Tag Archives: Groton

Mystic & Noank Library Receives Grant from Rotary Club of Mystic

The Mystic & Noank Library received a grant from the Rotary Club of Mystic.

The Mystic & Noank Library received a grant from the Rotary Club of Mystic.

The Mystic & Noank Library recently received a grant from the Rotary Club of Mystic for $250 to purchase new children’s books on DVD.  The DVDs help develop pre-reading skills as children listen to stories and read along with the video on their television or computer screen.  The Library has over 300 children’s and teen’s books on DVD and continually updates its collection.  “We are grateful for the Rotary Club of Mystic’s ongoing support of our programs,” said Roberta Donahue, Children’s Librarian.  “Since we have been adding books to our online e-reader library, we need extra funding to continue to add to our DVD collection in the Library.”

The Mystic and Noank Library is a public association library. Located in the town of Groton, the Library serves residents of Mystic, Noank, Groton Long Point, Stonington, Center Groton, and Old Mystic. The Library was established in 1893 by Captain Elihu Spicer, who donated the land and building for the communities of Mystic and Noank.  It is an impressive two-story building, restored and expanded in 1991 with the addition of a children’s wing and a public meeting room. The Library offers books, periodicals, movies and other resources and programs for pre-schoolers to senior citizens.

Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. In more than 160 countries worldwide, approximately 1.2 million Rotarians belong to more than 30,000 Rotary clubs.

Ryan and Gladstone Lead Wireless Zone Stores to Success

by John Stratton

(l-r) Josh Carroll, sales associate, Wallingford location, Scott Gladstone, owner, Wireless Zone,  Matthew Schloemann, sales associate, Guilford location, Neil Ryan, owner, Wireless Zone, and James Stack, sales associate, New London location.

(l-r) Josh Carroll, sales associate, Wallingford location, Scott Gladstone, owner, Wireless Zone, Matthew Schloemann, sales associate, Guilford location, Neil Ryan, owner, Wireless Zone, and James Stack, sales associate, New London location.

We’ve all been living in the middle of a technological revolution for the past few decades, and for most of us that’s been a very good thing—except for the confusing onrush of new capabilities and “apps” for that powerful little cellphone that we carry. In fact, the phone is so powerful that we often can’t decide what, exactly, are the best choices for our own lives.
But there are those who are there to help us sort it all out.

For the two founders of Wireless Zone stores in eastern and southern ConnecticutNeil Ryan and Scott Gladstone—it’s definitely not a “one size fits all” business. For the past 20 years, they’ve built a reputation for both keeping abreast of technology for business-to-business service, as well as, providing up-front, face-to-face service to everyday cellphone users.  In fact, that service is what made them a success.

“Yes, the technology moves fast,” says Neil, “but Wireless Zone is there to make that technology available to real people to improve their real lives…by getting to know what those lives are all about.”

Scott adds that, “From Day One, we were very fortunate that we had a ‘customer-centric’ philosophy, building on referrals, involving ourselves in the community, and separating ourselves from our competitors.”

It was a lot of work, though, and involved a commitment to an opportunity that they jumped at in 1992, when Scott called Neil and said that they could collaborate in a then-emerging business. The two had been friends since freshman orientation at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire. Both were business majors; after graduation, Scott became involved in the car phone business… and he saw prospects for exciting growth. Neil plunged right in, and they both moved to southeastern Connecticut, with few contacts here other than a strong faith in the lifestyles of the communities around them—and in the Wireless Zone concept, which was part of the burgeoning Verizon system. They opened their first Wireless Zone in Groton, and now have ten stores with skilled, people-oriented personnel.

In those earliest days, Wireless Zone stores were about “car phones,” those gee-whiz features in the cars of traveling industrial representatives and busy business people whose office was effectively within their vehicle. Today, cell phones are everywhere, on every belt and in every handbag.

It’s hard to live without them, since they’ve grown far beyond voice communication into powerful computers with links to the Internet and hundreds of thousands of functions available. “It’s a remote control to the world,” Neil observes. As that “remote” increases in flexibility, though, understanding it becomes crucial.

