August 2, 2021

Greg Shook, Essex Savings Bank President & CEO, to Retire July 31 After 47-Year-Career

Gregory R. Shook, who is retiring as President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank, after 22 years  at the helm.

OLD LYME/ESSEX — Gregory R. Shook, President and CEO of Essex Savings Bank, will retire after 22 years at the helm and a career spanning 47 years in banking. He is the longest serving president and CEO in Connecticut and will retire on July 31.

A Westport, Conn., native and  Madison resident, Shook began his career as a management trainee in 1974 in a  subsidiary of Philadelphia National Corporation, Signal Finance and Mortgage, Fairfax,  Va. He managed their Cleveland office and then became a Vice President at State Home Savings in Bowling Green, Ohio.

In December 1984, he joined First Federal Savings of Madison, Conn. In 1987, he joined Branford Savings Bank where he rose to  Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary and was named Interim President and CEO where he found a right’s offering used for manufacturing companies to successfully raise capital to support the bank’s continued existence via a 1991 stock offering.

Highlights of his career include being elected by his peers and serving five years as a Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, a $62 billion bank, from  2015 – 2019. He was also appointed to serve on the first two years of the Federal Reserve of Boston Community Depository Institution Advisory Committee (CDIAC)  mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act to provide input from Banks under $10 billion to the Federal Reserve system.  

Professional associations have included the Connecticut Bankers Association, legislative committee, executive committee and the American Bankers Association Mutual Institutions Advisory Committee. He serves on the Board of Essex Savings Bank and Essex Financial Services. Following his retirement, he will continue to serve on the  Essex Savings Bank Board of Directors.

He is a corporator of the Middlesex Health  Care System (parent of Middlesex Hospital). He is also on the advisory committees of  the Community Music School and the leadership counsel of the Middlesex Coalition on  Housing and Homelessness.  

In 2011 Shook received the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Distinguished  Citizen Award and was elected Chairman in 2016 and continues to serve on its Executive Committee and its Board of Directors.

He has been recognized by numerous organizations for his dedication to community service and has served on non-profit boards and advisory committees. He was a finalist in the New England Division of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year program in 2009. He has been a featured speaker for a variety of seminars and radio shows.  

During his tenure, Essex Savings Bank grew its assets from $110 million to over $525  million, expanded its physical footprint from four to six branches, participated in the  growth of assets under management or administration of Essex Financial Services from $700 million to $3.2 billion and Essex Trust from a de novo to $871 million and has  rolled out new technology and capabilities leading the Bank through the pandemic.

He  is the 17th President since 1851. The Bank is currently celebrating 170 years of service and trust to the community.  

Shook commented, “The best part of Banking is building long term relationships and I am so appreciative of  everyone’s support and trust over the years. I am extremely proud of what we’ve been  able to accomplish together for both our customers and the communities in which we serve. It has been both my great privilege and honor to work with so many dedicated  and talented people – the absolute best.”

Looking to the future, Shook said, “I am confident that Essex Savings Bank will continue to garner new relationships and remain an outstanding business serving the  personal and business banking, trust and investment needs of the community. On Aug. 1, I am pleased to turn the business over to Diane Arnold, formerly our Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer as she will be our 18th President and CEO,  who is poised to lead this business to new heights.”

During the month of July, Shook will be looking forward to wishing many of his customers, friends and colleagues a fond farewell as he embarks on his next voyage.  

Editor’s Notes: i) This article was prepared from a press release issued by Essex Savings Bank.

ii) Essex Savings Bank is a FDIC insured, state chartered, mutual savings bank established in 1851. The Bank serves the Connecticut River Valley and shoreline with  six offices in Essex (2), Chester, Madison, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook providing a full complement of personal and business banking. Financial, estate, insurance and retirement planning are offered throughout the state by the Bank’s Trust Division, Essex Trust and wholly-owned subsidiary, Essex Financial Services, Inc.

Op-Ed: Save Our Beautiful Dark Skies From The Threat Of Light Pollution

Editor’s Note: This Op-ed was submitted by Alan Sheiness of Lyme, Conn.

How often have you stopped to notice how wonderfully bright and alive the stars are in our peaceful town of Lyme, especially once turning off one of our ‘major thoroughfares’ like Rte. 156 or Brush Hill Rd.?

That dark sky up there is a part of our world. It is as much a gift to us as are the forests, the trails within those forests, the rivers and waterways, and everything else that makes Lyme special.

As part of the Sustainable CT effort (sustainablect.org) we seek to inform the public about light pollution and how to arrest its insidious spread across our region.

What do I mean by light pollution? Light pollution is what occurs when a preponderance of lighting, and poorly-designed lighting fixtures, create a glare both locally and across entire swaths of geography, which renders the night sky as a dim shadow of itself. 

The universe is ours to behold just for the simple act of looking up at night. Except, in so many places all over the country and indeed the world, light pollution is removing those vistas much as deforestation and asphalt and other aspects of modern life remove the natural wonders that are part of our terrestrial consciousness. 

Guarding against light pollution really comes down to two simple principles: do not light what does not need to be lit, and when you do need to light something, do it with a source that is effective and efficient.

Our little town, because of its almost non-existent commercialization and heavy forestation, is indeed a miraculous enclave from the typical onslaught of ineffective lighting. We need to keep it that way. 

We can do so by ensuring that all new lighting projects, residential and commercial, take light pollution into account, protecting the night sky, no different than protecting a watershed or any other natural habitat. To the extent that existing installations are night sky-unfriendly, we should consider replacing those fixtures over time with ones that do a better job pointing down with an efficient light source. 

Our environment makes Lyme what it is, and we can be a leader in the sky just as we are on the ground. Please endeavor to learn more about the beauty of the night sky and the threat of light pollution.

A great place to start is here: International Dark-Sky Association.  Also, you can experience the splendor of our night sky first-hand, with experienced astronomers as your guide, by signing up for future observing sessions hosted by the Lyme Land Trust at lymelandtrust.org

That look up there is through a window into our universe, and it should be our intention to keep that window pristine for ourselves and our future generations.

About the author: Alan Sheiness is a 10-year resident of Lyme, Conn., and treasurer of the Lyme Land Trust. Among other interests, he is a life-long astronomy enthusiast and astrophotographer. He has documented lunar eclipses, solar eclipses, the Venus transit of the Sun, a Mercury transit of the Sun, many of the planets, star clusters, and nebula; all admittedly decidedly amateur in result, but rewarding nonetheless. Sheiness is a promoter of dark skies and interested in establishing a new Astronomy Society in Lyme as an adjunct activity within the scope of the Lyme Land Trust. Contact him at alan.sheiness@icloud.com.

Lyme’s Senior Center Reopens Slowly Under Carefully Phased Timeline

A limited number of in-person exercise classes are now being held at the Lymes’ Senior Center. Photo submitted.

OLD LYME — Lymes’ Senior Center is undergoing a carefully-planned phased opening with the safety of everyone at the Center paramount at all times. May and June were very successful months with a combination of outdoor programs, services, and entertainment offered.

One hundred and fifty five people visited the Center in person over the month of May and Stephanie Gould, Director of the Center, comments enthusiastically, ” It has been great to see people enjoy the in-person programs and services again.”

She adds, “We also continue to offer virtual programs, in which approximately 500 people participated in May.”

