Today Magazine • August 2020

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Covering the Heart of the Farmington Valley

WORLD WAR II REDUX August 2020 Marks 75th Anniversary of Final WWII Triumph




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Today Magazine • Covering the Heart of the Farmington Valley


The United States celebrated victory in WWII 75 years ago this August — thanks to the heroism of numerous Farmington Valley veterans. HISTORY HIGHLIGHTS

8 — Deeds Not Words: Celebrating the Vote

Women received voting rights 100 years ago via the 19th Amendment. Join a centennial celebration! GOVERNMENT GURUS

9 — Clarion Call for Political Cooperation

Has Canton found an antidote for the partisan politics evident in Washington? Ask the First Selectman.


Honoring Our WWII Heroes

A RAINBOW over Pearl Harbor is a good sign, but after the infamous attack in December 1941 that decisively ushered the United States into World War II, good signs were few and far between. The bravery and sacrifice of countless WWII heroes — including many veterans who have called the Farmington Valley home — brought good out of bad in the ensuing four years, leading to the Allies’ ultimate triumph. August 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, and in this keepsake issue Today Magazine features three Valley heroes who are no longer with us but whose vital service helped make victory possible. Upon this momentous milestone, we remember and honor the sacrificial resolve and heroism of the aptlynamed Greatest Generation. +

• Other two Valley magazines • Print Circulation — less than 20,000 • Today Magazine • Print Circulation — 42,000+ • Ad Rates — about the same


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Bruce Deckert — Publisher + Editor-in-Chief 860-988-1910 • Today Magazine — > Digital Edition Facebook — @TodayMagazineCT • LinkedIn— Today Magazine Advertising — Contact the Publisher Editorial Associate — Kayla Tyson Contributing Photographer — Wendy Rosenberg • 860-305-1655 Today Magazine Online — Five Towns, One Aim — Exceptional Community Journalism


JULY COVER STORY — WILDLIFE WONDER THANK YOU again for featuring my nature photography in Today Magazine. I am beyond honored to be part of this amazing magazine. As always, the July issue is STELLAR in every way! Wendy Rosenberg • Canton Wendy was featured in our July cover story — she has been a contributing photographer for Today Magazine since January 2019. • Find her work in our digital editions — • For info on prints, contact her at 860-305-1655 JUST A BIG THANK-YOU for all your hard work pulling together Today Magazine. I truly look forward to it every month. In July I particularly enjoyed “Wildlife Wonder” because I have admired Wendy Rosenberg’s photography for some time now and even went to The Investors Center to view her exhibit. How fortunate your readers are to be able to enjoy her photos and how fortunate she is to get such health benefits from her photography process. Keep up the good work! Anne Fitzgerald • Avon


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AS A LIFELONG Canton resident, I have known Wendy and Jeff Rosenberg for nearly 18 years. Wendy’s love of nature and her artistic eye for photography have provided my children the opportunity to embrace the natural habitats of animals in Canton. My 7-year-old son Pierce looks forward to Today Magazine as he clips Wendy’s photos of animals to talk about with his dad. He especially enjoyed your July edition featuring Wendy and Jeff. Pierce told his dad and me that he is so proud of Wendy and asked when the next edition will be out! During these past 4-5 months, additional tools to teach young children are appreciated and seeing a familiar local resident reinforces the story and its subjects. Molly Tebecio • Canton TODAY MAGAZINE – – AUGUST 2020



This August we remember the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II — V-J Day, or Victory over Japan Day — by featuring three Farmington Valley WWII heroes. John Granby Benjamin of Simsbury, John K. Luntta of Canton and Olivin “Ollie” Michaud of Avon represent the countless Valley veterans whose bravery at such a pivotal time — as the Greatest Generation — turned the tide of history.

Michaud fought in WWII and Korean War Daughter honors her Dad’s valor as war hero

