Today Magazine • November​ 2021

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TODAY Covering the Heart of the Farmington Valley

RIVER’S REALITY ENRICHES VALLEY

Nonprofit Bravely Safeguards Free-Flowing Farmington River

NOVEMBER 2021

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LEADING OFF

CONTENTS

Essential Mission For Vital River

COVER STORY

4 — River Preservation

The Farmington River Watershed Association seeks to safeguard the life-giving waterway that lends its name to the Farmington Valley HONORING FIRST RESPONDERS

10 — Fired Up To Serve

The Avon Volunteer Fire Department has grown from 20 members in 1943 to 200 members today HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS

12 — Walk In The Park

The fascinating amusement history of Unionville’s Suburban Park is still evident 125 years later NOTEWORTHY NONPROFITS

14 — Open Mind For Open Space

The Simsbury Land Trust has been protecting the town’s scenic vistas for 45 years QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“The Farmington River is a beautiful and precious natural resource that enhances the quality of life in the Farmington Valley” — FRWA BY THE NUMBERS

LETTERS

Dams in Farmington R. area — 400+

THE NAMESAKE of the Farmington Valley is a certain river you may have heard of — an ancient and ever-giving resource that has benefited the region for centuries. A local nonprofit, the Farmington River Watershed Association, aims to protect and preserve this vital waterway for the generations to come. We spotlight the FRWA’s essential work in this edition. The nonprofit has existed for nearly 70 years, safeguarding the river and educating Valley residents about its abundant virtues. The Farmington River watershed encompasses 33 towns and supplies drinking water for over 600,000 people. The watershed provides a haven for an astonishing variety of wildlife — and photos of some of these creatures grace the pages of this issue. Do you know where the river’s source is? The answer is a riddle, for there are two sources. The riddle’s resolution is in our cover story on page 4 — BWD Today Magazine • Covering the Heart of the Farmington Valley Bruce William Deckert — Publisher + Editor-in-Chief 860-988-1910 • Bruce.Deckert@TodayPublishing.net www.TodayPublishing.net > Digital Editions • Award-Winning Today Magazine Online — www.TodayPublishing.net/blog Follow Today Magazine CT on social media: Advertising — Contact the Publisher Editorial Associate — Kayla Tyson Contributing Photographer — Wendy Rosenberg Five Towns, One Aim — Exceptional Community Journalism Farmington • Avon • Canton • Simsbury • Granby – CT, USA • Two other Valley magazines: print circulation — less than 19,000 • Today Magazine: print circulation — 42,000+ • Ad Rates — same ballpark

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COVER STORY KUDOS Today Magazine’s October cover story featured the internationally significant archaeological discovery in Avon of a 10,500 B.C. Paleoindian settlement — www.TodayPublishing.net/digital-editions THANK YOU for highlighting the incredible ongoing story of the Brian D. Jones Paleoindian Site in Avon. We are thrilled to be able to share this find with the world. It’s hard to believe that this site, probably one of many others yet to be found, was so important to the early peopling of North America when the Ice Age receded. These indigenous peoples were the first to really forge the way for later tribes and generations to explore and populate this land. I hope this will lead to many more discoveries as there is so much to find below our feet in the Farmington Valley! Terri Wilson • President • Avon Historical Society

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I SEND APPLAUSE to Today Magazine — what a terrific, groundbreaking article! Today Magazine is the best way to bring such information to the Farmington Valley audience. I am thrilled, and after listening to the program I am just astounded at Avon being at the center of groundbreaking Paleoindian archeological studies. Nora O. Howard • Avon Town Historian THANK YOU for the article on the campaign to build a New Collinsville Fire & EMS House. I hope it informed Canton voters about the importance of the Nov. 2 referendum for our volunteer firefighters, EMTs and entire community. Sylvia Cancela • PR Officer • Canton Fire & EMS SUBSCRIBE TO TODAY — FREE YOU CAN RECEIVE the digital edition of Today Magazine plus news stories from Today Online, for free — simply CLICK HERE to go to the Today Magazine website, and then click the SUBSCRIBE TO TODAY button toward the top of the page. TODAY MAGAZINE – www.TodayPublishing.net – NOVEMBER 2021

