Saturday, July 29, 2017

James J. Brady: 
First Police Chief
For most of the first half of the 20th Century, Ridgefield’s police protection was provided by state troopers, supplemented by a few town constables and deputy sheriffs. The constabulary, whose members dressed like policemen of the day, were led by the first selectman, who functioned as the police chief.
In 1955, the town voted to create a “real” police department, with a real police chief, all overseen by an elected Police Commission. James Brady was chosen its first chief.
James Joseph Brady Jr. was born in 1896 in nearby North Salem, N.Y. His parents moved to Ridgefield early in the century, and Brady grew up here, attending local schools.
As a young man Brady — affectionately known as “Diamond Jim” — worked for automobile garages, both as a mechanic and as a livery driver. After the U.S. entered World War I, he joined the U.S. Army medical corps in August 1918 and was sent to France where he served under fire on the Alsace Front. 
Back in Ridgefield, he continued working for garages, but in 1928 entered law enforcement, becoming a part-time town constable. In those days, only one constable was on duty during the day and one in the evening; Brady got the night shift.
Three years later, he became a deputy county sheriff, serving until 1935. In his favorite case he helped state police stake out an often-burglarized Georgetown store and capture the thief. He and a trooper spent 22 nights in Connery’s Store until finally, on the 23rd night at 3:30 a.m., the fellow came in through a jimmied window to make his haul. The burglar turned out to be stealing goods to trade for bathtub liquor, and wound up leading police to two Branchville bootleggers. The bootleggers wound up in prison and were later both killed in a Long Island gang war. 
In the late 1930s, Brady served as an inspector for the motor vehicles department. During World War II, he worked as a fire inspector at the Remington Arms Company in Bridgeport where he rose to the rank of lieutenant.
Brady became a full-time town constable in 1946, handling parking, traffic and minor
violations, and working out of a “closet” in the town hall, he later recalled. There was “very little vandalism and no domestic trouble at all,” he said in 1975. An occasional burglary would occur, but crime was “nothing like it is today.” 
When the town voted in 1955 to establish a formal police department, he became the first chief and got the fledgling force on its feet. It was a small department with only one patrol car, and despite his being chief, his duties included directing traffic on Main Street. 
Brady retired in 1965 due to poor health, but worked part-time for 10 years as the Martin
Park guard. He was also a longtime member of the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department. He died in 1976 at the age of 79.
While Ridgefield was not a high-crime area in the 50s and early 60s,   it did have a good bit of traffic. In that interview the year before he died, Brady said his biggest problem as a policeman were the motorists who failed to use directional signals.

“I’m out there trying to help them, you know, and keep them from cracking up,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll wave a car straight ahead and find out that the driver is making a turn — and almost causing an accident.”

Friday, July 28, 2017

Linette Burton: 
The L.O.L.
To anyone who sends a text message on a telephone, LOL is a staple acronym. But to thousands of readers of The Ridgefield Press from the 1950s to the 1990s, LOL meant something entirely different. Headlines would announce, “The L.O.L. Goes Round the World” or “Mr. Carter and the L.O.L. Talk Tobacco,” and readers would know the “Little Old Lady” had been off on another adventure.
Linette “Nat” Burton herself came up with the moniker, which started out as “the little old lady in tennis shoes,” got shortened to the “little old lady,”  and then became just “l.o.l.”
“Like lemmings going to the sea, the newsmen and the l.o.l. scurried across a snowy area and into the Cabinet Room in the White House,” she wrote in 1978 after she took part in a briefing with President Jimmy Carter, one of her many little old lady stories.  “As the l.o.l stamped her sneakers to get the snow off, she felt more than a little awed.”
Burton sat at the cabinet table in a chair that normally belonged to Joseph Califano, then the secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, who had recently railed against smoking.
“Taking a deep breath, the l.o.l. quaveringly announced her name and the paper she represented,” she wrote. She then indirectly offered a question for the president: “I happen by pure chance to be sitting in the seat that really belongs to Mr. Califano, which made me think that isn’t it odd that, while the United States government continues its price support of the tobacco industry, Mr. Califano has come out so strongly against smoking.”
The president smiled and said, “I don’t think it’s odd. As you know, Connecticut produces a lot of tobacco, and so does Georgia.”
There was laughter and, Burton wrote, “the moment to be forever remembered by the l.o.l. was over — the moment when the President of the United States spoke directly to her.”
Little did she know that a few years later, she would sit right next to President Ronald Reagan at a similar gathering.
Linette Arny Macan Burton was born in 1916 in Easton, Pa., daughter of the headmistress of a private girls school and a machine tool salesman. In 1933, her mother became head of St. Agnes Episcopal School in Alexandria, Va., where Linette Macan spent her senior year and, among other things, wrote the school song. Fifty-six years later, Burton returned to the school to find “Hail St. Agnes” still being sung by its students. (Even though in 1991 St. Agnes merged with a boys prep,   “Hail St. Agnes” is still sung today at St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School. So is the “St. Stephen’s Fight Song.”)
She majored in English at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., and served as editor of The Wheaton News. After graduating in 1938, she became an intern for The New York Herald Tribune and always remembered her getting her first byline for a story for the “Home Institute” section of the paper on “double ball-bearing casters.”
She soon became a staff writer for  Click, an entertainment magazine published in Philadelphia. While there she met a copy boy named Earl Burton, who was working for the Washington bureau of Time magazine. The two were married in 1940, and for a while Linette commuted to work each day from Washington to Philadelphia.
When World War II broke out, she joined the Office of Civilian Defense in Washington as a writer and public relations person while Earl became a lieutenant in the Navy,  serving as a writer in London during the German blitz and later in the Pacific.
While they were apart, the Burtons wrote two children’s books using wartime “Victory mail,”  a military mail process in which each letter would be censored, copied to film, and printed back to paper on arrival at its destination.  Their V-mail collaboration resulted in “Taffy and Joe” (1943), about the friendship between a dog and a monkey,  and “The Exciting Adventures of Waldo” (1945), about a wooden decoy duck that comes to life in the wild.  Both were published by McGraw-Hill and illustrated by Helen Stone, a popular children’s book illustrator in the 1940s. 
After the war and stints with Time’s Ottawa and Toronto offices, the Burtons moved to to Ridgefield in 1954 after Earl joined Time/Life’s New York headquarters where he eventually became the director of correspondents for Sports Illustrated. He died in 1968, only 52 years old.
The Burtons and their children lived on Bennett’s Farm Road in a 1790s farmhouse that has since been torn down; where it stood is now the parking lot for Bennett’s Pond State Park.
In her first years here, Burton was concentrating on raising a family and dealing with a succession of farm animals, including a burro, sheep, a calf, rabbits and a “Toulouse goose” named Horace that “became so fierce that tradesmen refused to get out of their trucks unless a Burton was on hand to protect them,” she once said, adding,  “When the children went to the end of the driveway to get the bus to go to school, Horace would follow them and stand in front of the bus, honking. Until one of the Burtons got out and flung Horace back onto the driveway, the bus could not move — to the delight of the children inside.”
In 1958, with her youngest child in first grade, Burton wrote Karl Nash, publisher of The Ridgefield Press, looking for a job. She soon got it and began 40 years of writing mostly personality features, interviewing thousands of people — from truckers and masons to movie actors and best-selling authors — and the two presidents. She found tradesmen as interesting as celebrities and enjoyed writing about a transcontinental truck driver as much as about a television star.
However, she was understandably pleased to have been invited to meet with Presidents  Carter and Reagan and wrote entertaining accounts of both sessions.
“How can that man wield the tremendous power of the presidency?” she wondered when she met  President Carter. “He looks like someone’s favorite big brother. No wonder everyone calls him Jimmy.”
She wrote many travel features, usually as the l.o.l. “Nat traveled to all the fantastic places that most of us only wish we could go to,” said novelist Elizabeth Daniels Squire, a longtime friend of Burton. Among her journeys was a 1984 trip around the world with fellow Ridgefielder Alice Gore King. “It was fun from start to finish,” King recalled. “Her sense of humor made molehills out of mountains. And she was kindness personified.”
Her l.o.l. features would even light-heartedly describe her misfortunes. In 1994, she fell and broke her elbow and nearly two months later, doctors discovered she had also broken her pelvis and needed to stay in bed at her home for more than a month. “In the next five weeks while the l.o.l. lay like a beached whale, an incredible number of trained District Nursing Association staff kept her from having to become a patient in a strange environment,” she later wrote in an appreciation of what is now the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association.
Burton was also active in the community. In the 1950s, when her family was involved raising farm animals, she ran a chapter of the Grange, an organization that had once been popular and sizable in town. She twice served as president of the League of Women Voters, and she sang with the Charles Pope Choristers. A painter, she was active in the Ridgefield Guild of Artists for many years. 
Nat Burton died in 1999 at the age of 83. Three years later, St. Stephen’s Church, where she
had been a longtime member, dedicated the “Linette Burton Memorial Garden” just south of the church and in front of South Hall. “It’s not just for members of the parish,” said Rector John Gilchrist. “We want to invite people off the street to come in and enjoy it as a quiet place.”
Burton loved gardens and the woods near her home, but did once run into trouble with a tree. Her little old lady feature  about her winning a raffle just before Christmas in the mid-1960s reflects how she could have fun with problems.
“Some little old ladies play bingo or save string or knit afghans to keep busy, but we know one who takes chances on things,” she wrote. “Lots of things, like Mustangs and Cadillacs, trips to
Europe or Hawaii, electric carving knives, and pine-paneled dens. Through all the years, she never won anything until that Sunday night, Dec. 5, a date which will be indelibly imprinted in her mind along with such other important dates as the Battle of Hastings, her wedding anniversary, and the last day to pay taxes without paying interest.
“It was 9:32 p.m. when the telephone rang and the caller announced, as though proclaiming the dawn of a new era, ‘This is Mrs. Richard Jackson. You have just won a live Christmas tree!’
“‘A live what?’ the l.o.l. responded dully, thinking quickly of the live ducks, dogs, cats, sheep, cows, burros, alligators, hamsters, and rabbits that had graced her home.
“‘A live Christmas tree,’ the caller repeated. ‘Remember the chance you took on the tree when you went through the Keeler Tavern the other day during their open house? Well, your name was picked. And the tree is here, waiting for you.’”
The story goes on to describe the family’s struggles in dealing with moving an eight-foot evergreen with a large ball, weighing 200 pounds, how it was loaded into their little VW microbus, and how it sat in front of the house, awaiting someone to dig a four-foot “crater” in which to plant the huge ball in the freezing ground.

