Category Archives: Westport life

Westport’s Lawn Jockey: Really?!

Tuesday’s post — about a soccer get-together with suburban Westport and inner-city New York teams — drew plenty of positive comments.

Today’s — about a black-faced lawn jockey at a home near Clinton Avenue — probably won’t.

An African American Westporter noticed it the other day. She takes frequent walks around town; this was a new route.

“I just saw it sitting there on the lawn,” she says, still outraged.

Lawn jockey

The lawn jockey near Clinton Avenue.

Her first reaction was: “Really? Really?!”

She’d never seen anything like it here. In fact, she says, the last time she’d seen a black lawn jockey was around 1979, in her home state of Ohio.

Black-faced lawn jockeys are not mere decorations, like garden gnomes. As the Washington Post noted in 2006:

He’s a ghost from the days of plantations and magnolias, fox hunts and manorial estates.

To some, particularly African Americans, the lawn jockey is a pint-size monument to repugnant stereotypes, a holdover from the days of slavery and Jim Crow, an artifact of racial prejudice alongside Aunt Jemima.

“When I see it, it hearkens back to a time when black people were enslaved,” the Westporter says. “It seems like the people who put it there are saying, ‘This is what we wish for.'”

Many lawn jockeys reinforce racial stereotypes.

Many lawn jockeys reinforce racial stereotypes.

What about the argument that the homeowners may not realize how offensive the Civil War-era artifact may be?

“It’s time for people to be educated,” she counters.

“I know we can’t PC the entire world. But we have to teach people this is not acceptable. It’s not cool.

“You can say whatever you want, privately. But to publicly say that you’re superior to others — that others can be your little joke — that’s not okay.”

The final line of Tuesday’s post was: “Westport, Connecticut may not be representative of America. But neither is Ferguson, Missouri.”

Today, it’s: Westport, Connecticut may not be representative of America. But sometimes even our town can seem like Mississippi.

It’s A Dog Life: The Sequel

Coincidentally, around the same time I was writing this morning’s post — celebrating the man-and-dog Friday get-togethers at Winslow Park — alert “06880” reader John Karrel sent this photo. It shows the other side of (hopefully a very few) dog owners at Westport’s favorite gathering spot:

Winslow Park poop

John notes that the plastic poop was plopped just a few steps away from 2 garbage bins, near the Westport Country Playhouse parking lot.

He saw many more blue bags in the wooded areas nearby.

John promises to head over today, with gloves and a big bag.

Which he will most certainly not leave lying lazily, grossly — and entitledly — on the ground.

It’s A Dog’s Life

Every day at 4:30 p.m. — winter and summer — the same group of dogs and their owners meets at Winslow Park.

On summer Fridays they share doggie treats (and adult refreshments).

Winslow Park dogs

It’s unclear who has more fun — man, or his best friend. For all of them, it looks like a good way to roll.

(Hat tip to Alan Schur)

Left Hanging — Update

UPDATE:  Early this morning, Diane Lowman wrote:

Had windows open last night because it was so cool. Serenaded by chainsaws from about 1-3 a.m.! Not much sleep, but that’s ok. I haven’t been out to check yet but assume road is clear! 

We haven’t had a major storm in a while.

But, alert “06880” reader Diane Lowman reports, this downed tree has been hanging on power lines across Partrick Road since yesterday (Wednesday) morning.

Partrick Road tree

Several reports have been made, she says. Westport Police “babysat” it all day today (Thursday), so no one would hit it and bring the power lines down.

“I appreciate it,” Diane said at 8 p.m. “They’re still out there blocking the road. But I’m sure their time could have been better spent.”

CL&P came at 5 p.m., Diane says. They looked at the situation.

Then they left.

 

 

Remember: Annual “06880” Party Is Next Thursday!

The 2nd annual “06880″ party is less than a week away.

And if you’re reading this, you’re invited.