“My view,” said Scott, “is that we are not a ‘box-store’ experience, selling a device and then charging you to set it up. We spend a lot of time to be sure that our team members know how to transfer data, emails, and applications for customers, so that the customer is confident in the phone’s use and potential.  And we are there at no charge if they have questions or are looking for suggestions.”

Neil cites a contractor who came in recently, wanting a new phone. “We were able to show him how a new application can scan a room and help to provide working drawings, measure studs, locate key structures. We do it all: set up, load, train, transfer data, handle everything in the transition. What’s cool is that we can save them money, too!”

Celebrating 20 Years of Wireless Zone Communications: On the 20th Anniversary guest list were Amara Alpert and Kitty Stalsburg, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding; Nancy and Bob Gentes, Madonna Place; Denise & Jeffrey Hawk, Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut; Bill Stanley and Karen Buck, L+M Hospital; Shawn Maynard, Thomas Birkenholz, and Kathy Gaito, Windham Hospital; Denise and Bob Hornbecker, Channel 3 Kids Camp; Make-a-Wish Foundation; Kathy and Lou Allen, Thames River Community Services; Jerry Fischer and Marcia Reinhard, Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut; and Lucy and Gerry Fortier, Brattleboro Area Drop In.

Celebrating 20 Years of Wireless Zone Communications: On the 20th Anniversary guest list were Amara Alpert and Kitty Stalsburg, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding; Nancy and Bob Gentes, Madonna Place; Denise & Jeffrey Hawk, Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut; Bill Stanley and Karen Buck, L+M Hospital; Shawn Maynard, Thomas Birkenholz, and Kathy Gaito, Windham Hospital; Denise and Bob Hornbecker, Channel 3 Kids Camp; Make-a-Wish Foundation; Kathy and Lou Allen, Thames River Community Services; Jerry Fischer and Marcia Reinhard, Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut; and Lucy and Gerry Fortier, Brattleboro Area Drop In.

“With our customers,” Neil adds, “it’s an interview process, to give them a better mobile experience and help them grow into its possibilities. We do tons of education; it’s free; it’s enjoyable; it comes to us naturally.”

They are continuing to seek expansion beyond their present stores in Groton, New London, Killingly, Branford, Guilford, Wallingford, North Windham, Putnam, Tolland…and Brattleboro, Vermont.  But a key is the staff, Scott asserts. “We keep our ears to the ground to find good people who are available,” he says, “so we can train, educate, and instill them with our customer-oriented values.”

The future of mobile computing and cellphones is ever-changing, said Neil, but he sees rapid increases in “machine-to-machine” connections that will keep homeowners in closer control of their home devices of all kinds; likewise, he sees ever more expansion of cellphones as means to manage home and personal finances.

Wireless Zone is very involved in community support with at least 50 organizations, notably the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, Waterford Country School, Madonna Place, and Thames Valley Community Services. The nonprofit donations can range from $1,000 to $30,000.

Neil, originally from Port Jefferson, Long Island lives in Stonington with his 10-year old son, Jack; and Scott is a Waterford resident with his wife, Simone, and children Shayna, 8, and Travis, 11.

“We’re fortunate, Scott reflects, “that the community was so receptive, and we want to always exceed people’s expectations for us.”

Students Raise Trout and Tilapia

Sean Coleman, General Manager of Grossman’s Seafood Inc., is happy to be selling fresh, locally raised rainbow trout like the one MacKenzie Coty, a junior at the Marine Science Magnet High School in Groton, participated in growing as part of her aquaculture program.

story & photo
by Anna Trusky

Area diners can now enjoy fresh, locally raised trout and tilapia, thanks to recently passed legislation that allows students from the Marine Science Magnet High School (MSMHS) in Groton to sell the fish they raise as part of their aquaculture curriculum to Grossman’s Seafood Inc.

