Battle lines were drawn, pragmatists vs. preservationists, during this week in 1962, and the future appearance of the center of New Canaan for all time was at stake.

On the one hand, a desperate search for commuter parking led one study committee to recommend paving over the properties of the Corry family (now the town-owned Vine Cottage) and the Red Cross Chapter, both neighboring the Town Hall on Main Street.

Almost simultaneously, Dr. Jerome Selinger, Judge Stanley P. Mead and other leaders of the New Canaan Historical Society petitioned town authorities to create an historic district zone encompassing most of the God's Acre area, including the Corry and Red Cross properties, preventing any changes.

The parking study committee, headed by David Kirkbride, had been created by the Board of Selectmen after voters twice rejected a proposal to move the railroad station from Elm Street to the Fairty Orchard off Old Stamford Road where there would be ample area for parking.

In addition to the Corry and Red Cross lots, the Kirkbride study targeted adjacent Main Street strips owned by Dr. W. Harry Siemon, local dentist, and Dr. E. Tremaine Bradley, a physician. Kirkbride estimated there would be 700 car spaces in the over-all package.

Parking use of the Corry and Red Cross lots would necessitate demolishing houses on them, Kirkbride pointed out. Costs were not estimated, but Kirkbride said the town could recoup some of the expense by selling the Corry and Red Cross houses to anybody who would move them off the land.

The Kirkbride recommendation also included four lots of about one acre each near the Talmadge Hill train stop. Ruth Lapham Lloyd offered one as a gift to the town and the others were owned by the New Haven Railroad, William Westerlund and Irene Kyle.

Meanwhile, First Selectman Charlie Kelley referred the Historical Society request to Town Counsel Ira E. Hicks for a review of the legal issues that might be involved in placing private properties in a "hands off" historic district.

Off the record, Kelley quipped that the Historical Society "got there just in time to ward off any development." He also noted, however, that a similar request for state legislation specifically authorizing municipalities to create historic districts had failed to pass in the recent session of the State Legislature, but he predicted correctly that the district eventually would be created in New Canaan.

In the meantime, the town continued to grow. Building Inspector F. Walter Tippman's monthly report noted that he had issued permits for 18 new houses during April, bringing the total for the year so far to 28. In the previous year, there had been 18 in the first four months. New houses listed in April ranged from one costing $120,000 on Weed Street to one for $13,000 on Reeder Lane.

The small town touch was still in evidence, however. An estimated 250 children took their fishing gear to Lake Wampanaw (Mill Pond) off East Avenue for the Recreation Commission's annual derby. Mike Stashenko took the prize for the biggest fish, an 11-inch bass weighing well over half a pound.

Boys that week also took to the baseball fields and on the Little League's opening day, Nick Spinosa and Pete Huidekoper pitched no-hitters for their teams.

Over at the New Canaan Mounted Troop on Carter Street, it was announced that members Peggy Risom and Noel Aderer had ridden to top awards in a New Jersey horse show.

At New Canaan High School, Headmaster Harold S. Kenney added Robert Brigham, Felicitas Schumacher and Doug MacDonald to this year's list of senior leaders.

Also, art teachers Alois Fabry and Bernice Hall announced that students John Farnham, Peter Fabry, Mandy Saxon, Dana McDevitt, Dick Cornwell and Diana Von Eschen had won awards in a regional show. Peter Fabry's painting also was selected for a national scholastic art exhibit in New York City.

New Canaan's restaurants were taking reservations for Mother's Day dinners and Rose and Tony Nebbia offered a complete meal from shrimp cocktail to dessert for $3.50 at the Town Restaurant (now Cherry Street East). On the menu were chicken, veal, prime rib and ham entrees.

Elsewhere, the New Canaan Historical Society announced the grand opening of the Rogers Studio on its campus near God's Acre. The picturesque building in which famed sculptor John Rogers created his popular statues during the Civil War era had been moved to the Society from its original location farther up Oenoke Ridge on property that was cleared for St. Mark's new church. Completely refurbished, the studio housed 18 of the original "Rogers Groups" and it remains among the museum attraction at the Society.

At the Town Hall, the Board of Education remained adamant against restoring $5,600 to the budget for the dental clinic at Center School. Continued operation of the clinic, which had been instituted during the Depression, was urged by Dr. W. Harry Siemon, a dentist; Dr. Charlotte Brown, public health director, and Dr. Meyer Abrahams, pediatrician, who called dental care vital to a child's over-all health. Dr. John Paul Gens, a physician and member of the Board of Education, opposed funds for the clinic, saying the number of indigent children did not warrant the expense and adding that it could be provided in other ways for students who did need it. He added that regular classroom instruction could include dental hygiene and that school nurses could monitor dental health needs.

In the end, Dr. Gens' view prevailed and the clinic came to an end after more than 30 years of operating with volunteer dentists.

And that's the way it was in New Canaan 48 years ago.

Contact Ed Chrostowski at skicrow@att.net.