Staff Sgt. Danny Nolan offered birthday wishes to centenarian Mary Dumont at Bart’s Drive-In Restaurant. Also extending birthday wishes, Carol Engelmann and Mayor Donald Trinks.

Story & Photo by Jacqueline Bennett

Add another chapter to the storied history of Bart’s Drive-In Restaurant in Windsor, Connecticut. Hometown hero Staff Sgt. Danny Nolan on leave from duty in the war in Afghanistan, took time last week to join a 100th birthday celebration at “Bart’s” for a local woman.

Serendipity was clearly at play Thursday, March 15 when Nolan took a break from visiting area schools to have lunch at Bart’s Drive-In. By chance, Nolan came upon Mary Dumont commemorating her recent February 29, milestone 100th birthday.

Joined by a friend and her caregiver, Ms. Dumont’s eyes lit up when Nolan, in uniform, sat down to chat with her.

“Sure, a handsome soldier comes along and forget about me. I’m just the mayor,“quipped Donald Trinks, part owner and gereral manager of “Bart’s.”

“Well, I am single. So, when I get home….,”Nolan said to the demure lady, flashing a broad smile.

Trinks and Carol Engelmann, co-owner of  an adjoining eatery, the Beanery, were  also on-hand to extend their good wishes to Ms. Dumont.

“She’s a leap year baby,” noted Ms. Dumont’s caregiver, “She has a great, great, great-granddaughter.”

According to her caregiver, although Ms. Dumont doesn’t get to “Bart’s” as often as she used to, it remains one of her favorite places. Still a Windsor resident, over the years she has enjoyed the restaurant. It opened in 1946 and has been a popular stop for celebrities, well-known sports figures and politicians.

It was noted the time he spent with Ms. Dumont is characteristic of Nolan, who also visited three Windsor elementary schools that day, Wolcott, Kennedy and Ellsworth. Nolan talked with students who have been writing to him and other Windsor soldiers deployed in the war zone. The youngsters communicate with the soldiers and help fill care boxes mailed to them through a community service project of WIN-TV called SEND HOMETOWN WINDSOR TO THE TROOPS or SEND, which is coordinated by Ann Walsh.

Walsh, who was also at “Bart’s,” has described Nolan as a “local ambassador of good will.”

As well, Nolan is SEND’s adopted soldier for Loomis Chaffee, a  private secondary school in Windsor. Loomis is on winter break, but Nolan said he hoped it could be arranged for him to meet and thank some of the Loomis students and their advisor this week.

In addition, Nolan is scheduled this week to visit a senior at Wilby High School in Waterbury, Andy Duvall, a young man whose story captured hearts across the state, as well as those of Nolan and his firefighting team in Afghanistan – the 246th Engineer Detachment of the Connecticut Army National Guard. Having lost his mother to cancer seven years ago, Duvall’s father died in August, 2011 from diabetes, leaving him an orphan with a mortgage and other bills to try to pay.  Nolan, a longtime Hartford firefighter, said he was alerted to Duvall’s story by a friend.

“Andy wants to be a firefighter,”  added Nolan.

Slated to return to Afghanistan on Friday, March 23, Nolan said he plans to devote the remainder of his leave to spending time with his family.