Bill 5447 permits the Commissioner of Agriculture to license aquaculture facilities in the state to sell farm-raised aquatic animals—tilapia, rainbow trout, soft-shell crabs, oysters, and shrimp—to seafood distributors and restaurants in Connecticut. Stakeholders from MSMHS worked with State Senator Andrew Maynard to develop and pass the bill; before the students, teachers, and MSMHS Principal Dr. Nicholas Spera testified earlier this year, there was no law that allowed state aquaculture facilities to sell aquatic animals for food.

“Our MSMHS family is excited to acknowledge all the stakeholders who helped make this dream a reality,” Dr. Spera said. “We are proud of the hard work and efforts that were accomplished by our students, parents, staff, and community leaders, which allowed for the passing of this bill and for the sale of our fish.”

Thanks to his leadership in helping the MSMHS to develop Bill 5447, as well as to achieve the highest CAPT scores in Connecticut, Dr. Spera was honored with the William Cieslukowski Outstanding First-Year Principal of the Year Award from the Connecticut Association of Schools at their annual awards ceremony on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville. The award is named after a late Killingworth elementary principal who was known for his leadership.

MSMHS acknowledged all those who were instrumental in creating and passing the bill, including Senator Maynard and Senator Andrea Stillman; David Carey, director of the CT Bureau of Aquaculture; Dr. Virginia Seccombe, executive director of LEARN; and Sean Coleman, general manager of Grossman’s Seafood.

“This is just the beginning,” said Senator Stillman. “I wish you great success, and I thank Grossman’s for selling locally grown fish.”

After the ceremony, a few dozen students trooped off to the aquaculture lab, followed by state legislators, representatives from Grossman’s, teachers and administrators, and a phalanx of reporters and photographers. When they got to the lab, the students donned special bright-orange gloves—not a pre-Halloween touch, but to make it easier to capture the wriggling fish. Then the intrepid students caught, weighed, and measured several hundred slippery tilapia and trout!

Junior Hayly Fogg of Ledyard recorded the statistics as they were called out by classmates who were measuring and weighing the wriggling critters. The fish ranged between 24 and 26 centimeters and 125 to 200 grams. “They can get bigger, but this is a good restaurant size,” she said as she jotted down numbers.

Once they’d been checked for size, the fish were plopped into buckets so they could be put on ice for shipping to Grossman’s. Hayly’s classmate MacKenzie Coty, who was putting the fish into the buckets, managed to hold onto a slippery trout long enough to have her photo taken. “I’ve really learned a lot,” she said.

Always willing to pitch in, Senator Maynard removed his blazer, rolled up his sleeves, and helped catch a few fish. “I can handle this—I grew up in Noank,” he said with a chuckle. “I remember fishing off the docks for fluke when I was a kid. I kind of miss it!”

Sean Coleman said, “I’m very excited to have this opportunity to sell locally raised fish. Our industry is changing through depleting stocks in the wild and increasing government regulations. To see this happening locally is incredible!” The fish are available in Grossman’s stores as well as in the restaurants Grossman’s supplies. Bill Hendriks, Executive Chef of Grossman’s catering business, is coming up with delicious recipes for customers to enjoy during the holiday season and all year-round.

Resident Birthday: Al Klingerman’s 90th Birthday Party

Columbus Day weekend in San Juan, PR at Al Klingerman’s 90th Birthday party. Al is the owner of Klingerman Travel Agency in New London Conn. (l-r) Roland Oullette of Groton, Bob O’Shaughnessy of Mystic, Al Klingerman, and Bob Offen of Mystic.

Smart Power

Bensko Earns Dean’s List at Berklee College of Music
Bradley Bensko of Gales Ferry is on the Dean’s List at Berklee College of Music, having done superior work for the summer semester of the 2012 academic year. The Berklee curriculum, focusing on practical career preparation for the music industry, was founded on the principle that the best way to prepare students for careers in music was through the study and practice of contemporary music.

Lydia Rose Krause  of  Colchester Enrolls at Clemson University
Lydia Rose Krause of Colchester recently enrolled at Clemson University. Krause is majoring in Biological Sciences. Krause is among nearly 3,400 freshmen at Clemson for the fall semester.

