Staples Class of ’61 Zooms Between Yesterday And Today

The Staples High School Class of 1961 was the first to spend all 3 years at the “new” campus on North Avenue.

Some students were the first at Coleytown Elementary or Long Lots Junior High, when those schools opened.

Some of their parents were part of the baby boom families flooding Westport in the 1950s. Others had parents who had been here for a few generations — either as blue-blood Yankees or Italian immigrants.

Like many classes, they held reunions, every 5 or 10 years. As expected, numbers dwindled.

The 50th, in 2011, was a big one. Hard work and internet sleuthing drew 108 classmates (including some who had moved away after elementary school or junior high, graduated late or quit school). It might have been their last hurrah.

But the passage of time does something. Two years later, a group gathered to celebrate their 70th birthdays. In 2015 they had a year-early 55th celebration.

Plans for a 60th reunion were derailed by COVID. But if a global pandemic reminded classmates of their vulnerability — and kept them from traveling getting together, even if they wanted to — it also provided an opportunity.

The “new” Staples, circa 1959. The auditorium (center left) and gym (largest building in the rear) are the only original structures that remain today.

Peter Kelman had been a reluctant reunion-goer. But he got roped into helping with the 50th reunion, however. And as the 60th loomed, he saw a chance to “break through the cliques”: athletes, hoods, nerds, popular crowd, artsy crowd, student council types, top students and more.

Kelman wanted to “expose” those cliques, and “encourage empathy and understanding that most in the class never had.”

Like so much else, the Class of 1961’s reunion would be on Zoom. But this would not be an awkward video event, where half the people talked at once, and the other half tried to but were on mute.

A hundred or so classmates joined the session, a few days ago. Twenty-five volunteered to speak, for 5 minutes each. I was honored to be invited to listen in.

A small part of the attendees at the Class of 1961 Zoom reunion.

Kelman chose carefully. He wanted people with stories to tell — ones that would “explicitly or implicitly cut through people’s superficial ideas of their classmates.”

For example, Jerry Melillo — part of an old-time Italian family — has become one of the world’s pre-eminent climate change researches.

Kelman cast a wide net. Don Law produced some of Boston’s biggest concerts; he’s now president of Live Nation New England. Thea Vierling has a second career as a beekeeper. Morgan Smith flew planes in Vietnam. Deborah Fortson relied on music to help her care for her mother during her battle with dementia. Joe Valiante volunteered at Ground Zero for several months after 9/11, and gave President Bush a firefighter’s badge that’s now displayed at the presidential library.

The stories were wide-ranging, intriguing, and full of the real-life details that show the many paths that unfold after high school. Taken together, they showed too the power that a Staples education provided for a very diverse group of young — and today, much older — people.

But the most powerful presentations came from a pair of speakers in the middle of the program.

Kelman himself talked about the “Westport Caste System.” Moving to Westport in 1956, he made friends with a wide group of classmates. But it was also clear, he said, that even as an assimilated, non-observant Jew he was in the middle of that caste system.

WASPs were at the top, Kelman said. At the bottom were some of his Italian friends, stereotyped academically and socially.

Many Jewish kids “strove for the top” group, he said. “And we looked down on the others.”

Kelman then read a story from Pat Ferrone Land, who was unable to attend. She wrote about her guidance counselor who told her not to take college courses, and how she was excluded from many activities.

Those experiences, she said, fueled her desire to prove the doubters wrong. They helped shape the rest of her life. (See below for her story.)

It was a reunion unlike any other that Class of ’61 has had — and unlike anyone else’s. There were no worries about booking venues and motel rooms, making small talk or looking great.

All anyone had to do was listen to everyone else. And they did. More than 2 1/2 hours after they logged on, nearly 100 people were still on the screen.

Junior prom, 1960.

So what’s next?

“I’m going to do everything I can to tighten these new bonds,” Kelman says.

He’s looking too to pull in classmates who did not attend — and find those they don’t have contact information for.

After all, the 65th reunion is not far away.

(Want to see what members of the Class of 1961 have accomplished, and are up to today? Click here. For the website homepage, click here.)

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Here is Pat Ferrone Land’s story for the Staples High School Class of 1961 reunion:

I was the youngest of a large Italian family in Brooklyn. My father and his siblings owned and lived in an apartment building above the family bakery.

