The Singing Nuns

The Abbey of Regina Laudis is home to forty Benedictine nuns in Bethlehem, CT. The nuns made a rare appearance outside the Abbey on December 4th when six nuns from their Scola performed sacred music at The John Bale Book Company in downtown Waterbury. Pictured above is Sister Elizabeth, who was a law professor before joining the cloistered community.

Occasionally the nuns at the Abbey of Regina Laudis are given a rare book as a donation, and they have turned to Dan Gaetta and Ede Reynolds, the owners of The John Bale Book Company, in Waterbury, to sell the book for them. During one meeting the nuns asked Reynolds how they might introduce themselves to Waterbury, and Reynolds asked if they would consider performing – and they did, December 4th inside the bookstore. “We also asked them to pray for Waterbury,” Reynolds said.  Photographs By John Murray


Christmas Carol
  This holiday season, Shakesperience bring Charles Dickens’ beloved classic, A Christmas Carol, from page to stage, as a traveling band of carolers.  Ebenezer Scrooge wasn’t always a tight-fisted old miser. On a cold and foggy London evening, he is transported by ghosts to three Christmases: past, present, and future. With his wretched future stretched out before him, Scrooge must truly consider the meaning of charity and the Christmas spirit.
  A Christmas Carol will take place in our studio, located at 117 Bank Street in Waterbury, CT. It will run December 16 through 19, with evening performances at 7 PM and 2 PM matinee performances on Saturday and Sunday.
   Come be a part of this intimate studio production and be transported back to a time when life was simpler but still much the same. With delicious sweet treats, dancing, music and festive seasonal fun, make Shakesperience a part of your holiday tradition this year!
   Tickets are on sale now, $12 for adults, $7 for children under 12. Call the Box Office at 203-754-2531 or order online at Space is limited so be sure to reserve yours today!
   Shakesperience is a professional not-for-profit theater company located in Connecticut that reaches a Northeast audience of adults and students alike with School and Public Theatre Tours, Saturday and Private Acting Classes, Summer Camps, Residencies, and outdoor and in-studio performances.  To find information on these programs and other upcoming events visit the Shakesperience web site at, or check us out on Facebook.

Winter Survival Kit
   With decreased daylight and cold, crisp nights, winter can bring out the urge to make like a bear and hibernate. But you don’t have to fear the winter. With the right winter skin, hair and health care routine you can embrace the season, even if you’re counting down the days until spring. Follow these tips for top winter health.
   Baby your winter skin. Outdoor winter air is dry, and overheated indoor air can be worse. Take lukewarm, quick baths or showers to help your skin hold onto its natural oils, and moisturize once or twice daily. If you’re using a light lotion, switch your moisturizer to a thick cream or ointment to help fight the dryness.
   Care for your winter hair. Depending on your hair type, you may love or loathe the effect the winter air has on your hair. If your hair is prone to frizziness at the first sign of humidity, you may find your mane sleek and controlled in winter. But if you have thin, fine hair, the low moisture levels can make your winter hair fall flat and succumb to static. To boost your hair’s health in wintertime, shampoo only when your hair needs it but use conditioner daily. Protect your hair outside with a hat or scarf and don’t go outside with wet hair — it could break, especially if it freezes.
   Pamper your winter hands. The skin on your hands is thin and sensitive, and if you’re washing your hands frequently (and you should be, to fight off winter’s cold and flu germs) you’re exacerbating the dryness. Keep lotion close by and massage it in a few times a day to stave off flakes and cracks. The cold air can quickly take a toll on your hands, so pull on gloves or mittens before you step outside into the chill. Don’t sacrifice your hands to your smartphone — if you find yourself pulling off your gloves to type a text, treat yourself to a pair of gloves with fingertips that work on a touch screen.
   Work in water. Your body needs water, inside and out. Run a humidifier in your bedroom or office to up the moisture level in the air. And, make sure you are drinking enough water. It’s easy to forget the water when you’re not thirsty or sweaty, but your body craves hydration for peak winter health. Reach for herbal tea if you crave something warm.
   Don’t forget vitamin D. About three quarters of American adults have vitamin D levels that are less than optimal. Because your body can make vitamin D via sunlight exposure, deficiencies are more pronounced in the winter months. Vitamin D helps keep your bones strong, and low levels are linked with cancer, heart disease, infection and general poor health. To combat the decline, choose foods high in vitamin D such as egg yolks, fatty fish and fortified milk, cereals and breads, and talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement.
   Get out (or in) and exercise. Don’t let winter destroy your momentum. If your exercise routine is outside-oriented, have a plan B in place for the days that are too cold, dark or just plain blah. Some gyms have memberships for as little as $10 a month. Or try exercising with DVDs, recording Fit TV workouts, or training with a video-game based routine such as Wii Fit or EA Sports.

