Today Magazine • September 2019

Page 1




After Vietnam Duty, Doctor Finds Calling In Attacking ALCOHOLISM


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Fighting the Good Fight


Dr. Victor Hesselbrock of Canton is a Vietnam veteran and the director of UConn’s Alcohol Research Center, which has introduced innovative treatments. BUSINESS BEAT

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ALCOHOLISM HAS BEEN an urgent societal issue for generations. If you, a friend or a loved one has struggled with alcohol, I encourage you to read Today Magazine’s September cover story (see page 4). Hope might be closer than you realize, thanks to the significant efforts of several local residents who serve at the Alcohol Research Center of UConn’s School of Medicine. Dr. Victor Hesselbrock of Canton, a Vietnam veteran, has been the center’s director since 1978 — leading the way to breakthrough treatments and medications for alcoholism. Two other Canton residents and a Simsbury resident also work on the center’s staff. The Alcohol Research Center has received unprecedented federal grants that have funded its work for 40-plus years. Most similar programs run their course in 10-15 years. Plus, visit our brand-new news platform, Today Magazine Online: Thank you to those who have offered ongoing kudos for our efforts. + Bruce Deckert — Publisher + Editor-in-Chief 860-988-1910 • Today Magazine — Avon • Canton • Simsbury – Digital Edition on website Facebook — @TodayPublishingCT LinkedIn — search: Today Publishing Advertising — Contact the publisher News Deadline —1st day of month for next month’s issue Editorial Associate — Kayla Tyson


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Congratulations on this new magazine, and now that it’s combined into one I will enjoy it that much more! And thank you for allowing the Avon Historical Society to have a column each month. The rich heritage that is our Farmington Valley has so many terrific stories to share and it’s a perfect vehicle for sharing with others. We can learn from each other and feel part of this wonderful community. Keep up the good work! Terri Wilson, President • Avon Historical Society I am very honored to have been included in the July edition of Today Magazine! As you can imagine, it was not easy stepping down from the school I founded 45 years ago, but I am focused on my next endeavor as stated in the article. I am incredibly impressed by all you are doing and will be standing along the sidelines cheering for you! Mary Lou Cobb • Simsbury

Correction — The July article listed an incorrect email for Mary Lou. The correct email for contacting her about consulting services is

A HUGE thank you for your amazing work on the [July] edition of your magazine! I LOVED seeing Lauren Armstrong’s and Justin DeFina’s pieces, and I am so grateful to you for shining a light on Mary Lou Cobb. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Maureen C. Scudder, Northwest Catholic HS • West Hartford

Today Magazine Online — Contributing Writers — Vincenzo Frosolone, Nora O. Howard, David Leff, Dennis Marolda, Sally Summa Photographer — Seshu, Connecticut Headshots • 860-593-0850 • Contributing Photographer — Wendy Rosenberg • 860-305-1655 Cover Photo — Victor Hesselbrock • by Connecticut Headshots

QUOTE OF THE MONTH “I encourage people who struggle with alcohol to reach out and connect with programs that can help — to seek out treatment, whether inpatient or outpatient. If folks reach out, they can get help.” — Dr. Victor Hesselbrock

BY THE NUMBERS $249 BILLION Alcohol misuse cost $249 billion in the United States in 2010

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Dr. Victor Hesselbrock landed the grant that started UConn’s historic Alcohol Research Center. The casualties of alcoholism include 88,000 deaths annually. Photo by Connecticut Headshots • 860-593-0850

After serving in Vietnam, doctor combats alcoholism By Bruce Deckert Today Magazine Editor-in-Chief


AFTER SERVING in the Vietnam War, where he saw combat duty as a sergeant in the U.S. Army, Victor Hesselbrock went to graduate school. In 1977 he earned his doctorate, and in 1978 — a decade after he was drafted — he pursued another type of combat: the fight against alcoholism. A Canton resident, Dr. Hesselbrock came to UConn in ’78 to direct the fledgling Alcohol Research Center at UConn’s School of Medicine, which had begun earlier that year. Today, Hesselbrock remains the center’s director. He is also the senior associate dean for research at the School of Medicine and vice chairman (and professor) for the Department of Psychiatry. “Being able to conduct productive research on such an important public health problem is tremendously fulfilling,” Hesselbrock says. “Without a doubt, the work of the UConn Alcohol Research Center has made a real difference in many lives directly and indirectly affected by alcoholism.” Hesselbrock was drafted after graduating from Texas Christian University in 1968, and he served all of ’69 in Vietnam. He notes that alcohol and drug abuse can be an issue in the military. “There were a number of younger guys in my squad who did drugs, who drank more than they should have,” says Hesselbrock, 73, who was 22 when he was conscripted.

