideas about how to assess player value: i.e., “an analytical, evidence-based, ‘sabermetric’ approach, based on detailed statistical data” to selecting and signing under-valued players (rather than relying on their scouts’ experience and intuition). Brand had validated his approach for Beane by demonstrating how his method would not have drafted Beane (who was a mediocre major league player) until the ninth round.

42 (2013) tracks the life of Jackie Robinson as he breaks major league baseball’s color barrier and becomes the first African-American player on a major league roster. Robinson was a graduate of UCLA, where he was the school’s first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. He was also commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army in 1943, having joined in 1942.

By 1946, he is playing in the Negro League. Branch Rickey, played by Harrison Ford, is general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers and interested in recruiting Robinson for the team. The movie shows how Rickey’s interest in Robinson developed and how he made his decision to recruit him for the Dodger organization. Their discussions acknowledge just how difficult life will be for Robinson and his family when he joins the team. Rickey told Robinson that “I want a player who’s got the guts not to fight back.”

Robinson was initially assigned to the Dodgers’ minor league affiliate, the Montreal Royals, and was well-received there as a star player. Life changes immensely when he reports to the Dodgers in Brooklyn and begins playing at Ebbets Field. Robinson and his family endure unrelenting racist hostility on and off the field, from his opponents, his teammates, and the Brooklyn fans alike.

The movie clearly shows his struggle to endure this abuse without complaint. Harrison Ford is terrific as Branch Rickey. Chadwick Boseman is very good as Robinson. This movie is very inspirational and one of those that, if only for its historic value, one should see at least once.

The following documentary has become an important resource in reviewing baseball history.

Ken Burns Baseball (1994) Although not a movie, is a chronology of the game of baseball from its inception. The documentary is divided into nine segments, each representing an inning. Burns uses a period film in his history, which is a “must-view for anyone interested in the history of baseball.”

As I complete this final essay, I am struck by the news that the 2019 World Series is the Houston Astros versus the Washington Nationals.
Holy Cow! It has been over 80 years since team from Washington D.C. has had a berth in the World Series. The 1933 World Series featured the New York Giants and the Washington Senators. The Giants won in five games.

I said that I would dedicate these essays to my Dad, who was a baseball fan, a baseball player, and a baseball coach. As I said, his most unforgettable advice was “never be the only player on the field with a clean jersey.” He also decried any of his players walking while on the ball field, “except after the umpire says ‘ball four’ … otherwise you run out to your position and back into the dugout.”


A la Carte: Time for Turkey? Sure, But What to do With the Left-Overs — How About Making Turkey Hash Salad?

Oh, my, Thanksgiving is upon us, although it is late this year. As you read this, you actually have an extra week to buy your turkey and make the stuffing (I make the stuffing the day before, refrigerate it and stuff much of it into the cold turkey). I have made roasted turkey almost every way possible. I have brined it, roasted it upside down before turning it upside, baked it is plastic bags and wrapped the top in cheesecloth. I have bought Butterball and organic turkeys.

Here’s what I do now. I buy the least expensive turkey, usually about 12 to 16 pounds. I always buy my turkey frozen. My deal is this: the fresh turkey at the supermarket may have been in the cooler for many days. My turkey was probably frozen before it got to the supermarket.  I do thaw the turkey in the refrigerator for at least three days.

Usually, by the morning of Thanksgiving, I think it has thawed, but it hasn’t and my hands are frozen and sore by the time I get the bag of giblets out of the cavity. I stuff the turkey, baste it with butter and white wine. If the white meat is a little dry at the end, I figure that the gravy, the moist stuffing and the buttery mashed potatoes will turn that meat luscious. 

If you want my Turkey 101, its gravy and its stuffing, e-mail me at As for my favorite leftover, it is a turkey sandwich and its sides, at least three to four inches tall. My second favorite, if you have enough of everything, is to make a casserole and eat it on Sunday. If you are sick of turkey, freeze the casserole.

Also, you can make so much mashed potatoes, then freeze the potatoes in 1 cup packets and make mashed potato bread. For that recipe, e-mail me.  And here is another recipe. It’s delish. 

Turkey Hash Salad

From Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, The New Basics Cookbook (Workman, New York, 1989)

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

5 teaspoons Dijon mustard
one-half cup red wine vinegar
1 cup light olive oil (or other good vegetable oil)
12 small red potatoes
one-half teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
12 large cloves garlic
8 ounces bacon cut into one-half-inch pieces
one-half cup finely chopped red onion
one-quarter cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 cups coarsely shredded cook turkey
1 bunch arugula, rinsed, trimmed and patted dry
2 bunches watercress, rinsed, trimmed and patted dry

Whisk mustard and vinegar together in a small bowl. Slowly pour in three-quarters of the oil, whisking constantly. Set the vinaigrette aside.