Palace in February
   Warm up the winter month with a hot show this February at the Palace Theater! Tickets and gift certificates can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at, or in person at the Palace Box Office, 100 East Main Street in Waterbury. Groups of 20 or more qualify for discounted rates and should call the Group Sales hotline at 203-346-2002.
    • AEG Live presents JOHN MELLENCAMP: NO BETTER THAN THIS TOUR, Friday, February 4 – 7:00pm. The No Better Than This Tour brings Mellencamp’s music to theater-sized venues, affording audiences a rare opportunity to experience one of America’s most iconic performers in an intimate setting.
    • JIM BRICKMAN: AN EVENING OF ROMANCE, Saturday, February 12 – 8:00pm. Enjoy an evening of dazzling solo piano, vibrant vocals, warmth and humor in a musical celebration featuring Brickman’s hit songs including “Valentine,” “Love of My Life,” and “Never Alone.”
    • EXI presents TRACY MORGAN: BLACK AND BLUE COMEDY TOUR, Friday, February 18 – 8:00pm. Emmy-nominated actor and comedian Tracy Morgan performs his stand-up of adults-only humor featuring his comedic takes on politics, meeting President Obama, celebrities, our Founding Fathers, superheroes and more.
    • GIRLS NIGHT: THE MUSICAL, Saturday, February 19 – 8:00pm. Follow five friends as they re-live their past, celebrate their present and look to the future on a wild and hilarious karaoke night. Sponsored by Webster Bank, Waterbury Hospital and Crystal Rock.
    • Premier Concerts presents CLAY AIKEN: TRIED & TRUE TOUR, Sunday, February 20 – 7:30pm. American Idol alum Clay Aiken performs his favorite songs from the ‘50s and ’60s, including “Unchained Melody,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Moon River” and more.
    • Mad Science presents STAR TREK LIVE, Wednesday, February 23 – 9:30am & 11:30am
Students will be whisked away on an adventure steeped in the cutting-edge special effects, unmatched audience interaction, and space-age technology that creates an exhilarating and unforgettable theatrical experience.

United Way Half-time
   United Way of Greater Waterbury Campaign Co-Chair Peter Baker of Crystal Rock (Watertown) updated the community at the Mid-Campaign Report to the Community press conference on December 1st.
   Baker announced that as of Dece,ber 1st the annual campaign has raised $1,548,985, still leaving it quite a way to go to reach the $3.5 million campaign goal.
   Baker encouraged campaigns in progress and those who have yet to commit to be as generous as possible to help reach the campaign goal so help can be there when it is needed most. People can learn more about supporting the United Way Annual Campaign at

Shop Local
   The Waterbury Regional Chamber is reminding consumers to spend local in the greater Waterbury region this holiday season. The Chamber has developed the website to educate the community about the importance of supporting locally-owned businesses and the economic impact of their purchasing decisions.  Consumers are invited to participate in a “Spend Local” contest on the site.  Through December 24, shoppers can register their purchases made at any business in the Chamber’s 14-town region on the website. Winners will be selected through weekly random drawings and will receive the full cost of their registered purchase in cash, up to $250. Those winners who patronize Chamber member businesses will receive double their purchase amount.
    The Waterbury Regional Chamber’s territory includes Waterbury, Watertown, Naugatuck, Woodbury, Middlebury, Southbury, Oxford, Beacon Falls, Wolcott, Oakville, Bethlehem, Thomaston, Prospect, and Cheshire. Over 950 companies belong to the Chamber and its affiliates, the Naugatuck Chamber and the Watertown-Oakville Chamber.
    “Our Chamber seeks new and exciting ways to support our local business community,” says Lynn Ward, President and CEO of the Waterbury Regional Chamber.  “The 3/50 Project reports that for every $100 spent with a local business, $68 returns to the community ( That is an enormous economic impact. Many of us enjoy the convenience of online shopping, but we want to remind consumers that when they choose to spend local, they are saving jobs, building the economy, and supporting their community.”
   Over 80% of Chamber members are small business owners. According to the Small Business Administration, “small businesses and locally-owned companies represent 99.7% of all employer firms and employ half of all private sector employees.” Local businesses also contribute to the region’s tax base, helping to fund necessary community and municipal services.  “Supporting and developing opportunities for our region’s small businesses is an integral element of our Chamber’s annual program of work,” states Gary O’Connor of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney, & Carpenter LLP, Chairman of the Waterbury Regional Chamber’s Board of Directors. “The Spend Local campaign will enhance our economic development efforts by providing visibility for our members and encouraging consumers to spend their dollars here, rather than with businesses outside our region and state.”
   Ward explains, “During this busy holiday season, we invite everyone to check out, view our membership directory, and consider making their holiday purchases locally.  hey will be making a big impact on our community, and they could even win back what they spent. Who doesn’t want some extra cash in their wallet at this time of year?”
    For more information and to view a complete list of Waterbury Regional Chamber members, visit or call (203) 757-0701.