Thursday, July 17 (6 p.m.) is the day and time. The far end of Compo’s South Beach — away from the cannons, near the boat and kayak launch, the best place to watch the sunset — is the place. (Still confused? See the aerial view below.)

Every member of the “06880″ (as in, this website) community is invited. We welcome frequent commenters and lurkers. Folks who have lived here all their lives, and those who moved here yesterday. Even those who want beach parking to remain as is, and those who hope it doesn’t. (But let’s make this party a beach-comment-free zone.)

The tagline for “06880″ is “Where Westport meets the world.” Next Thursday, that world comes to Compo.

Bring your own food, beverages, beach chairs and blankets. Then mix, mingle and enjoy the evening with the “06880″ crowd.

There’s no charge. It’s a “fun-raiser,” not a fundraiser.

See you next Thursday!

The blue arrow marks the "06880" party spot.

The blue arrow marks the “06880” party spot.

Happy July 7th!

It may be the latest Independence Day celebration in American history.

But who cares?

After a slow start last night — at 7:30 cars were still cruising into Compo Beach, without a wait — by showtime all was right.

The crowd was 2/3 its usual size — the result of a 4-day postponement. But Soundview Drive was its usual Party Central. Picnickers enjoyed their usual feasts and beverages. Little kids twirled their usual sparklers. High school kids strutted their usual stuff.

And — thanks to the wonderful work of Parks and Rec, the cops, EMTs and all the others, plus the generous contribution of Melissa & Doug — it was a July 7th to remember.

It's not a fireworks celebration without American flag wear.

It’s not a fireworks celebration without American flag wear.

At 6:30 p.m., South Beach was still almost empty. This was one fireworks celebration when you didn't have to claim a table at 9 a.m.

At 6:30 p.m., South Beach was still almost empty. This was one fireworks celebration when you didn’t have to claim a table at 9 a.m.

Dudes flying an American flag.

Dudes flying an American flag.

There was almost no backup at the beach entrance.

There was almost no backup at the beach entrance.

Scoring a prime spot in front of the barge -- and relaxing with an iPad.

Scoring a prime spot in front of the barge — and relaxing with an iPad.

Parks and Recreation director Stuart McCarthy and town operations director Dewey Loselle kept everything running smoothly.

Parks and Recreation director Stuart McCarthy and town operations director Dewey Loselle kept everything running smoothly.

Cute little girls create a great light show.

Cute little girls create a great light show.

The scene from Hillspoint Road.

The scene from Hillspoint Road.

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Happy 238th, America!

4th of july

Westport Loves A Parade

Crowds seemed a bit thin for today’s Memorial Day parade — but that could have been because nearly everyone in Westport was marching.

Here’s the “06880” view:

Grand marshal Bob Satter has a smile and a story for everyone.

Grand marshal Bob Satter — age 90, and a World War II vet — has a smile and a story for everyone.

Other veterans follow, in very cool cars.

Other veterans follow, in very cool cars.

The Carpenter family welcomes guests to their 1877 home, near the end of the parade on Myrtle Avenue.

The Carpenter family welcomes guests to their 1877 home, near the end of the parade route on Myrtle Avenue.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe, in his 1st parade as town leader. Behind him are State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, 3rd Selectman Helen Garten and 2nd Selectman Avi Kaner.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe, in his 1st parade as town leader. Behind him are State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, 3rd Selectman Helen Garten and 2nd Selectman Avi Kaner.

Yesterday, Bill Meyer was in the hospital. Today -- wearing his Sunrise Rotary gear -- he rides in the parade.

Yesterday, Bill Meyer was in the hospital. Today — wearing his Sunrise Rotary gear — he rides in the parade.

The Sweet Frog mascot is not a veteran.

The Sweet Frog mascot is not a veteran.

Ted Diamond and his wife Carol, on Veterans Green before the ceremony. Ted -- now 96, and the 2007 grand marshal -- flew 50 missions during World War II.

Ted Diamond and his wife Carol, on Veterans Green before the ceremony. Ted — now 96, and the 2007 grand marshal — flew 50 missions during World War II.