Ledyard Resident  Amanda  Hutchinson Inducted into Honor Society at Ithaca College
Amanda Hutchinson, of Ledyard, was inducted into Ithaca College’s Oracle Honor Society in November. First-year students who maintain a GPA that puts them in the top 10% of all students in their school throughout their first full academic year are invited into the society. Hutchinson is majoring in Journalism in the college’s Park School of Communications.

ECSU Students Design Posters for Windham Hospital Auxiliary Gala
Ten Eastern Connecticut State University students recently participated in a poster project as part of Visual Arts Professor June Bisantz’s Eastern Design Group course. The students designed posters for the Windham Hospital Auxiliary’s 17th Annual Autumn Gala, which was held recently at the Marriott Hotel in Hartford.

Sean Duggan ‘13 of Norwich (Visual Arts), Robert Gaines ‘13 of Uncasville (Visual Arts), and Kaitlin Morris ‘13 of Waterford (Visual Arts) were three of the students who designed posters for the event.

The posters reflected a Veterans Day and World War II-era theme for the event, “Sentimental Journey,” which raised funds for a local women’s health center. Each student created two posters. The students’ posters can be viewed here.

Local Residents Selected to Serve as RAs at Saint Michael’s College
Cameron Gonzalez, son of Ms. Beverly A. Gonzalez of Groton, a sophomore psychology major who graduated from Robert E. Fitch Senior High School before coming to Saint Michael’s, was selected for the 2012-2013 academic year as a Resident Assistant for the Office of Student Life at Saint Michael’s College, a liberal arts residential Catholic college located in Burlington, Vermont, one of the top 10 college towns in the country.

Resident assistants are selected from the entire Saint Michael’s undergraduate student population on the basis of faculty and staff recommendations. They display excellent leadership abilities, maturity and likelihood of being good role models for their peers. As a resident assistant, he or she lives in a campus residence hall and is readily available to help students.

USS Nautilus, SSN-571, “Revolutionized” EB Shipbuilding and U.S. Naval Warfare

Representatives of a proud history are, left to right are Henry Nardone, who was the Navy Supervisor of Shipbuilding project officer on Nautilus and later worked at EB for 37 years; John J. Kelly, who retired from Electric Boat as director of nuclear quality control and who participated in the last major repair period on Nautilus in Groton; and Paul Tranchida, who made valves, manifolds, and torpedo-tube doors for Nautilus while working in the shipyard foundry.

At a small but significant ceremony in Elecric Boat’s South Yard on June 14, Electric Boat and Navy representatives—and a few of the actual builders—of USS Nautilus, SSN-571, gathered to commemorate the 60 year anniversary of the keel-laying of the historic vessel.

Electric Boat President Kevin Poitras recalled that it was “60 years ago today—on this spot—[that] President Harry S. Truman laid the keel for USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine.

“The company’s involvement in the project came in response to an extraordinary challenge from Admiral Hyman Rickover, the visionary naval leader who is considered the father of the nuclear navy.”

Poitras cited President Harry S Truman’s remarks at the 1954 ceremony, quoting him:

“I wish I could convey to everyone what a tremendous and wonderful thing has been accomplished. All of this has been accomplished in an amazingly short period of time. When it was started four years ago, most people thought it would take 10 years if it could be done at all. …But one tough problem after another has been conquered in a fashion that seems almost miraculous, and the work has forged ahead …”

And Poitras also recalled the words familiar to residents of southeastern Connecticut of any age.

“Less than three years later,” Poitras recounted, “Nautilus went to sea, transmitting the famous message, ‘Underway on Nuclear Power.’”

Navy Lieutenant Commander Robert Sawyer, officer-in-charge of the Nautilus museum, spoke as a naval officer and historian, reflecting on the importance of the vessel in symbolic and practical terms.

“Of Nautilus,” he stressed, “we can say that the men and women who built her were a credit to American skill, hard work, and innovation. These were the artisans of Electric Boat, Westinghouse, and hundreds of other industry and Navy partners.

“What an incredible achievement: little more than four years passed from Congressional authorization in July 1951 to commissioning on September 30, 1954, when Nautilus joined the fleet, bringing radically new technologies and capabilities.

