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The Way We Were, for the week ending January 6, 2017

Published: January 5, 2017

The Newtown Bee

January 10, 1992

Newtown’s jail will have one of the most advanced security systems in the state, but that does not pacify residents unnerved by the recent escape of inmates at an Enfield prison. At that maximum security prison a sophisticated alarm system — an electronic motion detector in prison fencing — failed. Due to state budget cuts, guard towers were also unarmed. Two inmates escaped and are still at large. Newtown former State Representative Mae Schmidle is informally heading a citizen’s group that wants to develop a prison alert system for the town. That system would supplement standard notification systems for town police that comes online when the jail opens this spring.

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Lead-foots in town beware, Newtown police may soon be back to running radar in full force. During the Police Commission meeting on January 7, Police Chief Michael DeJoseph told commissioners that First Selectman Zita McMahon spoke with him regarding residents’ concerns over speeding cars on Route 34. Chief DeJoseph had informed her that the police department had stopped using its hand-held units due to safety concerns and it had no money to obtain the outside-mount units. The Board of Selectmen had voted to take money out of contingency to purchase two outside-mount radar units. The issue will go before the Legislative Council for approval.

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During the early morning hours of January 8 a fire destroyed a wooden shop on Old Bethel Road. The shop, along with a greenhouse connected to it, was destroyed. There was also damage to an adjacent shed. Inside the shop was woodworking equipment including antique pieces. A tractor was also destroyed. Deputy Fire Marshall Joe Cavanaugh said he didn’t know what caused the fire, which remains under investigation. But he said the cause could have been related to a wood stove, or due to some electrical problem.

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Through a foreclosure action in 1991, the First Connecticut Small Business Investment Corporation, based in Bridgeport, assumed title to a house at 59 Bennetts Bridge Road. Previous owner Larry Thomas said that he was unable to pay the mortgage or business loan. He said that his company, Riverwood Marketing, failed due to the economy, when company clients couldn’t pay their bills. Before leaving the house he said he had left the oil-based heat on so the pipes would not freeze. On Saturday before Christmas, Police Lieutenant David Lydem said he received the first of a series of complaints from neighbors. The house appeared vacant and icicles were hanging from the side. A neighbor told the officer he would try to contact Mr Thomas about the apparent water problem, but on the advice of his attorney Mr Thomas shouldn’t enter the house. First Connecticut still had not picked up the keys, and efforts to get them to pick up the keys were unsuccessful. Police made more calls and First Connecticut told them the situation would be resolved. Keys were retrieved January 3, and over several days trucks were at the house and presumably the water problem has been resolved.

 

January 13, 1967

The first water was being thrown at the VFW Hall, Route 25 at about 5:30 am Thursday, but the flames were already on their way. The first report of the fire reached the Edmond Town Hall switchboard at 5:25, and about 25 men responded. Preliminary investigations conclude that the probable cause was a defective heating system. The gutted structure is located at the entrance to Fairfield Hills Hospital, and only a few timbers and block walls are standing. As the building cools and the water freezes, the danger of the walls falling in increases, making it a good spot to stay away from.

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On Thursday, December 29, 1966, the members of St John’s Episcopal Church held a potluck supper to honor Rev Richard R. Losch who has left Newtown to accept a position as chaplain and teacher of sacred studies at Watkinson School in Hartford. In his six years as rector at St John’s, Father Losch has endeared himself not only to the parish members, but also, to the total community of Newtown. He has been very active in town youth and community projects. Anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing him sing and play his guitar can testify that he is an accomplished performer of folk music. It is indeed a loss when a clergymen of his calibre leaves.