Prick the potatoes all over with the tines of a fork. Combine remaining one-quarter oil, salt and 1 teaspoon of the pepper in a bowl. Add potatoes and toss until well coated with the mixture. Place the potatoes in a shallow roasting pan and bake, uncovered, for 1 hour, turning occasionally.

Remove potatoes from the oven and allow them to cool. Then cut them into one-half-inch slices and place in a large bowl. 

Place the garlic cloves in a small saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain, allow to cool. Then peel.

Saute bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain, reserving the fat.

Add garlic cloves to bacon fat in the skillet and cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon. Discard the fat.

Add red onion, parsley, remaining teaspoon of black pepper and the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Toss gently.

Add turkey, bacon and garlic cloves. Gently fold all ingredients together.

Arrange the arugula and watercress on a large serving platter and place the salad on top. Serve immediately.

About the Author: Lee White, a local resident, 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 the Times and Shore Publishing newspapers, and Elan, a quarterly magazine, all of which are now owned by The Day.


17 Republicans, Two Democrats Sworn In To Serve Old Lyme; Terms Start Nov. 19 in Most Cases

Photo by Haley Shettles.

OLD LYME — Seventeen of the Republicans elected or re-elected on Nov. 5 were sworn into office Sunday afternoon by Old Lyme Town Clerk Vicki Urbowicz in the Meeting Hall of Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall.

Pictured in the photo above are, from left to right, (front row, sitting), Steve Dix (Zoning Board of Appeals), Tim Griswold (First Selectman), Tammy Tinnerrello (Zoning), Judy Tooker (Tax Collector), Suzanne Thompson (Region 18 Board of Education), (back row, standing) Judy Read (Board of Finance Alternate), Janet Sturges (Board of Finance), Chris Kerr (Selectman), Devin Carney (Zoning Board of Appeals Alternate), Harold Thompson (Planning Commission), Steven Wilson (Region 18 Board of Education), Dave Evers, (Board of Assessment Appeals)Sherry Johnston, (Zoning Board of Appeals Alternate), Jennifer Miller (Region 18 Board of Education), Matt Olson (Board of Finance Alternate), Michael Miller (Zoning Commission), and Dave Kelsey (Board of Finance).

Missing from the photo are Steve Ross (Planning Commission) and Nancy Hutchinson  (Zoning Board of Appeals).

Two Democrats were also sworn in the same afternoon, namely, Adam Burrows (Board of Finance Alternate) and Michael Reiter (Town Treasurer).

All appointees, who were unable to attend yesterday’s ceremony, will be sworn-in separately at a mutually convenient time for the Town Clerk and the appointee.


We’re Starting a New Monthly Column Today! Facts & Figures From Old Lyme EMS

You’ve seen their ambulances around town but do you know how many calls they respond to in a month?

OLD LYME — We’re delighted to launch a new monthly column today and we are indebted to Doris Coleman for making it happen.  She is a member of the Old Lyme Ambulance Association (OLAA) and came up with the idea of sharing the OLAA monthly statistics related to calls provided to the community with our readers.

She then discussed the idea extensively with her colleagues and ultimately they took a vote on the proposal, which passed successfully.

So here we are ready to share the statistics for the first month, September 2019, but Coleman has decided she would go the extra mile and give us an extra snippet of information related to the OLAA each month.

For this inaugural column, she has chosen to explain how the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) were formed.
The idea of creating an EMS evolved from the care of wounded soldiers in time of war coupled with the need for transportation of civilian accident victims who were being transported to hospital by Department of Transportation police officers or firefighters.
In 1966, the National Association of Sciences published the groundbreaking work, Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society, which revolutionized the way we view and manage care in this country. Hospitals and doctors felt that these injury victims should be medically treated during transportation, but only approximately 8 percent of medical service providers at that time were trained in basic first aid by organizations such as the American Red Cross and 23 percent in advanced EMS skills.
In 1970, the National Registry of EMTs (NR-EMTs) was formed but only 1,520 of the registered personnel were trained as EMTs in the United States. By 1973, all states trained their EMTs to a national standard set by NR-EMT. Today, there are over 20,000 EMS providers in just Connecticut alone.
For the month of September 2019, Old Lyme EMS ambulance responded to 63 calls:
Falls                                    14
Pain /sickness                  13
Injuries                                2
Diabetic problems             2
Breathing problems          6
Abdominal pain                 1
Chest pain                           1
Cardiac arrest                     1
Stroke (CVA)                       3
Altered mental status        9
Traffic accidents  (MVA)   6
Medical device alarms       2
Hazardous material            1
Stand-by                                1
Lift assist                               1
TOTAL                             63
*CVA: cerebro-vascular accident
*MVA: motor vehicle accident
For the month of October 2019, the Old Lyme EMS Ambulance Service responded to 73 calls. The number of runs increased by 10 over the previous month. Breathing problems nearly doubled compared to September, probably due to the fall season increasing the prevalence of hay fever, which in turn, can exacerbate the health of people suffering from compromised lung diseases.
Falls                                12
Pain/sickness                13
Injuries                            0
Diabetic problems         0
Breathing problems      11
Abdominal                       2
Chest pain                        8
Cardiac arrest                  0
Stroke/CVA                      2
Altered mental status     4
Traffic acc./MVA             8
Medical device alarms    3
Hazardous material        0
Stand-by                            0
Lift assist                           0
Fire                                     2
Cold exposure                   1
Convulsion/seizure         2
Unconscious/fainting     3
Allergic reaction               1
Overdose                            1
TOTAL:                         73
*CVA: cerebro-vascular accident
*MVA: motor vehicle accident