Food Drive
   The Palace Theater and Bank of America are teaming up again this fall to promote the venue’s third annual hunger awareness campaign titled “Thought for Food.” The focus of this year’s campaign is a student and patron based canned food drive that will benefit local food pantries in need.
   “The impact of the economy over the past year has made more people than ever reach out for help with the basics of food and shelter.  The Palace recognizes that its role as a community entity goes beyond what happens on the stage and includes being a good neighbor, something we are happy to be a part of,” said Natalie Lawlor, Palace Development Officer.
    The “Thought for Food” food drive kicked off Friday, October 15, during the Education Series presentation of “We The People” and will conclude during the theater’s presentation of medium and clairvoyant Lisa Williams on Wednesday, November 17.
   Patrons attending performances during the months of October and November are encouraged to bring canned goods to drop-off in a receptacle that will be set up in the theater’s Box Office.  Donations can also be dropped off at any time during regular box office hours, Monday through Friday, from 10am to 5pm and Saturday, from 11am to 2pm.

Cirque Dreams
   Whimsical dreams become a magical reality when the Webster Broadway Series presentation of Cirque Dreams Holidaze transforms the Waterbury Palace Theater’s stage into a holiday wonderland of fantasy and imagination for three performances, December 7 – 9 at 7:30pm.
   Cirque Dreams Holidaze is an original musical extravaganza where ornaments that come to life as costumed characters perform astonishing feats that celebrate the holiday season with spectacle and imagination. An international cast of artists transform into gingerbread men flipping mid air, toy soldiers marching on thin wires, and reindeer soaring high above a landscape of holiday wonderment. With an original musical score featuring holiday favorites, Cirque Dreams Hoildaze will have audiences of all ages mesmerized with its memorable tribute to the holiday season.
   In conjunction with The Broadway League’s annual “Kid’s Night on Broadway” promotion, the Palace Theater is offering a special “Buy One Ticket, Get One Half Price” promotion for children, ages 6 – 18, to attend the 7:30pm evening performance on Wednesday, December 8. The special offer is valid on all remaining seats and is only available by phone or in person at the Box Office. All children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult, and the offer is not valid on previous purchases.
  In the spirit of holiday giving, the Palace Theater is donating a portion of ticket sales from the Cirque Dreams Holidaze performance on December 7, to the WATR Sunshine Fund to help those in need during the holiday season. In addition,  the Republican-American’s Campership Fund will have their “Celebrity Beggars” out in force before the December 9 performance to collect donations to help defray the cost of sending deserving children and youth to summer camp.
    Tickets for Cirque Dreams Holidaze can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at, or in person at the Palace Theater Box Office, 100 East Main St. in Waterbury. Groups of 20 or more qualify for discounted rates and should call the Group Sales hotline at 203-346-2002.

