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Sunday, June 30, 2002

06/31/02 - June Obituaries


Elena Amelio, 88,
Elena "Helen" Amelio, 88, of Port Chester, N.Y., died Sunday, June 2, at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, N.Y.

Austin Gillig Cragg, 85,
Austin Gillig Cragg, 85, of Hilton Head Island, S.C., a former longtime town resident, died Saturday, June 1, at the Preston Health Care Center in Hilton Head Island.

Myrtle Clare Motyer Maclaren, 84,
Myrtle Clare Motyer Maclaren, 84, a Greenwich resident, died May 11. She died of natural causes, according to her family.

Marilyn Nisbet, 97,
Marilyn Nisbet, 97, a Greenwich resident, died May 21 at The Nathaniel Witherell nursing home on Parsonage Road.

John Paul Schmaling, 87,
John Paul Schmaling, 87, a lifelong Greenwich resident, died Sunday, June 2, at The Nathaniel Witherell nursing home.

Hubert M. Tibbetts, 77,
Hubert M. Tibbetts, 77, a Greenwich resident and former president of the Thomas J. Lipton Corp., died Sunday, June 2.

Thomas C. Thompson, 83,
Thomas C. Thompson, 83, a Norwalk resident, died Saturday, June 1, at Norwalk Hospital.

Eileen Amy McCarroll, 86,
Eileen Amy McCarroll, 86, of Delray Beach, Fla., a former longtime Greenwich resident, died Thursday, May 30, at Bethesda Hospital in Boynton Beach , Fla.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Friday, June 14, 2002 - Skakel verdict a product of striking contrasts

Joe Pisani

Skakel verdict a product of striking contrasts

Dorthy Moxley began her day with a simple prayer, the same one she's said countless times since her daughter was murdered in 1975: "Dear Lord, again today, like I've been doing for 27 years, I'm praying that I can find justice for Martha....

Thursday, June 13, 2002

June 13, 2002 - Jerry Dumas - Will Y's handball court exist only in dreams?

Will Y's handball court exist only in dreams?

After we had talked for a few moments, he revealed the main purpose of his call. He had, just before he woke up, a vivid dream. In it, he and I were playing racquetball on the Greenwich YMCA handball and racquetball court. We have actually done that quite often whenever he has managed to come home for a visit. He said that after we had finished a point, I walked away a bit unsteadily, mumbled something, then collapsed to the floor.

In the dream, he was now faced with a dilemma: Should he begin to work on me or should he call 911? The problem was that there was absolutely nobody else around, and he didn't want to leave me. But his training told him that he must call 911 and get an ambulance and equipment on the way, so he ran out of the handball court and up the stairs to the gym, where there were two guys playing one-on-one at the far end.

He says that he called to them to run to a phone, but the chilling part was that he wasn't sure they understood, or if the did, were going to bother to do anything about it. He then turned and started running back down the stairs, and that is where his dream ended, as those dreams usually do. Something in our brains switches off, not wanting anything to do with endings.

He realized, however, that the phone call to me was a sort of catharsis, a way of exorcising the dream; once he told me about it and heard my voice, he felt the whole thing was then finally concluded. And just maybe he had to find out that it has not really happened after all.

His right foot is in a cast at the moment, so he and I are unlikely to be playing any sports when he comes up from Florida this July. And I told him that by the time he gets up here a second time, perhaps sometime next year, there probably wouldn't be any handball-racquetball court. I said the YMCA had received permission from the town to double its size, and the court stood in the way of the proposed Olympic-sized swimming pool, according to the architect, and would have to be torn down.

"How can they do that?" John said. (I love this boy.) "Isn't it a historic court? Isn't the Greenwich Y court where racquetball was invented?"

I told him that he certainly brought up an interesting point. The YMCA had got permission to build a much larger structure than allowed because of something called "historic overlay." That is, the board of directors gets the rules bent in return for a promise to keep the existing historic structure as it is.

The main building is truly lovely and should be preserved at all costs. (I was a member of the YMCA board of directors 20 years ago when the board was split almost 50-50 between those of us who wanted to preserve and beautify the present structure and those who wanted to sell the building and its property to a developer for the now-mind-numbing sum of $2 million.) But I am not aware that anything historic ever happened in the beautiful main building. The only truly historic part of the YMCA is its almost 70-year-old handball court, and although many are not aware of it, that is the only part of the building scheduled for demolition.

