They Called her "Reckless" - the Story of One Extraordinary Horse
Janet Barrett
Oct. 9, 2018

“Because of what this horse did, a lot of guys came back alive.” So stated Janet Barrett, author and horsewoman, as she addressed 69 Y’s Men of Meriden on Oct. 9, dynamically speaking for 45 minutes without notes as she recounted the remarkable feats of a small but courageous pony during the Korean War.

In October 1952, the U.S. Marine Fifth Regiment’s Recoilless Rifle Platoon, nicknamed the Reckless Rifles, faced the daunting task of manually carrying 22 lb. shells up steep mountain paths for the 7-foot-long 75 mm. recoilless rifles (accurate up to four miles and providing deadly firepower against the enemy). Lt. Pedersen thought of a better idea: he attached a small utility trailer to a jeep, drove to a racetrack in Seoul where he purchased a small, but stocky, chestnut-colored Mongolian pony (promptly named “Reckless”) for $250. Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Latham started putting Reckless through what he called “hoof camp”, but she quickly learned to go to and from the various firing locations by herself, carrying four or more shells with each climb (and occasionally a dead or wounded Marine on the descent).

Reckless was promptly promoted from PFC to Corporal and later to Sergeant in a formal ceremony (and eventually to Staff Sergeant). She often shared a tent with her fellow Marines in an eight-man bunker, enjoying mess hall rations, cigarettes (either in or out of the pack) and an occasional beer. Showing her bravery and resilience during the savage Battle for Outpost Vegas in the waning days of the war, Reckless hauled ammunition for three days and nights wherever it was needed. Reckless was awarded two Purple Hearts for injuries, as well as numerous other honors, including the Navy Unit Commendation and the National Defense Service Medal.

Reckless with Gunnery Sgt. Joe Latham

Reckless under fire

Reckless beside a 75mm recoilless rifle

Following war’s end, she was transported to the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in California where she remained on active duty and treated as a celebrity by her fellow Marines. Indeed, she thoroughly enjoyed forced marches, unlike her fellow marchers. Reckless retired from active service with full military honors in 1960 but was provided free quarters and feed in lieu of retirement pay, dying in 1968 at age 19. She remains memorialized by a full-size bronze statue at the Semper Fidelis Memorial Park near Quantico, Virginia. Barrett has elaborated on this remarkable story in her book “They Called Her Reckless”.

Myths and Realities about Entrepreneurship
Drew Harris
Associate Dean, Professor of Management, CCSU
Oct. 2, 2018

America, the land of innovation and creation, studded with a series of eminent inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Eli Whitney and Samuel Morse; one would assume that this history would be continuing in full swing today, but one would be wrong. Speaking to 67 Y’s Men of Meriden on Oct. 2, Drew Harris, Associate Dean and Professor of Management at CCSU, voiced a concern about the decline in entrepreneurship in our country.

Harris noted that wealthy investors have historically been the creators of new businesses, but this trend has significantly declined during the past 20 years, with more focus on purchasing and enlarging existing companies (partially through mergers and acquisitions). During this period, self-employment has been in decline and start-ups of new businesses have languished. Possible explanations include increased governmental regulation, increasing costs of start-ups and taking companies public, and an apparent shift in younger population generations to become more risk-adverse.

While income and wealth disparities have increased dramatically in recent years (due in part to historically low federal income and corporate tax rates), an estimated 80% of the population today is facing flat or declining purchasing power. Driven by tax code changes, abandonment of anti-trust regulation, technology advances and regulatory capture by larger corporations, the trend toward fewer, but larger, corporations continues. Today, wealthy investors are using their power to manipulate the tax code, advance regulations to protect existing firms, buy out competitors and advance trends toward creating monopolies.

Of interest: Connecticut today is the third largest state as a source of venture capital on a per person basis (although little of this cash is destined for in-state companies). Possible ways to reverse this disturbing decline in entrepreneurship: curtail tax privileges for the wealthy, increase taxation on high incomes, create high rates on inheritance taxes, and develop proportional regulation (whereby small companies including start-ups would no longer face the heavy regulatory hurdles that large companies deal with).

Where Does Your Garbage and Recycling Actually Go?
Tom Gaffey
Director of Recycling & Enforcement, CT Materials Innovation & Recycling Authority
Sept. 25, 2018

“After the curb, where does it go?” Tom Gaffey, former CT State Senator for 16 years and today a self-proclaimed “trash talker”, addressed 62 Y’s Men of Meriden on Sept. 25 with a PowerPoint program about the complexities of efficiently collecting, transporting and disposing of our waste.