“She shattered submerged speed and endurance records. In the 84 hours of her shakedown cruise, she traveled submerged 1,300 miles to San Juan, Puerto Rico, averaging about 16 knots. In that journey, she traveled continuously submerged 10 times farther than any previous submarine, and 84 times longer than any submarine had done at such a high submerged speed

“Most famously, she reached the North Pole in 1958—in a daring adventure that captured headlines and gave the United States the strategic advantage of an entire ocean at the very top of the world.

“The success of Nautilus changed the equations that described a superpower.  The other world powers scrambled to join this club. The process and discipline established by Admiral Rickover has allowed the United States to decisively establish and maintain undersea warfare superiority.

“We simply must continue the work begun with Nautilus,” Taylor concluded.

Stan Cardinal Receives Certificate of Appreciation For Flag Loaner Program

Christian Porter of Honor and Remember presents a “Certificate of Appreciation” for Supporting Patriotism to Stan Cardinal for his Flag Loaner Progam.

GROTON, CT, June 2012 – In  July of 1990 Stan Cardinal  hoisted the flag on the colossal flag pole outside of Cardinal Honda. This would become the first of an ongoing act of patriotism that continues each day with a 25 foot by 40 foot American flag that proudly waves over Cardinal Honda and welcomes those driving by on Route 12.

Since that day in July, Stan Cardinal has continued to share his patriotism with the military, his employees, customers and the public through the “Cardinal Honda Flag Loaner Program.” This unique program allows anyone to borrow a flag from Cardinal Honda for special events, parades and presentations. As a result of the program, Stan has received a “Certificate of Appreciation” for Supporting Patriotism in our community.

For example, the involvement of the program in community events includes the forty foot flag draped on the side of the Intrepid as it sailed into New York harbor to its final resting place. Flags have been loaned for Memorial services for our fallen soldiers, Military and School functions and local parades.

The Flag Loaner Program provides American flags, in various sizes, for loan at no charge. All that is asked is that the flags be respected and cared for with the same level of Patriotism that Stan Cardinal has always had for the national emblem.

Groton Landmark Gets Classic Garden

Through the generosity of Bill Lincoln and the Eastern Connecticut Community Garden Association, and the work of plough-trained draft horses, the Fairview Odd Fellows Home of Connecticut will soon have a 30-foot by 70-foot garden.  The plot will supply vegetables to the majestic retirement and nursing-care facility, located opposite the Coast Guard Academy on the Groton bank of the Thames River.

Pictured at the garden’s groundbreaking are members of Fairview’s staff, local dignitaries, and volunteers: Left to right are Patrick Kelley, Eastern Connecticut Community Garden Assoc.; Andy Maynard, State Senator; Elisa Wright, State Representative; James Rosenman, Fairview Administrator; Joe Lopes, Fairview Maintenance Department; Joe Schoonmaker, Connecticut Corrections Department and Community Gardens Assoc.; Tomi Stanley, Fairview Recreation Department; Dave Fairman, Eastern Connecticut Community Garden Assoc.; Marian Galbraith, Groton City Mayor; John Waller, Eastern Connecticut Community Garden Assoc.; Bill Lincoln, Jim Reid, Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue; and Dave Bradham, Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue.

But it’s more than a garden—it’s a gift of love and work.

Bill owns a rescue draft horse and volunteers at the Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue in Haddam Neck.  He wanted to do something to give back to Fairview to acknowledge the wonderful care his mother-in-law received while she was a resident.

Bill brought his horse to Fairview June 14 and was accompanied by three other Belgian rescue horses and several volunteers. Together they plowed and harrowed the garden plot directly in front of the home’s recreation department.

The crops will be cared for by volunteers and the foods and herbs produced will be prepared in Fairview’s kitchen for residents. The garden will be wheelchair and walker accessible.

Jacqueline Nixon Community Service Award

story & photos
by Christopher Aninno

On Friday, August 1 at Washington Park, Groton, residents gathered to celebrate Groton Day. Gabriel’s Karate, Groton Utilities, and the City of Groton Fire and Police Departments gave special demonstrations. There were games for the kids and free food and miniature golf for everyone, but the highlight of the event was the presentation of the Jacqueline Nixon Community Service Award.