The family purchased land on Newtown Turnpike in Westport as a summer retreat, much to the outrage of local Yankees. Italians did not belong on that side of town!

Summers were spent at Compo Beach, and with friends made through Assumption Church.

In Brooklyn, I attended a Catholic school that reflected the diversity of our neighborhood: multiracial, multi-nationalities and culturally diverse.

I thrived in school, consistently being at the head of my class. By 4th grade we were writing cursive, multiplying and dividing fractions, and reading for knowledge and pleasure.

Due to a change in city planning, my family chose to make Westport our home. I was enrolled at Bedford Elementary. From my first day there, I was met with condescension and indifference by the primarily WASP class. I was rebuffed as I attempted to make friends. I was blessed to be seated next to Mindy Pollack, who was welcoming and kind.

The exclusion by fellow classmates was painful. The message was clear: “stick to your own kind.” I did, with the good fortune of meeting Louie DeLallo, Jack Jackson, and Petey and Carlo Tucci Palmer. They took me under their protective wings and we remained lifelong friends.

By 5th grade, due to Westport’s population increase, I and my Italian guardian angels were transferred to the new Coleytown Elementary school. While studying countries of the world, my teacher said, “Pat stand up. This is what an olive-skinned person with kinky hair looks like.” I was mortified and embarrassed.

Pat Ferrone’s 5th grade class, Coleytown Elementary School.

In 6th grade, my best friend at school was a WASP. One day she invited me to her home to play. But when we got there, I was not permitted to enter the house.  Message received.

Then came junior high. Sadly, many of my Coleytown friends were assigned to Long Lots. I was sent to Bedford Junior High, where I found myself enrolled in the lower-tier classes.

I approached former acquaintances from Bedford Elementary, only to be rebuffed. I became invisible to my former best friend.

During my elementary and junior high years I would go downtown to my family’s laundromat, visiting the library and shops along Main Street. Most owners welcomed the skinny girl with the Brooklyn accent — with the exception of the lady in the Map and Book Store: “Dear, your kind does not belong in this shop.”

9th grade was the year of the Royal Knights. The Italian girls paraded around in the boys’ jackets. One day some of the WASP girls began wearing them as well. I thought, “Finally, we’re being accepted and coming together.”’

The Bedford Junior High School Class of 1958.

Then Staples…

My guidance counselor told me, “Your kind is not college material. You should take the secretarial program.” My Brooklyn moxie kicked in. I told her I would take college prep and secretarial.

The summer of junior year, Lorrie Tremonte drove a group of us to the Duchess.  A carload of boys from school parked alongside and began calling us “whores.”  They didn’t see Johnny Izzo in the car. He jumped out and confronted them. They said they were joking and didn’t mean it.

There was a clear delineation of social groups at Staples. By choice, the Italians parked in the lot by the industrial arts building. At Compo we sat by the brick lockers. “Stick to your own kind” was embedded in our psyche.

The cover of the 1961 graduation program.

Graduation arrived and my new life began. It’s amazing how even negative experiences in our younger years can end up impacting our lives positively.

My Coleytown teacher made me an avid non-sun worshiper. My skin became the paler tone of my mother. I’ve never had a positive test for skin cancer.

My guidance counselor’s comment made me the “I’ll show you” kid.

At 18, I became the secretary to the administrator at Norwalk Hospital. I took night classes to improve my grades in order to enter nursing school.

I became an ER nurse, and was chosen to be on Governor Grasso’s task force to designate specialty hospitals in the state.

I went on to become a school nurse. I was named School Nurse of the Year by the town of Fairfield in 1997.

And I was inducted into an International Honor Society at Fairfield University.

The years of exclusion in Westport served me well in my later life and profession. I learned to accept those who were different from me, to celebrate diversity, to show compassion and empathy for the less fortunate, and to reach out to the underdog.

I don’t mean to say that my years in Westport were all darkness. I was embraced by many kind and sensitive students and faculty.

Let me end with a line from a Frank Sinatra song: “But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of my years.”

It has been said that in the fall, the leaves on the trees blossom and become their true colors.

I wish you all a time of blossoming, rebirth and joy!

 

Pic Of The Day #1421

Frank and Linus frolic at Compo Beach  (Photo/Nicola Sharian)

Justices Of The Peace: The Legacy Continues

Saul Haffner died in 2017. He was 87.

He served on the RTM, was a member of the Y’s Men, and taught photography and writing at the Senior Center and Norwalk Community College.