By Noelle Blake Special to Today Magazine

AUGUST 2020 MARKS the 75th anniversary of V-J Day — or Victory over Japan Day, which ended World War II. To honor those who fought bravely and sacrificed greatly, Today Magazine interviewed Simsbury resident Cynthia Crouch about her father Olivin “Ollie” Michaud, an Avon resident who died May 21 at age 90, and his WWII experience. Ollie Michaud was born in Saint Francis, Maine, and grew up alongside four brothers and two sisters. When he was old enough “he jumped at the opportunity” to enlist in the Army, according to Cynthia, serving with his four brothers — “and all volunteered.” At the remarkable age of 15 — for more, see the story on page 7 — he enlisted for WWII on July 21, 1944 and served until Sept. 2, 1945. He also served in the Korean War from 1950 until its end in ’53. During WWII, he was stationed at the U.S. Army Garrison in Ansbach, Germany and in Normandy, France. As a corporal, he led his men with fierce resolve. “My father was so proud to serve his country,” Cynthia says. “He would always say how honored he felt to serve his country.” When V-J Day was announced in August 1945, he was in Germany with 4

fellow troops outside a café — victory in Europe (V-E Day) had been achieved in May. Cynthia provides insight about her father’s service in a wide-ranging Q&A: What was your father’s reaction to winning WWII? My father reported, “It was a day like no other. People were wandering the streets celebrating, singing, screaming with joy!” When President Harry Truman announced Japan had surrendered unconditionally and the war was over, my father said he felt “liberated.” Although there were so many casualties, including several soldiers in his unit, he had a long life in front of him. What was his life like after WWII? After the war, he remembers thanking God, who led him through the war, keeping him safe and not wounded. Although he did contract tuberculosis during the war and was hospitalized, he was grateful to be alive. During the war, my father’s grandmother passed away. My father wanted to send his brother back to the U.S. [for the funeral]. However, my father’s sergeant major told my Dad that he was required to go since he was a higher-ranking officer. My father was not happy about this. While my father attended his grandmother’s funeral, word came that my father’s brother was killed. My father lived with that guilt his entire life. He blamed himself for not being there to protect him. Dad said that upon his return from the war, they were not provided with the welcome he thought they deserved after being in a war that protected the freedom we all take for granted. He referred to how Vietnam vets were treated when they returned. He said that he was just thankful to be home and to be with his family, including his other brothers who served in the war with him.


What do you think your father would say to future troops? I believe he would say: “My future troops, by joining to serve in the military, you have made one of the most important life-altering decisions anyone can make. Whether you felt a call to serve and protect your country from terrorism, want to learn a trade, need financial help for your education, or want to improve yourself, continued on page 6

Courtesy Photos


Ollie Michaud was one of five brothers who served during WWII, echoing the movie “Saving Private Ryan”

CHAIN OF COMMAND John Benjamin (standing, far right) was in charge of nine B-24 crew members. His childhood best friend, Dick Barker, was the pilot of a P-38 escort on Benjamin’s missions.

Courtesy Photo

B-24 bomber pilot received top aerial honor Benjamin didn’t seek fame: ‘It was my job, that’s all’

JOHN GRANBY BENJAMIN has been known for decades as a living legend. On June 30, the legend died at the age of 103. Yes, 103 — and no, that isn’t a typo. A World War II hero and B-24 bomber pilot, Benjamin was born on June 2, 1917 … while World War I was still raging. Benjamin received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the military’s highest honor for aerial heroism, after flying 35 combat missions from November 1944 to March 1945. Yet he told Today Publishing last year, “I don’t like any notoriety.” After the loss of his wife Betty in 2002 at the age of 85, Benjamin lived independently in Simsbury. “He was extremely uncomfortable being called a hero or talking about his experiences,” says his son Chris Benjamin, also a Simsbury resident. “Although he personally was very proud of being the commander … of his checkerboard-tail B-24, he had to be the one to initiate the conversation.” On the other hand, Chris affirms that he and his family “absolutely” see his Dad as a hero: “The fact that his crew survived 35

Photo by Connecticut Headshots — 860-593-0850

By Bruce Deckert Today Magazine Editor-in-Chief

John Benjamin was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (top medal)

ugly missions, flying a slow heavy bomber, is amazing — what’s more incredible is they’d get up every day and willingly fly those missions.” After enlisting in March 1944 and undergoing intense flight training — “Some of my classmates died,” he said — John Benjamin served in the 459th Bombardment Group in Italy. He commanded a 10-man crew and flew with six other planes. Their targets: bridges, fuel dumps, military trains and factories in Germany and Eastern Europe. When Today Publishing asked him last year if he was anxious during these perilous flights, he replied, “No — it was my job, that’s all.” Yet the danger was unmistakable: “We got hit almost every time out,” he said. “We would get out and see the holes in the plane.” Once, his B-24 — despite starting with a full tank of 2000 gallons — ran out of gas and went down behind enemy lines. Benjamin was missing in action for five days, and the family still has the Army’s MIA telegram. His discharge as a first lieutenant came on Aug. 17, 1945, about 48 hours after the war ended on V-J Day — aka Victory over Japan



