Life changed unexpectedly and irrevocably for Annette Ross in January of 2000. Just before the birth of her second child, Ross experienced a catastrophic spinal cord injury while receiving an epidural. The injury inhibited the use of her lower body and confined her to a wheelchair. A dream life that she shared with her husband Bill, living in New Canaan, appeared to have been shattered. In the nearly 17 years that followed, Ross’s life has taken twists and turns, many of which are shared in her new book, Where Fairy Tales Go: A Love Story.
On the evening of Nov. 7, 2014, Laura Valk took to Stage One of the Rockwood Music Hall, a venue located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, to perform with her band Skout. And to perform music from her debut EP, set for a worldwide release the very next day, titled ‘Again Anew,’ to a live audience for the first time. A musician typically would have days—if not weeks—to prepare with her bandmates for such a pivotal moment. Yet as a result of crazy, hectic schedules, Valk only got to rehearse with them the night before. So with just one night’s practice and the band playing on a corner stage so small that its drummer had to play off to the side, Valk walked up to the mic, looked out at the about 70 people who filled the intimate, standing-room-only venue to capacity, and played the first note of her musical career.
Here’s what NCHS ’73 grad Brian Sikorski—standout NCHS Rams football player and son of legendary New Canaan High School varsity coach Joe Sikorski—told me about a player just a few years older than he. Though Brian Sikorski never played with Jeff Caldwell, he went to all of his dad’s games and loved watching the hard-hitting safety and linebacker. “Jeff Caldwell was an assassin,” Brian Sikorski said. “Jeff Caldwell used to lead with his head and was one of the hardest-hitting players who ever played at New Canaan High School. Jeff Caldwell was the real deal.
It’s been about five weeks since Tim Parry put out a call for happy birthday video tributes to his dad, Ray—a New Canaan High School science teacher from 1959 to 1990 (and for stretches assistant football coach, equipment manager and head of ticket operations) who’s grown increasingly isolated these past four years after losing a child, grandchild and wife. What came back (full video below) were 27 tributes from former students and colleagues—some funny, some touching, and at least one highly revealing. In her video, fellow New Canaan High School 1987 grad Emily Jordhamo—daughter of retired NCHS teacher Tony Jordhamo—recalls that Ray let her use his own son (Tim’s) car to pass her driver’s test way back when. “I never knew that this happened, and as god is my witness, that is probably the closest I have ever come to having a girl in my car when I was in high school,” Parry told NewCanaanite.com. Here’s the video, story continues below:
Ray Parry’s 85th birthday tribute (full video)
Videos include clips from Rams head football coach Lou Marinelli, New Canaan fixture Mark “2-5-0” Rearick, and students from the 1960s through the ‘80s.
As actor Kendra Munger says at the end of our conversation (transcribed below), former New Canaan residents like her inhabit much of the world. In this feature, we catch up with those “Ex-Canaanites” for a snapshot of where they are now and talk about New Canaan—their experiences and memories here, current ties to the “Next Station to Heaven” and how it’s changed since they lived in town. A Los Angeles resident now and delighted with the warm weather, Kendra is busy: She co-hosted Sunday’s International Press Academy Satellite Awards in Los Angeles, just shot a commercial with Andre Agassi and Stefi Graf, wrapped the short film “The Spymaster” and plays the ghost of Peg Entwistle (the actress who, at age 24 amid the Great Depression, leapt to her death from the ‘H’ in the Hollywood sign) in the gothic Web series “They Live Among Us.” I wanted to kickstart this feature with someone I know, and I’ve known the Mungers for 30 years. The photo at right shows Kendra on a ball field at Saxe in her baseball uniform with the Ontarios, part of New Canaan’s Bantam baseball league.