Asked if he has watched any Vietnam movies, he said no — and he has little interest in doing so. “There’s no way that Hollywood can capture the sights, sounds and smells of combat,” he says. “Combat is as chaotic as can be imagined.” The sights, sounds and smells of alcohol abuse are sadly familiar to alcoholics and their families. Accordingly, Hesselbrock and his team have dedicated their careers to combating a scourge that exacts a painful toll on individuals and society. Statistics from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on alcohol use disorder illustrate the toll in stark detail. While alcoholism is the typical societal term for problem drinking, alcohol use disorder is a diagnosis used by medical professionals for the more severe form. In 2015, 6.2% of American adults had the disorder, per the NIH. A logical caveat: The percentage of problem drinkers in the U.S. is higher than this number — perhaps much higher — because few alcoholics seek treatment. Among those afflicted by the disorder, only 6.7 percent sought and received treatment in 2015. The life-and-death impact is staggering: About 88,000 people have died from alcohol-related causes annually in recent years, which means alcohol abuse is the third-leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., per the NIH. (The first is tobacco use, the



“There’s no way that Hollywood can capture the sights, sounds and smells of combat.” — Dr. Victor Hesselbrock

second is physical inactivity/poor diet — and all three issues frequently occur together, says Hesselbrock.) In 2014, 31 percent of driving fatalities were alcoholrelated. Then there’s the economic impact: In 2010, alcohol misuse cost the U.S. $249 billion. These sobering stats point to a national tragedy that Hesselbrock and his

The grant trail is as follows: The National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has a subagency called the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The NIAAA is “the lead federal agency for research on alcohol and health and the largest funder of alcohol research in the

accomplishment as “programmatic research on the genetic, behavioral and social determinants of alcohol dependence, and the effectiveness of behavioral and pharmacological treatments on recovery.” Covault, 64, is the medical director of UConn Health’s Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic and the principal investigator for

“Being able to conduct productive research on such an important public health problem is tremendously fulfilling.” — Dr. Victor Hesselbrock colleagues have confronted head-on … with the urgency of an intervention. Among his team of about 10, Hesselbrock works with two fellow Canton residents — Dr. Tom Babor and Dr. Howard Tennen — and a Simsbury resident, Dr. Jonathan Covault. Hesselbrock lived in Avon from 1979-98, moving to Canton in ’98.


The significance of their work is magnified by the unprecedented NIH grants that have funded the work of the Alcohol Research Center for 40-plus years. The first grant was awarded in 1978. In five-year increments, the grant has been renewed ever since — most recently in June, to the tune of $7.5 million — for a longevity that is unparalleled nationally. Hesselbrock notes that he was hired to kick-start the initial grant. “I was thinking at best we would be one-and-done,” he told the UConn Today website — in other words, one five-year grant would be the life span of the Alcohol Research Center. What would he have said in ’78 if someone told him the grant would be ongoing for four decades and the center would still exist in 2019? “You’re absolutely out of your mind,” he told UConn Today. Such centers usually have a life cycle of 10-15 years, officials say.

world,” per the NIH website. Reduced to organizational alphabet soup, the grant technically is traced to HHS, moves to NIH, continues through NIAAA, and ends up with ARC — UConn’s Alcohol Research Center. Got it? “The center has made a number of major contributions to our understanding, identification and treatment of alcoholism,” says Hesselbrock, who has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Research Society on Alcoholism. “One area of significant achievement is the contribution to clinical care — identifying new medications such as naltrexone and acamprosate, and improved behavioral interventions: brief interventions, cognitive behavioral interventions, improved 12-step interventions.” Babor, a professor of community medicine and public health at UConn’s School of Medicine, began his tenure at the Alcohol Research Center in 1982 … the same year he moved to Canton. Born in New York City, Babor says the most fulfilling aspect of his work is “the pursuit of knowledge about addiction using the scientific method in a work environment that values research as a critical need for the improvement of public health.” Babor, who turns 75 on Sept. 12, identifies the center’s most essential

an Alcohol Research Center project that is examining novel medication for treatment of alcohol use disorder. He expects a new study to begin enrolling subjects in October. The most fulfilling part of his work? “Meeting with patients and working with our clinical research team to help patients reduce or stop drinking,” he says. Born and raised in Iowa, Covault moved to Simsbury in 2009. He says the center’s most notable achievement is its “history of involvement in development of medication and psychotherapy treatments for alcohol use problems, including naltrexone and topiramate, which are [now] among the most recommended medical treatments.” Tennen declined to be interviewed.