“The l.o.l. is seriously considering offering chances (free) to participate in a muscle-building program (particularly the biceps) to anyone who is as chance-happy as she once used to be,” she said.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Dom D’Addario: 
A Very Good Citizen
Few people have spent more time helping their community — and their country — than Dom D’Addario.
Born in Branchville in 1925, Dominic A. “Dom” D’Addario attended the one-room Branchville Schoolhouse, still standing on lower Old Branchville Road. He began working at the age of 11 — pumping gas at a filling station in Branchville — to help support his family.
He graduated from Ridgefield High School in 1943 and immediately entered the U.S. Army Air Force. He started out a bombardier, but was then sent to navigation school, and he eventually wound up training navigators who guided World War II bombers.
After the war he remained active in the U.S Air Force Reserves for many years, finally retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
     Mr. D’Addario enrolled at the University of Connecticut on the GI Bill — “there was no way my parents could afford to send me to college,” he said in a 2004 interview.  “They had enough to do to put food on the table.”
     He studied engineering, and while still a student, met and married Mary Hrabcsak of Danbury.
     He worked as an engineer at Barden Corp. in Danbury. He also designed kitchens for Rucon Custom Kitchens in Danbury, and headed a furniture company.
In Ridgefield, Mr. D’Addario became interested in town government in the 1980s. Nearly always in company with his wife Mary, he not only attended major town meetings and public hearings but was a regular in the audience of nearly all Police Commission, Board of Selectmen and Planning and Zoning Commission meetings — week in and week out, for years.
In the 1990s, he was a founder and for many years chairman of the Independent Party of Ridgefield, which ran and endorsed candidates for town offices.
For all his interest in public affairs, Mr. D’Addario was noted for not making politics personal, always expressing his opinions respectfully, and remaining friendly with many people on both sides of different issues whether he agreed with them or not.
“He was always a gentleman,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi once said.
Perhaps it was most appropriate that he was a member of the town Ethics Committee for many years.
Both he and his wife were justices of the peace, and officiated at many marriages.
“He was one of the favorite JPs to do ceremonies, and he was always there, if they wanted to be married that afternoon, or the next day, or the next month,” said Town Clerk Barbara Serfilippi.
“Mary and I do that together,” Mr. D’Addario said. “The ceremony is only 15 minutes long, but we try to stretch it out with readings.”
He had also been active in the Laszig Fund, which provides grants that help the elderly,  the Ridgefield Historical Society, and in St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Danbury, where he had been a trustee and served on many committees.
And if all that wasn’t enough, he had also donated more than 22 gallons of his blood to the local Red Cross Bloodmobiles.
Mr. D’Addario died in 2012 at the age of 87. Mary D’Addario died in 2016; she was 95 years old.
In 2001, the D’Addarios were both honored as “Citizens of the Year” by the Ridgefield Police Benevolent Association and the Ridgefield Police Union. “Dom and Mary D’Addario are more involved and personally invested in our community than just about anyone else in Ridgefield, and have been for decades,” the police said at the time.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rev. Samuel Johnson: 
Founder of Church and University
The scholarly missionary who established the Episcopal church in Ridgefield was also the man behind the founding of one of this country’s oldest and most prestigious universities.
For nearly a century, Connecticut had only one, official, practicing religion: Congregational. However, in the early 1700s, the tiny Church of England in Connecticut, with help from the Mother Country, established a congregation in Stratford. The Rev. Samuel Johnson, pastor at Stratford, then began acting as a missionary to a dozen or more Connecticut towns.
In Ridgefield, Dr. Johnson established a congregation in 1725 that grew into St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church. According to old church records, he “preached there occasionally for several years, and was instrumental in bringing several families into the church.”
Soon others took over in Ridgefield, and Johnson eventually became the top Episcopal minister in the state (until 1728, he had been Connecticut’s only Episcopal minister). 
The Guilford native graduated from Yale in 1714 and started out a Congregational minister, converting in 1723; he sailed to London for his ordination at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church. He was a “high church” Episcopalian who, as St. Stephen’s historian Robert Haight put it, “stressed the Catholic side of the church’s tradition.”
As early as 1750, Dr. Johnson was corresponding with Benjamin Franklin about establishing a new kind of college in New York. He began working with his wife’s family, former students, and Trinity Church in New York City to found a school. 
A board of trustees was formed and, in 1752, nominated him to be the college’s first president. The board decided to call the school King’s College—to help gain a royal charter from King George II. 
Between 1750 and 1753, Dr. Johnson and Dr. Franklin designed a “new-model” plan for an American college that would be used at King’s. It was profession-oriented, classes were taught in English instead of Latin, professors specialized in one subject, and there would be no religious test for admission. The curriculum included math, science, history, commerce, government, and nature. 
The charter was obtained in 1754. Johnson himself taught the first class of eight students; he included use of his own textbook on philosophy. 
Thirty years later, in the wake of the Revolution, the school dropped the “King” and selected Columbia as its name. The university is the oldest in New York State and fifth oldest in the United States.
Over his career Dr. Johnson wrote nearly three-dozen books. He has been called by various historians “a towering intellect of colonial America, a man of great curiosity and philosophical interests,” “the most erudite colonial Anglican theologian of the eighteenth century,” and the “first important philosopher in colonial America.” 
He died in 1772.
Incidentally, his son, William Samuel Johnson, was a signer of the U.S. Constitution; he chaired the Constitution’s five-member Committee of Style, which framed the final text of the document. He also became the third president of Columbia. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

