Greenwich Gossip

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot Enough for You?

The Midwest has been baking for days, and now their weather has moved on, as it usually does, to the East Coast. The Splash car wash sign read 91 degrees at 8:30 this morning, and will probably be well over 100 by late this afternoon. Even the ferryboats, usually the coolest place in Town, offered little relief from the stifling heat today.

People are nonetheless flocking from all over to attend the Sidewalk Sales, of course--almost all the license plates and car window stickers on Greenwich Avenue are from out of state or out of town. But the bargains did not appear to be all that great, at least to this observer, and probably 90% of the merchandise was oriented to the distaff side. Which ia no doubt why 99% of the shoppers were female.

The best bargains were the free bottles of water being offered by two local companies, Richards and Peoples Bank (the one at the top of the Avenue). The national chain stores were notable primarily for the quality of their air conditioning; one could frequently feel blasts of chilled air spilling out onto the sidewalks from their open doors. While other communities are experiencing brownouts and even blackouts today, Greenwich is consuming electricity at an insouciantly record rate.

At least this year we were spared the spectacle of the Chamber of Commerce gorgon, Mary Ann Morrison, walking around handing out "bills" to companies that were participating in the sidewalk sales (as some of them had for decades) without paying her for the privilege. But karma caught up with Mary Ann at last, as she abruptly resigned in April with no comment either by herself or the C of C. Over the years of her "leadership" the organization has steadily lost members and laid off staff until finally there was no one left to lay off but Mary Ann herself. Rumor has it that she was the only one to attend her retirement party.

The heat wave is slated to continue through the weekend, if not longer. The Town has established "cooling centers" at the various libraries and civic buildings, including the police station, but only the latter is actually open 24/7. So if you want a cool place to sleep at night, dear reader, that is the place to go. And if you can manage to commit an infraction--spitting on the sidewalk, say--they may even offer you a semi-private room for the night.

Seems like only a few months ago we were all complaining about the snow and the cold. Now it's the heat and the humidity. We Greenwichites are a querulous lot, and apparently there's just no pleasing us. Oh, well, in a few more months we'll be back to harping about the cold. Enjoy the heat while it lasts!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Le Jour de Gloire est Arrive!

On a picture-perfect summer morning about a hundred people gathered in front of Town Hall to celebrate Bastille Day. The brainchild of Serge Gabriel, this ceremony has become a staple of Greenwich life, and has finally been emulated by the Americans, who began celebrating the Fourth of July in the same manner about eight years ago. Once again, it seems, we Americans are in the debt of France.

For it was the French who saved our national bacon back at the decisive Battle of Yorktown on October 19, 1781. The landing the year before of 5,500 troops under the command of the Count of Rochambeau marked a tipping point in the Revolutionary War; the "Route Rochambeau" transits Connecticut, and Col. Gabriel has worked tirelessly to increase awareness of both the Route and its namesake. Without the aid of Rochambeau, Lafayette, and Admiral de Grasse, we would all still be speaking the Queen's English as her subjects.

Our hosts were Renee Ketcham and Gail Covney, Co-Presidents of the Alliance Francaise of Greenwich, and the ubiquitous Bea Crumbine, Greenwich's tireless Ambassador-at-Large. First Selectman Peter Tesei read the Bastille Day proclamation; M. Jean Lachaud spoke of the work of "Le Souvenir Francais" which tends the gravesites of French soldiers who fell in America; and Deputy Consul General M. Patrick Lachausee greeted us on behalf of the French government.

France was the first country to recognize the newly-independent United States of America, and hosted the Treaty of Paris in 1783 which marked the formal end of the hostilities with Great Britain. A few years later, on July 14, 1789, the French began their own revolution, and the following month issued the great manifesto on the Rights of Man, which mirrors many of the concepts embodied in the American Declaration of Independence. Already our two countries were forming a pattern of mutual assistance and interdependence.

Surprisingly, no one mentioned yesterday's 3-1 soccer match between the US and France, which allowed the US to proceed to the finals for the first time in twelve years. La politesse at work, one assumes.

Then we repaired to Meli-Melo for a fabulous French breakfast, with madeleines, croissants, pain au chocolat, and their famous crepes, hot off the griddle. The restaurant has recently expanded considerably in size, but it was still plein a craquer, as they say in France. Owners Marc and Evelyne Pevenne, along with their hard-working staff, toiled tirelessly to be sure that everyone had enough to eat and drink. Merci!

This year marks the 230th anniversary of Yorktown and Franco-American friendship. May that friendship continue for many more years to come!