Enough Said

Enough Said
A sampling of my columns and why the hell is my picture SO big?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

As much as things change they also remain the same

At work recently a coworker and I started to reminisce. She is younger than I am so I was surprised when we had so many local memories in common.
The saying, "The more things change the more they stay the same," is apt I think. Surroundings may shift but the core of our lives remains the same. And because the seasons reinvent our world four times a year, maybe that's why living with change is a lot of what southern New Englanders are about.

Here in eastern Connecticut, because we balance between two of the East Coast's biggest cities, our urban, suburban and rural identities blend like fog off the Sound dissolves into sunshine. I was born here, moved away, returned and have stayed for almost 46 years. I have watched changes take place that are gradual, jarring and in some instances just plain unexplainable.

As a kid I remember traveling from New Jersey to Connecticut before Interstate 95 was completed. In my 20s, because of my job, I drove from Montville to Hartford before Route 11 was even considered. Every day I sped up Route 85 to Colchester and hopped on Route 2 all the way to capital city to work at the biggest department store in the state, G. Fox & Co. What an awesome store that was.

The New London Shopping Center, when it was an indoor mall with The Outlet Co. at one end and Two Guys at the other, was a big deal for us along the shoreline. I watched the Gold Star Memorial Bridge being built and my kids watched as the Baldwin Bridge over the Connecticut River was constructed.

I remember Mohegan Park before the dam broke. The zoo, the upper lake with the huge metal slide, and men washing and polishing their cars in the shade under the trees by the lower lake. It was a time when this little girl, at 10, could follow the path through the woods alone and swim all day at the lake with a dollar for a hot dog, ice cream and a soda, and walk safely back to my Nana's house on Mohegan Park Road. I'd dress up her little Chihuahua, Chi Chi, and push him in a carriage down Seventh Street to Mr. Big's in Greenville or Franklin's 5 and 10 in Norwich center.

We'd go to the drive-in on Route 32 or the one in Waterford near where Stop & Shop is now. When I was older my cousin and I often went surfing at East Beach and Misquamicut in Westerly. Always Misquamicut for real waves. Are the bumper cars still there?

Salem was just four corners with a gas station and a mom and pop convenience store. Flanders was another four corners enclave with a huge old house where the big drug store is now and the Ford garage where another big drug store is now. It was exciting when New London became pedestrian and then a relief when it was changed back. Mystic without Olde Mistick Village is a memory as is the Thames River and the woods further north, without casinos.

Sometimes the changes are gradual and sometimes they are jarring, leaving downtowns and families scarred by big interests. What went on in New London when families had to leave and what remains is sad, very, very sad. Sometimes progress is a four letter word.

One of my greatest joys was seeing the Crystal Mall completed. It gave me a place to stroller my newborn when it was cold outside. I'd walk the mall like it was a town center, feed my baby a bottle and then head home for naps for both of us. Now, that baby, almost 30, and I and her baby, do the same. Our surroundings may change but we really don't. We do the same exact thing only generations later. Enough said.
print this article

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A YouTube worthy moment you will never get to see

You know those trending segments on the news, the ones where the anchors share computer videos that go viral, like grooms splitting their pants, little kids singing in the car and dogs doing backflips over Frisbees? I was witness to one of those moments recently. Unfortunately all cameras were focused slightly to the left of the mishap or you'd be claiming you saw it too, on YouTube.

Our six month old granddaughter was baptized at the beautiful First Congregational Church in Deep River. It is the quintessential New England small town church, rimming a green which has horseshoe pits for summer evening leagues, and just down the street from the local baseball field. I'm not a member of that church but I've cried at many a wedding, and wept at funerals from those pews. I spoke from the pulpit once, in honor of great man.

That church, and its minister, the Rev. Timothy Haut, is as much a part of our family as any man or woman of God can be who weds your children, baptizes their babies and eulogizes your family and friends. The tableau standing before the gathering of the faithful was perfect. Pastor Haut, (in his long white robe), the mom, (my oldest daughter), the godmother, (my youngest daughter), the godfather, (a family friend), and little Sydney (our granddaughter), resting on the arm and shoulder of her dad, (our son-in-law).

Haut spoke, we used our phones for pictures, the baby was smiling and happy and not a fret was heard. Even when the water was dripped on her forehead, Sydney smiled. The congregation and guests emitted an "awe" in celebration of the wonderful moment.

The minister, as he often does during baptisms, took the baby gently in his arms and walked down the aisle to present her to the faithful - this was after she had removed his lapel microphone, twice, and proceeded to use it as a teething toy. Baby sounds filled the church. The congregation laughed, the minister chuckled. It was sweet but not quite YouTube worthy.

Once back to the altar he handed the baby to her mother, who replaced the mike with a favorite teething-toy, a soft giraffe made for tender gums. Sydney dropped the toy. My daughter looked to her sister to retrieve the little giraffe from the floor.

My youngest daughter, brilliant, beautiful and well over six feet tall in her new four inch high-heeled beige patient leather peep-toe platforms, is a prime example of someone who can trip over a piece of paper and spill the contents of an empty glass.

As she attempted to pivot and bend to reach the toy she forgot about the steep step behind the rail, it caught the edge of her high heel and in a Lucy and Ethel moment of flailing arms and legs, she toppled to the floor, out of sight, behind the velvet draped altar rail. The minister glanced her way, then back to the baby and continued his sermon without a moment's pause. A collective gasp rose above the crowd.

"Did she faint?" the old lady behind me asked.

Every kid-klutzy moment, of which I was aware, came to mind. I put my hand to my face as if clutching my jaw would stop my laughter.

My daughter's arm rose from behind the altar rail, then her head, and in a loud whisper she waved the giraffe and said, "I'm all right." The church bubbled with laughter.

Behind us, the aunts, uncles and especially the cousins were hunched over trying to contain themselves. Having observed my daughter's antics over the years it came as no surprise that if someone were to take a header during a church ritual, of which she was a part, it would be my youngest.

Nope you won't be replaying that little scene on YouTube, which I am sure would have gone viral but thank God, I said later, she wasn't holding the baby. Thank God indeed. Enough said.

print this article
Bookmark and Share