Looking Back: Fighting ‘Tigers,’ favoring dirt roads

School redistricting was the top news story in the Dec. 10, 1992, Ridgefield Press — sound familiar?

While the proposal from the Board of Education’s redistricting/census subcommittee meant smaller class sizes at Veterans Park Elementary School, the trouble was pretty clear: 50 elementary school students would be transferred to another school.

Specifically, the redrawing of some of the elementary school district lines meant shifting students from Veterans Park to Scotland Elementary School.

“The idea is to buy time until more classrooms can be constructed at some of the elementary schools,” The Press said. “Veterans Park is acknowledged to be the most crowded of Ridgefield’s four elementary schools, and Scotland the least.”

What was the likelihood of a change going through by the fall of 1993?

“It is very likely,” said Superintendent Jeffrey Hansen. “I don’t want people to think there is any great likelihood that we’re going to solve this [overcrowding] other than with redistricting, because I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Ron and Doris Raymond, the founders of Ridgefield Biofeedback Associates, were profiled on the bottom of page 1 in that week’s newspaper under the headline “Raymonds Use Biofeedback To Fight ‘Tigers’ of Stress.”

The duo — Ron was a clinical psychologist and his wife, a counselor — used “sophisticated electronic equipment” to translate their clients’ anxieties into an external readout that can help them identify and regulate responses to stress, The Press reported.

“The Raymonds use advanced electronic technology to tame the snarling headaches, growling anxieties, and skulking hypertension that threaten their clients,” the newspaper said.

“[They] believe that many people in today’s pressured world suffer as if wild beasts were a constant threat,” the article stated.

Hard to imagine?

“It’s easier to think of a tiger leaping out at a primitive hunter as he steals along a jungle path,” The Press explained. “The man’s muscles tense, his eyes dilate, his digestion stops. His peripheral blood vessels constrict to reduce bleeding if he is injured. …

“This ‘fight or flight’ response means his sympathetic nervous system has taken over. He is ready for action, whether he stays to do battle or he decides to run.”

“Tigers come now in the form of economic pressures, job pressures, and the general demands on people living in a technological age to keep pace,” Dr. Raymond said. “We can’t eliminate those tigers but we can face them with our parasympathetic rather than our sympathetic nervous system.”

50 years ago

The tree lighting ceremony in 1967 was met with a snowstorm.

The Press ran a front page picture of then First Selectman J. Mortimer Woodcock and James Costanzi, president of the Lions Club, flipping the switch at Veterans Park in its Dec. 7, 1967, edition.

It was a smaller tradition back then than it is today.

“The Lions string lights on four trees, two of which are at the park, one in front of the library and one at the intersection of Branchville Road and Main Street,” The Press said.

The project needed the help of only 12 club members, who helped string up white bulbs on the four Christmas trees around town.

First Selectman Woodcock was a busy man.

A story in that week’s paper was titled, “Residents Like Dirt Roads and Resist Improvements.”

The Press reported that Ridgebury residents had signed a petition that requested the preservation of four separate roads in the area. The petition was being sent to Woodcock’s office.

“The thoroughfares in question — Spring Valley Road, Mopus Bridge Road, Chestnut Hill Road, and Wheeler Road — are unpaved, rustic in character, and the signers of the petition have expressed a unanimous sentiment opposing any modernization of roads,” the newspaper said. “Specifically, they presented their antipathy to road-widening — paving and any removal of trees along the borders.”