Monday, January 24, 2005

Home Sweet Home

While I've never relished the idea of moving back to Old Lyme, CT, where I lived from October 1981 to September 1993, in the last few years I have really enjoyed being able to read local news. While it is typically dull stuff, the local paper, The Pictorial Gazette, posted a "year in the review" that provides some interesting bullet points on town happenings over the past twelve months. I'll excerpt some of it for everyone here, with commentary...

After several years of drinking bottled water, faculty and students at the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School and High School can finally use the drinking fountains at the school again. Some old wells, previously used, no longer met DEP standards, but the towns had approved a new drinking water system that was now in place.

I remember the fountain water tasting like old pennies, so this doesn't surprise me. All of the fountain heads were caked with a bluish residue when I left. I still continue to urinate in blue to this day.

The Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London launched a special exhibit of the "visionary art" of Elizabeth Tashjian, the founder and former curator of Old Lyme's unique Nut Museum.
Efforts were being made in Old Lyme to find homes for 30 new bluebird boxes that had been created in Jerry Silberberg's barn.

Don Bernier, a New York-based PBS editor and independent filmmaker, presented the first public showing of his documentary, "In A Nutshell: A Portrait of Elizabeth Tashjian," founder and former curator of Old Lyme's Nut Museum, at Connecticut College in New London.

One of my great burdens is that I was born in Toledo, best known for Jamie Farr, the drag queen from M*A*S*H and a farm league baseball team known as the Mud Hens, and then I moved to Old Lyme, best known as the home of Lyme Disease, and our best known resident was a crazy old woman known as "The Nut Lady" who once had a nervous breakdown when some squirrels broke into her home/museum and stole some prized nuts. She was on Carson a number of times, but I remember her most for the time I witnessed her shoplifting some chocolate covered cashews from the Old Lyme Pharmacy.

also in May
Many Old Lyme residents were enraged that, without any local input, the legislature passed and then Governor Rowland signed a bill that changed the name of a bridge on Route 156 from the Lieutenant River Bridge to the Thomas A. Fox Memorial Bridge. Fox apparently had summered in Old Lyme and was a friend of state Sen. Biagio Ciotto of Newington, chairman of the Transportation Committee, who had arranged the name change at the request of Fox's son.

Petitions were continuing to circulate throughout Old Lyme, asking the state to change the name of the Thomas A. Fox Memorial Bridge on Route 156 back to its original name of the Lieutenant River Bridge. Hundreds of angry residents had already signed and more were signing every day.

This silly squabble was interesting to follow for a few reasons. For one, I remember my mom thinking Gov. Rowland was a dishonest scumbag before he even took office, and I'm just sad that she passed away before she could see that he was essentially impeached and accused of taking bribes. Secondly, I agree with the residents that they should have had input on changing the name of bridge that had been used for a couple centuries, let alone changed for a guy who'd barely even spent his summers there. Finally, I think the issue ruffled more feathers because Thomas A Fox happened to be black, while Old Lyme is as white as you can get.

Dr. Robert Ballard of Lyme, the world's foremost undersea explorer, who had discovered the wreck of the Titanic in 1985, was back home after a return expedition to the Titanic to determine how the wreck had changed over the last two decades. The Titanic sank in the Atlantic Ocean after striking an iceberg in 1912.

I never knew he lived there. This kicks ass.

Court TV had asked Hadlyme author Dominick Dunne to continue hosting the series of broadcasts called "Dominick Dunne: Power, Privilege and Justice" and he had agreed. Court TV would send crews to Dunne's Hadlyme home so he could host the show right from his living room.

Back to my mom again, Dunne was her favorite author, so when he moved into town and started doing local book signings, I had him personalize a couple books for her. He then started coming into the pharmacy where I worked, and eventually we had a repoir, and hearing that I was a writer invited me to interview him for the local paper. I did, and he revealed a lot of private details... but would often stop to ask that I not write about it. Ugh. Someday, if I outlive him and his son, I will reveal all...

In July, Seven Palestinian teenagers were visiting here as guests of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. Then, in November Rev. David Good, senior minister of the church, had made a trip to the Israeli occupied Palestinian West Bank.

As agnostic and liberal as I am, I recognize and appreciate the Congregational Church continues to exemplify the good that a church can do. While my family were members of the nearby Christ the King Catholic Church, I found myself more drawn to the "Congregationalists" who had an active youth program, more focused on teaching by example than on preaching a message. They would host students from all over the world, including a South African kid sometime in the late 80s when the American public was first being made aware of apartheid. For years they've held an annual event called "No Room At the Inn", where middle and high school students would spend the night on the church's front lawn, in a box, in the middle of December, to draw attention to the homeless. And it was one of the reverand's, Charlie Harper, who I got to know during a weekend field trip to Manhattan, that introduced me to his brother Sam, a screenwriter, who ended up encouraging me to move to L.A. and took me under his wing when I arrived.

And now I'm missing the biggest blizzard to his Connecticut since 1978. Damnit.

and for more pressing news about Old Lyme, check out the online version of the Lyme-Old Lyme High Schools "Lyme Street Journal" and other student publications here.