Gould notes, “My hope in enacting the phased opening is that it will give people much-needed opportunities to see and be with each other all while keeping people safe.”

After conferring with other Senior Centers regarding their reopening plans and keeping in mind the Lymes’ Senior Center’s own building limitations, Gould explains, “After the 4th of July holiday, we moved to our next reopening phase by bringing certain programs and services that can be socially-distanced inside. Masks and preregistration continue to be required.”

By the end of July, air filters will have been installed in the remaining four heat pumps. At that point, the whole building will be serviced with air purifiers and Merv filters.

One change to the old policy is that if you are fully vaccinated, you will no longer be required to wear masks outside, although you always can do so if you wish.

Gould comments, “We hope to be targeting other, non-socially distanced programs to return indoors starting Aug. 9. Masks and preregistration will still be required. These programs will include cards, Wii, movies, and so forth.”

Meanwhile, larger entertainment events will still be held outside through the fall.

It is anticipated that in-person meals will return to the Center sometime this fall, possibly in September. The precise date of return will be determined by the Estuary Senior Center and the local Area Agency on Aging. Gould notes, “In the meantime, we are offering a few outdoor lunch opportunities in July and August to get people together, which will be held outside under the tent.”

Gould expressed her thanks to everyone for their patience, “… while we work to safely get our Senior Center back to the lively, happening place that it was pre-pandemic.”

Lyme Academy of Fine Arts Launches New Program of Study, Offers Classical Arts Education for Less Than $10K Per Year 

OLD LYME — The Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, pictured above, has launched its application drive for full-time students with a reimagined core program of study, which will commence in late September. Led by the  husband and wife team of Jordan Sokol and Amaya Gurpide, a dynamic new faculty of internationally-acclaimed instructors will teach students the foundational skills on which they can  build a career in the fine arts.

“We’re looking for students who really want to apply themselves and work hard to grow and develop” said Sokol, himself an accomplished painter, adding, “You’ve got to be willing to put in the thousands of hours required, if you are serious about developing your talent. There are no short-cuts.”

Jordan Sokol (right) and Amaya Gurpide are the new Artistic Director at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts.

It is expected that most students will study for three years, although some will pursue a shorter course of study and others longer, depending on their individual objectives and the progress they make developing their skills.  

Building on the momentum developed from a series of community programs that have energized the campus, the Academy’s Executive Director Mora Rowe, said, “We have stunning facilities in a magical setting that combines a great history with the future of figurative and representational arts.”

Due to the reorganization that has taken place at the Academy, it will no longer confer Bachelor’s degrees. In place of seat-time requirements for credit accumulation, students will instead focus on skill-building with an eye towards mastery.

The Executive Director of Lyme Academy of Fine Arts is Mora Rowe.

“As a result of this shift, we’ve been able to significantly reduce the Academy’s overhead costs and can offer a full-time course of study for under $10,000,” said Rowe. At a time when many are questioning the spiraling costs of higher education, students can now attend Lyme Academy and complete a course of study for less than the amount for a single year’s tuition when the institution conferred Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. 

Founded in 1976 by the sculptor Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, the Academy was created as an institution dedicated to the traditional, skills-based education, first taught in the Renaissance academies of Europe and later at Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts.

In walking away from being a degree-granting institution, Lyme Academy has returned to its roots: at its founding and for many years thereafter, students were attracted to the Academy to learn skills, not to obtain a degree.

Chandler’s legacy continues in its new curriculum, which combines rigorous studio instruction in drawing and painting with anatomy, sculpture, and the histories of art. Integrated into this instructional framework is the progressive spirit of today’s Academy and a commitment to preparing its students for the 21st century art world. 

The Academy’s Core Program is comprehensive and intense: classes are conducted five days a week, from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., with weekly supplementary instruction in anatomy, sculpture, and the histories of art. Landscape, still life, and portraiture are included in the program, as are dedicated explorations of the properties of light and form.

Students work in custom north-lit studios, honing their technical skills through the direct observation of imported  European plaster casts and live models. Intimate class sizes allow for in-studio demonstrations and individualized critiques, as well as guided museum and gallery visits.

Faculty and guest lectures are regularly scheduled, many of which are open to the public.

The camaraderie that is felt by students at the Academy is mirrored by the community outside the campus grounds. Located midway between Boston and New York, Old Lyme, Conn. has been a site of artistic congregation for over a century, recognized as the birthplace of the famed Lyme Art Colony and the ‘Home of American Impressionism.’ 

Editor’s Note: Enrollment for the 2021-2022 academic year is now open; applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the academic year. For further information about enrollment and how to apply, visit this link.

For further information about the Academy and its vibrant schedule of lectures, exhibitions, workshops, and part-time programs, and how to become an ‘Arts Insider,’ visit this link.

Reading Uncertainly: ‘Table of Contents’ by John McPhee

‘Bear’ with me: this review is the result of strange circumstances.

In mid-April I received an email from some Lyme neighbors, announcing a new resident with a photograph – a black bear strolling unceremoniously along Ely’s Ferry Road. As it happened, I had just started a re-read of one of my favorite authors, John McPhee, and his 1985 series of essays.

The very first two described the growing advent of black bears into eastern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey, and the second the efforts of a New Jersey biologist and bear-trapper, Patricia McConnell, at work in her home state.

Black bears are curious, vegetarian, nocturnal creatures, as interested in human beings as we are instinctively afraid of them. What I learned in McPhee’s essays made me wish I was still living in Lyme!

But black bears are also cavorting up here in Massachusetts — my physical therapist reported one in her family’s back yard just a few days ago. How interconnected we are!

McPhee’s essays continue with a lengthy dissertation on the growing interest in doctors becoming “General Practitioners” (GP’s), as he relates their efforts, travails, and joys in the northern extremes of the State of Maine. He extols the “omniscient, ubiquitous” GP as a real aberration in the growing specialization of taking care of us fragile human beings.

He determines that the greatest skill of the GP is a willingness to sit and listen to our stories of our ills and ourselves. How many docs these days really sit and listen?

McPhee then moves quickly to a story of following ex-Senator Bill Bradley in a campaign stroll along seaside towns on the Jersey Shore. In it he displays his unique capability of describing what each person is wearing, from hat to shoes, as well as distinctive facial expressions. “He wears a blue-and-white striped shirt with a button-down collar. His tie is brown and has small New Jerseys all over it like sea horses.” It is a perfect, yet brief, follow-up to his best-seller, A Sense of Where You Are”.

Another essay relates the growth of “mini-hydros”, the resurrection of eroded old dams, their waterways and ancient turbines to take advantage of new legislation requiring power companies to buy small bits of electricity produced by these revived facilities. Again, curious and ambitious entrepreneurs willing to take a chance. And risk their modest funds.

And finally, the author’s last essay describes his meeting, and working with a Northern Maine bush pilot, named, of all things, John McPhee (better known as Jack.)

As the author explains, “ There is a lot of identification, even transformation, in the work I do – moving along from place to place, person to person, as a reporter, a writer, repeatedly trying to sense another existence and in some ways to share it.” What an extraordinary thing to meet a State of Maine Bush Pilot with your name!

If you’ve seen a black bear recently, do read John McPhee. With the continuing chaos in the daily news, reading this author is a distinct relief.

Editor’s Note: ‘Table of Contents’ by John McPhee was published 1985 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York. 

