It's 1930 and John Wayne's
first starring movie role in widescreen
Club member and author for Facebook
film groups and Amazon reviews
April 16, 2019
did a 23-year-old football player out of USC get the starring role in
the most important Western movie made up until 1930? That was one of
many questions about John Wayne answered by film reviewer (and Y’s Men
member) John Colaresi for 60 members of the Y's Men of Meriden at their
meeting on April 16.
Western was notable as the first sound film on a wide screen and was
filmed by Fox Film Corp. as an experiment with a cast of thousands, a
blockbuster budget, and produced in five languages. In short, Hollywood
had never seen anything on such a grand scale. (Colaresi also noted a
Meriden angle: William Fox, founder of Fox studios, in 1928 owned two
local theaters, one on East Main St. and the other on West Main St.)
Wayne, who grew up as Marion Morrison in Glendale CA, became a marquee
name in spite of being picked from the set crew on a hunch by the
director, Raoul Walsh, because he “had that certain look.” He was paid
$75 per week. That movie was “The Big Trail,” filmed in the so-called
70mm Grandeur Process, later known as Cinemascope. “The Big
Trail” heavily influenced later movies and TV shows such as “Wagon
all-but-forgotten epic is about settlers crossing the Oregon Trail in
the 1800s with Wayne as their scout and defender, all the while seeking
the killers of his trapper friend. “The hardships depicted make you
think you are almost watching a documentary about pioneers,” Colaresi
said. “But what's also important is that the movie was shot in a wide
format that was new at the time; all movies were shot and shown in an
almost square 4:3 ratio called the Academy Ratio.” This shoot took
almost five months at an unheard cost of two-million dollars, eight
times the usual budget, and was the most expensive feature Fox had made
up until that time.
John Wayne on the "Big Trail"
“The Big Trail” got good reviews, it lost over a million dollars largely
because theaters weren't equipped for the Grandeur format. The wider
format did come into vogue later as a way for Hollywood to better
compete against the popular TV set. After 1930, John Wayne played in a
number of Grade B Westerns, a training ground for him until he hit it
big again in “Stagecoach,” before settling in as one of the big screen's
Introduction to the Connecticut Port Authority
April 9, 2019
Connecticut’s three deep water harbors (New Haven, Bridgeport and New
London) along with numerous smaller ports is no easy achievement.
Addressing 66 Y’s Men of Meriden on April 9, Evan Matthews, Executive
Director of the Connecticut Port Authority (CPA), first described how
CPA separated from the Dept. of Transportation in 2016 and has since
grown to include five staff members (including Andrew Lavigne who
accompanied today’s speaker).
charged with coordinating port development, pursuing federal and state
funds, supporting and enhancing overall development of maritime commerce
and industries, and coordinating the state’s maritime industries. These
three deep water ports are a major conduit for goods arriving in our
state; indeed, virtually all imported petroleum products come through
New Haven. Both New Haven and Bridgeport have on-dock rail systems for
receiving and transporting cargo. On May 21, 2018 the cruise ship
M/S Hebridean Sky
docked in New London on her way from NYC to Nova Scotia.
addition to the three deep water ports, CPA also works with about two
dozen smaller harbors, such as Stamford, through a program called SHIPP
(Small Harbor Improvement Projects Program), coordinating dredging (done
by the Army Corps of Engineers), construction of piers and breakwaters,
marina repairs, boat ramp construction, and harbor management plans and
studies. Part of this program is to increase the size of terminals, many
of which are too small.
the future: more competition with NYC for containerized cargo shipments,
initially using rail and barges to move these consignments and later to
have a CT port able to directly dock container ships. This would expand
the state’s current ability to handle cargos, now mostly limited to
shipments of petroleum products, iron ore and steel.