   George Frideric Handel’s highly esteemed and tremendously popular work, Messiah, will ignite the holiday season December 11, 2010 , in beautiful St. Michael’s Church at 25 South Street in Litchfield and again on December 12, 2010 at the NVCC Fine Arts Center at 750 Chase Parkway in Waterbury when the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra presents the concert: Hallelujah!
   The Naugatuck Valley Community College Choir, under the direction of Dr. Richard Gard, as well as soloists from Yale Opera, including Soprano Kelly Hill, Alto Jamilyn Manning-White, Tenor Jorge Prego and Bass David Pershal, will join the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra for its first complete performance of “the greatest story ever told” in many years. For the December 11 concert, several members of St. Michael’s choir will join with the NVCC choir. Maestro Leif Bjaland, music director and conductor, will lead the orchestra through this timeless masterpiece during both performances.
   One of the most renowned pieces of English sacred music, Handel’s Messiah has been performed across the world for more than 250 years. Composed in only three weeks, the work has undergone numerous revisions and re-orchestrations since its premiere performance in 1742, the first of which was by Mozart shortly after Handel’s death. The work focuses on the central beliefs of Christianity from the Old Testament prophecies of the coming of the Messiah to the New Testament Gospel stories of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Originally associated with Easter, Messiah has since become a Christmas tradition.
   “Performing this sacred work in the unique and sacred setting of St. Michael’s is a first for the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra,” explains Steve Collins, Executive Director of the WSO. “We wanted to present the masterful piece in a setting and location that would enliven the senses to the message of the work beyond the music.”
   St. Michael’s is a magnificent English Neo-Gothic stone church constructed in 1920 and centrally located just off the Green in Litchfield. The church is adorned with chestnut and oak carvings Sienna marble altar with a triptych painted by H. Siddons Mowbray, the foremost muralist of the period, a 2221-pipe Quimby organ and Tiffany stained glass windows providing the perfect setting for a work of such glorious proportions.
   Tickets to the Litchfield performance are $30 for General Admission and $50 for Premium seating, which includes a guided-tour of St. Michael’s and designated seating near the front of the sanctuary and are available for purchase at St. Michael’s and Murphy’s Pharmacy, 59 West St., in Litchfield. Tickets for the performance on December 12 at NVCC Fine Arts Center are: $20, $30 and $50. Tickets for either performance may be purchased by calling the WSO at: 203-574-4283 or online at:

Digital Watertown
   The Watertown Historical Society is unveiling the Watertown Digital History Archive at a reception Monday, November 8, at 6pm, at the Watertown Library, 470 Main Street. The event is open to the public. Registration requested, but not required: please call 860-274-1050 or email with your name and number of guests.
   The Watertown Digital History Archive site features: Over One Century of Watertown Newspapers, 3,150 of issues, spanning the 19th and 20th centuries (1881-2000), including the Town Times, Watertown News, The Post, Watertown Journal, Post Boy, and Watertown Argus.
   93 Years of Watertown High School Yearbooks (1917-2010)
   11 Historic Watertown Scrapbooks
   All Keyword Searchable at:
   Come learn how to use this exciting new research site that has been four years in the making. Marty Tannenbaum, the owner of Innovative Document Imaging, the company that digitized our archive and created this site, will give a brief PowerPoint presentation explaining this new technology and the possibilities for conducting research with our digitized collection. Staff will then be on hand to demonstrate the use of the site on the Library’s computers as you enjoy refreshments with your friends and neighbors.
    Just about every event that happened over the last century in Watertown and Oakville is recorded in these papers, making this an extremely important collection for students, researchers, genealogists and history buffs. The social and cultural history of the town fills the pages with vintage advertisements, pictures, births, obituaries, letters to the editor, news and daily happenings. This site is not only an important resource for Watertown, but for the entire region, because many area towns are also covered in these newspapers, including: Bethlehem, Washington, South Britain, Hotchkissville, Roxbury, Middlebury, Southbury, Morris, Southford, Minortown and Waterbury.
    The Watertown Historical Society’s Digitization Project was fully funded by grants from the Woodward Foundation, the Watertown Foundation, the American Savings Bank Foundation and the Naugatuck Savings Bank Foundation.

Hands Only
   After years of chanting “ABC” under their breaths when confronted with a collapsed patient, healthcare providers need to change their chant to “CAB.” The American Heart Association has issued new guidelines for emergency resuscitation. The new standards direct rescuers to use the mnemonic CAB to remind them to address the situation in the following order:
   C: Compressions
   A: Airway
   B: Breathing
   But even more importantly, when a lay person in an out-of-hospital situation (for example in a home or public place) encounters an adult who has collapsed, the AHA is recommending “Hands-only CPR.” No rescue breaths are given at all — instead, the bystander/rescuer is instructed to call 911 (or send someone else at the scene to call 911) and to immediately begin chest compressions.
   “Compressions” refers to the act of pumping on the chest of someone whose heart has stopped. By pushing correctly in the center of the chest, the heart can continue pumping blood throughout the body, ensuring that vital tissues (such as the brain, the heart muscle, the kidneys, etc.) continue to receive oxygen. The compressions should be performed at a rate of about 100 per minute, and to a chest depth of about 2 inches. Compressions should be maintained until trained help arrives.
   One hundred compressions per minute is a pretty good clip — when I had training recently, the instructor suggested pumping to the rhythm of the Bee Gees’ song “Staying Alive.” (He also pointed out that the song “Another One Bites the Dust” provided the same pace, but suggested this might be a less palatable song to be humming during a rescue.)
   Research has shown that hands-only CPR saved lives 22 percent more than the traditional method of alternating breathing and compressions. Estimates suggest that training the public to use hands-only CPR could save 3,000 people yearly in the United States.
   Check out to get more information, or better yet, contact your local American Heart Association or Red Cross and sign up for a CPR course.

Family Reunion
   So, how long does it take to plan a family reunion? For the 7 members of the Guisto family reunion committee, it took over a year to try to find over 260 relatives. Some family members stayed in touch since the last reunion in 1984, but the family has gotten so much bigger, many lost touch.
   Uncles and Aunts passed on and younger relatives got older and married and had children of their own. The last family reunion was held about 25 years ago, in June of 1984 and had 218 relatives. It was held at the Cercemaggiore Club in Oakville CT.
   Family members got to thinking about the surviving aunts and uncles and felt a reunion was long overdue. Twenty-five years is a long time and boy were they surprised on how the family grew!! They started listing the children of Rafael and Maria Guisto, then listed their children and their children, now how to find them? With ‘Facebook’ as one of our main sources, all the pieces were coming together.
   This year’s reunion was held on August 14th at the Colonial Tavern in Oxford Ct and over 150 people attended. That’s not too bad considering a lot of relatives lived out of state. With the economy the way it is and some members having large families, it was too expensive to fly out. But those that didn’t come were not forgotten as someone in their clan provided pictures for all the rest to share.
   Out of 15 siblings from the marriage of Rafael and Maria Guisto, the only ones still surviving are Al Guisto, who resides in  Boyton Beach FL, Andrew Guisto and Dora Lawlor from Waterbury CT and Carmella Santovasi, 94, the oldest attendee, originally from Waterbury now living in Cheshire. The youngest member is Aiden Jocelyn Lessard only two months old.
   Relatives came from far and near. The farthest were Gary and Ritchie Guisto from Sun City and Chandler AZ. A handful came from Florida, Mass., Nevada , PA and Tennessee. Facebook was able to connect us with relatives in Minnesota, New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, NJ, Colorado, AZ, California, London England and of course CT.
   Rafael was from Trieste in Northern Italy. Maria was from Compania, in southern Italy. It is said that Rafael came to America when he was around 20 years old and resided in PA. He eventually moved to CT and met Maria and they started their family in the East End of Waterbury. Maria comes from a large family as well. She had many brothers and sisters, many of who resided in Waterbury also.
   For a family so big, it’s not uncommon to run into someone and find that you are somehow related. The family also spells their name as Giusto.

Christmas Town
   They call Bethlehem “Christmas Town”, and with good reason. The annual Christmas Town Festival, scheduled for December 3 and 4, celebrates its 30th birthday this year as one of New England’s favorite celebrations.  Thousands travel to this small village in the Litchfield Hills every year to mail holiday cards with a special Bethlehem greeting. The town’s historic Bellamy-Ferriday House opens to visitors for the occasion, and Bethlehem boasts a rare Christmas jewel, a museum-quality 18th century crèche on view in a vintage barn at the Abbey of Regina Laudis. 
  This year’s special birthday celebration starts on Friday night at 6 p.m. when Santa turns on the lights on the towering 75-foot tree on the village green, with festive background music by the Region 14 choirs and bands, talented local groups. On Saturday, the gaily- decorated quaint buildings around the green will brim with over 70 art and craft exhibitors and there will be good food galore.  Strolling carolers and musicians from the First Church Bell Choir will keep things lively, hayrides will be offered in front of First Church and Santa will be waiting at the firehouse to pose for pictures with young friends.  Collectors can garner this year’s unique annual Christmas Town pewter ornament, sold only during the Festival.  
  The Bethlehem post office will open for special hours during the festival, Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.