The court is, incidentally, in wonderful shape, except for its somewhat subdued lighting. I once had the U.S. handball champion, John Bike, and the Canadian national champion, Danny Bell, come to play at the Y with us, and they later pronounced it one of the best courts they had ever played on. (They don't make 'em like this anymore, and all that.)

A new court, which will still be the only court in town, is earmarked for inclusion as part of the new gym, but it's anybody's guess whether the court will be strong and sound or flimsy and dead, or when it will become a fact.

In the end, I told John that I'm still here, and the historic court is still here. I told him to keep his fingers crossed for both of us.

Jerry Dumas, who lives in Greenwich, writes and draws the comic strip Sam and Silo and contributes gags to Beetle Bailey. His articles have appeared in Smithsonian, The Atlantic Monthly and other periodicals.

Thursday, June 6, 2002

June 6, 2002 - Jerry Dumas - How does this resonate with your funny bone?

How does this resonate with your funny bone?

Before very long I'll be participating in a luncheon gathering of fellow observers of the good life and whatever good times one can manage to scare up. It's the sort of happy and expectant soiree that more or less demands that each member contribute two or more stories that have never been heard before and that will result in general laughter and good feelings all around.

This assembly will take place at a small distance, and I know for certain that those present do not see this newspaper. Therefore, I feel safe in trying out a story or three here in this space.

Sometimes I think a story is new, and it isn't. Sometimes I think a story is old, and it's new to everyone to whom I tell it. Here are some I am considering, stories I guess most people will not have heard. If any reader has a strong negative opinion, an "Oh-God, Please-Don't-Tell-That-One" reaction, there will be time to let me know before I make a mistake.


The 18th century philosopher Moses Mendelssohn was walking down a busy street in Berlin one day when he accidentally collided with a stout Prussian officer.

"Swine," shouted the officer.

With a courteous bow, the philosopher replied, "Mendel-ssohn."


A chemist invented a new deodorant. It's called "Vanish." When you rub it on, you disappear. Then everybody wonders where the smell is coming from.


A rich young Greenwich woman had an earache. The doctor examined her and found a piece of string dangling from her ear. The doctor began pulling it out, and the more he pulled, the more the string came out. He struggled and kept pulling, and finally, to his amazement, out fell a bouquet of roses.

"Good heavens," said the doctor. "Where did this come from?"

"How should I know?" said the young woman. "Why don't you look at the card?"


"She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket." (Raymond Chandler, "Farewell, My Lovely")


In Brooklyn in 1932, an elderly woman was caught shoplifting. The butcher did not press charges.

He said, "Just pay for the chicken, and we'll forget what happened."

Tears of gratitude ran down her face, and she kissed the butcher and said, "I don't know why I did it, and I swear I'll never do it again. I'll be glad to pay for it, but not a your prices, you crook."


In Lucca, Italy, a cartoonist named Carlo Chendi said to me, "Do you remember Castelli and Silvestri, who come to your home in Connecticut last year? They return to Italy and they say to me, 'He is nice man. He just like us. He prefer to do today's work tomorrow.'"


A true story: Young couple in Manhattan. Like many other working couples, they routinely telephone out to have dinner delivered rather than cooking in their tiny kitchen. They didn't give this practice a second thought until they noticed that their 18-month-old was climbing into his high chair every time the doorbell rang.


Second true story: George S. Getnick is telephoning an insurance client at her home. The phone is answered by the woman's 5-year-old son, who reports that his mother is unavailable. Mr. Getnick asks the child if he would please write down the caller's name, and give it to his mother when she returns.

"OK," says the little boy.

"I will spell it for you," Mr. Getnick says. "The first letter is G, the second letter is ..."

"Wait," the young voice commands. A brief pause. Then: "How do you make a G?"

Jerry Dumas, who lives in Greenwich, writes and draws the comic strip Sam and Silo and contributes gags to Beetle Bailey. His articles have appeared in Smithsonian, The Atlantic Monthly and other periodicals.