Out of 25 applicants, Sarah Stanley was honored with the prestigious award. Sarah’s love for helping people shows in her work. When she isn’t volunteering at Fairview Odd Fellows Home, she is a Girl Scout leader, and she assists any way she can with the Groton Parks and Recreation Department. “I am very thankful for getting this award. It really means a lot to me and my family,” said Sarah.

Originally, the honor was called the Community Service Award, but was renamed posthumously  to commemorate the spirit of first recipient, Jacqueline Nixon. Jackie passed away in 2004 after a long fight with cancer. The award helps remind Groton residents that you should always try to help your neighbors. Jackie made many contributions to the Groton community, but she is best known for operating the Groton Food Pantry for over 20 years. “Jackie Nixon set the bar for future recipients based on the good work she did for our community,” said Deb Patrick, City Clerk, Groton.

Past recipients of the award are Earle A. Williams, Robert Leeney, E. Marion Orkney, and Lillian Hansen.

Unflinching Honesty

by Roger Zotti

Writing poetry always came easily for Kathryn Kozlicky, author of “Confessions”  (PublishAmerica). “I would love to write a story, an actual book, but that’s something I have to sit down and think about,” Kathryn said in a recent telephone interview. “With poetry, I can hear a word or phrase and – boom! – it’s like lightning. I have to start writing. I don’t know why but I feel blessed that it does.”

Robert Frost is one of  Kathryn’s favorite poets. “He inspired me when I was young,” she said. And Frost’s clarity and directness is evident in Kathryn’s poetry. Take, for instance,  “The Past,” when Kathryn writes, “Isn’t it exhausting/ Living in the past?/ Tainted by the memories/ Of the love that didn’t last?”

In Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night,” he writes, “I have been one acquainted with the night,/ I have walked out in the rain – and back in rain./ I have out-walked the furthest city light.”

After Kathryn moved into her new apartment in Groton, she began writing. “I was in pain and a lot of things were burdening me,” she said. “[Writing] was a healing process for me. I never intended it to be a book about my personal feelings and situation.” When she finished and  reread what she wrote, “I realized these are problems other people have gone through, or are going  through. If my poems can help someone else, let’s give it a try.”

I asked Kathryn what she’d like her readers to take away from her book. Her hope is, she said, that “anyone who has gone through the situations I have gone through, well, I just want them to know they are not alone, because for many years I felt very alone and kept everything secret. There are people out there they can talk to and get the help they need.”

Many of the poems in “Confessions” are grave, for example “You Are,” wherein Kathryn writes, “You are the man that severed all ties/ Abandoning me in a haunting sea of lies./ You are the man that simply moved on/ Now all that  was beautiful is just dead and gone.”

But several poems are hopeful too, like “Loving You.” In it Kathryn writes, “Loving you has taught me that I am strong/…Loving you has given me a sense of well being/…I’ve learned many things simply by loving you.”

In “Confessions” Kathryn unflinchingly reveals her suffering and  transforms it into a learning and perhaps healing experience for the reader. Her writing is clear-eyed, courageous, and never self-pitying. Like Frost’s, her poems are deceptively simple.

As for her future writing plans, Kathryn has a second book in the works that she will submit in September to PublishAmerica. “It will be…a kind of coming out of the dark and into the light,” she explained. Her book signing is July 26, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Pearl of the Thames Café and Catering, at 175 Thames Street, Groton.

Restaurant: Oh Boy! Diner

Americans always had a love affair with diners. Since the late 1800’s these railroad-car-shaped restaurants served the workingman quick and tasty meals. The growth of suburbs and fast food in the 1950’s threatened the diner’s existence, but the need for a hot meal and homespun charm never ended.

Fast forward to the 21st century on Gold Star Highway (Rt. 184 across from Wal-Mart and Hilton Garden Inn) in Groton, where area diners can enjoy a taste of nostalgia and the great tasting food of the Oh Boy! Diner.