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Canada geese, both old and young, find a place to rest on the Farmington River in Simsbury Cover Photo — A bald eagle takes off from its perch on the river — Photos by Rick Warters

RIVER’S RUN ENRICHES VALLEY Nonprofit Seeks To Preserve Farmington River COVER STORY

By Bruce Deckert Editor-in-Chief • Today Magazine

THE FARMINGTON RIVER — the classic waterway that lends its name to the Farmington Valley — is an iconic river by any measure. Granted, not a household name nationally like the Hudson, Mississippi or Rio Grande, but as vital to this fertile central Connecticut valley as any other American river is to its region. A Simsbury-based nonprofit, the Farmington River Watershed Association, is dedicated to maintaining the vitality of the river and its interconnected natural resources. The FRWA aims to maintain a laser-focus on protecting and preserving this essential life-giving waterway. A watershed is the land area that drains into a body of water. The Farmington River’s widespread 4

“Decisions are made in each town that affect the health of the watershed every day” — FRWA website

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NOTEWORTHY NONPROFITS watershed is comprised of 33 towns covering 600plus square miles in Connecticut and Massachusetts. This watershed provides 100% of the drinking water for over 600,000 people in Greater Hartford and the Farmington Valley. “Decisions are made in each town that affect the health of the watershed every day,” says the FRWA website. Given the two neighboring states associated with the river, you might be wondering where the river’s source is located. The answer is a confusing riddle: The source is in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. How can this


PAGE 7 Exclusive Interview Farmington River Watershed Association PAGE 9 Poem — Ode to the Farmington River conundrum be resolved? Simple — the river has two branches. The source of the river’s West Branch is in the town of Becket in western Massachusetts — a stone’s throw from the Otis town line — and the source of the East Branch is at the northern tip of the Barkhamsted Reservoir in Hartland, Connecticut. The reservoir was formed via a dam system on the East Branch.

RIVER’S CONVERGENCE

The two branches converge in New Hartford and run to the river’s mouth, where the Farmington joins the Connecticut River in Windsor, just northeast of Hartford. The West Branch runs about 34.5 miles, per various sources, and the East Branch about 13 miles. After they merge, the river runs for about 46.5 miles. The FRWA records the river’s length at 81 miles — the sum of the West Branch and the merged main river. When the East Branch is added, the Farmington covers an overall distance of 94 miles. Further nomenclature issues arise because the river is divided into the Lower Farmington and the Upper Farmington — but the details of this demarcation can wait for another day and further research. Some notable numbers, from the FRWA website: • More than 75 miles of the Farmington have received the federal Wild & Scenic River designation. • There are 400-plus dams in Connecticut’s Farmington River watershed. • The river is home to 12 species of freshwater mussels and countless fish, and the watershed provides refuge and residence for an abundant and amazing diversity of wildlife. And there’s this peculiar fact — while swimming is allowed, the river has no officially designated swimming areas.

Wildlife — such as this wood duck and bear — frequent the Farmington River.

MEANDERING RIVER

The Farmington River’s relationship with the Farmington Valley region is complicated … yet nonetheless essential. The Valley’s five core towns (in alphabetical order) are Avon, Canton, Farmington, Granby and Simsbury — but the river doesn’t exactly follow the ABCs in its passage through our region. Its fluid meandering journey through the Farmington Valley begins in Canton TODAY MAGAZINE – www.TodayPublishing.net – NOVEMBER 2021

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when the river briefly forms a de facto boundary between Canton and New Hartford before flowing southeast into the Collinsville section of Canton. When the river flows out of Collinsville, it forms the de facto western boundary of Avon where the town meets Burlington — and continues flowing in a south and southeasterly direction into the Unionville section of Farmington. The waterway travels southeast through Farmington until making an unusual left-hand turn north and then into the eastern part of Avon. The river keeps flowing north through Avon into Simsbury — with the Metacomet Ridge and Talcott Mountain just to the east — and stays north and slightly northeast until making a hairpin right-hand turn near the Granby town line to head southeast.

