Category Archives: Beach

Red Sky At Night…

On Sunday, “06880” heralded the arrival of the Blizzard of Even Before The Universe Was Created with a photo headlined: “Red Sky At Morning…

48 hours later we are pleased to post this shot, by alert reader Gene Borio. He took it at dusk, by Canal Beach on Saugatuck Shores.

Canal Park - Gene Borio - January 27, 2015

Looks like some nice weather ahead!

A Last Look Back At A Pretty Nice Day

Considering what could have been, today was not bad at all.

Like many families, the Shuldmans spent the morning quietly, at home. 15-year-old Avery saw this view outside, and captured it beautifully:

Deer - Avery Shuldman

When the roads were cleared — and how about a great hand for Westport’s Public Works Department! — Bart and Sue headed out to see how Compo fared.

It doesn’t get more Westport than this:

Compo Beach - Bart Shuldman

(Photos/Bart Shuldman)

(Photos/Bart Shuldman)

Staples Soccer Players Offer Shoveling Help

The snow is light and fluffy. There’s less of it than everyone expected. But it’s still a lot to contend with — particularly if you’re elderly or disabled.

Members of the Staples High School boys soccer team have volunteered to help. With school canceled, they’re available to shovel out folks who can’t do it themselves (or have no able-bodied kids of their own).

Because many of them can’t drive — or their parents don’t want them to — the offer is limited to neighborhoods where players live. So there are no promises that a match can be made.

But if you’d like a soccer player to help, email I’ll do the best I can to send a strong teenager.

NOTE: Any other Westport youngsters (or older!) willing to volunteer are welcome to join in this community effort too. Just email, and tell me where you live. I’ll add you to the list of volunteer shovelers!

After Hurricane Sandy, Staples soccer players helped clean up sand from front yards on Soundview Drive.

After Hurricane Sandy, Staples soccer players helped clean up sand from front yards on Soundview Drive.

This Is What A Westport Blizzard Looks Like …

…with apologies to our friends on Cape Cod, who really are getting hammered:

(Photos/Betsy P. Kahn)

(Photos/Betsy P. Kahn)

Red Sky At Morning…

Jimmy Izzo was up early today. He snapped this gorgeous shot at Compo Beach — gorgeous, that is, until you remember the old sailors’ saying.

Red sky - Jimmy Izzo

As Westport prepares for its 1st Snowmageddon of 2015, you should do 2 things:

  1. Go to Stop & Shop, Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market or Stew’s, to clean out the shelves in anticipation of several weeks of famine
  2. Head to Crossroads Hardware to stock up on shovels, snow blowers, roof rakes, flashlights, batteries, road salt, ice melt, and everything else you’ll need. Tell Jimmy “06880” sent you.

High Tide Club: Not Just Another Day At The Beach

Winter is here — with a vengeance. On the coldest day of the year, you and I think of crackling fires and hot chocolate.

Meanwhile, a group of 90-something Westporters warm themselves with a video about braving the Burying Hill rocks to swim every day — most of the year — at high tide.

What makes this especially noteworthy is that “90-something” refers not to how many people join the High Tide Club. There are just a dozen or so.

Nope — it’s their age. Many are nearly a century old — and still swimming.

The group was recently immortalized in a video by Howard Friedman. I started watching with an “oh no” feeling. I ended with a heartfelt “oh yeah!

I was inspired by the lively, energetic attitude of the High Tide Club. Their long lives have been filled with ups and downs. But the joy with which they approach each day at the beach made me want to join them as soon as I can.

Except I don’t think I’m worthy.

Vidal Clay is one of the swimmers. Now 91, she was widowed as a young World War II mother, with 2 babies. She remarried — but her 2nd husband died of a heart attack at 43.

Forced to raise his, her and their children — some were “birth control failures,” she laughs — she went back to school.

When she discovered Long Island Sound, she says, it was “heaven.”

Vidal Clay

Vidal Clay

Lucia White is also 91. She was a pioneering woman in the New York advertising world, then moved to Harper’s Bazaar. In 1952 she got sick of the city, and took her mother’s advice to start her own studio in Westport.

Through a series of coincidences, Lucia met Isabel Gordon. She’s now 98. Back then they’d walk along Burying Hill — to the onion farms nearby — and swim every day at high tide.

Rita Adams learned to swim in her native Bavaria. She became a showgirl in New York and Las Vegas. When she and her new husband, Dick, were ready to settle down, they came to Westport.

