Newtown Lions Club


                                    February and March  2009


Sat.  Feb. 7--Lions Midwinter Convention

Sun. Feb. 8--Valentine’s Day dinner with wives, 6:00 at Stony Hill

Wed. Feb. 18--Board of Directors meeting at Walt Schweikert’s house

Wed Feb. 25--Regular Meeting

Fri. March 6--Lions Day at the U.N.

Sat. March 7--Work Camp Breakfast

Wed. March 11--Regular Meeting

Wed. March 18--Board of Directors meeting

Wed. March 25--Regular Meeting


                                    Thoughts From Your President

                                                “Am I Doing My Part?”


            Past, present and future, we are a group of individuals who have banded together to help comfort, either monetarily or physically, people who are less fortunate than ourselves.  Our purpose is VOLUNTARISM!  As members of our group, I want to impress upon each and every one of you, the importance of pitching in to do your part.  We have a core of individuals in our club who tend to step up whenever they are needed and, in effect, fill the void when someone else declines.  There are, however, a substan- tial number of individuals who need to be reminded about the reason they joined our club.


            At the ceremony of induction each of us was informed that membership in our organization entails obligations.  We help our blind, sick or handicapped neighbors, as well as those who have fallen victim to disasters or hard times.  We all stated that we were ready to participate in club functions and contribute to the programs of the club.  As your president, I am asking you to make that pledge a reality.


            If you have a family or employment related hardship, we understand.  We do have a means to contend with an immediate problem.  Becoming a Member-at-Large allows a six month temporary respite from Lionism. Your Board of Directors are all individuals who can relate to problems which arise unexpectedly.


            There will be a listing of all the committees of the Newtown Lions Club at coming regular meetings.  If you are there and your name is not already on one of the lists, please sign up to serve.  If you can not make a meeting on a particular night please email or call Walt Schweikert, our Membership Chairman, or me, to confirm that you want to serve on one of the committees.


Thanks,  Tom

                                                Christmas at the Post Office


            There was a man who worked for the Post Office whose job it was to process all the mail that had illegible addresses. One day, a letter came addressed in a shaky handwriting to God with no actual address but with a return address.   He thought he should open it to see what it was all about. The letter read:

            "Dear God, I am an 83 year old widow, living on a very small pension.
Yesterday someone stole my purse. It had $100 in it, which was all the money I had until my next pension check. Next Sunday is Christmas and I had invited two of my friends
over for dinner. Without that money, I have nothing to buy food with. I have no family to turn to, and you are my only hope. Can you please help me?


            The postal worker was touched. He showed the letter to all the other workers. Each one dug into his or her wallet and came up with a few dollars. By the time he made the rounds, he had collected $96, which they put into an envelope and sent to the woman. The rest of the day, all the workers felt a warm glow thinking of Edna and the dinner she would be able to share with her friends.

            Christmas came and went. A few days later, another letter came from the
same old lady to God. All the workers gathered around while the letter was opened.
It read,

            "Dear God, How can I ever thank you enough for what you did for me?  Because of your gift of love, I was able to fix a glorious dinner for my friends. We had a very nice day and I told my friends of your wonderful gift. By the way, there was $4 missing. I think it must have been those bastards at the Post Office.

Sincerely yours,

                        .           The Nine Lives of Lion Dave Brown”


            They say that cats have nine lives and since Lions are in the cat family that applies to them and to Lion Dave Brown, who certainly has had nine lives. Raised in Stratford, Dave was not the intellectual he appears to us today.  In fact, he says “I was in no way interested in education whatsoever”.   He enrolled in Bullard Haven where he had some excellent training and good teaching.  He intended to go in the foundry business which was thriving in Bridgeport at the time.   But he had become a member of the Methodist Church and began taking his faith so seriously that he contemplated becoming a minister.  Thus with fatherly support he enrolled in West Virginia Wesleyan College.  After two years, however, he dropped out and   returned to Bridgeport and worked for his father and helped to run Western Auto, an auto supply store.  With some fatherly push, he decided to go back to Wesleyan.  Deciding that being a minister didn’t exactly suit him, he opted to become a teacher, majoring in math and minoring in physics. 