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David Edward Coutant is the First Baby of the Year Contest winner. Weighing in at eight pounds and one ounce, he was born January 2 at 11:16 am at Danbury Hospital. His parents are Mr and Mrs Edward A. Coutant of Butterfield Road and with big brothers Jeffery 4, and Stephen, 20 months.
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I wish to express my sincere thanks to our many neighbors and friends and relatives for the many kindnesses shown to my late husband during his illness. I also thank the drivers of the Newtown Ambulance Association and Miss Mary Nolan of the Visiting Nurse Association. The many expressions of sympathy during my recent bereavement were greatly appreciated. I wish to express my thanks as well for the many memorials, masses, and floral tributes. Mrs. Francis B. Hubbell.

 

January 9, 1942

A course in canteen work and nutrition for residents of Newtown and Monroe will shortly be given under the auspices of the Red Cross. The course will run for ten consecutive Wednesday afternoons, and it is hoped that it can be arranged to be held in Newtown. Persons wishing to join should contact Mrs Roger Howson, telephone number Newtown 209.

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It was authoritatively reported by “Doc” Crowe that the old reliable thermometer registered five degrees below zero at Corbett and Crowe’s Store in Sandy Hook on Thursday morning. He also reported a new low of two degrees in his garage at Bethel. A reading of two below was reported in Newtown. That’s somewhat warmer, but it’s still mighty chilly!

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Drivers of cars are by now pretty well acquainted with the existing ban on the purchase of tires. Some drivers, however, may not yet realize that on January 10 the official speed limit in the State becomes 40 miles an hour. Reduced speed limits, when enforced, will not only save on tires and gas. They will, believe it or not, permit a large number of citizens to continue to enjoy life — persons who under the existing rates of speed would be mowed down in our increased auto accident tempo. The American people will find many benefits in the hardships, as the necessities of war cut into the scheme of things, removing luxuries here and there and also depriving us of a number of those things which we have come to consider essentials, as well.

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On Tuesday evening a group of workers started the arduous task of flooding the skating rink, located this year behind the Kegs on Church Street. The workers have labored into the wee small hours for the past two days, and expect to have the rink in excellent shape by the weekend, if the weatherman will permit. The rink lights will be installed on Sunday so that skating may be enjoyed by those who cannot participate during daylight hours.

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Dear Mrs Stickers: My mother says that the Newtown chapter of the Red Cross has not gone over the top this year with its contributions. Therefore I am sending you my contribution rather than to the Crestwood branch which is going to surpass its quota, I believe. I have a farm in Newtown but usually make all my contributions to Crestwood agencies. Yours very Truly, A Summer Resident.

 

January 12, 1917

A meeting of citizens of Sandy Hook, 30 in number, to consider the question of fire protection, was held on Tuesday night in Glover’s Hall. Louis B. Briscoe called the meeting to order and outlined the purpose for which the meeting was called. A committee was appointed to confer with the Newtown Water company with regard to the extension of its water mains to Sandy Hook. The Sandy Hook residents also desire the establishment of a number of hydrants in that district. Committee member T.F. Corbett motored to Woodbury Wednesday afternoon to confer with the Orenaug Fire district in that town to get a line on plans for a fire district.

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A barn belonging to William Wakelee burned to the ground Sunday evening, about 8 o’clock. Two wagons, harness and some tools and about a ton of hay were in the building. There was no insurance.

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Mr and Mrs Jesse A. James of Hawleyville were in New York Tuesday in attendance upon the automobile show.

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Mrs Charles Shielke of Pootatuck fell on the ice, the other day, dislocating her shoulder. Dr W.H. Kiernan attended.

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Mr and Mrs G.W. Cogswell, so long an advertiser in the Bee, and Miss Botsford of Bridgeport expect to start for the southern clime, where they will spend two months most delightfully. Mr Cogswell will have his headquarters at Bradentown, just across the bay from St Petersburg, and he thinks that this town has wonderful possibilities. He says that this is below the frost line of Florida and will become a city of which Florida will be proud.

Please consider sharing your old photographs of people and places from Newtown or Sandy Hook with The Newtown Bee readers. Images can be e-mailed to kendra@thebee.com, or brought to the office at 5 Church Hill Road to be scanned. When submitting photographs, please identify as many people as possible, the location, and the approximate date.

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