More on Benjamin: • June 2019 digital edition

Betty and John Benjamin

MICHAUD — continued from page 4 you have chosen a path that will change your life forever. You will learn different skills that will help you in whatever you choose to do in life. For example, you will learn leadership skills, how to be flexible, and how to adapt to different situations. You will learn the meaning of duty, honor, respect and integrity. Regardless of the military branch you have chosen, as a two-war veteran, I am proud of all of you. Don’t forget to bring along a can-do positive attitude, follow the rules, and lead by example. May God bless you all and may God bless America.” When people learned about your father’s service, how often did they call him a hero? How did he feel about this?

Olivin “Ollie” Michaud


Courtesy Photos

My father was a true war hero. As soon as he was old enough, he jumped at the opportunity and volunteered to join the Army. He enlisted in two wars without hesitation. My father was admired for his bravery. Everyone who knew Dad considered him a war hero. He was a modest man and called all who were in the war heroes for their service to their country, especially the fallen heroes. They sacrificed their lives being on the front line and didn’t make it home to their families. He would say, “Now those were war heroes.” That is how my father was, always putting others before himself.

“We got hit almost every time out” — John Benjamin


What qualities do you appreciate most about your father? My father was the kindest, most loving father, grandfather and friend to all. I was born on his birthday and perhaps that is why we had such a special bond. As much as he loved being a father, Dad had no greater joy than being a grandfather to Arianna and Albert Innarelli. He was not only their “Pepere” (grandfather in French), but he took on this role with all their friends. He was well-known in Simsbury as Pepere. My father provided his children things that cannot be taught in school. He was wise beyond his years, and instilled values in his children to always be kind, loving and respectful regardless of how you are being treated and to pray to God daily. He also told us it was important to never forget where you came from. He touched the lives of all he met, whether family, friends or complete strangers. He never spoke a bad word about anyone, and always looked for ways to brighten other people’s days. He was known around the community as an honorable, loving and helpful man. I admire and love him beyond words. The values he instilled in me helped me to bring up two wonderful children who embrace his values. He was the patriarch of our entire family. Dad, you are my hero for all the above reasons. I am proud to call you my father. Your legacy will live on forever. +

Courtesy Photos

Day — which marks its 75th anniversary this month. “His reaction to winning the war was relief and pride in what he had done to make that happen,” Chris says, “and sadness for close friends who had died.” Born in the Bronx, John Granby Benjamin lived in West Hartford and Granby before moving to Simsbury in 2006. His middle name is a nod to his dad’s hometown. After the war, he worked for the Connecticut Department of Labor. “He never wanted to give up living life like he was 20,” Chris says. “His will to live well and on his terms was incredible. This made it very hard for all of us when the stroke he had this past February abruptly took that away from him.” In a June 2019 Today Publishing story upon the 75th anniversary of D-Day, John Benjamin said, “How much longer I have, I don’t know. Each morning when I wake up, it’s a blessing.” In June 2020, he died “peacefully” (as Chris says) at Avon Health Center. +

Pearl Harbor attack killed Canton man Luntta was first Valley serviceman to die in WWII By David K. Leff Canton Poet Laureate + Deputy Town Historian

CANTON’S JOHN K. LUNTTA, Navy seaman first class, was killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor while aboard the battleship USS Nevada. He was the first Farmington Valley service member to be killed during World War II. Luntta grew up on East Hill, where his father J. Einar Luntta, a native of Finland, was a farmer. Einar, described by the Farmington Valley Herald as “a direct-eyed, genial character,” was also a polisher in the Collins Company knife handling department and served on the Canton Board of Selectmen. John had left his Canton home shortly after enlisting in 1939, right after turning 18. His brothers Hans and Elmer were also in the Navy at Pearl Harbor during the attack. Their younger brother Eero would join the Navy at age 17 in 1943. When word came of John’s death, Einar was worried that Hans might also have been killed since he was thought to

be on the same ship. It wasn’t until late February that an anxiety-ridden Einar received a letter from Hans indicating that he was well. Elmer, who was on shore duty, also sent a letter that buoyed his father’s spirits. Einar had last seen his three older boys in August 1941, after about a fouryear absence. With his youngest son, Einar traveled John Luntta to California, where John and Hans were on leave from Pearl Harbor. On his return trip he visited Washington, where Elmer was attending military radio school. John was interred at Nuuanu Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1941. In 1947, his body was sent home for burial in the Village Cemetery in Collinsville. A military funeral was conducted by the Albert E. Johnson American Legion Post. John K. Luntta is listed among the casualties on a plaque at the National Park Service’s visitor center at Pearl Harbor. + David K. Leff is an award-winning author of 12 books, including “The Last Undiscovered Place,” which is about Collinsville — see his work at