ALL-DIRECTION BENDS

Granby is the only Valley municipality the Farmington River doesn’t enter, but Salmon Brook is a key tributary and runs right through town. Of course, Granby is clearly in the river’s watershed. After bending southeast, the river goes through the Tariffville section of Simsbury, also flowing southeast out of town — and then bends northeast before bending back southeast in a roller-coaster descent, including a brief hairpin bend northwest (believe it or not) before another hairpin bend southeast for its homestretch run. If you’re keeping score at home, you’ve likely noted that the Farmington is one of those rare rivers that flows in all four cardinal directions: north, south, east and west. Further, if all this bending makes you suspicious about whether the river suffers from a proverbial drinking bender, that would be understandable. But despite its apparent directionally challenged condition, the Farmington River ultimately reaches its destination — the Connecticut River. Yes, the Farmington finally fulfills its role as a major tributary of our state’s namesake waterway. Wow … and whew … is anyone else dizzy? A complicated river, indeed, but certainly worth the complications, and worthy of the collective care of the Farmington Valley community. The Farmington River Watershed Association seeks to cultivate such care — an exclusive interview with two key principals is on page 7. +

Great blue herons make their home in the Farmington River 6 NOVEMBER 2021 – www.TodayPublishing.net – TODAY MAGAZINE watershed

Today Magazine editor-in-chief Bruce Deckert is an award-winning journalist


Bobcats roam the banks of the Farmington River across all seasons

FRWA Protects River’s Essential Resources Special to Today Magazine

Director Aimee Petras and FRWA President Michael Feldman have answered this exclusive Q&A —————————————————————— Mission — FRWA is devoted to the protection and preservation of the Farmington River and its watershed through research, education, advocacy and projects that enhance the water quality, wildlife habitat and scenic qualities of the river. The Farmington River is a beautiful and precious natural resource that enhances the quality of life in the Farmington Valley. The river extends 81 miles through 33 towns in Connecticut and Massachusetts. It feeds reservoirs that supply water to 600,000 Connecticut residents. It is home to abundant fish and wildlife.

Farmington River Watershed Association • Annual Meeting – Online • ——————————————————— Friday 11/12 – 6:30 pm

• Free – Open to Public • ——————————— Register + More Info Click Here > Today Calendar Most fulfilling aspect of your work? The dedication and camaraderie among the board, staff and volunteers in appreciating and protecting this valuable resource. Your biggest obstacle and how you overcome it? The main obstacle in conserving the river

FARMINGTON RIVER WATERSHED ASSOCIATION

749 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury 860-658-4442 Aimee Petras • Programs Director apetras@frwa.org Website — www.frwa.org Year Established — 1953 ———————————————————————— is to protect against “non-point source pollution” — meaning water runoff and discharges from impermeable surfaces such as asphalt, and lawn fertilizers and pesticides. Non-point source pollution is the #1 water quality problem in the nation. We address it by educating our community about ways to retain, absorb and reduce storm water by individual actions, and by

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Otters keep company with the fish in the Farmington River installing storm-water retention projects (also known as green infrastructure) with community partners such as the city of Bristol and the town of Winchester. Most satisfying accomplishment? Through diligent and tireless advocacy, FRWA has obtained congressional designation of the Farmington as a Wild & Scenic River, a designation that applies to less than 1 percent of Connecticut’s waterways. This recognizes the outstanding natural, scenic and recreational values of the Farmington as a free-flowing river for the enjoyment of present and future generations. In addition, FRWA has: (1) removed the obsolete Spoonville Dam in East Granby, making the river safer for boaters and swimmers; and (2) acquired, through bequest, a scenic 11-acre parcel along the river in New Hartford, and is now managing and conserving that property. Goals for the next 1-5 years? • To engage in more opportunities with towns in the Valley to reduce stormwater pollution through multidimensional green infrastructure installations. • To form a regional conservation partnership with Farmington Valley towns, land trusts and other stakeholders that will allow us to conserve and protect the ecological treasures in the Valley. Volunteer opportunities: We have many opportunities to get out on the river and engage in citizen science, water quality monitoring, aquatic insect sampling and (new this year) salt monitoring, and to provide events that allow volunteers to clean up the river and remove invasive plants. We have a volunteer form on our website. 8