James B. Lee Sr. and Sr.: 
Of  Fedoras and Finance
It’s not too often that you find father-and-son leaders in the world of business, especially when their two business worlds are entirely different. But that was the case with James B. Lee Sr. and Jr. Dad was the head of one of the nation’s largest hat manufacturers — at a time when people still wore hats instead of caps. Son was a financial genius whom The New York Times called “a pioneering deal maker and among the most influential Wall Street investment bankers of his era.”
Both had been Ridgefielders, father late in life and son, early. And both died young.
James Bainbridge Lee Sr. was born in Danbury in 1916, a son of Frank H. Lee who, in 1886 at the age of 19, founded a hat factory in that city. Long called the “Hat City” of America, Danbury at the time had 30 companies that were turning out 5 million hats a year. F. H. Lee Hat Company soon grew to be the biggest operation. By 1917, Lee was producing 12,000 hats a day. According to one hat historian, Lee “did a huge business in low-end hats but they were quite capable of producing high-grade hats as well. Usually the wider the ribbon on a Lee, the higher the grade of the hat.” 
James graduated from Canterbury School in New Milford, then Georgetown University, and served in the Army during World War II — entering as a private and winding up a captain. After the war, he became secretary of the company and then in 1950, president. But in 1960, when classic felt hats had become less popular, he sold Lee to Stetson, famed for its “western” style hats. Lee Hat had had as many as 1,500 employees in its heyday, but by the time of the sale, only 220 people worked there.
Four years later, Stetson shut down the huge Danbury factory near where the state Motor Vehicles Department is today.
The Lee family was also heavily involved in communications. In 1927 Frank had founded
the Danbury Times, which eight years later merged with the Evening News to form the  News-Times. The paper remained in the Lee family until 1960 when it was sold to Ottaway Newspapers. 
James, who lived for many years on Wilton Road West, seemed more interested in the broadcasting side of media. He was president of and the main stockholder in the Berkshire Broadcasting  Company, which was then principally WLAD Radio but is now a half dozen area AM and FM stations, including the former WREF — now WAXB — in Ridgefield.
An accomplished golfer, Lee was a longtime member of the Ridgewood Country Club in Danbury, was its golf champion several times, and also placed near the top in state amateur tournaments.
In 1964, when he was only 47 years old,  James died of heart failure. (His brother, Frank H. Lee Jr., also a Ridgefielder and chairman of the Lee Hat board, collapsed and died while marching in Ridgefield’s 250th Anniversary parade in 1958 — he was only 51. Their father lived to be 70.)
James Sr.’s survivors included his wife, Mary, two daughters, and a son, James B. Lee Jr., who was only 11 years old and a student at Veterans Park School. Jimmy, as he was known then and throughout his life, was also attended catechism classes at St. Mary’s.
“Jimmy was in my first-grade class 1958-59,” recalled Patrick Wahl, who considered Lee his best childhood friend.  “All the Catholic kids got to know each other and by second grade we
walked to the afternoon religious classes together.  Odd notion by today’s standards, but a bunch of seven-year-olds running up Catoonah Street raised no eyebrows back in the day.”
Jimmy, who was born in 1952 in Manhattan, continued in the Ridgefield schools through freshman year at RHS in 1967 when he was elected class president. He would have graduated in the Class of 1970, but his mother, then Mrs. Ed Raleigh, sent him to Canterbury School where his father had gone.  There he was a captain of the hockey and track teams and co-editor of the school newspaper. He went on to graduate from Williams College, majoring in economics and art history.
He began his career at Chemical Bank and built its investment banking business as it grew larger through mergers with Manufacturers Hanover and Chase Manhattan Banks. He ran Chase’s investment banking operations, and after another merger, became vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase. 
“He advised on some of the biggest deals, including United Airlines’ acquisition of Continental, General Electric’s sale of NBCUniversal to Comcast, and the News Corporation’s purchase of Dow Jones,” said Andrew Ross Sorkin in his New York Times obituary of Lee.  (Coincidentally, Dow Jones owned the Danbury News-Times after Ottaway sold the paper.)
He was the “behind-the-scenes consigliere to the world’s top corporate chieftains, hatching mergers and public offerings for companies as diverse as General Motors, Facebook and Alibaba,” Sorkin wrote. “He was a constant presence in the lives of moguls like Rupert Murdoch of the News Corporation and Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric.”
Jamie Dimon, his boss at JPMorgan Chase and also a close friend, looked to Lee constantly for advice. But Lee often offered more than advice. When Dimon was going through difficult times because of a Justice Department investigation, Lee arranged for Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback, to call Dimon to cheer him up. 
Dimon told a 2005 gathering of corporate leaders that “Jimmy Lee has probably lent a trillion dollars to the people in this room. And almost all of it has been paid back.”
Times writer David Gelles said Lee “shaped corporate America, and the nation’s biggest bank, through a career that established him as perhaps the pre-eminent deal maker of his generation.”
Jimmy Lee died in 2015 at the age of 62. His funeral in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan was presided over by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan. The honorary ushers were a Who’s Who of leading business people: Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire ex-mayor of New York; Barry Diller, the media owner; Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL; Jeffrey Immelt of GE; Charlie Rose, the TV host and a longtime friend; and Stephen A. Schwarzman, head of the huge private equity firm, Blackstone (Schwarzman had offered him a more lucrative job as #2 at Blackstone, a post Lee declined because he loved his work at JPMorgan Chase). 
Dimon delivered a eulogy at the funeral. “In business, you were brilliant, a shining star, one of the best we’ve seen,” he said. “You were a nuclear power, a sun of positive energy. You had unbridled enthusiasm and optimism. Your deal-making was legendary. You were simply a huge influence on the success of so many of us.”
But perhaps the most touching tribute came from his son, who told how his father left notes for him and his two sisters before catching the 5 a.m. train from Darien to Manhattan each morning. He also described his dad’s guitar talents, and how he would practice for performances with a band of JPMorgan staff members, called the Bank Notes.