The large menu is stocked with classic diner fare, from a full turkey dinner to pot roast, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, pork chops, and more.

Along with classic dinners, the menu has a large variety of salads, soups, deli and club sandwiches, burgers, fabulous desserts and more. If you don’t see something on the voluminous menu, look again. And you can’t leave without tasting the homemade potato chips. Beer and wine are served to accompany your dinner from noon until 10 pm.

But it is not the food alone that brings people back to the Oh Boy! Diner. Much thought went into the design. Tables are spaced adequately for a restaurant of its size. A mirrored tile ceiling reflects the cool retro blue and orange vinyl seats and stainless steel trimmed Formica tabletops. Brightly colored lighting and wall posters add to the enjoyment.

For late sleepers, breakfast is served all day. And what a breakfast it is. Items range from the standard two eggs with the usual bacon, to specials to suit every taste, a variety of pancakes, waffles, and French toast, and a build-your-own omelette. Senior discounts are available everyday and they offer a 15% early bird discount from 4 -6pm!

Oh Boy! Diner also has curbside pick up. Simply call ahead (860.448.1000), place your order, and then park in one of the special parking spaces where an Oh Boy! server will deliver food to you in your car.

So, for a wonderful meal in a nostalgic setting, visit the Oh Boy! Diner at 143 Gold Star Highway (Rt. 184) in Groton.

Red Fence Farm in Center Groton

photos & story
by Barbara Reed Collins

Every town has hidden treasures, and Center Groton has one of the best – Red Fence Farm – with 5.5-plus acres on Daboll Road, not far from Wal-Mart on Route 184. Owned by Art and Cherrie Hiles for 20 years, it is the home for some very special cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, pheasants, and a few rabbits. One lone donkey named Diogenes gets immediate attention with his greeting – a strong, loud bray that commands attention.

“He doesn’t get along with any of the other animals, so he gets to stay here by himself. He’s actually my favorite,” said Cherrie as she stroked the donkey’s head. His greeting makes him a favorite for school children and other guests who visit the farm from time to time by appointment.

The farm use is “grandfathered,” going back to a man named Daboll. But lineage is not what makes the site so special. It is the dedication of Art and Cherrie that deserves applause. All the animals they have sought out are antique breeds being raised to preserve those lines. Both Art and Cherrie are employed in other jobs; he is employeed at Wal-mart and she works at Noank Baptist Group Homes.

The Hiles are also committed to preserving the family farm lifestyle – providing quality and chemical-free food. Everything raised at Red Fence Farm is naturally grown, grass fed and pastured. What the owners do not use for their own food is sold, but supplies are limited. Turkeys are reserved months before the holidays begin. Butchering and packaging of beef, pork and poultry is completed in spotless quarters.

The biggest animals are the Highland cattle, an ancient Scottish breed. Their horns are long. And although the wavy coat colors can vary, those at Red Fence Farm are a light red. Art emphasizes that the meat tends to be leaner than most meat.

The pigs also have reddish coats. They are Tamworths – “threatened in the US.” More pigs will be bred at Red Fence Farm. Some will be sold. The breed originated in England.

Bourbon Red Turkeys are almost as noisy as Diogenes when visitors approach. Named for Bourbon County in the bluegrass region of Kentucky, they are handsome and fan their chestnut red plumage with exuberance.

Turkey and pheasant chicks get their start in a heated and protected shelter. There are also free range chickens – especially needed as layers for eager consumers who enjoy fresh eggs. An entire flock was killed recently. “Foxes, raccoons, Fisher cats, hawks – any of ‘em can do it. We lost all the laying hens in one night,” said Art. The risk, he acknowledges, is part of life on any farm.

Both he and Cherrie, express their satisfaction with a lifestyle that cherishes nature and all its wonders. Shrubs around the front of their home are bright pink – a color that attracts hummingbirds. The home is cozy with natural woodwork throughout – a pantry, cabinets, and other pieces built by Art. A bedroom bay window brings nature indoors with space for numerous plants that create a cascade of greenery.

The Groton farm is open for tours for school children and groups by appointment. For reservations or to purchase produce call 860.446.8929.