Felix Kloman

About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year former resident of Lyme, Conn., he now lives in Peabody, Mass. He writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction, a subject which explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history, but he does throw in a novel here and there. For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and served faithfully as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farm Coffee. His late wife, Ann, was also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visited every summer.

Barry Scores Her First Ever Hole-in-One, Success Achieved at Old Lyme Country Club

Hollis Barry, Co-Chairperson Old Lyme Country Club Women’s Golf League, scored a hole-in-one at the club on July 1.

OLD LYME — During Thursday Women’s League Play on July 1, Hollis Barry of Essex, Conn., scored a hole-in-one on the 3rd hole. Barry is co-chairperson of the Old Lyme Country Club Women’s Golf League (OLCC WGA.)

Barry’s drive on the par three hole landed on the green and rolled into the cup.  This was her first hole-in-one.

With a 16.5 handicap, Hollis has been a life-long golfer. As the new co-chairperson, Barry has advocated for making the OLCC WGA a program that fosters friendships and promotes women’s golf as a relaxing and fun activity for all levels of players.  She encourages healthy competition and the learning of all aspects of the game. 

A la Carte: Pasta with Peaches … and Tomatoes? Try It, You’ll Love It!

Lee White

I don’t know about you, but I bought my CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) last December, 2021. 

Remember December, 2021?

Joe Biden had been elected in early November. We knew that two COVID vaccines were being tested, but no one had them yet.

I had not been inside a restaurant in almost a year and I was 1) tired of my own food, and yet 2) couldn’t really afford much good take-out. I also felt then, and still do, that restaurant food should be consumed in the restaurant where it had been cooked by chefs (or even just cooks) and served to us when it is meant to be tasted and savored. 

In any case, I had written a check for my CSA in December, for Stone Acres Farm in Stonington. I paid it early, since the concept is that the farmers can buy their seeds or plants with that money and then live frugally through the hard winter months in the knowledge that — once the seeds have turned into food we can buy — they can pay their own bills during the summers and falls.

My CSA began June 22 and each week I get to visit their farm stand and pick up $30 of beautiful, fresh vegetables and herbs and I will be one happy camper until late September.

I am itchy, however, for the produce I may not get — including my favorite, tomatoes — until late July.

But southern-grown peaches are available now in supermarkets, and so are cherry and grape tomatoes. I never thought about peaches and tomatoes together, but here is a recipe I can use right now. And feel free to add sliced chicken, steak or shrimp atop the salad.

Peach and Tomato Pasta

From Fine Cooking, June/July 2021, page 54

12 ounces spaghetti or linguine
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 pounds peaches (about 6), pitted and sliced or coarsely chopped
½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved (I would use regular green olives)
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼  to  ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Chopped toasted almonds (optional)

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions, reserving ¼ cup pasta water. Drain spaghetti, return to pot and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet, cook the garlic in hot oil over medium-heat, 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook, uncovered, 2 minutes.

Add peaches and cook until just soft, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir in olives, basil, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and the red crushed pepper and heat through.

Add peach mixture to the cooked spaghetti along with the reserved pasta water and toss to combine.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with almonds, if using.

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.

Immerse Yourself in ‘Connecticut Waters’ on a Nautical Trip with Lyme Photographer Caryn B. Davis in her Latest Book

All photos by Caryn B. Davis and published with her permission. All photos taken from ‘Connecticut Waters.’

“The combination of stunning photography by Caryn B. Davis and rich text by Eric D. Lehman draws you into a world where the waters of the Nutmeg State metaphorically consume you”

Connecticut Waters is a remarkable book.

First of all, you think it is going to be yet another ‘coffee-table book’ and start to skim the pages simply to admire the beautiful photographs.

But then you start to read the narrative and it immediately demands your attention to the extent you simply cannot put the book down.

The combination of stunning photography by Caryn B. Davis and rich text by Eric D. Lehman draws you into a world where the waters of the Nutmeg State metaphorically consume you, and all you can do is to let yourself become completely — and pleasantly — immersed in them.

After that, you move to yet another level and realize that you are now not only at one with the seas, lakes, rivers, streams and shores of this oh, so special state, but along your way to that perfect point, you have absorbed a plethora of interesting facts and tidbits of fascinating information that you never knew before.

Ultimately, you feel as though you are sharing the whole experience with Davis, who conceived the book and guided the narrative. You have never met her but you are certain you know her because her deep and intimate relationship with the waters of Connecticut has suddenly become yours.

Touching variously on an vast range of engaging topics, including — but by no means limited to — lobster and other snack shacks, historic ferries, antique boats, racing yachts, nautical arts, the oyster and fishing industries, and maritime museums, the book is packed with Davis’s striking photos, which frequently span more than one page making them even more impactful.

These latter explore in creative detail the subject matter of each chapter while the narrative amplifies the history, traditions, and culture of the state’s waters and how people use them in terms of industry, education, recreation and more.

The first chapter, Races and Rendezvous, opens with the words, “Something about being on the water calls for celebration of the magnificent power of the sea …” Throughout the book, Davis captures that celebration with photos of boats of all shapes, sizes and ages at events across the state, demonstrating clearly, “… our human love for life on the water, a love that never seems to die.”

A later chapter on Islands & Lighthouses states evocatively both are, “… about beginnings and endings, about loneliness and connection. A lighthouse keeper may be the opposite of a pirate, but both know the terrible beauty of the sea.”

The photos in this chapter are particularly striking while the narrative details some of the extraordinarily courageous feats of  Connecticut lighthouse keepers. Two such examples are Charles Kenny of the Peck Ledge Light at Norwalk, who in 1921, “rowed through huge swells to save four crewmen [who had] escaped their leaking steamboat” and Bridgeport resident Catherine Moore, who “lived on Fayerweather Island nearly her entire life, tending the light and saving two dozen lives during her tenure.”

The book vacillates between chapters on ‘concrete’ subjects such as Festivals & Celebrations; Boatbuilders & Restorations; Working Watercraft, and Museums & Aquariums, and those with a more intangible air like Wood, Wind & Water; Fun in the Sun; Water, Water, Everywhere, and Coming Into Port. In each case, however, Davis combines her exceptional skill as a photographer with her in-depth knowledge of local sights, sounds, events and personalities, thus bringing the chapter fully to life.

Caryn B. Davis

It is no surprise that the photography in this book is so powerful since Davis, who lives on Rogers Lake in Lyme, Conn., is an award-winning photographer, whose career has spanned the globe taking her to over 50 countries and counting, while her images and articles have been featured in over 60 publications worldwide.

Her first commissioned photography book, A Connecticut Christmas: Celebrating the Holiday in Classic New England Style, gained high accolades in 15 newspapers and magazines nationwide. 

Lehman, who write the narrative, is the director of Creative Writing at the University of Bridgeport.

He is the author or editor of 20 books and his work has been published in dozens of journals and magazines.

If you love the state of Connecticut or even if your love only extends to the waters of Connecticut, then this is a book — as they say at weddings — ‘to have and to hold.’

It will inspire you to start planning visits to many of the places Davis highlights in her photographs. It will enchant you with the fabulous photography and finally, it will engage you with its masterful management of the challenging task of interweaving superior photos with informative text on a topic, which runs freely through the veins of anyone who calls — or has called — Connecticut home.

Editor’s Notes: ‘Connecticut Waters’ was published April 2021 by Globe Pequot Press. For more information about how to order ‘Connecticut Waters’ online or purchase it in person, visit this link.
For more information about Caryn B. Davis, visit her website at this link.

