Those good old, gas-guz­zling days

Connecticut Post - - NEWS - DAN FREED­MAN @dan­freedma;

Those of you of a cer­tain age and au­to­mo­tive dis­po­si­tion may not re­mem­ber what your spouse or sig­nif­i­cant other said to you 20 min­utes ago, but you’ll al­ways re­mem­ber your first car.

Maybe it was a Mus­tang or Pon­tiac GTO or a 409 — some­thing about which a clas­sic rock an­them was com­posed. (Mine was a Toy­ota Corona, a le­mon for which lemon­ade pro­duc­tion was not an op­tion.)

For Sen. Charles Schumer of New York — a lot of N.Y. trans­plants still con­sider him their se­na­tor — it was a 1971 light blue Ply­mouth Duster “Slant Six,” a true oldie but goodie.

Schumer was weigh­ing in on the sub­ject of EPA’s plans to roll back the Obama-era fuel-econ­omy stan­dard when he side­tracked onto a wist­ful mem­ory of his beloved mini-mus­cle car. It got 6 miles to the gal­lon but it didn’t mat­ter, Schumer, now 67, re­called, be­cause gas in those days was 23 cents a gal­lon.

He was on his way back from vis­it­ing his then girl­friend, driv­ing on the “Con­necti­cut Turn­pike” — that def­i­nitely dates him — when an ice truck car­ry­ing lob­ster and other seafood to New York hit him from be­hind. This was out­side Bridge­port, Schumer said.

Af­ter­ward, Schumer’s po­lit­i­cal career took off, from the N.Y. state As­sem­bly to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the Se­nate.

But the wrecker took away a burnt twist­ed­metal por­tion of his youth­ful ego that day, on what is now plain-vanilla I-95. As he spoke I could al­most hear the Jan & Dean back­ground har­mo­niz­ing.

Down on the farm

It doesn’t hap­pen of­ten, but it’s al­ways im­por­tant to re­port on do­ings in Wash­ing­ton that af­fect the day-to-day lives of ac­tual peo­ple in Con­necti­cut.

So amid the highs and lows of Pres­i­dent Trump’s sit-down with North Korean dic­ta­tor Kim Jong Un, the news of ef­forts to im­prove the lot of Long Is­land Sound shell­fish farm­ers likely went un­no­ticed.

On the same day he was roundly con­demn­ing Trump as an “un­pre­pared, weak ne­go­tia­tor,” Sen. Chris Mur­phy also was co-sign­ing a let­ter to the Se­nate Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee.

The let­ter asks for in­clu­sion in the Farm Bill now be­fore Congress of wider in­sur­ance op­tions for shell­fish farm­ers. Mur­phy, Sen. Kirsten Gil­li­brand of New York and two oth­ers want shell­fish farm­ers to have pro­tec­tions al­ready en­joyed by their land-based coun­ter­parts — surf-and-turf par­ity, you might say.

Shell­fish har­vest­ing in Con­necti­cut has come a long way in the past few decades. The salty fish­er­men with the hard-A ac­cents and rub­bery chesthigh bibs are not a thing of the past, but they’re cer­tainly not as plen­ti­ful as they once were.

In their place in Con­necti­cut are shell­fish farm­ers with aqua­cul­ture de- grees, cul­ti­vat­ing clams and oys­ters by the bushel. Ac­cord­ing to Con­necti­cut Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture stats, 70,000 acres of shell­fish farms are now un­der cul­ti­va­tion in Con­necti­cut’s coastal wa­ters.

Shell­fish­ing gen­er­ates $30 mil­lion in sales and sup­ports 300 jobs statewide, ac­cord­ing to the stats.

Lob­sters? Not as much as in the old days, ev­i­dently. The de­cline may be at­trib­ut­able to warm­ing wa­ter tem­per­a­tures, with lob­sters off the colder coast of Maine still in abun­dance.

I am sure I’m not be the only one who misses sum­mer­time lo­cal lob­sters, brought from places like the one astride the Sau­gatuck at what was then Peter’s Bridge Mar­ket in West­port. Sigh!

Erik Traut­mann / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Don Bell, en­vi­ron­men­tal health direc­tor for Nor­walk Blooom and Sons, and own­ers Norm and Jimmy Bloom chat with Sen. Chris Mur­phy, D-Conn., at the fish com­pany’s Nor­walk lo­ca­tion in 2016.

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