April 5, 2020

Lyme, Old Lyme Churches Offer Online Services for Palm Sunday

LYME/OLD LYME — In light of the COVID-19 outbreak and in order to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order requiring no public gatherings of more than five people, the churches in Lyme and Old Lyme are again planning online services for this Palm Sunday weekend.

Christ The King added a livestream version of their 5 p.m. mass last Saturday and will be continuing that practice going forward. Christ The King is also livestreaming daily masses at 12 p.m.

Details of this weekends services are as follows:

Christ The King Church:
To view the live stream of the 5 p.m. mass on Saturday, join a Zoom Meeting at:

Meeting ID: 223 857 915
Password: 634317

and for the 10:30 a.m. mass on Sunday, join a Zoom Meeting at:


Meeting ID: 225 302 077
Password: 364282

A new link for Daily Masses will be given soon.

First Congregational Church of Old Lyme:
A link will soon be available for tomorrow’s service. We will post it here as soon as we receive it.
View an update from Senior Associate Minister Laura Fitzpatrick-Nager at this link.

First Congregational Church of Lyme:
Email Pastor Susan Olson at pastorsusanolson@gmail.com or Emily Bjornberg for the URL to view the Sunday, April 5 online service, which will also be streamed onto Facebook live at: https://www.facebook.com/lymechurchct

Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church:
Online services are available at this link.

South Lyme Union Chapel:
Worship services are cancelled Sunday, April 5.


Griswold Says Four Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Old Lyme Now; One Lives in Florida But Used an Old Lyme Address

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

OLD LYME — Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold informed us this morning in a text message that there are now four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Old Lyme. They are a 64-year-old female, a 21-year-old female  a 27-year-old male and a 53-year-old female. The latter case listed is the most recently confirmed case, having been identified after Griswold had sent out his update yesterday to town residents stating there were three cases.

Griswold noted that the 21-year-old female was tested in Florida, but used an Old Lyme address although she does not live here. Because she gave the Old Lyme address, Griswold said that Ledge Light Health District must report her as an Old Lyme resident.


Car Parade During Shutdown Demonstrates Strength of Student, Teacher Bonds at Lyme School

The “Teacher Parade” comprising 35 vehicles winds its way through the streets of Lyme.

LYME — Describing it as “one of the most heart-lifting events that I’ve ever been a part of,” Lyme Consolidated School music teacher Melissa Rostkoski explained that the inspiration for the 35-strong car parade that wound through the streets of Lyme on Tuesday afternoon lay in social media.

She had seen a video-clip of a motivational car parade being held “nowhere round here” shortly after Lyme-Old Lyme Schools were closed March 13 due to the COVID-19 crisis and it started her thinking about trying to do the same thing in Lyme.

Rostkoski said she shared the video with her colleague and friend, Lyme School’s Physical Education teacher Bonnie Ambruso, and together they rapidly agreed, “We should do this.”

From there, the two teachers set out to enlist broad parental and faculty support for the idea and gain all the necessary approvals from the Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, Police and Fire Departments. Rostkoski noted that after, “lots of back and forth,” a date was set and then the detailed planning really started.

Emily Reynolds, who has two girls at the school and also runs Lyme School’s Facebook page, was soon involved. She said, “I looked at all the Lyme School bus routes and developed a master route,” adding with a smile that it turned out to be an exercise that, “required a PhD in logistics!”

Another parent, Adam McEwen was soon on board and, in Reynolds’ words, “He tested the route,” and moreover, “… it worked!”

Stacey Leonardo, who is president of Lyme School’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and also a Region 18 Board of Education member, joined the effort and Reynolds described how Leonardo, “Put her graphic designs skills to work and developed a flier which we posted to the Lyme PTO pages and shared to all room parents to disseminate to the families.”

Fourth grader Lillian Reynolds expressed one of her concerns regarding the current school closure situation!

Reynolds said that, at that point, the parade concept had “really created a movement within the town.”

A few days prior to the event, Reynolds said, “Old Lyme Fire Department member Jarrod Flagg, who has children at Lyme School, reached out and wanted to help coordinate fire department support.

The Lyme and Old Lyme Fire Departments then went to work, and got drivers and firetrucks ready for the event.” She noted, “Jarrod was really committed to making this a special event for the kids.”


Keeping things in the family, so as to speak, the Lyme firetruck driver was Lyme School alumnus Will Firgelewski, pictured above, who graduated from Lyme-Old Lyme High School in 2005.

Finally, in the true spirit of community, the Old Lyme Resident Trooper contacted Rostkoski March 30 and said he too “wanted to be part of it” and would help take care of the safety aspects of the parade.

And so it came to pass that all the Lyme School teachers, Instructional Assistants and nurse, along with Principal Jim Cavalieri gathered in the Rogers Lake parking lot a little before 4 p.m. last Tuesday in preparation for the parade. The route had taken McEwen around a little over an hour when he tested it — this time it took more than twice that length of time.

The streets were filled — but always at a safe social distance — with children and parents holding wonderful, often amusing homemade signs, waving and cheering as the parade of cars filled with their teachers and support staff drove past.  In many cases, the cars were bedecked with balloons and the drivers regularly blew their horns.

Rostkoski said, “It made everyone incredibly happy.  There were definitely some tears.  It was very therapeutic for everyone. We wanted the kids to know that we miss them terribly and would much rather be in a building with them than driving by them.”

Reynolds added, “The turnout was extraordinary. The goal [of the parade] was really to remind all of these young people that even though we are all apart, the amazing teachers of Lyme School are here for them, care about them and will support them through this challenging time. It’s all about connection – we are wired to be connected and this parade achieved that; it made everyone feel part of this special community.”

Cavalieri commented, “My staff wanted to bring a little “normal” back into the students lives. Hopefully this was accomplished as we drove by the smiling faces of the students and parents. We wanted to give them hope during this time of uncertainty. All of the students want to be back in school with their teachers and friends. They just want life to be back to normal.”

Rostkoski was anxious to express her thanks to, “Everyone that made the parade flow so beautifully and kept it safe.”  Cavalieri similarly wanted to give, “A big thank you to the Lyme and Old Lyme Fire and Police for their support and guidance in making this parade so fabulous,” concluding, “We all want to be safe and remain healthy, but we all want to get back to what we do best … being in our classrooms and teaching the kids.”

Editor’s Note: We apologize that we do not know the names of all the students, teachers and parents in these photos. Please send us those details if you wish us to add them. And we received so many wonderful photos from the parade that, contrary to our normal policy of only publishing a limited number of photos with an article, we have published almost all of them!



Closures, Cancellations & Postponements in Lyme, Old Lyme, & Locally: Updated Friday

LYME & OLD LYME: Today, we have updated our summary of closures and cancellations in our local area related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have added new information in red.

Please email us at editor@lymeline.com with any additions or corrections.  Many thanks to all who have been updating us regularly done so already.

And PLEASE continue to stay safe and healthy, do not gather in groups of more than FIVE, practice social distancing at all times and keep washing those hands …


The Primary election scheduled for April 28, has been rescheduled to June 2, 2020. Absentee Ballot Applications already received by the Lyme and Old Lyme Town Clerks will be used for the new date. If you would like to request an absentee ballot for the Primary, click here, For more information on the Primary, visit the Town of Lyme website or the Town of Old Lyme website.


