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Way We Were

Way We Were for the week ending February 1, 2019



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February 4, 1994

TOWN PAYS A PRICE FOR WATER AND ICE: As if all the arctic air, steady snows, and icy roads weren’t enough, the town had a whale of a rainstorm on Friday, January 28. That storm forced cancellation of another day of school, flooded numerous yards and basements, kept firefighters busy on pumping detail, and resulted in more overtime work for the highway department. Due to the cancellation of the fifth day of school for this academic year, Superintendent John Reed asked the Board of Education to consider a decision that any additional cancelled days be made up during the April vacation. An alternative to scheduling such days during the vacation period, said Dr Reed, would be to require that students attend one or two fewer days of school. If neither alternative is adopted, Dr Reed said the school system would have to reschedule additional postponed school days by extending the school year into the week of June 27. As things stand now, the last day of school is Friday, June 24. Extending school through the final week of June could pose a problem because of possible hot weather and because this week leads to the holiday weekend for the Fourth of July.


Police Commission members have turned down a request from the president of the police union for a commission investigation of how Police Chief Michael DeJoseph handled the town’s criminal investigation of the 1986 death of Helle Crafts. In a January 20 letter to Police Commission Chairman Richard Sturdevant, patrolman John Kotch, the police union president, said, “I am requesting for the second time that you and/or members of the commission conduct an investigation into the Richard Crafts case, as it pertains to the actions of its chief and most senior investigator, then-Lieutenant Michael DeJoseph.” Mr Crafts is serving a 50-year sentence in the state prison in Somers for killing his wife, Helle, on November 18, 1986, cutting up her corpse with a chainsaw, and feeding her remains through a woodchipper. The state prosecutor took Newtown police off the case in late 1986, objecting to how they handled the investigation and replacing them with state investigators. Mr Kotch seeks copies of Crafts investigation documents from Assistant State’s Attorney Walter Flanagan. Of the town opening an investigation of how Newtown police handled the case, Chief DeJoseph said, “Frankly, I’m not interested. It’s water over the dam as far as I am concerned.” Mr Sturdevant asked, “Who are we investigating and for what reason, seven years after the fact?” Commission members voted against pursuing an inquiry.


State police charged a Bridgeport woman who was visiting a Garner Correctional Institution inmate with third-degree assault and breach of peace following an incident there on January 28. State police said they charged Maritza Ortiz, 32, of Bridgeport with the two counts after she allegedly assaulted Audrey M. Cashwell of Bridgeport, who also was visiting at the prison. State police said Ms Ortiz was released for a February 15 appearance in Danbury Superior Court.


Last week’s Bee reported that Newtown students scored on par with similar towns on grades 4, 6, and 8 mastery tests. Now that’s good news. More good news: The Bee also noted that Newtown spends significantly less on education than the average district in their peer group. Newtown spends $7,249 per student. The average is $7,756. So, if my math is right, that’s a big difference. If you multiply that $500 by the 3,693 students, we’re talking about some serious dollars here…does $1,846,500 ring true? Surely, this is great news for Newtown. High mastery scores plus low per pupil spending speaks well for our town and school employees. Congratulations to all of you. Way to go, Newtown. Sincerely, Mary Ann Murtha.


Newtown resident Leo Spinelli and his brother Carmine “Tony” Spinelli are sponsoring a fashion show extraordinaire, “Spinelli’s Salute To Fairfield Fashion ‘94,” to benefit Human Services Council of mid-Fairfield. The event will be held from 5:30 to 8 pm on Wednesday, March 2, at the Norwalk Jewish Community Center on Shorehaven Road. International designers Andrew Fezza, Alexander Julian and Robert Stock will be showing their latest lines. Southport hat designer Darcy Creech, who capped Hillary Clinton’s inauguration day ensemble, is donating one of her hats as a door prize. Tickets are $50.

February 7, 1969

The Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Company invites the public to an open house on Sunday afternoon, February 9 at its new sub-station on Route 34 near Checkerberry Lane in Sandy Hook. Called Sandy Hook Station 2, the new facility was begun in the summer of 1967. It was financed largely by the fundraising efforts of the firemen themselves and the Sandy Hook Auxiliary. The volunteer firemen have been adding finishing touches throughout the fall and winter as time permits and also working to convert the tanker truck donated by Dan-Ridge Chevrolet Company of Danbury for fire company uses. The structure now houses the Sandy Hook pumper as well as the tanker and is ready to serve the Route 34 area. The firemen cordially invite residents to inspect the new fire station and enjoy refreshments from 1 to 5 o’clock on Sunday afternoon.


The Newtown Couples Club will meet Saturday, February 8, at 7 pm, at the Congregational Church House for a dinner meeting and to hear guest speaker Paul Webb. A film, Isle of Enchantment, will also be shown. The dinner menu includes pineapple juice, glazed ham, sweet potatoes, peas with mushrooms, gelatin salad, roll, coffee or tea, strawberry sundae — all for $2 a couple. All couples in the community are invited. However, dinner reservations are necessary.