Michaud the baby of recruits? The Riddle No sir — youngest was 12 of V-J Day By Bruce Deckert • Today Magazine

WORLD WAR II VETERAN Olivin “Ollie” Michaud enlisted in the Army at age 15 to serve in the war — younger than most. The enlistment age then was 18, but younger recruits could sign up with parental consent. Born on July 14, 1929, Michaud died May 21 at age 90. He enlisted on July 21,1944 and served until Sept. 2, 1945, and also fought in the Korean War from 1950-53. An Avon resident from 2003 until this year, Michaud served in WWII with his four brothers — echoing the classic war movie “Saving Private Ryan” — but he was far from the youngest WWII service member. That distinction belongs to Texas native Calvin Graham, who enlisted in 1942 at age 12 … true story! Yes, he was 12 (twelve). “Many young boys would lie about their ages just to enlist,” says Michaud’s daughter, Simsbury resident Cynthia Crouch. Graham joined the Navy on Aug. 15, 1942, sailed on the USS South Dakota, and was hit by Japanese shrapnel on Nov. 14 in the Battle of Guadalcanal. Despite his minor injury, he saved wounded overboard sailors — becoming the youngest Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient. Born on April 3, 1930, Graham enlisted thanks to a fake birth certificate produced via a stolen notary stamp and a forgery of his mother’s signature. Plus, he was big for his age. Graham later told a reporter that the Navy knew he and some teenage friends were underage, “but we were losing the war then, so they took six of us.” Toward the end of the Civil War, the Union War Department banned anyone under 16, a ruling that lasted through WWII. But Calvin Graham’s story is evidence that a determination to serve can circumvent such a ban. + Sources — multiple media reports and websites

World War II ended in August 1945, but the official day of the war’s conclusion comprises a riddle. The war in Europe ended on May 8, 1945 — V-E Day, or Victory in Europe Day — but the final triumph in the Pacific Theater was three months away. V-J Day — Victory over Japan Day — is celebrated on both Aug. 14 and 15. Why, you ask? The riddle’s answer can be found at the international date line. Japan surrendered on Aug. 14, 1945 … in Japan. But in the U.S., the date was Aug. 15. A further fact compounds the conundrum: Japan’s formal surrender occurred on Sept. 2, so that date is also called V-J Day. Source:




Deeds Not Words: Steady as she goes By Terri Wilson President • Avon Historical Society

WHILE 2020 has not been the year we thought it would be, the Avon Historical Society, Avon Free Public Library and Avon Senior Center are continuing their Deeds Not Words commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing the right to vote for women. It is estimated that on the day of ratification — Aug. 18, 1920 — 27 million women in the United States were enfranchised. That includes an estimated 400,000 Connecticut women. The struggle for voting rights, like many civil rights, was a long one. During our yearlong commemoration audiences have heard from authors, historians, experts in the law and others who have told many unknown stories of women who left their homes, even during the 1918 pandemic, traveling far and wide to every state in this country to carry on the long 72-year mission. Connecticut women, even those from the Valley, were some of the most admirable either pro- or anti-suffrage.

Simsbury resident Josephine Jewell Dodge was president of the National Association Opposed to Women Suffrage. Just two miles away, Antoinette Eno Wood was the leader of the Simsbury Equal Suffrage League. At her home, which is now the Simsbury 1820 House, she hosted international and national pro-suffrage events and rallies. The pro-movement women marched in parades, petitioned Congress annually, wrote letters to the editor, gave speeches wherever they could, stood silent on the White House gates, were imprisoned, and even rode their bikes (a new mode of transportation in the late 19th century) from town to town spreading the message. But in the end, not all women were given the right to vote in every state. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that all women of color and Native American women on reservations were fully enfranchised. While this current pandemic has paused in-person events, look for outstanding virtual events, including lectures that will be offered in September, at — but most

Connecticut Woman’s Suffrage Association – State Archives – Connecticut State Library


Josephine Bennett, a suffrage activist and Connecticut resident, with her daughters Frances and Katherine in Hartford (circa 1916)

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Political cooperation across the aisle By Bob Bessel Special to Today Magazine