Old Lyme Town Hall: Closed to the public, but town hall will be staffed and offices reachable by phone and email. People who need to conduct face-to-face business with a department must call that department to discuss whether they can schedule an appointment. Full details at this link.

Lyme Town Hall: Closed to the public. Residents may contact Town Hall during normal business hours by phone at 860-434-7733 or the Board of Selectmen by email at AsktheLymeBOS@gmail.com. Full details at this link.

Lymes’ Senior Center: Closed until further notice. The town nurse will still remain open at this site Monday to Friday 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Those normally eating lunch at the center will be able to order a lunch “to go” at the Estuary Senior Center in Old Saybrook by calling (860) 388-1611 before 11 a.m. the day before. Those wishing to use this service must go to the Estuary in Old Saybrook to pick it up. Full details at this link.


Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools:

  • All LOL Schools and the Central Office are closed until at least April 20. Staff members are still working and available by phone and email.
  • Breakfasts and lunches are being are being distributed FREE for all students attending LOL Schools regardless of their economic status. Pick up hours are from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in front of the high school. Anyone can pick up a meal provided he/she has the name(s) of the student for whom the meal is intended.
  • The LOL Schools Policy & Communications Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday, April 8, at 6 p.m. will be held as planned. The public will be able to view this virtual meeting on the district’s website.

Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB): All LYSB programs are cancelled through at least April 20. Programs will be resumed when Lyme-Old Lyme Schools re-open. LYSB staff will be in touch regarding rescheduling and/or refunds when more information is available. Staff members are working on a modified schedule and are available by phone and email. Let them know if they can help your family during this time.

Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center: Closed through April 20, when the situation will be re-assessed to see if the closure needs to continue.

Old Lyme Parks and Recreation Department: All Town of Old Lyme Recreation Facilities will be closed to all team/group use until further notice. These facilities include Town Woods Park, Hains Park and Cross Lane Park.


Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library: Closed to the public until further notice. Staff will continue to answer phone and email inquiries as they are able.  Complete contact information can be found here. In the meantime, readers are encouraged to make use of online collections (e-books, audiobooks, magazines, and more) found on the library website.

Lyme Public Library: Closed to the public until further notice. Library staff will report to work and do their best to help patrons via phone and email. Interlibrary loan service has been suspended due to the large number of libraries in CT that are closed. Digital services are available 24/7 for ebooks, audio books, tv shows, and movies. Library staff will try to assist you in setting up your accounts via phone if you are not already using these services.


Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries has closed all meal sites but maintained their food pantry pick-up service. No registration is required – groceries will be brought outside to client.



See this new listing of take-out options prepared by LYSB staff

Bee and Thistle Inn: Restaurant is closed temporarily until further notice, but is now offering take out, Wednesday-Sunday, 5 to 7:30 p.m. To place your order, call the inn at 860-434-1667. Bee & Thistle Inn staff will gladly bring your order to your car. As always, the safest and cleanest food preparation is being practiced.

Kokomo’s Restaurant & Beach Bar: Open for takeout and delivery options Sunday through Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Call 860-390-6403 or visit http://ow.ly/HYHe50yO8Jx to place your order now and save 20%.

Old Lyme Inn restaurant & Side Door Jazz Club:Both closed until further notice.

The Hideaway: Now offering curb side take-out. Call 860-434-1455 and order. Staff will bring your take-out to your car.

Teddy’s Old Lyme Pizza Palace: Open for pick-up orders only. Use their online ordering system at teddysoldlymepizzapalace.com


Old Lyme Visiting Nurse Association has cancelled all visits. Call Cindi Taylor at 860-876-0456 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. if you would like prescriptions picked up.

Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) Contact our regional health center currently by phone at 860-448-4882 and/or e-mail at kmagnussen@llhd.org


9 Town Transit is still running a regular service.  Ridership was normal last week but is down 50 percent this week. May require service to be reduced, but Demand Response will continue regardless.


Florence Griswold Museum: Closed to the public through at least April 30; all programs cancelled during this time.  The Garden Luncheon scheduled for early May has been cancelled.

Lyme Art Association (LAA): LAA galleries are now closed and all programs and events are postponed at least through the end of March. LAA administration are monitoring the situation and will reassess in coming weeks. Staff may be contacted by email, and intermittently by phone.

Lyme Academy of Fine Arts: Campus closed until further notice. Early April class offerings have been postponed with plans to offer them in the fall. Open drawing sessions postponed until the end of March. The Academy is not planning to cancel the classes beginning April 20 at this time, so enrollment is still open. It is also planned to reschedule the first lecture in the portrait series — new date will be posted as soon as it is available. Staff are working at home. If you have any questions, contact stacey@lymeacademy.edu or kimberly@lymeacademy.edu or call  860.434.5232. Egg’stravaganza’ scheduled for Sunday, April 5, has been cancelled.

Musical Masterworks: All concerts for the remainder of the season are cancelled.

Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds: The studio and indoor facilities will be closed to the public until further notice. However, individuals are still welcome to stroll the grounds, enjoy nature and view the public artwork outdoors at the Sculpture Grounds, so long as you practice social distancing and other infection reduction strategies as outlined by the CDC. Sculptor Gil Boro has always encouraged visitors to touch and engage with the artwork, however, at this time, he asks that you refrain from all physical contact with the sculptures.


Christ The King Church: All Masses are temporarily suspended in terms of in-person attendance. The 5 p.m. mass on Saturdays and the 10:30 a.m. mass on Sundays are being live-streamed — details for accessing the link are on the church website. Faith Formation classes at Christ the King Church are canceled until further notice. 

First Congregational Church of Old Lyme: Sunday worship services are cancelled until further notice. A service is recorded each week and then posted online each Sunday morning and also disseminated through the church website, Facebook page and email.

First Congregational Church of Lyme:  Email Pastor Susan Olson at pastorsusanolson@gmail.com or Emily Bjornberg for the URL to view the Sunday, April 5 online service, which will also be streamed onto Facebook live at: https://www.facebook.com/lymechurchct

Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church: Worship services are cancelled and will be resumed Sunday, May 17. Online services are available at this link.

South Lyme Union Chapel: Worship services are cancelled until further notice.


Annual CROP Hunger Walk: The walk, which raises money for the Shoreline Food Pantries, scheduled for  Good Friday, April 10,  has been postponed.

High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc.: All activities suspended until further notice. The Big Barn Bash scheduled for June 13 has also been postponed.

Duck River Garden Club:  A decision on whether to hold the program scheduled for April 28 at Old Lyme Town Hall will be made nearer the time.

Lyme Land Trust: All planned events through April 30 are cancelled. The Tour de Lyme has been postponed until Sunday, Sept. 13.

Potapaug Audubon: All programs cancelled until further notice.

Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center (RTPEC): Center on Halls Road is closed and staff are working from home as RTPEC transitions to a virtual center. Children’s education programs are also suspended, but teacher naturalists are in communication with schools to implement virtual backyard nature programs for children and families. Outdoor field trips are cancelled for the time being; however, they will begin them again as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, if you follow RTPEC on social media, look for their interactive, fun and educational opportunities for all ages.

The Bowerbird: Now offering free curbside pick-up. Phone in your order or order online through their website, selecting “In-Store Pickup” at checkout. Leave a note for curbside pick-up in the comments.

Vitality Spa: Closed temporarily until further notice.