“He was a star, he was a superstar, and he went out at the top of his game,” said his son, whose name is also James. His dad had also been the best man at his wedding.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Michael Skandera: 
A Record Educator
Dr. Michael Skandera may hold the record for longevity as a Ridgefield educator —  45 continuous years. Other staff members have had longer careers, but probably none spent as many years on the job only in Ridgefield. 
Dr. Skandera was proud of that. “Well over 3,000 pupils have passed through my portals during my career, and I’m thankful for the rich experience they afforded me,” he told The Ridgefield Press in 1992 when he retired. 
A Danbury native born in 1924, Dr. Skandera graduated from Danbury Teachers College (WestConn) and, during World War II, was a bomber pilot who flew 50 missions over Europe. 
He came to Ridgefield in 1947, teaching at the East Ridge School, which then housed
elementary, middle and high school years. For a long time he was the only male elementary school teacher in town. 
The starting salary then, considered high in the region, was $2,400, he recalled. “In surrounding towns, most teachers made around $2,000,” he said. ($2,400 in 1947 was about equal to $25,000 in today’s dollars.)
When Veterans Park opened in 1955 to handle elementary grades, Skandera remained at East Ridge with the fourth through sixth grades and was “teacher in charge.” When Ridgebury School opened in 1962, he went there, specializing in sixth grade science. 
Long the only elementary teacher with a doctorate in education and one of the first to be named a “master teacher” here, Dr. Skandera did stints as principal of Veterans Park School and of Ridgebury, but each time returned to the classroom because, he said, he liked teaching kids better than being an administrator. 
Dr. Skandera’s interest in nature showed itself at Ridgebury where he helped set up the nature trails at that school and used them fall, winter and spring to teach science to pupils and to give teacher workshops. 
If teaching in Ridgefield wasn’t enough, Dr. Skandera also spent many years as superintendent of the Sunday school at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Danbury.
As a retiree living in Danbury, Dr. Skandera was active in mushrooming, and in his favorite sport, golf, in which he may hold another record, regionally: He had five holes-in-one in his lifetime.

