Sunday, May 30, 2010


William Gillette may have something over Eric Jaillet, but not in this family. We attended Eric's baseball game early Saturday morning. He plays catcher, and third base. First up, first pitch of the game, he hit a single and ran it home.
Eric is 12 years old and plays for a team that ramps that ball around like a fast pitching pro team. Its not the Little League my kids grew up with. I was on the edge of my seat watching these kids field, pick up that ball,  and blast it to the base; no missed catches; everyone on point; disciplined to their position; never missed a cue. Just like the pros. WOW!
Eric went on to make a double play and a home run. The opposing team had a better pitcher, but his team, The Gamers, won by a strong lead.

Here the team pummels and praises a fellow player after a home run. These are 12, 13 and 14 year olds. I felt like I was watching the pro players of tomorrow enroute.

Eric playing catcher while the opposing team is up. The pitchers, on both teams, cover the catcher when he chases a foul ball. The pitcher and catcher watch those batters trying to steal a base. Batters watch for a hole in the field; Eric says if the fielders step back, he tries for a line drive. If they come forward he hits to the outfield. These kids know where to hit that ball to bring runners home. Fantastic discipline and dedication for young people who love this game.

In this advanced league, you hear no complaints about the umpire's calls, from kids, coaches or parents. Everyone is civil and professional. They have base coaches on the field. Sportsmanship and civility are practiced here. The teams high five each other as they leave the field at the end of the game. They've learned the important art of winning and losing gracefully.

 Yes, there is proud dad and grandpa at the end of the game. But, Eric, is THE MAN.

 After the game, Jim and I visited the nearby Gillette Castle State Park.
 Gillette and Jaillet are pronounced the same way. William Gillette was an actor/playwright who perfected and personified the role of Sherlock Holmes. He wrote the plays and gave personality to Watson, making memorable the  phrase, "Elementary my dear Watson." It was his hawk like profile that is the rememberable and thereafter copied vision of Holmes, along with his choice of the hat and pipe. He wrote a novel, invented many stage tricks, props and lighting techniques. And, he made a lot of money.

 He was born in Hartford, CT. but decided to retire to this beautiful area in the Seven Sisters mountain range next to the Connecticut River at East Haddam, CT. He designed and had built a medieval looking stone castle in 1919-1924. It took twenty five craftsmen five years to complete the structure.
As fascinating as the rough hewn rock castle is, the inside is innovative and quirky as well. Gillette invented a sliding table on runners; mirrors strategically located can check on his guests in various places in the house; secret stairs allowed him to make a surprise entrance where he was least expected; The guy was obviously a bit eccentric, but practical too. He had a system of piped water all through the house and a ceiling sprinkler system that could be set in motion at the pull of a handle in the event of fire.
  The 24 room castle had 47 carved wooden doors, no two alike. Even the electric light switches were carved wood. He designed a carved wooden apparatus to turn out the light over his bed.

It was difficult to believe the apparatus above is light switches. The castle has beautiful grounds, a huge, free picnic area near a small lake, hiking trails and remnants of his fascination with trains, a station, some of the original 3 miles of track and a couple of engines in the visitors center. The castle tour has a charge. It has sisal wall paper, carved wainscoting, stained glass pieces, giant fireplaces, an indoor waterfall, and his original beds, china and books. For anyone interested in wood carving or stone work, this is a must see.

After the castle visit, Jim and I took the ferry to Chester, drove to Essex, had lunch and visited the Connecticut River Museum. More on that tomorrow.

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