Saul was a US Army veteran. He was an engineer who worked on NASA’s Gemini program, and a professor of business and marketing at Sacred Heart University.

But he is best known as a justice of the peace. In fact, he may have been the nation’s foremost authority on the subject. In 2009, I profiled him for “06880.”

Barbara Jay and Saul Haffner

Saul and his wife Barbara Jay founded the Justice of the Peace Association (JPUS) in 2001. At the dawn of the internet age, they wanted to connect couples and officiants in a personalized fashion.

An early advocate of marriage equality, he and Barbara created professional conferences on all aspects of a JP’s role.

Saul and Barbara’s daughter Loretta Jay carries on their tradition.

The 1984 Staples High School graduate — now a Fairfield resident — wants her parents’ vision and network to continue. She’s still connecting officiants and couples. But she’s expanded her services to incorporate her own interests and professional work: underserved populations, and problems affecting young people.

Loretta Jay

JPUS became a founding member of the national Coalition to End Child Marriage. Last year, the organization helped run the first and only training about child and forced marriage and human trafficking for American marriage officiants.

Previous conferences have featured keynote speakers like Senator Richard Blumenthal and current Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz.

This year, the Justice of the Peace Association hosts a virtual conference. Set for March 13 (9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.), it’s a creative environment where civil officiants can reimagine weddings, learn new skills, and nurture relationships.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill will recognize Saul and Barbara, and JPUS’s 20 years.

Always wanted to be a justice of the peace? Interested in marriage-related issues like equality and human trafficking?

Click here for more information, email lorettajay@JPus, or call 203-255-7703.

Roundup: COVID Tests, Scott Bryce & Jodi Stevens, Animals …

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A hearty “06880” thank you to all who donated to this year’s “pledge drive.” Your support of our online community — and of me, personally — is greatly appreciated. (And yes, there’s still time — click here!)

To the reader who sent an anonymous note saying “calling us moochers won’t get us to contribute” — sorry. Sounds like you were just looking for a reason to not help out.

But hey — at least you paid for a stamp.

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In related COVID news, former Food & Drug Administration commissioner — and Westport neighbor — Scott Gottlieb told “Face the Nation” yesterday that 70% of Americans 75 and older, 60% of those 65-plus, and nearly 20% of all American adults will be vaccinated “probably by the end of this week.”

He also noted growing evidence that all vaccines prevent transmission of the coronavirus — not just symptoms.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

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St. Vincent’s on Long Lots Road has closed. But there’s a new COVID testing center nearby.

Sameday Testing has opened at 1260 Post Road East (near Fortuna’s, Greens Farms Spirit Shop and Vivid-Tek).

Founded just a few months ago, the startup of doctors, scientists and engineers has ramped up to test thousands of people every day, across the country. They offer employer-sponsored programs too.

Click here for an appointment. To learn more, email evan@sameday-testing.com
or call 203-520-7734.

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With a name like “Celebrity Parents,” I expected fluff.

But the current issue features an in-depth, insightful interview with Scott Bryce and Jodi Stevens.

The Westport stage and screen actors talk about how they met (several times); their relationship; raising an athletic son; Staples Players; Scott’s work with the New Paradigm Theater, and Jodi’s pivot to teaching in her home studio during COVID.

Click here for the very entertaining story. (Hat tip: Bobbie Herman)

Scott Bryce and Jodi Stevens (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Parents)

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MoCA Westport’s Winter Lights Festival lit up the town on Saturday.

Highlights included a walk-through light path (in collaboration with the Up | Next Teens organization; a maker space for families to create decorations together, and the high school student art exhibition “Hindsight is 2020.”

MoCA’s Winter Festival light path (Photo/Joel Triesman)

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Horses are back at Sherwood Island State Park. A group regularly trailers in their animals, for walks along the beach and through the beautiful paths. This shot was taken in the grove on the Sherwood Mill Pond side, near the fire gate to Compo Cove.

(Photo/Chris Swan)

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Another animal: This guy was happy to pose yesterday, for a Weston photo op:

(Photo/Steve Rothenberg)

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And yet more animals: Yesterday’s story about dog photographer Jim Boisvert reminded Matthew Mandell of a video he produced in 2013.

Part of the “What’s Up Westport” series, it’s title is “Dogs on the Beach.” Fifi, Fido, Fluffy: Here’s your 4 minutes of fame.