For more information about Eric D. Lehman, visit his website at this link.

 

Rogers Lake Hosts ‘Fantastic’ Boat Parade

Maureen Plumleigh and friends enjoyed participating in Rogers Lake’s Second Annual Boat Parade on Independence Day 2021. Photo submitted by M. Plumleigh.

LYME/OLD LYME — Last year, Rogers Lake residents took matters into their own hands after both the Sound View and Lyme Independence Day parades were cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. They came up with an inspired solution to the social distancing issue associated with parades and held the “1st Annual Rogers Lake 4th of July Boat Parade.”

This year, they followed up with the 2021 Rogers Lake Boat Parade, which was held Sunday afternoon, and in the words of the Rogers Lake West Shores Association (RLWSA) Facebook page author was, “Fantastic.”

Here are some photos of the great event, which was clearly another huge success, courtesy of the RLWSA.

Op-Ed: Connecticut May Have ‘Reopened,’ Be ‘Returning to Normal’– But Don’t Criticize the ‘Still-Masked’

In May, Connecticut’s COVID-19 protocols for masks and face coverings were relaxed to coincide with newly-modified Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, and the new, less stringent, rules then became effective statewide. 

Masks are not required for anyone outdoors, and the “vaccinated” are not required to wear masks indoors. Conversely, the “unvaccinated” must still wear them indoors.

Masks, however, may still be required in many settings, including healthcare facilities, public transit, and facilities that house vulnerable populations. Businesses and government offices have the option to require that masks be worn.

You can review these new rules in detail at: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Covid-19-Knowledge-Base/Latest-COVID-19-Guidance

Despite all that, there are good reasons why some of the “fully vaccinated” may not embrace this “return to normalcy”. You will recognize them both by the masks that they may still wear, and their adherence to the old social distancing guidelines.

Is this excessive caution, or just an abundance of caution? 

“Who was that masked man?’ (The Lone Ranger; 1949-1957)

Unfortunately, people with autoimmune diseases (e.g., Type 1 diabetes, lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis), and organ transplant recipients, who take immunosuppressant drugs, may manifest a significantly reduced antibody response to the COVID vaccines. The National Institutes of Health estimates that nearly 23.5 million Americans (about seven percent of the population) suffer from an autoimmune disease; and the prevalence of those diseases is rising. 

Connecticut has heart and kidney transplantation centers at both Yale New Haven and Hartford Hospitals. Each year, about 2,000 heart transplants are delivered in the United States; and the number of kidney transplants has increased annually since 2015, reaching nearly 25,000 in 2019. Yale New Haven Hospital is the largest kidney transplantation center in New England.

Further, while more than 174 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose — about 65 percent of the adult population — there are still significant gaps at the local level. To illustrate that point, CDC data indicate that less than 30 percent of the population is fully vaccinated in nearly 1000 counties, many of which are rural and economically disadvantaged and concentrated in the Southeast and Midwest. The data also demonstrate a common political link to those shunning vaccination. 

In contrast, 60 percent of the Connecticut population has been fully vaccinated, and two-thirds of residents have received at least one dose.

Note that a single dose of a two-dose vaccine will provide some protection, but not nearly at the level achieved after the second dose. Of course, medical and public health professionals recommend getting fully vaccinated, especially now, with the continued emergence of troubling mutations.

And so, as much of the country emerges from masking and social distancing, under-vaccinated pockets in the U.S. still threaten to bring the virus roaring back; and, last Thursday, CDC Director Walensky announced that the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has increased 10 percent, certainly fueled by the hyper-transmissible (i.e., highly contagious) delta variant spreading among the unvaccinated.

Although recent data indicate that our current vaccines are still effective at preventing severe COVID-19 caused by the delta variant that would require hospitalization, there is a concern that the vaccines might lose their effectiveness if new variants continue to evolve and spread in the unvaccinated.  

We need to get all Americans vaccinated. This is neither new information, nor partisan politics. I am not suggesting that everybody masks-up again. I do, however, want you to be aware and remain safe.

As you might have guessed, I am one of those “fully vaccinated,” who still wears a mask in a very crowded areas, and washes my hands frequently. 

Blanche Dubois, in the Tennessee Williams play, A Streetcar Named Desire, may have actually had the right vaccination message: “Whoever you are, I have often relied on the kindness of strangers.”

Editor’s Note: Thomas D. Gotowka, who wrote this op-ed and lives in Old Lyme, writes a regular column for LymeLine.com titled, ‘A View From My Porch.’ His entire adult career has been in healthcare.

Celebrate a Centennial Summer in Old Lyme’s Arts District

OLD LYME — Centennial Summer 2021 is underway in Old Lyme!

The Old Lyme Arts District — a partnership of arts and cultural organizations on Lyme Street — is celebrating the Lyme Art Association’s 100th anniversary with a wonderful selection of offerings and ideas on ways to enjoy arts, music and culture on Lyme Street.

View all current listings at this link  or take a look at them under these sub-headings:

Offerings will be updated during the summer.

Lyme Celebrates Fourth of July with Jovial Parade in Hometown Style

All photos by Michael Dickey.

LYME — UPDATED 7/5, MORE PHOTOS ADDED: The rain stopped, the day was brightening and Lyme’s traditional Independence Day stepped off making such a welcome sight after the pandemic forced its cancellation last year.

This year’s parade Grand Marshal was Carolyn Bacdayan, pictured above, who recently retired from her position as the Town of Lyme’s longtime historian.

Bacdayan proudly rode as Grand Marshal in the parade in a car owned by Tink and George Willauer, and driven by George.

This was many people’s first view of the parade.

These trusty gentlemen bearing arms led the parade.

And then came the Grand Marshal …

… followed by the ladies of the Lyme Garden Club …

… followed by the Cub Scouts of Lyme’s Pack 32 …

 

… followed by an army jeep driven by Bruce Noyes accompanied by his wife Tammy …

… followed by a patriotically-decorated family boat …

… followed by a Lyme Ambulance …

… followed by a Lyme firetruck …

… followed by a Lyme Forestry truck …

… followed by the Lyme Fire Rescue ‘Gator’ …

 

… followed by this flag-bearing jeep …

… and its lovely lady passenger!

An alpaca from the Evankow farm drew loud cheers. Everyone will miss seeing him again at the 2021 Hamburg Fair, which has been cancelled for the second summer in succession this year.

The alpaca had a friendly nose-to-nose ‘meet and greet’ with a handsome, white dog along the parade route, and ultimately climbed into the back of a jeep Cherokee to make his way home.

Someone had even thoughtfully decorated the Cove bridge.

Several boaters viewed the parade from on the Cove …

and this whimsical little fellow was also seen watching from a Cove side house.

This little guy gave an important message to the world …

… and finally, the fruit popsicles are an ever-popular closer to the event!

 

Editor’s Note: Huge thanks to the Dickey family, pictured above, who made this article possible by providing all the photos and editorial for it. The order of the photos is ours and not intended to be an exact replica of the sequence of the parade!

Wet Weather Fails to Dampen Spirits at Sound View Independence Day Parade

Joann Lishing leads the Independence Day parade through the streets of Sound View. All photos by Valerie Melluzzo.

OLD LYME — Despite the less than favorable weather, hundreds turned out to celebrate Independence Day a day in advance this past Saturday in Sound View.

