Category Archives: Westport life

When 2 Strangers Meet By Accident…

The other day, as alert “06880” reader Sue Kane was leaving yoga class, a good friend arrived for the next one. She was quite upset.

Sue’s friend told the people behind the desk that she’d just hit another car in the parking lot. She gave them the license plate number, and asked them to find the owner.

A few minutes later, a man wearing shorts and a T-shirt emerged from the gym. He asked Sue’s friend, “Are you the person who hit my car?”

Yes, she said.

He came closer — and wrapped her in a big hug.

“Do you two know each other?” Sue asked.

“No,” the man said. “But I figured she must be pretty upset. I wanted her to know it was all right.”



What Kind Of “Character”?

We use the term often. We use it casually. We use it without thinking.

“The character of Westport.”

We invoke our town’s “character” when discussing the impact of 2 proposed residential developments, with their state-mandated “affordable housing” units.

We mention our town’s “character” during debates about downtown redesign, plans for Baron’s South, the changes in Saugatuck.

We talk about it every time an old home is torn down, and a new one is erected.

New construction in the 1950s sparked discussion of Westport's "character," just as it does today.

New construction in the 1950s sparked discussion of Westport’s “character,” just as it does today.

This is not a new topic. Westport’s “character” was discussed in the 1950s, when hundreds of new homes — and many new shopping centers — sprung up on what was previously open space.

We talked about our “character” 20 years later, during debates on busing in Bridgeport students through Project Concern. We probably talked about it 100 years earlier, when factories began replacing farms, and 100 years before that, when we were split between patriots and Tories.

But — as an alert “06880” reader points out — what exactly do we mean by “character of the town”?

What is our town’s character? Who defines it? Does it change? If so, how do we acknowledge our town’s new character?

Those are just a few questions about Westport’s “town character.” I’m sure there are more. And I’m sure everyone has his or her own answers, explanations and insights.

We’d like to hear yours. Click “Comments” — and please, use your full, real name.

Who decides the "character" of a place like downtown? Who describes it? Who recognizes if -- and when -- it changes? (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

Who decides the “character” of a place like downtown? Who describes it? Who recognizes if — and when — it changes? (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)


At 104, Minuteman Looks Better Than Ever

The Minuteman statue — Westport’s most recognized symbol — will be officially unveiled at 3:30 this afternoon (Monday). He’s undergone a nearly year-long restoration effort, for the 1st time since Mollie Donovan took up the task. The Minuteman dates back to 1910.

Alert “06880” reader Matt Murray saw the Minuteman this morning, in all his glory. His features are once again firm, his muscles taut, his boots polished.

And you gotta love that holiday hat! Here’s hoping it stays on for the big ceremony a few hours from now.

Minuteman - Matt Murray



Jayne Mauborgne’s Love Letter To Westport

It’s Westport’s 2nd favorite sport, after tearing down perfectly good homes: Bashing our home town. (See? I can’t resist, even in a perfectly good introduction to this story.)

But, of course, there is much — very much — to love about this place. Alert “06880” reader (and longtime Westporter) Jayne Mauborgne sent this along. She wrote it 10 years ago. A real estate agency reprinted it for potential buyers. It’s as relevant today as it was, way back at the dawn of the 21st century. Jayne said:

When I was in my late teens I traveled with my  father, who was in sales. He called on a clothing store, on Main Street.

Part of the pleasure of traveling with him was lunch. This day was no different.  We ate at a Chinese restaurant on Main Street, then took a walk in the back by the water. I remarked to my dad, “when I grow up I hope I can live in a house in Westport.” It was love at first sight.

When Jayne Mauborgne first visited Westport, the Saugatuck River lapped up against the back of Main Street stores.

When Jayne Mauborgne first visited Westport, the Saugatuck River lapped up against the back of Main Street stores.

Many years later the dream became a reality. My husband and I moved with our 2 little daughters to a lovely house in the town of my dreams.

That was 54 years ago, but the thrill of Westport never wears thin. My girls attended public schools here, getting attention one can only dream about.  Teachers were our neighbors and friends, and the caring was overwhelming.

I didn’t work when my children were young. I enjoyed the PTA, made lasting friendships, played tennis, my husband golfed at Longshore, we enjoyed the beach and 4th of July, Staples Players, wonderful restaurants, Memorial Day parades, a first-class library (even before the new building) – too many things to mention.

Nothing beats a Memorial Day parade in Westport.

Nothing beats a Memorial Day parade in Westport.

Life has changed. The girls are professional women. For the last 35 years I have owned my own business. I worked hard. But at the end of each day, just walking at the beach, watching a sunset at Compo or walking at Winslow, my thoughts stray to the wonder of this town. To the familiar faces in the supermarket. The friends and acquaintances I run into in a restaurant or just walking on Main Street. How lucky I am.

The greatest pleasure for me is Winslow Park. What forward-thinking people we have had at the helm of this town, to put 22 of the most valuable acres aside for walking, enjoying or doing nothing at all (which is a lost art in this town). How beautiful to watch the sun go down, see the dogs playing, see their owners having a few relaxed moments from their busy days, moms with carriages, joggers, kids on sleds in winter.

To have such a beach 1 mile from my house is unbelievable. An Olympic pool at Longshore, sailing, tennis courts galore, golf: what doesn’t this town have?

Longshore's charms are endless -- and timeless.

Everyone loves Longshore.

I have had occasion to call the police a few times over the years. I don’t think I have even hung up the phone when they appeared at the door. The same holds true for EMS. The dedication of the people who serve this town voluntarily. Hats off to all of you who give tirelessly of your time and energy — especially as everyone here has a point of view and wants to be heard, even if it is midnight.  And show me another town where you get to meet, eat and chat with the top executives.

