June 25, 2018

Madison Senior Men’s Tennis Club Welcomes New Members of Any Skill Level From All Along Shoreline

Dan Janiak and Will Tuthill confirm it was a pleasure to play.   All photos by Peter Pearce.

“Sometimes you’re looking to play perfect tennis but it’s not going to happen all the time and you have to accept it.”   Andy Murray, professional tennis champion

AREAWIDE — For the men of the Madison Senior Men’s Tennis Organization, the tennis is far from perfect – but that’s not the point. Oh, they may step onto the court feeling sure that today, for just once, it’s all going to come together. But the reality of slower reflexes and an aging body’s aches and pains quickly snaps them back to reality.  The players all accept their shortcomings and can even joke about them; it’s the camaraderie that matters.

For men 60 years or older, the Madison Senior Men’s Tennis group is a great retirement activity and a perfect way to spend two to three mornings a week.  You’ll get exercise, competition, laughter, friendship, caring, and more.

Dave Cassano puts away a volley.

But you don’t have to be retired …

Some players adjust their work schedules to fit in tennis. Along the way, you just may be stimulated by seeing guys in their 80s who can still get around the court and hit winners. As player Greg Fahey said, “I happen to be one of the younger members of the group … all of the members are an inspiration in both physical and mental condition … in the spirit they demonstrate and the example they provide.”

The league is now recruiting new players for both the upcoming summer season as well as next winter’s. There’s no need to worry about your skill level. As octogenarian Tom Dolan told one player who was feeling dejected by his poor play, “Don’t worry about it. Think about the alternative; you could be horizontal.”

Art Paquette hits a forehand while his partner John Kraska watches the play closely.

Players range from beginners to seasoned veterans and span in age from 60 to 88. The league’s steering committee divides them into three groups based on ability, the goal being to slot players into the level in which they are likely to find comfortable, enjoyable play. A wide geographic area is represented, stretching from Hamden and New Haven up to Cromwell and down to Old Lyme.

Matches are all doubles, with partners being agreed upon by the foursome at the start of the match. You will be in a different foursome every match. With the emphasis on recreation and friendship, no standings are kept.

Matches are scheduled year-round, with the summer season running from May through early October and the winter season from October through April. Summer season is outdoors at public and private courts in the Madison/Guilford area; winter season is played indoors at the Madison Racquet and Swim Club. You may choose to play one, two or three days a week.

Article author Tom Soboleski runs down a forehand.

Madison Seniors Tennis is now in its 21st year. It began when a small group of friends, led by John Sadek and Joe Pegnataro of Madison, began playing at Pegnataro’s home court. It now includes more than 70 men and all scheduling is administered through a web-based program.

Whether you’re a high-skilled player or just a beginner, Madison Senior Mens Tennis will happily and comfortably welcome you. “Best thing I’ve ever done,” said Peter Lemley. “I find more often than not, when a player scores a great point, not only his partner, but his opponents will cheer.”  Besides the aforementioned benefits, your ego may get a boost as well. As tennis great John McEnroe has said, “The older I get, the better I used to be.”

If interested in joining, or if you have any questions, the organization can be contacted:

  • By text message or call to: Chris Hill at 203.641.7100, or John Sadek at 203.245.1261

More information is also available on the league’s website at https://sites.google.com/site/mseniortennis/home

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The Blue Oar: Enjoy a Tropical Feel at River Eatery in Haddam

Looking across the vibrant patio of 'The Blue Oar' towards the Connecticut River.

Looking across the vibrant patio of ‘The Blue Oar’ towards the Connecticut River.

The soft sunlight of a warm summer evening glistens off the gently flowing river as you sip wine at a pastel-colored picnic table while awaiting your Cajun catfish dinner. No, you’re not in Louisiana; you’re alongside the Connecticut River at the Blue Oar Restaurant in Haddam.

Now enjoying its 20th summer, the Blue Oar resembles more of a summer camp than a restaurant. Built on stilts to protect the kitchen from river floods, the yellow and white wooden structure resembles a children’s treetop playhouse. A trademark of the expansive dining grounds is the colored chairs and tables – pastels of lime green, melon, sky blue, tangerine and creamy yellow.  “It reminds people of the Caribbean or Florida,” says co-owner Jody Reilly. “There’s a relaxed vibe.” 

