Darien street signs named after veteran

Charles (Chick) Scribner at the Darien Historical Society. — Sandra Diamond Fox photo

Beginning Sunday, those who are driving or walking on Fairfield Avenue in Darien may notice the name of Charles (Chick) Scribner on a street sign — or two.

Scribner is the very first person to be selected for the town’s new Wartime Veteran Street Sign Program. Two signs on Fairfield Avenue will contain Scribner’s name on them.

Scribner will be recognized at a ceremony on Sunday, May 26, at noon on the corner of Fairfield Avenue and Chestnut Street, where the new street signs will be unveiled. He and his family will be present, along with town officials. The event is open to the public.

“His name will be on the sign on the corner of Fairfield Avenue and West Avenue, and another sign on the corner of Fairfield Avenue and Chestnut Street,” said Lucy Berry, who teaches eighth grade history at Middlesex Middle School and started the program. The town’s Monuments and Ceremonies Commission selected Scribner to be the recipient.

The purpose of the program is to honor Darien wartime veterans by adding their names to existing street signs in town. The added name does not change any street address.

The names are of veterans who live or have lived in town. Each name will be placed on the sign of the street that the veteran lives or lived on. One new name will be put on an existing street sign every Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Fourth of July.

Chick Scribner, 95, is a lifelong resident of Darien. He served in the U.S. Army during WWII as a staff sergeant in Company C 558th Signal Air Warning Battalion with action in India Burma and Burma. For his military service, he received a Victory medal, a Good Conduct medal, an American Theater Campaign ribbon and an Asiatic Theater Campaign ribbon.

He has been an active volunteer in town as a member of the Noroton Heights Fire Department for over 50 years. He also served as scoutmaster and commissioner for Darien Boy Scout Troops 53 and 35 for over 50 years. He has served on the Monuments and Ceremonies Commission, and has been a member of the Darien Historical Society, the Darien Community Association and the Darien Genealogy Society.

He had a career as a glass blower at Machlett Laboratories in Stamford, which made x-ray and electron vacuum tubes.

Scribner and his late wife Mary have four children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He still lives on Fairfield Avenue, where he lived in his younger days.

Q&A with Charles (Chick) Scribner

Charles Scribner, left, and his brother Harold in their army uniforms.

The Darien Times sat down with Scribner on Saturday at the Darien Historical Society, where he was one of the first responders being honored as part of the society’s Spirit of the American Volunteer program.

What was your role as staff sergeant in the Army?

CS: I was top radio operator (team chief), stationed in the Naga Hills in Burma, on the border with India. I was responsible for monitoring enemy and all air activity in the vicinity. A Company consists of two or more platoons, which is approximately 100 to 250 men. The team SSgt Scribner consisted of 10 men. I was in this position from 1943 to 1946.

The units were embedded with a tribe of friendly native Naga headhunters in the mountains and would occasionally use these natives as guides to investigate activity or assist on rescue missions, as they were familiar with the terrain. The Naga had previous encounters with the Japanese and were not treated very well, so they quickly bonded with the young Americans, often inviting them to eat meals.

Do you have any special story from the war that has stayed with you all these years?

CS: Yes. The unit would routinely get resupplied by air drops to their mountain OP (Observation Post). On one occasion, they received an extra supply drop. They later learned that after a successful extraction of a downed pilot, they received the second drop as a thank-you gesture from the legendary Flying Tigers unit of the Army Air Corps.

What are some of your memories of being involved with the fire department?

CS: Through my over 50 years as a volunteer, I performed every task required, including a couple of stints as assistant chief. I assisted with extracting someone from a car on I-95 utilizing Jaws of Life (a rescue apparatus used to pry apart the wreckage of crashed vehicles in order to free people trapped inside.)

The largest fire I was involved with was a boarding school in town called Cherry Lawn School. Now the property is called Cherry Lawn Park.

What do you remember most about the Darien Boy Scouting program?

CS: My father, Harold Scribner, was the first Scoutmaster of Troop 53 in Darien. I was assistant scoutmaster. I enjoyed camping with the troop. I remember camping at Philmont (in New Mexico). My son Don became an Eagle Scout. Scouting teaches you a lot of things that you wouldn’t get in school.

What did you do in your career as a glass blower?

CS: I worked on a job at Machlett Laboratories for NASA for glass tube enclosures for communication and computation equipment for the Apollo landing module.

Chick Scribner at the Bronx Zoo in 1957. He is with his late wife Mary, son Chuck, 4, and daughter Jean, 3. This was part of a pictorial that was featured in McCall’s Magazine, called “First Trip to the Bronx Zoo.”

How many homes have you lived in, in town?

CS: Including apartments, I’ve lived in about four or five, all in Darien. I was born on the opposite end of Fairfield Avenue from my current home.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

CS: I used to be involved with genealogy. I traced my ancestors back to Europe. These days, I take long hikes whenever possible, usually two a day.

Have you always enjoyed living in Darien?

CS: Yes, it’s a great town. They have beaches and ball fields. I played baseball with the VFW Baseball Team from 1946 to1947. I was an outfielder.

Chick Scribner playing baseball with the Darien V.F.W. Team in the mid-1940s. He is last on the left, top.

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

CS: It reminds me that we live free due to the dedication and sacrifices made by so many that proudly served this country.

Do you have any advice for young people of today?

CS: Don’t be afraid to fail. It is part of success.

Wartime Veterans Street Sign program

A link to the application for Wartime Veterans Street Sign nominations is available on the town website, and paper copies are available at the Darien Town Hall. Residents are encouraged to nominate deserving wartime veterans. Along with the application, proof of service, awards, and service to the Town of Darien are required.

sfox@darientimes.com