Yes, I knew this was the right place for me. So I just want to say “thank you Westport.” You have given me a really nice life,  and if I am lucky I  hope for many more years of pleasure.

Give Westport For The Holidays

You might not be able to give a 15,000-square foot, 4-car garage McMansion for Christmas.*

But you can still give a gift that screams “06880” (the town, not the blog).

The Westport Historical Society’s Remarkable Gift Shop — yes, it’s a clever homage to the late, much-loved book store — is filled with Westportiana.

There are books, including “Westport: A Special Place” (fantastic photos, compiled by Eve Potts); “Stars in Our Eyes” (Tom DeLong’s tribute to our arts heritage), and — my favorite — “Staples High School: 120 Years of A+ Education” (Dan Woog’s superb book on the history of his alma mater).

WHS gifts 1 - Larry Untermeyer

Some of the many gifts available at the Westport Historical Society. The best are the ones that say “06880.” (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

There are also maps; clever jigsaw puzzles of New Yorker covers depicting iconic Westport scenes; Christmas tree ornaments with Compo themes, and ties, caps, aprons, quilts, totes, pillows, sports bags, flannel pajama pants, t-shirts and sweatshirts — all with Westport (or “06880”) logos.

“06880” — the blog, not the town — is not for sale. But at the Historical Society, Westport sure is.

(The Remarkable Gift Shop is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, and 12-4 p.m. Saturdays. The Westport Historical Society is located at 25 Avery Place; the phone number is 203-222-1424. Click on the WHS website for more information.)

*Besides, it would be tough to fit under the tree.

A wide collection of books on sale at the WHS. The history of Staples is near the top, on the right. (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

A wide collection of books on sale at the WHS. The history of Staples is near the top, on the right. (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

Giving Thanks, “06880”-Style

Thank you.

Thank you to Westport, for being — despite the ease and frequency with which we/I often knock it — a wonderful, warm, creative, arts-supporting, involved and ever-evolving community.

Thank you to all who make it so. As Westport prepares for the future — with new retail and residential developments on both sides of the river downtown, and in Saugatuck; with senior housing in the works, and many more changes in store — we are not all on the same page. But in our own way, each of us wants what is best for our town. And, thankfully, we are nowhere near as dysfunctional as Washington.

Thank you to the people I spend so much time with: Westport’s teenagers. You are smart, passionate, compassionate and clever. You work far harder than I did when I was at Staples. You’ve got far more pressures on you than I had. Yet you handle it all with maturity and poise (most of the time). And you do it with plenty of smiles.

Thank you to the readers of “06880.” You are never without opinions, information and feedback. You feed me ideas and photos. You read my words at 5 a.m., noon and midnight. And when I tell you sorry, I can’t post a story about your lost cat/upcoming book signing/daughter’s lemonade stand, you (for the most part) understand.

Those are my thanks, this Thanksgiving day 2014. I’d love to hear yours. And — more importantly — so would everyone else in this great “06880” community. Just click “Comments” below.

Thank you!

I am thankful I live in a beautiful town. I am also thankful I'm not a turkey.

I am thankful I live in a beautiful town. I am also thankful I’m not a turkey.

Vigilante Justice

At first glance, this seems like one more instance of a Westporter stealing campaign signs. Not cool, but unfortunately not out of the ordinary either.

Last night around 7 p.m., an alert “06880” reader was driving on Greens Farms Road.  At the intersection with Hillspoint, he saw a silver Subaru pulled over on Hillspoint. The hazard lights were on, and the rear door opened.

A man pulled a bunch of political signs out of the back of the car, and dumped them on the ground.

Here’s where the tale gets interesting. A photo — taken this morning — shows the pile:

Signs dumped

It includes campaign signs for Republicans and Democrats — along with one for the Community Nursery School.

So the skunk-like thief/litterer was not out to create political mischief.

He just doesn’t like lawn signs, period.

So he took the law into his own hands.


Halloween Update: Live From The Epicenter

An “06880” reader who wishes — for obvious reasons — to hide behind a mask of anonymity wrote at 4 p.m. today:

Greetings from Oak Street, the epicenter of trick or treating for Weston children* whose families cut through here to avoid the light on Main St. and Clinton.

I just put 475 candy bars into baskets. I ran out last year at 7 p.m. Now I am pondering not the ethics of this Weston tradition, but an etiquette question:  Would a sign saying something to the effect of “happy to be of use to you and your family again this year; now would you consider slowing down that Range Rover, and maybe stopping at either of the stop signs the next time you blast past my house?” be okay?

*Scientific fact:  My neighbor taught elementary school in Weston for 30 years. She said 75% of the kids she saw were from Weston.

"Hah! We live in Weston, where there's 2-acre zoning. Your houses are MUCH closer together!"

“Hah! We live in Weston, where there’s 2-acre zoning. Your houses are MUCH closer together!”

Halloween: It’s Not Just For Kids Any More

The scene in one of those neighborhoods where the houses are close together, parents drive their little princesses and Power Rangers in from all over town (and beyond), and the very accommodating homeowners provide not only candy, but (at least here) adult beverages:

Halloween 2014 - Betsy P Kahn

(Photo/Betsy P Kahn)

Trick or treat!

Here’s How To Vote!

Matt Murray’s tongue is planted firmly in cheek when he writes:

I have never been more proud of our local politicians and their minions than for re-setting the yard signs at the intersection of Cross Highway and Roseville Road after an accident knocked them — and the guard rail — down.

Campaign signs

Without those signs, I would never be able to decide who to vote for.