Sunday, June 2, 2002

06/02/02 - Bernie Yudian

Descriptions of events have a familiar ring

Welcome to the initial program of "Smart Talk." We're pleased to have as our guest Dr. Manfred Q. Finster, noted cliché expert. Welcome, doctor.

A. Proud as punch to be here with you. Happy as a clam.

Q. Could you tell us how you got into this unusual specialty?

A. Yes indeedy. Growing up I was fascinated by stories appearing in the New Yorker magazine by a brilliant humorist named Frank Sullivan, who wrote these interviews with a Mr. Arbuthnot, cliché expert.

Q. So you were inspired to follow suit. Have you enjoyed it?

A. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick (ha ha). I've made out like a bandit.

Q. I see. You look well.

A. Fit as a fiddle.

Q. Let's talk about the Skakel case. Any views?

A. The case was problematic from the start. The prosecution did a bang-up job.

Q. And the defense?

A. They had a tiger by the tail.

Q. What was the turning point?

A. That private investigation into the murder that put the spotlight on Michael. That let the genie out of the bottle.

Q. It's that serious?

A. Hey, once you squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube �

Q. Right, I get it. What about the defense trying to pin the rap on the teacher, Ken Singleton? Do you think he was involved?

A. You believe that and I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Q. How do you think the

jury was persuaded?

A. The prosecution connected the dots.

Q. That seems to be the Cliché du Jour, doesn't it?

A. That it is.

Q. You think there's more to come in this Skakel case?

A. Looks like a done deal to me.

Q. Remarkable, the decision, since the testimony was all circumstantial.

A. Yes. No smoking gun.

Q. I understand the courtroom was stunned when the verdict came in. How was the tension?

A. You could cut it with a knife.

Q. What kind of a gasp was there?

Q. An audible gasp, of course.

Q. On another subject, what's your take on the president's spectacular government reorganization plan?

A. Just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Q. You don't sound like a fan of our government people. Why?

A. Politicians feed at the public trough while talking out both sides of their mouth.

Q. A neat trick, that.

A. And they spend money like a drunken sailor.

Q. Have you ever been in

public service?

A. Been there; done that.

Q. You have had quite a career.

A. Yes, a well-rounded one. And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Q. You sound off in public quite a lot?

A. Of course. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Q. Have any trouble getting to the studio today?

A. I-95 was a parking lot.

Q. We've got a transportation problem in this area, haven't we?

A. It's a can of worms.

Q. Our officials can't seem to figure out how to improve it.

A. They run around like chickens with their heads cut off.

Q. You listen to weather-givers on radio and TV. Any comment?

A. I'll say so. I heard one goofy guy say where he was, the hail was as big as ping-pong balls!

Q. What's wrong with that?

A. That's a no-no. Any idiot knows hail stones are always as big as golf balls!

Q. What about floods?

A. That's easy. Rivers are always rampaging.

Q. Do you pay attention to the lighter things in society?

A. Oh yes, I'm no stick-in-the-mud nerd. I like to watch these older wealthy guys bustling around with young chicks.

Q. Those women are called ...?

A. Arm candy. And if they snare the rich geezer, they become trophy wives.

Q. I can see you're up on what's going on these days.

A. You can bet your bottom dollar on that. Keeping your eyes peeled -- that's the bottom line.

Q. Your business must be stressful.

A. It is, but at the end of the day, I sleep like a log.

Q. That's great.

A. Yes, at this point in time, clichés abound.

Q. And that's good for your science?

A. Bet your bippy. For me, it's a win-win situation.

Q. To get back to the trial, what did it bring?

A. Closure.

Q. That's a real faddish word and relatively new in the lingo, isn't it?

A. Search me.

Q. How did you feel when that verdict came in?

A. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Q. And what's your prediction on the ultimate outcome of this matter?

A. That remains to be seen.

Q. Well, time's up. It sure went by a fast.

A. Like a bat out of hell.

Q. Thanks for coming doctor. I hope we can do this again some day and talk about some Greenwich clichés.

A. That would be peachy. Have a nice day.
Bernie Yudain, whose column appears Wednesdays and Sundays, is a public affairs consultant and a former managing editor of Greenwich Time.

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