Today Magazine • September 2022

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SEPTEMBER 2022 • WWW.TODAYPUBLISHING.NET TODAY Covering the Heart of the Farmington Valley WAR ON A DISTANT SHORE A Different World War II Story

SEPTEMBER 2022 – – TODAY MAGAZINE CALENDAR CLICK for TODAY ONLINE CALENDAREmail GROWTHnewsroom@TodayPublishing.netEventsSPURTObservethestagesof a monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis in a Canton backyard — after drying off, it climbed onto the stick at right and then fluttered away Photos————————————————byWendyRosenberg

• Editor’s Note — The brief editorial note after the following letter was abbreviated in our previous edition and thus inadvertently became unclear … here is the original note: CONGRATULATIONS on your awards — I’m glad I could help bring attention to both the river AND the quality of your publication! — Rick Warters • Simsbury Rick’s photo of a bald eagle taking flight graced and fueled an award-winning cover story layout featuring the Farmington River Watershed Association LETTERS POLICY Brief letters to the editor are welcome: 100-150 words. We may edit for style and space considerations. Provide your full name, hometown, email address and phone number — the phone and email won’t be published, unless you request this for promotional purposes.

Thank you for sharing the wonderful article on land conservation to boost local ecology. It is an environmentally enriching experience to live in the Farmington Valley area, and certainly people and organizations that make it the way it is need to be celebrated. Looking forward to many more interesting reads in the future. Many congratulations also on the amazing achievement of your awards! I hope Today Magazine receives many more in the years to come. Your encouragement and support to young writers is noteworthy.

— Sana Syed • Simsbury CONGRATULATIONS on the SPJ awards that you received! It’s always nice to see that your hard work is appreciated. Great job! — Rick Hersom • Manager • Club Pilates Avon

Today Magazine’s August cover story featured the five Farmington Valley land trusts and their work conserving and preserving the Valley’s open space — CLICK HERE for the story


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CONTENTS COVER ACCENTSTORYONEDUCATORS QUOTE OF THE MONTH VETERAN NOTEWORTHYVOICESNONPROFITS BY THE NUMBERS Today Magazine • Covering the Heart of the Farmington Valley Bruce William Deckert — Publisher + Editor-in-Chief 860-988-1910 •>DigitalEditions • Award-Winning Today Online • 24/7 news — 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 Follow Today Magazine CT on social media > LEADING OFF 4 — From A Far Shore When World War II began, an Italian Navy man was on the side of the infamous Axis powers — but then he became a prisoner and enemy of Nazi Germany 6 — A Distant WWII Story This Italian WWII veteran explains in riveting detail how he abruptly changed sides during such a pivotal war 13 — Community CARE Canton Advocates for Responsible Expansion — aka CARE — encourages wise commercial development 17 — Special Educator Eileen O’Neil found her calling in special education before finishing her career as a key administrator “Germany didn’t recognize us as prisoners of war but as internees [so] they didn’t have to treat us according to the Geneva convention rules” Months in Nazi captivity — 20

World War II: Taking Sides


TODAY MAGAZINE has reported WWII stories of local veterans who served America with valor, but this edition represents the first time we’retelling a veteran’s story that begins on the other side of the war. Yes, the veteran featured in our cover story this month began WWII fighting against the Allies. This begs a question: How could it be justifiable to side with the notorious Axis powers during a conflict that — perhaps more than any other U.S. war — so clearly epitomizes good vs. evil? On the one hand, the preceding query appears to be an eminently fair question. On the other hand, this query could counterintuitively reveal ignorance (at best) or delusion (at worst) — a misconception regarding the complexities of nations and the human condition and one’s own human nature. Is it possible to follow the best wisdom and make the best decisions available vis-à-vis the conflicts we inevitably face in this good-and-evil world where all humans dwell? Let’s hope so — BWD

By Bruce Deckert Editor-in-Chief • Today Magazine

• Corrie ten Boom and her poignant account — “The Hiding Place” — about saving hundreds of Jewish people and then surviving the Ravensbruck camp, yet her father and sister died in captivity.

• Plus American citizens in internment prison camps on U.S. soil where over 100,000 JapaneseAmericans were forcibly detained in evident disregard of the U.S. Constitution.

6 — Exclusive Q&A with

12 — Diego Mozzanica: Life Timeline


The difference between the German internment camps and concentration camps was significant, of course.Internment camps were intended to provide slave labor for the Nazi war machine, while concentration camps were designed to be death camps to carry out Adolf Hitler’s insidious and horrific “final solution” — the mass murder of all Jewish people.

• POWs in the European and Pacific theaters of war.


Diego Mozzanica’s World War II story begins in Italy and ends in an internment prison camp in Germany. After the war, he returned to Italy for a decade before coming to America and becoming a U.S.Mozzanicacitizen. was born in 1924 in Lecco, Italy, near Lake Como. In March 1942, at the age of 17, he enlisted in the Italian Navy — at the same time that thousands of American teenagers were enlisting in the U.S. military to likewise support their nation. Mozzanica explains that from a young age he and other Italian youth were indoctrinated to believe the Fascist Party provided the best answer for the in Venice as a Navy radio telegraphist, he eventually was stationed in Split, Yugoslavia in June 1943. Three short months later — on September 8, 1943 — Italy surrendered to the Allies, setting in motion Mozzanica’s journey to an internment prison camp in Nazi Germany.