There is an intense pressure for development in the Valley year after year, which gets closer to the river corridor Anecdote that illustrates how you fulfill your mission: We are in this for the long run! Many years ago, a wonderful woman named Lily Frey bequeathed land for FRWA along the river in New Hartford. Her will was contested but after 13 years of legal battles, Lily’s wish that her property be permanently protected is now a reality. In addition, in a similar time frame, FRWA jump-started the journey to get Wild & Scenic designation for the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook. The Upper River, designated in 1994, already had this distinction, but the Lower river and Salmon Brook’s quest to get Wild & Scenic designation took many years and they were finally designated in 2019. How has COVID impacted your work? COVID has not prevented FRWA from many of its core functions such as water quality monitoring, river cleanups and outdoor recreational activities. It has, however, forced us to utilize remote platforms for education, advocacy and meetings. Interesting stats + numbers: • The Farmington River is 81 miles long traversing 33 towns. • FRWA safeguards the drinking water source of 600,000 Connecticut residents — 1 in 7 Connecticut residents.

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• Two river segments are federally designated as Wild & Scenic — the West Branch of the Farmington River, designated in 1994, and the Lower Farmington River and Salmon Brook, designated in 2019. • Home to whitewater kayak championship events in Tariffville gorge. • Popular destination for fishing for trout, pike and bass, the Farmington River is the most fished river in the state. • Home to many varieties of freshwater mussels. • Considered one of very few rivers that run in all four compass directions. Besides donations, how is your work funded? Through grants from the government and private foundations. … Partnerships with other nonprofits and stakeholders are critical to our mission. What do you appreciate most about the Farmington Valley? We appreciate how well the Farmington Valley communities work together. What constructive change would you like to see in the Valley? There is an intense pressure for development in the Valley year after year, which gets closer to the river corridor. We hope that landowners and communities would treasure less development along the river corridor and protect the Farmington River for future generations to enjoy. Number of employees: Full-time: 3 — Part-time: 3 Nonprofit Officers: Michael Feldman, President • John Laudati, Vice President • Carol Noble, Vice President • Brian Freeman, Treasurer • Beckie Sahl, Secretary • 15 board members overall +


Ode to the Farmington River 10 things I love about the Farmington River

Beckie Sahl is the board secretary for the Farmington River Watershed Association ————————————————————— Timeless as mermaids, bathing in the seas. Buoyant and free in cleansing waters.

By Beckie Sahl

A Friend with deep thoughts Dancing in the sunlight Pulsing its way through time, Steady at my side. Filling an ancient rift, Sifting sediment eons old, Banks holding stories yet to be told, Unfolding from the earth We walk upon today.

Shades of blue, green and gold Dappling in sunlight and shadow. Diamonds shiver on the river’s back as a breeze brushes them upstream, Rippling fairy dust enchants the eye as if a dream. Splendor to behold! So old, So present.

Shad, herring, salmon, trout Swim about — Angle their way, Not be prey. Escape the hook to Stay the brook, ’Lest an angler reels them in for sport and dinner!

Thirst for knowledge for experience for sustenance, Waters that quench an endless thirst. Reservoirs of Protection Replenish an eternal need. We drink our river’s bounty.

Paddles dipping, sipping in sunlight. Calm waters, easy strokes, flat and wide Sights ahead and to both sides. Time for daydreams stretching long on the horizon.

Pedals push up and down, Wheels turning, gliding By the river’s side. Sights of whitewater cascading through rocks — The River Trail, rail-beds of yesteryear. A train whistle echoes from the past, across my handlebars. Lunch at LaSalle’s.

Stroking hard, currents churning, moving fast — Shoot the rapids, Surf the holes, Search the eddies. Feel the rush, Rest the paddle, Feel the calm. Swim like a fish Dive like a porpoise Crawl across the width of Tunxis Meade —

Photos by Wendy Rosenberg

Contrary and predictable West to East, yet South to North Searching the mouth of a bigger River A destiny that calls to The Sea — A journey shared with you and me.

