Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Archive for May 2012

Poke Through the Past in Connecticut’s Farmington Valley

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By Marlene Fanta Shyer

Mature Life Features

Seven gentle towns, tied together in a lesser-known region of Connecticut by proximity, commerce and a river, call themselves Farmington Valley and offer an easy weekend of history and art just 30 minutes on I-84 from the state capital, Hartford.

A car is a must to navigate Routes 44, 10 and 4, the area’s main arteries, which are less highways than country roads bordered by foliage and wide lawns instead of neon, American flags instead of billboards as they meander through Avon and Simsbury, Canton, Farmington, Granby, East Granby and New Hartford,

Our first stop was the sparkling white 1771 First Church of Christ in Farmington, famous

for its role in the saga of the slave-ship Amistad. In 1841, the Africans who arrived on this ship as slaves and who were freed through the efforts of John Quincy Adams, were sent to this area

because of its central location and geographical proximity to Hartford, then a transportation hub.

The newly freed men and women attended weekly services at this Congregational church, at

which town meetings to determine their fate were also held. In these pews sat the people who

raised the funds that allowed the Sierra Leone natives to return home. The minister, the avowed abolitionist Rev. Noah Porter, was the father of Sarah Porter, who later founded Miss Porter’s School. The school, which includes the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis among its alumna, is the church’s neighbor on Main Street.

A short drive away on Mountain Road is the Hill-Stead Museum, the jewel in the

local crown, that was the private residence of the Pope family who intended to use it as a

retirement home. Designed by their architect daughter, Theodate Pope, and built in 1901 on

152 acres, it stands as it stood then, complete with its first edition of Samuel Johnson’s dictionary

in the library, and a museum-caliber collection of art on its walls. In the midst of eclectic household furnishings, against a backdrop of wood paneling and wallpaper, hang the oils of Mary

Cassatt, Whistler, Degas, and Manet. There is so much detail in the decorative arts here, so many prints, clocks, Wedgwood, vases – a Pixis Corinthian jar is 2,500 years old – that we almost overlooked the Dürer etchings and renowned Monet paintings of grain stacks in the main drawing room.

To pick up treasures for your own homestead, head for Collinsville Center. Antique shops around here are more common than pedestrians, but the Collinsville Antiques Co. allows the militant shopper a block-long, two-story experience. There is everything from a $5 Goldwater-for-President campaign pin and 1920s license plates for $20 to a $4,000 Maurer safe to hold these plums.

For more genteel antiquing, try the Balcony Antiques in Canton, voted Number One in the state of Connecticut. If you know what you’re doing – it’s even more fun if you don’t — raise your hand during the bidding wars every Saturday night at the Canton Barn every Saturday night for housefuls of the ordinary and the extraordinary. There are no holds barred and no bottom price on anything. Everything is sold. Nothing is held back. But credit cards are not accepted. To learn more, go on line to

For a proper dinner before all the action, head for the 1780 Pettibone Tavern in Simsbury, where you’re sure to hear about the on-site ghost of Abigail Pettibone, who was beheaded by her husband, and the 4,000 bottles of wine in the cellar. You can sit down to a filet mignon accompanied with crab meat and asparagus or a glazed salmon, or sit at the bar and order some steamers with butter.

One of the many ways to work off the good eating in Farmington Valley is a hike to Heublein Tower, which was the homestead of food-and-beverage magnate Gilbert Heublein. He built the 875-foot atop the highest point of Talcott so he could view most of central Connecticut. Or you can take a two-mile bike-hike along the Farmington River between Collinsville and Unionville. Tubing is popular when the weather’s hot and the water’s cool. Canoeing, fishing, and golf are all available.

So is shopping. It’s best in Old Avon Village, where the shops cluster and the words”candles” and “soaps” comes to mind. The tiny Petite Boutique may feel smaller than your bathroom but it’s packed full of hand-made jewelry and things the proprietor describes as “vintage” and “exotic”.

Vintage is a word very much at home in the Farmington Valley. It’s a getaway that brings one back to a time of fifes and drums. You may even have to stop to let a turtle cross a road. Or you might just want to slow down anyway. There’s probably an old cemetery or some other historical site just around the next bend.

For more information, go to

(Farmington First Church of Christ Photo by S. Wacht, GeminEye Images) 

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

Written by Cecil Scaglione

May 25, 2012 at 10:53 pm

To swallow that grain of salt …

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… you take with life, add a squeeze of lemon

with a shot of tequila.  It’ll help a lot.




— Cecil Scaglione, Mature Life Features

Written by Cecil Scaglione

May 18, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Posted in A Musing

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Who Do You Trust With Your Trust?