            Student teaching in a  one room school house brought many surprises.  One was that he was asked to witness corporal punishment dealt by the principal.  Much to Dave’s dismay one day he witnessed the principal giving three whacks to a white boy and six to a black.  Graduating in 1960 he became a teacher in Trumbull High which he enjoyed very much.  Dave always says he enjoyed every job and when it was no longer fun he changed location or career


            Next he moved to Bethel High School.  Married by now to Sandra, he stayed at Bethel for six years, teaching math and physics and enjoying his colleagues.  At this time he decided to build his own house in Newtown.   He  designed their home, doing much of the carpentry and all the electrical work but subcontracted out the sheet rock and plumbing.  During this time he began to teach in North Salem.  After two years there he was asked to become the acting middle school principal for three months of school.  Making decisions comes naturally to Dave but some of his decisions irritated other administrators to whom he posed a threat.


            So he came to Newtown to teach.  Again he was very active in the CEA and was on the negotiating committee facing the tough school board president, Les Burroughs.  However, issues came to a head and the teachers decided to strike.  This didn’t seem right to Dave so he went to work every day.  Many of the striking teachers really resented this and the following year some of them would not speak to him.


            During the summers Dave and Sandra  developed a traveling summer camp program.  They traveled within a 250 radius in the northeast staying two to three days in one area before moving on to another.  Students ages twelve to fifteen attended these camps which were of three weeks duration.  In addition to the two of them, they took along two councilors and a babysitter who would drive and help with their own four kids. 


            All this time Dave was an active volunteer, especially with the Jaycees and the Board of Town Hall Managers.  When the current town hall manager resigned, Dave took his place from 1976-1979.  Dave was proud of the $1.00 admission charge and enjoyed seeing long lines of people on the sidewalks outside the theatre waiting for seats.  During his tenure as Town Hall manager, as a separate job he ran the refreshment stand at Dickenson Town Park.  Somewhere in this period he also became an auctioneer.  Cleaning out barns for people, and working on small estates, he enjoyed auctioneering for three years.  He was, however, accused of running a junk yard by neighbors.  As always, Dave said he couldn’t have done this without the love and support of Sandra and the children, Jennifer, Jessica, Jason and James.


            But then it was time for another changer.  Back to school he went to WestConn and get his degree in finance.  Passing the CPA exam, he was taken into the accounting practice of Don Studley to whom he is very grateful.  Eventually, in 1983, he set up his own practice.  For about twenty years he worked as a CPA and enjoyed his clients.  .


            And all that time he was volunteering.  He served two terms on the Legislative Council and also was active in the Methodist Church and the Lions.  He also ran Miss Teenage America contests for Connecticut for three years and produced the pageants.

Currently life has come full circle for David Brown, and he is a full time assistant professor at Housatonic Community College teaching finance and accounting.    Again, he loves the work and his students.


            Well, are you counting Dave’s nine lives?  If not, I’ll do it for you. 1.Teacher and administrator; 2. Home builder; 3. Community volunteer; 4. Manager of the Edmond Town Hall; 5. Proprietor of the refreshment stand at the town park; 6. Auctioneer; 7. Founder of American Adventure Travel, taking teens on summer trips; 10.  CPA;  11. Professor at Housatonic Community College.  Long live Lion Brown and here’s to nine more lives!


                                    New Lions in the Pride


John  Jabieski is a Connecticut native, raised in Westport and a resident of Danbury since 1979,  After a stint in the army he went into the construction business with his father.  After his dad retired he worked alone for three or four years.  He left to work at Staples High School as the head of maintenance.  Then he moved to Hewitt, an actuarial firm, where he worked for almost eighteen years.  When the job changed he decided that it was time to leave. Today he has a number of people who call him for small home repairs and carpentry which he enjoys.  His wife , Janet, came from England for an adventure many years ago and the adventure turned out to be him!  Janet and he have a son, an energy scientist and a daughter, a kitchen designer one of whose designs is on the cover of the January edition of Better Homes and Gardens, and three granddaughters.  When John isn’t busy with work or his family, he likes to fish and to travel.  He  and Janet look forward to visiting the British Virgin Islands in April.  We look forward to John lending his expertise to our Americares project. 


