Tag Archives: Fred Cantor

Oh My 06880 — Photo Challenge #57

Robert Eckman’s photo last Sunday was a Goldilocks challenge: not too easy, not too hard. Just right.

After a number of plausible (but wrong) guesses — the library, Patagonia, Compo Beach, police station — 3 alert readers zeroed in on the red-brick design: the old Saugatuck post office. Today it’s Westport Auction.

Congrats to William F. Dohme Jr., Bobbie Herman and Beth Orlan Berkowitz. Click here to see the photo that they figured out. Then scroll down for comments.

This week’s photo challenge comes from Fred Cantor:

Oh My 06880 - January 31, 2016 - Fred Cantor

If you know where in Westport this is, click “Comments” below.

We’ll give you one hint: It’s not the New York Public Library.


A. E. Hotchner: Hemingway’s Muse Still At Home Here

A. E. Hotchner has just published a new book. Hemingway in Love: His Own Story is an intimate portrait of the troubled writer, by a man who knew him well.

Hemingway committed suicide in 1961. Hotchner — a longtime Westport resident — is still going strong in his 90s.

A. E. Hotchner, with his latest book. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

A. E. Hotchner, with his latest book. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

Earlier this week, “06880” reader Fred Cantor chatted with Hotchner about his life and times in our town. Here is his report.


A. E. Hotchner, the well-known writer and philanthropist, moved to Westport from New York City in 1953 — but not for all the reasons commonly associated with such a move.

“Somebody said to me: ‘Go to Westport. It’s an inexpensive place,'” Hotchner recalls.

A real estate broker showed him a 1920s home, on 5 acres, that had been empty for 2 years. “A real white elephant,” Hotchner remembers it. “Nobody wanted it, it was so big.”

But he and his wife, with 2 young children, liked the possibilities. They made an offer that was accepted.

A. E. Hotchner and Ernest Hemingway, in an undated photograph.

A. E. Hotchner and Ernest Hemingway, in an undated photograph.

The Hillandale Road home and surrounding acreage have provided Hotchner plenty of solitude to write the nearly 20 books he has published over the years, including his latest.

Like his previous works, Hotchner composed an initial draft of Hemingway in Love by longhand, on an old roll-top desk in his 3rd floor study in the finished attic that was already in place when he moved in.

What motivated him to write a new part of the Hemingway story almost 50 years after his acclaimed biography, Papa Hemingway?

The publisher’s lawyers edited out controversial parts of the 1966 manuscript that dealt with people who were alive then. Finally, Hotchner feels he is able to tell “a great tragic love story” that had such an impact on Hemingway’s life, and was perhaps even “more dramatic than what Hemingway was writing about” at the time.

“He was under siege,” Hotchner explains.

Hotchner was not only close friends with one of the 20th century’s most iconic authors. He was also close to one of its most celebrated movie stars: Paul Newman. That friendship led to their co-founding the Newman’s Own charitable endeavor.

 A. E. Hotchner has lived on Hillandale Road -- and been part of Westport -- for more than 60 years. (Photo/Fred Cantor

A. E. Hotchner has lived on Hillandale Road — and been part of Westport — for more than 60 years. (Photo/Fred Cantor

But long before that wonderful philanthropy, Hotchner was involved in a much smaller local charity event that was an integral part of small-town Westport life in the 1950s: the writers-vs.-artists basketball game in the Staples High School gym.

Hotchner played with illustrious teammates like Peter De Vries and Max Shulman. The event raised money for good causes — but there was pride involved too. Hotchner recalls De Vries being injured one game, lying on the bench unable to continue, encouraging his teammates to win.

Hotchner has other fond memories of his early years in Westport: a downtown butcher in a straw hat; a Main Street hardware store that sold nails by the pound; a farm just down the street from his home where cows grazed, and nearby homes dating back to the Revolutionary War.

Westport has changed considerably since 1953. Nevertheless, over 60 years later Hotchner very much enjoys his home. He considers his property “an oasis.” He calls the grounds “glorious.”

And — nearing the century mark — he likes being surrounded by “what’s familiar.”

