NEWS&VIEWS by Jacqueline Bennett

Dedicated Peach Cutters Make Firefighters’ Annual Festival a Success

Posted on August 29, 2016

Photo by Jacqueline Bennett  Jan Adams, 93, has been cutting peaches for the annual Eighth Utilies District fire Department Peach Festival for 40 years.

 Jan Adams, 93, has been cutting peaches for the annual Eighth Utilities District Fire Department Peach Festival in Manchester, Connecticut for 40 years. She is shown here the morning of August 27 preparing for the 67th festival held that night.

Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett


For forty years, Jan Adams, 93, has been faithfully cutting peaches for peach shortcake served at the annual peach festival held by volunteer firefighters in Manchester, Connecticut. This year was no exception. Mrs. Adams and a host of other dedicated peach cutters helped the Eighth Utilities District Fire Department mark the 67th peach festival held Saturday, August 27.


“I love it!” said Mrs. Adams, “Anything for the fire department.”


Volunteer peach cutters turned out and filled long rows of tables at the old firehouse to help with  Manchester, CT’s annual peach festival.


Her reign as peach cutter extraordinaire began when her son, Jim Adams, served as chief of the department. A member of the fire department auxiliary, Mrs. Adams has been cutting peaches for the popular festival ever since, displaying the same type of devotion that clearly motivates volunteers who suit up to fight fires in town.



Ret. Deputy Chief Robert Eschmann cuts biscuits for the peach shortcake.


Retired Deputy Chief Robert Eschmann has logged 41 years helping with the event which typically draws some 4,000 festival-goers from Manchester and surrounding towns. Traditionally held on Friday nights, this year the festival was scheduled for Saturday night.


“That was a committee decision,” Ret. Dep. Chief Eschmann said.


Relocated across from the old firehouse.

Relocated across from the old firehouse.

The reason, he said, was to see if a Saturday night festival would attract even more people to the event which serves as the department’s biggest annual fundraiser. Although Connecticut is known as the ‘land of steady habits’, the move to Saturday night was not the only change this year. A few years back the festival was relocated up the hill on Main Street to the site of a newer firehouse. However, due to some needed housekeeping there, the 2016 festival was shifted back to a parking area across from the old, historic corner firehouse.


New Jersey peached saved the day.

New Jersey peaches saved the day.

Then there was a little matter of where to get the necessary crates galore of peaches. Ret. Dep. Chief Eschmann explained that due to an earlier frost which nipped at local peaches, the firefighters were forced to go elsewhere. Fortunately, they were able to ship peaches in from New Jersey.


“Usually we get the peaches from Johnny Appleseed’s, or Lyman, or over in Rocky Hill,” he noted.



Carrying in the bisquits.

Carrying in the biscuits.

Double firefighter duty.

Double firefighter duty.

Churning the peaches.

Churning the peaches.






















Despite the changes, organizing committee chair Danielle Cowee, a department captain, was pleased to see the community rally around the department for the morning peach cutting.


“It looks like there are more people here this year than last, ” she said.


The Garden State may have saved the day when it came to securing peaches, but locally, cream to top the peach shortcake came from Farmer’s Cow and the biscuits came from Big Y. More constants – the festival featured community spirit, entertainment, door prizes and a last, late August summertime hurrah.

Destination: Botticello Farms in the City of Village Charm

Posted on August 27, 2016


Write-Up & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett


At a border of town, on 209 Hillstown Road, Botticello Farms is a perfect example of how Manchester, Connecticut got the nickname, “The City of Village Charm”. It all began with Butch Botticello selling vegetables in the front yard of his Hillstown Road home, as noted in a history of the farms. Still family owned today, Botticello Farms is the “last operating farm” in Manchester, operating since 1973.

005 007



Well-known locally, the Botticello name has remained a constant amidst changes that have moved Manchester towards more of a city and less of a village. “We grow our own” is the Botticello logo. Their farms serve wholesale and retail markets, not to mention every day folks who stop by their farm market.


Each season has something special to offer at Botticello Farms. From hanging baskets in spring to an array of summer vegetables and fruit currently available and grown on some 350 acres, much of which is just over the town line in Glastonbury. Freshly picked tomatoes, Italian sweet peppers, zucchini, onions, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce and more. And don’t forget corn- on-the-cob! Botticello corn-on-the-cob is one of the treats of this time of year and so good.003




With late September and October but a whisper away Botticello Farms will ready to transition from the heat of summer to the crisp days of autumn. Typically they offer pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, hay, straw, mums apples, pears … Look too for homemade apple and pumpkin pies, as well as, apple cider from a “neighboring” locale.