After decades here — and years in the High Tide Club — she feels like “a fish or a mermaid.” One of the highlights of the video shows her slowly making her way into the Sound — then casting aside her walker, to float buoyantly in the water.

Burying Hill

Those women — along with others, like Micki Magidson — invited Mari Meehan to join them in 1992. She, and other relative youngsters like Gesa Taranko, form their summer (and spring and fall) days around the high tides.

They schedule doctor’s appointments at low tide. “This is our medicine,” one says.

They celebrate birthdays together. They hold impromptu picnics. They support each other through illnesses, deaths of loved ones and everything else that happens in life when you’re 70, 80, 91 or 98 years old.

Mortality rates are stacked against us men, but there are a few guys in the club. Malcolm Watson notes that some of the women’s spouses were not swimmers, “and they’re not here today.”

The women (and few men) in the High Tide Club won’t live forever either.

But they’re already looking ahead to the first nice day of spring.

(Hat tip to Patty McQuone)


Betsy P. Kahn’s Beautiful Westport

Betsy P. Kahn finds beauty everywhere in Westport. She sees it in places all of us love.

And in spots most of us overlook.

Yesterday, the talented photographer took this fantastic shot of a cottage on Sherwood Mill Pond, near the bridge heading to Compo Cove.

Old Mill cottage - Betsy P Kahn

For years it’s enchanted everyone who knows that secret path. But it won’t be there much longer. Damaged in Hurricane Sandy, it and an even smaller cottage next door will soon be demolished.

The train station isn’t going anywhere. No one thinks it’s particularly attractive, but Betsy makes it look stunning too.

Train station - Betsy P Kahn

(For an even better view, click on each image to enlarge.)


Coming In 2015: Outdoor Fitness Parks In Westport?

Four years ago in Tel Aviv, Vadim Mejerson looked out his hotel window. He saw what looked like a child’s playground — but it was filled with adults. They were all exercising, on equipment you’d find in a gym but adapted for outdoors.

You or I might think, “Hmmm … interesting.” Meyerson — a longtime Weston resident with a Ph.D. in exercise physiology, who helped Exxon and many other companies develop fitness centers for executives — thought: “Wow … opportunity!”

He and his son Adam — who’d seen the same sight, independently, on that trip to Israel — did some research. They learned the parks were open 24/7. Some were roofed. Some were linked by bike trails.

A fitlot park by the sea in Israel...

A Fitlot park by the sea in Israel…

Vadim and Adam found that outdoor fitness parks were exploding in popularity around the world. England, Switzerland, Australia, Canada — everywhere, it seemed, governments and private sources were developing 1,000-square-foot areas where people could work out, get fit and socialize.

Everywhere — except the U.S.

Believing that every individual should enjoy the health benefits of parks like these, they formed a 501(c)(3) organization called FitLot. Partnering with neighborhood associations, and with funding from corporations, foundations and governments, it’s developing outdoor fitness parks throughout New Orleans.

That’s a perfect place for them. The city is burdened with obesity, diabetes and other health-related problems — but it’s also rebuilding itself, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

...and one in Europe.

…and one in Europe.

Now Mejerson wants to build facilities closer to home.

The other day he and 2 fellow enthusiasts — Steven Lewine and Rick Jaffe — talked about their vision for Westport.

“It’s free. It’s easy to access. It’s not an intimidating ‘gym environment,’ so it appeals to everyone,” Lewine said.

They ticked off potential spots for outdoor fitness parks: Compo Beach. Luciano Park, near the train station. The Y. The library. The Senior Center. Winslow Park. Baron’s South. The front lawn of Town Hall. Mini-parks, like Grace Salmon on Imperial Avenue.

They also like Sherwood Island. Connected by bike trails, they say, the fitness parks would be a way of tying the town together with the state park in our midst.

A roof may be necessary for a Westport outdoor fitness park.

A roof may be necessary for a Westport outdoor fitness park.

They know there are obstacles. Compo Beach is in the early stages of a renovation project. Winslow Park has been deemed “open space.” Bike paths are tough to build and maintain.

Still, the 3 men have had preliminary discussions with town officials, including 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Parks and Recreation Department director Stuart McCarthy, and Parks and Rec Commission chair Charlie Haberstroh. The talks were “constructive and productive,” Lewine says.

The cost of an outdoor fitness center is no more than $100,000 — 10% of the cost of an indoor facility, Jaffe says.

“It’s inexpensive, it’s public, it’s a beautiful concept,” notes Mejerson. “There’s no downside.”