Further afield in the local region:

Connecticut River Museum: Closed until at least April 12. Staff still working either at home or in the museum. RiverFare scheduled for June 4 is postponed. Full details at this link.

Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra: All upcoming events cancelled through April 30. Instrumental Competition (March 14) rescheduled in the summer or early fall. “Spring Strings” (March 28) concert at the Garde Arts Center tentatively postponed to May 23.

Essex Winter Series: April 26 concert cancelled.

Ivoryton Playhouse: Forbidden Broadway Comes to Ivoryton and The Great Gatsby have been cancelled. Tickets still on sale for later shows in the season.

Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, “The Kate”: All performances through April 30 are postponed.

Madison Lyric Stage: Double-bill of Suor Angelica and Erwartung, originally scheduled to take place in late March and early April, has been rescheduled and will now take place June 4-14. For more information, visit madisonlyricstage.org or call 203-215-6329.

Mystic Seaport: Closed through at least March 31.

SECWAC (Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council): All programs cancelled.


Red Cross Holds Blood Drive Today in Old Lyme, Appointments Required; Critical Blood Shortage Exists Due to COVID-19 Crisis

OLD LYME  –  04/02: UPDATED INFORMATION FROM THE AMERICAN RED CROSS. Kelly Isenor, External Communications Manager for the American Red Cross in Connecticut, told us yesterday afternoon that she believes they, “are still trying to add a few more appointments to Old Lyme.” So if you are thinking about donating blood today but do not not have an appointment, we recommend going down to the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme anyway to find out what the latest situation is. Thank you in advance!

Isenor had responded Tuesday evening to several questions we had sent her previously. She apologized for the delay but said she had been inundated with inquiries.

She told us:

  1. “We are working to add staff and secure additional appointment slots for the blood drive in Old Lyme.
  2. We are not taking walk-ins [for the Old Lyme Blood Drive.] Appointments are necessary due to the enhanced safety protocols now in place, including the pre-screening of donors before they are allowed into the donation room.

  3. The Old Lyme Drive was moved [from the Town Hall to the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme] to accommodate the additional space needed to ensure proper spacing between donor beds, as well as donor chairs in the waiting and refreshment areas.

An American Red Cross Blood Drive will be held Thursday, April 2, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

The American Red Cross faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Healthy individuals are needed now to donate to help patients counting on lifesaving blood. 

Individuals can schedule an appointment to give blood with the Red Cross by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device. 

As the coronavirus pandemic has grown in the U.S., blood drive cancellations have grown at an alarming rate. To date, nearly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to concerns about congregating at workplaces, college campuses and schools amidst the coronavirus outbreak. These cancellations have resulted in some 86,000 fewer blood donations. More than 80 percent of the blood the Red Cross collects comes from drives held at locations of this type.

Here in the Connecticut Region, 46 blood drives have been canceled, resulting in 1,299 fewer blood donations. The Red Cross is adding appointment slots at donation centers and expanding capacity at many community blood drives across the country over the next few weeks to ensure ample opportunities for donors to give. 

Volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need

The Red Cross expects the number of cancellations to continue to increase, which is causing heightened concern for blood collection organizations and hospitals across the country. This blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer.

“In our experience, the American public comes together to support those in need during times of shortage and that support is needed now more than ever during this unprecedented public health crisis,” said Chris Hrouda, president, Red Cross Biomedical Services. “Unfortunately, when people stop donating blood, it forces doctors to make hard choices about patient care, which is why we need those who are healthy and well to roll up a sleeve and give the gift of life.” 

The Red Cross is committed to blood drive safety

“We know that people want to help, but they may be hesitant to visit a blood drive during this time. We want to assure the public that blood donation is a safe process, and we have put additional precautions in place at our blood drives and donation centers to protect all who come out,” said Hrouda.

The Red Cross has implemented new measures to ensure blood drives and donation centers are even safer for our donors and staff, including: 

  • Checking the temperature of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy.
  • Providing hand sanitizer for use before the drive, as well as throughout the donation process.
  • Spacing beds, where possible, to follow social distancing practices between blood donors.
  • Increasing enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment.

At each blood drive and donation center, Red Cross employees already follow thorough safety protocols to help prevent the spread of any type of infection, including:

  • Wearing gloves and changing gloves with each donor.
  • Routinely wiping down donor-touched areas.
  • Using sterile collection sets for every donation. 
  • Preparing the arm for donation with an aseptic scrub.

There is no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus including this coronavirus worldwide. 

“Volunteer donors are the unsung heroes for patients in need of lifesaving blood transfusions. If you are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give, please schedule an appointment to give now,” added Hrouda. 

Blood donation process

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements. 

Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

Editor’s Note: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.


Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center Launches Fundraising Effort to Overcome Closure Challenges During COVID-19 Crisis

Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center on Lyme Street has launched a fundraiser to help with all its expenses while it is closed during the Coronavirus pandemic.

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center (OLCLC) on Lyme St. has announced a fundraising effort to enable it to keep its doors open after the COVID-19 crisis has dissipated.

Due to the recent outbreak of the virus, the OLCLC, which was founded more than 30 years ago by the late and much beloved Connie Pike, was obliged to close for the safety of its families and staff. In line with public schools in Connecticut, it will not reopen until April 20 at the earliest.

Kristen St. Germain, who serves as president of the OLCLC Board of Directors explained the challenges that the organization is facing to LymeLine in an email, saying, “The OLCLC is a non-profit organization and solely funded by tuition and fundraising, Being closed for this amount of time and keeping our staff on payroll and maintaining our monthly expenses could put us out of business within six months.”

The aim of the GoFundMe effort is to ensure that a safe and nurturing environment will be available once more for these children and all the others who attend the Center when the COVID-19 crisis is over.

St. Germain added, “We don’t have a reserve of cash due to our non-profit status and have worked so hard to keep Connie Pike’s legacy going. Connie worked tirelessly to keep this Center around for over 30 years and we are hoping to do the same.” She noted, “We also don’t want to lose our staff at the end of this and have children return to faces they don’t recognize. Some of our staff have been around a long time and we are hoping to keep it that way.”

Putting a personal spin on the situation, St. Germain noted, “The Center helped raise my own three children and many of the teachers’ children in Region 18. We hope it is there to support them all for 30 more!”

The board and staff have opened a GoFundMe page at this link in order to raise money to support the OLCLC and allow it to continue to serve the children and their families in the local area.


Lymes’ Senior Center Offers Free, Temporary Membership to ALL Lyme, Old Lyme Residents: Membership Includes Virtual Exercise Classes

Lymes’ Senior Center Director Stephanie Gould. (File photo)

LYME/OLD LYME — In a welcome and positive response to the COVID-19 crisis, Lymes’ Senior Center Director Stephanie Gould, has announced today that the Center is now offering free, temporary membership to all residents of Lyme and Old Lyme — not just those 55 and over.

She explains, “This membership would allow you to participate in all of our virtual programs. Currently, we are offering many yoga classes and other exercise classes on Zoom and Youtube, and we will be adding beginner and intermediate country line dancing classes and a Pilates class next week as well.”

Gould notes, “Coronavirus has changed our regular life quite significantly and many of the daily activities that we took for granted can no longer happen for the time being,” adding, “To that end, the Center has begun virtual exercise classes and group get-togethers to help us cope with the isolation we all feel.”

This offer of temporary, free membership to all residents will extend through the duration of the self-isolation period effort and in Gould’s words, is an attempt “to make a difference to all of our neighbors.”  As a member, you will also receive a weekly email with information about the Center’s virtual programs, boredom busters, and the Corona Virus.

If you are interested in a free membership, email seniorcenter@oldlyme-ct.gov with your details.


Old Lyme Announces First Confirmed Case of COVID-19

OLD LYME — Updated 3/31: We learned today from First Selectman Griswold that the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Old Lyme is a female, aged 64.

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold announced in a statement published at 11 a.m. Sunday (March 29) morning that, “Old Lyme now has our first confirmed case of a resident who has tested positive for COVID-19,” adding, “We will keep this individual and their family in our thoughts and wish them a full recovery.”

The statement continues, “As this disease has spread rapidly across the state, it is not surprising that our community has been affected as well. This news is not cause for panic. Continue to wash your hands with soap often, avoid crowds, practice social distancing, stay home and limit outside travel, and remember to call and check on your neighbors and loved ones.”

Griswold emphasizes, “The best thing we can do at this juncture is to continue to pull together as a town. If you exhibit any of the signs of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) please be sure to call your doctor right away. Isolate yourself within your home, away from other family members, if possible. If you need to call for emergency services, make sure to let them know the symptoms you are experiencing so they can use personal protective equipment upon arrival.”

Concluding, “We realize that this news is unsettling,” Griswold notes, “We are working on creating a list of mental health resources that will be available on our website for those who need help coping with stress, anxiety, and/or panic. We are keeping all information about COVID-19 on our website. You can also sign up for text alerts by texting OLCOVID19 to 888-777. We will continue communicating updates as we move through these uncharted waters. If you have questions, please get in touch with the Ledge Light Health District.”


Talking Transportation: Memoirs of Metro-North Conductor

Jim Cameron

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to work for the railroad?

That’s what Paul Holland did for 39 years, first with Amtrak, later with Conrail and finally as a conductor on Metro-North.  His self-published “My Life As A Rear End” pays tribute to his time in cabooses, but it’s his commuter rail stories that kept me laughing.

Like the colorful crowd from the psychiatric hospital on the Harlem line who’d escape, often in their pajamas, and ride his trains, obviously unable to pay.  Or the many times he was assaulted by knife-wielding thugs only to be rescued by his 6 ft. 7 in. cross-dressing frequent rider, “Rocky”.

Over the years Holland collected his stories, often scribbling them on seat-checks. Upon his retirement it took him less than a year to pen his “memoirs”, many of which are far too racy to mention in this column.  Let’s just say that the diminutive conductor was very popular with the ladies.  It must have been the uniform.

Because he truly loved his job, and had three kids bound for college, Holland worked six or seven days a week.  Railroad conductors can work split shifts of up to 16 hours a day, and with his overtime, Holland averaged about 80 hours a week.

Some passengers would ask him the stupidest questions, like the riders who would congregate in the front car for a fast exit at Grand Central.  A common query: why can’t you add more cars to the front of the train?

Occasionally, Holland would work the last train to depart Grand Central, the 1 a.m. train making all local stops to New Haven, affectionately known as “The Vomit Comet”.  It was a quiet run, though getting inebriated passengers off at their correct stop was always a challenge.

He also tells the story of the German tourist who had parked his friend’s borrowed car at a remote station, returning late at night to find it had been stripped of all four wheels.  He thought it was the local cops penalizing him for parking without a permit.

Enforcing the rules in ‘The Quiet Car’ was a thankless job, like the time a passenger kevtched about another rider eating a smelly egg salad sandwich.  Not a violation, ruled Holland.

Or the passenger angry about the woman in ‘The Quiet Car’ talking, albeit quietly, on her cellphone.  “Tell her to shut the F up,” said the vigilante.  As Holland approached the woman, he heard her say, “Have a blessed Easter” before hanging up.  Holland returned to the complainant and said, “She’s a nun, but I’ll relay your message.”  As he turned to approach the woman again, the now-penitent passenger raced after him to say, “Never mind”.  Holland said, “He must have gone to Catholic school.”

Holland insists all his stories are true.  “I have witnesses,” he told me.

Retired and living in New Milford, Holland obviously misses his job and his passengers, some of whom he still keeps in touch with.  He says that over the years passengers have changed.  “These days they don’t seem to show any respect (for authority), especially the kids.”

As “the face of the railroad” Holland says he never minded facing angry passengers, upset about delays.  “I just always told them the truth and treated them the way I’d want to be treated.”

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 CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com  For a full collection of  “Talking Transportation” columns, visit www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com


Griswold Asks People Coming to Old Lyme From ‘Possibly COVID-19 Infected Areas’ to Self-Quarantine for 14 Days

Old Lyme First Selectman  Tim Griswold.

OLD LYME — In his March 27 COVID-19 update to all residents, Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold says, “Over the past week we have received questions about summer residents returning early and out of town visitors who possibly have come from COVID-19 infected areas.”

He continues, “In response, we issued a statement on our website asking these residents and visitors to please voluntarily quarantine themselves along with other traveling family members. Ideally, the quarantine period would be 14 days and people should closely monitor their health.”

Griswold stresses, “During this time of emergency, it is even more important that we all be good neighbors to halt the spread of this disease within our community.”

The statement to which Griswold refers states, “Take your temperature two times a day and watch for symptoms.  If you feel sick and have symptoms call ahead to a doctor’s office or emergency room or clinic. Tell your doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms.”

Visit this page on LymeLine, Lyme, Old Lyme Leaders, Emergency Services Urge Residents, Visitors to ‘Stay Safe, Stay Home’, for more advice from our towns on how to stay safe during this pandemic.


Old Lyme Board of Finance Denies Lyme Academy’s $15K Budget Request, Seeks More Info

File photo of the Chandler Academic Center, which comprises part of the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts. The France Foundation now rents 40,000 s.f in the buidling.

OLD LYME — At its regular meeting this past Tuesday (March 24), Old Lyme’s Board of Finance considered a budget request for $15,000 from the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts. The meeting was held in the town hall but most board members called into the meeting, along with member of the press and public, to avoid the dangers of convening in person and spreading the coronavirus.

It soon became clear that board members were facing a problem in determining whether to approve the request because there was minimal supporting information explaining why the Academy needed the funds and how they were going to use them.

Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell noted that the only documents received by the board were a Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss statement for the Academy, each for a nine-month period. He mentioned that these showed total assets and endowments at $8.6 million with $1.8 million potentially owed to the University of New Haven (UNH).

Finance Director Nicole Stajduhar noted the Academy’s endowment was listed at $7.4 million of which only $1 milion is unrestricted and that, “The $1.8 million note [to UNH] is still there.” although Russell had commented, “There is an idea it may be forgiven if the property is sold outright.” Stajduhar also highlighted that it appeared the Academy’s $800,000 mortgage had been paid off, though it was not clear by whom.

Board member Bennett (BJ) Bernblum opened discussion of the request saying, “There are lots of questions in my view. These numbers don’t show an entity in dire trouble,” and concluding, “I personally am reluctant to make an award at this point.” He added, however, that he would be willing “to reserve the right” to allocate some monies to the Academy at a later date if more information were presented.

Alternate member Judith Read agreed with Bernblum, saying, “There’s not enough information to justify handing out a $15,000 grant to them.”

Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold was more conciliatory towards the Academy reminding the board the institution was no longer a college and its revenue would consequently be impacted by that situation. He noted the Academy was engaged in an ongoing process of developing a strategic plan, which was,”really a road map going forward,” and commented, “The burn rate through their funds must be extensive.”

Griswold mentioned that the Academy had leased part of its property to The France Foundation, but the Academy’s ability to enter into any further leases was restricted by Old Lyme’s Zoning Regulations, which require the Academy only to lease to educational institutions. He also pointed out that the Academy, like other non-profits, “May need an indication of our support,” in order to apply successfully for grants and other funds, but he conceded, “I guess we need to await something more concrete,” from the Academy in terms of supporting information for the request.

Board member Janet Sturges said she had met with Lyme Academy Interim Director Frank Burns and in the interview, he had conveyed, “Lots of promise … lots of hope,” causing Russell to remind the board, “They’re asking for $15,000. We could give them less.”

Bernblum followed up, saying, “One of the concerns is whether they’re staying in business,” but added, “I think it’s politically wrong to deny them. I would rather postpone.”

That compromise was well received but Stajduhar pointed out the board needed to award something at this point to be what Russell later described as “a placeholder.” Member David Kelsey proposed the board should award $1,000 to the Academy for the 2020-21 financial year and Russell emphasized, “There could be an additional amount,” if more information about the request were presented.

The motion was passed unanimously.




A View from My Porch: Keep Calm and Carry On

Original 1939 UK poster. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

The title of this essay is derived from a poster designed by the British government in the late 1930s to maintain morale when war against Germany became imminent. This essay roughly considers “a day in the life” of Southeastern Connecticut residents as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts each of us and our collective ability to “carry on” our lives as usual. I will present the key elements of this crisis, drawing from the wealth of real data that have become available, and define some of the terms used by our public health professionals so that you can better understand the basis for the required actions.

The Statistics: 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) reported on March 23 that there were 618 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state; with multiple cases in each of Connecticut’s eight counties. Fifty-four patients were hospitalized, and 12 residents have died. Over 60 percent of Connecticut cases are in Fairfield County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported over 50,000 cases and nearly 700 deaths across the United States. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports over 415,000 cases and nearly 19,000 deaths worldwide. Note that these numbers change, and probably increase, daily. 

Excuse me in advance, but this isn’t our first rodeo; and we’ve successfully dealt with pandemics in the past. These include the HIV/AIDS crisis that began in the mid to late 1970s, and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. 

Unfortunately, our response to COVID-19 was late and disorganized with mixed and confusing messages coming from the highest levels of the federal government. As a result, testing for the disease started late, supplies of critical personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves for health care personnel became scarce, and were not replenished in a timely manner.  The same was true of essential hospital equipment like ventilators, which are the “breathing machines” used for treating patients in severe respiratory distress. 

And so, on March 10th, Connecticut Governor Lamont joined several governors in nearby states and declared both a public health emergency and a civil preparedness emergency. A public health emergency gives the state authority over quarantine, while a civil preparedness emergency grants the governor broad powers over state institutions, allowing him to restrict travel, close public schools, some businesses, and public buildings.

As a result, only “essential businesses”, which include: grocery stores, pharmacies, medical offices, hospitals, childcare, auto repair, banks, and emergency services remain open. Restaurants may remain open, but for takeout and delivery only. Schools were closed on March 31, and there is some thought that they may remain closed through the end of the semester. Hospitals have changed visitation rules.

I will not list the “non-essential” businesses. Tele-commuting is encouraged when at all possible. These restrictions and closures have resulted in significant displacement of workers and unemployment has grown.  

Important Terminology: 

COVID-19 is a disease triggered by a coronavirus, which is a relatively common virus that can cause both upper and lower respiratory tract infections. 

In the past, most coronaviruses weren’t dangerous and caused only mild respiratory problems. However, in early 2020, following a late 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization identified a new type of coronavirus. Officials named this new virus “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus2 “(SARS-CoV-2)”. This highly contagious and virulent microorganism is the agent that causes COVID-19; which can lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock, and death.

Older adults and any individual with a serious underlying medical condition are at higher risk for COVID-19’s more serious complications. The CDC notes that people may be most contagious when they are at their sickest. However, note that many cases are still mild to moderate and not life-threatening. These can be treated at home.

You may have also heard this virus referred to as “novel”, which, very simply, refers to a virus that has not been seen before, or has never infected humans before. As such, it’s unlikely that anyone will have immunity, or antibodies that protect them against the novel virus. 

Public health professionals stress the need to “flatten the curve” as a means of controlling this disease. The curve refers to the rate of growth of new cases displayed graphically (i.e., the projected number of new cases over a specific period of time). A “flattened” curve staggers the number of these new cases over a longer period, so that people have better access to care, and do not overburden the healthcare system. 


The virus is spread primarily from person-to-person, commonly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, saliva, or from some hard surfaces on which the virus may live for four or five days and remain infectious for even longer.


The best way to prevent this disease is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The CDC still recommends social distancing to reduce the probability of contact between individuals carrying the infection with others who are not infected. 

The goal is to minimize disease transmission, and its resultant morbidity, and ultimately, mortality. The minimum recommended measures include:

  • Allow six feet of interpersonal space, which means avoid crowded social activities, like going to pubs, bars, and restaurants, sporting events, theaters and cinemas.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently; use hand sanitizers.
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Use the “usual” coughing and sneezing protocols.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 

Testing is a good thing:

It is correct that testing does increase the number of individuals identified with the disease, but it also provides the data required to target resources and plan for future needs. Testing is now widely available. All acute care hospitals have the ability to test, although for those that utilize the DPH lab in Rocky Hill, testing is reserved for patients that have been admitted to the hospital.

There are also a number of outpatient testing sites that use private labs, and do not need to comply with the admission restriction. All sites require a physician’s order, who, at present, must make an appointment for the patient.

Critical and Immediate Issues:

This crisis will not end soon. Only one source predicts an end by April 12, which is Easter Sunday in the United States. Most experts agree that an end date is difficult to predict, but 60 days is feasible.

There is currently no vaccine or “miracle” drug specifically targeting COVID-19 — no antiviral drugs are licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat patients with COVID-19. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and collaborators are working on development of candidate drugs for rapid testing and evaluating re-use of drugs approved for other diseases. Current treatments often focus on protecting against opportunistic infections and alleviating symptoms while the disease “runs its course.”

We do not yet know what the recurrence rate is for patients, who have recovered from COVID-19. 

Americans have never really faced the rationing of healthcare services. It is clear, however, that we must plan for a possible surge of critically ill patients and identify additional space in which to provide care. Unfortunately, it may be possible that our medical professionals will need to make decisions regarding assignment of scarce resources like ventilators. 

I am confident that the United States will allocate resources to support our citizens and small businesses that face economic hardships as we move through this crisis. 

Make certain that you know the source of the information about this disease. The most reliable data comes from Connecticut DPH, Ledge Light Health District, and the CDC. 

Finally, God save the United States if we ever reach the point when we have to value a life lost in this pandemic less than a life lost in an economic downturn (whatever that is.)