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By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

Finding one or more trustees for your trust presents both emotional and economic problems. If you haven’t begun your search yet, start now.

Do you want someone in the family to handle all the responsibilities and conditions outlined in the trust that you, and your spouse and your attorney agonized over? Or do you feel more comfortable putting all this work in the hands of an impersonal professional?

Trusts are merely tools to help you with taxes and planning for the distribution of your estate. The costs and fees for preparing and managing a trust vary widely. So shop around.

Talk to an attorney. He or she will probably prepare the trust with you. You can name the attorney a trustee if you both agree. More likely, you will name one or two friends or family members as the main trustees. Some financial experts suggest you name an “outsider” as a backup trustee. This can be your attorney, a brokerage firm, your financial consultant, a mutual fund, or your bank. Banks still handle a major share of trust-account assets in the nation. This role reaches back to the days when customers and trust officers in community banks knew each other and established life-long relationships.

There should be provisions in your trust to replace a trustee who  may become too expensive or who doesn’t perform his or her job according to the terms of the document. There also should be provisions allowing you or the beneficiaries of the trust to move to another state.

The trustee(s) you name can hire their own experts to help manage the trust. These duties include the responsibility of distributing the assets to beneficiaries, investing assets according to instructions in the trust, filing tax returns, and any other paper work.

Most institutions set the minimum trust size they will handle at $250,000. Those that accept smaller accounts may pool them together or invest them in mutual funds. The usual annual management cost is 1 per cent of the assets in the trust, although fees have been reported as high as 2 percent. The larger the account, the lower the percentage charged in most cases.

Before you begin shopping around for an institutional trustee, discuss the matter with your attorney, accountant, people you know who have appointed such trustees, and with the individuals you have named or plan to name as trustees of your assets.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2003

Written by Cecil Scaglione

May 8, 2012 at 12:05 am

Posted in Finance

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Memphis Ducks Add Color to “Home of the Blues”

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By Sandy Katz

Mature Life Features

While Memphis calls itself the “Home of the Blues” and “Birthplace of Rock and Roll,” it retains an unhurried approach to life along with a healthy sense of humor. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the Peabody Hotel, a dignified local landmark that refuses to take itself seriously.

Twice a day, a flock of mallard ducks carry on a tradition dating back to the 1930s. The pampered Peabody poultry parade on a red carpet to the sound of a John Philip Sousa march on their way to the hotel lobby’s central fountain. After a day of frolicking and feasting on gourmet goodies, they waddle back  home with the same ceremony.

The marching mallards are only one of many attractions in an around the hotel that’s the city’s social and business hub. Peabody Place, an indoor entertainment center next door, has 22 movie screens, plenty of dining and shopping opportunities, and a museum that features changing exhibits from various eras.

In sharp contrast is the National Civil Rights Museum at the nearby Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. This facility is dedicated to letting the public understand the lessons of the civil-rights movement and its worldwide impact on the human-rights movements.

It features such pioneers as Rosa Parks in an exhibit that a Montgomery, Ala., 1955 city bus and walk past a lifelike statue of Rosa Parks sitting in a front seat, where “she didn’t belong.” Her action is a landmark in American civil-rights history.

The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum in the Gibson Guitar Building in the Beale Street Entertainment District houses the Smithsonian Institution’s artifacts, photos, words and music that tell of the rebellious hearts and echo the times that shaped “the Memphis Sound” rising from its Mississippi Delta roots in the 1930s. You’ll see B.B. King’s first “Lucille” guitar, and costumes worn by such performers as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.

Called the holy ground of American music, Memphis produced the top 20 hit songs by Elvis, Otis Redding, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis and other music legends..

The Chucalissa Museum, a National Historic Landmark combining an archaeological park with a museum. Re-created amidst nature trails and picnic areas is a pre-Columbian community – an abandoned Choctaw village where Native Americans lived long ago.

The region’s natural and cultural history comes alive in the Memphis Pink Palace Museum and IMAX displays. A major feature is the 1920s mansion of Clarence Saunders, whose Piggly Wiggly self-service grocery store was the forerunner of today’s supermarkets.

Memphis also claims to be  the “Barbecue Capital of the World” and the World Championship Barbecue  Cooking Contest  is held here each May.

But it’s back to the Peabodyd Hotel for the crème de la crème of Memphis restaurants: the Mobil four-star Chez Philippe. Exotic sauces, aromatic spices and exquisite presentation make this gourmet establishment the epitome of classic French cuisine.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2003

Written by Cecil Scaglione

May 1, 2012 at 8:55 pm