Offloading rolled steel
the state’s maritime infrastructure would have a ripple effect on the
economy, expanding adjacent businesses (warehouse construction and
management, shipping agencies) as well as government entities (Naval
submarine base, Coast Guard Academy, UConn Avery Point Campus, town
ferries). Also benefitting would be private and non-profit employers
(Electric Boat, ship financing and insurance companies, commercial
fishing) and tourism (Thimble Island cruises, Mystic Seaport, Mystic
Whaler cruises, along with numerous marinas and yacht clubs).
Why a Wide Range of Housing
Options Can Make Your Town Healthy
April 2, 2019
plus Transit is a marriage that has to happen.” So noted David Fink,
housing consultant, as he addressed 63 Y’s Men of Meriden on April 2.
with authority derived from his extensive career in the field. He served
as newspaper reporter and editor for five newspapers during a 27-year
career, including 17 years at The Hartford Courant as a legislative
reporter, politics editor, government editor and associate editor of the
editorial page. He then spent two years as Press Secretary for the
Speaker of the CT House of Representatives. He then moved on to a
14-year career as policy director for the Partnership for Strong
Communities, a statewide policy organization seeking to prevent and end
homelessness and create affordable homes for all Connecticut residents.
that CT is currently facing a “Perfect Storm” in the housing industry.
Our state’s housing boom began in the 1970’s with construction primarily
of single-family homes (what people wanted). But today, those baby
boomers (born following WW II, 1946-1964) are looking to downsize their
homes, just as millennials (born 1981-1996) are rejecting the
traditional housing model in favor of multifamily housing apartments,
causing house prices to drop due to oversupply. In CT, the average
household allots 37% of disposable income to housing, well above the 30%
that is recommended.
families also want this denser housing to have easy access to mass
transit such as rail, allowing reliable on-time arrival for work, less
need for cars and no traffic woes, which in turn makes CT a more
desirable location for businesses. Our state currently has 43 towns and
cities with regular train service. Perhaps future state incentives will
further extend this trend of housing construction adjacent to efficient
especially complimentary of the extensive apartment construction in
downtown Meriden next to the newly-renovated rail service. He noted,
“Meriden has done extremely well. The demand for multifamily housing
will persist, especially if it is built near transit lines.”
Advancing our communities
with science, technology, engineering and math
President of STEAM Train, Inc.
March 26, 2019
was already an Information Technology (IT) professor at Middlesex
Community College as well as a counseling pastor. But Donna Hylton,
inspired by Harriet Tubman (who was born into slavery and subsequently
became an abolitionist using the Underground Railroad to rescue enslaved
people), felt the tug of another calling which she described to 57 Y’s
Men of Meriden on March 26.
without notes, the engaging and enthusiastic Hylton noted the virtual
absence of IT graduates by people of color, especially women. This led
her to approach the administration and successfully request a six-month
sabbatical in 2017 to create a special one-week STEM (Science,
Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) camp for 90 mostly black
preschool-6th grade students. These “campers” were soon
immersed in robotics, solar energy, math fundamentals and a visit to an
this same time frame, 20 teenagers attended a two-week mobile
application development camp where they were immersed in technology.
And five adults signed on for a three-month intense course in website
design, learning the workings of html, CSS and WordPress programming.
Indeed, one of these women was selected for a web development apprentice
job and today remains employed in this field.
2018, “STEAM Train” was incorporated as a non-profit organization, with
Hylton as Founder, Board Chairman and President, and today supported by
11 Board members, an administrative assistant and several Wesleyan
students. With Connecticut currently challenged by 37,000 unfilled IT
positions, the future seems bright for individuals entering this field.
Fortunately, the programs created in 2017 were repeated in 2018 (with
several more adults continuing to careers with local companies) and will
repeat again this year.
another new program titled STEAMBOUND, a seven-week program arising from
a collaboration between STEAM Train and Upward Bound, provides training
primarily for non-white students in website design, InDesign desktop
publishing, Access database management, Photoshop graphics editing, and
other digital skills. And a partnership with Meriden and Middletown
Public Schools will provide both summer and after-hours programs. As
Hylton noted, “this train just keeps on moving.”.