Rita Papazian has called this small rural community her home for the
past two years, but her roots run deep in the state's "Gold
Coast" town of Fairfield.
The Middlesex Community
College adjunct professor and writer lived in the lavish town for 20
years and has written about the town for nearly twice that.
"As it is often said, 'write what you know,' and Fairfield is
certainly what I know since I've been reporting on the town on and off
for over 35 years," Papazian said.
The journalist and freshman English professor spent about five months
writing "Remembering Fairfield: Famous People, Historic
Places," which was published recently by The History Press
($19.99). The 128-page soft-cover book is about Fairfield, covering
all aspects of the historical town settled in 1639 and burned by the
British in 1779. The opportunity to write about the town rich with
dogwoods and estates presented itself. "The History Press sent an
e-mail to the Fairfield Citizen-News, a biweekly (newspaper) looking
for local writers who may be interested in writing a book about local
history," said Papazian, who jumped at the opportunity.
"Some of the writings in the book come from past articles, but
more than the majority of the text is new writing."
"I like American history. I like to read about it and see
different places," she said. "History is very much a part of
the town. It's well preserved. Fairfield has three historic
When Papazian started reporting when she was in her 30s, she began
covering this Historic District Commission and the Fairfield Public
Library. She also lived in the beach area of Fairfield, which is one
of the older parts of town where the British landed. "The
environment is there," she said. There are a lot of historical
houses in the area, the town government is housed in the older area,
and there are four burying grounds, Papazian added.
While covering the town she wrote a series on the various Fairfield
neighborhoods focusing on their past, present and future. A chapter
within her book includes previous work on that particular aspect of
the town. Papazian said the process of writing "underscores the
book's theme that we are molded by our surroundings and that we should
be ever mindful of our surroundings: its history, its people and above
all, its environment."
"The environment wraps around you and protects you," she
said. "Being part of the environment as a writer, it lets you
work with your talents and allows you to tap into your
"Personally, I learned that I truly love to write; I find a
calmness when writing, a clarity about who I am and what I need to do.
It gives me purpose," Papazian added.
Stepping aside from her freelance writing as a reporter, Papazian said
she loved the change and experience to write something longer.
"The longer pieces are exciting to do."
Her Fairfield book wasn't her only venture into being an author of the
Papazian wrote a memoir, "Gioacchino: Memoir of an Italian
Immigrant," for a public relations client she had. The book was
about Jack DiScala, an Italian immigrant who came to Norwalk in his
youth and built a Norwalk-based business, the M.F. DiScala Company.
With "Remembering Fairfield: Famous People, Historic Places"
having come out just a few months ago, Papazian said she is pleased
with how the book turned out.
"I like it as a writer because it has challenged me," she
said. Among her favorite parts of the book is the chapter entitled
"People of Note."
The chapter includes famous people from the past and present from
Fairfield such as poet Robert Penn Warren and his wife Eleanor Clark,
who lived in town during the later part of their lives, and more
recently, musician John Mayer.
"I love to write features about people," Papazian said.
Another part of the book she highlights was an exciting day for the
town as well as for her - Oct. 16, 1984 - when President Ronald Reagan
came to town. "It was a very exciting time for the town,"
she recalled. "The town just stopped."
It was also a memorable time for Papazian being there as a reporter
covering the event. At the time she was the editor for The Norwalk
News. Her then 14-year-old daughter was there and her son was in the
high school band that was playing for the President.
"It was a very exciting event; just memorable," Papazian
said. "At that time, it was exciting to be part of the national