Killingworth Foundation’s: Applied Arts & Sciences Award

Of the many volunteer activities I’ve participated in my 50 -plus years living in Killingworth, CT, one of my favorites has been serving on the Scholarship Committee of the Killingworth Foundation.  I enjoy meeting the young students and talking with them about their aspirations for their educations and futures.

This year we launched a new award, The Donald Welter Award for Excellence in the Applied Arts. The scholarship is named after a long-time resident who was active in the community and taught industrial arts at a local high school.

Founded in 2007, the Killingworth Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports local community groups and grants awards to students for higher education. While we’ve been offering scholarships for academic achievement and for aptitude in the fine arts, we didn’t recognize industrial arts until this year. The members of the scholarship committee realized the need to expand their awards to include students seeking different careers, and are aware that to obtain a liberal arts degree from a four-year college is not the best choice for everyone. We are excited to provide a small monetary gift to help a student entering the vocational trades.

On June 1, 2016 the Killingworth Foundation presented its first award in applied arts and sciences at the Haddam Killingworth High School. The committee agreed to honor a highly motivated graduate who plans to major in Media Studies and Digital arts, with a focus on producing documentaries.

We wish the recipient the best of luck, and hope that she’ll be the first of many to achieve the Donald Welter Award for Excellence in Applied Arts.

 

Wyoming: Butch’s Place

Butch’s Place, a western -style tavern comes complete with swinging doors, tables covered with red and white checkered oilcloth, and posters of locally produced ale and whiskey. A single gas fired stove provides heat for the dining area. The tavern, on Route 10 in Kirby, Wyoming, (population, last count, 375) between Thermopolis and Worland has been a landmark for over twenty years.

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Of course the main attraction to Butch’s Place was Butch. Marty and I don’t remember Butch’s last name and never knew his first name. He was just Butch. His wife, Linda helped manage the restaurant and also held a job working for the Town of Thermopolis.

Butch was a gregarious, accommodating host. He was known for his “okey doky” to any request. In spite of Butch’s claim that he didn’t cook, just “only put food together” there were several items on the menu that were unique to his establishment. A favorite amongst the children were the twelve -ounce hamburgers, whether they were ordered unadorned or smothered. His was one of the first restaurants in the area to serve buffalo burgers, cooked to perfection. A single order of chicken salad was large enough to satisfy a family of four, and the lightly grilled sirloin finger steaks were a delicious specialty. One dish that I haven’t seen before were his “hog wings”, which are pork shins, about the size of chicken drumsticks, very tasty and tender. They were cooked so that the meat fell off the bones.

A few years ago, Butch retired and sold the business. Although the food was still good, twelve- ounce burgers were no longer served, and we missed Butch’s and Linda’s camaraderie and conviviality. The tavern might have changed hands more than once.

You can imagine our surprise, upon visiting Wyoming last winter, to learn that Butch’s Place had closed. The rumor is that the recent owner’s girl friend decided to put pool tables in the dining area, which infringed upon the seating capacity and detracted from the character of the eatery. One of the employees was enraged and pulled the plugs on the refrigerators and freezers. The food was contaminated and it took quite a while before the restaurant was cleaned, sanitized, and safe to be used. To date, nobody has shown any interest in rehabilitating the facility and starting up again.

Back in Thermopolis, we observed other changes. Restaurants come and go for many reasons. As a result of a poor economy there were fewer bathers at the pool. In other years the pool was crowded with visitors from neighboring communities, particularly over the weekends. There were winter athletic meets at the high school and participants from different schools usually included a swim in their busy schedules. We may not have been in Thermopolis during the right week, but the out of town athletes were also rare.

The Quality Inn that we’ve stayed at has the capacity to park the tractor-trailers operated by truckers working in the oil patch. They haul large pipe, massive generators and other equipment to nearby oil fields. With the glut of oil and low prices for fuel, many oil wells hat have been capped and thousands of people have lost their jobs. This has had a ripple effect on the entire economy in the region. Consequently, truckers at the motel were not as numerous as other years.