• Elie Weisel and his harrowing memoir —“Night”— about surviving the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, although his parents perished before the camps were liberated.

• Untold multitudes — whose names aren’t as wellknown — who either were annihilated among the 6 million Jews and millions of others, or who became Holocaust survivors testifying as firsthand witnesses about one of the darkest chapters in human history.

After WWII, Diego Mozzanica was stationed on this Italian Navy ship, the Duca Degli Abruzzi — among many others Courtesy Photos

When Italy surrendered in September 1943, some members of the Italian military were given a choice: join Nazi Germany and fight against the Allies for the rest of the war, or become prisoners. For Mozzanica and most of his Navy comrades, the decision was simple — they refused to align with the Nazis and “A



PAGE Diego


Welcome to a different kind of World War II story — Today Magazine has reported WWII accounts of local U.S. veterans, but this is the first time we’re reporting a veteran’s story that begins on the other side of the war

THE UNITED STATES entered World War II in December 1941, joining the Allies to vanquish the twin global threats of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan — yet there was a third primary nation among the infamous Axis powers: Fascist Italy.

+++ Prisoner stories connected to World War II are as countless as the sand on the seashore and the stars in the sky:


effectively became prisoners of war in internment camps. Via the apparent threat of death, they were coerced into forced labor that supported the German war effort.Other Italian troops who surrendered to their recent German partners met another fate. For example, according to, the Nazis killed over 6600 Italian soldiers on the Greek island of Cephalonia just west of mainland Greece. +++ History and human nature are surely convoluted terrain — perhaps comparable to Mount Everest trail maps. Indeed, history contains complexities and inequities that mirror the complexity and incomprehensible inequity found in the humanThreecondition.WWIIexamples:

Lydia and her husband Peter Tedone have been Simsbury residents for 35 years. In 1997, a decade after they moved to town in ’87, Lydia Tedone joined the

• Over 1 million black Americans served their country in the U.S. military during World War II — but after battling valiantly on foreign soil, many returned home to a Jim Crow South that legalized racial segregation and essentially denied the freedom they had fought to defend.

• U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt is revered by many for his leadership before and during WWII, yet some criticize his inaction regarding the Holocaust — among these critics was Wiesel, as documented in a groundbreaking book published by Simsbury-based Mandel Vilar Press, “Elie Wiesel: An Extraordinary Life and Legacy.”

V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day) occurred on May 8, 1945. But Mozzanica had to wait at the Allies camp until October 1945, when he was finally able to return to Italy.

• Japan’s shell-shocking attack on Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, ushered the United States into World War II — and in August 1945, America’s shell-shocking atomic attacks on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki effectively ended the war, yet these dual A-bomb decisions are debated to thisday.

+++ When WWII ended in Europe in May 1945, Mozzanica and his fellow prisoners were freed from the internment camps — but the first three days after their release were marked by chaos and uncertainty because the Allies hadn’t arrived yet, although their prison gates were left open by the retreating Nazis. For two days the men moved carefully by daylight, laying low in fields to avoid the thousands of fleeing Nazi soldiers, and then climbed trees at night to evade detection — as well as possible recapture and death. Mozzanica and his just-freed comrades tied themselves in those trees with their belts for two nights so they wouldn’t fall down in case they fell asleep — for further details, see Today Magazine’s exclusive Q&A with Mozzanica.

On the third day, they encountered the advancing Allies and a U.S. convoy took them to a camp near Cologne, Germany, where thousands of freed POWs from different nations were given food and lodging. However, the repatriation process — that is, the return of these former POWs to their home countries — took months.

Diego Mozzanica+++ At age 17 in 1942 and on his 98th birthday in June 2022


+++ In January 1956, a 31-year-old Diego requested and was granted a discharge from the Italian Navy, and he and Gloria settled in Hartford, where she was born. He became a became a U.S. citizen in 1957 and later trained to become a licensed tradesman in multiple disciplines.

Diego and Gloria have two daughters — Lydia was born in 1957, Christine in 1960. In the spring of 1965, the Mozzanica family moved to Bloomfield, to a neighborhood just off a picturesque country road near Penwood State Park. Diego and Gloria live in the same home to this day, almost six decades later.

V-J Day (Victory over Japan Day) is officially celebrated in the United States on September 2, the day in 1945 when Japan formally signed the surrender agreement, although the surrender was announced in the U.S. on August 14, 1945. So this September marks the 77th anniversary of V-JInDay.January 1946, Mozzanica reenlisted in the Italian Navy and served for another 10 years. In the summer of 1952, he traveled to the United States for 10 months of NATO-connected Naval radar training in Tennessee. While in the U.S., he visited his mother’s best friend and her family for two weeks at Christmastime in Hartford, CT — and on this sojourn Mozzanica met Gloria, the daughter of his mother’s friend. He returned to Italy in April 1953, while maintaining a longdistance relationship with Gloria. After this, she also visited him in Italy — their friendship blossomed into courtship and culminated in their marriage in July 1955. Yes, they celebrated their 67th anniversary this year.