The parade, which was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 pandemic, was a welcome sign of a return to some sort of normalcy.

An ever-smiling Joann Lishing, pictured above, led the parade proudly marching while holding high the Stars and Stripes for the full length of the parade.

Several US Veterans traveled in this stylish car down the parade route followed by youngsters on decorated bikes and parents cheerfully pushing even younger folk on strollers and tricycles.

As always, a great time was had by all.

A la Carte: So You Have Heard of a BLT … Well, Why Not Try a BLT Soup?!

Lee White

By the time you read this, my CSA (community-supported agriculture) will have begun.

Will the farm stand at Stone Acres be filled with the summer’s best of the best? Well, not really.

Sweet corn will be a few weeks away (and usually the Connecticut’s first sweet corn comes from the Windsor area) and tomatoes may not available for another month or more. 

I love my own CSA, but, like the signs announcing “yard sale” that beckoned years ago (I’m looking to get rid of stuff now, not getting more), my little Hyundai Kona brakes for farm stands.

Last week I bought two quarts of strawberries from Scott’s Yankee Farmer in East Lyme and asked when the corn would be available. “Maybe in a few weeks,” the younger Scott said.

I know that White Gate will have the biggest yield of the most heritages in every size, and that Whittle’s — closest to where I live — will have big, gorgeous red ones for the longest period, maybe into October.

In the meantime, there will be lots of greens, from bok choy to all kinds of lettuce.

From the first cookbook I ever bought after I met my husband (The New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne), the second or third recipe I made was for Wilted Spinach. 

Today I scoured my bookshelves looking for that cookbook and could not find it, so I just ordered another copy.

But I did find in my computer files a recipe that called for lettuce, this one called BLT soup. I love this recipe and I think you will, too.

I will send you that wilted spinach recipe (but if any of you have the 1961 Claiborne book, let me know.)

By the way, save the bacon fat from the BLT recipe; you will need it for that wilted salad, too.

Butter Lettuce Soup with Bacon and Tomato
Adapted from The BLT Cookbook by Michele Anna Jordan (William Morrow, New York, 2003)

Yield: serves 4

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided)
1 small yellow onion, diced (I use the sweet ones, and Vidalias are almost here)
2 large heads of butter (or Bibb or Boston) lettuce, cored, washed and dried
Salt to taste and freshly grated black pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
4 slices bacon, minced
1 cup (or more) very good canned diced tomatoes (as always, I use Muir Glen)
2 tablespoons snipped chives
½ cup or more little cherry tomatoes, halved
4 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium-large soup pot set over medium-low heat; add onions and sauté until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut lettuce into one-half inch-wide slices. Stir into the cooked onion and season with salt and pepper; add parsley and pour in the broth. Increase heat to medium-high, bring broth to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 7 minutes.

Cook bacon until crisp and drain on paper towel. Using an immersion blender, or in batches on a blender, puree the soup. To serve hot, ladle the soup in bowls, drizzle with diced tomatoes, crisp bacon, chives, the cherry tomatoes and crème fraiche.

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.

June 24 COVID-19 Update: Three Towns in State Now in Yellow Case Rate Zone, Up from One Last Week, All Others in Gray (Lowest); No New Cases in Lyme, Old Lyme

This map, updated June 24, shows the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks. Both Lyme and Old Lyme are still in the (lowest) Gray 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. Details in italics are the same for each of the maps included in this article.

LYME/OLD LYME — The report issued Thursday, June 24, by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) for the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks shows a slight reversal of last week’s encouraging situation for the state as whole with two more towns, Somers and Prospect, now joining Bolton in the Yellow Zone (indicating the lowest but one rate of COVID-19 new cases.)

This means there are now three towns in the Yellow Zone while all remaining 166 towns in Connecticut, including Lyme and Old Lyme, are in the Gray (lowest rate) Zone for two-week new case rates. It is the seventh week in succession for Old Lyme in that Zone, while Lyme is in the Gray Zone for a 15th straight week.

Neither Lyme nor Old Lyme reported any new cases in the June 24 report meaning Lyme holds steady at 107 cases and Old Lyme at 341 (this number has been corrected from the 342 reported on June 7.)

  • The Gray category is defined as when the Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases Among Persons Living in Community Settings per 100,000 Population By Town is less than five or less than five reported cases.
  • The Yellow category is defined as when the Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases Among Persons Living in Community Settings per 100,000 Population By Town is between five and nine reported cases.
  • The Orange category is defined as when the Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases Among Persons Living in Community Settings per 100,000 Population By Town is between 10 and 14.
  • The Red category is defined as when the Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases Among Persons Living in Community Settings per 100,000 Population By Town exceeds 15.

In all cases, this rate does not include cases or tests among residents of nursing home, assisted living, or correctional facilities.

This is last week’s map updated June 17, when just one town, Bolton, was in the Yellow Zone.

This map, updated June 17, shows the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks. Both Lyme and Old Lyme are still in the (lowest) Gray 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. Details in italics are the same for each of the maps shown.

For comparison, the map below is from June 3 and shows one town, Waterbury, in the Orange Zone and 21 towns in the Yellow Zone, down from 48 the previous week. They were: Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bloomfield, Brooklyn, Coventry, Cromwell, Derby, East Hartford, East Haven, Granby, Hamden, Hartford, Manchester, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Putnam, Rocky Hill, Shelton, Waterford and Windsor.

This map, updated June 3, shows the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the previous two weeks. Both Lyme and Old Lyme are in the (lowest) Gray 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. Details in italics are the same for each of the maps shown.

Below is the map from May 27 that showed one town in the Red Zone, Putnam, and 10 towns in the Orange Zone.

This map, updated May 27, shows the average daily rate of new cases of COVID-19 by town during the past two weeks. Both Lyme and Old Lyme were still in the (lowest) Gray 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. Details in italics are the same for each of the maps shown.

Compare the maps above with the one we published Dec. 18, 2020 to see the remarkable progress that has been made with controlling the spread of the virus through expansion of vaccination rates and improved mitigation strategies.

Map of Connecticut dated Dec. 17, 2020 showing both Lyme and Old Lyme now in the CT DPH-identified ‘Red Zone.’ This is defined as when the Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases Among Persons Living in Community Settings per 100,000 Population By Town is over 15.

On June 25, Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) issued their latest weekly report of COVID data for the municipalities within their District.

All towns in the nine-town district (which includes Lyme and Old Lyme) except Stonington (which only had six cases in the past two weeks) now report less than five new cases in the past two weeks. Last week, there were two towns in this category, but they were Groton and New London.

Ledge Light Director of Health Stephen Mansfield prefaces the report with the comment, “We are happy to see a continued decrease in the number of new cases throughout our jurisdiction and encourage everyone to get vaccinated!”

He adds, “Information regarding vaccination opportunities and other relevant information can be found at https://llhd.org/coronavirus-covid-19-situation/covid-19-vaccine/

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

Vaccination rates in Lyme and Old Lyme are also extremely encouraging with 81.17 percent of the population in Lyme having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and the equivalent number for Old Lyme being 72.73 percent.

These are some of the highest percentages in the state.

Gardening Tips from ‘The English Lady’ for June, Which ‘God Invented [Because] Spring is a Tough Act to Follow’

“Cast ne’er a clout till May is out” is the medieval English saying means do not put away your long johns until May is over; well, we certainly have had a few very cool nights recently, which is just wonderful … allowing sleeping with the windows open.

