Top of The Mountain

I can think of no better way to begin this week’s column than by wishing a very Happy Birthday to Doris Dickinson, who celebrated the big 103 on June 26.

“She is truly an amazing lady,” said friend Carlen Gaines, who may have whispered a little something to me about the birthday. “I love her stories about Newtown. Would you believe she still balances her checkbook to the penny without a calculator?” Doris is the widow of A. Fenn Dickinson, and has two children — a son, Fenn, who lives in Florida, and a daughter, Dee, who lives in Massachusetts — as well as four grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and one great-great-granddaughter. Let’s join the family in sending our birthday blessings to Doris.

EverWonder Children’s Museum will have new hours for the summer months. Beginning Monday, June 30, the temporary children’s museum at 30 Pecks Lane will be open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturdays from noon until 4 pm. Admission is still the same: a suggested $5 donation per child (age 1 and up). Rumor has it the museum is now celebrating two new exhibitions, one featuring a magnet wall and the other a kinetic sand presentation. Visit everwonder.com and click on Events to find out about special events and activities being planned at the museum this summer. Many of the activities are included with the admission donation; a new series of special classes are being offered for a $10 charge per child. Reservations are requested for the classes, and can be done online.

The Good Egg Award this week goes to Zoe Schwalje of Hampstead, N.H., who organized and executed a 5K run in her town last weekend that sent net proceeds to the We Are Newtown Memorial Scholarship. More than 120 runners raised over $3,000 for the scholarship fund that will continue to help Newtown students.

If we had a Junior Good Egg Award I can think of no better person to bestow that upon this week than a young resident named Abby Manka. Nicole Manka proudly shared a photo of her daughter, who donated a length of her hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths on June 13. Abby also sent a note to the folks a Pantene, explaining that she wanted to donate her hair “to a girl that is feeling sick and sad. I wanted to put a smile on a girl’s face and make her happy. I also wanted to do this to give back to someone in need like people gave back to us in our town. I hope you feel better because I want you to feel good. Love, Abby.”

The Children’s Adventure Center is ready for Independence Day. Are you? The center, at 14 Riverside Road, is inviting residents for a 45-minute Salute To July 4 on Tuesday, July 1. Starting at 4:15 pm there will be plenty of red, white, and blue, flags, parades, music, and fun for all. Mae Schmidle has a hand in planning for this, so if nothing else, we know there will be plenty of red decorations involved.

During Middle Gate Elementary School’s awards assembly on June 18, music teacher Tina Jones named some of her students “Kindness Critters,” and gave them each a certificate to mark the accomplishment. “I truly felt our Middle Gate community has grown in kindness,” Ms Jones told those assembled, before saying the students who earned the Kindness Critter distinction had showed a willingness to help others with no expectations of getting anything in return. Elise Barricelli, Leah Boff, Siena Harper, Margaret Hurley, Bridget Lovely, Hannah Lucian, Kyra Masone, Brayden Murphy, Thomas Speiser, Abigail Stites and Kaylee Timmons and were all named Kindness Critters, with Elise also earning a Golden Note Award.

Speaking of kindness, McLaughlin Vineyards in Sandy Hook will be hosting some thoughtful musicians on Saturday, July 5. Stamford-based singer-songwriter Andrew Moore and musician Kathy Muir will be performing from 1 to 4 pm, offering live music while fundraising for Playing For Change (PFC). PFC is, according to its website, “a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music.” Established in 2007 as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) with a mission to create positive change through music education, the PFC Foundation to date has created nine music schools and programs in Ghana, Mali, Nepal, Rwanda, South Africa, Thailand. Tickets are $25 at the door, which will include tastings of six McLaughlin Vineyards wines and a donation to PFC.

James MacDonald snapped the photo at right of a bear spotted along Meadowbrook Road, just west of its intersection with Main Street South, around 4:30 June 18. His dad Ross shared them with me, along with a note that said he went out about an hour after James had seen the bear, but there was no sight of it. Ross sent three photos taken by James. In the first, the bear seems to be looking right at the camera. In the second it is walking toward the woods, but in the third, it has stopped on top of a stone wall to take another look at James before heading into the safety of the trees.

Perhaps the bear at the MacDonald place is peripatetic, or maybe there are a bunch of bears wandering around Newtown, but evidence showed up last week in Dick Ruscoe’s yard on Wills Road that a bear had been crashing the veritable bird buffet there. Dick said he didn’t actually see a bear, but an 8-foot-tall feeder was destroyed, the suet feeders were missing, and a peanut butter feeder has also gone missing. Dick has lived for 29 years on Wills Road, and he was hoping to see a bear. With the kind of spread he puts out for the birds, I would predict that Dick will get his chance sooner rather than later.

Best wishes this week to resident Frank Buonanno, who was part of the pack of driver-navigator teams who departed from Ogunquit, Maine, last weekend to take part in The Great Race. A road rally with about 115 vintage cars, the race is a 2,100-mile, nine-day trip that will take teams down the East Coast, eventually finishing in Florida. According to the Associated Press, this year’s fleet includes a 1916 Studebaker racer, a 1930 Rolland Pilain, 1935 Auburn Cabriolet, 1936 Bentley Saloon, 1932 Auburn Special Speedster, and all manner of muscle cars, including a replica of the “General Lee” 1969 Dodge Charger. The event is a time/speed/distance rally with each driver and navigator being judged on how well they follow precise instructions that detail every move down to the second. Part of the challenge is following the instructions to win the race; the other challenge is finishing the race without any major mechanical breakdowns. Frank is making his way on the journey with navigator Chris Clark of Ansonia.

Additional good thoughts this week to the Newtown Ecumenical Workcamp Services (NEWS) crew. The group of eight adults and nearly 40 young adults are in Biloxi, Miss., this week, based at Back Bay Mission and doing what they can to rebuild homes and lives in Biloxi and the neighboring city of Gulfport. Included within the group this year is the Reverend Matt Crebbin and Trent Harrison, who will both be away from home for their wedding anniversaries on June 27. Happy Anniversary to their spouses, Martha Crebbin and Cindy Harrison.

I’m not sure that I would want to be away from you, dear reader, on any of our special days. I’m counting on you to return next week, when you can … read me again.

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