How many of you have had chance encounters that changed your lives? Well, Gary Storms certainly has.   Like so many of us, Gary had a few years of college where he was more interested in “wine, women and song” than he was in his studies at Michigan State.  And so he was requested to take time off from school.  So he started working in the forestry department on an island in Lake Superior for an undetermined length of time.  On a weekend he and a buddy flew to Houghton, Michigan.  Naturally they gravitated to the nearest bar and there a woman commented on his height, asking if he played basketball.  He had played in high school and during the first year of college so he affirmed he had.  As it so happened, her husband was the basketball coach of Michigan.  It turned out that the coach was interested in Gary although the registrar looking at his previous college grades was not so sure.  Anyway, Gary was admitted on probation, played good basketball, made good grades and two years later graduated with a chemical engineering degree and also a degree in engineering administration. Recently retired from over thirty years at Praxair. Gary enjoys more time to hike, volunteer, read and work out.  Gary and  Joan, his wife, have three sons ages 29, 30 and 32.   


Audition  by Barbara Walters

                                                Book Review by Lion Steve Bennett


       Starting to read this 579 page tome is daunting. The pleasant surprise is that it reads quickly. It is written in the first person with a cadence that makes it seem like she is talking to you. There were no sections that were boring or tedious, perhaps because she provides a description of many interviews of famous people that we grew up with and are familiar to us.


            There are really two different but closely related stories. Her personal life, with its many disappointments, and her professional life with so many successes. Born in Massachusetts in 1937, she received her B.A. in English from Sara Lawrence College in 1951.  Her father had a roller-coaster show business career that bounced the family between Boston, New York, Miami, and Las Vegas. He was a gambler who made and lost several fortunes on Broadway and nightclubs. Barbara struggled over what to do and how to help her mentally challenged sister. She was trying to live a normal childhood but felt both resentment and guilt over her sister. When her father passed away he left his wife and a disabled adult daughter destitute. Barbara became the sole provider for the family. This constant moving to new cities and new schools and the financial uncertainties left her feeling that they were always one “review” away from failure. With each new event, she felt like she was “auditioning” to succeed and to make an impact. She feared that she would fail or her hard won successes would be taken away. One aspect of her childhood gave her a distinct advantage in that she grew up surrounded by famous people. She was not awed by celebrities.


            Her first marriage ended in annulment and two others in divorce. She adopted a girl born in 1968. Even with Barbara’s busy traveling schedule and TV shows, she thought her daughter’s life at home was very normal, but she was a celebrity's daughter. She felt certain things were expected of her, maybe too much. When her daughter turned 14, everything began to go wrong, primarily drug related. Therapy at special schools did not help and she finally ran away. After tracking her down, Barbara physically enrolled her in another school where she stayed for three successful years.


            During the 1970s, she had an affair with Edward Brooke an African American, then a married United States Senator from Massachusetts. After a year or so, they ended their affair to protect both of their careers from possible embarrassment.


            Professionally, Barbara started her career at the beginning of TV’s news reporting and she achieved many “firsts’ for a female. She joined NBC’s “The Today Show” as a writer in 1961 and became the program’s first female co-host in 1974. She moved over to co-host ABC’s 20/20 as well as presenting four news specials a year. In 1997, she developed and hosted “The View”. She devotes an entire chapter to “The View” from the selection of the first four members and the personality conflicts that continue to this day.


            Barbara’s interviews succeeded in spite of her speech impediment dropping her “r’s”. Her exaggerated speech impediment was immortalized in 1976 on "Saturday Night Live" when Gilda Radner proclaimed, "Hewwo! This is Baba Wawa." Walters admits it was dead-on and she was glad to have a chance to compliment the comedian later.

A major part of the book is about her interviews. She provides background and comments on some of her major interviews including politics and entertainment: Judy Garland, Princess Grace, the Shah of Iran, Russia’s Boris Yeltsin, China’s Jiang Zemin, UK’s Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, King Hussein, Golda Meir, Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro, Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, the Dalai Lama, and Cher. . Barbara intentionally worked to develop and maintain a growing network of people in the entertainment and political arena and they were invaluable in her getting many of the “impossible” interviews.