1 Wilton Road: Through The Years

1 Wilton Road — the former needlepoint shop that’s part of the reason that intersection with the Post Road and Riverside Avenue is the worst in Westport the state the world — has been in the news lately.

David Waldman hopes to buy the property, and move the house onto the former Save the Children site (which he already owns). That will pave the way (ho ho) for a dedicated turning lane, easing (somewhat) the current gridlock.

Right now, everyone in Westport loathes that corner. But 50 years ago, local illustrator Albert Hubbell found it soothing, even bucolic. His stylized illustration became the New Yorker cover on January 9, 1965. It’s also part of the great “New Yorker in Westport” book by Eve Potts and Andrew Bentley, depicting 50 magazine covers by area artists.

New Yorker cover - Jan 9, 1965 - Wilton Road and Post Road

Ten years later — on Christmas Day, 1975 — Fred Cantor found it alluring too. Here’s his photo:

Wilton Road and Post Road intersection - 1975

That corner sure looks pretty — without traffic.

But with that thing we did have every winter. It was — how do say it — “snow”?

Christmas Eve 2015: Santa Will Sweat

What do you do on a Christmas Eve Day that’s shattering centuries-old temperature records?

In the morning, head to Compo Beach. No reserving tables for that holiday barbecue!

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

(Photo/Chip Stephens)

A couple of hours later, take a nice stroll down Hillspoint Road. Be sure to wear a tank top!

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

Laugh Laugh

Fifty years ago today, the Beau Brummels played at Staples.

They were not the biggest rock band in the world — though they’d had big hits with “Laugh Laugh” and the follow-up “Just a Little” — but their appearance in the high school auditorium jump-started a concert series that included the Doors, Yardbirds, Cream, Animals, Rascals, Byrds, Peter Frampton and many, many more.

(Poster courtesy of Ellen Sandhaus/via Mark Smollin)

(Poster courtesy of Ellen Sandhaus/via Mark Smollin)

I was at that concert — though I was just a Long Lots Junior High student — and I remember it mainly because it was so cool seeing a group that had appeared on Hullabaloo and Shindig.

What I do not remember — if I ever knew it — is that the New York Times covered the concert. But they did not talk about the set list.

On December 18, 1965 — according to info unearthed by alert “06880” reader and amateur historian Fred Cantor — the Times reported:

A Congregational minister termed “highly inappropriate and in poor taste” the scheduling of a high school rock ‘n’ roll show Sunday night that forced him to cancel a Christmas meeting of a youth group.

Rev. Edmund R. Strait of Greens Farms Church had to scrub the weekly Pilgrim Fellowship event, when 30 Staples students said they were going to the concert instead of his group. All 1,500 seats in the auditorium, the Times said, were sold out.

30 Greens Farms Congregational Church youth group members went to see the Beau Brummels at Staples. Ellen Sandhaus' photo of the Staples concert (above) comes courtesy of Mark Smollin.

30 Greens Farms Congregational Church youth group members went to see the Beau Brummels at Staples. Ellen Sandhaus’ photo of the Staples concert (above) comes courtesy of Mark Smollin.

Rev. Strait said he “had nothing against rock ‘n’ roll.” However, he called it “poor judgment on the part of the school” to schedule the Beau Brummels for Sunday night. He added that it was particularly inappropriate because Staples had held its annual Candlelight Concert on Friday and Saturday, and “churches in town have special Christmas programs” on Sunday.

If you know the name Rev. Strait, it’s because he also served as chairman of the Recreation Commission. The marina at Longshore is named for him.

And if you recall the Beau Brummels: big props.

Dreaming Of A Pink Christmas…

Fred Cantor has lived on Drumlin Road for 20 years — and elsewhere in Westport for many years before that.

But in all his years here, he’s never seen anything like this sight — not on December 18, that is:

Cherry blossom - December 18, 2015

By comparison, Fred sends along this photo he took on Christmas morning, 1975:

Fairfield Furniture -- Christmas Day, 1975

Westport has changed a bit in 40 years. Back in the day, beautiful woods — not the massive Wright Street building — hugged Wilton Road.