The above terms and categories will be elaborated on in future monthly articles.

If you have an interest in volunteering with the Old Lyme Ambulance or would like to find out more about their work, you are welcome to stop by the Ambulance Association on Cross Lane, Old Lyme, or call 860-434-0089.

Letter to the Editor: A Note of Thanks From Author Gencarella to Book Reviewer Kloman

To the Editor:

It is a certain if unusual pleasure to see a review of one’s book in print. That privilege is more poignant when the reviewer is a neighbor one admires. And in the case of the recent review of my book, Connecticut: Spooky Trails and Tall Tales (October 28, 2019) and my previous Wicked Weird and Wily Yankees (June 3, 2018) in LymeLine, the honor is made all the more special in being penned by Felix Kloman, who is a writer of stellar books and essays and who had the good sense to marry an equally impressive author, Ann Blair Kloman. I appreciate any attention my books receive, but I will cherish Felix’s complimentary reviews forever. For me they are far more valuable than Captain Kidd’s treasure itself.

My one quibble is that in both cases Felix broke the cardinal law of a positive book review: He wrote essays that are more engaging and enjoyable to read than the source materials they detail. Of course, he can’t help but to write charming prose; that much is apparent from his contributions to Lyme Line since his first column appeared a few years ago. Many things make Lyme special, including its inspiring confederation of thoughtful writers, and Felix is first among that pantheon. To have his approval for my books means the world.

As he noted, Felix and I are literally neighbors, and his and Ann’s welcome of my family convinced us of the wisdom of our move to Lyme. But he and I also share a connection that, as coincidences go, deserves some ink. When Felix learned that I was a folklorist by profession, he inquired if I knew the late George Carey. Sadly, I did not know him personally, but I regard his work highly and consider him a model public intellectual. Carey, I learned, was an old friend of Felix’s. Both men are expert sailors and their friendship grew over many trips on the sea and shared summers in Maine.

George Carey was a professor of folklore at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where I now have the honor of carrying that title. I am gainfully and happily employed in no small measure thanks to Carey’s trailblazing work at UMass and beyond. The universe often surprises me, but when I leave my job and drive home, two hours away, to check a mailbox perched next to one of Professor Carey’s close friends, I cannot help but think that it also smiles upon us.

It was, then, with trepidation that I left a copy of my new book in Felix’s mailbox. Much rested on it for me. I am not wont to seek the approval of others, but I make an exception for Felix. How could I not? He is not only a thoughtful writer and a model intellectual, but he is that all-too-rare creature: a good reader. His assessment that he relished the folklore stories in the book has made the entire venture in writing it worthwhile.

In his review of my first book, Felix noted that I frequently employed the euphemism “passing” for those who died. He generously noted it as a moment for smiling rather than for criticism and saw comparison with an immortal scene from Monty Python, the “Dead Parrot” sketch. That sketch was a defining contribution to my teenage years. It ignited an interest in humor that informed my decision to study folklore in the first place. Felix was sagacious and gracious in observing how well it penetrated my consciousness. His invocation of that sketch perfectly complemented the work I aimed to do in telling tales of New England eccentrics.

But more importantly, in learning that Felix and I share an admiration for such comedy—true, unabated comedy in the face of life’s absurdities—I am strengthened in my conviction that I am blessed with the best of neighbors. Thank you, Felix, for your kind words and for reminding me that life is made better not only when the universe smiles at us, but when we smile together in solidarity. Your name means “the lucky one,” but I am the one with the good fortune of knowing you.


Stephen Olbrys Gencarella,