Looking Back: Cigs for lollipops, lockout or strike?

Parks and Recreation Superintendent Paul Roche was featured on the front page of the Nov. 19, 1992, edition of The Ridgefield Press for kicking his 21-year-old smoking habit “thanks to hypnosis.”

“He’s traded his three packs of cigarettes a day for lollipops, which he said he eats by the bag,” The Press wrote.

Roche had confessed to The Press that he smoked cigarettes so much that he even did it in the shower.

“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “I loved to smoke. I’d have one right after the other.”

When asked the most important reason why he quit, Roche cited the death of former First Selectman Liz Leonard.

“The former selectman died earlier this year of lung cancer, related to years of smoking cigarettes,” The Press reported.

“We were friends,” Roche said.

“Basically I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired,” he added.

Also on the front page was a headline that read “AIDS Threat Is Youth Topic” that talked about Danbury resident Jim Harlow’s recent speech to high school students.

Harlow, the executive director of the Greater Danbury AIDS Project, spoke about teen sexuality and AIDS at the Ridgefield Library a week earlier.

“Mr. Harlow said that one out of every 125 people in Connecticut is HIV positive,” The Press said. “Fourteen percent of those diagnosed with the virus in Danbury this year were in the 20- to 29-year-old age group.”

“The vast majority of new AIDS cases come from heterosexual contact,” Harlow told the crowd.  

50 years ago

Labor difficulties at the First National Store in the Donnelly Shopping Center caused the store to close for several days, The Press reported in its Nov. 16, 1967, edition.

The story was significant enough to warrant a front-page photo that featured four men — Charles Labate of Putnam Lake, N.Y., and Nick Gallo, Bradley Gekhardt and John Esterheld of Ridgefield — who were among store employees who had been “locked out by management.”

Inside the paper, the headline read, “Lockout or Strike? Labor Difficulties Close 1st National.”

The lockout was first reported Monday, Nov. 13, when employees of the First National in Ridgefield showed up for work to find the doors locked.

“Since then three or four employees at a time have walked up and down outside the store on three-hour shifts wearing signs proclaiming the lockout,” The Press reported. “No deliveries have been made to the store since Monday but the union agreed that management could take out all perishables. The milk and bread were donated to the Holy Ghost Fathers.”

Union representative Robert Petronella wrote to Gov. John Dempsey urging him “to intervene in the public interest.”  

“These stores are a public service and their being closed works a hardship on many communities especially during the holiday season,” he said of the local meat cutters’ union.

“Our local is part of a bargaining team which seeks the settlement of a strike in Boston and the negotiation of contracts for five other locals in New England. Our members are ready to go on the job at your call.”