Lou Mazzarese: For the Love of History
How do you meet people when you move to a new community? Try a classic: Join an organization.
That’s what Lou Mazzarese did when he moved to Essex three years ago. Now, he is the vice president of the Essex Historical Society.
The group, in conjunction with the Essex Land Trust, is having a major event on Sunday, Sept. 17, from 4 to 6 p.m., to celebrate the publication of Follow the Falls, the third installment of the seven-year research project, on which both local organizations cooperated, on the village of Ivoryton.
The first installment highlighted the Falls River Cove, the second on the history of Centerbrook. The current project features a 90-page book, Follow the Falls, illustrated with documents, charts, and some 150 classic photographs, all focused on the history of Ivoryton.
There are pictures of everything from arrowheads of Indigenous people who inhabited the area as far back as 12,000 years ago to 20th-century workers at Comstock, Cheney & Co., once the industrial hub of Ivoryton. The book is dedicated to the late Fred Szufnarowski, who headed the writing team.
Tickets to the upcoming celebration, which features finger food from Ivoryton restaurants and the jazz combo Daybreak, include a copy of the book.
“I love learning about the history; all this was new to me,” Lou says.
His professional life was spent as a scientist in the pharmaceutical industry, much of that time in regulatory affairs, working with the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) on the approval of both new medicines and new medical devices.
In the last years of his working life before his retirement, Lou also trained and worked as an executive coach, focusing on helping executives in the pharmaceutical industry learn effective management skills. He recalls the one executive who was described before coaching sessions as the “director of sales prevention.”
He encouraged all the executives with whom he worked to master the skills of effective communication and successful leadership, as well as how to come to a clearer understanding of how their own actions could stand in the way of their goals. “It was like a charm school,” Lou says.
Lou grew up in New York City, on Staten Island, but he attended high school in Brooklyn, taking the ferry every day to class. There was a bonus besides fresh air on the ride; it was the time, from 1959 to 1964, when the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge was being built.
“I saw the whole construction,” Lou recalls.
He got both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry from Wagner College in Staten Island.
“I was a technical nerd,” he says.
He started as an analytical chemist and then moved to become a complaint chemist, who tried to find the source of problems when customers were unsatisfied.
In one instance, to correct a problem, he added three more inspectors to the team, but instead of improving, the problem got worse. The solution was unexpected. With more workers, each one thought someone else would catch the problem. The result was no one did.
Lou’s career has led to cross-country moves from the East to the West Coast for him and his wife, Karen, and family. Their three adult children grew up largely in California. While there, Lou served a two-year term on the Laguna Niguel Town Council.
The couple lived in Fairfield in the 1990s, but with the increased pace of development, he and Karen decided to move. They looked at Essex, but nothing on the market suited their needs. They moved to Madison, where they lived for nine years, and after that, to what had been a vacation home in Quechee, Vermont. The move, however, revealed an unanticipated problem.
“There is a difference between weekends and full-time,” Lou says.
He was prepared, almost, for a Vermont winter.
“I knew cold; I knew snow; I didn’t know ice,” he confesses.
He and Karen spent three years in Vermont before deciding to move again. Initially, he was not eager to return to Connecticut.
“I told my wife we were not going back,” he says.
They looked throughout New England, “New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, but in the end none of them could hold a candle to Connecticut,” Lou says.
Like many retirees, Lou can’t figure out how he had time for a career.
“I am busier now than ever. How the heck did I do it before? I don’t miss work. I did it long enough and well enough.”
He appreciates the time he has now.
“Every day is a gift,” he says.
He and his wife Karen bought a 29-foot Back Cove power boat, an inboard diesel. Originally, he says, it was Karen’s idea. “I thought, why not? It’s about the fourth quarter,” he says, a reference to life, not football. “You know what boat stands for? It’s an acronym for ‘break out another thousand.’”
Lou would like to use the skills he has honed in management for EHS. “I want to take what I have learned in my chosen field to working with people on a volunteer basis,” he says. “In organizations, people can have different opinions but work for common goals.”
The common goal is preserving and presenting the story of Essex.
“It has such a rich history,” Lou says.
Follow the Falls: Ivoryton Celebration hosted by the Essex Historical Society and the Essex Land Trust
Sunday, Sept. 17, from 4 to 6 p.m.
Sullivan Lawn Services, 7 Main Street, Ivoryton
Tickets: $75 each, at www.essexhistory.org, or call 860-767-0681.