But the Fairfield Furniture store was not the most welcoming sight on the west bank of the Saugatuck. The Tauck family’s restoration of what was once — and is now — National Hall was 20 years in the future.

Westport enjoyed a white Christmas in 1975. In 2015, the forecast is near 60.

Yes, Only 3 Weeks Till Christmas…

…though you wouldn’t know it from the late-October foliage at Longshore.

The course is in great shape, and these golfers were out earlier today on the 8th hole:

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

Meanwhile, the Saugatuck River is still pleasant enough for paddling. Alert “06880” reader Jamie Lindenbaum was out this morning, and captured this scene:

Saugatuck River paddle - Jamie Lindenbaum

Happy holidays! The weather outside is definitely not frightful!

Vote For The Doughboy

Alert “06880” reader Fred Cantor writes:

The other day, my wife Debbie and I came out of the Westport Historical Society “Talk of the Town” exhibit.

Facing us was a beautiful New England scene: the Doughboy statue on Veterans Green, with spectacular fall foliage behind it. It could have easily appeared on one of those New Yorker covers decades ago.

Doughboy statue - Fred Cantor

As we got closer, I saw right behind the statue another quintessential, timeless New England scene. It could also have been a New Yorker cover: a row of political signs, opposite a row of brilliant orange and yellow trees.

Election signs 2015 - Fred Cantor

(Photos/Fred Cantor)

With Election Day near, the signs in such close proximity to the Doughboy statue seemed so fitting. After all, so many American soldiers over the years gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedoms and rights — including the right to vote.

That right is something I have never taken for granted. Perhaps something we can all agree on — no matter where we stand on the political spectrum — is that this Tuesday, Westport residents hopefully will continue their tradition of high participation rates at the polls.

Enjoy The Weekend!

If this image of Hillspoint Road doesn’t put you in a good mood, nothing will!

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

Click or hover over photo to enlarge. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

This Distracted Life

Every week, it seems, WestportNow features an automobile accident that came out of the blue. They happen in broad daylight, on beautiful, clear days.

Whenever I see a photo like the one on Easton Road last week, I think: cell phone. The driver had to have been talking — or worse, texting. How else could someone hit a telephone pole — or another car — in perfect weather?

Alert “06880” reader Fred Cantor has been thinking about this too. He writes:

The other day I sat at a light at the intersection of Green’s Farms Road and Compo. It was a beautiful fall day, with trees starting to turn — what we live for in Westport. I enjoyed the scenery.

The light turned, but the car in front didn’t move. I waited patiently. I saw the driver. Her head was tilted down. I assume she was occupied by her cellphone.

Texting is so much more interesting than paying attention to the road.

Texting is so much more interesting than paying attention to the road.

I waited 5 seconds before tapping my horn. She started up like an Indy 500 driver. There was no “I’m sorry” wave. I guess she had been transported to another place, thanks to her cell.

A few days before that, my wife and I were at a bakery on a weekday afternoon. A man in a business suit came in with a middle school-age girl.

I thought: How nice. A busy dad picked up his daughter at school; now they’ve got some quality time together.

They got food, sat down, and proceeded to take out their cellphones. They looked down as they ate, with no conversation between them.

Recently at Compo, I saw a timeless scene: kids hanging out on the cannons at dusk. But as I got closer, I realized 2 of them were staring down at their cells.

Kids using cellphones on the Compo cannons. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

Kids using cellphones on the Compo cannons. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

I’m not a Luddite. I fully embrace the internet, and how we connect in ways unimaginable years ago.

But in the 1950s, television was seen as both a marvel and an innovation with downsides. My parents set clear rules about TV viewing in our home.

I would love to know what types of ground rules Westport parents set about cellphone access and use? Are they barred from dinner tables at home? At restaurants? What — if anything — are you trying to do to ensure that your kids are not only focused on what they’re doing, but that they know you’re focused on them?

Great questions, Fred! Let’s hear what “06880” readers have to say. Click “Comments” to share what happens in your house — the theory and the reality.