Come the holidays Botticello Farms sells Christmas Trees, wreaths, poinsettias and kissing balls. During the winter they continue to serve the community selling sand and salt and with snowplowing and sanding.



Botticello Farms might best be described as an all-season experience helping a small city hold on to remnants of its ‘village charm’.


Botticello Farms – 209 Hillstown Road-Manchester, CT 860-649-2462

Cumberland Farms in Connecticut Exemplify Successful Rebranding

Posted on August 7, 2016

Cumberland Farms at the Five Corners of Ellington Connecticut.

Cumberland Farms at the Five Corners of Ellington Connecticut.

Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett 


It would be hard not to notice Cumberland Farms stores popping up virtually everywhere in Connecticut over the last couple of years. No longer are the “legacy stores” -meaning existing stores- just a stop and grab for bread, milk and sundries. Rather the legacy and newly built convenience stores offer an array of tasty, hot beverages such as coffees -ice coffee too, year round hot chocolate, fresh pastries and donuts, and breakfast and lunch sandwiches. What’s more, Cumberland Farms stores have become among the places to see and be seen.001




Case in point. On one recent morning at the Ellington Five Corners every manner of 4X4-s, as well as, cars pulled in for an a.m. beverage boost complimented by a food item. Some were quick, transient stops but other customers sat down at the window counter seats, still others returned to their vehicles to partake in solitude or not, and watch the show – from carpenters and landscapers wearing logo tees to folks in suits all pumping gas, to the arrival of a granddad, son and grandsons heading inside, a few teens perfectly groomed and attired for summer also heading inside – all converging.  It seems a stop at Cumberland Farms has become anticipated; the perfect ten to twenty minutes of the day to greet a neighbor, bump into a new face or have time for one’s self.


Try an ice coffee.

Pump some gas.

Pump some gas.

In addition to lunch choices, and hot pizza slices, found on the right side of the store which is designed in pleasing earth tones is a varied selection of modestly priced breakfast sandwiches. There are egg, sausage and cheese sandwiches on a choice of biscuits, croissants or English muffins – egg, cheese and bacon (or Canadian bacon) sandwiches, even an egg white option for the heart-healthy conscience. These can be warmed up in a microwave behind the clerk’s counter. Cold selections like orange juice or milk inside freezers are on the opposite side of the store, where other snacks, basic food needs and things like aspirin are located.


Access is easy and so far, the clerks have been low-key, yet pleasant.


“Our job is to get people in and out quickly, to just make their lives easier,” Ari Haseotes, Cumberland Farms president and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) , is quoted as having told the Boston Business Journal during an interview in 2009.


Aesthetics is also a key priority it was noted in the online publication “Walls&Ceilings”.


It is all part of Ari Haseotes rebranding business philosophy. He is the grandson of the Greek immigrants, Vasilios and Aphrodite Haseotes, who started Cumberland Farms some 77 years ago. According to the Boston Business Journal, the Haseotes began by buying a farm in Cumberland, Rhode Island, along with a few dairy cows and selling the milk. They and their children grew the business into a chain in ten Northeastern states then added Florida, generating $10 billion annually in 2009 – included is the profit from sales of Gulf oil at the stores.


In 2009 Ari Haseotes took over. He had spent time as a child stocking the shelves of his father’s store and scrubbing coolers, the Boston Business Journal reports. After being graduated from Boston College in 1996 he went into Cumberland Farms store manager training, spent a year as a manager then took time off to open a storage business. Next Haseotes attended Harvard Business School, returning to rejoin his family’s convenience stores chain, he worked in marketing and development. He began developing a “blueprint” for what the BBJournal describes as his long held “rebranding vision” for the stores.


At age 34, once in charge, Haseotes is said to have begun implementation of that vision. He hired another rebranding visionary and signed on as the convenient store sponsor for the Boston Red Sox. In giving “facelifts” to legacy stores and construction of new ones, a change to new exterior store colors of blue and green that blend with the surrounding environment became part of the plan. Haseotes’ goal it is said, is to remain relevant and successful for years to come. Concurrently, he wants Cumberland Farms to become competitive with the popular coffee klatches of the times.