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And finally … Happy International Women’s Day!

Melissa Bernstein Offers Hope For Anguish, Depression

In the toy industry, Melissa Bernstein is a rock star.

The world knows her as co-founder and chief creative officer — with her co-founder husband and fellow native Westporter — of Melissa & Doug. The $500 million company is legendary for its toys that encourage interactive, hands-on play, and spark the imagination of children in a way screens and high-tech never can.

Yet for most of her life, Melissa Bernstein did not even know herself.

She and Doug built the business from scratch. It was their idea, their execution, their 32 years of hard — yet very fulfilling — work.

Melissa Bernstein, with some of her creations.

They married in 1992. They have 6 accomplished children, ranging in age from 27 to 13. They built a beautiful home.

Yet all along — for as long as she can recall — Melissa lived with existential anguish and depression. It made her who she is.

And at times, it made her want to end her life.

Existential anguish and depression is not a DSM diagnosis. But her torment — a crisis of doubt and meaning — was frighteningly real. It was “the darkest nihilism. Life seemed absurd and futile.”

Her mother remembers Melissa screaming every day, for the first year of her life. It was not colic; these were terrifying shrieks. “I had no words or creative solutions to what I was feeling,” Melissa says.

Melissa and Doug Bernstein.

Melissa grew up with that pain. But she was creative too. She wrote verses, and was a musician. But in college, realizing she would never play professionally, she quit music cold turkey.

She sought solace in academic performance. Looking back, she says, that turn “took me out of my heart, and into my head.” She felt “completely and utterly worthless.”

It was a coping mechanism involving denial, resistance, avoidance and dissonance, Melissa realizes now.

She created a “perfect, fictitious world” in her head. She lived in that “blissful place, filled with imaginary friends,” for at least a decade.

To the outside world, Melissa projected a façade of perfection. She worked, volunteered with the Levitt Pavilion, Music Theater of Connecticut and July 4th fireworks. She ferried her children to every sport and activity. The biggest criticism of her as a parent, she says, was that she seemed “emotionless.”

Doug and Melissa Bernstein, with their 6 children.

“Part of my validation was being a martyr,” she says. “I had to put one foot in front of the other. I had to think of my kids before me.”

Doug did not have an inkling of what Melissa was going through. But neither did she.

“I couldn’t let this demon come up,” she notes. “If I did, it would have taken me down.”

Five years ago, Melissa began to “connect the dots in a profound way.” She was exhausted. “I wanted to stop racing. It’s hard to resist everything you feel and are,” she says.

She listened to podcasts like “The Good Life Project.” She read Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning.” She learned that “as humans, our number one motive is a search for meaning.”

Melissa says, “My heart stopped. With profound alacrity, I knew what I was afflicted with.”

The more she learned, the more she realized that highly creative people — Beethoven, Mozart, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Emily Dickinson, Hemingway — shared her anguish.

For the first time in her life, Melissa did not feel alone.

Understanding her hypersensitivity to “both the beauty of the world, and unbearable pain,” she cried for 3 days.

She had awakened a window into her soul. She came to terms that her creative blessing was also a curse.

Melissa Bernstein

All those verses she’d written; all the toys she’d developed — they were outward signs of who Melissa Bernstein is. Now, she knew, she had to accept internally who she is too.

She could not do it alone. With the help of therapist Loredana Trandu, she has learned to make sense of her life.

“My journey with her was arduous. It was the lowest I ever felt,” Melissa says. “But she was there every step of the way. She’d been to that spot. I wasn’t scared.”

Now, Melissa wants to help others.

First, she shared her story on Jonathan Fields’ “Good Life” project. Hundreds of listeners responded. Their words were soulful and heart-wrenching. One told Melissa, “you put words to what was ineffable and hidden.”

She emailed or called every one. She followed up in depth with nearly 100.

Now, she and Doug have developed LifeLines. An ecosystem — books, videos, podcasts, community — its goal is to “help frame those soul-searching questions that allow you to explore your authentic self and discover what makes you tick.”

Melissa Bernstein reads her “LifeLines” book.

LifeLines is based on 3 premises:

  • You are not alone
  • We all have the capacity to channel darkness into light
  • We will not find true fulfillment and peace until we look inward and accept ourselves.

