From Little Playgrounds to Big Projects  
Thursday, September 15, 2011

Let’s offer a few comments and observations this week.

•Webster’s new kiddies playground on Ray at Lincoln Street doesn’t have any real size, but it seems a resounding success, judging from the number of adults accompanying mostly preschoolers to the corner lot. The concept is new, financed by the Town Office of Community Development. The town took the property in lieu of taxes many years ago. A water screen seems to be the big attraction. The total price tag was something like $130,000.

•Michael F. Hackenson has announced that he will be retiring as principal of Bartlett High School in February 2012, according to Webster Schools. Mr. Hackenson has been in the main office at BHS for 12 years. A longtime Webster resident, he took over what was certainly a troubled secondary facility when he came aboard and deserves plaudits for his significant contributions. His previous credits were as principal at Oxford High School.

•The late John “Trapper” Zalewski was a pretty good semi-pro baseball player in his time. He had a three-story pitch, developed as a newspaper carrier in the days before World War II. There was this customer who kept her third-floor flat locked at all times. First-floor stairwells were also under key. Trapper delivered the paper by wrapping it nice and tight and throwing it to the porch. His favorite “paper boy” story came to mind as I watched the fury of Hurricane Irene last month. Mr. Zalewski’s oft-told story was about the day in September 1938 that a major hurricane made its way into New England. Trapper tried his third-story toss several times, finally getting a paper in flight, but it went adrift and in as many directions as there were pages. The outcome was the woman refused to pay for the hurricane-day attempts because she didn’t get a paper.

•Neighbor Michael Pelletier says our recent story about the tough-times demise of The Lic’s Restaurant was OK, but it cut Uncle Wilfred “Junior” Pelletier’s tenure in the bar and food trade to the bone. This jolted my recall. Junior Pelletier’s first venture was in a small place on Thompson Road, a liquid refreshments and Italian food stop established by Patsy Difusco after Prohibition. “Junior” moved after a few years, relocating to what had been The Lodge in East Village, renaming it the Mohegan. His first location became an adult entertainment facility, and the building was enlarged a couple of times. Mr. Pelletier subsequently built The Mohegan Bowl-a-drone on Thompson Road, where candlepin play continues. He developed a miniature golf course adjacent to the alleys, but it was eliminated to create space and parking for The Lic’s. Michael isn’t claiming any historical status within the Pelletier family, but he knows what his relatives were all about!

•Friend Richard A. Perkins was clearing Hurricane Irene debris from the garden about his dwelling when a bumblebee stung him just below the left eye. “It was a problem that evening, but the next morning was something else,” he said. Naturally, he sought medical attention. The swelling was still somewhat obvious when we crossed paths four days later.

•Donna F. and Randall V. Becker seem anxious to close on purchase of the Vito Block and a couple of adjacent properties on Main Street, judging from a recent aside by Mr. Becker. The purchase will be indirect, with a significant contribution by the local couple, and the title going to the town. The properties will be razed to make room for a new police station. Mr. Becker, a key Mapfre Insurance Co. executive, has a deadline in mind: Columbus Day.

•I don’t know if there’s anything on record, but the late A. Rodney Klebart suggested another location for a police building years ago when he was the town engineer: South Main Street at Bartlett Street, all the way to Prospect Street. There was a mansion at the location when Mr. Klebart spoke of the proposal, but the building has been removed, and the lot is pretty clear now.

-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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