In Connecticut it appears – latter mission accomplished.


*In 2016 the Haseotes family was listed by Forbes as the 72ND richest family in America. Reportedly, they have 600 stores and provide gas to 2,500 Gulf stations. The company headquarters is in Framingham, MA.

My Secret Morning Slippers

Posted on July 27, 2016



001By Jacqueline Bennett


They must be Del Monte!

They must be Del Monte!

Glance around the kitchen of my townhouse apartment and it is what one might call annoyingly heart healthy yet for good reason. From ever present Del Monte bananas atop the refrigerator, to boxes of cereal such as Kellogg’s Raisin Bran to Quaker Rice Cakes, to 99 percent fat free skinned chicken breasts, light Promise, fresh yellow and zucchini squash, asparagus, blueberries (the supposed miracle fruit), bing cheeries, watermelon … I could go on but you get the picture.


One of the best heart healthy weapons, however, resting in disguise by the front door of my living room are what I will call “my secret morning slippers”. One of my favorite things has become slipping them on early – and I do mean early – while I’m still in my sweat shorts and tee (this morning it was 5:55 a.m.), tossing a sweatshirt around my shoulders, donning a pair of sunglasses and grabbing a tall stick for a morning walk around the ‘block’. The walking stick I have convinced myself will save me from chipmunks or other critters of nature which are also early risers.


Sofia and Katie in their Seahawks gear.

Sofia and Katie in their Seahawks gear.


Yes, I could put on my baby blue sneakers but it wouldn’t be as easy. Plus, these are cozy, moccasin-like slippers and best of all they were a Christmas gift from my beautiful nieces Katie & Sofia. My morning slippers’ deep maroon color is perfect for a heart healthy theme and they are so comfortable, still they have soles just fine for an outdoor stroll. And it starts my days thinking of the girls whom (even though they are Seattle Seahawks fans) I love with all my – of course – heart!!

The Stars & Stripes Mean So Much ….

Posted on July 26, 2016



Photo by Jacqueline Bennett October/2012 Commander Dan Nolan presents a flag he brought home from a tour of duty to a little Windsor, Connecticut girl who had faithfully helped with the community service project “Send Hometown Windsor To The Troops”.


Commentary by Jacqueline Bennett


The Stars & Stripes mean so much …


Yesterday I came across an article out of Harwich, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, about a program at the local community center whereby flags which once draped the caskets of veterans of the United States Armed Forces can be flown on the center’s flagpole. Immediately I was struck by what a wonderful idea this is, an opportunity for an outstanding tribute to those who have served.


It meant so much to one family that relatives drove down from Maine on the day their family member’s flag flew, according to the story written by Susanna Graham-Pye in the Cape Cod Daily News. I can understand making a trip of that distance for a moment that special. I had two uncles, my mother’s brothers Al and Bunker Generous, who served during World War II, and our great ‘Uncle’ Frank Sheedy, on my dad’s side, served in World War I. Gladly, I would make a trip to be present for the raising & flying of flags that represented their service and devotion to country, especially knowing how moving it would have been for my parents.


On the hutch in my dining room is an image of the three firefighters resurrecting the American flag following the September 11, 2001 attack in New York City – an image which continues to resonate nearly 15 years later. A flag, which Francis Scott Key so eloquently wrote about nearly 200 hundred years earlier, asking if it still prevailed “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”. When a friend returned from tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq he brought back a few flags which had flown at American bases there. Particularly memorable for me was the presentation of one such flag to a little girl who had faithfully participated in a community service project for those stationed in the two war zones. Undoubtedly, the presentation of that flag will stay with her throughout her life.


The Stars & Stripes mean so much …


The first flag flew at the Harwich community center last month thanks to its director, Carolyn Carey. Apparently, there is more than one school of thought about unfolding the thirteen folds of a previously draped flag. Doing so it was noted however, does not violate the “Flag Code’ and in fact some veterans ask that their flags be flown on special days.


Part of the beauty of the Harwich program is its simplicity. It is free and available to anyone connected to the community, perhaps even beyond. It would be great to see other communities follow suit because – The Stars & Stripes mean so much …

For more information about the Harwich program contact 508-430-7568.


Below click on Twitter to read the original story.

Chris Baker “92” Day Declared by Windsor, CT Mayor at Bart’s Beanery, “It’s Swaggy Day”!