Diego Mozzanica offered an exclusive in-person interview to Today Magazine editor-in-chief Bruce Deckert — this is the transcript, with thanks to Diego and his wife Gloria and their daughters Lydia and Christine ENLISTS IN NAVY Today Magazine: Tell us about your early life. Diego Mozzanica: I was born in 1924 in northern Italy to a working-class family. I went to school until age 14, but because of economics I had no chance to continue — only the children of the wealthy could think about education.

If you find these potentially convoluted questions confusing, welcome to the club, and welcome to the life and WWII times of Diego Mozzanica — and every other soul who endured the human horror and experienced the human heroism of World War II. +

• Our exclusive interview with Diego Mozzanica begins on this page

Today: How did you find yourself fighting in World War II — were you drafted or did you enlist?

Today Publishing stories about local WWII veterans have appeared in our monthly magazines of June 2019, August 2020, January 2021 and April 2021

Today: So you were the first line of communication? Diego: Those of us in the radio stations received this order and transmitted this news, by Morse code, to our commanders.

Diego: Not immediately. We were gathered with other military divisions, all receiving the same news. We remained in the harbor, thinking that Italy or the Americans would bring ships and transport us back to Italy. But there were no ships and we had no weapons because we were ordered to drop our weapons. Thousands of us waited for orders from Rome, but nothing came — there was no communication from Rome.

Peter Tedone retired as chairman and CEO of Windsor-based Vantis Life Insurance Company in 2019. He currently serves on the boards of multinational insurance and investment firms and several nonprofit organizations, including the Simsbury Volunteer Ambulance Association — and he served as a volunteer EMT for over 30 years.

POW Story: Italian Veteran Tells Riveting Tale

Today: What happened next? VOICES

CAPTURED Today: When you surrendered, did you become prisoners of war?

Diego: I volunteered at the age of 17 in March 1942 in Italy. Since I was young I was indoctrinated under Mussolini, and as a teenager while war was beginning in Italy, I thought that if I volunteered we could win the war and I could end up in America. The Fascist Party indoctrinated the people to believe that they were the greatest. • Editor’s Note — Benito Mussolini was the Italian prime minister from 1922-43 and the first of 20th-century Europe’s fascist dictators, according to Today: So you enlisted. Diego: I enlisted in the Navy. Today: Was there a boot camp for training? Diego: Yes, I was sent to Venice for boot camp and then schooled as a radio telegraphist through the spring of 1943. I turned 19 on June 1st. I was then supposed to be assigned as a radio telegraphist in Trapani, Sicily. I never got there — I traveled by train, but the British were bombing the railroads and I couldn’t proceed to Sicily.

Meanwhile, Christine and her husband Lars Carlsten live in Charlotte, N.C.


On the 8th of September 1943, Italy surrendered to the Allies and the Americans arrived in Sicily. I was still in Split, in Yugoslavia. News arrived to our telegraph station at 6:40 pm that Italy surrendered to the Allies. My immediate chief and I received the news to surrender and then the station went dead — no way to communicate. Our first authority was our captain. He called the crew together and we, hundreds of us sailors, got together on land off the ship to decide what to do. We sat down for quite some time, hours, until night and waited.

So I was stopped in Naples, Italy, where I received orders to go to the port of Split on the coast of the Adriatic Sea — Split was then in Yugoslavia and today is in Croatia. I ended up at an Italian military base training in a radio station learning how to transmit signals. Eventually, I was stationed on a boat in the port.

Diego Mozzanica’s Italy Medal Of Honor and War Merit Cross Special to Today Magazine

+++ The enemy of my enemy is my friend. So says an ancient proverb. What about the friend of my enemy who becomes the prisoner of my enemy— is he my friend, or does he remain my enemy?What about the ally of my enemy who becomes the POW of my enemy and soon becomes the ally of my nation’s military — isn’t he my friend? What about the prisoner of my enemy who becomes a citizen of my country — he is surely my friend, right?

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

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Today: So from September 8, 1943 until the end of the war in May 1945, you were in this internment camp? Diego: Yes — 20 months. Germany didn’t recognize us as prisoners of war but as internees, which means they didn’t have to treat us according to the Geneva convention rules. They treated us as pure manpower to operate whatever they needed done. They didn’t kill us, because that wasn’t convenient for the Germans — they needed the manpower to maintain the function of the war. Some internees were sent to coal mines, or as cleanup crews lifting concrete from bombings, clearing the roads — others, like me, were sent to factories to help with manufacturing war material like bombs, ammunition. There were 55 of us, Italians, sent to this internment camp within a small-caliber mortar bomb factory and foundry.

My job was making the hole to add the explosive, another was putting items in the tumbler.

Today: Let’s circle back for a minute — you were an internee prisoner, and you were describing the different places the German war machine had you working.