Westporters embrace physical fitness.

Westporters embrace physical fitness.

“We think the community would welcome this gift with open arms,” Lewine adds. (It would be a “gift” thanks to corporate or private sponsorship.) “Westport is an enlightened town that considers physical fitness to be an important value.”

The big problem, the outdoor parks advocates know, is finding the right space(s), then gaining public support.

In Israel, Mejerson says, outdoor fitness parks are everywhere: hospitals, schools, prisons, gas stations, eldercare facilities.

Will one or more rise in Westport? If so, where? Click “Comments” to weigh in.




Arrividerci, Positano

Tomorrow is Positano’s last day at its current location: Old Mill Beach, on Hillspoint Road. Sometime in 2015 it will move into the former Dressing Room, next to the Westport Country Playhouse.

Positanos 2 - Fred Cantor

The current Positano property has already been sold. One rumor is that the new owners plan to tear it down, and construct a (big) home there.

Another rumor is that some nearby neighbors would like to buy those owners out, and bring in a new restaurant.

If that doesn’t happen, our town — which loves the water — will be left with only 1 beachfront restaurant: Splash.

Or 2, counting Joey’s.

(Photos/Fred Cantor)

(Photos/Fred Cantor)

Lucy Loved The Minuteman

The unveiling of the recently renovated Minuteman caused a few old-timers* to reminisce about one of the statue’s most famous star turns.

In 1957, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo “moved” from their East 68th Street brownstone to Westport. Their good friends Fred and Ethel Mertz joined them.

It was the 6th and final season of “I Love Lucy.” And in the very last episode, Lucy accidentally smashed the Minuteman statue that Ricky is about to unveil at the “Yankee Doodle Day” celebration. Hilarity, of course, ensued.

Lucy Ricardo, posing as the Minuteman statue.

Lucy Ricardo, posing as the Minuteman statue.

The episode — including a cameo appearance by 5-year-old Desi Arnaz Jr. — was watched by over 35 million viewers. (The top-ranked comedy in 2013-14, ” Big Bang Theory,” averaged 20 million.)

So how did Lucy end up in Westport, demolishing the Minuteman statue?

According to a fascinating story by Marshall S. Berdan in the December 2006 issue of Westport Magazine, the show’s writers needed “a whole new set of zany predicaments” that the suburbs could provide. (The reason given on TV: With young Desi Jr. growing up, the apartment was too small.)

I Love Lucy logoBob Weiskopf — one of the 4 writers — had actually lived in an old Victorian house on Canal Street, before moving to California. He suggested Westport as the Ricardos and Mertzes’ new home.

Broadway set designer Ralph Alswang and his wife Betty — Weston residents — drove a senior writer around town in December of 1956. They showed her Compo Beach, downtown and the train station, then had dinner at Cobb’s Mill. That one day in Westport sealed the deal.

According to Berdan, actor Arthur Kennedy’s 1928 home on Old Hill Road — with plank floors, wooden beams and a massive stone fireplace — served as the model for the Ricardos’ home. The Mertzes moved into the “guesthouse.”

Lucy did find “a new set of foils,” Berdan wrote, “in the form of Westport’s somewhat stiff, commuting corporate types and their patrician Yankee wives, the latter in collective form as the Westport Historical Society, the Westport Garden Club and an unnamed country club.”

In one episode, Lucy lost control of a power lawnmower on Main Street and the Boston Post Road. In another, the Ricardos and Mertzes attempt to surprise each other at the train station, but miss connections. I’m sure it looked funnier than it sounds.

In the Minuteman episode, Lucy Ricardo reads a poster to Ethel Mertz in "Westport." It says: "Yankee Doodle Day Celebration -- Statue Dedication at Jessup (sic) Green."

In the Minuteman episode, Lucy Ricardo reads a poster to Ethel Mertz in “Westport.” It says: “Yankee Doodle Day Celebration — Statue Dedication at Jessup (sic) Green.”

In the final scene of the Minuteman episode, Berdan said, “the Ricardos’ dog nuzzles the replacement statue (Lucy) to life while Ricky extols the bravery and heroism exhibited by the patriots at the Battle of Compo.”

That’s a far cry from the scene on Monday, when Westporters got their first look at the newly restored Minuteman.

But it sure puts the complaints about the old guy wearing a Santa cap in perspective, no?

*Not as old as the Minuteman, but still.

For exceprts from the “I Love Lucy” Minuteman episode, click below:

(Hat tip to Richard Epstein)