Posted on July 9, 2016

Windsor native Chris Baker will host his annual football camp today July 9, 2016 in his hometown where last night Mayor Donald Trinks presented Chris with a proclamation declaring "Chris 'Swaggy' Baker" Day. The presentation took place  at Bart's Drive-In, a local institution.

Windsor native Chris Baker will host his annual football camp today July 9, 2016 in his hometown of Windsor, Connecticut – where last night Mayor Donald Trinks presented Chris with a proclamation declaring “Chris  Baker 92 Day”. The presentation took place at Bart’s Beanery – known too as Bart’s Drive-In, a local institution. Also shown is Chris’ father looking on and in front Chris’ godson, John Manning.


Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com018


“It’s Swaggy Day,” a smiling Chris Baker- nickname “Swaggy”- told the crowd gathered at Bart’s Beanery in Windsor, Connecticut Friday evening, July 8.019


Baker, a defensive lineman for the NFL Washington Redskins – number 92 – had just been presented with a proclamation by Windsor Mayor Donald Trinks declaring today, July 9, 2016, Chris Baker “92” Day.


The honor recognizes not only Baker’s play but his “generosity and dedication” to enhance the lives of local youth and empower them to reach their potential.


“Chris is of modest upbringing and he never forgot his roots with his literacy and charitable foundation. Chris represents the true character of Windsor High School – he is a great role model successful in his chosen profession and successful in his heart,” said Trinks, who also owns and manages Bart’s, a local institution.


Trinks added, “We’re all having a great time. This is awesome, I don’t even have the words to explain the magnitude of Chris being here tonight.”

Delaney Burns was the youngest Redskins fan at Bart's Friday night. Her mother, Whitney, was originally from Maryland and is a longtime fan and her father Josh coached Baker at Windsor High School.

Delaney Burns was the youngest Redskins fan at Bart’s Friday night.

Delany burns and her mom Whitney Burns

Delaney Burns and her mother Whitney Burns


A line snaked outside Bart’s as Baker shook hands, held babies, signed autographs, posed for photos and chatted with the folks.


Little Delaney Burns may be too young to remember being held by Baker when she grows up, but there will be plenty of photographs for her to look at. It turns out Delaney’s mother Whitney is originally from Maryland and is a longtime Redskins fan. Delaney’s father, Josh Burns, was one of Baker’s coaches at WHS.





Ben and Lilly Sargalski with Chris Baker at Bart’s Drive-In.

012For the Sargalski Family of Windsor, the Redskins are their team. It all began around 1970 for Steve Sargalski when he visited his uncle living in the D.C. area and the two frequently attended Washington Redskins games together. Now Steve Sargalski’s children also support the team.


“You can’t live in my house unless you are a Redskins fan, he said.


Does Steve remember former Redskin and Hall of Famer John Riggins and his infamous mohawk haircut?


“Oh, my dad is the biggest John Riggins fan,” said Ben.


“Well, next to Chris Baker,” Steve Sargalski quickly pointed out.


On the personal front Baker is a new father. He and his wife have a baby girl, 6-month-old Aria.


“This is my hometown, I always come back and enjoy giving back to the community,” said Baker.

Chris with 6-six-old Makayla Rivera of Hartford

Chris with 6-six-old Makayla Rivera of Hartford


Chris poses with Anthony, 11, and Tyler, 7, Colapinto.

Chris poses with Anthony, 11, and Tyler, 7, Colapinto of Windsor.

Michael Allessandra of Wethersfield first met Chris at a football where he volunteered.

Michael Allessandra of Wethersfield first met Chris at a football camp where he volunteered.












Carol englemann, owner and manager of the Beanery side of Bart's is a longtime Redskins fan - Carol and Chris are joined by his godson.

Carol Englemann, owner and manager, of the Beanery side of Bart’s is a longtime Redskins fan – Carol and Chris are joined by his godson.


a long line outside Bart's - home of the Magic Grill - on Friday night.

A long line outside Bart’s – home of the Magic Grill – on Friday night.

In what is becoming an annual tradition Chris joins the Bart's crew at the Magic Grill.

In what is becoming an annual tradition, Chris joins the Bart’s crew at the Magic Grill.











Sharing a laugh behind the Bart's counter.  Who ordered the limited edition "Swaggy Shake" ?

Sharing a laugh behind the Bart’s counter. Who ordered the limited edition “Swaggy Shake” ?