Diego: We had two meals a day. Enough

Diego: In the middle of the night, the Yugoslavian Communist partisans appeared in their trucks and tried to persuade us to join them and fight against Germany. Our captain told us to refuse and wait, but several military men disobeyed him and chose to join the partisans and fight against Germany. We were confused, because at first we were with Germany and now we were asked to be against them.

I worked instead after the rough bomb casings were made and needed polishing, drilling and packing. It was repetitive hard work for all of us. Women from the town did the packaging and labeling. The whole little town was employed by this factory and was made up mostly of women because the men were at war. The dirty, heavy manpower was supplied by us.

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Eventually thousands of us ended up in German territory outside of Cologne and we started our life under German control. We were sent to an internment camp.

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I never was in the foundry smelting area.

Today: What were the conditions like — did you have a break for lunch?

I was in the other processing parts of the mortar bomb factory assembly line.


Diego: Yes, we were confined there. We slept and ate there. For about 10 hours a day we worked making casings for small bombs from scrap metal which would arrive by train. This had to be manually unloaded along with coal. I never worked at the foundry, but the men who worked there were always covered in black soot.

You said there were factories, coal mines, some people cleaning debris. So from September 1943 you were working in that factory or foundry?

The partisans left and a short while later a German tank arrived at the harbor. Its turret was pointed at us, and through a speaker and in perfect Italian language they said, “Italians, you have lost the war and you should join us” — and eventually be incorporated into the German military. My direct lieutenant said, “No — we are to remain here.” Soon after that, a second German tank arrived followed by trucks with armed German soldiers. This time orders were given to stand up, line up and march. So my journey started. We walked about two days through Yugoslavia, and then on trucks or box-car trains loaded up like sardines — we had no idea where we were going and we had no other instruction whatsoever.

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Today: How long did this trek go on — did you eat in those two days?

Diego: It was just before my 21st birthday. And yes, we were very concerned about oncoming fire. But we kept moving toward the sound of guns and tanks, realizing this was the German military fleeing from the Allies heading west. We broke up into small groups, each on their own. I, being the youngest, stayed close to four other older more experienced men uniting us by our Milanese dialect. I don’t know what happened to the other freed Weprisoners.sawGerman tanks and armed foot soldiers going the opposite direction, so we laid low in the fields and were careful moving during the day. At night, when there was still the rumbling of the tank traffic, we hid by climbing the trees to get some type of rest, but we barely slept. We tied ourselves in the trees with our belts so we wouldn’t fall out, and we watched Germans moving below. They probably didn’t care that we were hiding — but there were thousands of them and we didn’t want to risk being shot.

Diego: We were on the move for two days and in the trees for two nights. We didn’t think of food because we were just trying to survive. On the third day we noticed a pause from the traffic of the German Wemilitary.waited and heard another sound, a distinct sound different from the German tanks. We realized this must be from the

Today: What did they feed you — what kind of food did they give you?

Diego: We were lucky — by having a foundry, we had coal and coal means heat. In our barracks we kept cauldrons of water on a coal fire pit. We always had warmth and hot water to clean with, especially from the anthracite coal dust. There were two German guards watching us and making sure there were 55 of us every morning.

Today: How did you communicate with the guards if they were speaking German? There were two guards, but they didn’t interfere with you?

Diego: From a big pot, usually some grainy, mealy stuff and a few vegetables — very little meat, just enough to keep us alive so we could work. We ate and slept in a two-story type of barracks at the factory. We slept on a wood cot with a hay mattress. Today: Any showers?

Diego: They were just a barrier for us. These were wounded German soldiers now assigned as guards. One with a false leg and the other had something wrong with his arm — they knew we were calm, obedient and followed directions. After a year, one of the guards actually talked to us, by sign language at first, but I was able to secure a pencil and a little paper and we wrote phonetic words to learn each other’s language a bit.

We, the 55 of us, decided to move toward the direction of the rumbling tanks from the east, figuring it was the Americans coming toward us.

Today: Were you concerned that you may be hit by oncoming fire from the Allies — and how old were you at this point?

TODAY MAGAZINE – – SEPTEMBER 2022 9 Diego and Gloria in Rome in 1953 to keep us alive and working. It was convenient to feed us because they needed us.

SET FREE Today: How were you set free? Diego: When the Germans surrendered in May 1945, we found ourselves one morning with the gate that contained us wide open and no trace of the two German soldiers guarding us. We understood the war was over because some townspeople told us. So what to do?

Diego: After the war, my hometown was impoverished — no jobs, there was nothing for a young man to do and I was another mouth to feed for my family. I stayed home for a couple of months with no opportunities in sight so I presented myself to the authorities, told my story and asked to rejoin the Italian Navy and sign up for life as a career Navy man. This was around Christmas 1945. I received my papers to welcome me back into the military in the same rank and uniform in early 1946. The Italian Navy had to regroup as they were seriously damaged — the old Navy didn’t exist anymore. It was a Navy under reconstruction with the assistance of the Allies.

Today: So when you saw the Americans, how were you able to communicate with them?