A painted turtle on the Farmington River in Simsbury

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AVON TODAY

Fire Department Highlights Volunteer Virtues By Ethan Guo Special to Today Magazine

THE AVON Volunteer Fire Department has been keeping the cozy town of Avon in a relatively uncharred state for nearly eight decades. When the AVFD was established in 1943, it had only 20 members and one company but has since grown to 200 members with 18 vehicles and six companies. Throughout the years, the Avon Volunteer Fire Department has transformed from an organization solely dedicated to fighting fires into a group that is equipped to handle a variety of emergencies. “Today, fire departments must be trained and equipped to perform many things outside of firefighting,” says assistant chief Joseph (Joe) Speich. “This includes EMS, rescue and service calls. Fire departments have become all-hazard departments.” Speich’s full-time job is serving as a firefighter and paramedic for the UConn Fire Department. He is also an Avon fire inspector. A volunteer firefighter in Avon

HONORING FIRST RESPONDERS

“The fire service has been in my blood since I was born, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else” — Joseph Speich for nearly 25 years, he joined as a cadet when he was 14. His father, James Speich, has served the AVFD for 40-plus years, including stints as captain of Station 4 and president. “The fire service has been in my blood since I was born, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” says Joe Speich. While Avon firefighters are frequently seen speeding to distress calls on their big red trucks, they are just as often spotted at schools, parades and high school graduations supporting and teaching the community. “Community relations has also become a large part of any fire department,” Speich says. “Some of my favorite memories are seeing the look of kids’ faces when the fire

department shows up. I can remember as a kid always lighting up when there was a fire truck, and I enjoy seeing the awe in the eyes of a child when I am able to show them a fire truck.” Despite having protected Avon for almost 80 years, some people still retain the mistaken idea that volunteer firefighters aren’t real firefighters — but the notion couldn’t be further from the truth. “To become a volunteer firefighter in Avon, an interested person must fill out an application, pass a background check and a physical,” Speich explains. “Once someone passes a physical, they can start training. Training involves attendance at company level drills and attending a Firefighter 1 training program. This program meets twice a week for 4-6 months.” Furthermore, as the AVFD is made up exclusively of volunteers, many volunteer firefighters are also employed in other capacities as lawyers, doctors, continued on page 15

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CANTON TODAY

HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS

Hobo History: Hitting The Road For Work By Kathy Taylor • Canton Town Historian

Part 1 of a Two-Part Series ————————————————————— WHEN YOU HEAR the word hobo, you immediately picture a down-on-his-luck man carrying his belongings wrapped in a cloth held by a stick over his shoulder. Or, if you are old enough, you will remember Red Skelton’s famous character on his comedy TV show named Freddie the Freeloader. The term hobo originated in the western and northwestern United States around 1890, according to an online source. While a tramp works only when forced to and a bum doesn’t work at all, a hobo is a traveling worker. Many Civil War veterans hopped freight trains to return home. Others looked for work and followed the railroads West. The Depression years of the 1930s saw an increase in hobos taking a free ride on the railroads in their quest for work. Tourist Union #63 was formed in the mid-1800s as a hobo union to dodge anti-vagrancy laws. At its national convention in 1889, the union established a code of ethics, which included riding trains, looking for work wherever you are, and respecting local laws, officials and nature — i.e., do not leave garbage. There are still hobos today, but they operate differently. Some enjoy it as a part-time hobby, but hopefully they are not hopping on and off trains anymore. Each August since 1900, with the exception of 2020 during COVID, there has been a National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa. The new king and queen of the hobos are crowned, and a parade and fair are held. The town of Britt is also home to the

National Hobo Museum and Cemetery. The first hobo to be buried in the cemetery was Connecticut Slim in 1977. He grew up in the Terryville section of Plymouth and hopped a train to California in 1927. He returned to Terryville, married and had a family, but alas the road beckoned him again and he returned to his hobo travels. continued on page 14

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FARMINGTON TODAY

HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS

Short History of Suburban Park By Vincenzo Frosolone Special to Today Magazine

UNIONVILLE’S Suburban Park, also known as Rainbow Park, was first funded by a committee that bought an estate owned by D.A. Keyes. The 35-acre amusement park officially opened to the public on May 30, 1895 — on Memorial Day. Outside of deer, herons, mallard ducks, rabbits and raccoons, a class of 100 young children from a Hartford parochial school were the first visitors to set foot in the park, for a picnic. The park was originally founded by the Hartford Suburban Railway and operated by the Farmington Street Railway Company. Suburban Park was built to make the suburban Unionville area more attractive for city-folk tourists — hence the moniker — and deflect local residents from flocking to contemporary competition in nearby Hartford, Avon, Bloomfield and Farmington, like Electric Park and Professional Park (both located in Farmington). Ironically, Suburban Park had one shocking trick up its sleeve. Owing to

the park’s vicinity to the trolley’s power station, its owners were among the first to use electricity — namely for the electric fountain, its colored lights and ornate Japanese lanterns hung from the trees. Constructed from iron and rock, the fountain was powered by a water wheel, which was in turn powered by the Farmington River. Speaking of the trolley, first opened to the public on April 1, 1895, park visitors