I cannot remember the last time we had a real spring like the one we are experiencing this year, with plenty of rain. May is typically a dry month, although with the effects of global warming, no weather is typical these days. However, this beneficial rain is wonderful for all the spring plant growth happening in the beginning of the growing season.

Peonies by Jessica Fadel on Unsplash.

I am so in awe of the miracle of Mother Nature; the symbiotic relationship between plants and others of God’s creatures. As I look out of my window into my field, I can see the buds opening on my long stand of peonies, which brings to mind just one of those symbiotic relationships — the friendly partnership between ants and peonies.  

I am often asked “Maureen, should I worry about ants on my peonies?” The answer is “That’s not a problem, lots of ants on the peonies just demonstrate that you have healthy plants with big buds producing more nectar and therefore attract the ants”.

Make sure Peonies get plenty of water and after blooming, apply a light dose of organic 5-10-5 fertilizer and check the soils PH it should be between 6.5 and 7.0.  It is hard to ruin a good peony border but you can err in the fertilizing process, so go easy on the organic aged manure (never thought I would say that) and apply just the light dose of fertilizer — to reiterate apply the fertilizer after blooming.  

Now, in June, I pinch off the side-buds on my large stand of peonies, thus ensuring big blooms on the rest of the plant.  

On the subject of ants; if you see them “let them live,” because often their presence indicates that we have aphids around and ants feed off aphids; they are very useful creatures.

Another very useful creature in the pest wars; is the lowly toad so I always put out some toad houses (which you can purchase from the garden center) around and about in your borders.  You can also use an old clay pot that is cracked and make sure that the crack is two to three inches wide for the door so the toad can enter. Also put a small saucer as a floor under the pot with some rocks, which you keep damp, so that your friendly bad-bug-eater has his or her ideal home environment.

MULCH:

Mulch your gardens in June; when the ground has warmed up to about 45 or 50 degrees. When you mulch, be careful mulching around trees; do not get the mulch any closer than four inches from the trunk, as any closer it can promote rot and disease in the tree itself. Also trees that are mulched too deeply near the trunk invite mice and other rodents to come nest and then gnaw on the trunk.  

The garden as a whole can be mulched to a depth of between two and three inches. I prefer fine hardwood mulch in the dark brown color but no dyed red mulch please … keep the garden looking natural and not like a Disney theme park.

ROSES:

An ‘Evelyn’ rose by David Austin, the author’s favorite.

June is the month when Roses begin to bloom. I prefer David Austin roses that I find are the most trouble free roses, are repeat bloomers and have wonderful fragrances. Some of my favorites are A Shropshire Lad, a soft peachy pink, Abraham Darby with blooms in apricot to yellow, Fair Bianca a pure white, Heritage, a soft clear pink. My absolute favorite is Evelyn, pictured at right, which has giant apricot flowers in a saucer shape and the fragrance is second to none with a luscious fruity tone, reminding me of fresh peaches and apricots.  

Feed your roses with an organic rose food called Roses Alive, which you can obtain from “Gardens Alive” on the internet, feed them once a month until mid August, then stop feeding so they can go into a slow dormancy.

Japanese beetles are very attracted to roses, so any Japanese beetle traps should be placed far away from your borders on the perimeter of the property. Or check TheEnglishLady.com on the Organic Products page for other solutions to the beetles and other unwanted pests.    

A tip for keeping cut roses fresh: cut the roses in the morning before 10 am, just above a five leaf cluster and place stems in a container of lukewarm water.  Inside the house recut the stems under warm running water, forming a one and a half inch angular cut, then place in a vase filled with warm water.  Do not remove the thorns on cut roses, I have found this practice reduces their indoor life by as much as three days.  

HYDRANGEAS:

These need plenty of water, (in the fields they were originally found close to water being a wetland plant before they were introduced into our gardens), also organic aged manure, good ventilation, organic fertilizer and full sun.

Wisteria in full bloom is always a sight to behold. Photo by Alyssa Strohman on Unsplash.

WISTERIA:

Regular pruning through spring and summer is the main factor to help this arrogant vine to flower — and by that I mean several times during the season. Prune every two weeks at least six inches on each stem.  

CLEMATIS:

If you have a wilt problem with clematis, you notice it early because the shoots wilt and die. Unfortunately this disease is impossible to cure, as it is soil-borne. Therefore you cannot plant another clematis of that species in that area but you can plant the Viticella clematis selection; these are vigorous, free flowering blooms and are not susceptible to wilt.  Some good choices in this variety are Blue Belle, Etoile Violette (both are purple) and Huldine, which is a white,  

CONTAINER GARDENS:

If you have room for one pot, you have room for a number — placed close together in different shapes and sizes, they can create your own miniature garden. Apart from regular pots, the most unexpected objects make really interesting containers. A friend, who cut down trees this past winter, left the stumps and hollowed them out to make containers — one large and two smaller stumps together — a really interesting combo.  

At the same time look in your basement, shed or barn to see if you have an old wheelbarrow, which, even if it has a wheel missing, will present an unusual angle as a planter. Or you may come across a large chipped ceramic jar — I, in fact, have an old two foot tall ceramic vinegar container, replete with a hole where the vinegar tap was inserted, ideal for drainage, which will look great on my newly-painted blue bench next to my red milk shed.  

LAWN CARE:

Do not forget to add organic grub control through July, so that you keep down the mole infestation; remember no grubs, less food for the moles.  

POWDERY MILDEW:

Keep an eye open for powdery mildew, especially after a rain and the humidity returns.  In a sprayer, mix two tablespoons of baking soda, two tablespoons of vegetable or horticultural oil in a gallon of water and spray the mildew.  Summer phlox is particularly prone to this affliction; I recommend Phlox Miss Lingard or Phlox David, white ones of the species, these are the most mildew resistant.  

Monarda, commonly known as Bee Balm, is also affected by the mildew; the one I have found to be the most resistant is Cambridge Scarlet. Do be careful when introducing Monarda into the garden; they, like Purple Loosestrife and Evening Primrose are extremely invasive and can take over your entire border.  

On the subject of invasive plants, if you plant mint, plant it only in containers, otherwise mint will spread throughout your borders.  

I hope these tips are useful to you in this busy time of year in the garden and I’ll see you in the garden or on my website next month.

Contact Maureen at maureenhaseleyjones@gmail.com

About the author: Maureen Haseley-Jones, pictured left, 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.

Hundreds Celebrate Summer Solstice With Stroll Down Lyme St. Enjoying ‘Make Music Day’

Lyme Street was filled with cheerful folk enjoying the sounds of ‘Make Music Old Lyme’ and visiting with friends they had not seen in a long time due to pandemic restrictions. Photo by Cheryl Poirier.

OLD LYME — ARTICLE UPDATED, PHOTOS ADDED: The air was warm and spirits were high early on Monday evening when more than 500 people took a stroll on Lyme Street to enjoy the music of a dozen bands and solo performers, who together created Make Music Old Lyme. 

‘The Voice’ finalist Braiden Sunshine drew a large crowd in front of Center School. All photos by Alan Poirier except where otherwise indicated.

It turned into an evening of wonderful musical entertainment and also the opportunity to reconnect with friends after a very long and challenging year.