Last Saturday morning, February 1, as every first Saturday of the month, children gathered downstairs at the Cyrenius Booth Library to hear and see a story. There were well over 75 children listening to and watching the Punch and Judy Show performed by Marianne and Jane Wieler. Mrs Mitchell, head librarian, was so impressed with the record attendance that she said, “We circulated more books today than we have all winter.” In the past two years Town Players have provided the Newtown children with stories read to them and each time supplemented with something “special.” One time it will be cartoons drawn by Mary Bohn, another guitar music to sing to with Marge Rogers or Gail Paynter. This particular story hour with the puppets was enjoyed so immensely that a repeat is planned.


Bill Schierloh, a senior at Newtown High School, recently won a Philco stereo phonograph after taking part in the 1968 safe driving incentive program for young Americans. He took a test, wrote a slogan, “Don’t be a statistic, be a living example,” resulting in this second award from the Ford Motor Company. This nation-wide contest was offered through the driver education program at the high school. Bill is the son of Mr and Mrs William Schierloh of Hanover Road.


NEWS FOR BEE: With the cooperation of the Tomeys of Southbury Food Center, it is possible for news to get to The Bee reporter by leaving it in an envelope addressed to Mrs Annette Thornhill or the attention of The Bee, with Mrs Burr, Mrs Hoxey, or Mrs Tomey at the check-out counter. Keep your contributions coming please, and don’t forget to put your name and phone number on the release, so that additional information, if needed, can be secured.

February 11, 1944

The Newtown Fire Department was called to the Hanover district on Tuesday afternoon where a grass fire on the property of Mrs Madeline McQuillan threatened to spread to the adjoining property. By the time firemen arrived, the fire was blazing so fiercely that a call for forest fire equipment was necessary. Fortunately, the local firemen were able to check the blaze, but not before it had burned considerable lumber piled in the yard, and a tool shed. Firemen, under the leadership of Assistant Chief George Trull, Chief Engineer Basil Bartram, and Assistant Engineer Al Boyson, are to be complimented for their prompt response to the alarm and to the excellent work done in checking the blaze before more serious damage resulted.


A letter from Bob Stephens to the editor of The Bee, written on January 16, reports that he and his shipmates aboard the USS Charrette just recently received their Christmas mail, which though late, was much appreciated. It was their first mail since the middle of December. A copy of the Christmas dinner menu served on board lists turkey, and all that usually goes with it. Bob says “have seen lots of places and will no doubt see many more before I hang up my liberty card permanently.”


Friends in Southbury and vicinity of Mrs Mary A. Brennan heard with interest her radio broadcast on WABC on the Margaret Arlen program Tuesday morning, February 8, at 8:45 o’clock. She told of her life and work in the theater, and also of her sons in the service. In a recent letter to the editor of The Bee, Mrs Brennan wrote: “Seems I’m getting to be quite a celebrity of late, but nothing could make me more happy than to be with folks so dear to me in Southbury and Newtown. I hope it won’t be long before I can be home permanently on the hill in Southbury.”


Local fishermen will be interested to learn that through the efforts of the local Fish and Game Club, a class in fly tying will start Monday evening, February 14, at 7:30 o’clock in the Firehouse. Instruction will be given by “Daddy” Dale of Bridgeport who for many years served as a guide in New Brunswick. Mr Dale, who has thousands of flies of almost every description, is also a tackle maker and has passed his entire life in the study of fishing equipment. Monday’s meeting will be for the purpose of finding out what type of flies the local fishermen will want to make and what material is needed. A fee of $1.00 per person to cover expenses will be charged.


WANTED — a reliable farmer and general handyman. I keep a cow, a couple of pigs, a few chickens, and we raise most of the feed for them. John Deere tractor and all tools. Also have small orchard, vegetable garden, and lawn to mow. Nice five-room cottage, lights and heat (coal furnace) furnished. If your wife wants to work in the main house (no cooking or serving), will pay her by hour. 1½ miles from Westport Center. Permanent job. $100 per month. Phone 2-4502.

February 7, 1919

Microfilm for the January 17 through April 18, 1919 issues of The Newtown Bee are not available. It is unclear why New England Micrographics, Inc in 2000 was not able to produce film for these dates. Based on the poor quality of the early January issues, the film for which reveals torn and damaged originals, the newspapers for these dates may have been destroyed.

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.

Resident Jay Mattegat recently loaned a handful of photos to The Newtown Bee, including this image showing Dickinson Town Park. Mr Mattegat is the young man on the right, facing the camera. Any thoughts on the girl behind him, sticking her tongue out? The collection of photos and news clippings are from 1970-79. A note clipped to the photo says, “1973? Republican fundraiser German October Fest.”
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