Chris with chris Rusling and Sean Dillon.

Chris with Chris Rusling and Sean Dillon.








It's true love for Windsor, Ct.'s first couple as  Mayor Don Trinks' wife Barbara joined him behind the counter Friday night.

It’s true love for Windsor, CT’s first couple as Mayor Don Trinks’ wife Barbara joined him behind the counter Friday night.

The proclamation notes, after playing football for the Windsor Warriors, Baker attended Penn State then Hampton University where he made first team All-MEAC honors with 62 tackles, 16.5 for loss and 8.5 sacks. Following the 2009 draft, Baker signed with the Denver Broncos later playing for the UFL Hartford Colonials then returned to the NFL with the Miami Dolphins. He signed with the Washington Redskins in 2011 and in light of his “high performing 2012 season” earned a spot on the defensive line which he has maintained.

WFSB 3 sportscaster John Holt     reports from Bart's Friday night..

WFSB 3 sportscaster John Holt reports from Bart’s Friday night..



In 2014 Baker established the “Chris Baker 92 Foundation” which provides literacy training and other educational programs such as his football camps and mentor programs to children in Windsor, Greater Hartford and Washington D.C. Last year alone Trinks pointed out, Baker’s foundation was instrumental in donating 2000 books to Windsor schools. He took part in Read Across America programs and donated to Foodshare, as well as, making “countless visits to inspire students to be their best in Windsor and beyond.”


Follow Chris Baker on Twitter (@chrisbaker92redskin); Visit Bart’s Drive-In at 55 Palisado Ave. near the Historic District in Windsor, CT 06095, 860-688-9035,

Destination: Bill’s Seafood Near the “Singing Bridge”

Posted on July 5, 2016


"The Singing Bridge"

“The Singing Bridge”
















Write-Up & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett


One of the most popular shacks along the Connecticut shoreline is Bill’s Seafood. Not far from Hammonasset Beach State Park, Bill’s Seafood is located in Westbrook next to “The Singing Bridge” –  so nicknamed because of the harmonic sound it emanates as vehicles pass over. Open seven days a week – except Christmas and Thanksgiving – it seems this place is perpetually packed.




At the front of the room, The Truck Stop Troubadours perform July 3, 2016 for a full house at Bill’s Seafood in Westbrook, CT.


Popular oudoor patio.

From the road the view of the outdoor patio is always appealing – it has a great setting near a small body of water. On this Sunday afternoon the rustic inside room was also full. Casual attire is okay here, like cutoffs and muscle shirts on this summer day. The crowd was eclectic: mixed age, families, couples, single friends, some bikers.


Entertainment is one of the drawing cards – indoors the Truck Stop Troubadours sang Willie Nelson’s “Whiskey River” and more … check out for their schedule.


As with any restaurant it is the menu that brings in hungry customers. Bill’s Seafood serves both New England Clam Chowder made with a cream broth (my preference) and Rhode Island Clam Chowder made with a clear broth. They have salads and appetizers – from Fried Mozzarella with sauce to Point Judith Style Calamari, Bill’s Own Maryland Blue Crab Cakes to Steamed Prince Edward Island (hey-I’ve been there) Mussels with garlic bread. A few finds on the extensive “Sandwich Board” are BLT, Grilled Cheese, Salmon Burger. Entrees include Baked Boston Scrod – another personal fav – a Stonington Sea Scallops Platter, Boiled or Stuffed Maine Lobster, Chicken Marsala, Prime Rib and even Spaghetti.


For dessert try NY Style Cheesecake with strawberries or Irish Cream Bash – (Bill’s is counting the days to its St. Patrick’s Day Festivities); or, cross the parking lot to Bill’s Etc. to visit a little gift shop and for ice cream – an intriguing special flavor on this day, “White Russian”. I’m told the pistachio was tasty too.

And a bar.

And a bar.


In addition to soft drinks, Bill’s “proudly serves” Yuengling Lager”, an array of drafts, bottled beer and non-alcoholic versions.














Parking can be tricky, tight and on a slight knoll on the road side but car-parkers are available. Credit cards are not accepted, however, two ATM machines are on-site. Handicap and wheelchair accessible – yes.



If you’re up for a good time and have a hankering for seafood, Bill’s is your kind of place.



Bill’s Seafood, 584 Boston Post Road, Westbrook, CT 06498, 860-399-7224 


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 135 other followers