Diego: Yes, he said, “Raise your hands, stay on the side of the road and keep going.” We walked a couple more miles and saw an empty truck later in the convoy that was arriving to pick us up. The first soldier must have called back to say that they encountered Italian prisoners and to pick us up.

Today: What did you do after you returned home?

Today: So you rejoined in early 1946 — how long were you in the military then before you came to the United States?

Diego: They took us to a huge empty space — it may have been some sort of a religious monastery, close to Cologne, and they unloaded us there. Day and night thousands of freed POWs of different nationalities arrived to this camp. We were all very hungry. The Americans fed us, but cleaned us first — thousands of us lined up in a processing line. We got sprayed with DDT to decontaminate us and they issued some clothing. We were interrogated by the Americans. They wanted to know what we knew and what happened to us — wanted to know how we were treated, if we were civilians or military people.

American tanks — they were coming on the same route that the Germans left. As we saw the arrival of the American military tanks and trucks, some men, more courageous than me, came down out of the trees or from the brush and approached the tanks in the middle of the road, so I joined too — with our hands up.

Diego: With luck, when we saw the American tanks, we walked forward to an approaching tank that stopped and we shouted out that we were Italians. The first person we saw from the tank replied back in a Sicilian-American accent and we knew we were safe! He asked where the Germans were and we told him they passed several hours ago. He wanted to know if there were snipers, or mines that they might encounter — and we told him no, that the Germans also fled, we saw them retreating. The American convoy did not stop, but this soldier’s last words to us in his Italian dialect was, “Keep going” — so we kept walking as they passed by.

Today: So they didn’t take you in, you kept on foot?

RETURNS TO ITALY Today: When did you get to go back to your home in Italy?

Diego: In October of 1945 — remember, since July 1945 the Americans were repatriating freed prisoners back to their countries, right to their town by bus, truck or train. Older men with families were the first to get to leave. Young, single men were last, and so I was one of the last to leave. I finally was able to reach Milan, near my hometown, by October 1945.

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Today: Where did they take you?

Diego and Gloria Julymarriedwerein1955

I still remain in contact with the National Association of the Italian Navy. They meet every year in Italy.


Diego: For the next 10 years — I was in the service and assigned to different naval bases or ports in Italy from January 1946 until January 1st, 1956. I made a career out of it as a radio telegraphist, dealing with Morse code. I became Chief Petty Officer. In the summer of 1952, however, in an exchange program through NATO and the United States, I was sent to Millington U.S. Navy school based in Memphis, Tennessee, for 10 months to be trained in radar. There were students from other nationalities — French, Spanish, Brazilian, all learning about radar. We were trained in radar so that we could bring this knowledge back to the Italian military, which was now part of NATO. It was during this trip that I took two weeks off at Christmas 1952 and traveled to Hartford, Connecticut, to see my mother’s best friend and her family. That’s the first time I saw her daughter, Gloria, and she would become my wife!

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Diego: Yes, I did. I knew I would marry her. She came to visit me in Italy in 1953. We wrote letters and continued our communication until we got married on July 7, 1955. A year later, I asked for a discharge from the military so I could pursue my life in America — and the rest is history. We lived in Hartford, where my wife was born. I learned English, became a licensed electrician and plumber, and earned a living. We moved to Bloomfield in 1965 with our two daughters, Lydia and Christine. We still live in the same house, Gloria and I at age 98 — I do get around, a little slower than before. I communicate with my family in Italy and my Navy association on my iPad.

Today: After 10 months in Tennessee, you went back to Italy and kept a long-distance relationship with Gloria?

The photo of the ship I gave you, Duca Degli Abruzzi, was a postwar cruiser ship, in 1950. This was just one I was stationed on every several months. I FaceTime my children and grandchildren every day. + For a timeline of Diego Mozzanica’s life, see the next page

• Early elementary school: Catholic school — finishes at 8th-grade level at age 14 March 1942 — Enlists in Italian Navy at age 17 — goes to Venice for boot camp, trains as radio telegraphist June 1943 — Sent to Sicily at age 19, but never gets there — redirects to Split, Yugoslavia, via Naples September 8, 1943 — Italy surrenders to Allies — Diego and many others head to German internment camp May 8, 1945 — V-E Day: Allies declare Victory in Europe May 25, 1945 — Diego, at age 20, treks to freedom after 20 months as prisoner — transported to Allies camp for repatriation August 14-15, 1945 — Surrender of Japan is announced — the date discrepancy is due to the difference in the international date line between the United States and Japan September 2, 1945 — V-J Day: Allies declare Victory over Japan — V-J Day is officially celebrated in the U.S. on this date when surrender documents were signed October 1945 — Diego returns to Italy at age 21 January 1946 — Re-enlists in Navy Summer 1952 — Goes to Tennessee for Naval training with NATO December 1952 — Diego meets Gloria in Hartford, CT while visiting friends of family April 1953 — Returns to Italy, keeps communication with Gloria July 7, 1955 — Diego and Gloria marry — married for 67 years so far January 1956 — Diego, at age 31, asks for discharge from Italian Navy so he can move to America — settles in Hartford 1957 — Becomes U.S. citizen — learns English, later becomes licensed HVAC repairman and licensed plumber 1957 — Lydia is born 1960 — Christine is born Spring 1965 — At age 41, Diego and Gloria move to Bloomfield with their two little girls — he and Gloria still live in Bloomfield + Gloria and Diego celebrate their 64th anniversary in 2019 Mozzanica Timeline Diego with his youngestandAngelinamotherhis sister Anna, born in 1943

June 1, 1924 — Diego Mozzanica is born in Lecco, Italy, near Lake Como

• Oldest of four children

• Siblings — sisters Lydia (born 1928) and Anna (1943), brother Luciano (1938)


• That preserving land as open space is an economic win.