Thermopolis is still home to the “World’s Largest Hot Springs” and we delight in ducking our heads under the hot water to get the icicles out of our hair. It’s also fun to see children making angels in the snow before jumping in to the pool. Water aerobics, which I find therapeutic, are still offered at the “Teepee” pools where we swim. It’s fascinating to watch the birds migrate in squadron formation, while we ‘re swimming. I love counting boxcars and tankers as the railroad trains whiz by the pool, but I have to admit that I lose track when there are more than two hundred cars on one train. We also enjoy watching the stars come out, whenever we swim in the evening. Some things I hope will never change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Announcing: A Glub, Glub and A Shake Shake: A Cookbook

It’s gone to press!  My cookbook, A Glub, Glub and A Shake Shake is available on Amazon.  I will also have some copies for distribution locally.

My children decided that it would be a good idea to have some of my culinary ideas in print, and the children, as well as the grandchildren, made sure that their favorite dishes were included. I dictated some of the recipes to my daughter, Lisa, and my daughter Madeline provided the whimsical illustrations. The cover of the book is a lovely eggplant.

Cover hi resIncluded are some great recipes, for novices and experienced cooks, too.  There are helpful hints, seasoned with a few laughs.

You might want to check out the recipes for sweet potatoes and rhubarb, to serve at Thanksgiving, The cookbook makes a great holiday gift.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Killingworth Foundation, which provides funds to local groups and scholarships to students.

SONGS I LEARNED FROM MY MOTHER AND FATHER

 

“Take me out to the Ball Game, take me out to the crowd…”I can still hear my granddaughter, Ruby, now nineteen, sing that song, years ago.

Does anyone over 4 sing anymore? Do we spend too much time texting or in front of a computer screen? Or do we not hear music that makes us want to sing?

I remember the broken heart love songs my mother used to sing like, “The Isle Of Capri” and “Whistling in the Dark.” My dad’s preferred whacky ditties and ballads, such as “The Old Carnarsie Line” and “Grandpa’s Old Brown Pants.” We serenaded my parents at their 50h anniversary party with, ”How do I Know My Youth is All Spent,” the song memorialized by Pete Seeger. You can just imagine my father’s joy upon hearing his grandchildren bellow his old favorite, “Grandpa’ Old Brown Pants.”

l-r: My cousin Stephen, Lisa, David, Naomi, Madeline, niece Debbie and nephew Mark, 1979

l-r: My cousin Stephen, Lisa, David, Naomi, Madeline, niece Debbie and nephew Mark, 1979

I know that I am no Barbra Streisand but I did sing with the choir in college and performed as a member of the chorus with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society. Regina Resnick, the opera star, gave guest concerts for Hillel, at Hunter College and I was part of the chorus that provided accompaniment. Yet if I attempted to sing, when my children were growing up, I was greeted with nothing but scowls. Recently I was singing “On the Old Carnarsie Line” and my daughter couldn’t understand why she hadn’t heard that song before.

I always enjoyed reading to my children, grandchildren, and now to my great-grandchildren. When I am with my great-grandchildren we enjoy singing together, regardless of who’s listening. One of our favorites is “If All the Raindrops Were Lemon Drops and Gumdrops.” 

 

“Grandpa’s Old Brown Pants”

Oh, my grandfather he, at the age of 83
Thought one Sunday morning he was going to die.
And when he was dead, why they took him from his bed.
And hung him on the clothesline to dry.

To my brother it was found, he had left 1000 pounds,
The same to “Eobaimer”, they called Ned.
But when it came to me, the lawyer said I see.
He’s left to you his old brown pants.

Chorus:
How they tittered, how they laughed, how my brother and sister yelled
How they goad me whenever they got the chance,
Cause my grandfather left to me his old brown pants.

One bright summer’s day Isabella chanced to stray
By the river and she thought she’d take a swim.
And the billy goat showed his nose and he ate up all her clothes,
Being summer, her garments they were thin.

I had business there the day and I also chanced to stray
By the river and I saw her situation at a glance
I went over to sister Belle, and I started in to yell,
How’d you like to have the old brown pants?

No more they titter, no more they laugh, no more my brother and sister yell.
No more they goad me whenever they get the chance,
Cause my grandfather left to me his old brown pants.

