BRISTOL BITS: A look back at a member of the first City Council

Published on Thursday, 3 August 2017 20:44
Written by Bob Montgomery

Patti Ewen, who died recently, was a well-respected woman who served as Bristol’s first City Council member, while also the treasurer of Bristol for 17 years. Here is part of a story written about her in 1975 after she was first elected to the council.

“Patti Ewen says she once thought being elected to public office was unattainable, or at best ‘very far away.’ Obviously her successful campaign for a City Council seat - she is the first woman ever to win a council spot in Bristol - was preceded by some rethinking of those possibilities.

“‘Why politics?,’ she said. ‘I’ve always been interested in people and groups of people, and politics, after all, that’s what it is all about.’

Does she feel that she is an unusual woman for obtaining a position in Bristol politics that no other female has obtained?

“‘If you look around this city you will see articulate, bright women, so you certainly aren’t going to put yourself on any pedestal. I think Bristol is fortunate to have women like Ruth Becker and Wilma Ladd, women who have served in many different specialties. We should make more use of this leadership.’”

Ewen is unsure of what areas she will concentrate on as a counselor, but interests include redevelopment and planning, white collar jobs for women, being available to her constituents, opening the school after hours for activities, making better use of the parks and flooding tennis courts for skating in the winter.

Rewind - 1982 (35 years ago)

Fred Soliani, Mountain View School principal, will bow out of education next month. For him the job has held numerous advantages. “The children,” he muses. “They have been the joy of my life.”

Word of his retirement is still news to many of his teachers and parents of Mountain View students. “I’m retiring, not expiring,” he added.

(Note: As many know, Soliani continued to make Bristol a better place to live after retiring. He died here at age 78 on Nov. 30, 2000, but before doing so his affiliations included the mentor program of the School/Business Partnership for the Bristol Board of Education and Bristol Chamber of Commerce, the Salvation Army and Bristol Lions Club. He was a WWII veteran of the Army Air Corps.)


I’m told this license plate belongs to longtime Bristol resident Brian Rock, an early 1960s graduate of Bristol Eastern who remains a Bristol resident. Rich Kilby who has worked with him at O’Brien’s Funeral Home, called him a “great guy,” and Larry Nelson, who graduated from Bristol Eastern in 1964 writes:

“I’m pretty sure that plate belongs to Brian Rock. Years ago I worked for him part-time at the famous Rock Brothers Tire on Rt. 6 with the statue of Paul Bunyan out in front.”


I had this plate in this column recently and Tom Borgio finally fessed up. He had been married more than once and the plate referred to never doing this again. He is currently married a third time and admits that the third is truly a charm.

Garden Girls Bowling

Janet Roloff has put out a call for ladies who would be interested in taking part in the Garden Girls Bowling League. The league starts up on Aug. 30 and bowling is every Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Spare Time. You can call her at 860-583-1669 if you are interested.

Old bottles

I received an email from Jim Carros saying that he and his wife, Rosemary, were recently looking around in the Old Collins building, which I believe is in Collinsville. (Tom LaPorte, is this your place?).

Jim said he noticed a number of Roberge and Gifford Dairy milk bottles and added:

“You may remember the Giffords (Randy and Audrey) in Forestville. Audrey was a good friend of my mom’s as we all went to the Bristol Baptist Church. I’m not sure when, but they sold their business and moved to Maine. Both of them, I believe, were originally from Maine. In any case, they started a new business in Maine that has become a great success. If you travel around New England and beyond you will constantly run into Gifford’s Ice Cream. It is considered to be one of the premium ice creams around.”

Jim added that another bottle he has seen has the name: “T. Tunila’ from Bristol, CT, on it. Could this have been a soda bottle, he asks? Anyone?

Write to Bob Montgomery, ℅ The Bristol Press, 188 Main St., Bristol, CT 06010. Call 860-973-1808, or email:

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, Forestville, General News on Thursday, 3 August 2017 20:44. Updated: Thursday, 3 August 2017 20:47.