Agency Aims to Safeguard Valley’s Character

• That development isn’t always a new building going up, but more often revitalizing what you already have — e.g., the Collins Axe Factory.

Successfully educating residents and town leaders about the importance of smart growth measures — that they are economically advantageous AND preserve rather than destroy the things you love about your town. We suggested the town organize a series of community meetings, called charettes, to seek public input from all facets of the community, including residents and business owners.

From that dialogue, the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission adopted form-based codes that are designed to streamline redevelopment and development approvals so they reflect the consensus expressed from the public.

Your biggest obstacle, and how you overcome it?

TODAY MAGAZINE – – SEPTEMBER 2022 13 Emergency Service 24/7 SEPTIC CLEANINGS * INSTALLATIONS & REPAIRS * PUMP CHAMBERS VIDEO INSPECTIONS * SEWER CONNECTIONS * EXCAVATION & DRAINAGE Chris & Bryan 1983 (860) 243-3500 Ask your neighbors about us!  Family Owned & Operated Since 1983  Professional & Knowledgeable  Fully Licensed & Insured CT License #HIC0559131 www.ChristopherBryantCompany.comProudMemberof Magna Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Center LLC Sports Medicine | Orthopedics | Dance Medicine | Pilates Neurological Care | Post Operative Care | Personal Training Vestibular Care | Massage Therapy | Dry Needling Book Your Appointment 860.679.0430Today!AVON • www.magnapt.comCANTON CELEBRATING 15 YEARS For over 45 years, we’ve provided a safe and caring environment for residents to maintain an optimal quality of life! D Alzheimer’s & dementia care D Hospice and palliative care D Physician & nursing services D Therapeutic recreation D Short-term rehabilitation D Long-term care D Post-acute & transitional care D Respite care SKILLED NURSING & REHABILITATION CENTERS FAMILY OWNED AND OPERATED Patient-Centered Care ALWAYS OUR TOP PRIORITY 652 West Avon Road, Avon 860-673-2521 130 Loomis Drive, West Hartford 860-521-8700 Special to Today Magazine President Jane Latus answered this Q&A on behalf of ———————————————————C.A.R.E. Canton Advocates for Responsible Expansion C.A.R.E. P.O. Box 196 • Canton (860) collinsvillefarmersmarket@gmail.comEmail:712-2514Facebook—@CareCantonCT

Suspicion that we were anti-development. We spoke out in favor of development applications that were suitable for Canton.

• That sacrificing the characteristics that make your town unique and appealing is an economic loss.

Anecdote that illustrates how you fulfill your mission: Most recently, when we learned of a developer’s plan to blast traprock ridge six days a week over a two-year period in an area where most residents relied on well water, we mobilized to alert residents

For those applications that we opposed, we explained why they would be costly mistakes. Also, our directors and board members are from all geographic parts of town, so it is clear that the only “backyard” we are concerned with is the greater one, the entire town. Most satisfying accomplishment?

• That there has been a sea change in public understanding of economic development and land use — most people now understand that land is finite, so make the most of it.

Showing CARE by Seeking Wise Biz Decisions

Mission — To encourage responsible economic development in Canton, while protecting its character, identity and quality of life. Year Established — 2000 Slogan: C.A.R.E. — it’s your town, too Most fulfilling aspect of your work?

Can we name another? Founding the Collinsville Farmers Market.

175,000 — Number of cubic yards of earth that would have been moved to turn the steep hill into a flat building pad. 85 — How high that pile of earth would be (measured in feet) if it were spread over an NFL football field including both end zones.

• Work with elected officials to improve the state regulations regarding quarrying and mining.

Big box retail is, at best, a zero-sum economic deal for towns. Allowing drastic reconfiguration of the land, especially for a loser of a project, is a dangerous precedent. Fortunately, the big box chain backed out due to the cost of building on this unsuitable lot. We hope land use officials will never again make such a mistake.


The triangular area marked by the blue lines is the larger traprock ridge on Route 44 at Canton’s eastern gateway — to the right is the complex with Best Buy and the Hoffman car dealerships

• Continuous improvement in the training of land use officials and educating the public about how the local planning and land use decision-making process works in Connecticut.

Editor’s Note — This potential Canton project was for a Lowe’s Home Improvement center on a 24-acre site next to the West Simsbury-based Valley Car Wash on Route 44 near the tri-town convergence of Canton, Avon and Simsbury. Goals for the next 1-5 years?