EVEN IN ORDINARY YEARS, few experiences can prepare someone for public office. In a year of COVID, Black Lives Matter and a massive increase in unemployment, nothing prepared me for the job of First Selectman in Canton. Thankfully, I’ve had the good fortune of a cooperative Board of Selectmen, skilled staff at town hall, and Bob Skinner, a deeply experienced Chief Administrative Officer who has also served as First Selectman in Suffield. I could write volumes about the talent in town hall. But equally important is the nonpartisan spirit in Canton. In today’s hyper-political atmosphere, it may sound strange to hear that Canton Democrats and Republicans listen to one another and regularly agree on solutions for the town. But it’s true! Votes on the Canton Board of Selectmen, Finance and Education are largely unanimous — not because we don’t ask tough questions, but because we do! I would further suggest that cooperation is more the norm beyond Canton as well. Why do I say that? Because in meeting

A deadly virus, insidious racism, retail businesses struggling and unemployed citizens will not wait for every public servant to settle their political differences

In D.C., not quite, but in Canton it’s the norm

after meeting, conversation after conversation, I hear the same thing: People want solutions, not endless debate. They want their public servants to work together to implement the most effective solutions. There are good reasons for all of us to cooperate this way. A deadly virus, insidious racism, retail businesses struggling and unemployed citizens will not wait for every public servant to settle their political differences. I am proud of every citizen who reaches out and offers ideas, service, donations and encouragement. Together we are smarter, more thorough and more effective than we could ever be on a single side of the political aisle. If you believe your voice doesn’t matter, think again. If you believe that you can’t help, let me encourage you to see the magic of America in the palm of your hand. Once you see it, you will become part of the solution that we need right now to face the challenges ahead of us. You are more prepared than you know. It’s time to put your talents to the test of public service. + A longtime Canton resident, Bob Bessel was elected Canton’s First Selectman in November 2019 — before that, he served as chair of the town’s Economic Development Agency (for the record, he’s a Democrat)

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UConn Health brings COVID test A-game

Courtesy Photo

A 48-UNIT RESIDENCE in Simsbury called Ojakian Commons is home to many who are considered vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. The building opened five years ago with the goal of providing accessible, affordable supportive housing for people with disabilities who need services coordinated by the National MS Society. Since March, nurse practitioner Marina Creed and Dr. Jaime Imitola of UConn Health’s Multiple Sclerosis Center have worked with the Society’s Connecticut chapter to provide masks, groceries and other supplies to these residents, many of whom have a disability or a suppressed immune system. Based in Farmington, UConn Health has other Valley locations in Avon, Canton and Simsbury. Ojakian residents recently had access to on-site COVID-19 testing, thanks to a partnership involving UConn Health, Trinity Health and the Charter Oak Health Center, which brought its mobile medical and dental van and set up tents in the parking lot. “This is an independent living facility that could have a risk level approaching that of a traditional nursing home,” Creed says. “To stamp out COVID-19, we ... have to have accessible testing, and this is especially important as we start to open up. We’re still not entirely certain how this virus operates.” Christina Ciarcia is one of the youngest people living at Ojakian Commons. She’s 34, her diagnosis came in her late 20s, and she says there’s evidence her condition originated in her teens — a reminder of how MS can strike early. She says the pandemic has had an impact both emotionally and physically.

UConn Health nurse practitioner Marina Creed (left) and Ojakian Commons property manager Shawana Jenkins at a COVID test day.

“We’re not going anywhere,” she says. “There are no gatherings. We have to stay distant. I mean, there’s a woman in here, she hugs everybody. ... She hasn’t been able to hug anybody in months and I know it’s breaking her heart. It’s taking a huge emotional toll on us, and stress is one of the biggest problems for MS. So [the] stress of this pandemic is definitely affecting us.” Dorothy Castro, a resident who received a COVID-19 test, says she was diagnosed with MS in her late 30s, 17 years ago. Her voice helped make the on-site testing possible. “We’re more susceptible than everybody else, and I just worry about everybody here,” Castro says. “At first a lot of people weren’t wearing masks, so I just thought it would be a good idea for everyone to get tested. I am so glad and appreciative to all the doctors and administrative staff who made this testing available ... because it really gives us a peace of mind.” + Source — UConn Health • UConn Today website

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Rowe House: Prize Salmon Brook possession By Noelle Blake Special to Today Magazine

