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December 23, 2007

Babies from Christmas Past

By Joanne Iacobellis

We are Italians and that means a Christmas Eve dinner that is mostly fish. Our menu has changed over the years from what my grandmother served. We now have lobster, baked stuffed shrimp and stuffed clams. Dad used to make the best stuffed clams, using his secret ingredients. He would even bring plates of clams to his neighbors on Christmas Eve.

On one Christmas Eve as we began our traditional dinner, my pager went off. Oh, no, I thought, not now. I was a nurse working on the labor and birth unit of a local hospital and was on call. The voice on the other end was most apologetic: “We know that you are just sitting down for dinner, but we had a sick call and now patients are coming in.”

Labor and birth units are traditionally unpredictable. One hour there might be just two women in labor and the next, seven or eight. “OK,” I said, “I’ll be there.”

As I left my parents’ house, the snow had just begun to fall. I got into my car, hoping that the ride down I-91 would be uneventful.

When I arrived at the hospital, the unit was relatively busy. There were six mothers in various stages of labor, with two more expected before the night was out. The secretary greeted me with a cheerful “merry Christmas” and an offer of Christmas cookies that she had baked.

I settled in and the hours passed quickly, as they often do on a labor and birth unit. All was uneventful until about 4 a.m. when I got a call that a woman was coming in for an emergency C-section. I immediately notified my team and they set to work. A well-practiced team of nurses and doctors, synchronized, moving in harmony.

The mother-to-be was definitely in labor but needed a C-section. From the time she entered our unit till the birth of her baby was about seven minutes. Her baby daughter was healthy but would spend her first four hours in newborn intensive care for observation. Her husband, still in shock over how quickly things went, thanked me and my staff. He was thrilled with his new daughter.

My shift ended at 7 a.m. As I walked through the lobby on my way home, carolers were singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” I thought, “Yes, it is a merry Christmas morning.”

To all a merry, merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!

Joanne Iacobellis is a lifelong Hamden resident whose professional career was in nursing management. She is currently the president of the Kenwood Valley Neighborhood Association and co-president of Concerned Citizens For Hamden Neighborhoods.  She can be reached at JoJo3030@comcast.net.

November 26, 2007

Meet Bruce Detmers, Neighborhood Architect

Photo/Joanne Iacobellis

By Joanne Iacobellis

I met Bruce Detmers some 15 years ago when I moved into the Kenwood neighborhood of Mount Carmel. We would pass each other on our walks, stopping to say hello. When the Kenwood Valley Neighborhood Association was formed three years ago, Bruce joined and was elected to the board.

The association was concerned with the increased traffic on Kenwood Avenue caused by cars and trucks cutting through between Evergreen and Sherman avenues. Bruce, a professional architect, offered to do the preliminary drawings for a cul de sac on Kenwood to prevent this cut-through traffic. At association meetings, he explained to residents how we needed to limit traffic on Kenwood Avenue. He answered questions about how a cul de sac located near Sherman Avenue would stop the cut-through.

Bruce met with the town engineering staff and reviewed the construction plans during the development of the design. The project was later turned over to a private engineering firm for preparation of the detailed construction documents.

Bruce, an architect with Eero Saarinen Associates, moved to Connecticut in 1961 from Michigan, when the firm relocated to Hamden. Eero Saarinen’s projects include the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the TWA building at JFK airport, the main terminal of Dulles Airport, the Kreskge building at MIT, Engels Rink at Yale University, Stiles and Morris colleges at Yale, and the CBS building in New York. Kevin Roche, John Dinkloo and associates completed Eero Saarinen’s work after his untimely death in 1961.

During a very distinguished career as an architect, Bruce worked on the following projects: the Cummins Engine Company sub-assembly plant in Indiana, the Knight’s of Columbus headquarters in New Haven, the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and the United Nations Plaza phases II and III. He stayed with Roche-Dinkloo Associates until his retirement in 2003.

Bruce and his wife, Betty, have three grown children and seven grandchildren. Now that Bruce is retired he can be seen biking along the trail or gardening in his yard. He is a member and trustee of the Dunbar United Church of Christ. He is also the chairman of the Board of Governors for the Columbarium, and chairman of the Investment Committee for the church. Since his retirement, Bruce has prepared architectural designs for the church columbarium and for his son’s construction company, as well as the cul de sac.

“When completed, the Kenwood cul de sac will maintain the integrity of the quiet neighborhood we enjoy,” said Bruce. He hopes to see trees planted as a visual screening of Whitney Avenue to diminish traffic noise.

Joanne Iacobellis is a lifelong Hamden resident whose professional career was in nursing management. She is currently the president of the Kenwood Valley Neighborhood Association and co-president of Concerned Citizens For Hamden Neighborhoods.  She can be reached at JoJo3030@comcast.net.

October 4 , 2007

Remembering the Pie Man

By Joanne Iacobellis

(Editor’s note: Iacobellis ventured outside her Kenwood borders to pen this apple-pie story.)

Fall is a time for apple picking, apple cider and apple pie. It is also the time for the Apple Festival held at the Dunbar United Church of Christ, at Benham Street and Dunbar Hill Road. I was reminded of this by a phone call from the fellowship announcing that the apple pies would again be sold every Wednesday up until the festival, the last weekend in October.

To purchase an apple pie on a Wednesday, you have to order in advance since only a certain number are baked on Wednesday morning. Yummy, I thought, as I quickly placed an order. So much for dieting -- but I could share that with my friends.

This phone call took me back in time. My dad had discovered the apple pies baked by the women of the church. He thought they were the best and was always anticipating the fall season. Eventually dad had a standing order. He would appear every Wednesday for his pie and spend some time talking with church members.

Dad would then take his prize possession home to share with mom. He did this for so many years, that they began calling him the Pie Man. Dad then began calling me on Wednesday to share in this scrumptious delight. Apple-pie Wednesdays became a day for father and daughter to spend some time together having a piece of pie and a cup of coffee.

Dad is no longer here, but I still anticipate the fall season and of course the delicious apple pies from the church. This year on Festival Day, I will stand in line with my neighbors waiting for the doors to open. We will talk about the pies, how many years we have been coming to the festival and share memories

It is at a time when the leaves are at their brilliant best, the air is crisp and clear and you can smell apple pies baking in the oven. It also is a time that I remember my dad, the Pie Man, with love and affection.

Joanne Iacobellis is a lifelong Hamden resident whose professional career was in nursing management. She is currently the president of the Kenwood Valley Neighborhood Association and co-president of Concerned Citizens For Hamden Neighborhoods.  She can be reached at JoJo3030@comcast.net.


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