Category Archives: Westport life

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Memorial Day 2015: We Remember

Memorial Day

Celebrating Our Memorial Day Parade

The Memorial Day parade is one of Westport’s favorite town events.

Everyone has a favorite spot to watch from. Everyone has a favorite band, float or marcher to photograph.

But why share them only with a few hundred dear pals, casual acquaintances and random how’d-they-get-on-my-list Facebook “friends”?

Tomorrow, let all of Westport see “your” Memorial Day parade. Send a few (not all!) of your photos to “06880” (email: dwoog@optonline.net). Deadline: noon. Please include brief identification, if needed, and of course your own name.

I’ll post some (not all!) in the afternoon.

And be creative! We want special photos, for our special parade.

This sign on the parade route last year said it all.

This sign on the parade route last year said it all.

Community Conversation Set For Sunday On #WhiteLivesMatter Flyer

Last week, some Westporters woke to find #WhiteLivesMatter flyers thrown anonymously onto their lawns and driveways.

Some were outraged. Others shrugged.

When “06880” reported the story, some commenters talked about hate groups. Others talked about the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Still others countered, “All Lives Matter.”

It was an intense discussion. And it deserves to be played out not only in cyberspace, but in real time, with real faces.

Several local organizations are giving Westporters the chance to do just that. This Sunday (May 17, 4 p.m., Westport Library), everyone is invited to a community conversation. The topic is: “Why Does the Flyer Matter?”

Participants include First Selectman James Marpe, Police Chief Dale Call, Rev. Alison Patton of the Saugatuck Congregational Church, and yours truly.

TEAM-Westport-logo2The following statement announcing the event was signed by TEAM Westport, Interfaith Clergy Association of Westport and Weston, the Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County, Westport Human Services Commission, the Westport Board of Education, and Westport Police:

On the night of Thursday, May 7, 2015  flyers containing the slogan “#White Lives Matter” were left anonymously at a number of residences in Westport. We are deeply troubled by this campaign. While some have raised questions about the intent of the slogan, it is clear from similar campaigns in neighboring towns that this message was motivated by racism, which we reject absolutely and without qualification.

Further, we contend that dismantling racism requires us to attend to the impact of actions, regardless of intent. These flyers attempt to co-opt a movement that has been created by citizens of color across our nation to redress disparities in treatment, based on race. We are united in declaring that these flyers have no place in Westport, which aspires to be an inclusive community that values a diverse population.

We affirm the principle that all lives matter equally. However, there is much more work to do before our nation achieves genuine equality across race and ethnicity. In circumstances where this equality is not upheld, we affirm our commitment to support and pursue constructive efforts to redress institutional and cultural racism which tears at the fabric of our nation.

In the next several months we will organize a number of opportunities in Westport for education, discussion and engagement on matters relating to race relations in the United States. The initial event will be a community conversation held at the Westport Library on Sunday, May 17 at 4 p.m. regarding the topic:  “Why Does the Flyer Matter?” We hope you will join us.

Flyers like these were tossed onto lawns in Westport in the middle of the night last week.

These flyers were tossed onto Westport lawns in the middle of the night last week.

2 Women Who Believe They Are Cars

The sidewalk/lamppost renovation of Main Street is proceeding nicely. Downtown is looking up.

Unlike 2 women in a photo below, who apparently think the project includes a new pedestrian mall.

Workers were finishing the left-side sidewalk yesterday. But that was not why traffic was snarled.

The cause of the holdup was 2 women — one pushing a stroller — walking side by side. All. The. Way. Down. The. Middle. Of. Main. Street.

Downtown

There was a perfectly good sidewalk on the right, so maybe the ladies were meandering toward a shop on the left?

Nah.

They continued north, oblivious to the scrum of cars behind.

The (very patient) driver who inched her way up Main Street behind these 2 Very Special People turned right on Elm. So we don’t know how far they kept walking, smack in the middle of the road.

To be fair, perhaps they were reenacting the British march to Danbury 238 years ago.

If so — and you’re driving on Route 7 today — watch out!

We Earned This!

(Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

(Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

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.”

hand

 

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)