Looking Back: ‘Karaoke crooner,’ filming fishing

Can’t Help Help Falling in Love was the song everybody sung as The Press hit newsstands Jan. 14, 1993.

That’s because the famous Elvis Presley track was sung to local postal workers by Rabbi John Haddon of Temple Shearith Israel six days earlier, with Haddon and his self-karaoke machine grabbing the top spot of that week’s paper.

Haddon passed out commemorative stamps of The King, who would have turned 58 on Jan. 8, 1993, during the ceremony.

It wasn’t all fun and games that week.

“Students harassed — Incident raises adults’ concern,” was the headline that ran underneath the karaoke stand-alone photo. That story covered an incident that took place on Dec. 18, 1992, involving three sixth graders from East Ridge Middle School who were stopped at the Veterans Park hill after school on their way “to do what children do in the winter.”

“Three older, bigger boys came to the sledding slopes as well, to do what many Ridgefield residents would not expect on a peaceful Friday afternoon — push, taunt, punch, kick, and choke the younger children,” The Press reported.

“We were going to run into the school and get help because we knew they were trouble,” sixth grader Alex Bellina told the newspaper. “But they saw us and started chasing us.”

Alex ran across Governor Street toward Woolworth’s — the boys’ initial destination — to seek help, The Press said, but never made it inside. Instead, a physical altercation transpired and Alex was kicked and choked.

He eventually made it inside but the bullies followed him into the store.

According to Woolworth’s manager Christine Hempe, “the store employees were too busy with the onslaught of kids coming in after school to notice [Alex].”

Help arrived but not before the bullies cornered Alex, who was crying and could barely breathe, The Press said.

“As a parent, I am angry and astounded that … no adult was willing to aid an 11-year-old boy being beaten up by three older boys,” Frances Bellina, Alex’s mother, told the newspaper.

50 years ago

How much scenery harm would a big cable cause?

That’s the question The Press posed to its readers in a Jan. 11, 1968 headline. The story was about a proposed AT&T underground telephone cable the Planning and Zoning Commission discussed at its meeting two nights before.

“The commission decided not to act on the proposal, referred to them by the selectmen, until further information is obtained from the company,” The Press reported.

“The problem, first brought up by Dr. Nelson Gelfman, is that the possible defoliation of the ground along the cable route would cut a clearly visible swath through some of the greener parts of town, especially Pierrepont State Park.”

Gelfman, who also served on the Conservation Commission, voiced concern over the possible use of chemicals to kill plants in the defoliation process.

“The cable, part of the new Boston-to--Miami telephone line, would require digging a ditch from two to five feet wide,” the newspaper said. “The defoliated area along the land above the cable would probably be about 20 feet wide.”

Wildlife — and capturing it on film — made the front page of that week’s Press in a feature story about documentarian and Danbury resident Fred Carley.

The president of The World Outdoors and creator of wildlife motion pictures was set to speak to students at East Ridge Middle School Friday, Jan. 26.

“Mr. Carley has traveled to every corner of the globe averaging 100,000 miles annually to obtain the full-color sequences that have thrilled hunting and fishing enthusiasts all over the world,” The Press said. “Since he started making motion pictures as a business 15 years ago, his wife has accompanied him on all but his Alaskan trip, when he filmed ‘Brown Bear of Alaska,’ which he will show to his Ridgefield audience.”