Completely free — funded by the Bernsteins — it’s about to roll out nationally. Major media like the Washington Post, USA Today, People, Elle magazine and “Good Day New York” are covering LifeLines this week and next.

Westporter David Pogue airs a segment on “CBS Sunday Morning” this weekend (March 14).

David Pogue tapes a segment with Melissa Bernstein, in her Westport home.

LifeLines has become Melissa’s life. She has recorded nearly 3 dozen podcasts, and oversees every aspect of the project. Yet she still takes time each day to speak to individual men and women — people just like her, who feel the same overpowering existential anguish and depression.

Being on the national stage — and speaking to strangers — is important. But Melissa is our neighbor. Sometimes the hardest part of baring our souls is doing it to those who know us well.

The other day at a Staples basketball game, a woman looked away when they met. Then she said, “I’m so sorry.”

Melissa felt badly that the woman felt so uncomfortable.

“We need a huge education program,” she says. “We know what to say, and not say, when someone dies. Now we need a new national conversation on how to talk about mental health.”

It’s taken Melissa Bernstein her entire life to discover herself, and open that internal dialogue. Now, with LifeLines, she’s opening up to the world.

The chief creative officer of one of the world’s leading toy companies is playing for keeps.

(PS: On Thursday, March 18 at 7 p.m., the Westport Library hosts a conversation with Melissa — and me — about her journey. Click here to register.)

 

Pics Of The Day #1420

2 views of the Levitt Pavilion: in fog … (Photo/Nancy Breakstone Photography)

… and sun. Plans are underway for a summer season this year. (Photo/Roseann Spengler)

Compo Canines: Jim Boisvert’s Best Shots

Jim Boisvert loves dogs.

He also loves photographing them at Compo Beach.  Westporters have noticed Jim and his partner Jamie Grandison — also a dog photographer — taking shots of any canine that wants its picture taken.

Jim and Jamie live in Cheshire. But they come often to Compo and Longshore.

Jim Boisvert and Jamie Grandison.

Jim likes chatting with the walkers on the beach, and takes a photo of any veteran who agrees.

“Good, friendly people,” he says. “I love coming here.”

In warm weather, Jim bikes through the backwoods of Connecticut taking images of wildlife and beauty.

He does not accept payment for any dog photos or prints. That would take the fun out of it, he says.

He does post photos on Facebook and GuruShots.

Jim and Jamie have one request: a donation to the Cheshire Community Food Pantry. Paying it forward, one bark at a time.

(All dog photos/Jim Boisvert)

 

Photo Challenge #323

Last week’s Photo Challenge showed an image in downtown Westport.

But it’s an obscure one: a star-shaped sculpture, on the side of 215 Main Street. That’s heading north, past Parker Harding by Veterans Green. I guess most people never have a reason to look up and over at the nondescript green building.

To be honest, I never have either. But click here to see.

Rachel Halperin-Ziberman, Vanessa Bradford and Stephanie Ehrman were the only 3 readers who knew the spote. And, Stephanie fessed up, that’s because it’s her office (“during non-COVID times”).

This week’s Photo Challenge shows a path that Elaine Marino recently discovered. Now that she has as rescue dog, she’s seeing things she never noticed before.

What about you? If you have spotted this — with your dog, or without — click “Comments” and tell us where in Westport it is.

(Photo/Elaine Marino)

 

Roundup: Real Estate, Real Help, Flags …

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The local housing market still sizzles.

Brown Harris Stevens reports that 42 houses closed in February in Westport — the most for that month since at least 2014.

The average closing price was $1.8 million, up 50% from the same period last year.

Supply was down. On February 28 there were 138 houses on the market, 52% fewer than in February 2020.

Prices for the 68 houses pending — properties with signed contracts — ranged from $565,000 to $6.3 million. The average list price was $2.1 million.

Weston has seen a 76% increase in home sales for December through February, compared to a year earlier. The average closing price was $1.09 million, up 46%. (Hat tips: Roe Colletti and Chuck Greenlee)

This gorgeous home on Hidden Hill, off South Compo, is listed for $4.8 million. (Photo courtesy of Compass)

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For many people, COVID created 2 types of hunger: for food, and for the human spirit.

Westport’s Unitarian Church helps feed both needs.

For years, a community of food-insecure people has gathered on Sunday mornings under Bridgeport’s Route 25 overpass. They celebrate together: children’s birthdays, sobriety, housing, new jobs. When ministers or priests appear, prayer circles form.