The center’s other major contributions, Hesselbrock says, include a greater understanding of alcoholism across the life span — “including identifying the initiation and development of drinking behavior, its genetic bases, improving diagnostic procedures and criteria, and understanding the different consequences of heavy drinking at different developmental stages.” To get an up-close view of the intriguing history of the genetics of alcoholism, simply hold a mirror up to

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DRIVING RESEARCH Director Victor Hesselbrock (right) speaks to colleagues in the Alcohol Research Center’s electrophysiology lab in 1985. About one in three driving deaths in 2014 was related to alcohol. Courtesy Photo

UConn’s Alcohol Research Center. “When we started … we weren’t so sure there were genes for alcoholism,” Hesselbrock told UConn Today. “We were absolutely wrong. We started off doing an early DNA profiling technique, which is something high school kids do now, but it was highly technical in 1988. Now we’re doing whole genome sequencing.” Covault observes that the genetics of alcoholism is more complex than originally imagined: “What’s been learned is there are no major-effect genes for alcoholism — or depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia,” Covault told UConn Today. “In all these diseases, the genetic contribution results from many genes, each making a small contribution to the individual’s risk.” Hesselbrock notes that the recurring grants have made it possible to exceed the initial scope of the project, telling UConn Today, “We started taking blood so we could take DNA. … When we started off, we were going to do 600 patients and their families. We now have 2,300 family pedigrees containing over 17,500 people. We’re now able to study four generations of affected families.”

“Michie has been an important collaborator of mine and contributor to my work and the work of the center since we first came to UConn,” Victor Hesselbrock says. “Since leaving the Alcohol Research Center in 1985, she has maintained a collaboration with the ARC and continued with the ARC, mentoring students, publishing papers, and presenting her work at national and international conferences.” His own prominence in alcohol research is evident: Hesselbrock has been a member of more than two dozen committees and other organizations that are national or international in scope, including at least five times in a chairman’s role. And his scientific renown took root in what is perhaps an unlikely place: small-town America. Born and raised in Ohio, he spent his childhood in Collinsville. Yes, you read that correctly: Collinsville … in Ohio, not

the Collinsville that is the thriving hub of Canton, Connecticut. In Hesselbrock’s early teens, his family moved to Cleburne, Texas, a small town less than two hours south of a tiny town called Collinsville. Later, he lived in the vicinity of Collinsville, Illinois. “I’ve never left Collinsville,” says Hesselbrock with a smile.


By the way, his younger brother David also served during the Vietnam War — as a cryptographer in Ethiopia in 1969-70, supporting the war effort via encrypted communications. “He had a top-secret clearance,” Victor Hesselbrock says. “He never could tell me what he did support.” Hesselbrock’s favorite spots in Canton include the Farmington River Trail and Canton Land Trust properties. Regarding restaurants, he observes, “For a small town, Canton has a nice variety of places



As for Hesselbrock’s closest family, his wife was foundational in the early days of the Alcohol Research Center. Dr. Michie Hesselbrock was recruited together with her husband to join the center in 1978. They worked side by side, building the program from the ground up, until she left UConn in 1985 for Southern Connecticut State University’s School of Social Work. After five years at SCSU, she returned to UConn — taking a position at the School of Social Work, where she developed and directed the Ph.D. program. She retired in 2007. 6

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to eat, such as the Crown & Hammer and Saybrook Fish House … Canton is a wonderful place to live.” “I love being in a small town,” Hesselbrock affirms. “I love a small-town community. You get to know people by name. … I have a new neighbor whose truck had a flat tire and he was looking for a trolley jack. I said, ‘I happen to have a trolley jack.’” Exactly the neighborly welcome you’d expect in small-town America.


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Meanwhile, back at the UConn ranch, the NIAAA grant provides for an intricate and far-reaching operation — funding research staff, equipment, pilot studies (of 6-12 months and five years), infrastructure for others’ alcohol work, consultant speakers, an administrator whose expertise is applying for additional grants, and training for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, residents and more. UConn Health pitches in by providing labs and offices. Given the stats cited earlier, how many Alcohol Research Center staff members in the 40-year history of the program would you expect to be affected directly by alcoholism? Quite a few, right? In a plot twist that defies the odds, only one center staff member — in the early years — was a recovering alcoholic, according to Hesselbrock. No other staff member since, he says, has been directly affected by alcoholism, either personally or via an immediate family member. Such a remarkable statistic is fitting for a remarkable program that has done so much to help those who have been hit hard by alcoholism. “I encourage people who struggle with alcohol to reach out and connect with programs that can help — to seek out treatment, whether inpatient or outpatient,” Hesselbrock says. “If folks reach out, they can get help.” + Resources:

Bodytalk’s employees (L-to-R): Erica Maglieri, Gayle Arcouette, Lisa Zwolensky, Terry Couture and Anna Mancinone • Kathleen Hicks and Rebecca Pope not present IN ORDER TO LEARN the language of fashion, Bodytalk needs to be a key part of your vocabulary. So say numerous local shoppers — and many of them spoke out and voted Bodytalk, a contemporary women’s clothing boutique, as the Best Women’s Clothing Store in the Best of Harford Magazine 2019 Readers’ Poll. Bodytalk has graced the Avon retail landscape for more than three decades. Owner Marsha Davidson established the store in 1985 — yes, the 35th anniversary is beckoning — and was joined by her husband Noel in 1993. Marsha has since retired, though she remains involved in the Bodytalk enterprise, and Noel manages the day-today operation.