GRANBY, like all the towns in the Farmington Valley, has a rich history that dates back centuries. Salmon Brook Historical Society has been a key contributor in keeping the town’s history alive and easily accessible. Among their many antiques and documents is the Abijah Rowe House, a prize possession of the community. The Abijah Rowe House is the oldest remaining building from the original Salmon Brook Settlement of the 1700s. The house was built in 1732 and passed from generation to generation throughout several families. The original builder of the house is thought to be Nehemiah Lee, who sold the house to his son-in-law Peter Rowe in 1750. Three years later, the house was sold to Abijah Rowe, Peter’s brother. Peter and Abijah are thought to have built some of the hardware in the house, since they were both blacksmiths. Abijah Rowe died in 1812, and Elijah and Joseph Smith bought the house from his heirs in 1813. The house remained in the Smith family for nearly a century

until 1903, when it was sold to Fred M. Colton. His daughters, Mildred Colton Allison and Carolyn Colton Avery, gave the Rowe House to Salmon Brook Historical Society in 1966. The Society restored the house to its early 1800s appearance. Much of the furniture is from early Granby, gifted by Mary Edwards (Bunce Collection). Throughout the house, there are original sections of paneling and cupboards. Courtesy Photo There are also remodeling details that can be traced to the 19th century. Today, the Abijah Rowe House is an accurate example of early life in Granby. The work of Salmon Brook Historical Society is greatly appreciated in the community, as the Society ensures that the roots of Granby are present in today’s history. Volunteers play an essential role,

The Abijah Rowe House has belonged to the Salmon Brook Historical Society for 50-plus years.

with locals participating in exhibitions, research and educational planning. The Society is always looking for dynamic individuals to boost their preservation and celebration of Granby history. + Volunteer info • 860-653-9713 Source — Salmon Brook Historical Society

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TatySocks de-feeting cancer two socks at a time —————————————————

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Year Established — April 2019


Founder and President Tracy Saperstein answered this Q&A Inspiration — Tatyana Abrams was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2008. For six years, Taty endured radiation, chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and a lung transplant. She lost her battle with cancer at the age of 16. During her time at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, she developed her skills as an artist. In her memory, TatySocks was created.

Board — President Tracy Saperstein • Vice President Gary Wilcox • Trustee Deanna Abrams • Trustee Kathy Carlson Number of Employees — 0

Mission — TatySocks will raise money and awareness for innovative cancer research, so no other families will be told their child has cancer. Most fulfilling aspect of your work?

Knowing the excitement of the “Feetured Artists” and their families when their socks are released for sale.

Your biggest obstacle, and how to overcome it?

TatySocks founder Tracy Saperstein was honored at a Patriots game last season.

The hard yet important work TatySocks is doing for the community. Purchase a pair or two of TatySocks, wear them, share them, share your story and share our story. You can also donate directly to TatySocks, a nonprofit organization. If you would like to purchase some TatySocks to sell — perhaps at your business — please contact us. Be a TatySocks Supporter: For a tax-deductible donation of $600 or more, you can be a sponsor of a TatySocks original design. Most satisfying accomplishment?

TatySocks’ many “Feetured” artists, and donating thousands of dollars to innovative cancer research. TatySocks was recognized by Crown-Royal with the “That Deserves a Crown” award at a New England Patriots game last season for giving back to the community. Your goals for the next 1-5 years?

I want to give any child who has been affected by cancer the opportunity to be a TatySocks “Feetured Artist” and I’d like to donate $250,000 to innovative cancer research. TatySocks travel around the world as TatySocks supporters take pictures of their socks in famous places, using

#TatySocks on social media. #TatySocks have been spotted in Switzerland, Ireland, Greece and Israel, and at Major League Baseball games, NFL games and a scuba diving excursion. Over the next five years, I’d like to see #TatySocks travel through 50 states and seven continents. Where will your #TatySocks travel?

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WELDEN HARDWARE Your hometown hardware store serving all your seasonal needs Serving Simsbury and the Farmington Valley since 1889 10 Station St., Simsbury • 860-658-4078 •

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BUSINESS BEAT Partnership opportunities:

Community bank expands in Valley

Purchase TatySocks, wear them, share them. You can also donate directly to TatySocks, a 501c3 organization. An anecdote that provides a window into your ethos: One family of an 8-year-old “Feetured Artist” said: “This took him several sittings ... he hasn’t put this much effort into anything before. Thank you ... for giving him this opportunity. We were really proud of him for working so hard on it and being so proud of something. School has been hard for him.” Besides donations, how is your nonprofit funded? TatySocks is funded by the purchase of socks and the generosity of individual donations. Monetary donations will be used to purchase socks for children who are currently in the hospital under treatment.