Seidner Announces New Fund to Help Most Vulnerable Residents in Lyme, Old Lyme; All Donations up to $10K to be Matched by Benchmark Wealth Management

Benchmark Wealth Management partners Thomas J. Britt (center, left) and Richard W. Stout III stand with Executive Assistant Aileen Deutermann (left) and Operations Assistant Heather Moore. Benchmark is offering to match all donations to the newly-formed Lyme-Old Lyme Coronavirus Relief Fund up to a total of $10,000. Photo submitted.

LYME-OLD LYME – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new charitable fund has been established to provide financial support to the most vulnerable residents of Lyme and Old Lyme.  The Lyme-Old Lyme Coronavirus Relief Fund will be managed by the Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB), in partnership with the Social Services Departments of the two towns.  Early donations have already been put to good use helping vulnerable citizens in both communities with essential needs such as groceries, fuel, diapers and assistance with rent.

Shortly after the fund was established, Benchmark Wealth Management announced it would match all donations on a one-to-one basis up to a total of $10,000.  Asked by email why Benchmark had decided to make such a generous donation, Rick Stout responded, “Tom [Britt] and I live in Old Lyme and have raised our families in the Lyme-Old Lyme community.  Doing good is a tenet of our business philosophy.”  Stout and Britt are the partners of the company.

Stout continued, “Current events will impact everyone, so where and when we can help, Benchmark is committed to doing so,” noting, “Additionally, we are actively supporting area businesses and nonprofits and their employees personally.  Small businesses and their employees, nonprofits, the self-employed and everyone working in the gig or tip-dependent economy is facing great uncertainty.”

He concluded, “Benchmark hopes to spur donations by those who are in a position to do so with our donation and challenge.”

All donations are tax deductible and can be made online at www.lysb.org/covid19.

Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau Director Mary Seidner comments, “Our communities are working together in unprecedented ways, and it is the hope that this fund will support our vulnerable residents on a path toward stability and recovery.”

Donors or residents with questions are encouraged to contact Seidner at mseidner@lysb.org or 860-434-7208.

Editor’s Note: Benchmark Wealth Management is located at 83 Halls Rd., Ste. 201, PO Box 525, Old Lyme CT 06371. For further information, call 860-434-6890.


Town of Old Lyme Launches ‘Stay Informed’ Program, a ‘One-Stop Information Shop’ for Residents (Roberge)

Old Lyme Emergency Services Director David Roberge. (File photo)

OLD LYME — Updated 2:30pm Old Lyme Emergency Director David Roberge took time out of his hectic schedule yesterday to tell us about the “Stay Informed” campaign launched by the Town in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The aim of the program, in Roberge’s words, is to be, “a one-stop shop for persons looking for information from the Town,” during this challenging period.

He noted that in order to opt in for free text alerts regarding Emergency Notifications and Safety Communications from the Town of Old Lyme, readers should text OLCOVID19 to 888-777. Roberge said, “After signing up, you’ll receive daily text information from us.”

Roberge also mentioned that the Covid-19 Information from Old Lyme Emergency Management page of the Town’s website is where you can find all the supporting information related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The page offers numerous links on the left hand side to external websites or webpages including the State of Connecticut, Town of Old Lyme, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB), Ledge Light Health District, lists of where to obtain take-out meals locally, and how both to get and give help regardless of whether you are an individual or a business. These links all help people answer questions related to their specific needs and basically fall into five categories as follows:

  • Health: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional
  • Commodities: where to obtain/purchase food, meals, products, etc.
  • Transportation: how to travel to and from places
  • Small business: how to request help locally and/or from the state
  • Pet problems: finding a veterinarian, seeking assistance

Roberge explained, “Old Lyme has formed a Task Force with members from the Town, LYSB, Social Services, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, and numerous local non-profits. The whole effort is being approached collectively and communicated via multiple platforms including websites, social media, and printed materials.” He noted, “All the information is being updated as frequently as possible.”

Roberge also recommended that all residents should sign up to receive Official Town E-Alerts if they have not already done so, pointing out that “It’s the easiest way for the Town to communicate with its residents any time — not just in Corona time!”

Stressing, “There are links on the Town website to “Get Help or Give Help” with buttons saying ‘I want to help’ and ‘I’m in need of help,‘ Roberge said,”Anyone should feel they can use these buttons to give or request assistance. We’re doing our very best to help everyone, including the business community.”

His final advice to residents was, “Remember to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and minimize contact with others.” He urged residents to read the information from the State of Connecticut on Covid-19 and follow their recommendations. He ended by echoing Gov. Lamont’s words, “Stay safe! Stay home!”

Editor’s Note: LymeLine.com is proud to be a partner in these efforts and is providing daily updates of Closures & Cancellations as well as all the latest community news. Please keep us updated by emailing editor@lymeline.com with any changes to your business or organization’s situation.



Non-Essential Businesses Must Close by 8pm Monday, DECD Defines ‘Essential’ Businesses That Can Stay Open

LYME/OLD LYME — State Representative Devin Carney (R-23), whose District includes Lyme and Old Lyme, sent us the detailed information announced yesterday by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) regarding which businesses are deemed essential in the state pursuant to Executive Order 7H.

That order had directed all businesses and nonprofit entities in the State of Connecticut to utilize, to the maximum extent possible, any telecommuting or work from home procedures that they can safely employ.

Executive Order 7H also directed that, no later than today, Monday, March 23, at 8 p.m., each non-essential business or nonprofit entity must reduce the in-person workforce at each business location by 100% from pre-state of emergency declaration employment levels.

This order excludes any state or local government agencies, quasi-public agencies, political subdivisions or other entities that do not constitute businesses or nonprofits.

The details announced yesterday by the DECD identify all essential businesses in a docment titled, Business Exemptions for Coronavirus – Executive Order 7H, which includes 12 different categories of businesses.

If the function of your business is not listed as one of the Business Exemptions, but you believe that it is essential or it is an entity providing essential services or functions, you may request designation as an Essential Business.

Requests by businesses to be designated an essential function as described above, should ONLY be made if they are NOT covered by the guidance.

To request designation as an Essential Business, click here.

Any business that only has a single occupant/employee (e.g. attendant) is deemed exempt and need not submit a request to be designated as an Essential Business.

If you have further questions not answered above, submit them to DECD at decd.covid19@ct.gov.

If you have questions for State Rep. Carney, email him at Devin.Carney@housegop.ct.gov or call 800-842-1423.



A la Carte: In This Time of Crisis, We All Need (American Indian) Soup for the Soul

As I write this column, I am using Tylenol to tamp down my fever that spiked to 100.4 last night. I wanted to stay in bed this morning, but Junie, my only cat, had another idea. So I got up, fed her, changed her water dish, added water and ice cubes to my own water bottle, and made tea. I feel much better now. I am quite sure what I have is just a little bug—no sore throat, no headache, no congestion.

I do want to tell you about my two visits to a supermarket the week of the March 9. As you know, I have lots of extra food in my big freezers and plenty in my pantry. What I decided I needed in those two visits was produce, especially onions, and hot dogs and rolls. I have no idea why I have wanted hot dogs but I bought six Hummel, skin-on wieners, and the softest rolls I could find. 

Here is what I didn’t understand: two different men had carts filled to the top with the following: one had at least 10 cartons of Coca-Cola, while the other’s cart included 12 rib-eye or porterhouse steaks …

I didn’t visit the paper aisles: I have plenty of toilet paper, paper towels and napkins. For those who have Wi-Fi and YouTube, look for the Bangor (ME) Police Department and Tim Cotton’s essay on what to use instead of toilet paper. It is a hoot.