You can bring your own wine or beer, have a cheeseburger or hot dog with kraut, but your options go far beyond that.  The most popular sandwich is “the chicken, roasted pepper and cheddar,” says Reilly. “They seem to fly out of here. And also the ribs, chowder, and lobster rolls.”

A staple of fixed offerings is supplemented by a number of daily specials. Dinner entrees range from grilled salmon to Jamaican jerk BBQ pork loin. A recent Saturday night featured grilled Cajun catfish with black bean salsa and strips of grilled summer squash. The large fillet was just spicy enough and sat on a generous bed of cool black bean salsa that blended perfectly on the palate. A chilled Italian pinot grigio was the perfect accompaniment.

Appetizers are plentiful and varied. Sautéed mussels, seared scallops and fresh guacamole with house-made tortilla chips are just a few examples. If you’re looking for fried seafood, this isn’t your spot.

A view of 'The Blue Oar' from the Connecticut River.

A view of ‘The Blue Oar’ from the Connecticut River.

With docks along the river, arriving by boat is an option. “We’re a destination,” says Reilly. “A lot of people on boat trips for the day pull in from Sag Harbor or Greenport.”

On a bright, sunny evening, the Blue Oar has a distinct tropical feel. A good weather weekend can bring in up to 600 diners a day, says Reilly. There may be a line, but it moves along and provides conversation and entertainment. As waiters exit the tight kitchen, it resembles a bumper car arcade as they bob and weave through the order line that meanders out the door.

The Blue Oar is open seven days a week from Mother’s Day weekend through September, serving lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Water and soda is available but all alcohol is BYOB.

Note: it is cash only. Credit and debit cards are not accepted. The Blue Oar is located off Rte. 154 about a mile-and-a-half north of exit 7 off Rte. 9. Look for the turn sign.

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America’s Roots and Diversity Shine at Deep River Muster

Pipers_in_step

What more striking example of the American melting pot and immigrants longing for liberty than to watch African-Americans, Asian-Americans, descendants of India, along with Americans of many generations, marching in uniforms and playing music that inspired the country during its struggle for independence in 1776?

This was the scene for two hours on Saturday as a parade of fife and drum corps stepped smartly down Main Street in a blazing mid-day sun in Deep River.

Drummer_from_LAThe roots of this tradition go back 137 years, to 1879. Officially known as the Deep River Ancient Muster, it features fife and drum corps from throughout our local region and some much farther afield. This year, one came from sea to shining sea.

The whole town, it seems, grinds to a halt for the muster. It actually began the night before with a camp-out and warm-ups at Devitt Field. Hundreds lined the streets on Saturday morning, bringing folding chairs, canopies and coolers to sustain two-plus hours in the sun. Many had a birds-eye vantage point from property or apartments high above street level.

Some were picnicking while revolutionary-era re-enacters, many in full wool uniforms, entertained them. The contrast could not have been more striking. But their resounding applause, given to every passing unit, showed appreciation and understanding.

Three_drummers_big_drums

Others walked alongside or behind the real participants, but the true stars of the show provided perhaps the finest example of America and who we truly are.  People of all generations, genders, ethnicities and sizes, marching together and clearly dedicated to ensuring the root values of America, as exemplified in these musical rituals, are carried forward.

Drummers

With more than 50 marching units participating, it’s clear that many people feel inspired to join groups whose purpose is to honor and celebrate our forebearers. Marching in 90-degree heat in full dress uniforms is one small reminder of the sacrifices required of the colonists who rebelled against their domineering mother country.

Pipers

If that isn’t moving enough, imagine the determination of a young man rolling along in his wheelchair while playing the fife. It was clear that his was not a temporary injury. What an inspiring sight he was!

There is something about the rolls and rhythms of drums and the pitch of fifes that touches a chord in the soul. Perhaps that’s the seat of man’s yearning for liberty, a most basic desire to be left alone to pursue one’s hopes and dreams in any way, so long as they do not infringe upon the rights and property of others.

Young_pipers&drummers

If the Deep River Ancient Muster is any indication, our youngest generation is full of people who will ensure that all the struggles and sacrifices of our American forefathers will continue to be honored. May their efforts strike the chords in the souls of generations yet to come and instill appreciation of those struggles.

Editor’s Note: Many participants and onlookers wore pink at the parade in honor of the late long-time First Selectman of Deep River, Dick Smith.

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