As the pandemic’s quarantine and health regulations prevented many non-profit providers from serving food at the John Street site, Unitarian Church members worked with April Barron of Helping Hands Outreach in Bridgeport to coordinate bagged lunches.

Over the past 9 months, they’ve handed out over 12,000 lunches — filled with sandwiches, drinks, fruit, snacks, and messages of support.

With donations of food and money way down, April says the Unitarian Church — and similar help from St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Norwalk — were crucial. Just as important: the interaction with people.

The Unitarian Church’s Shawl Ministry — which for years has knit and crocheted shawls for congregants — also made and gave warm hats, scarves and cowls to the John Street community this winter.

To help distribute lunches, email david@uuwestport.org. To help make lunches (Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.), click here.

Westport Unitarian Church volunteers, with bagged lunches.

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There’s always something to see at Sherwood Island.

The other day, Jack Menz did not like what he saw.

The American flag is in tatters. The Connecticut state flag is not much better.

(Photo/Jack Menz)

“It’s wrong to fly such a battered flag,” Jack says.

“Wrong for visitors to the park, and wrong for those honored at the park. We should have a new flag flying there.”

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The other day, the Cornell Daily Sun highlighted the student-run Cornell University Emergency Medical Service. Working through the pandemic, they provide free 24/7 emergency care to staff, students and visitors.

Director of operations Hannah Bukzin is a Cornell senior — and a Staples High School grad. She honed her skills working hundreds of hours with the Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service.

CUEMS answers 600 calls a year — “allergic reactions, alcohol or drug overdoses, motor vehicle accidents and everything in between,” Hannah says.

Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Dennis Poster)

Hannah Bukzin

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Klein’s is long gone from Main Street.

So is its successor, Banana Republic.

But the old department store — at least, its signage — reappeared the other day, during construction work on the property.

You can no longer buy books, records, cameras or typewriters on Main Street. But — for a while, anyway — Klein’s was back.

(Photo/Jack Whittle)

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And finally … today in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for the telephone.

MLB’s Lou Gehrig Day: The Local Connection

June 4 marks the 80th anniversary of the death of Lou Gehrig. The legendary New York Yankees’ 1st baseman — “The Iron Horse” — died 17 days before his 38th birthday, of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The disease now bears his name.

This June 2, all 30 Major League Baseball teams will inaugurate an annual tribute to Gehrig, and recognize the fatal illness. All players and managers will wear a patch with his #4. “4-ALS” logos will be displayed around stadiums.

MLB will use the occasion to raise money and awareness to battle the disease, and pay homage to advocacy groups like the LG4Day committee.

That group was responsible for the league-wide initiative. Co-chair of the committee was Chuck Haberstroh, the former Staples High School basketball star whose mother Patty is afflicted with ALS.

Well-known to Westporters through many activities, including her work with the Department of Human Services, Patty was diagnosed in 2017. She has inspired her family — and many others throughout town — since then.

Haberstroh, songwriter Bryan Wayne Galentine — who was also diagnosed with ALS in 2017 — and Adam Wilson spent 2 years persuading MLB to honor Gehrig with a day, as it does Black pioneer Jackie Robinson and Puerto Rican humanitarian Roberto Clemente.

Hall of Fame statues (from left): Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente.

Various teams held their own ALS Awareness Days, but Haberstroh and his group wanted more. They had to convince all 30 clubs to sign on. The breakthrough came in October, when the presidents of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins agreed to email the presidents of nearly 2 dozen teams that had not yet pledged support.

Within minutes, it was done. Sadly, Galentine died 2 days later.

Patty Haberstroh

That galvanized Haberstroh to work even harder to raise ALS awareness — along with funds to find cures and treatments. The family has already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through the #ALSPepperChallenge.

“Lou Gehrig Day will increase awareness of ALS year after year,” Haberstroh says.

“And it will give hope to those with little today — somethin Mom has always cared about as a social worker in town.

“Someone diagnosed today receives the same prognosis — 100% fatal — as Lou got over 80 years ago. That’s unacceptable.”

Word has just gotten out about the June 2 4-ALS Day. The nation will hear more about it in the months ahead.

For Chuck Haberstroh and his family, that makes every team a winner.

Click below for an ESPN SportsCenter highlight, featuring brothers Chuck and Steve Haberstroh: