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.

On With The Show

Palace Gala.. A Sparkling Success

     The Palace Theater opening night gala on November 12, 2004 was a party that Jay Gatsby might have hosted. F. Scott Fitzgeralds fictional character, the Great Gatsby, created in the 1920s around the same time that Sylvester Poli built his palace in Waterbury, was known for discreetly hosting lavish soirees with hundreds of well-dressed guests who partied and danced late into the Long Island night.

Avventura Deli Is A Waterbury Treasure

Nourishing The Neighborhood

Article by Susan Frome

   At 72 America Street, in the Town Plot section of Waterbury, you will find a small red square building with hardly any distinguishing features. Open the door - and it is just like Dorothy opening her door to the glorious Technicolor world of Oz! Suddenly you are in a bright, new, open, airy space known as Avventura, a gourmet Italian deli - the real thing. "We redecorated in July 1990 for $250,000," said owner Rosario Minnocci, "and re-designed it so that the customer can see the whole store at once. It creates a flow of movement so that as you move along you have to go by and see all the products."

Dr. Louis D'Abramo's Waterbury Hall of Fame Speech

Waterbury Values

By Dr, Louis D'Abramo

   Thank you for this wonderful honor of induction. Thanks to the Selection Committee and to the Silas Bronson Library. This honor brings on different feelings, excitement, joy, humility, why me. I particularly thank those who have taken time today to be here and to share this special day with me.

Cold Case

To Catch A Monster

Excellent Work By The Waterbury Police Department Leads To Arrest In Controversial 1993 Rape Case

Story by John Murray

   At the end of another long day at police headquarters, Neil O'Leary climbed into his car and headed home. For the past 15 months, O'Leary had served as the acting chief of the Waterbury Police Department. As he headed home on that September night two months ago, O'Leary, 46, had a lot on his mind. The city had begun testing 11 candidates for the permanent chief's job, and O'Leary was stressed about taking the oral and written exams.

Reflections On The 10th Anniversary of the Observer

(Editor's note - the following column was written by Observer publisher John Murray in October 2003, on the 10th anniversary of the newspaper. Eight years later the newspaper has transitioned into the digital world with new computers, digital cameras and a bustling website. The drama for survival, however, continues)

  The Waterbury Observer recently celebrated it’s tenth anniversary, and although this column may appear to be the sound of one hand clapping, I’m going to stop and celebrate some of the highs and lows along the journey.

   Any newspaper across America has the responsibility to reflect the community back upon itself, and somewhere along the way the Observer morphed into the chaos of the city. As Waterbury struggles and groans to transition itself from an industrial giant there has been an explosion of social problems that has permeated the community, problems that the Observer absorbed.

   Illness and mayhem seeped through our door.

Donna Bonasera's Lifetime Pursuit of Art


Passion To Dance

Story By Maryanne Moon Boyen

   Angelo Bonasera was ahead of his time.

   In the early 1970s, before it was culturally commonplace to eat on the run, Angelo grabbed a bite to eat quickly three nights a week, so that he could drive his teenage daughter, Donna, to dance class in Hartford. Though he had already driven two hours round trip to Pratt & Whitney in Windsor Locks for work, he never balked at another two hour journey to bring Donna from their Torrington home to the Hartford Conservatory.

   Angelo was the only adult driver in the family of four and he was glad to help his youngest daughter follow her heart.

Journey To The Dalai Lama


Across Thin Ice

Story and Photographs By John Murray

    Momentum is a curious and powerful force.

   After traveling 48 hours non-stop from Waterbury, Connecticut, to a small Tibetan refugee camp tucked into the southwest corner of India, I felt like I was hanging ten as I surfed a large wave of momentum towards the beach. The 13,000 mile journey had taken me through barrels of bureaucratic red tape, through New York City, Newark Airport, Milan, Italy, Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) and into Goa, a resort town on the west coast of India. There had been visa headaches, ticketing problems, frantic last second packing, buses, taxis, three flights and finally a six hour drive from Goa along a treacherous mountain road frequented by monkeys, cows, buses, motorcycles, and thousands of Indians carrying water, wood and rocks on top of their heads.

Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano Arrested By FBI

 S.O.S. - Save Our Souls

Story and Photographs by John Murray

   The Soldier's Monument was cloaked in brilliant orange light from the late afternoon sun. After working out at the YMCA I headed up West Main Street and came to a stop at the first traffic light. When I turned to check out the monument I saw Waterbury Mayor Phil Giordano heading the other way on a motorcycle.

Project Nicaragua


   Nobody seemed to know her name, and in an odd way, it didn’t matter.  She needed help, and even though the two doctors spoke no Spanish, their actions transcended words and cultural barriers.  The little girl was hurt and these gringo doctors – National Guardsmen in camouflage fatigues – were there to help.

A Peek Behind The Scenes With Governor John Rowland


The Gov

Story and Photographs by John Murray

   The wise man edged close to the youth and whispered a secret in his ear. "Listen carefully,'' the man said, "and you will live a long and happy life. Work is doing something you don't enjoy doing. Find something you love and you'll never work a day in your life.''

   John Rowland logs staggering hours as governor of Connecticut, but you won't find him complaining about his whirlwind schedule -- he's too busy having fun. As the youngest governor in the United States, Rowland has found his passion. He tours Connecticut like a heated neuron, heads up a massive 52,000 employee workforce and routinely works 12 to 14 hours a day.

   His schedule and duties sound like the recipe for a daily migraine, but wherever Rowland goes he seems to have more fun than anyone else.

Hiking The Hood

Hiking The Hood

Hiking the Hood
Story By Dan White

We stood under the cross and looked down on the ruins of Jerusalem.

Holy Land is a decaying religious amusement park. Busloads of tourists used to come here. Not anymore. Now it was just us. Herod's palace leaned against a rock. The manger was a mess. We climbed up past a warren of walkways and miniature buildings stacked on top of each other. A replica of Jerusalem surrounded us. We could see the chicken wire and the inner framing.