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To say that he’s had a successful career in retail is a classic understatement. Noel started his vocational journey in 1963 and retired from the corporate world in ’92. Early in his career he was an assistant store manager at Casual Corner, a retail clothing chain. He rose through the ranks, becoming president in 1975, and Casual Corner grew from a small chain of seven stores to 850 locations. Beginning in 1982, Noel opened or acquired four more retail companies — Ups ’N Downs, Petite Sophisticate, Caren Charles and August Max Woman — bringing the total number of stores under his leadership to over 1,800. The stores continued on page 14

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Avon HS intern program jump-starts careers Students appreciate opportunity for greater clarity, focus By Vincenzo Frosolone Special to Today Magazine

EMMA VOLO IS A SENIOR at Avon High School, while Jackson Chard is a 2019 graduate. What do they have in common? Both have been members of the AHS Internship Program, coordinated by Liz Brisco and Alexandra Pascale. The students spoke with Today Magazine about their experiences with the program, which began in the 2014-15 school year. Emma seized her opportunity to intern at Farmington’s Star Meadow Animal Clinic and learn about being a veterinarian. She finished her internship this past spring, and she hopes to work there in the future. Jackson interned the summer of 2018 at Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense in Simsbury to learn about being an

Jackson says that “getting to see an engineering workplace firsthand” is an unattainable experience in typical high school classes.

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electrical engineer, got hired part-time, and continued to work there this summer. Emma, who has wanted to be a veterinarian since her childhood, says she valued her “hands-on experience at such a young age” and her “meaningful experience” at the clinic, which elucidated her career options. She was glad for the opportunity because there are “a limited amount of vet schools in the country,” she says. She first heard of this opportunity from a friend who is a year older. Emma said that initially the internship “was a bit awkward,” but she always “maintained a positive attitude” and offered her support often. Emma wants to let aspiring interns know that “an internship and a select focus can help you solidify your focus.” Jackson’s father is an industrial engineer, and Jackson has known for a long time that he “loves making stuff.” However, he “was leaning toward a different discipline” before Brisco contacted his engineering teacher, inspiring Jackson to talk to her about his options. Shortly afterward, he started his internship at EnsignBickford, where he got to “work [with] a team collaboratively.” This cemented his choice to switch his major at UConn to electrical engineering. Jackson says that “getting to see an engineering workplace firsthand” is an unattainable experience in typical high school classes. He highly recommends that “as many kids as possible pursue an internship — it’s a really great system.” +


Avon Congregational Church marks 200 years Celebrating two centuries of faith and service

By Nora O. Howard Avon Historical Society

Said Pastor Chris Solimene, “This welcoming faith family has been engaged in making a positive difference for generations and is poised and readying itself to continue a mission of compassion and care for generations to come. “We are a community who takes seriously our commitment to being a church of open hearts with open doors for all, and we invite young and old to explore their relationship with God alongside us.” Upcoming events at the Avon Congregational Church include the regular monthly First Friday Community dinners (Oct. 4 and Nov. 1 at 5:30 p.m.), a lantern light tour of East Avon Cemetery (Oct. 25-26), a Tea and Pop Up Christmas Shop (Nov. 16) and the Joys of Christmas Community Dinner (Dec. 13-14). The church, at 6 West Main Street, is open to all. Sunday services are at 10 a.m. + Church contact info: 860-678-0488 • Pastor Chris Solimene:


Photo by Nora O. Howard

ON SEPT. 29, 2019, the Avon Congregational Church will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the first worship service in its meetinghouse. For this occasion two centuries in the making, the church is cordially inviting the public to an anniversary worship service with the Hot Cat Jazz Band (10 a.m.) followed by a barbecue (11:30 a.m.). Please RSVP if possible for the barbecue (860678-0488) to help the church know how many to expect. The 1819 meetinghouse, on the National Register of Historic Places, has been repainted. A book about the history of the Avon Congregational Church (founded in 1819) and the West Avon Congregational Church (founded in 1818) — both marking the 200th anniversary of their meetinghouses — will be on sale at the Avon Free Pubic Library on Sept. 28 from 11 a.m. to 1. p.m., with a program and book signing by co-authors Marjorie Bender, Jean Parker and Nora Howard.

A worker paints the Avon Congregational Church in preparation for its 200th anniversary.


