Observations July 2010


The Storyteller

Column By John Murray

Dave Howard after a book talk at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia

   One day before Abraham Lincoln was murdered at the Ford Theater in Washington D.C., a soldier from the Union Army entered the statehouse in Raleigh, North Carolina, and swiped one of the 14 original copies of the Bill of Rights. Robert E. Lee had already surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, but word traveled slow, and members of General Sherman’s army continued to plunder the South.

Steve Schrag and WCLEAN Have Green Ideas For Anamet Site


Vision Quest  

Story and Photographs By John Murray 

Steve Schrag, center.

   Steve Schrag has spent his life as an organizer and activist fighting for positive change in the work place. For the past 30 years in Waterbury, however, Schrag has repeatedly found himself in opposition to major development projects.

    He was against EWR in the 1980s.

    He was against a super mall.

Wandering Observations February 2009

My Dog Brother

Column By Chelsea Murray

    My house mate Christina and her family are putting their 13-year-old German Shepherd to sleep this weekend after a losing battle with cancer. Christina went home to visit Cheyenne for a final time and is struggling with the impending loss. I live with seven girls in a house at Marist College and we’ve all spent time consoling Christina, and talking to her about this difficult family decision. In the process we’ve all opened up about our own dogs and how they’ve impacted our lives. I’ve come to realize that everyone has a dog story.

Jim Calhoun Swears At His Players, Kicks Chairs, Abuses Referees And Curses At Fans


Out Of Control

Is this the price of victory?

Story By John Murray

Photograph originally appeared in the New York Times

   It was a crisp autumn evening in 2006 and Hasheem Thabeet was about to begin his basketball career at the University of Connecticut. Thabeet spent the first 16 years of his life 7,600 miles from UConn, in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, where sultry air wafts into West Africa from the Indian Ocean and the average temperature in November is a toasty 86 degrees.

History Of The Brass Industry In Waterbury - Part I


Brass Beginnings

Story By Raechel Guest

  Waterbury has been referred to as "The Brass City" and "The Brass Capitol of The World". This article is the first in a four part series written by Raechel Guest exploring the history and legacy of the brass industry in Waterbury, Connecticut.

   Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc (differing from bronze, which is alloy of copper and tin), and it is both durable and reasonably resistant to tarnishing. Adjusting the ratio of zinc to copper changes the color of the brass, adding to its decorative qualities. In ancient Rome, it was known as Aurichalem and was often used for making jewelry. Its popularity increased during the Renaissance, and by the 19th century, brass was used to make just about everything.

Julia Butterfly Hill Talks About The Impact Of Living In An Ancient Redwood


Climb Your Own Tree
By Chelsea Murray

Julia Butterfly Hill

    Activism isn’t dead.

    While it’s true young people aren’t inspired the way America’s youth were in the 1960s by Bob Dylan, nor are they protesting the war in Iraq with the same passion and conviction that their parents and grandparents opposed the war in Vietnam, by no means is activism dead.

Abolish Nuclear Weapons Weapons

Atomic Nightmare

A Column by Marilyn Aligata

   Well well, my hardnosed censors, Henry Grenier and Alan Stein are back. The August column with the headline that read, “Ned Lamont Where Are You?, provoked them to write letters to the editor. That column laid out why I think it would have been better if Ned Lamont was elected to the senate and not Joe Lieberman. I feel Lieberman has become a war-monger and that Ned Lamont would not be calling for military action in Iran. Henry and Alan were very critical of me and my “drivel“ as Henry called it, and Alan said I have my head in the sand because I fail to see that using military aggression to deal with the world is okay. If only they would read my words and stop making up what they want to see. Henry and Alan, like so many other Americans, see only what they want to see when reading the news. “It‘s not what they say. It is the context in which you misinterpret it“ - Wiley, Political Science 101.

Enjoying Downtown Waterbury

From Russia To Waterbury

By John Murray

78-year-old Mark Losyev enjoyed a beautiful Spring afternoon on the Green in downtown Waterbury.

   Mark Losyev spent the first 68 years of his life in the Soviet Union, most of it working as a geologist high in the mountains near the Pakistan border. His oldest son moved to Waterbury 11 years ago for work, and a year later Mark and his wife followed.