Plywood Cowboy played on the steps of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

The celebration spanned the length of Lyme Street from the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, where Steve Dedman of Plywood Cowboy played all the way up to the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts where the Old Lyme Town Band entertained on the front lawn.

The Old Lyme Town Band gave a rousing performance in front of Lyme Academy of Fine Arts.

A number of people brought chairs and moved from performance to performance to enjoy the evening full of folk, indie rock, Americana, and more.

Welcome to Space performed at Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau as part of ‘Make Music Old Lyme.’ From left to right are Thomas Pennie, Colin Hallahan and Jess Kegley with Noah Rumm on drums. All four are members of the Lyme-Old Lyme High School Class of 2019. Photo by Tracy McGlinchey.

Many residents were surprised to learn that all of the musicians donated their time and talent to support the international Make Music Day credo of free music for all.

The Lyme-Old Lyme Lions did brisk business selling hot dogs and hamburgers.

The Lyme-Old Lyme Lions Club sold over 100 hamburgers and more than 100 hot dogs …

Steve Patarini and Dean Montgomery performed on the new patio of the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library.

… and meanwhile, The Chocolate Shell generously offered a 10 percent on all purchases.

Hot Strings Café could be found in front of Patricia Spratt for the Home.

Cheryl Poirier, a lead organizer of Make Music Old Lyme, told LymeLine after the event that she felt it was, “A highly successful night  … [and] a great time was had by all!”

The Nightingale Fiddlers and Friends played in front of … where else, but Nightingale’s Acoustic Cafe?!

The comments we have seen about the event on our Facebook page and here on LymeLine strongly suggest that was the universal opinion!

The Moving Target Band played in front of The Village Shops.

The event was part of an international celebration of free music for all produced by the Old Lyme Arts District in conjunction with the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition and Nightingale’s Acoustic Cafe arranged the musical lineup.

The Midnight Anthem delighted crowds in front of Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall. Photo by Cheryl Poirier.

This was the third year Make Music Old Lyme has been presented; it was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whiskey and Aspirin and friends performed in front of The Cooley Gallery.

At the end of the two-hour event, a ‘Kazoo Parade’ led by Dan Stevens brought people to Studio 80+ Sculpture Grounds, where a final jam session involving many of the performers continued.

After a jovial musical march up Lyme Street, several of the musicians stopped a while at Gil Boro’s studio to make more music. Photo by Cheryl Poirier.

Make Music Old Lyme returns next year on the Summer Solstice, Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

The grand, unplanned finale at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds made for a perfect end to an amazing evening. Photo by Cheryl Poirier.

Old Lyme’s ‘Crosby Fund for Haitian Education’ Changes Lives in One of Poorest Parts of Globe

The Crosby Fund for Haitian Education is guided by the deep conviction that a brighter future for Haiti depends on educating its youth and preparing them for professional careers in Haiti.

How has an idea conceived in Old Lyme, Conn. been able to grow into an organization that is making a critical difference in the lives of more than 500 students in one of the most economically-deprived parts of the Caribbean island of Haiti, which, in turn, is one of the poorest countries in the world?

The answer lies with one woman, Rebecca ‘Becky’ Crosby, who along with her husband Ted, founded the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education (CFHE) back in 2003.

How did it all begin?

Crosby explains her first trip to Haiti was in 1999 and came about through the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme (FCCOL) when Amy Bruch was working there as an Associate Minister. Bruch had connected with the late Dr. Wayne Southwick of Old Lyme, the retired chairman of the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at Yale University.

Annually, Dr. Southwick led a team of doctors from Yale to the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Deschappelles, Haiti, where they performed surgeries round the clock and at no charge for local people. Deschappelles is located in the rural Artibonite Valley about 90 miles north of the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

Inspired by Southwick’s work, Bruch decided she, in turn, wanted to take a team of volunteers to the same hospital to support his efforts. She successfully organized the trip pulling together a group through the church, one of whom was Becky Crosby. They took a sewing machine with them, Becky recalls, and their primary task was to make privacy curtains for the hospital.

Ted and Becky Crosby attended the opening of a new Medical Center in Liancourt, Haiti in May 2021. The Center was founded by one of the graduates of the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education program, Dr. James Kerby Estimé, who named the Center in Becky’s honor.

During their time on the island, Becky noticed a young man, who was regularly sitting outside the place the volunteers were staying. One day Crosby asked him why he was not in school and he explained that he had previously been fortunate to have a sponsor from the US, but that those funds had ceased. Since school is not free for anyone in Haiti, he was no longer able to attend as his family simply could not afford it, and he hoped by interacting with some of the American visitors in town that he might be able to find a new sponsor.

Becky says, “I was surprised to learn that school was not free,” and made the decision almost on the spot to pay for the young man — Oltin — to finish his high school education. Doing that turned out to be harder than she thought since there was no postal service in Haiti and the young man had no bank account. Becky, however, was determined and finally found a way to pay his tuition through an American doctor working in Haiti.

Three years later in 2002, Becky returned to Deschappelles to meet with Oltin on his graduation from high school. She recalls, “I saw him and it was a wonderful visit.” She adds significantly, “I could not believe what the gift of an education could do.”

She started to research the overall statistics for education in Haiti and was stunned to find that only 55 percent of children in the country attend elementary school, a number which drops to 15 percent for those who graduate from high school, and finally falling to a mere 2 percent, who go onto university.

Less than half of Haitian families can afford school for their children, therefore, one of the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education’s main goals is to provide full scholarships for students from Pre-K through university.

It suddenly became crystal clear to Crosby that, “If you want to build Haiti, you need to educate the youth.” At that transformative moment in her life, she made a personal commitment to try and do something to meet that almost overwhelming objective.

Returning home, she shared the idea with her husband Ted, who was supportive of the concept, and in response set off on his own fact-finding trip to Haiti in 2003.

After Ted returned and expressed his full commitment for the project, Becky returned to Haiti again and began to, “Come up with ways to create the organization” there and “Form a board to select the students [who would receive scholarships.]

Returning to her home in Old Lyme, a determined Becky started work to find donors locally, who were willing to fund students in Haiti, who would otherwise not finish high school.

Not an easy task by any standard, but a short while later, she had successfully recruited 32 people willing to do just that and thus were formed the first seeds of the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education. Becky says, “We started with 32 friends who sponsored 32 students,” adding with a chuckle, “I had no idea when I started where this was leading.”

The Crosby Fund for Haitian Education also offers a wide range of additional academic support at their Education Center in Haiti’s Artibonite Valley.

Where is the organization today?

The numbers are nothing short of staggering.

A total of 523 students are now supported under the organization’s banner including 98 in post-secondary schools, 53 at university and 45 in medical technician or vocational training facilities. More than 80 schools across the Artibonite Valley are now involved in the program.

More than 90 percent of the Crosby Fund’s scholarship students advance to university or technical school and subsequently, CFHE graduates are employed at three times the national average.

Moreover, Faulkner Hunt of Lyme, who serves as CFHE’s Marketing Director, states, “Our goal is to get kids educated,” not just as an end in itself, but, “To get them to a place where they are gainfully employed.”

Has establishing the CFHE had any unexpected effects?

The project has been life-changing for Becky on a personal level in many ways.

Most significantly, when the CFHE had reached a total of around 300 students under its wing, she felt she had to step down from her role as Associate Minister at the FCCOL — a position she had taken after Catherine Zall’s departure (Zall had followed Bruch) — and devote her energies full-time to the fast-growing organization.