He died in 2014 at the age of 89.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Frederick Shrady: 
Artist Who Rescued Art
A well-taught painter turned self-taught sculptor, Frederick Shrady became  internationally famous for his art, especially on religious subjects. But as he was gaining fame as an artist, he was also helping retrieve thousands of priceless art treasures, stolen by the Nazis.
Born in East View, N.Y., in 1907,  Frederick Charles Shrady was a son of American sculptor Henry Merwin Shrady, who created the Grant Memorial on the Mall near the Capitol in Washington. He got his first taste of Connecticut when he attended the Choate School in Wallingford, graduating in 1928. He studied painting at the Art Students’ League in New York City, and then went to Oxford University in England where he graduated in 1931. 
That year, he moved to Paris  to paint and to study painting. Over nine years there, he gained
esteem as an artist and earned a medal at the 1937 Paris Exposition. His paintings are in museums in Paris, Lyons, Grenoble, Belgrade, and Zagreb. Before was 33, he had had solo exhibitions in Dublin, Paris, Belgrade, London, and New York.
Early in World War II, Shrady worked with the French underground — he was later awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government.
 In July 1943 as war raged on, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving at first in the Model Making Division that created elaborate decoys. But he soon became involved in even more fascinating work:  As the war was ending, Lieutenant Shrady joined the Army’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) division (celebrated in the 2014 film, “The Monuments Men,” starring George Clooney and Cate Blanchett).
According to the Monuments Men Foundation,  in June 1945 he was one of the team  that removed thousands of stolen art works, stored by the Nazis in a mine at Altaussee, Austria. Hitler had
collect them there for his planned “Fuhrermuseum” in Linz, Austria, a huge complex to showcase his plunder.  The Monuments Men were racing to rescue the art before the arrival of Russian troops who eventually took control of Austria. 
“Together, they carefully packed Michelangelo’s ‘Bruges Madonna,’ Vermeer’s ‘The Artist’s Studio,’ and the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck,” the foundation said. “Shrady and the Monuments Men evacuated these great works of art, along with over 15,000 other works of art and cultural objects, to the Munich Central Collecting Point. In the following months, Shrady conducted inspections of churches, castles, and museums in Wiesbaden, Germany.”
It was while serving in Austria that he met his future wife, Maria Louise Likar-Waltersdorff, who had grown up in Vienna and was working as an interpreter for the Monuments Men. They married in 1946.
Back in the United States after the war, Shrady continued to paint and was turning more to religious subjects. In 1945, though he was an American Episcopalian, he had created a 14-foot high painting, “Descent from the Cross,” for St. Stephen’s Cathedral (‘Stephansdom’) in Vienna, as a gift from the U.S. Armed Forces to the church. He became the only American to have his art in this and several other major churches in Europe including a mural of St. Francis in the chapel of St. Francis in Paris and a painting of St. Christopher in the Dublin Cathedral.
     “I have a feeling for spiritual work,” Shrady once said in an interview.
     After he moved to Ridgefield in 1948 and converted to Catholicism, Shrady turned to the
medium of his father, taking up sculpture as virtually his only medium. His very first work, a bust of noted Jesuit philosopher Martin D’Arcy created in 1949, was so good, the Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased it. (Father D’Arcy later wrote the introduction to Maria Shrady’s first book, “Come, Southwind,” written in Ridgefield and published in 1957.)
      Having the Met buy a “beginner’s” work would be a tremendous boost for any artist, and Shady quickly immersed himself in sculpture.
Around 1954, he created the altar statuary, 28 stained-glass windows, 14 painted stations of the cross, and many small windows symbolizing various saints for the new St. Lawrence O’Toole Church in Hartford. The altar art included a nine-foot figure of Jesus on a 16-foot high cross. Shrady said the only way he could see for himself how the figure would look was to have himself tied to a beam and then photographed, which he did.
Frederick and Maria lived on  the northern corner of Route 7 and New Road and belonged to St. Mary’s Parish. In 1956, as St. Mary’s was building its new Catholic school, Shrady set about creating 53 sculptures for the new building. His two youngest children were among the early St. Mary students.
In 1959 he and Maria and their children moved to Easton where Shrady had purchased a large stone mansion, built in the late 1930s by the American author Edna Ferber (his daughter Mary Louise Shrady Smith lives there today). 
Shrady had become a friend of many leaders in the Catholic church and among the guests at his Easton home in 1976 was Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, secretary of state of the Vatican. The cardinal admired Shrady’s work and suggested he create a statue for the Vatican Gardens, a 16th Century papal retreat behind St. Peter’s Basilica that is usually closed to the public. Shrady liked the idea and five years later, when Cardinal Casaroli was again staying at his home, Shrady showed him a model for a statue of “Our Lady of Fatima” that he thought would be appropriate for the gardens. The model was shown to Pope John Paul II who approved the work, the first time an American artist had received a papal commission.
The 10-foot bronze statue was unveiled before the Pope in 1983 on the 66th anniversary of the apparition of Mary to three children at Fatima, Portugal. That date, May 13, was also the anniversary of two attempts to assassinate the Pope, in 1981 in Rome and 1982 at Fatima. “He is convinced that our lady of Fatima interceded for him,” Shrady told a reporter in 1984.
Among the handful of guests for the Pope’s blessing of the statue were Louise and Dan McKeon of Ridgefield, friends the Shradys and supporters of  Frederick’s work. “There we were, a small group, standing in the Vatican gardens with the Holy Father, and something we had all cared about and been involved in was finally being realized,” Louise McKeon said later. “It has been beautifully placed, under a well-pruned cedar of Lebanon.”
When the ceremony was over, “the Pope went up to the sculpture again and spoke with Mr. Shrady, bringing tears to the artist’s eyes,” McKeon recalled.
Among Shrady’s major works are:
  • a statue of St. Elizabeth Seton in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York;
  • a sculpture for the FBI headquarters in Washington that portrays fidelity, bravery and integrity;
  • the 18-foot bronze Human Rights statue for the U.S. Mission at the United Nations;
  • St. Peter the Fisherman casting his net, located at Lincoln Center in Manhattan.
  • 12 bas-relief panels, depicting “The Life of Mary,” for the doors of the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel.
  • 14 Stations of the Cross in Georgetown University's Dahlgren Chapel (among the few paintings he did after becoming a sculptor).
  • An 18-foot-high statue of St. Benedict the Moor, a black saint, erected atop a church tower on a hill overlooking a black neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pa., and aimed at being a symbol of racial “healing and progress.” (Although the 3,000-pound statue is made of aluminum, it is so big that it required a large helicopter to lift it into place and it is so high that its stand had to be designed “like a bridge” to withstand hurricane-strength winds.)
  • A statue of St. Francis at the Egan Chapel of Fairfield University.
  • Three works, including “The Good Samaritan” and “Flame,” in the sculpture collection of the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum.
One of his more unusual works was a huge bronze sculpture on the facade of St. Ann Chapel, an Anglican church near Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. The chapel was built by Ridgefielder Clare Boothe Luce in memory of her 19-year-old daughter, Ann Clare Brokaw, a student at Stanford killed in a 1944 automobile accident. Shrady’s sculpture on the building’s facade portrays Saint Ann and the Virgin Mary, with the mother (St. Ann) teaching her young daughter (the Virgin Mary) how to read.
Frederick Shrady died in 1990 at the age of 82. Maria, who died in 2002, was the author several books. In 1961 she won the Christopher Book Award for “In the Spirit of Wonder”; other works included “Moments of Insight” and “The Mother Teresa Story,” and translations of various religious writings. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

C. Chandler Ross: 
Portrait Artist
C. Chandler Ross was a portrait artist who painted many of the captains of industry during the first half of the 20th Century, including F. W. Woolworth of the store chain, but he had also produced portraits of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S Truman.  
Born in 1887 in England, he studied art in Paris and Munich, and under Anders Zorn, a Swedish master of painting.   
 “The American business executive is not the hard, crusty individual he is supposed to be,” Ross once said. “Invariably I find that he is most delightful when he drops the guard that modern business forces him to maintain during office hours.” 
His work included even miniature portraits, done in the style of the 18th and 19th Centuries.
When not painting portraits,  Chandler turned to flowers, and his floral paintings were well known and often reproduced. Many were published by the New York Graphic Society.
In Ridgefield, Ross was better known as the man who purchased the former Ridgefield Golf Club and built the Peaceable Street estate that later became Ward Acres, home of Jack Boyd Ward and Olaf Olsen. 