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would spend 15 cents to travel from Hartford along the modern Farmington Avenue to the end of the track located at the park. Today, this ride would cost approximately $4.89. The Unionville trolley offices were closed in February 1897 and moved to Hartford. Meanwhile, visitors and business employees could stroll along intricately

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NOTEWORTHY NONPROFITS

SIMSBURY TODAY

Protecting Open Space For 45 Years Special to Today Magazine

Land Trust President Margery Winters has answered this Q&A —————————————————————— Mission — Simsbury Land Trust is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to protect scenic vistas, geological features and farmland that visually define Simsbury’s character and provide healthy habitats for local wildlife and plants. Our goal is to consistently craft, support and implement creative land-conservation solutions for the benefit of present and future generations. Most fulfilling aspect of your work? The support of the community for open space acquisition and their recognition of its value to the community. Your biggest obstacle, and how you overcome it? Invasive plant species jeopardizing the ecological health of our properties — partially overcome by ongoing stewardship efforts. Most satisfying accomplishment? Purchase of the Tanager Hill Preserve. Goals for the next 1-5 years? Improving the structure of the organization to ensure its continued success and developing our knowledge of ecologically sound land management. Volunteer opportunities: Opportunities to serve are numerous and varied. We have over 50 volunteers who: maintain our trails • guide hikes • help with invasive plant removal/control • serve on the board or committees • coordinate educational public programs • supervise needed construction projects • provide legal, real estate, fundraising and financial expertise • and fulfill the many odd tasks necessary for running a land trust organization.

HOBO — continued from page 11 Hobos had their own lingo and often scratched or chalked symbols in places across the country to communicate local information to other hobos. They would advise if there was a barking dog in the area — or write: “Get out fast, hobos not welcome here.” Or they would mark their name, date and destination. They have a whole host of terms that 14

Anecdote that provides a window into your ethos:

During the pandemic, the value of our open space really came to the fore. Our trails were heavily used and appreciated by the public who had very few other opportunities. It was gratifying to receive notes from a number of people who had lived in town for a long time who wrote to say how lovely Land Trust properties are. For many of them, this was the first time on many of our properties, and they wrote to say how much they appreciated them. Interesting stats + numbers: Over 1100 acres of preserved land What do you see as the top three issues in land conservation today? • Controlling invasive plant species on the properties — We cannot do this without the help of homeowners and other landowners controlling invasive plants on their own property. • Habitat connections — Isolated open space properties cannot maintain their ecological function. Again, we need the help of other property owners to improve the ecological functions of their property so that their properties provide habitat steppingstones to the preserves. • Education — Achieving the first two steps will require a great deal of public education to change the existing property management and garden habits of the last 75 years. Besides donations, how is your work funded? Grants, endowments and special campaigns How closely do you work with other agencies/nonprofits? We are strengthening our relationships with adjacent land trusts to coordinate program offerings and to share expertise. you can look up on online, and you can find modern cellphone hobo lingo at the website for the Secret Society of Internet Hobos — www.ssoih.com — but it doesn’t seem so secret, does it? Here’s a small sampling of hobo lingo: Barnacle — person who sticks to a job for a year or more California Blanket — newspapers as bedding on a park bench Catch the Westbound — to die