Artist and cancer patient Tatyana Abrams is the inspiration for TatySocks.

What do you appreciate about this area? I have lived in Simsbury for 29 years and have loved every minute of it. Since 2015, I have run nine marathons to raise money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Every year, I host an annual Wine Tasting as a part of my fundraising efforts. With the support of our giving and caring community, I have raised over $200,000. I wouldn’t change a thing! If you would like to donate directly to Dana-Farber, please use this link: TracyRunsTokyo +

TatySocks travel around the world as TatySocks supporters take pictures of their socks in famous places, using #TatySocks on social media.


Students receiving free PCs during school shutdown

SOME HARTFORD STUDENTS attend school in the Farmington Valley through CREC’s Open Choice program, and when schools across Connecticut were forced into virtual learning by the COVID stay-at-home order, many of these students couldn’t connect online due to insufficient technology. Open Choice serves 27 school districts in Greater Hartford. All of the school systems in the five core Valley towns — Farmington, Avon, Canton, Simsbury and Granby — have Hartford students who are part of Open Choice. While some schools could accommodate students with one-to-one technology, others were unable to provide the same services. Some families had no choice but to share devices, which made distance learning a challenge. Other families had no computer at all. In order to help these families and students connect with their schools, a local company has stepped up. West Hartford-based We Care Computers is collecting donated computers, refurbishing them, and giving these devices to local families free of charge. The company has donated over 30 computers so far and is coordinating with school districts, municipalities and nonprofit organizations to get more computers to students. “I had been told by many people throughout the community that there was a shortage of computers for remote learners because of COVID-19,” says Avi Smith-Rapaport, owner of We 860-836-4191• Care Computers. +

NORTHWEST Community Bank has added a branch in the Farmington Valley. Headquartered in Winsted since 1860, the bank’s new location in Simsbury joins other branches in Avon, Granby, New Hartford and Torrington. The Simsbury branch is situated at 741 Hopmeadow Street. The ATM opened July 1 and office renovations are scheduled to be completed for a grand opening in September. “Though we have not had a physical location in Simsbury, we have been serving Simsbury customers and community organizations for years,” says Northwest President and CEO Stephen Reilly. “We saw the need — and the opportunity — to move in to provide local community bank advantages.” Northwest Community Bank is a mutually owned, state-chartered institution. “The new location is between the bank’s branches in Avon and Granby, where the bank has been for more than 40 years,” Reilly says. “We believe in relationship banking with our commercial and individual customers, and community involvement is a tradition and core value of our bank. We already feel at home in Simsbury.” Lindsay West, a 23-year Northwest veteran, is the manager of the new Simsbury branch. She has been an assistant manager in Granby for the past five years. +

Practices in Care Change … Our Priorities Don’t

Safety, comfort, and responsiveness have always been the hallmarks of care and service at both of our facilities. We don’t take anything for granted. Today our experience enables us to sustain the high quality care these ever-changing conditions require. We provide personalized post-acute and transitional care, traditional long-term care, dementia, hospice, and respite care services. Let us tell you more. Family owned and operated

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New website boosts Black-owned businesses Two pandemics impact such companies, and aims to counter both

Sarah Thompson Special to Today Magazine

Avon resident Sarah Thompson is the founder of

Courtesy Photos

TWO PANDEMICS have compounded to create enormous challenges for Black-owned businesses in Connecticut: COVID-19 and racism. While COVID-19 has forced many small businesses to close their doors, the pandemic has been much more devastating for Black-owned businesses. According to a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, 440,000 Black-owned businesses (41% of preCOVID numbers) across the U.S. have had to close — many permanently — as opposed to 17% of white-owned businesses. And for many years, Black businesses have disproportionately been turned down for business loans — too often as a result of discrimination — which in turn makes the uphill climb of establishing and flourishing even steeper. According to a 2019 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 38% of Black-owned businesses did not receive any of the funding they applied