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Missing person mystery perplexed residents 100 years ago, Collins Co. employee vanished amid fears of arrest David K. Leff Canton Deputy Town Historian

In September 1916, citizens of Canton learned the fate of John Burns, a most curious missing person who may have died of a broken heart. Described as a widower, about 5-foot-4 with close-cropped gray hair and a thick mustache, he was born in England and arrived in Collinsville in 1907 at about age 50. He found employment as a patternmaker for the Collins Company, where he was considered “an expert workman” although “peculiar” and “somewhat eccentric in his views,” said the Hartford Courant. He owned a farm west of Canton Center, where he hired L. E. Warner to work the land and boarded with the Warner family. Just before Christmas 1915, he told his boss he was ill and needed a few days away. He left suddenly without telling Warner, who usually transported him to work. Burns returned home a week later, remaining until Jan. 17 when he had Warner bring him to

He was considered “an expert workman” although “peculiar” and “somewhat eccentric.” New Hartford, saying he’d take a train. He never returned. Before the end of January, rumors swept Collinsville that Burns had been found dead, was in New York or back in England. Generally a “reliable citizen,” Burns exhibited some strange behavior before his departure. He asked Deputy Sheriff A. H. Cushing if there was a warrant for his arrest, although he was unaware of any incident that would cause a complaint. A few days later Burns told the town clerk that he feared arrest and that someone was trying to take his farm. Burns emptied his Canton Trust Company account of $800 before he left. He abandoned his mortgage-free farm worth about $4,000, though it was well-stocked with equipment, tools and animals. A brother-in-law from New York and the patternmakers’ union of Hartford made inquiries to no avail. A Brooklyn doctor who had once treated Burns didn’t know his whereabouts. The Canton Trust Company was appointed trustee of his estate in April. Not until a September telegraph message to the bank from a New Jersey hospital was Burns found. Burns had gone to Hoboken, where he once lived, and took up residence at the American Hotel. He “had apparently enjoyed life at the hotel, and nothing peculiar was noticed about him,” the Courant reported. He stayed there until the day before he died of kidney trouble on Sept. 8, when he was taken to a nearby hospital on foot. A bankbook in his pocket led authorities to Collinsville. All anyone in Hoboken knew about him was “that his wife had died ten years ago and he did not care whether he lived or not.” He was buried next to his love in Evergreen Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y. +


Collinsville music scene is vibrant, varied By Dennis Marolda Special to Today Magazine

IT’S NO SECRET that Collinsville is a cool place to hang out. In the summer you will find hundreds of people on the bike paths and the Farmington River, or in the vibrant center of town. But did you know that Collinsville is a hot spot for art and music? Every Friday evening musicians from far and wide gather for the open mic at LaSalle Market. You can participate or just enjoy music performed by folks of all ages and experience levels. One local resident, Mark Barca, got back into music by becoming a regular. He was then asked to perform with several local bands. If you are a budding musician, Mark advises you to give the Friday night open mic a whirl: “You might just find yourself in a new local band.” LaSalle also hosts a Give Back concert one Saturday per month when bands or solo artists perform to benefit the community. Another favorite venue is Lisa’s Crown & Hammer, which features live local music on Fridays and Saturdays, and occasionally on Thursdays and Sundays. There is also an open mic on Tuesday evenings. Musicians

love to perform at the Crown because it is so intimate and people often literally dance in the aisles. Owner Lisa Maurer feels that the music scene in Collinsville is so inclusive: “It’s like a big family!” After a car crashed into the Crown and it was closed for repairs, local musicians had an all-day benefit to help out the employees who were out of work. Lisa said that $7000 was raised! The Grindstone Tavern (formerly Wilson’s Pub) hosts area musicians on Thursdays through Saturdays. This is another intimate venue where you get up close and personal with the artists. 41 Bridge Street, or Bridge Street Live, brings in national and regional acts, but you can occasionally see local groups or soloists as well. On site you will also find the Green Door Restaurant, with a lovely deck overlooking the Farmington River. This is an ideal spot for acoustic music and great food. Collinsville resident and solo performer Bill Benson has been seen at all of the local venues and some special events held in the community, such as Collinsville Hot, an annual summer event that has featured all types of artists — from fire dancers to


magicians to live music on two stages. Bill also reconnected with his passion for music at the LaSalle open mic. He went on to create a cable-access show on Nutmeg TV called Porch Time with Bill Benson. Next to LaSalle, on Main Street in Collinsville, is a stage we refer to as the slab that is used extensively in the summer, especially on Friday evenings. At the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market, held on Main Street, there is more fine local talent. The Canton Historical Museum across the way also organizes events — including live music, such as the popular Oktoberfest. Collinsville Congregational Church offers concerts occasionally as well. Downright Music, located in one of the former axe factory buildings, has a shop and music school. Students are regularly given the opportunity to perform in town, fostering the next generation of musicians. If you love live music performed by friends and neighbors, you don’t have to go far or wait long. And it all happens in an area about the size of a football field: Collinsville! + Dennis Marolda resides in Collinsville.