As for feeding your family, if your pantry has beans and chicken (or veggie or beef) stock, make soup. If you have a chicken, roast it or boil it with onions, celery and carrots for soup. If your supermarket has rotisserie chickens, after dinner make chicken salad and sandwiches for the next day. If you have some ground chuck, there is chili and pasta. And if you have one of those rib eyes, turn on your grill.

I will be making this soup this afternoon.

Indian Soup

Adapted from a recipe by Sherwood Cadorette from Groton

“This soup has been in my family since the turn of the century,” he wrote, and, remember, he is talking about the 20th century, not the 21st. “Up until 1983, we attributed its origin to my great-great grandmother on my father’s side of the family. She was an [American] Indian. To my amazement, my sister told me that it originated about 1905 when a customer in my grandfather’s barber shop game him the recipe.”

Yield: 4 servings

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium to large onion, peeled and diced
1 14.5 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juice
1 small can creamed corn
1 cup milk
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
12 saltines, crushed

Place butter and olive oil in a large saucepan and heat until melted. Add onions and turn to coat. On medium-high, saute onions until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and corn; on medium-heat, allow the vegetables to heat, almost to a boil. Add milk and heat for a few minutes. Stir in sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

To serve: Place hot soup in four warmed cups or bowls. Crush saltines into each and serve hot.

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 a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and also for the Shore Publishing and Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. 


 A View from My Porch: Who’s Played Sherlock? Who Did it Best?

Although more than a century and a quarter has passed since publication of Arthur Conan Doyle’s first story, Sherlock Holmes continues to inspire novels, movies, TV, and the stage. I will review some of the actors who played Holmes in this concluding essay in my Holmes duology; and assess how true each was to Conan Doyle’s artistic vision.

Where possible, I’ll contrast each actor’s portrayal with the Holmes described by Dr. Watson, which I have paraphrased as, “His very person was such as to strike the attention of the most casual observer. He was rather over six feet, and so lean that he seemed considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing, and his thin, hawk-like nose and prominent chin gave his whole expression an air of alertness, decision, and determination.”

Note that I occasionally will refer to the “canon” in this essay, which consists of the 56 short stories and four novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and published in the Strand Magazine.

This is no easy task. In 2012, one of the world’s most reliable sources, i.e., The Guiness Book of World Records, awarded the title for “most portrayed literary human character in film & television” to Sherlock Holmes, who had already been presented on screen, at that time, more than 250 times. He has been played. in some manner, by nearly 100 actors, including Michael Caine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Lee, Robert Downey Jr., Ian McKellen, Jonny Miller, Peter O’Toole, Christopher Plummer, and Basil Rathbone.

However, I will focus only on the MSM, that is, the Main-Sherlock-Media, and exclude the “Sherlocks” in parodies like Without a Clue, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, and The Great Mouse Detective.

Sherlockian Literature After Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Award-winning American playwright, Ken Ludwig, set The Game’s Afoot at a cast party in 1936 Gillette Castle. Published in 2012, the play was presented at the Ivoryton Playhouse in 2017. Jim Bennet, of Mystic, has written three historical mysteries regarding William Gillette under the pen name James Walker; in these, Gillette uses his stage persona as Sherlock Holmes to investigate murders and other crimes. 

In addition, a growing group of authors is writing short stories and novels “in the style of Arthur Conan Doyle”. Many of these “pastiches” are quite accurate in their portrayals and have begun to form a subcategory of popular literature.

Sherlock in the Cinema and on TV

Rather than attempt an exhaustive review of every actor who has portrayed Sherlock in any television or movie production, I will begin this review in the late 1930s with Basil Rathbone’s interpretation, and continue chronologically to the present. 

I feel that any review of Sherlock must also consider the associated Dr. Watson. However, I will not review the concomitant LeStrade or Moriarty characters in this essay.

I don’t pretend to have the expertise of Old Lyme resident David Handler’s character Mitch Berger of Dorset in judging these actors, but I can certainly distinguish good acting from bad; and sloppy dialog from a well-constructed plot. Moreover, in the spirit of some current American politicians, there’s absolutely no science in these assessments, although I’ll start with the null hypothesis that Basil Rathbone is Sherlock, and attempt to disprove that premise.

Basil Rathbone

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

In 1939, Basil Rathbone played Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles with Nigel Bruce as Watson. They continued through 1946 and completed 14 Sherlock Holmes movies. Almost concurrent with movie production, they also starred in a serialized radio drama, The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, that aired in the United States from late 1939 through mid-1947. 

With the exception of Hound, these films were only loosely based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s canon, but were updated to reflect the issues of the day. I’m not claiming that all 14 were great cinema; but they certainly were respectable wartime productions. 

So, by mid-century, the Rathbone/Bruce team was recognized and accepted in both America and Great Britain as Holmes and Watson. I’ll reference only two movies to support my claim. 

In Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Holmes, disguised as an elderly book seller, smuggles a Swiss scientist and his advanced bomb sight into England just as the Gestapo prepared to arrest him and seize control of his laboratory. Many of the Holmes’ wartime movies ended with a soliloquy by Basil Rathbone. This one always brings a few tears to my eyes.

At the end of Secret Weapon, Holmes and Watson, with a contingent of the British war cabinet, are observing a squadron of Lancaster bombers equipped with the bombsight as they leave for Nazi Germany.
Watson: “Things are looking up, Holmes. This little Island’s still on the map”.
Holmes: “Yes. “This fortress – built by nature for herself; This blessed plot, this Earth, this Rome, this England”.
This latter line is, of course, from Act II of Richard II by William Shakespeare. 

In Sherlock Holmes in Washington, Holmes breaks up a Nazi spy ring operating from a high-end D.C. antiques shop, and recovers the secret microfilmed documents that they had stolen from a murdered British intelligence agent. 

As Holmes and Watson prepare to leave the District, driving towards Capitol Hill, the conversation goes like this:
Holmes: “Look up there ahead – the Capitol, the very heart of this democracy”.
Watson: “Democracy; the only hope for the future?
Holmes: “It’s not given to us to peer into the mysteries of the future, but in the days to come the British and American people will, for their own safety and for the good of all, walk together in majesty, in justice, and in peace”.
In citing Churchill’s then recent address to Congress, Sherlock reminds us of how great that legislative body once was.

While Basil Rathbone was Sherlock, both physically and intellectually, Nigel Bruce regularly presented Watson as a befuddled English gentleman and a somewhat slower associate of Holmes. His interpretation of Watson is inconsistent with the more intelligent Watson of Arthur Conan Doyle’s canon. 

Ronald Howard
In 1954, British actor Ronald Howard began a two-season run of 39 episodes on the American television series Sherlock Holmes. He played a relatively light-hearted and campy Sherlock along-side H. Marion Crawford’s Dr. Watson; who played a sharp, and sometimes aggressive Watson, unlike Nigel Bruce above. Of the 39 episodes, only The Red-Headed League was based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s original body of work. The series included such titles as: The Case of the Texas Cowgirl, and The Case of The Shoeless Engineer. However, there were occasional allusions to the Doyle canon. 

