Looking Back: Unemployment, places for teens

Unemployment was a problem 25 years ago.

“The Ridgefield Press and five other Acorn Press newspapers will begin Feb. 6 running free advertisements for people in the six towns who are out of work,” said a front page story in the Jan. 23, 1992, Press.

Beside it were two stories about new freshman 5th District Congressman Gary Franks — one citing “the economy and jobs” as the political issues of the day, and another noting he was the first black Republican elected to House of Representatives in more than 50 years.

“This represents the first time a black conservative voice has been heard in the legislative branch,” said Franks, who hailed from Waterbury.

The state announced plans to widen and add sidewalks on Route 35 between Mountainview Avenue and Copps Hill Plaza. “The road — which is between 30 and 36 feet wide now — will be expanded to 40 feet to allow motorists to pass cars stopped in traffic waiting to turn left,” the story said.

The Board of Education agreed to split the special education preschool class into two sections in response to lobbying by parents, including Hope Wise, who was quoted in the page one story:

“‘It was a good first step,’ Mrs. Wise said of the split class. ‘I hope it’s the first in many.’”

Parents’ concerns included “the wide range of children’s needs in the preschool class” as well as “the range in ages from tiny 3-year-olds to bigger, more active 5-year-olds.”

State budget cuts were forcing “the end of all bus service to Ridgefield Jan. 31, leaving about 45 commuters without a ride to work,” The Press said.

The Ridgefield Archives Committee planned several showings of “Ridgefield’s Five Star Family,” a video featuring recollections by four of the five Tulipani brothers who’d fought in World War II — Joseph, Aldo, Albert, and John Tulipani. The film was produced and narrated by John Lydecker of Ridgefield.

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to urge that the town try to buy back the former Barlow Mountain School building, and the indoor swimming pool that had been added to it by the Ridgefield Family Y.

“Ridgefield’s young people have been looking for a place to call their own for years. And soon they will get one — a place called ‘The Barn,’” said that week’s editorial.

50 Years Ago

A teen hangout was also on Ridgefielders’ minds 50 years ago. “Town leaders scratch their heads: Where to locate a canteen for teenagers,” read a front page headline in the Jan. 26, 1967, Press.

Another story said, “Ridgefield’s difficulties with teenagers who drive over to New York State to buy liquor were cited this week by Leo J. Mulcahy, state police commissioner, as one of the reasons Gov. John Dempsey is seeking 75 additional state troopers to further control what the governor describes as the two major causes of highway deaths: speeding and liquor.”

Donald P. Lefferts was seeking zoning approval for a business pursuing “the restoration and repair of rare and antique automobiles” in Wilfred Weaver’s barn on Barry Avenue.

Brunetti’s Market was advertising “sirloin steaks, 99 cents a pound.” That works out to about $7.25 a pound today.

A story under the headline “Marty’s Skating Party” described plans for Francis D. Martin’s annual skating party on Lake Mamanasco Jan. 28. “Everyone is welcome and everything is free,” said the story. “There will be on hand 3,000 frankfurters, 3,000 rolls, 2,500 cups of coffee, 1,500 cups of hot chocolate, potato chips, doodles, butter, real cream, relishes, marshmallows, 5,000 hot paper cups, plenty of wood for fire. Mr. Martin says, ‘Please dress warm and wear old clothes — do not doll up.’”

Back in the days when, come January, ice thick enough to skate on was a given.