Ross died in 1952 in Sarasota, Fla. at the age of 64. (He was no relation to another well-known Ridgefield artist, Alexander Ross.)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Walter Hampden: 
Star of Stage and Screen
Although he honed his acting skills playing Shakespearean roles in England, Walter Hampden was a Brooklyn-born son of a prominent New York attorney. He went on to star alongside many of the stage and screen’s greatest names in the United States. 
Walter Hampden Dougherty was born in 1879 and at 16, while studying at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, played Shylock in a student production of The Merchant of Venice. He went to France to study music, but the lure of the stage soon brought him to England, where he joined the Frank Benson Stock Company, touring Great Britain and becoming known for what has been called his “orotund voice.”
He returned to the States in 1907, and bought a Ridgefield farm on Mopus Bridge Road four years later. In 1919, he formed his own company with a predominantly Shakespearean repertory. In the 1920s, he opened his own theater in New York, playing Hamlet with Ethel Barrymore in the premier production. In 1923, he performed Cyrano to much critical acclaim, and revived the play several times during his career. 
While he continued to perform on the stage for most of the rest of his life — his last Broadway performance was in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in 1953, he increasingly turned to film late in life, often playing “distinguished old blowhards,” as one critic put it. 
Among his film roles were as the archbishop in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), an American Indian in Cecil B. DeMille's Unconquered (1947), a pompous actor in All About Eve (1950), the British ambassador in Five Fingers (1952), and the father in Sabrina (1954).
Over the years Mr. Hampden also appeared on stage in his home town, usually in efforts to benefit one cause or another. For example, in 1938, when a movement was underway to establish a professional summer theater here, he appeared in a production staged at the Congregational Church’s Clubhouse. 
During World War II, he was also active in efforts to sell war bonds at the original Ridgefield Playhouse. On April 16, 1945, four days after President Franklin D. Roosevelt died, hundreds filled the high school auditorium for a memorial service that included Mr. Hampden’s reading “O Captain, My Captain” — he had known the president, and had visited him in the White House.
For more than a quarter of a century, Mr. Hampden was president of the Players Club in New York City; its library is named in his honor.

He died of a cerebral hemorrhage while in Hollywood playing a leading role in the film, Diana, with Lana Turner. His wife, the actress Mabel Moore, and son, Paul — a former Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commissioner — were at his side when he died. He was 75 years old.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Geraldine Farrar: 
A Great Human Being
Geraldine Farrar was still a teenager when she became a star, heralded around the world for her voice as well as her acting ability.
One of the Metropolitan Opera’s greatest lyric sopranos, Miss Farrar had spent 16 years with the company, singing the leads in Madama Butterfly, Carmen, Tosca, and many other productions.   
“Miss Farrar was the last of a great operatic tradition set by such stars as Enrico Caruso and Antonio Scotti,” The Ridgefield Press said in her obituary. 
Born in Massachusetts in 1882, she was a daughter of Sidney Farrar, a 19th Century professional baseball player with the Philadelphia Phillies, who later lived on North Salem Road—Farrar Lane is named after him, not his more famous daughter. He bought the place in 1923 and the story about his moving in said ”His daughter, Geraldine Farrar, will arrive later, it is expected.” 
Sidney Farrar and his wife, both church singers, sent Geraldine to singing lessons when she was 12.  
In 1901, she made her debut with the Royal Opera in Berlin and so impressed Lilli Lehmann that the star took Miss Farrar as a pupil. She went on to sing with companies all over Europe. She made her acclaimed debut with the Met in 1906, and over the following years, shared leading roles
with such greats as Caruso, Scotti, and Louise Homer. She knew many notables in the arts, including Camille Saint-Saens, Giacomo Puccini, Mark Twain, Sarah Bernhardt, Nellie Melba, Fritz Kreisler, and Jules Massenet. She was also the lover of Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini (who twice performed in Ridgefield). She made several films, including Carmen and Joan of Arc. 
When she sang her last role in 1922, “a cheering crowd surged forward shouting her name,” The Press said. “Outside 40th Street between Broadway and Eight was a solid mass of fans.”  
For years, recordings of her music were produced, and are still being sold today.
She wrote two autobiographies, “Geraldine Farrar: The Story of An American Singer” (1916) and “Such Sweet Compulsion” (1938). Several biographies have also been written.
In 1924, a year after her parents moved here, she acquired Fairhaven, a large home on West Lane. In 1954, she decided to downsize and, with her companion of 50 years, Sylvia Blein, moved to a much smaller place on New Street.
During her years in Ridgefield, Farrar didn’t just twiddle her thumbs. She did  much work for
the Red Cross, and during the war, drove for the American Women’s Voluntary Services and served on the War Price and Ration Board. She also helped the Girl Scouts and served as finance chairman of the organization. She sang at fund-raising concerts for Danbury Hospital in the late 1930s.

On the night she died in 1967 at the age of 85, the Metropolitan Opera was performing Madama Butterfly, an opera Farrar had starred in nearly 100 times. That week, The Press suggested her epitaph might be a sentiment she herself once expressed: “Far more important than being a great artist is to become a great human being.” 

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Myles Eason:
Actor with 10 Green Thumbs
Myles Eason was seen by millions on stage, screen and television, but he was also seen by many at and around the Ballard Park Greenhouse where he not only lectured, but also worked.
“Being Australian and English, he has 10 green thumbs,” Edith Meffley of the Ridgefield Garden Club once said.
Oh, yes, Eason was also the first male member of that venerable garden club.
Myles Eason was born in Australian in 1915 and studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. During World War II, he served in the British army, rising to the rank of  major in the Royal Artillery. His posts included being an aide to the commander of the British Seventh Armored Division, the so-called “Desert Rats,” and serving on the staff of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.
After the war, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-on-Avon and was twice named Actor of the Year by the London Sunday Times.
He later appeared in London’s West End with Margaret Rutherford in a Noel Coward musical and was in several Globe Theatre revues.
In this country, his film credits included “Spider’s Web,” the Agatha Christie mystery with Margaret Lockwood, “Saraband” with Stewart Granger, and “Portrait of A Sinner.” His Broadway debut was in 1958 in “The Visit,” with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontaine, and 
he appeared on stage in plays with such stars as Claudette Colbert, Joseph Cotton, and Agnes Moorehead.
He portrayed Henry Higgins in the New York City Center Light Opera Company production of “My Fair Lady,” and then in London with the National Company. 
More locally, in 1967, he was Oberon in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford in a staging produced by fellow Ridgefielder Cyril Ritchard.
On television, he appeared regularly in two soap operas, As the World Turns and The Guiding Light.
An avid gardener, Eason had elaborate gardens at his homes. “He had an uncanny knack for
growing things,” said Terry Keller, director of the Ballard Greenhouse in the 1970s, where Eason often volunteered. “His pride and joy were leeks and endives, and the flowers in his garden were sensational.”
She added that “he was so much fun — he told outrageous jokes.”
Eason was married to Kay Young, a British actress he first met in London in the 1940s when she was at the Chelsea Arts Ball dressed as Egyptian Queen Nefertiti.
“Who is that girl” Eason asked his hosts, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh as he was seated in their box watching a performance. “I’m going to marry her some day.”
Many years later and soon after her second husband, actor Douglass Montgomery had died of cancer, Young was invited to dinner at Australian-born actor Cyril Ritchard’s home on Danbury Road. Among the guests was Eason. Six months later, Kay and Myles were married. They lived first on Golf Lane and then on Olmstead Lane (in a house later owned by actor-singer David Cassidy of The Partridge Family fame). She, too, belonged to the garden club.
Eason died of a heart attack in 1977 while vacationing in the Cayman Islands. He was 61 years old.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