Douglas Wilmer
In 1965, the BBC began its presentation of
Sherlock Holmes with British classical actor Douglas Wilmer as the lead, and Nigel Stock as Watson. This sometimes “noirish” series continued until 1968, with 13 episodes wholly- based on the original stories. Wilmer plays a shrewd, but arrogant Holmes; and sports all the expected trappings: deerstalker cap, pipe, prominent nose, and obsessive nature. Nigel Stock is another affable, but intellectually inferior Watson. 

Jeremy Brett
In the Granada Television series that aired in the UK from 1984 to 1994, Jeremy Brett played a more emotional and physically graceful Sherlock than the predecessor Sherlocks described above. His manner was more “swaggering” with occasional outbursts of passion used to re-focus Watson or LeStrade

His sometimes overly-precise and dramatic presentation quality demonstrate his background in musical theater. He played Freddy Eynsford-Hill” in My Fair Lady. Here’s a clue for you: “I have often walked down this street before; but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before. All at once am I several stories high, knowing I’m on the street where you live …” 

There were two Watsons over this decade-long series, namely David Burke and Edward Hardwicke. Both played the character as a highly intelligent and intuitive associate of Holmes, and true to Doyle’s canon. Many consider Jeremy Brett’s characterization of Holmes as the defining Sherlock performance. To get a feel for his style, watch this video clip to see Holmes leap the couch at 221B in The Red Headed League.

Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch during filming of ‘Sherlock’ in Chinatown, London. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

Sherlock is a contemporized version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s consulting detective now operating in 21st century London.  Cumberbatch is Holmes, and Martin Freeman is Watson. Thirteen 90-minute episodes were produced in this BBC/PBS series between 2010 and 2017. The Cumberbatch Holmes is more arrogant and self-centered than the predecessors described above, and less-willing to contend with Inspector LeStrade’s plodding manner.

The deerstalker cap is absent, although other traditional detective attire (long coat and scarf) frequently appear. I believe that, although updated with contemporary technology, and despite the unruly hair, Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the character is first rate. His Holmes still has exceptional intellect, is excitable, and delights in “solving puzzles no one else could solve.” 

Dr. Watson is a younger veteran of the Royal Army Medical Corps in the Afghan War than those reviewed above and is certainly played as a more independent “self-starter”. He blogs about their adventures rather than writing by hand for publication in the print media.

However, Watson’s blog provides the pair some unwanted celebrity and  the press begins reporting on the cases and Sherlock’s sometimes eccentric personal life. Their cases, like those in the canon, come from both ordinary people and the British government. 

Jonny Miller

Elementary first aired in 2012, and ran for seven seasons and over 150 episodes. There is little connection to Arthur Conan Doyle’s body of work beyond some character names and occasional allusions to the original stories. 

Elementary is really a “police procedural” with Jonny Miller as Sherlock Holmes, and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson. Sherlock is a recovering drug addict and former consultant to Scotland Yard, who has re-located to a Brooklyn brownstone in present-day New York City for addiction treatment.

Watson is a former surgeon who has left practice, and is hired by Sherlock’s father to assist in his rehabilitation as his sober companion. Watson’s relationship with Holmes evolves from sober companion, to investigative apprentice, and into a professional crime-solving partnership with Sherlock and the NYPD. 

This Holmes is, of course, indifferent to proper procedure as he works with the NYPD. one critic describes the series as, “pretty good television; the stories are unpredictable, and often draw on contemporary issues like hacking, cyber-espionage, and corruption in international finance. I don’t recall whether the latter was Deutsche Bank. There is a definite “psychological component” underlying the series and the plots often include the characters’ struggles to deal with their many demons. 

Robert Downey Jr.

Downey is not, by any stretch of the imagination, Sherlock Holmes. Others disagree, as a third movie is apparently in progress, beyond Sherlock Holmes (2009), and A Game of Shadows (2011). His interpretation is more vulgar and more cynical than those reviewed above. There is significant violence in the plots, perhaps because the movies are targeting a less-sophisticated and/or a teenaged audience. The first two movies are totally lacking in subtlety and I think of them as the violent video games that you want your children to avoid. 

Some Final Thoughts

I always pass my penultimate draft by my wife, Christina. Her comments were that, “the essay is well-punctuated, but maybe a little obsessive.” I agree that I punctuate well. 

I have watched each of theafore-mentioned movies or TV shows at least once; either on DVD, or for the more recent ones, on television or in the theater. To explain, nine years ago next Halloween, I had just finished a two-year period during which I had almost unlimited time for reading and the media. I wasn’t incarcerated or unemployed; and, although I am a Navy veteran, I was not a member of a ballistic missile submarine team rotated ashore. 

I have also concluded that Senator Blumenthal does bear some resemblance to the Holmes described by Dr. Watson in the first paragraph of this essay; and certainly, his activities as Connecticut Attorney General also required some of the fundamental skills of a “consulting detective”. Our junior senator could, conceivably, be Watson. This is not a political column, so I won’t name any of the more obvious candidates for Moriarty.

The next essay changes focus from human icons to Connecticut’s iconic Long Island Sound and the rising water levels that I have observed from my porch over the past several years

Tom Gotowka

About the author: Tom Gotowka’s entire adult career has been in healthcare. He’ will sit on the Navy side at the Army/Navy football game. He always sit on the crimson side at any Harvard/Yale contest. He enjoys reading historic speeches and considers himself a scholar of the period from FDR through JFK.

A child of AM Radio, he probably knows the lyrics of every rock and roll or folk song published since 1960. He hopes these experiences give readers a sense of what he believes “qualify” him to write this column.


Saint Ann’s Offers Online Link to This Morning’s Service

Saint Ann’s Church, Old Lyme

OLD LYME — In keeping with Coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings, Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church of Old Lyme  is offering an online service this morning. This practice will continue until restrictions are lifted.

Readers can view it at this link.


First Congregational Church of Old Lyme Offers Online Version of This Morning’s Service

The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme..

OLD LYME — The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme is practicing social-distancing measures as required by state mandate to limit the spread of the Coronavirus and so is holding its Sunday worship services online for as long as necessary.

Watch this morning’s service at this link and/or read a written version of the sermon titled, “Chaos & Trust: Learning To Walk in the Time of Corona” at this link.

To see the Order of Worship for the service, visit this link.


No Church? No Problem … Christ The King Plans to Livestream This Morning’s 10:30am Mass

Chrict the King Church in Old Lyme will live stream its 10:30 a.m. Mass Sunday morning.

OLD LYME — An Executive Order from Governor Lamont aimed at preventing the spread of Coronavirus is stopping the parishioners of Christ the King Church from gathering in their church in Old Lyme this Sunday morning (March 22) to celebrate mass. Undeterred, church members have come up with a novel way to enable all worshippers to celebrate mass together in their separate locations.

Father Joe and Father Walter will concelebrate mass Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. and the service will be livestreamed via the Zoom app. Music will be provided live by Christ the King Music Directot Bill Thomas from his home.

Parishioners can log on from their homes to watch, listen, and participate using a computer, tablet or smartphone. The free Zoom app must be downloaded first and then the following information used to log into the mass:

Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/620789800?pwd=bUpEZmRSdWNpeFRBSXZmSW5RZWtoZz09
Meeting ID: 620 789 800
Password: 078561

As this is the first time an attempt has been made to livestream a mass at Christ the King, patience is respectfully requested if any glitches should occur.