Gaffey, Director of Recycling & Enforcement for the Connecticut Materials Innovation & Recycling Authority (MIRA), must deal with 3.6 million tons of garbage annually in Connecticut. Trash in CT used to be hauled to a dump, a practice still used in most states, but replaced here by mandatory recycling since 1989 (so there are no longer any operating landfills). He also discussed the rehabilitation of the Hartford landfill, started in 1930 and eventually becoming an eyesore with extensive pollution of groundwaters adjacent to the Connecticut River, but now surrounded by a moat, covered with 4000 solar panels and a destination for ornithologists.

Current recycling locations include Hartford, Bridgeport and Preston. At these facilities, bulky items are first separated followed by metals (which are sold), with the remainder being shredded (by large steel hammers) and incinerated at 1800 degrees F.; water in the boiler walls produces steam which then generates 68 megawatts of electricity. Incineration reduces trash by 85%, with the remaining 15% of ash being deposited in a lined landfill in Putnam.

Old aluminum, collected at the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority, in Hartford

Recycling at your home results in 540 tons daily (including paper, aluminum, glass, rigid and non-rigid plastics) at the Hartford facility; currently there is no tipping charge to trash haulers for recyclable items (as opposed to $72/ton for bulk waste). The move to single-stream recycling in 2008 resulted in more material, savings for trash haulers (only need one employee per truck with no need for another to manually separate recyclables and a reduction in worker’s compensation costs by 75% as no human lifting required), an increase in “wishful” recycling (propane tanks, pots and pans, and furniture – should never be in recycling container), and contamination of glass by paper, ceramics and organic residue. The largest contamination of recycling waste: plastic bags which should go in regular trash.

Other industry challenges include glass bits chewing up conveyor belts, China’s recent embargo on recycled trash (causing recycled newspaper to crash from $90 to $30 per ton), and expensive out-of-state transportation of refuse which cannot be processed in-state. And then there is the aging of the state’s facilities which likely will need expensive rehabilitation soon.

Hollywood: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Susan Granger
Movie/drama critic for SSG Syndicate
Sept. 18, 2018

What a storied Hollywood background! Her father, S. Sylvan Simon, moved from Warner Brothers to MGM in the 1930’s as a movie producer and director, where he directed Red Skelton’s first starring movie “Whistling in the Dark” and later movies by Wallace Beery and Glenn Ford. Indeed, he was directing a Lana Turner movie at the time of his daughter’s birth. After his untimely death at age 41, her mother, a prominent Hollywood socialite, remarried well-known MGM producer Armand Deutsch (“my second father”).

Susan Granger addressed 59 Y’s Men of Meriden on Sept. 18, first displaying several slides showing fragments of her Hollywood childhood, including parts as a child actress in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball … and Lassie. She had not one, but two, godfathers: Milton Berle and Red Skelton. Today for more than 25 years she has been an on-air television and radio commentator and entertainment critic. Her commentaries, reviews and interviews are distributed around the world by SSG Syndicate.

After reviewing the golden years of Hollywood, Granger discussed the ongoing changes in the industry, with challenges posed by technology. Companies including Netflix, Amazon and Snapchat are increasingly producing their own inexpensive movies, drawing film buffs away from the theater and into the home. Typically, Hollywood movies are “windowed” for 90 days before being released on DVDs and other media, but this waiting period is often reduced by film piracy. Movie theaters are being endangered by these trends; even actors are being endangered, as they are replaced by inexpensive computer-generated animations. And in the future, we may be viewing movies as we travel in driverless cars with the film being displayed on the windshield.

Red Skelton

Granger shared two anecdotes from her childhood and early adult life. As a child, she was dismayed when her father abruptly announced that her beloved horse had been sold to MGM’s Louis B. Mayer; that horse was soon to become the star, along with Elizabeth Taylor, in “National Velvet”. And later while interviewing family friend Jimmy Stewart in his home, he suddenly went outside at 1:20 pm to greet a tour bus, providing the riders with photos and autographs, and noting “these people on the bus are my partners; the least I can do is go out and greet them.”

Granger recently published “150 Timeless Movies”, drawn from the extensive list of her reviews. Many autographed copies were eagerly snapped up by members of the Y’s Men.