A Tale of Two Countries

American Living In El Salvador

Column by Chris Romero

   Blood-stained scars above and below the eyes. Deep scratches stretch the length of the face. A jagged cut marks the center of the forehead. This can’t be me, I thought. A shot of anger springs from confusion: God, give me myself back. This isn’t me. My blood ceases to boil, senses ease. Although I’m hesitant, I begin to touch my face. Some of the scars begin to shed their shells of dried blood. I don’t recognize myself.

Big Expectations for UConn Men


Big Dogs

Column By Chelsea Murray

   My six year old eyes could hardly see what was going on 50 rows in front of me. I could see and hear some men running around in shorts, bouncing an orange ball up and down off the floor. The Hartford Civic Center was almost silent and a man caught my eye down on the court. The man was jumping up and down and I could hear his bellowing screams all the way from where I was sitting.

Waterbury Observer Launches Youth Section

Following the Path

Column By Quajay Donnell

    Eleven years ago I started to write a youth oriented column within The Waterbury Observer. I was a young and eager kid, who was committed to creating a forum for young people to be heard. I wrote in my first published work in the Observer, "Those youth who are setting the pace may never be heard like I am. The probable leaders shouldn't be ignored by leaders of today ... I will also show the positive teens, urban and suburban, who do right for themselves and others..."

Surviving Nazi Death Camps


Jewish Couple Survived Holocaust, 
Built Home in Waterbury

Story By John Murray

   The odor in the boxcar was piped in from hell. Vapors of death filled the men's nostrils as they crammed inside the train like sardines in a tin. Dead bodies of Jews were hurled from the train as it clattered down the tracks, leaving a trail of corpses along the German countryside.

   David Singer lay down on matted straw to rest and ease the strain on his hideously swollen knee. He hadn't eaten in a week. After six years of relentless Nazi persecution Singer's ravaged body weighed 100 pounds.

Remembering Tony Bergin

Family Man, City Leader

By Maryanne Moon Boyen

Photo: Tony Bergin and family

   The elements seemed to know that Tony Bergin had died. Torrents of water had wept from the skies on the day of his wake when over a thousand people stood in two-hour lines to pay their respects to his wife and six children.

Remembering Sarah Bauernschmidt Murray

Sarah B. Murray and her 16-year-old granddaughter, Chelsea Murray


                                       By John Murray

   In the early morning of June 17th, 2005, the Waterbury Observer lost its staunchest supporter, a woman who invested $10,000 to help launch the Observer 12 years ago, a woman who floated needed capital into the business when we veered towards the rocks, a woman who championed the paper across all corners of America, and beyond.

   The Observer lost its biggest booster that fateful day in June, but more significantly, I lost my Mom.

Remembering Morris Stein

A Man for All Seasons

Article by Shelly Frome

   At the grand old age of ninety-one, and some months after receiving a humanitarian award, Morris Stein recently took stock of his life and times. He did so as though still firmly at the helm of Waterbury's Torrington Supply Company: keeping track of inventory, everything in its place - a matrix of associations, linkages and connections that make up his world.

Searching For Mayan Treasure

Photo: Freelance writer Dave Howard hiked 40 miles through the largest tract of rain forest left in Central America to reach the lost city of El Mirador, and interview Dr. Richard Hansen.


Hiking Eighty Miles Through A Guatemalan Jungle To The Lost City Of El Mirador

              Story and Photographs By John Murray 


Editor’s Note: The following story is an account of a 12 day adventure that transpired in July 2003 when Observer publisher, John Murray, travelled into the jungles of northeast Guatemala with his friend, Dave Howard, who was on assignment for Travel & Leisure Magazine. Murray was invited along to photograph the expedition and fired off 45 rolls of film. Murray damaged his Canon EOS camera during the journey and 60% of the images were unusable, and totally out of focus. After emerging from the jungle, the good film languished inside the photo department at Travel and Leisure for ten months, and was ultimately never used in Howard’s feature story. By the time the images were returned to Murray, and he had gathered notes, tapes and recollections from Dave Howard, nearly a year had elapsed. For the past 18 months the story lay buried beneath a jungle of details inside Murray’s head. Thankfully, and with great joy and relief, the story has been extracted from the thicket of Murray’s brain. We hope you enjoy the adventure.

One Tough Lady

No Nonsense Kay Wyrick

Story By Maryanne Moon Boyen

    Kay Wyrick could have been a statistic, a mere victim of life’s circumstances. At a tender age, she had plenty of fodder for a future of victimhood; born in Hartford in 1923, by the age of nine she was placed in the custody of the State of Connecticut.