 

High Tide

About two weeks ago, Marty and I were invited to attend a memorial service for our friend, John, and witness his ashes being scattered in Long Island Sound. About fifty close friends and relatives arrived at the home of the deceased around 3:30 p.m. so that we could be at the beach at high tide, around 4:00.

People wrapped themselves in coats and scarves, in anticipation of cold winds coming off the sound, and we walked a short distance to the beach from the home.

It was a cool fall afternoon without other beach lovers in the vicinity. The children in the group didn’t hesitate to splash in the water and draw figures in the sand.

John’s son, Christian, donned a pair of short pants and carried a large plastic bag containing his father’s ashes. John was a big man and there were seven pounds of ashes. Christian spoke briefly about his Dad, and about how he always waited for the tide to be high to enjoy a swim. There were tears in his voice as well as in his eyes.

Christian waded into the sound just above his knees. We watched as he fed the voracious waves small amounts of his father’s remains until they were all devoured. A very emotional experience!

Even without the accoutrements of a formal funeral, saying good-bye to a parent is traumatic. You become part of the older generation when your parent is gone. Every family must choose the form of closure that is right for them. Yet by disbursing the ashes of a loved one, you in effect, return the person to nature.

We quietly walked back to the house. A gracious reception awaited us.

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How do You Like Your Coffee? Time to Ban Guns in Public Places!

Marty and I stopped for lunch at the Black Bear Café one day during our recent trip to Thermopolis, Wyoming, and noticed a man sitting at the counter with a pistol in his belt. The Black Bear is anything but a Wild West saloon, with swinging doors. In fact it is a family oriented restaurant, favored by locals and visitors, alike. “Jack” helped himself to coffee, from one of the glass pots on the burner. Since we were not served yet, he poured coffee for us and started a conversation. He said that since Wyoming was a state that permitted carrying guns he might as well keep his visible.

One afternoon, about a week or so later, we stopped at the Bear for pie and coffee. We noticed Jack leave, but since he was in another part of the store, we thought he hadn’t seen us. When we were about to pay, we were surprised to learn that our friend treated us to our dessert. Jack seems like a nice person, and I’m sure that there are many nice people who tote guns.

Some states allow open carry of guns in public places; few have laws preventing it. But as Gail Collins wrote, “The open display of weaponry freaks out average citizens, especially the ones with children. It outrages police.”

I thought of the snake of dubious nature that I caught sight of at the counter in a Dunkin Donuts restaurant.  People who flaunt weapons and wild animals seek to draw attention to themselves and shock others. Like Jack, many of these people may be very nice. However we don’t know when anger might trigger a violent response.

There is no place for reptiles at Dunkin Donuts, and there is no place for guns, whether concealed or in full view, in restaurants  and at playgrounds.

Do we need another Charleston?

DUNKIN DONUTS’ ANIMAL PRESERVE

Do you visit Dunkin Donuts for coffee, a bagel, a doughnut or Coolatta? Or do you go to Dunkin Doughnuts to see wild animals?

I was having a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts, and I noticed a young man waiting in line with something coiled around his arm that looked like a snake. I took a second glance thinking that he might be sporting some kind of ornament. But no, the snake did move. It wasn’t the garden garter snake that emerges from under the rocks in warm weather, or the beautiful black snake that makes a rare appearance. This snake was grey, at least two inches in diameter, more than three feet long and with large intricate markings on its skin. The reptile’s handler was holding it by the head. I figured that I would just stay where I was sitting until they left.

When it was the young man’s turn to order, the person behind the counter calmly reminded him that it’s against health regulations to bring animals into a restaurant, and asked him to take his pet outside. At the very least, reptiles are carriers of the Salmonella disease. The fellow’s companion put the snake in a bag and left while the snake owner waited for the food.

Back in my car, I saw the two men walking across the parking lot with the bag in hand. Were there other snakes in the bag? What else might they be carrying? They might have been herpetologists, who worked with snakes, studied them, and enjoyed them as pets. It’s through such people that we learn about snakes and other reptiles. But then, would a responsible handler bring a snake into restaurant ?

I was a bit uneasy, and happy that their itinerary didn’t include the supermarket, my next stop.