The Medical Center in Liancourt, Haiti, which is named after Becky Crosby.

She explains that she stepped down with three clear objectives in mind.

The first was to find or build some sort of “permanent place” for the CFHE, which could both house the staff and offer classroom space. The second was to establish an endowment fund and the third, and perhaps most important, to set up “some sort of staff in the US” to work on “succession planning” for the organization to establish continuity for it in perpetuity.

Becky says proudly, “All of this things are now in place,” which in turn has helped enormously with “Planning for the future.”

Building the Education Center in Deschapelles met the first goal. The three classrooms and and computer lab allow for a wide range of tutoring opportunities, which Becky emphasizes are extremely important, mentioning, “Math is a huge problem.”

Literacy, especially among adults, is another major challenge. “The students’ parents could not read or write … they had no idea how to read a report card,” Becky explains. The CFHE follows a state-run literacy program for adults, which currently has 56 students enrolled, but has recently adopted a youth literacy program sponsored by USAID, which had 52 students registered in January 2021.

With more than a trace of emotion in her voice, Becky said, “It is so moving to see someone my own age struggling to write their own name … and then go back [after the program has been completed] and see them writing easily. It is very, very touching.”

How are the students selected who are to receive scholarships?

Becky explains, “We have a great staff in Haiti, which includes six graduates of our program.” Using their knowledge of the community, they select candidates whom they determine will benefit from financial support. The process clearly works since the graduation rate of students supported by CFHE is significantly higher than the national average.

The 2020-2021 academic year saw 221 scholarships granted to secondary students in grades 7 to Philo (a 13th college preparatory year.) These students attend 37 schools in the region.

Apart from scholarships and tutoring, another piece of the Crosby Foundation’s work is their career development program. Becky says passionately, “Graduates need jobs … it’s tough to get a job … we’re trying to keep them in Haiti.” The program assists graduates in securing internships and jobs across Haiti, and Crosby points out it has already produced doctors, nurses, computer programmers and administrators, most of whom are now employed in Haiti.

She adds the CFHE has also helped students along other career paths including assisting four agronomy students set up a farming business.

What is the impact of donations from Lyme, Old Lyme?

An extraordinary aspect of the financial support for CFHE is that the “vast majority” comes from Lyme and Old Lyme according to Hunt. He comments it is remarkable, “These two little towns  can take up so much compassion for a little area in Haiti,” adding, “It’s such a great example of selflessness.”

Referring to all the CFHE donors, Becky says, “I wish I could bring them all to Haiti so they could see what they’re doing for the youth of Haiti. I wish I could share that experience with the people, who have helped us.”

Looking Ahead

Becky expands enthusiastically on what she calls “the real joy” of the achievements of the CFHE, saying, “When a kid you’ve picked off the streets does really well at school, even university, gets a job, gets married, has kids that go to school … Bingo, that’s the dream! This is what we are trying to do. It’s not going to happen overnight … we don’t expect miracles … but ultimately it’s nation-building one step at a time.”

Editor’s Note: For more information about the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education, visit their website or follow them on their Facebook page. If you would like to donate to support the work of the CFHE, visit this link. All contributions regardless of size are gratefully accepted.

Ivoryton Playhouse Reopens its Doors with ‘Murder for Two,’ July 8

IVORYTON — The Ivoryton Playhouse will open its doors for a five-play season on July 8.

Murder For Two by Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian is a blend of music, mayhem and murder! In this hilarious 90-minute show, two performers play 13 roles—not to mention the piano—in a witty and winking homage to old-fashioned murder mysteries.

The New York Times calls it “Ingenious! A snazzy double-act that spins out a comic mystery animated by funny, deftly turned songs.”

Murder For Two was developed at the Adirondack Theatre Festival and 42nd Street Moon. Chicago Shakespeare Theater presented the World Premiere Production in May, 2011, which was extended four times and ran for more than six months. Kinosian and Blair were recognized with a 2011 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Musical.

Everyone is a suspect in Murder For Two – Ian Lowe*, who was last seen in Ivoryton in The Woman in Black — plays the detective, and Joe Kinosian* plays all 13 suspects and they both play the piano.

A zany blend of classic musical comedy and madcap mystery, this 90-minute whodunit is a highly theatrical duet loaded with laughs.

The show is directed and choreographed by Wendy Seyb, the set is designed by Martin Marchitto, lighting by Marcus Abbott and costumes by Elizabeth Saylor.

Murder For Two opens at the Ivoryton Playhouse July 8 and runs through Aug. 1, 2021. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. There will be one Thursday matinee on July 8.

The safety of the audience is the primary concern. Face masks are required at all times in the theatre. There is no intermission and no concessions will be sold. Eating and drinking are not allowed in the theatre. Socially-distanced  seats mean there are only 96 seats in the theatre for your comfort and protection.  To view the socially-distanced seating plan, follow this link.

The second show in the 2021 Summer Season will be:

HAVING OUR SAY:  THE DELANY SISTERS FIRST 100 YEARS
by Emily Mann, adapted from the book “Having Our Say”
Aug. 12 – Sept. 5
A beautiful, funny and heartfelt family drama based on the bestselling memoir of Bessie and Sadie Delany – trailblazers, activists and best friends.

More shows will be announced soon.

Tickets are $55 for adults, $50 for seniors, $25 for students and are available on June 14 by calling the Playhouse box office at 860.767.7318. Tickets are not available online. Visit the website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org for more information. (Group rates are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

 

 

Ledge Light Announces 2021 Mosquito Control Program, Free Larvicide ‘Dunks’ Offered to all District Residents

LYME/OLD LYME — Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) is offering mosquito control consultation services and larvicidal mosquito dunks to residents in Lyme and Old Lyme.

Ledge Light is also offering this service to the other towns LLHD services, i.e., East Lyme, Groton, Ledyard, New London, North Stonington, Stonington, and Waterford.

Mosquito dunks are a larvicide designed to lessen the potential for West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Zika Virus. They are safe for use around the home because they utilize a naturally-occurring biological treatment to eliminate mosquitos before they become flying/feeding adults.

Ledge Light emphasizes that now is the time to be proactive about mosquito control because mosquitoes are just beginning to breed for the summer season.

Breeding sites include standing water in wetland areas or yard depressions, clogged rain gutters, empty garden containers, used tire piles, pool covers and tree holes.

It is important to empty standing water on your property once a week to eliminate potential mosquito breeding. When standing water cannot be removed, using a larvicide will eliminate immature mosquitoes before they can mature into flying adults. Flying adults are much more difficult and costly to eliminate.

Ledge Light Health District will provide to residents or homeowners association, free of charge:

  1. A site visit to assess standing water issues and make recommendations for eliminating mosquito breeding conditions
  2. An initial treatment with mosquito dunks*
  3. A season‐long supply of mosquito dunks, until our supply is eliminated.

*Note that the District will only provide larvicide dunks for standing water bodies less than 400 sq. ft. Application of the larvicide will be done by the homeowner.

For more information, contact Patti Myers, 860‐434‐1605 ext. 214 or visit the LLHD website: www.llhd.org, the Connecticut Mosquito Management Program Website: www.ct.gov/mosquito or the CT DEEP Pesticide Management Program or Pre‐Notification Registry at 860‐434‐3369.