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HISTORICAL RECORDS show that scarecrows were used by the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians more than 2500 years ago to protect farmers’ fields from birds and other animals. Back then, as is true today, scarecrows were built to resemble a man with outstretched arms, dressed in discarded clothing. They still are used today in the fall to keep animals from eating crops before they can be harvested. Every year, the Simsbury Historical Society honors the scarecrow tradition by holding one of the most delightful events in the Farmington Valley: a scarecrow building party. The event happens every September on the beautiful historical society campus located in the center of Simsbury at 800 Hopmeadow Street. This year’s happening will be Saturday, Sept. 21 (rain date, Sept. 22) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. We expect hundreds of scarecrows to be built by Farmington Valley residents to grace businesses and homes in the Valley. This is a familyfriendly event designed to be a fun time for adults and children. It’s when grandparents and their grandchildren, teenagers, young married couples, couples with children and best buddies get lost in the fun of using their imagination and creating their own art as they dress their scarecrows. Last year over 250 scarecrows were built. Here’s how it works: Upon arrival at the SHS grounds, you purchase a scarecrow frame for $15 (additional frames are $10). The frames are wooden structures with a jug-style head. With scarecrow frame in hand, you will find stations on the SHS lawn. Some stations supply an assortment of clothing for your scarecrow, while others have accessories such as hats, wigs, jewelry, scarves, neckties, etc. Dig in and find your scarecrow dressing supplies. Then, once you have finished dressing your scarecrow, bring him to the face-making station, where you will find markers to create your scarecrow’s face. When you have finished your creation, proceed to the stuffing station, where you will find piles of straw for rounding out your scarecrow. Then all you have to do is bring your creation home to enjoy. Happy autumn from the Simsbury Historical Society. +

SIMSBURY TODAY SPOTLIGHT ON THE ARTS Mission Roses 36” x 48” oil on canvas Simsbury artist Catherine M. Elliott TODAY MAGAZINE – – SEPTEMBER 2019


BODYTALK — continued from page 11

collectively did $1.3 billion in business (in a fiscal year). The parent company for these retail brands was the United States Shoe Corporation. Bodytalk began by selling only aerobic clothing, and then added jeans, tops and children’s dancewear. Since then, Bodytalk has become a fullfledged women’s boutique with a stunning variety of styles. “We offer clothing that you can’t find at the mall or department stores or online,” Noel says. Before Marsha opened Bodytalk, she was a home economics teacher and had also worked in real estate. “She didn’t know retail,” says Noel, who grew up in the Bronx. “She didn’t know anything about managing a specialty store, so I helped — but she is a fast learner.” Noel and Marsha, who grew up in Cranston, R.I., have been residents of Avon since 1983. Noel says the longevity of his staff has been a major factor in Bodytalk’s success. The boutique has four full-time employees: Gayle Arcouette (25 years), Anna Mancinone (22), Terry Couture (21) and Lisa Zwolensky (10). Three part-timers complete the team: Kathleen Hicks, Erica Maglieri and Rebecca Pope. Terry is the store manager and Anna is


Year Established — 1985 860-678-7855 Owners — Marsha and Noel Davidson 51 East Main Street • Avon the buying manager. “I do the schlep work,” Noel quips — although, reflecting on his presidential tenure with U.S. Shoe, he also confesses: “I love being the big shot.” But this big shot knows how to delegate. Terry says, “Noel told me, ‘You’re the boss — you can do whatever you want.’” Noel clarifies with this quip: “Occasionally she checks in with me.”

Marsha and Noel Davidson

continued on back cover

BONELLI EYE CARE Celebrating 45 Years of Serving Canton and the Farmington Valley with Comprehensive Family Eye Care

CHARLES BONELLI, O.D. and CHRISTOPHER BONELLI, O.D. A Father-Son Team Dedicated to Your Optimal Eye Health Eye Disease Treatment • Fashion Eye Wear • Contact Lenses Canton Village • 220 Albany Turnpike (Route 44) • Canton, CT

860-693-2289 • 14


One of the most satisfying aspects of the store’s ethos, says Anna, is the relationships that have been built over the years. “We get to know our customers,” she says. “We know their kids and their families and watch their kids growing up.” Some local families have three generations of Bodytalk shoppers, Anna notes ... with grandmom, mom and daughter shopping together today. Terry observes, “We have a close relationship with our customers. Sometimes they rely on me to pack their suitcase before they go on a business trip.” When Bodytalk employees are asked why they’ve stayed for so long, they sound some common themes. Terry offers, “It says something about him” — that is, about Noel and his management style. She identifies her co-workers as another prime reason: “At Bodytalk, we’re a team. It’s a fun group.” Anna offers, “We always say that we’re lucky to all be together.” Gayle says, “It’s a family — the people we work with as well as our customers. Every day is fun.” This prompts another quip from Noel: “I take credit for all that, by the way.” Gayle attributes the store’s success to the staff’s “personalities and enthusiasm — and of course great fashion.”