            Of special note were her March 3, 1999 interview with Monica Lewinsky, viewed by a record 74 million viewers, the highest ratings of any journalist interview, and her being selected as a reporter on President Nixon’s 1972 trip to China. Additionally, she devotes an entire chapter on murderers she has interviewed including Claus Von Bulow, Robert Blake, Jean Harris (victim was the “Scarsdale Diet” author), the Menendez brothers and Mark Davis Chapman (victim was John Lennon).


            I found myself wishing the book would not end. She had included the many interesting key events in her personal life and her career with just the right amount of detail.

                                                            Doings of the Pride   

Newer member Augie D’Allesandro has recently returned from his honeymoon.  He met Donna, his new bride, at the Midwestern Connecticut Council on Alcoholism,  a large drug and alcohol abuse center.  He was the group’s medical director there and she was a part time employee.  They worked together for ten years.  After their spouses both died, they decided to  take a chance and have one date.  Well one date led to another and lo and behold romance blossomed.  The happy newlyweds have now returned from their honeymoon and are wondering what to do with two houses. . . .  \Lions, being the involved people we are, are often in the news.  Bob Rau, for example, has recently accepted the helm of the Economic Development Commission, a very responsible job. . . . Newsworthy also are Jerry Cole and Ed Miklaszewski and wives who have returned from a one week trip to Biloxi, Mississippi where they refurbished old houses damaged  by Hurricane Katrina.  Despite the lack of available tools, both men say they got a lot accomplished. . . .Walt’s granddaughter, Faith, who was born with an incomplete heart vessel has survived her first two operations, the first two of many, and seems to be holding her own., for which we thank God.  . . .Snow birds Arneth, Hostetler, Larin, and Mounts are basking in Florida sunshine soon to be joined by our President and Dick Kovacs who will be vacationing in St. Martins. . .  . Science buffs take note, our own Don Ferris is taking pen in hand (computer on desk?) and writing about his life and experiences at Sikorsky.  Should be an interesting study. . . Gary Fry has had some good luck with his new venture, Gary’s Rib House, reputed to be the sweetest ribs this side of Missouri!  Let’s get a group together and try them out. . . .We hardly see Lion Matt D’Angeles, but then his liquor store doesn’t see much of him either.  Seems he’s too busy being in charge of Pets Alive, a dog and cat shelter in Middletown, New York, a long daily commute for him.  What makes this such a special humanistic venture is that they have the “no kill” philosophy. . . . By the time you receive this, Lion Paul Krueger should be recovering from shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff.  No more sliding under car bodies for a while for Paul.  Good luck for a speedy recovery. . . . Finally, we hope we will see many of you at our Valentine’s dinner on Sunday, February eighth.

                                    Focus on Our Wives

When I was a Jaycee years ago we gave an annual award to the Outstanding Young Woman of Newtown.  Unfortunately there are no such awards around today but if there were Debbie Stakel would surely win one.  A teaching veteran of twenty-four years and a major Newtown volunteer,  she belongs to the Newtown Women’s Club and she also drives for Meals on Wheels.  Heavily involved in the Methodist Church, she  helps prepare for the monthly spaghetti supper, and is in charge  of the nominating committee.  Recently she chaired the highly successful craft show put on by the church.  In addition, she is on the board of the Salvation Army. If she has any time left she loves to spend it reading.  She is also  the proud mother of two sons and two daughters and of three grandchildren. Debbie sees her life “as truly blessed”.  I suggest Newtowners are blessed to have her. 

                                    What You Might Have Read in the Newspapers

1.  When his 38 caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California, would-be robber, James Elliot, did something that can only inspire wonder.  He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again.  This time is worked.

2.  The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a meat-cutting machine and submitted a claim to his insurance company.  The company expecting negligence sent out one of its men to have a look for himself.  He tried the machine and he also lost a finger.  The chef’s claim was approved.

3.  A man who shoveled snow for an hour to clear a space for his car during a blizzard in Chicago returned with his vehicle to find a woman had taken the space.  Understandably, he shot her.

4.  A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change.  When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register which the clerk promptly provided.  The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20  on the counter.  The total amount of cash he got from the drawer was  $15.