James Birarelli: 
First to Die in World War II
At least 20 Ridgefielders died in World War II, Ridgefield’s costliest war in terms of deaths of any fought during the town’s three centuries. The first to die in combat was James Birarelli, shot as Allied troops were in the process of defeating the Axis in Tunisia.
His father, 4,300 miles away in Ridgefield, knew something bad had happened. 
James Birarelli was born in Ridgefield in 1915, a son of Nazzareno “Nano” and Palmina Goffi Birarelli, who had immigrated from Ostra, Italy, in 1906. Known to his friends as “Jim Bar,” he attended Ridgefield schools, was a member of the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department, and had been working for a local nursery when he decided to enlist. He had just turned 25 when he entered the Army in March 1940, shortly after war had broken out in Europe, but long before the United States joined the conflict.
By August of 1942, he was in North Africa with the 1st Division, battling General Erwin
Rommel’s Afrika Korps. On April 22, 1943, the final battle in the Tunisian Campaign began as Allied forces launched attacks against a long line of German and Italian troops west of Tunis. The next day, Friday, April 23, Birarelli and his comrades were moving eastward. According to the Army, “Although his small patrol was ambushed by a vastly superior enemy force, Private Birarelli refused to surrender. He opened fire on the enemy and assisted in driving them off. As a result of this action, Private Birarelli was mortally wounded.”
The fighting was fierce — it took the 1st, 4th and 78th Infantry Divisions eight days to move six miles into the Axis lines. But by the first week in May, the Axis forces surrendered, and the Allies wound up with 230,000 German and Italian prisoners of war.
On the morning of April 23, the day Jim Birarelli died, his father had a dream, according to “Impact,” Aldo Biagiotti’s history of Ridgefield’s Italian community. 
“You know, I saw Jim in a field surrounded by nuns,” Nano told his family. “Something has happened to him.”
His daughters, Mary (later Mary Morrow) and Nell (Nell Fortin), discounted the dream.
But on May 11, the family received a telegram reporting that Jim had been killed in action —
on April 23, which was Good Friday. 
“Father was right,” Mary Birarelli exclaimed.
When she heard the news, Palmina, Jim’s mother, “bolted hysterically from the house,” Biagiotti reported. 
For his bravery PFC Birarelli was posthumously given the Silver Star, awarded for gallantry in action, as well as the Purple Heart.
He was buried in a temporary military cemetery in Beji, Tunisia. Four years later, in October
of 1947, the Army notified the Birarellis that they needed to move their son’s body from the cemetery in Africa to a national or civilian cemetery in the United States. Nano and Palmina decided to have their son buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
The body did not arrive until the spring of 1948. Hundreds of Ridgefielders packed St. Mary’s Church Friday, June 4, for a memorial Mass celebrated by the Rev. Dionisi J. Birarelli, Jim’s brother. More than 80 Ridgefield veterans marched with the hearse on the journey from the church to the cemetery.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Col. Hiram K. Scott: 
A Most Useful Man
If anyone could be called Ridgefield’s “most prominent citizen” in the 19th Century, it’s Col. Hiram K. Scott, a man who was a leader in the government, civic, religious, educational, business, judicial, social, and even military life of the town. 
Scott was a town clerk, probate judge, postmaster, state representation, militia officer,   trial justice, and a lot more. He started the first circulating library in town and founded, more than a century and a half ago, the store that is today Bissell’s Pharmacy.
And if that’s not enough, he provided Ridgefield with its first soda fountain.
Hiram Keeler Scott was born in 1822 in a house still standing at the corner of North Salem Road and Circle Drive (it later became the town farm or “poorhouse”). He was a direct descendant of James Scott, who came to Ridgefield in 1712 and whose family settled what was soon called the Scotland district because of the large number of Scotts there.
He attended local schools and, at the age of 19, became a teacher himself, probably at the Scotland or Titicus schoolhouse. In a few years he was teaching at the Center School where “many of Ridgefield’s prominent sons and daughters received their first instruction under him,” The Ridgefield Press reported.
By 1844, when he was only 22, he assumed the first of many public service posts, becoming a town constable, which was then an unpaid, part-time,  elective position. He also served as a town tax collector.
His brains, hard work and ambition soon got him appointed the Ridgefield village
postmaster, a job he held for 28 years from 1849 until 1886 — with some breaks in between as different political parties took charge in Washington. In 1850, he was chosen a state representative — the second youngest man in the Legislature at the time. 
Two years later, he was elected Ridgefield’s town clerk, a job back then considered by many as more important than first selectman — town clerks were paid, first selectmen weren’t. He held the position for 45 years, longer than any town clerk before or since. (Scott’s birth in 1822 had been placed in the record books by Samuel Stebbins, the second longest-serving town clerk at 35 years.)
Scott sometimes seemed defensive, even a tad grumpy, about the town clerk’s job. “The duties of the town clerk, although looked upon by most people as very light and of little importance, are in fact very onerous and exacting,” the 86-year-old told a large audience  at Ridgefield’s bicentennial celebration in 1908. “For the past 20 years there has been a deluge of genealogical searchers trying to find out whether their ancestors had a coat of arms or not. The town clerk must wait upon them and render such assistance as they demand, and hardly a week passes but his time is taken up for many hours, without any remuneration.”
Despite his apparent distaste for genealogists, Scott did get paid a small salary and he did sometimes charge for services. In March 1905, for instance, an out-of-town law firm wrote and asked for some detailed information on the Pulling family that had lived in town in the 1700s and 1800s. Scott wrote back that the lawyers were asking for a lot of work. “If I make a thorough search, and give you a transcript of what your letter indicates, it will be worth $10 ($270 today).”
In 1854, Scott was also elected judge of probate, a post he held for 33 years — he was forced to retire when he reached the state-mandated age limit of 65.
In 1853 (some accounts say 1857), Scott opened a general store on the east side of Main Street, where The Village Tavern and Interiors and Designs by Ursula are today. There he sold food, hardware, dry goods, medicines, and other items, and incorporated the village post office into the operation. In a wing alongside his building, he maintained the town clerk and probate court offices — there was no “town hall” back then.  In the 1880s, the Ridgefield Savings Bank — now the regional giant, Fairfield County Bank — had its sole office in his store. Scott lived in a house behind the store.
Over the years the pharmaceutical side of his business apparently grew to the point where, by the 1890s, he may have been the chief purveyor of drugs and patent medicines in town. In 1895, perhaps because of the increasing workload as town clerk as well as his age, he sold the business to Harvey P. Bissell, who made it solely a pharmacy.
The sale was nicely timed for Scott but not so much for Bissell; four months after the transfer, the Great Fire of 1895 leveled 10 buildings on the east side of Main Street, including Bissell’s Pharmacy. Harvey Bissell quickly erected a new building that lasted until 2005 when it, too, burned down. But the venerable Bissell Pharmacy did not die in that fire either, and is still going strong today, located a couple hundred yards behind its original home.