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Avon Garden Club: Floral Mixology Church of Saint Ann, Avon Monday 9/9 – 12 noon-2 $10 includes lunch • Reservations: email Fall Food Truck Festival/Carnival 99 Thompson Road, Avon Friday-Sunday 9/13-9/15 Fri 6-10 • Sat 11-10 • Sun 11-6 Fireworks: Saturday 9 pm Art Demonstration & Workshop Avon Town Hall Demo: Tuesday 9/17 – 7 pm Workshop: Saturday 9/21 – 9:30-2 Free demo • Workshop $45-$55 Artist Elizabeth Ann McNally Canton Senior Center trips Info + more events: 693-5811 Wednesday 9/18: Big E – CT Day Tuesday 10/15: Foliage Train Scarecrow Building Party Simsbury Historical Society Saturday 9/21 – 10 am-3 pm Rain date – Sunday 9/22 $15 first scarecrow, $10 additional Simsbury Fly-In + Car Show Simsbury Airport, 94 Wolcott Road Sunday 9/22 – 8 am-5 pm Biggest such event in Northeast Raise a Paw Against Leukemia Simsbury Meadows Sunday 9/22 – 10 am-2 pm Benefit: Rob Branham Foundation Vendor fair, dog fun course, food+ Art at the Simsbury 1820 House Simsbury 1820 House Thru Saturday 9/21 Free • Featuring art of Beth Pite First Friday Dinner Avon Congregational Church Friday 10/4 – 5:30-7 pm $7-$13 • Some proceeds to charity Historic Pine Grove Schoolhouse West Avon Road (Rt. 167), Avon Sundays thru Sept. – 2-4 pm • Free National Register of Historic Places Collinsville Farmer’s Market Main Street, Collinsville Sundays thru October – 10-1 Veterans Coffee Houses • Simsbury Senior Center 1st Monday each month – 10 am • Canton Community Center 2nd Monday each month – 9 am Free • Talk about issues, resources Open Mic Night LaSalle Market, Collinsville Fridays – 6-10:30 pm • Free Singers: call 693-8010 or come at 5 Empowered Women’s Circle Simsbury Chiropractic + Wellness Saturdays – 10 am-12 pm

Our digital edition is posted well before the month begins Get an early peek at the Calendar –

9/14: Letting Go of Regrets 10/12: Dreaming at Any Age 11/9: Overwhelm-Proofed Holidays Purchase tickets: +++ Concerts + Comedy Bridge Street Live 41 Bridge Street, Collinsville Comedy: Women of Certain Age Saturday 9/7 – 8 pm • $15-$25 Concert: Wild Child with Dave Brock Sunday 9/8 – 7 pm • $22-32 Comedy: Marty Caproni Friday 9/20 – 8 pm • $15-25 Concert: John Gorka Friday 10/4 – 8 pm • $20-$30 Concert: CT Transit Authority Saturday 10/12 – 8 pm • $25-$30 Concert: Takin’ It To The Streets Doobie Brothers Tribute Friday 10/25 – 8 pm • $20-$30 Concert: Hey Nineteen Saturday 10/26 – 8 pm • $28-$38 +++ 5K Events Register online for better prices Scholarship 5K Trail Run Fisher Meadows Rec Area, Avon Sunday 9/8 – 10 am Registration 8:30 am • $15-$25 Collinsville Trick or Trot Rails to Trails by Crown & Hammer, Collinsville Saturday 9/26 – 8:30 am Registration 7:30 am • $30-$40 Avon Volunteer Fire Dept. 5K Pine Grove School, Avon Saturday 10/5 – 9 am Registration ends 10/3 • $25-$30 Bottoms Up Organization 5K Run Thompson Brook School, Avon Thursday 11/28 – 9 am Registration 7:30 am • $25-$40 +++ Avon Public Library lineup These events free • 673-9712 North Korea Book Discussions Tuesdays – 7 pm 9/3 – Nothing to Envy 10/1 – Escape from Camp 14 11/12 – Orphan Master’s Son Immigration: Films + Discussions 9/10: Poles in homeland, CT–6:30 9/14: Immigration via maps–2 9/18: Immigration Process–1:30 10/3: Irish in CT–6:30 Wednesday Morning Book Club 9/18: Tattooist of Auschwitz–10:30 Trauma Informed Communities > Saturday 9/14 – 10:30 am

Creating a Positive Body Image Thursday 9/26 – 6:30-8 pm Workshop designed to offer safe place to learn about self-image +++ Canton Public Library lineup These events free • 693-5800 Friday Family Movie Matinee Fridays – 3 pm • Free G or PG film Friends of Library: Book Sale Saturday 9/7 – 10 am-3 pm Sunday 9/8 – 11 am-2 pm Free, but $10 preview Sat. 8-9:30 Proceeds support Canton Library Booktalk: Soldiers of Foreign War Saturday 9/14 – 2:30 pm Novel on medical struggle of Vietnam War by vet who is an MD Diagnosis: Diabetes? Tuesday 9/17 – 6:30 pm Register • You’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes: what’s next? Recycling 101 Tuesday 9/24 – 6:30 pm What can/can’t/must be recycled, new plastic bag law + more Library Card Sign-Up Month 9/3-9/30 Events, drawings, freebies +++ Simsbury Public Library lineup These events free • 658-7663 x2 Cord Cutting: Life without Cable Wednesday 9/11 – 1 pm Author Visit: Brien Brown Thursday 9/12 – 1:30 pm You Are Not Alone Thursday 9/12 – 6:30 pm ABCs of CBD Monday 9/16 – 6:30 pm Ukulele Jamboree Wednesday 9/18 – 3 pm Bring ukulele; beginners welcome Lifting Veil on Financial Industry Wednesday 9/18 – 6 pm Cookbook Club Thursday 9/19 – 1:30 pm