The smaller rock — although it looks sizable, and got everyone’s attention — was just a “tiny” ledge in comparison. And it was mostly in the DOT (Department of Transportation) right of way, so they made the decision. The new owner of the former La Trattoria restaurant site wanted to be more visible. Well, the site sure is, for better or (definitely) worse.

• Cleanup of the J. Swift Chemical Superfund site.

• The circled area at the left shows where the relatively small rock ledge was located in front of the former La Trattoria restaurant — that ledge was demolished earlier this year continued on page 16

By the way, the larger traprock ridge isn’t preserved yet, as the developer still owns it, so we’re waiting to see what he does next.


Courtesy Photos

of three towns affected by this plan. The developer wanted to export nearly 140,000 cubic yards of traprock from the signature rock at the gateway to Canton. We hired experts to provide sciencebased testimony, researched what the town’s Zoning Regulations and Plan of Conservation and Development had to say about such plans, and educated citizens from Canton, Simsbury and Avon about the potential impact such a development would have and how they could respectfully express their concerns. This large traprock ridge is just to the east of, and not to be confused with, the relatively small rock ledge in front of the former La Trattoria restaurant that was destroyed earlier this year — see the accompanying photos for clear visuals.

Interesting stats + numbers: 60 — Height of a retaining wall (measured in feet) that the Canton Zoning Commission approved in 2008. 147,000 — Square footage of a big-box home improvement store that would have been located under that wall.

Editor’s Note — In June 2021, Canton’s Planning & Zoning Commission rejected the developer’s original plan for a 20-dispenser gas station, electric vehicle showroom and convenience store on Route 44 next to the West Simsburybased Hoffman car dealerships and West Simsbury-based Best Buy.

TODAY MAGAZINE – – SEPTEMBER 2022 15 880 Hopmeadow St. Simsbury, CT 06070 (860) 658 7613 The Vincent Family caring for yours for over a Century, since 1902 120 Albany Turnpike Canton, CT 06019 (860) 693 0251 We offer complete cremation services at FARMINGTON VALLEY CREMATORY The only on-site crematory in the Farmington Valley ◆ SALVAGERIDGE This large traprock ridge at the eastern gateway of Canton, just north of Route 44, has been saved ... for now • Directly to the west of this ridge — that is, to the left, but not pictured in this photo — is the site of the former La Trattoria restaurant


This feature first appeared in Today Online, our 24/7 news site

Number of employees — We are all volunteers.

Earlier this year, the relatively small rock ledge in front of the former La Trattoria restaurant — on the easternmost section of Route 44 in Canton — was reduced to rubble and hauled off CLICK HERE to see our Today Online version of this story

Volunteers — Our volunteers include attorneys, environmental professionals, scientists, professional planners, social media pros, writers, historians, architects, door-to-door canvassers and more.

Board officers: • Jane Latus • president • Donna Burkhardt • secretary • Alan Weiner • treasurer Board members — 10


If you care about your town, you can help. Besides donations, how is your work funded? We are completely supported by donations, with the exception of a small state historic preservation grant in 2009. How closely do you work with other agencies? We regularly collaborate with many area nonprofits. What do you appreciate most about the Farmington Valley? Its one-of-a-kind character! Its people, beauty, the Farmington River, outdoor recreational opportunities, land trusts, historical buildings, rare traprock ridges, farms, locally owned businesses, history, great schools and actively engaged citizens. How can anyone pick just one of those as the best? What constructive change would you like to see in the Valley? Greater regional economic development and land use planning, and statewide reforms that reduce reliance on local property tax.

Eileen O’Neil donned her official robe as an administrator one last time — at the Avon High School graduation ceremony in June — before retiring, aka riding into the proverbial sunset Courtesy Photos

Her most recent role for the Avon Public Schools was as the district’s family and student services coordinator during the 2021-22 school year. After spending two decades working in Valley school systems, O’Neil officially left education behind and

For the next four years, she worked in Charlotte, N.C., taking on teaching and supervisory roles in the Behaviorally/ Emotionally Handicapped (BEH) Program at Myers Park High School and Providence High School before heading back to New England. She first came to Connecticut in 1996, continuing her career in special education at Dwight Elementary School in Hartford and then at South Windsor High School.


O’Neil displays an essential trait for educators — the ability to never stop learning. She gained her doctorate in education in 2017 from CCSU. In 2014 O’Neil became an integral member of the Avon school system, being appointed to the intense administrative role of assistant principal at Avon High School and continuing in that role for seven years until 2021. She helped see the school through the turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic, working with other administrators to guide the school system through the difficulties and extreme changes faced during this time.

“Access to education has become easier for many because of technology, and those with learning challenges can really benefit from technology — the challenge is balance” — Eileen O’Neil

O’Neil Was Asst. Principal at AHS, Led Special Ed at SHS

By Chloe Kieper Special to Today Magazine

FOR 40 YEARS, Dr. Eileen F. O’Neil made it her professional objective to be “an effective, equity-driven educational instructionalEducatorsleader.”oftenfind themselves in a range of diverse roles throughout their careers — O’Neil is no exception, having taken on job positions ranging from assistant principal to department coordinator to special education teacher, working with a range of ages and responsibilities. 62 years young, O’Neil was an assistant principal at Avon High School from 2014-21 and a special education teacher and department coordinator at Simsbury High School from 2000-2014, working with thousands of Farmington Valley students in these roles.

