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The Wilton Chain Gang

No such thing as a “Snow Day”



The rolling hills and winding roads of Wilton can be both steep and treacherous in the winter months. And back in the 1950s and 60s, the roads were a lot narrower. Today, many of our town roads have been leveled or straightened, but before vehicles had better tires, improved suspensions, and computerized traction control. Before we had cell phones and “snow days,” there were snow tires and chains for any car, truck, or school bus that needed to safely navigate our Wilton winter wonderland.

“Hey Tinker! It’s time to go out and play in the snow.” The usual phone call from Harry Disbrow was right on time: 3:30 a.m. Snow had been falling for much of the previous afternoon, through the night, and into the wee hours of the morning. Harry had checked the weather, same as I had. Whenever a snowfall was forecast, we always knew there would be a good chance that the two of us would be playing our little game of “musical busses.”

There were two large garage bays at the back of the school district parking lot that each of the 25 busses pulled into. It took me and Harry about two hours to complete the task of putting chains on every bus. Then, around 6:00 a.m. we’d clean up and head over to Orem’s for a quick breakfast. By the time we finished eating and got back to the garage at a little before 7 a.m. the first busses would be rolling out of the yard.

I was an official part-time driver. Harry had asked me to drive a route full-time, but I had a masonry construction business back then and couldn’t do it. I did agree to fill in if a driver called in sick. But that agreement quickly turned into virtually a full-time winter job. Having recognized the need for expertise with the chaining operation, and if snowstorms were coming every few days, I set up shop in the front office of the Milestone Garage so we were ready to install and repair chains. During many harsh winters, that’s all I’d do until there was a break in the weather.

All was not drudgery, though. I actually found a lot of joy when I had a chance to drive a school bus. The kids made it fun, and I tried my best to return the favor. In the fall I sometimes carried a basket of apples to hand out as each child exited the vehicle. One day, a new kindergarten student happily took his apple but hesitated getting off the bus. He carefully looked down at his apple and I thought there was something wrong with it. Finally, he looked up, stared directly into my eyes and said, “I have a liddle bwother.” So I gave him another one.

Then there was Marty (not his real name). I was driving down New Canaan Road towards Borglum and Filterbed Roads when I heard a loud voice in the back of the bus. “Shud up! Shud up or I’ll beat youse! Shud up or I’ll beat youse all!”

At Filterbed, I stopped to let a handful of children off. Marty was the last one to get off at that stop. As he was about to step off the bus I closed the door and asked, “Marty, what did you have for breakfast this morning?”

“Whaaat?!”

“What did you have for breakfast?”

“I don’t remember.”

“You must have had some cereal. Maybe oatmeal or Wheaties?”

“Oh yeah, I had a bowl of corn flakes.”

“Anything else? Maybe some bacon and eggs?”

“I had an egg. No bacon.”

“Ahh! That’s really great. Did you have any spinach or onions?

“Nope. Nothin’ like that.”

“Oh you should always have spinach! If you’re going to beat up a whole busload of kids all by yourself, you really need to eat a big breakfast.”

Marty was shaking his head in bewilderment when he stepped off the bus. As I swung the door shut, he turned and waved. The next morning, Marty took the seat right behind me and the two of us chatted all the way to Center School. Whenever I drove his route, that boy stuck close to me. No more mayhem. Or perhaps not enough breakfast to be overly confident? I still know him today—and he’s not the only one!

Over the years I have driven every single route in Wilton. For a time, I knew all the children in town, from kindergarten right through to high school. Today, I am still approached by 60- and 70-year-old “kids" who remember me as their favorite driver. And truth be told? They were all my favorite passengers.

 

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August 2018

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Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
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Cost: Free

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Cost: $50

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Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

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Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Sponsor: Keeler Library
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Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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Bruce Museum
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Telephone: 203-413-6735
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Cost: Free

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Maritime Garage Gallery
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
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Cost: Free

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Heather Gaudio Fine Art
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
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Caring for a loved one who is ill is stressful and exhausting. It can be a profoundly isolating and lonely experience. Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County and Wilton Library invite you...

Cost: Free

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Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
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Telephone: 203-762-8958, ext. 316.
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Cost: $37-$42

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Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
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View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
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More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

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Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Sing choral classics on Tuesdays in August! Each week, a different work led by a different conductor. No performance, no worries: just show up and sing. Summer Sings are a relaxed way to...

Cost: free

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Sponsor: Music on the Hill
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Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
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Website »

More information

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Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Back by popular demand! Professional book discussion leader Susan Boyar will discuss 6 short stories published in The New Yorker magazine over 6 consecutive weeks. Each Wednesday's...

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Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
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Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
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Cost: $75

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Stamford EMS
684 Long Ridge Rd
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Sponsor: Stamford EMS
Telephone: (203) 252-2193
Contact Name: Laura Roberts
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Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
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View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
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View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
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Trace the life cycle of food at Grace Farms with Community Garden Manager Ashley Kenney, Pastry Chef Leah Jones, and Director of Operations Adam Thatcher. From produce and cut flowers used in the...

Cost: Free

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Grace Farms
365 Lukes Wood Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
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View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
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Stamford EMS and Safety4Kids (S4K) are teaming up to present an important summer safety event: a Bike Safety Roundup on Saturday, August 18th at Chelsea Piers from 9am – 10am.  ...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Chelsea Piers Connecticut
1 Blachley Road
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Sponsor: Stamford EMS and Safety4Kids (S4K)
Telephone: 203-968-1118
Contact Name: The Loft at Chelsea Piers Connecticut
Website »

More information

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Cost: $7 per private garden; children 12 & under free.

Where:
Redding, CT


Sponsor: The Garden Conservancy
Telephone: 888-842-2442
Contact Name: Open Days program staff
Website »

More information

Explore the InSitu garden in Redding, open for self-guided tours to benefit the Garden Conservancy. This eight-acre sculpture garden is a showcase of architecture, horticulture, and art, seamlessly...

Cost: $7 per person, children 12 and under free

Where:
InSitu
73 Diamond Hill Road
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View map »


Sponsor: The Garden Conservancy
Telephone: 888-842-2442
Contact Name: Open Days Program staff
Website »

More information

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

The Lewisboro Library’s Nightclub Concert Series has a special treat on Saturday, August 18 – a “Beatles Night” featuring a Beatles tribute band and a Beatles Trivia...

Cost: $30/per person

Where:
Lewisboro Library
15 Main Street
South Salem, NY  10590
View map »


Sponsor: Lewisboro Library
Telephone: 914-875-9004
Contact Name: Liz Gabriele
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Hiking and practicing yoga outside in the fresh air leaves you feeling uplifted, centered, and peaceful! In warm weather months, we meet regularly in various parks and trails. Each event starts...

Cost: Three and Five Class Packages (3 times for $33, 5 times for $42)

Where:
Vary with each class
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Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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