To the Editor:

Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 19 was an icy nightmare in parts of New Milford and Washington Depot.

Rumsey Hall School held classes that day and wanted a special program to commemorate the date.

The school had approached the New Milford Historical Society & Museum to ask if it would send a speaker to give a talk on the Underground Railroad in Connecticut. We were delighted to do so.

Two members of our board of trustees, Anita Regan, our education committee chairwoman, and myself, the program committee chairwoman, both of whom are retired school teachers, agreed to present a program at the school.

The auditorium at the school to which we were directed was across Romford Road from the other school buildings.

So after carefully driving up an icy Romford Road, we turned onto what we thought was the road to the auditorium but, in fact, it was a private driveway -- very steep and narrow with a sheer drop-off on one side to a wooded ravine and no room to turn around.

When we reached a level area on this driveway, we planned to turn around and go back down to Romford Road, but our car (which is equipped with all-wheel drive and good snow tires) started to skid backward.

Another attempt to go forward and turn the car around on this plateau saw the car skidding on ice once again toward the sheer drop-off.

We were panicking from our "near death" experience when, much to our surprise and relief, an elderly gentleman appeared walking toward a three-bay garage on the uphill side of this level area.

He unhesitatingly responded to our need for help and immediately came to our aid.

He opened one of the bays and backed out a pickup truck with a large drum of sand in the back. He made many trips on the icy terrain, shoveling out sand and spreading it underneath our four wheels.

Sensing our nervousness and remaining tremors from our great fright, he further suggested that he turn our car around and drive us back down the hill to Rumsey Hall School.

He, of course, would then have had to walk back up that steep, icy driveway.

Though we protested the great inconvenience to the gentleman who had already done so much, he insisted he would do this and took us down to the school gate, only to turn and walk back up the hill.

This gentleman knight in wool and sturdy leather boots was Gene Baslow, of Romford Road.

Words are insufficient to thank him for his kindness to us. In this day and age of world stress and unkindness to strangers, he surely has a place reserved for him in heaven.

Nettie R. McKenna

Anita Regan

New Milford

Historical Society

& Museum