Katonya Hughey is a co-owner of Your CBD Store in Simsbury ... is an effort to challenge structural racism

for, compared with 33% of Latinoowned businesses, 24% of Asian-owned businesses and 20% of white-owned businesses. When a glimmer of hope appeared with the possibility of PPP loans for small businesses, Black-owned businesses also faced large hurdles to secure those, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute. While regulations exist to fight discrimination in lending — like the federal Community Reinvestment Act — their effectiveness has been mediocre at best. A new website — — is providing an opportunity for the entire community to step up and elevate local Black-owned businesses in an effort to challenge structural racism and transform the legacy of economic and social inequity in the United States. The website lists 700 businesses from 70 towns and cities across Connecticut (at press time) and those numbers are expected to keep growing. A Black-owned business list is not a novel idea, but the volunteer-team

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CALENDAR Event info is accurate to our knowledge — but be sure to confirm

Canton Main St. Farmers Market Canton Town Hall – parking lot Sundays thru 11/1 – 10 am-1 pm Fresh produce, many vendors Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center events Sat-Sun 8/1-8/2 – CT Volley Tourn. Sat 8/29 – Darius Rucker Sat 8/31 - Mainly Marathon Fri-Sat 9/11-9/12 – Septemberfest Sunday 9/27 – Try Simsbury Saturday 10/3 – River Run Wood Sign Workshops Simsbury Board & Brush

Our digital edition is posted well before the month begins Get an early peek at the Calendar – 860-392-8567 Friday Workshops 8/14 • 8/21 – 6:30-9:30 pm Saturday Workshops 8/8 • 8/15 • 8/29 – 6-9 pm Sunday Workshops 8/2 • 8/15 • 8/23 • 8/30 – 1-4 pm Simsbury Art Trail Various Simsbury locations Thru 9/29 Classic Seward Johnson sculptures Sponsor — Simsbury Chamber Free Fitness Classes for Kids! Access online at home Mondays – 4:45 pm Free •

behind is going beyond a high-quality, user-friendly database of businesses to also provide professional photography, videography, editorial, digital marketing and business development support — all at no cost to the businesses and with nothing expected in return. The idea of buying from Black-owned businesses tends to gain more attention and momentum around racial injustices like the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others. Yet it’s imperative that our communities not only step up to support these businesses, but to simultaneously tackle the larger issues that put these businesses at a disadvantage in the first place, like institutional racism.

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Beginner Pilates Thursdays – 6-7 pm Intermediate Pilates Mon 9-10 am – Wed 8:30-9:30 am • Magna Physical Therapy, Avon • Virtual access during COVID-19 Register — 860-679-0430 Granby & Simsbury Chambers Golf Tournament Hop Meadow CC, Simsbury Tuesday 9/1 Register — 350 Day — Septemberfest Simsbury Saturday 9/12 Tickets:

Heritage Day Simsbury Historical Society Saturday 9/26 Free • Revolutionary War actors+ Gifts of Love Charity Golf Tournament Golf Club of Avon Tuesday 10/13 – 10 am Seeking sponsors • 676-2323 Celebration Gala The Riverview, Simsbury Friday 11/13 50th Reunion: Simsbury High ’70 • Postponed – new date TBD Info:

Now, more than ever, let’s unify to ensure that all people in our local area and beyond have equal opportunity to flourish their businesses. To search for Connecticut Black-owned businesses by town or category, to view featured businesses, or to submit a business for listing, visit + Facebook: Instagram:

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NESTING INSTINCT With twig in beak, a house wren builds a nest in a Canton backyard.

Photo by Wendy Rosenberg

Today Magazine receives SPJ awards TODAY MAGAZINE has received two further journalism awards in 2020 from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ Connecticut Chapter). • First Place — Local Reporting For a cover story on volunteer fire departments • Third Place — Education Story For a cover story on the Martin Luther King memorial Today Magazine editor-in-chief Bruce Deckert wrote both cover stories. A five-time SPJ award-winner, Deckert has worked in the media realm since 1996, including 17 years as an editor for and a productive run as a newspaper editor and reporter in Connecticut. His first journalism job was with the former Imprint Newspapers group, which produced weekly papers for most Valley towns and other towns in Greater Hartford. Deckert has been a resident of Simsbury since 1995. Born in Newark, N.J., he was raised in Bloomfield and Plainfield ... to clarify, the Bloomfield and Plainfield in New Jersey, not their namesakes in Connecticut. His first news job: Star-Ledger paperboy. He graduated from Gordon College (Wenham, Mass.) and Plainfield (N.J.) High School. His other three SPJ awards: • First Place — Op-Ed Writing (1996) Column on landmark Sheff-O’Neill court case • Second Place — Page 1 Design (1998) • Third Place — Arts & Entertainment Feature (2019) Cover story on Collinsville artist Jim DeCesare


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