O’Neil started her career with a focus on special education after gaining her certification in the field from BU, beginning as a special education teacher for grades 7-8 in her hometown of Dracut in 1981. O’Neil taught at Dracut Junior High School from 1981-92 before moving to North Carolina in 1992.

O’Neil began her tenure at Simsbury High School in 2000. After moving to Connecticut, she gained her master’s degree in education from Central Connecticut State University in 2002.


A Simsbury resident, O’Neil originally hails from Dracut, Mass., and is a graduate of Dracut High School. She stayed in Massachusetts throughout her college career, gaining her bachelor’s degree in education from Boston University in 1981.

Career Educator Rides Into Sunset After 4 Decades

18 SEPTEMBER 2022 – – TODAY MAGAZINE headed into retirement in the summer of 2022. In an exclusive interview with Today Magazine, O’Neil reflects on her experiences in education and her life as a resident of the Valley: Why did you decide to become an educator — in other words, what motivated you to go into education?

Thededication.wordsfocused on my work with students directly and my daily morning routine of opening the gym so students who arrived early would have a spot to

When a student is proud of their work and their success, it is the best part. It’s our goal, of course, but frequently a student will assign their own success to the skill of the teacher. While that is clearly a big part, we must acknowledge a student’s agency over their own outcomes.

I simply nodded in the affirmative and he said, “Okay, let’s go, you will be fine.” And I was.

I think we need to do a better job of teaching students some skills that will help them mediate the good and the bad of social media. Helping them learn to limit time spent and to recognize when some influences are unhealthy is clearly a need, and we should continue to focus on that and how to help parents support their children in the home with the same issues.

The greatest obstacle students face today, and how we can help them overcome it: The challenge I see as the most impactful for good and for bad is social media.

Your take on the smartphone revolution and its impact on education: Well, I don’t blame it for as many issues as many seem to, and I do like technology for so many reasons. Access to education has become easier for many because of technology, and those with learning challenges can really benefit from technology. The challenge is balance.

You must like students as much if not more than your subject matter. Students are why we are there and they need to be our center. Yes, curriculum is important and we must do a good job with that, but students are at the center of our work.

I worked as a child-care counselor in a residential treatment facility prior to graduating from BU with my degree in education. That experience had a profound impact on me. I was “too young” to be employed there when they hired me. They normally only took college grads, but I had a work-study grant that allowed them to hire me with no cost to them. It was the most formative experience of my preservice life and truly impacted my decision to become a teacher of students with special needs. Your favorite teachers from your school days?

Mr. Peter Quirk: He was my chemistry teacher and also the advisor for the Key Club. I was president of that club, a service organization, and Mr. Quirk was very supportive and had high standards for all of us. My other favorite teacher was our music director. He was amazing and directed the school musical in which I also participated. His name was Maurice Pepin and he was loved by one and all.

I will never forget the first time I was on the stage getting ready to sing in one of the musicals and the terror was Mr.overwhelming.Pepinlooked up from the pit where he would be directing and said, “You’d rather be dancing in the background, wouldn’t you” — referring to the part I had taken the year before as well as my many years of Irish step dancing.

Recently retired educator Eileen O’Neil and her cat Berlin

Most fulfilling aspect of your work in education?

Anecdote offering a snapshot of your work in education: At the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year, I was surprised when the yearbook was presented to me and the page for the dedication was revealed. The yearbook was dedicated to me. I could not have been more surprised to see the two-page

It never got easier to walk on a stage to sing, but I remembered his faith in me and it was okay. Most essential attributes for an educator?

I also take advantage of all the great places to walk.


Favorite TV shows:

Favorite books: The Harry Potter series — yes, I will admit that!

Personally, I love the access to walking trails and the very “green” nature of the area. What constructive change would you like to see in the Valley?

Family: I live in Simsbury with my amazingly adorable cat Berlin, who was a rescue cat from Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where my elder son and his fiancée currently live. I also have a younger son and his husband, my son-inlaw, who live in a neighboring town. + Writer Chloe Kieper is a senior at Avon High School challenge I see as the most impactful for good and for bad is social media”

I would love to see a wider variety of housing options that might encourage and support a more diverse population for the Valley. I do believe that diversity enhances all. Favorite spots in the Valley — restaurants, recreation, et al: I’m a big fan of Millwright’s Restaurant and their summer spot for tacos: TA-Que.

Eileen O’Neil’s rescue cat Berlin

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play a game of basketball or hang with a few friends and have some social time before the day started. I was an assistant principal then — who most associate with school discipline — so having the book dedicated to me was truly a wonderful surprise. What do you appreciate most about the Farmington Valley?

I’m a fan of the reality series “The Great British Baking Show” in large part because I love to cook and bake. I also watch lots of crime shows like NCIS and CSI, and I attribute that to my education and focus on behavior overall in my academic studies.

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