J: How old are you, Dean?
J: Did you grow up here in Greenwich?
D: I grew up in New Canaan. My wife was a long time Greenwichite. That got me here.
J: How many years did you live in New Canaan then?
D: Probably the first 25 years of my life.
J: What was it like there at the time?
D: Well, during the time I was there it was a small town, our population was only about 5,000, which is only about a quarter of what it is now, I understand. There were only 50 in my high school graduating class. That was 1943.
J: So you must have gotten to know each other pretty well, then.
D: Definitely yes, because there was basically one school in town and one class per grade. ... After I went to high school I went to Storrs and put in four years of college there, and got degree in engineering. And not too long afterwards I went to work for an oil company in South America.
J: Did you go live in South America?
D: I lived in Venezuela for about three years. My wife was there with me for about a year, but she didn’t like it too much. But I enjoyed it down there very much although I hate to hear what all is happening down there right now.
J: They are having a hard time.
D: Very. And there’s no excuse for it, really.
J: What do you do these days?
D: Well, I’ve been a member of the RTM since the ’60s ... Back in the ’60s, in the late ’50s and early ’60s ... they started school building committees and I’ve been on several of them. I’ve forgotten now, there’ve been 18 or 20 — and a couple of cases, the same committee was doing three different projects at a time because of size and similarity.
J: O ut of all the schools you’ve seen built or changed, what sticks out the most to you?
D: The one I personally enjoyed the most was the one at Cos Cob, when they had the fire. It was in ’90 or ’91 and the thing is, it was the first day or two of August, and of course it was scheduled to open in September. There was a big hustle of what to do. ... The school that you look at now doesn’t look too different from what the school was before the fire, but the internals all had to be redone. ... But in those days Parkway was empty, wasn’t being used, so they did get to work and they got it fixed up enough so that for the two years we were rebuilding the school the kids went to school at Parkway. They would gather together and bus together. It was quite interesting. And even they got their stationery that says Cos Cob at Parkway.
J: W hat sticks out to you the most about the changes that were made? You said that the new school was similar.
D: Well it’s a much bigger school than it was ... If you stand out at the Post Road and look at the school, the facade that you see is essentially the same as it was. When you look at the front door, you will see what looks like a door up above on the second floor. That used to be their main entrance, because they dug the front down a lot, and so what had been considered the basement is actually used as the first floor now.Read Full Article
J: How interesting. I’ll have to take a look at it now the next time I drive by.
D: What was interesting is everybody was so cooperative. Nobody was — well there were a few people who wanted to just close the school and spread the students out, but they did fight that. But you know, when we were getting finished ... we had an open house and invited the neighbors in. The committee broke itself up and we stood at various places to explain what was going on, and it was amazing to me the number of three-generation groups that would come in, all having gone to Cos Cob. ... Everyone was really nice with it. But they’ve all been interesting one way or another. I'm aghast, the chairman down at New Lebanon is doing a great job, really. But the amount of time he has had to put in, so exceeds — I mean ... I put in as much time as I possibly could, and the hours I spent couldn’t begin to compare with what he has done.
Email Jennifer Turiano at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter: @jturianoGT and Instagram: @greenwichgreen.