Monday, November 29, 2010

EHHS to 1965 State Soccer Championship Game

On November 13, 1965, our High School soccer team found itself in a position opposition and pundits alike (Fred Post of the Middletown Press) never thought possible – heading to the State Class C championship game against Washington High after defeating Lyman Memorial of Lebanon in a replayed final quarter of the semi-final round. On November 10th, which East Hampton nipped Lyman 1-0, their Coach, Bob Corlett protested the game officials’ misinterpretation of the rules of soccer claiming a foul in the penalty area committed by an East Hampton player with 3 minutes left in the match should have entitled Lyman to a penalty kick. The officials had awarded Lyman a drop kick outside the penalty area. The CIAC committee agreed and ruled the game to be commenced from the point of the foul with 3 minutes to go. In the rematch, Lyman scored on the penalty kick and the teams played two overtime periods ending in a tie. The tie breaker came with a penalty “kick-off” in which East Hampton outscored Lebanon winning the game 4-2.

Under Coach Gary Avedikian, a skilled player himself, a regrouped and recast Bellringer team was headed back to a State Championship game – the last appearance being in 1959, when the team was coached by Lou Mager, who had taken a position with rival Bacon Academy of Colchester.

Prevailing strategy then was to position players according to speed. The fastest fielded the front line. Midfielders were good athletes, and backfield capable of a strong foot, but not necessarily the team’s fastest players. Often big, they provided a lot of cover for the goalie. Although conditioning, endurance and speed were expected of all, Avedikian positioned some of his fastest players such as Bernie Bachleda, Don Davis, and Dick Valli in the backfield. With their speed, these talented players could push the play well past the half field line keeping the ball predominantly in their opponents end. And if a breakaway, our fullbacks could recoup to match the fastest opposition linemen.

Talented and experienced, the team included Larry Lawrence, goalie, suburb midfielders, Tom Bazar, Pat Dickenson, Paul Stringer, Scott Johnson, Mark Condon and a quick and tenacious line of Bill Dennehy, Steve Kissinger, Bruce Tolhurst, Joe Kagerer and Fred Walton who overwhelmed the opposition.

Maybe it was karma after so many close encounters. EH lost the championship game 1-0 in a doozie of a game. Disappointed? Of course! But the camaraderie, hard work, persistence and character that propelled this team has carried all of these men through out theirs lives. I have much respect for these friends who gave such excitement to our close-knit Town one Fall 45 years ago.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oakwood Stand - Last of a Breed

You may have noticed that a small piece of our past, the Oakwood Stand, disappeared from the landscape in May. Not to say its hadn’t seen better days, because frankly, it was falling apart as were the adjacent guest rooms and dining hall, but it was a wonderful reminder of small town America long before Ray Kroc purchased a dairy bar from the McDonald brothers.

Oakwood was owned and operated beginning in the 1930’s by my great aunt Hazel Markham Coe Gilmore. At Oakwood, you could get a sizzling burger or hotdog, hand cut French fries, a shake or an icy Coke while you relaxed at a picnic table overlooking Lake Pocotopaug. The only historical culinary experience comparable in the area still operating is Harry’s in Colchester. Oakwood also had guest cottages and rooms available for an extended stay and it was, in its heyday, one of nearly a dozen locations on Lake Pocotopaug such as Edgemere, Lakeview House, Pocotopaug Lodge, Clearwater, and the Terramaugus House providing accommodations to the city dweller seeking refuge from the summer heat.

Thinking about the demise of the vacation resorts and camps is somewhat maudlin but also a bit poetic. As the walls were crushed and crammed into dumpsters, it signaled and vividly portrayed the end of an era on Lake Pocotopaug. Although unrelated, within days, Helen Condon, Hazel’s daughter, passed away peacefully in the night. Helen and her sisters, Dorothy Peterman who had died just a few years ago, and Marion Roberts, worked summers at the stand and guest cottages as did my Dad, Don Markham during his high school years.