Send Events To: Evanston’s Living History Thursday 9/19 – 6 pm Senior Trivia Tuesday 9/24 – 1 pm Author Visit: Andrea Penrose Tuesday 9/24 – 6:30 pm Author Visit: Eric Judge Wednesday 9/25 – 6:30 pm Armchair Traveler: Iberian Pen. Thursday 9/26 – 6:30 pm FSPL Coffeehouse Friday 9/27 – 7:30 pm Friday Flicks Fridays – 1-3 pm +++ Storyteller’s Cottage events Simsbury • 860-877-6099 A Cozy Mystery Night with Author Mary K. Savarese Thursday 9/26 – 7-9 pm Reading, discussion: Tigers Love Bubble Baths & Obsession Perfume Tea Party Club for Kids Sundays – 2 pm Storytime, crafts, snacks and tea 9/8 – Beauty and the Beast 10/6 – The Witches 11/3 – Snow White 12/1 – Lion, Witch and Wardrobe $15, $75 for any six months Mystery Writer’s Club for Kids Fridays – 4:30 pm $10 • Play mini mystery game, pick writing prompt or write on your own +++ Red Stone Pub happenings Red Stone Pub, Simsbury Trivia Tuesdays – 7-8:30 pm Eat. Drink. Think. Prizes! Acoustic Wed.: John Mayock Live music • 7-9 pm Thirsty Thursdays Dollar dogs • Darts 7-9 pm Saturday Night Out Dinner entrees • Yappy Hour on the patio: 3-6 pm • DJ + music: 6-9 pm Happy Hour – every day until 6 pm

Trauma Informed Communities • Saturday 9/14 – 10:30 am Avon Public Library


Justine Ginsberg, community health coordinator for the Farmington Valley Health District, will teach about adverse childhood cxperiences (ACEs), the effect of trauma on the brain, and trauma informed communities — what does this mean and how can we all play a role? An RN, Justine has extensive experience working as a health educator in Australia and Europe, developing programs internationally and for the FVHD. She has worked in emergency preparedness for the Australian Federal Police and is the leader of Resilience Grows Here, a veterans mental-health initiative. She believes that the destigmatizing of mental health is vital to the well-being of a community. +


Pizza dough, breads, pastas, pastries & more

OPEN Monday – Saturday 12-7 pm LOCATION 50 Albany Turnpike (Rt. 44), Canton 06019 860-693-1300 10% off in-store sale with coupon – cannot be combined with other discounts TODAY MAGAZINE – – SEPTEMBER 2019



One cub sibling is clearly partaking of whatever is in the bowl … and perhaps the other is wondering: Are you going to save anything for me? Photographer Wendy Rosenberg captured this image in her Canton backyard.

Photo by Wendy Rosenberg

BODYTALK — continued from page 14

Noel’s retail philosophy rests on making his customers happy. “If a customer buys something, that makes her happy,” he says. “If she walks out of the store empty-handed, she isn’t happy. If she buys something she likes, then she leaves happier than when she came in.” Anna explains that the focus is on the patron. “We never let a customer leave here unless she looks good in our clothes,” Anna says. “Many of our customers want to be helped as they shop, and we like to help them.” In 1994, Marsha and Noel opened a



From the Bodytalk website — “Our sole objective is to encourage women to feel confident and beautiful, whether going to an event, to work or just relaxing at home.”

second Bodytalk store in Westport, Conn. That location closed in 2013. Noel explains that their lease expired and they couldn’t reach a new agreement with the building’s owner, so they decided to walk away. What’s the biggest difference in the retail realm now compared with when Bodytalk opened in 1985? “The internet,” Noel says. “That’s the biggest change. … It’s a tough business. There’s lots of competition.” A time-tested way to compete is to


focus on customers’ needs. “The product is key and customer service is key,” Noel observes. “We’ve had customers move, and they tell us they can’t wait to come back here. People have moved to New York City, and they like shopping here better than in New York.” He reaffirms his basic retail premise: “You have to do whatever it takes to keep the customer happy.” + — Editor-in-Chief Bruce Deckert PRESORTED STANDARD US POSTAGE PAID AVON CT PERMIT NO. 174

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