NOVEMBER 2021 – www.TodayPublishing.net – TODAY MAGAZINE

SIMSBURY LAND TRUST

Amy Zeiner • Executive Director 860-651-8773 azeiner@simsburylandtrust.org Website — www.simsburylandtrust.org Year Established — 1976 ———————————————————————— We also work closely with the Farmington River Watershed Association and the Connecticut Land Conservation Council. What do you appreciate most about the Farmington Valley? In addition to the ease of living in the Valley and the many social amenities, I appreciate the preserved open space and its associated recreational opportunities as well as the abundance and diversity of wildlife. Also, during a town budget referendum earlier this year regarding the town’s acquisition of a 263-acre property, the public overwhelmingly supported its purchase — it is great to live in a town that values our natural resources. What constructive change would you like to see in the Valley? Establishment of funding programs through a property sales levy or other tax mechanism to support the acquisition of open space, as is done in Massachusetts and other states. Nonprofit Officers: Margery Winters, President • Karen Brand, Vice President • Danielle D’Ermo, Secretary • Karen Langlois, Treasurer Board Members aka Trustees: Ted Almy, Tom Crawford, T.J. Donohue, Fred Feibel (past president), Katie French, Paul Henault, Chuck Howard (president emeritus), Diana Moody, Katie Piccirillo, Sally Rieger, Camilla Thompson, Susan Van Kleef Number of Employees — 2 part-time +

Glad Rags — one’s best clothes Jungle — area off a railroad where hobos camp and congregate On the Fly — jumping a moving train Sky Pilot — a preacher or minister Hobos also had their own monikers or names, such as: Bus Stop Bill, Steam Train Maury, Ohio Ned, Virginia Slim, SlowMotion Shorty, Kentucky Kid, Dogman Tony, Captain Cloud, Empress Vagabond, Ramblin’ Rudy and so many more. +


Ruins of the dance pavilion at Suburban Park in Unionville Photo by Vincenzo Frosolone

PARK — continued from page 12 woven walkways to watch birds such as broad-winged hawks and pileated woodpeckers, and hold meetings while engaging with various attractions. Recreational sports included baseball, polo and tennis, and visitors could swim and fish in the lake. Lake ice was harvested for refrigeration in the Cave of the Dancing Bear, the park’s ursine underground storage cellar. The punting pond docked rental boats during the warmer months, doubling as an ice rink for skating and hockey in the winter. Canals channeled river water past a 12-foot dam through the water wheel, which powered the electric fountain and several local businesses. Children and adults could ride the carousel until July 1898, when it was moved to a competing park in Hartford. Operated by Charles A. Hackney, the ride cost one penny, which inflates to roughly 33 cents per ride today. Visitors could also dance at the pavilion. Under a tiled roof, parties, lectures and receptions took place in this windowless venue open to the fresh outdoor air. Live entertainment included performances by groups such as the Colts Orchestra, the Union Orchestra, the Sedgwick & Casey Orchestra, the Pope Band and Simonds Military Band. In 1907, the pavilion was converted to a summer cottage that burned down in the 1960s.

After a long fulfilling day, hungry guests could purchase ice cream, lemonade, sandwiches, cupcakes and doughnuts from the parlor and relax on the swings and hammocks strung between the trees. Suburban Park was closed in 1905 as more people drove cars. As a result, the park owners were inclined to increase the fare, decommission many trams and cut back on the schedule. They stopped serving riders altogether in 1933. In 1961, Roger Toffolon bought the land. Intending to mine the park for sand and gravel and build a housing subdivision upon it, Toffolon ultimately sold it back to Unionville in 1999 for $1.56 million after a grassroots campaign fought against his efforts, arguing that the area should be preserved as natural open space. John McManama, then a member of the Farmington Land Trust, said the funding would be better invested in combating pollution and preserving the woodlands than in residential development, alluding to the park’s 12-million-year-old sites of eight glacial ice kettles. The park remains an open space meant solely for passive recreation. Part of the Unionville Lions Club Memorial Park, neighbored by an auto-body shop and a large shopping plaza, Suburban Park retains its historical beauty and natural charm. +

FIRE — continued from page 10 small business owners, etc. Balancing a full-time job, family, training and emergency rescue duties requires extreme resolve and dedication. Many men and women throughout America seek to improve their community through volunteer work at food shelters, camps and more. Yet only a select few ever find the courage to enter into the hazardous fields of public service. Whether they be firefighters, paramedics, soldiers or police officers, those who put their own safety and time with family on the line for the well-being of strangers are deserving of respect, whether they serve as trained volunteers or paid professionals. + www.avonvfd.org An Avon resident, Ethan Guo is a junior at Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor

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