Fortunately for the town, Hiram Scott had made sure the various town clerk and probate records were safe — among the buildings destroyed in 1895 was the 20-year-old “Town House,” an all-wood structure that preceded the present town hall. Even before the Town House was built, Scott had acquired a vault to protect the records — which included about 20 large books of  deeds, births, marriages and deaths.
 Scott talked about this during his address at the town’s 200th birthday celebration in 1908 at the town hall.
“It is very remarkable that our records have been so well preserved,” he said. “For about 150 years the town records were kept in private houses — the residences of the town clerks — and not until 1853 was a safe or vault provided for their safe keeping, then a vault was built and used 20 years, then safes were bought and placed in the Town House which was built on this spot in 1876.
“In 1895, the Town House was destroyed by fire, and the books came out safe and uninjured, except that the bindings of 40 volumes were so damaged that they had to be rebound.”
Being a merchant and town official was hardly all of Colonel Scott’s community involvement. In 1843, he was chosen colonel of the 24th Regiment of Connecticut Militia, and remained in command of that unit until the state militia was succeeded by the Connecticut National Guard. In 1862, during the Civil War, he organized a company of National Guard in Ridgefield, was chosen its captain, and served as such for five years. Despite the lower rank of the more recent position, he always preferred to be called Colonel Scott.
He was for most of his career a trial justice, which meant he presided over the town court that handled relatively minor offenses. One of his more sensational trials took place on April 2, 1887 involving Henry Mead, William Crofut, Eugene Keeler, and Mrs. F. B. Daniels, who had been arrested for illegally selling booze in Ridgefield, a dry town back then. “Probably no crusade against illicit liquor-selling has created such agitation of the public mind in this town,” The Ridgefield Press said of the cases. The town even retained an attorney, J. Belden Hurlbutt of Norwalk, to prosecute the cases — there were no lawyers practicing in Ridgefield back then (imagine that!).  Justice Scott’s findings sounded not unlike the sentences a modern court might hand down: Mead plea-bargained a fine of $30 plus costs on one count. Mrs. Daniels and Keeler maintained their innocence, were found guilty and fined $35 and $30 respectively; both said they would appeal to the Connecticut Superior Court. Crofut was “let off with costs.”  
Long after he left teaching, Scott remained interested in education, serving on the equivalent of the school board that oversaw the operation of the Center School where he once taught.
During the Civil War he was a deputy collector of internal revenue, after President Lincoln and Congress created an internal revenue agency to collect income taxes to pay for the war. (The income tax was repealed in 1872.)
Even distressed children got help from Scott. In 1875, he was among the incorporators of “The Danbury Home,” which was approved by the General Assembly “for the purposes of relieving, supporting and educating children who are homeless and destitute.”
An Episcopalian, Scott served as treasurer of St. Stephen’s Church for 20 years and was a longtime member of the vestry. His “strong counsel so ably charted the church’s financial course,” said Robert S. Haight in his “History of St. Stephen’s Church.”  
On the social side, Scott was a leader in the local chapters of the Odd Fellows and the Masons, holding top positions in both fraternal groups, locally and in the state.
Long before Ridgefield had a public library, Scott offered Ridgefielders the “Hiram K. Scott Circulating Library.” Begun in 1852, the library loaned out books for between three and nine cents a week, depending on how much the volumes cost; back then, most books sold for less than $1 brand new, and many were less than 50 cents. But 50 cents in 1850 was the equivalent of nearly $15 today. Thus, even three cents (about 88 cents today) was a fairly sizable amount of money; nonetheless, it was a lot cheaper than buying the book. The Scott library may have inspired the Library Club, formed in 1871. People paid $3 a year to belong and the money was used to buy books that were then circulated among members. After a year or so the books were sold and a new set purchased for reading.
The colonel’s books may have fed the intellectual needs of Ridgefielders, but there were more down-to-earth delights that Scott and his successor also satisfied. According to the Keith Jones of Ridgefield Historical Society,  “The town’s first soda fountain was installed as far back as 1853 by none other than Hiram K. Scott at his Main Street drug store. In an incredible stroke of fortunate timing, Scott sold his drug business to H.P. Bissell four months before the Great Fire which completely destroyed the store in 1895. Bissell rebuilt immediately and purchased a shiny new state-of-the-art ‘frigid soda and mineral water draught apparatus’ from the Peeffer & Louis Company of Boston, complete with marble body, oaken top, fancy mirror, and assorted light fixtures.”
Scott was also involved in one of several unsuccessful efforts to bring a railroad to Ridgefield center. In 1867 he was named secretary and treasurer of small group who organized the Ridgefield and New York Rail Road. This and other efforts to bring rail service to the center shocked the Danbury and Norwalk Railroad into action — two years later, it began work on its spur line from Branchville to Ridgefield center, completed in 1870.  That dampened interest on building yet another line into the center of town, and Scott’s railroad never laid a track.
Scott seemed rather progressive when it came to transportation and perhaps even exercise (to work off the ice cream consumed at the soda fountain?). Back in 1893 Ridgefield banned operators of bicycles — called “wheelmen” — from using the sidewalks on Main Street. Cyclists much preferred the well-maintained sidewalks to a muddy, rutty and dung-dotted roadway  (bicycles, not cars, were the main reason many of the busier roads in Connecticut began to be paved around the turn of the 20th Century after the League of American Wheelmen pressed for better highways.). In 1896 when he was in his 70s, Scott joined 23 people, including some other prominent citizens, in signing a petition, asking that wheelmen be allowed to use the sidewalks.  The effort failed, and it wasn’t until nearly a hundred years later that bicycles were permitted on sidewalks (as long as they don’t operate “in a reckless manner with disregard for the safety of other persons using said public sidewalk”).
Colonel Scott was still on the job as town clerk when he died in 1909 at the age of 87. He had survived three wives, and had five children. One son, Hiram Jr., briefly succeeded him as town clerk and, in 1924, son George was elected town clerk and probate judge. His descendants and relatives still live in and about Ridgefield today.
“So long a period of service in one community is a sufficient guarantee of Mr. Scott’s standing and worth as a man and citizen, as well as of his ability,” said The Commemorative Biographical Record of Fairfield County, published in 1899.

It added, “He has been through a long life...a kind of ‘general utility man’ in the community, his fellow citizens having the greatest confidence in his ability to further to success anything he undertakes, and in his integrity. In short, he has been a successful and a most useful man.” 

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