To the Editor:

I was very pleased to read the recent article in The Spectrum regarding the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Windmill Diner.

I have known the Rountos family for about 35 years, when I convinced Carol Rountos to ride my bus home from kindergarten, as opposed to her bus, since her parents were building a house near my parents' home.

Carol's older brother, Steve, and I became friends as soon as they moved in and I count him as a close friend to this day.

His parents, Angelo and Mary. gave me a job as a waiter when I was 16 years old and were gracious enough to allow me to work there on and off on a part-time basis into my late 30s.

At the diner, I gained valuable life lessons interacting with people from all walks of life. I also learned the value of hard work and that your work must be completed before you can relax and enjoy yourself. That is a lesson I stress to my children as well.

Anyone who has ever frequented the diner has seen the family in an animated fashion.

Having witnessed Angelo leave his house around 5 a.m. to open the diner and come back after 10 p.m., seven days a week, I can appreciate the occasional irritability.

In the end, that just spices up the experience.

What others never witnessed were the many small acts of kindness and generosity on the family's part. I am not talking about donating to local charities or sports teams, which many of our local merchants do.

I am talking about the countless times I have seen Angelo help out someone who was down on their luck, by either picking up the cost of a meal or lending some money.

I also witnessed him run into the middle of Route 7 with some clean cloths to assist some folks who were injured in a car accident.

Over the years I have also seen the effects our continuous retail sprawl has had on local businesses. We continue to add more and more strip development, often under the guise of "pedestrian malls" or the promise of outlet centers, but what we end up with are generic chain stores and restaurants, fast food and blight.

I suggest, if you haven't been to the Windmill in a while, that you support a local business, owned by New Milford residents, as opposed to a formula business you can find just about anywhere else you happen to be.

Steve Kleppin

New Milford