This sign on the parade route says it all.

This sign on the parade route says it all.

Staples junior Jack Baylis sings “America the Beautiful” at the ceremony on Veterans Green.

 

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Memorial Day 2014: We Remember

Memorial Day

“43 Questions To Ask” Before Moving To Westport

If you’re a Westporter, something got you here.

Maybe it was a town you once visited, and wanted to live in ever since. Maybe it was recommended by a friend. Maybe you methodically researched every place within an x-mile radius of y. Maybe you’re here because your parents lived here. Maybe even your grandparents.

The longer you’re here, though, the more you realize this town is different from every other.

And the more you realize it’s the same. Because, after all, every town is really just the sum of its shared values.

Yesterday’s New York Times “Your Money” column provided a fascinating look into that subject. In “43 Questions to Ask Before Picking a New Town,” Ron Lieber writes that a “values audit” is a good way of finding the best place to live — better, in fact, than school test scores, short commute or most house for the money.

According to the NY Times, checking out the library is a good way to learn about a town.

According to the NY Times, checking out the library is a good way to learn about a town.

Lieber’s advice is solid. Of course, he got help from experts — like former Westporter Alison Bernstein. (She runs Suburban Jungle, “guiding people to the places within commuting distance of New York City that suit them best.”)

Among the ways to scout out a new town:

Online forums. Check newspaper websites — and local versions of “06880” — to see what’s important in each town. And what are the comments like?

In-person reconnaissance. Bernstein advises parking in front of the nursery school at drop-off time to see who goes in and out: Nannies? Dads? Working moms? And how are they dressed? “If it’s chicks in yoga pants and you want that, great,” Bernstein says. “Just know what you’re getting into.”

Check out the high school to see whether students leave campus after school for team practice or to smoke cigarettes.

It's one thing to look at a school building. It's another thing entirely to see what goes on in and around it.

It’s one thing to look at a school building. It’s another thing entirely to see what goes on in and around it.

Eavesdrop on the sideline of sports games. “What dominates the conversation?” Bernstein asks. “Politics? Work? SoulCycle? Babysitters?”

Caregivers. If you’re a stay-at-home dad, will you feel at home? Will your babysitter need a car, and if so do most people have 3rd cars?

Mental health. “Are the local children garden-variety pot smokers who have a little sex and a bit of angst at a reasonable age, or is something more troubling going on?” Lieber writes, in one of my favorite Times sentences ever.

How do you find out? “Buy an hour of time” from the town’s leading child psychologist.

Summer. Is this a town-pool or a country club place? Does the town empty every summer because most people have 2nd homes?

Potential home buyers should watch a Compo sunset -- but also talk to folks on the beach.

Potential home buyers should watch a Compo sunset — but also talk to folks on the beach.

There are other suggestions too, like looking at the town library’s shelves, and writing the mayor.

I wonder what potential home-buyers will think about Westport, when they follow Lieber and Bernstein’s advice.

Will they read “06880,” and think this is a place filled with rude drivers, and where every old home is a teardown? Or will they think it’s a place that adores its beach, cherishes its beauty, and whose citizens speak passionately on every issue?

What will they think when they see the enormous variety of people dropping off their pre-schoolers? Can they tell by watching that we have a huge population of stay-at-home moms (and dads), and another huge population that rushes off to high-powered jobs?

Will they realize that many of the folks who are here in summer are not the same people who live here year-round — but many are? Will they know exactly who is grilling on South Beach on Tuesday evenings? What will they make of the many languages they will hear on the boardwalk, in Joey’s, at the playground?

Another place to learn a lot about Westport.

Another place to learn a lot about Westport.

Those are fascinating questions. There are probably as many answers as there are Westporters. Click “Comments” (and please use your real, full name.) The “06880” community would love to hear your thoughts.

So would all those other people in the Suburban Jungle, wondering if — and why — they should buy a home here.